Implementing Innovation (Stanford Leading Innovation notes)

Knowing doing gap. A decision by itself means nothing

Turning knowledge into action

Avoiding the smart‐talk trap

  • Smart talk happens now, smart action  happens later
  • Some organisations and bosses make things  worse by rewarding smart talk rather than  smart action

Don Peterson, ex CEO of Ford, credited with keeping the company alive in the 80s, ‘Ford was so desperate to save the company, that even though I’m a boring guy, they put somebody in charge who actually knew about cars’ 

Put people in management positions  who understand the work (they’re less likely to engage in rhetoric and get to the nitty gritty)

No whining! Stop the complaints, Step up the action

Recreational whining vs. bitter deep complaining

Simple language and repetition: “I keep it Sesame Street Simple.” A.G. Lafley, Procter & Gamble (especially for instructions). Say the thing  simply, over and over, till it gets done

Simple strategies are easier to  implement Apple products, circa July 1997: “We couldn’t even tell our  friends which ones to buy” Steve Jobs

Perry Klebahn: Keep momentum, keep focus, get good ideas out. Use resources well. Focus and flair. Be clear about process (the ideas don’t necessarily go away. Respect the work and keep the ideas for later (Teddy Ruskin left on the shelf until Toy Story 3))

Mauria Finlay: It’s brutal. Getting things done in large organisations is brutally hard. Just keep doing it. You have to believe enough to make it happen

Start-ups are about deciding on what to actually expend effort on. It seems like people can’t have more than two priorities at a time

Three final lessons

The Best Single Diagnostic Question. What happens when people fail?

  • There is no innovation or learning without failure.
  • Do you forgive and remember?
  • Failure sucks but instructs! (Trying is the first step to failure (Homer Simpson))

Innovation means SELLING, not just  inventing, ideas, experiences, and things

  • Why Robert Fulton gets credit for “inventing”  the steamboat
  • Thomas Edison’s greatest talent

What effects do you have on the  people around you? After they interact with you, do they have more  or less energy?

Leading Creative Teams (Stanford Leading Innovation notes)

Building the team

Superstars aren’t lone geniuses or  dazzling independent performers

The “lone inventor” is a myth:  Great innovations happen in social/ teams and networks.

  • Darwin’s network and team (esp. by correspondence, also a ‘PR’ team who defended his ideas)
  • Thomas Edison’s lab (lousy inventor but great at building the lab and business)
  • The duos that started HP, Sun, Yahoo!, and  Google (Facebook, Zuckerberg and all)

Leader’s goal = the “product” at the Hasso Plattner  Institute of  Design: Creative Collaborators

Who are the real superstars?

  • People who spread their ideas to others
  • Borrow ideas from others (and give them  credit)
  • and help others succeed.

GE, IDEO, Genencor, McKinsey, and P&G – very different reward systems, all the same  philosophy: If you’re a low performer and good team player supportive of culture, you’ll get chances. High performer undermine the team (and fail to collaborate), you’re out:

Cooperation and information sharing is not  considered in compensation decisions – if  people don’t do it, they just don’t get  promoted. Former Procter & Gamble CEO A.G. Lafley

Readings

Microsoft’s Downfall

Dysfunctional Internal Competition at Microsoft

Diego Rodriguez: It’s tempting to judge against big picture goals but you’ve got to be careful not to take people out of the moment, delivering a great client experience right now. Grok the gestalt of the team. Intervene or not. 3 things to watch for in terms of enlightened action:

  • Cold feet. Is something freaking the team out (of innovative behaviours and decisions)?
  • Are they just trying to be busy? Assist with focus (or too much focus)
  • There should be some angst, even fear in the room (maybe ask provocative questions)

Look for dignity, beauty, joy and elegance

Experts, novices, and mind of the child

Put more faith in novices, less in  experts (and blend them together):

  • Experts: People who know what has been done,  what can be done, and what can’t be done.   (but these opinions can be strongly held)
  • The naïve: People who don’t know what can’t be  done or is impossible to do.
  • Variations: Bring in people who are experts on  the “wrong” thing, or a related but different thing (Edison was famous for this, e.g. with the phonograph)

Google started off knowing too little about what they couldn’t do 🙂

Ditto Jobs and Wozniak (Home-brew computing company). Steve Markkula (adult supervision)

Zuckerberg relying on Sandberg for business smarts

Deal with the bad apples In the best teams “problem” members get quick negative feedback and warnings, and if reform fails, are expelled quickly.   Leaders – formal and informal: don’t duck the dirty work.

