December 2, 2016 / Strategy / Wise Talk

WiseTalk Summary on Defining Your Edge of Disruption

On November 28, 2016, Sue Bethanis hosted Julie Williamson, Chief Growth Enabler for Karrikins Group. Julie is a leading voice in how organizations create sustainable growth by linking communication, design, strategy, sales, marketing, and service. Julie and Sue discussed her newest book, co-authored with Peter Sheahan, Matter: Move Beyond the Competition, Create More Value, and Become the Obvious Choice.

Favorite Quote:

“Change is not an event it simply is how we are.”

Insights:

Successful leaders need the courage to challenge tradition, the optimism to envision opportunity amid change and the curiosity to explore new territory. These leaders’ cutting-edge knowledge and flexibility at “the edge of disruption” give them an “elevated perspective” on the market. Their deep connections result in “elevated relationships” and their value-based work create an “elevated impact.”

Julie’s interviews with worldwide leaders show they share similar strategies for building businesses that “matter” to their industries, employees, customers and communities. They consider their companies’ distinctive capabilities and reputations, and they work with their clients to learn what issues are most important to them and what problems they need to solve. Established companies are afraid of disruption. The process of discovering your edge of disruption goes beyond looking internally. When you are standing on the edge of disruption you are escaping the “gravity” to who you have always been and you are starting to look out towards what you can be. Julie believes that there is a thrill that come along with standing at the edge and asking “What else could we be doing?”

The “edge of disruption,” which leads to an elevated perspective, marks the collision of new and old technologies and strategies. People who believe passionately about what they do are able to create a spark and light a fire for an entire industry. These leaders are inspired to help companies grow by creating more value and not just by taking costs out of the business.

Elevated Perspectives – It takes courage, optimism, and curiosity to have an elevated perspective. You need to know what is going on outside of your own “organization container.” As a leader you need to model the way. If others don’t see you looking around the corner, asking questions, being curious and being optimistic they are going to model your behavior. You need to figure out how to make time for your people to think, read, listen, and participate in things that take them out of their day-to-day.

Elevated Relationships – In today’s interconnected world there is no major problem that matters that you can solve on your own. When you start to solve problems that require interconnectedness then you are really starting to tackle the big issues for your industry. You need to rethink your current relationships and leverage them to solve the biggest problems that are out there.

Elevated Impact – An elevated impact aligns with an elevated perspective and elevated relationships. The leaders who’ve built companies that matter share certain personal attitudes. This includes a belief that they can negotiate win-win outcomes to benefit their companies, employees, clients, industries and communities. They all share an “authentic commitment to doing well by doing good” and taking a stand for the best interests of their customers and community.

What we found most interesting:

The desire to control and anticipate and dictate the future is something that scientific management has always emphasized (predictability, patterning, etc.). In today’s world, things happen too quickly for this to be too relevant or useful. Things are also not as linear as they once were. Julie says, “We are seeing the need for people to be comfortable with ambiguity. You need to have the confidence to know that you have the courage, skills, knowledge and expertise to step forward even when you don’t know exactly what you are stepping into.”

To learn more about Julie Williamson, listen to her WiseTalk recording.

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May 29, 2015 / Articles We Like / Strategy

On “Are You Solving the Right Business Problem? Here Are 5 Ways to Get to Your Question Zero”

Are you solving the right problem for your customers? The most strategic leaders we know understand the importance of surfacing their customers’ core issues, and offering the right solutions to address them. That’s why we share this article on a technique practiced by IDEO:  question zero.

Leaders can use the question zero technique to understand what the problem is, why it is the problem, and how you can mobilize resources to solve it. Check out the Fast Company article, written by Ana Andjelic, SVP, Global Strategy Director at Havas LuxHub, Are You Solving the Right Business Problem? Here are 5 Ways to Get to Your Question Zero, for tips on using question zero to get closer to the essence of the core challenge your customers face.

What other strategic thinking techniques do you use to get to your customers’ core issues?

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January 2, 2014 / Book Reviews

Book Review | Solving Problems with Design Thinking: Ten Stories of What Works

solving problems w DTSolving Problems with Design Thinking:  Ten Stories of What Works
By Jeanne Liedtka, Andrew King & Kevin Bennett

Head: (5 out of 5)
Heart: (4 out of 5)
Leadership Applicability: (5 out of 5)

Design thinking is a creative problem solving method, which emphasizes the importance of discovery before solution using user-driven, empathetic market research approaches and real-world experiments. This method expands the boundaries of problem definition and solution generation, making it a novel approach for organizations to use for solving business problems. However, outside of the design environment, where design thinking is the norm, most leaders need an understanding of how to apply it to problems that are not product-focused.

The ten stories featured in this book showcase how design thinking works to produce innovative solutions to challenges such as internal process redesign, deepening customer engagement and addressing social issues. As a blueprint, these stories illustrate processes and tools used. The authors build on the work of Jeanne Liedtka and Tim Ogilvie’s Designing for Growth, to offer a clear path for implementation.

Leaders interested in using more innovative methods to solve sticky business problems will want to read this book. Buy it now.

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May 16, 2013 / Design Thinking / Creativity / Innovation

Get the Most Out of Brainstorming as Part of the Design Thinking Process

breakthrough model copyFaced with a challenging business problem to solve?  You need an idea.  Not just one idea, but many useful ideas.  In our experience, leaders who think like designers by using a design thinking process for solving business problems generate more potential useful ideas than those who do not.

In our work, we take our clients through a design thinking process using our Breakthrough! model. This 4-step process helps leaders generate and execute innovative ideas because it blends practicality with imagination. Through the brainstorming step, it is possible to generate a vast number of ideas – if the session is set up properly.  To get the most out of your brainstorming session, consider these critical success factors:

  • Be clear about the specific problem upfront.  Clarity on the problem guides the brainstorming process.
  • Encourage imagination.  Unconstrained thinking is the backbone of innovation!
  • Break the large group into smaller groups. A large group format limits idea generation as well as lends itself to groupthink and creates a potential scenario in which one person might dominate while others remain silent.
  • Each small group member produces an idea…and another…with limited time.  First individuals generate ideas alone on sticky notes. Then, in a small group format, the ideas are shared/posted aloud quickly without commentary.  Members are then challenged to add a large number of ideas in a limited period of time. With several small groups, the net is cast wide for maximum idea generation potential.

For additional tips on frenetic brainstorming as part of a design thinking process, culling the list of ideas, and other steps in the Breakthrough! model, download our Free Executive Guide to Design Thinking.

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May 8, 2013 / Ask Mariposa / Design Thinking / Creativity / Innovation

Ask Mariposa: A Design Thinking Approach Can Help Solve Problems

Michael asks:  We could use more creative thinking to solve a problem we’ve been working on. Could a design thinking approach help?

Sue Bethanis, CEO responds:

Thinking differently and coming up with new ideas for tough problems is at the core of design thinking.  Design thinking taps into imagination and practicality, which taken together form the backbone of creative problem-solving and innovation.

Our design thinking workshop is a working session for teams tasked with solving any product, service, or experience challenge.  The team is led through a clear design thinking process, which starts with empathy (something most groups skip) and includes brainstorming to generate and cull as many ideas as possible.  The ideas most likely to produce breakthrough solutions are prototyped using creative, 3-D methods utilizing right brain thinking.  Getting messy and creative cultivates new thinking!  The models can be used to test the ideas with others and refine with a more sophisticated prototype from there.

Once you grasp the principles of design thinking, you’ll see that they can be applied to any business problem.  To learn more, check out these resources:

 

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