Innovation. It’s the new agile, block chain and cyber all in one. And it’s everywhere. After capitalism, we have now entered the era of ‘innovatialism’.
What these terms have in common is that they sound somewhat magical and mysterious. It is what makes them interesting and to some degree terrifying at the same time.
Working at the intersection of innovation and (forensic) technology, I cross paths with a lot of these terms every day.
The reason I am thinking more about innovation is because I am in charge of innovation for our Forensic business. After the initial excitement wore off, and I had done some research into the topic, the reality clicked – we had been innovating all along! Just not as structured and pervasive as we need in 2017 to deal with the current disruption happening across the professional services business.
So, why is it that we put terms like innovation on a pedestal? I think we humans have always been drawn to something that sounds mysterious and magical – inventing a new word here – ‘mysterical’. We love good story tellers. On top of that we were originally animals that lived in herds. We like to follow trends.
Does this mean I don’t believe in innovation? To the contrary! I think, especially in professional services, there is no way around it. Eat or be eaten. So our team embarked on the hard work that innovation actually is, did the mandatory (but fun!) hackathon to kick it off and are now loving every second of it.
We used the five day Google Venture SPRINT methodology, which I can highly recommend to anyone wanting a concrete approach to solving a big problem.
This is how it goes.
- Monday: interview experts and build up a really thorough understanding of the problem we are dealing with.
- Tuesday: look at others that do a great job in this space and sketch possible solutions.
- Wednesday: vote which solution(s) will be prototyped and do further studies of the details of these solutions.
- Thursday: build prototypes of the winning solutions.
- Friday: interview actual clients and do everything we can to get their honest opinion on our ‘inventions’.
And then we adopt the new idea and start working on it – after only a week.
Along the way we discovered these things about innovation:
- After great ideas have been generated, it’s a lot of hard development work.
- Generating great ideas actually isn’t that hard, provided you have access to good methodologies and people with a reasonably well operating brain. Quite often it’s just a combination of existing ideas that generates something groundbreaking, like Uber, AirBnB or Slack.
- The change management that comes after development is probably the biggest roadblock standing in the way of successful innovations.
- Using the Dutch art of Flip-Thinking (which is exactly what it says, we Dutch are quite literal and direct beings) is extremely useful.
So far, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Not on all of our ideas, but certainly on the way we approached it and the fact we are openly challenging the way we operate.
Personally, my biggest win is our team is slowly becoming more receptive of these new developments and have started to generate new ideas by themselves without being prompted. And that’s what this initiative is really about – changing the culture of our collective thinking.
Audentes fortuna iuvat!
Now isn’t that a perfect mysterical way to end this blog?
PS – just read in urban dictionary that someone beat me to it with mysterical and it’s supposed to mean mysterious and hysterical. Applying Flip-Thinking here, I think we are both right!