Bad is stronger than good:

  • “5 to 1 rule” for encounters in personal relationships and at work
  • Eliminating the negative is more important than accentuating the positive
  • Bad apples – including deadbeats, downers, and rude jerks – bring down performance 30% to 40% compared to teams that don’t have them
  • Distraction and contagion

Perry Klebahn:

  • You need to clarify the culture – create the guard-rails of the group
  • Are the goals clear?
  • Managers job is to focus the team on the key goals

Running the team

The case for Small and stable teams

J. Richard Hackman’s rule: “No work team should have membership in the double digits …. the number of performance problems a team encounters increases exponentially as team size increases.”

“Optimal” team size is 4.6 in one study – Navy Seals “fire teams”  and McKinsey engagement teams have four members

“Apple also consciously tries to behave like a startup, most notably by putting small teams on crucial projects. To wit: just two engineers wrote the code for converting Apple’s Safari browser for the iPad, a massive undertaking.” Adam Lashinsky, Inside Apple

Stable membership linked to team performance:

  1. Surgical teams, semiconductor start‐ups, R&D teams, and flight cockpit crews
  2. NTSB: 73% of flight incidents occur during the crew’s first day together; 44% on their first flight

Innovation requires extreme optimism… punctuated by input from realists and pessimists

Why optimism? It reduces the failure rate! Emotions are contagious

The self‐fulfilling prophecy

  • If you believe you can, you can
  • If you believe you can’t, you can’t

“Confidence in nonsense is required.” Burt Rutan

Why innovation requires a few grumpy and pessimistic people:

  • They are better at finding flaws
  • They are better at pulling the plug, at stopping organizations from throwing good money after bad

Happy Worriers The best of both worlds?

David Kelley argues that the key to leading innovative work is finding ways to instill creative confidence in people.  Ted Talk

Money as a motivator

Psychologists and economists can show you hundreds – really thousands – of studies that show people will work harder to obtain financial rewards. But there are two big problems:

  • Getting the rewards right is REALLY hard
  • Money turns us into selfish loners

Steve Kerr: On the Folly of Rewarding “A” While Hoping for “B”

http://www.sba.oakland.edu/Faculty/york/Readings434/Readings/On%20the%20folly.pdf

The power of being ‘reminded’ of money (Apple try to keep it out of staffs’ thoughts)

Nine experiments by Kathleen Vohs (involving Monopoly money):

  1. Less likely to give others help
  2. Less likely to ask for help
  3. Sat further away from others
  4. More likely to choose to work alone Didn’t realize experiments were about money – but led to selfishness and self‐sufficiency

Intrinsic Rewards

Doing interesting work itself. Dan Pink based on Drive Ted Talk

Stand-Up meetings

Research on 111 groups, all studying the same problem:   Stand‐up meetings were 34% shorter but just as effective.

David Darragh, CEO of Reily Foods: Has a daily 15 minute stand‐up meeting with his top team: “The rhythm that frequency generates allows relationships to develop, personal ticks to be understood, stressors to be identified, personal strengths and weaknesses to be put out in the light of day, etc. The role of stand‐up meetings is not to work on strategic issues or even to resolve an immediate issue.”

Huddle

Stand up every 20-30 minutes – cardio-vascular benefits

Learn how and when to fight

Innovation happens when people respect each  other – but fight like crazy over ideas.

Hallmarks of effective creative abrasion

  • Strong opinions, weakly held
  • Fight as if you are right, listen as if you are  wrong

‘I now disagree with my own standpoint. I was wrong, let’s get on using your view

In terms of creative work: “When two people in business always agree,  one of them is unnecessary.” William Wrigley

Not so in operational work, you generally want agreement around routine work

Brad Bird of Pixar Director, The Incredibles and Ratatouille “I’ve been fired for being disruptive several times…  but this is the first time I’ve been hired for it”

“Everyone will get humiliated and  encouraged together.”

Don’t fight when generating ideas,  such as when brainstorming

Stop fighting after the decision is made  – it undermines implementation

Intel motto:  Disagree and then commit 

Fighting a Good Fight

 

Routine vs. Creative work (Stanford Leading Innovation notes)

Bob Sutton: Simplified: Innovation = Creativity + Implementation

Diego Rodriguez (IDEO) (to clients): What is your space for failing? (also, what are the acceptable forms of failure in your organisation?) Note. Rodriguez now prefers ‘accelerated learning’ to failing (or ‘rapid learning’ rather than ‘rapid failing’).

