Radical Innovation is difficult
"Many people and organizations consider innovation so difficult that they are too intimidated even to try" So says a recent article in Forbes magazine.
Given the thousands of publications on the topic, the apparent simplicity of methods like Lean Startup and huge resources pumped into enterprise education, we really should be far more comfortable with embracing ambiguity.
Yet while a significant minority of generally smaller organisations succeed in radical innovation by apparently breaking all the rules, the majority struggle to get their heads around it, dismissing it as too difficult.
Indeed even professional investors are no better at picking winners than they were 2 decades ago.
Why is it so hard?
The growing body of research defining an effective process, also highlights the very different cognitive processes required for success.
The scientific method that served us so well durning the industrial revolution turns out to seriously hinder the creative approach needed to welcome uncertainty as an opportunity rather than a threat.
Studies of serially successful radical innovators reveal consistent cognitive patterns, so it is relatively straightforward map the process. On the face of it, there are familiar elements of Design Thinking, Lean startup and co-production.
What is different is the specific sequence of scientific and social learning necessary to discover radical approaches and then adapt them to be culturally appropriate to make it easy for the intended recipients to adopt them.
Radical Innovation needs different thinking
Below are just three examples of how a radical innovation pedagogy would look very different to the conventional wisdom we are accustomed to.
Don't think outside the box!
Our brains are simply not wired to think outside the box. To do so requires us to reprogram our subconscious and reboot all of our habits. Really?? Creativity is a non-linear, but structured process that focuses on discovering the best problems to solve - far from dreaming up crazy new stuff.
Stop Solving Problems!
We need to curb our urge to leap into solving a problem before we identify what it really is. The right problem is highly subjective and contextual because every situation is different. Scientific thinking leads us to generic questions when what we really need is specific solutions
Experts kill radical innovation
Domain knowledge is useful, but deep expertise can be disastrous because culture, capital and cognition kill change. Co-design fuses domain constraints with technical possibilities to produce amazingly congruent solutions that nobody could conceive on their own.
How is our accelerator different?
Combining the best of Agile, Design Thinking, Effectual Thinking and co-creation, we take adoption as the motivator of success. Divergent and Convergent thinking is a given, but perfecting the distinctive behaviours in each mode massively accelerates progress.
We have adapted lean startup. Customer validation is too binary, we prefer co-creation and it gets into solutions too quickly.
Deep emotional insight distinguishes the compelling from the kind of nice. Superficiality leaves gaps for the rigorous to exploit.
Cognitively Congruent Creativity
Anybody can be creative, if their brain is properly trained, but appropriate ideas will always trump mere novelty to ensure radical innovation is widely adopted by beneficiaries.
Co-creation is 5 mindset shifts beyond collaboration, but the wildly effective fresh thinking it spawns is practically better from almost every perspective.
The causal link between root cause and customer outcome is critical to an effective solution. Creative divergence coupled contextual convergence helps focus products.