Tag Archives: Eddie Obeng

It’s Mostly Random, So Just Do Something

Several recent books showcase Big Ideas in innovation:

  • Success often has random elements
  • Active experiments and reflective “incubation” are required for effective innovation.
Frans Johansson

Frans Johansson

Frans Johansson argues that most success “comes from things we cannot predict and plan: serendipitous moments, unexpected and spontaneous approaches, unusual combinations, and lucky breaks,” in the form of “click moments”, which can move people and ideas to a new, unexpected direction” in in Click: Seizing Opportunity in an Unpredictable World.

Leonard Mlodinow

Leonard Mlodinow

Johansson, Leonard Mlodinow and Nate Silver (“American statistician, sabermetrician, psephologist”) all demonstrate that events are more random than people typically acknowledge, and Johansson recommends specific actions that individuals and organizations can take to favorably focus this randomness

Nate Silver

Nate Silver

Follow your curiosity:  Capitalize on interests and “passions” to drive creative explorations

  • Use cross-disciplinary, “inter-sectional” thinking to break “associative barriers”
  • Examine surprises and unintended consequences for possible inspiration and re-usable ideas
  • Be aware of opportunities everywhere, requiring a mindful engagement rather than living “automatically”, and explore “all” opportunities
  • Scan for momentum and align to it
  • Choose a less predictable, or more “contrarian” solution
  • Act: Place many “purposeful bets” to try many options, with no expectation or guarantee of “success”
  • Minimize bet size to reduce the impact of loss
  • Take the smallest executable step (measured by time, money, partners)
  • Calculate acceptable loss rather than focusing on return on investment
  • Create “large hooks” to scaffold and leverage creative “borrowing” from existing sources
  • Shift focus from the problem to enable cognitive “incubation” of ideas
  • “Double down” when opportunities are not obvious

Many of these recommendations are more similar to behaviors intended to increase creativity and innovation than to quantitative finesse maneuvers.

For example Johansson’s recommendation to engage in “purposeful bets” draws from Peter Sims’ recommendations to place Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries, which are low-risk experiments to discover, develop, and test an idea.

  • Experiment to “fail quickly to learn fast”  – see post on Eddie Obeng
  • “Play”  by establishing a fun environment to cultivate innovation
  • Immerse  by interacting with customers
  • Reorient by make celebrating small wins and undertaking improvement “pivots”
  • Iterate by frequently testing, refining and improving-*How do you detect and optimize opportunities?
    -*How do you manage uncertainty in your career?

See more recommendations to boost innovation and creativity at: How and Who of Innovation  LinkedIn Open Group The Executive Coach

Related posts
Cognitive Biases in Unconscious Automatic Mental Processing, and “Work-Arounds”

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“Smart Failure” to Manage in a Fast-Changing World

Eddie Obeng

Eddie Obeng

Eddie Obeng’s dizzyingly rapid-fire TED talk asserts that we live in a “New World” in which “the local environment of individuals, organizations and governments changes faster than we can learn.”

As a result, he contends that most commonly-used concepts, best practices and assumptions to plan, manage and lead, organizations are obsolete.

He refers to this “New World” as the “World After Midnight” and shares discussion and observations.

To offer a forum to discuss and advance this approach with a “continuous link between learning and implementation”, he established Pentacle (The Virtual Business School), which offers tools and courses, with an emphasis on executing strategy through project management best practices.

Obeng draws on his experience as an engineer at Royal Dutch Shell, then Professor at the School of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Henley Business School, and a Council Member at the UK Design Council in his books:

Like the Silicon Valley mantra “Fail Fast” to capture relevant learning experiences, Obeng urges “Smart Failure” through multiple experiments or trials, and rapid prototyping.

-*Where have you seen “Fast Failure” aid workplace innovation?

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