Avoid a single ‘prototyping/ innovation room’ and encourage others think anywhere, anytime and hold ‘generative’ meetings when necessary (i.e. meetings that actually generate innovation, and are linked to learning).

Try to reduce the friction between a desire to go build something better, and all the excuses, questions, authorities and other organisational constraints, to make it happen

Steve Jobs: Its easy to kill lousy ideas. To be a great company, you need to kill most of the good ideas too (Sutton contrasts this with the cluttered approach of Yahoo)

Need to look at problems in a different way – e.g. the kid can’t reach the vending machine coin-slot (keep in mind re disability/ design), getting submariners to exhale while surfacing vs. equipment, NCR printing of both sides of a receipt for Walmart.

Perry Klebahn: Knowing (and communicating) when you’re doing BAU vs. Innovation, e.g. a calendar that shows an item of creative work, who’s doing it, how it sits with BAU, what the expected results are

Perry Klebahn (2):Skunk works tend to fail, as ‘not invented here’ or you can be unraveling BAU on a daily basis. You need people to feel part of it (demo progress, milestones, etc. ‘What’s in development’ news). The best approach seems to be a sort ongoing negotiation between BAU and innovation

Diego Rodriguez: Mind of the child technique, to balance ‘wisdom’ in design (‘curious, unafraid, living in the moment’ vs. ‘asking great questions’)

Diego Rodriguez: His 21st principle (in draft) Just Do It/ Enjoy the Road (I think he is thinking on actualised version of ‘Knowledge is the capacity to act’ (Sveiby)

Mauria Finlay (Netscape>AOL>Good>eBay>PayPal>Citrus Lane

Mauria Finlay: Careful not to mess too much with those (BAU)  processes that are deeply embedded with the user (e.g. entering credit card details) but innovate the less explored  or  established aspects (e.g. browsing, selecting content).

With packing, it’s better to have a postmortem and redesign the process than than to attempt to reform the process on the fly

Try to establish a baseline and track your innovations from that point

Watch out for intense cognitive load. Have you made the process too hard to follow?

Steve Jobs: I like living at the intersection of the humanities and technology

Diego Rodriguez: Yes, live on the intersection. Great designers are great readers. Great design is about pattern recognition, based on rich life experiences

Mix up your influences, follow people who’re a little different on Twitter, read Monocle magazine for its different perspectives

Diego Rodriguez: If you’re not failing you’re not tying hard enough. What if I fail every day? Micro failures to drive macro success

Frans Johansen – The Medici Effect (Harvard). How Renaissance painters, sculptors, poets, philanthropists, scientists, philosophers, financiers, and architects, shaped an era of innovation… contributions of disruptive innovation from people without having industry experience in that industry, such as Darwin (a geologist)  collecting bird species while giving poor notes to John Gould, who ultimately provided the ornithology knowledge.

Links

Final Countdown. Daniel Petre

Attended a thought-provoking Florence Guild talk at Sydney Work Club on 2 June.

Daniel Petre (from a 2009 bio in The Age) ‘If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, then you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life (Maslow).’

I’ve been aware of Daniel Petre since the early 90s and his success as Microsoft’s first non-US VP) his work in the early days of e-Commerce, read one of his books (The Lucky Country?), his philanthropy and that he now works in the innovation/ funding/ startup space. While that ‘light’ take is essentially accurate, the thought of hearing Petre’s thoughts was enough to make me choose this talk over Mike Jay’s Media Social gig at Taylor Square at the same time. And that was a big call.

This isn’t a full recount of Petre’s talk, I wanted to listen and engage, not report.

Petre sat right back by the window, at the back of the presentation space. Just him, on a stool, and a handful of notes.

