Have you noticed that in framing the problems facing us, most of us are already formulating a solution? Design Thinking tools and examples from start ups show the value of taking the time to invest in the front end–developing empathy, uncovering the right problem to solve and testing prototypes before committing to the full launch.
Developing staff and cultures is not a matter of imparting information or instituting special “activities.” They are the outcomes of cultures of on-going learning and experimentation, and applying lessons learned to achieve constantly new improvements and innovations.
Most of us “play it by ear” when it comes to the execution of a new concept. Our focus is on acquiring ideas or information—planning, reading, discussing, hearing or analyzing them. When it comes to execution, we rely on the same old tools we always used and settle for ad hoc activities and initiatives. Yet one cannot achieve systems-wide change by “understanding” the concept or generating detailed plans. What these require are fundamental changes in the way organizations think and behave.
It is the execution of change rather than the ideas, themselves, where the rubber meets the road. Paradoxically, however, there are no tools or systems approaches for “executing” innovation.
In the course of 12 years, SEPA’s CEO, Julia Hamm, would transform her association from one with a niche focus on solar power to a leader in the energy industry —building key coalitions among multiple stakeholders and playing an important role in efforts to bring energy delivery to the 21st century and provide efficient, affordable options to consumers.
Abstract visions of the future or well-meaning promises and expressions of appreciation become reality only when they connect to specific ways individuals can benefit from them immediately—whether these are opportunities for additional income, concrete new skills they can market, a share in profits or decision-making.
The first hours of each day can determine its course and tone. Experts and leaders weigh in on productive ways to start off your work day.
If your quest for solutions is driven by the wrong problem, you will deplete your organization’s resources without arriving at your desired destination. You will also miss opportunities for innovation and possibilities for breaking through to a different place.
Making innovation happen requires a shift in mindset. Case in point: Association for Financial Professionals. CEO Jim Kaitz approaches expansion by building organizational capabilities to constantly adapt to the
speed and nature of market change. Kaitz does not marginalize change by reducing it to new product launches or isolated initiatives outside of AFP’s core business. Instead, he lets small-scale successes and lessons learned catalyze broader changes to the association and disrupt business as usual.
To create a culture of cooperation, you need to refocus from products to people and translate change—not into theories or programs—but in doing things, thinking and measuring success differently.
The transformation of The Landscape Architect Registration Examination (L.A.R.E.) Is an example of a change that, although, seemingly non-disruptive, has set in motion an entirely new perspective and represents a leap from products to solutions.