It turned out the the talk was essentially a take on the ‘Rise of the machines’, and so notes would have been redundant for the bulk of the session, but a couple of points below (paraphrasing for future reference, in the absence of notes):

  • People are pretty lousy at forecasting and understanding what’s going on, especially with technology (e.g. McKinsey projected a total 990,000 mobiles in the US in the 90s, wrong by an order of magnitude)
  • Elon Musk (the only man to have founded three billion dollar companies), Stephen Hawkins and (Petre’s old boss) Bill Gates have all said mankind has let the genie out of the bottle with technology, especially AI
  • There are a number of advanced robotics programs in existence (and it seems they all live on YouTube. Petre commented on some, not all of these)
  • Read Nick Bostrom’s ‘Superintelligence’ for a non-Kurzweil non- technologist take on our AI and SI future
  • It’s unclear what changes will be but (approx.) 30-50% of jobs lost to technology will not be replaced ‘one to one’
  • The ‘West’ will be hit hardest – let’s face it, if you’re in Africa on a tiny income, a reduction is going to impact your way of life less vs. our leveraged, technology-centric, consumer society
  • People will need to get – literally – smarter to compete – grow their individual (and collective) IQ
  • When employers give credit to Coursera qualifications to the same extent as traditional univeristies, the latter will be in big trouble
  • Qualities of critical thinking, creativity and empathy will be the ones to endure/ cultivate (Petre sees a larger role for human carers, post automation (Autogeddon?)
  • There may well be a ‘right-sizing’ in terms of human population

Petre is aware of (and I think) supportive of UBI and cited an example of where a social experiment favoured UBI but was quashed by a (let’s call it) a conservative backlash. Very few of the FG audience seemed aware of UBI, with one person calling out, ‘Work for the dole’

I had to leave before the Q&A finished as Eve arrived early for a trip to the Vivid lights, but it was Petre that was the more illuminating in the end

Work Club Video interview from the same day and Soundcloud podcast

Roll over Beethoven. Sydney Writers Festival 2016

2016-05-21 13.32.12.jpgI skipped the 2015 Festival as I felt no affiliation with the authors that year, largely by dint of not having read any of their most recent books. Eve and I went to a lot more of the 2016 Festival than in 2013 and 2014, in part out of FOMO. It was well worth the effort!

I bought ‘A brief history of seven killings’ by Marlon James, and planned around that. We attended a talk by Gloria Steinem with Jennifer Byrne at 6.15 on the Friday night (20May), followed (after dinner in the QVB) by Richard Glover hosting a panel on The Book That Saved Me that included Jeanette Winterson, Kate Tempest, Vivian Gornick, Herman Koch, Marlon James and Andrew Denton. It was a lot of fun, but we agreed Gloria won the day.

Taking up a curated package on the Saturday saw us at another panel (Gloria Steinem (again), Indian writer and activist Ira Trivedi and Australian journalist Laura Tingle) on Why Women Should Rule the World, then Richard Fidler interviewing James Rebanks. I attended an interview with Marlon James and after lunch we attended a wonderful talk by Stan Grant. We bailed on the last session, which was trawling the familiar ditch of ‘Donald Trump. WTF?’

We ended up with multiple copies of Gloria’s My Life On The Road, a couple of Stan Grant books, signed for the girls, and Rebanks’s A Shepherd’s Life, which I’m reading now.

University of Sydney SWF Recount featuring Gloria Steinem and Marlon James

We can work it out. Dealing with difficult people

From Evernote, using the memory of the less good days of the CBK for a better result.

Don’t hide – face it.

Don’t let anxiety chew you up. Initiate contact to accelerate tension reduction.

Change ‘who is in charge’ – disarm them by taking control of the situation or at least your own responses.

Manage your SELF TALK

”Stop your thoughts.” Change your thought processes – STOP!

Remember that replaying old issues makes the next meeting START anxiously, in a charged way.

Get thru the few minutes and reclaim your life.

Move on immediately. LOOK AT YOUR WATCH & STOP, REFOCUS.

Think of success. Use your time wisely.

AIM TO REDUCE TENSION BY 1% EACH INTERACTION:

DON’T WHINGE. WIN!

Don’t dump. Move on from this whinging position and model the right techniques. Focus on what you can change.

Lose the need for recognition – No ‘I told you so’. Leave the other person with their dignity and ‘face’.

Anticipate and plan for others’ likely concerns.

Systems thinking – change one part of a system to change the whole system.

Start thinking of ways to make ‘concerns and anxieties’ a tangible issue for management (something that can be fixed).

Consider the intention/ motivation of the other person. Are they BAD? Or did they make you make choices you didn’t want to make (in hindsight)?

Your boss only has a few minutes interaction with you each day – don’t ‘take your boss home or to bed!’