Getting your teams to envision the future is a really important exercise, but it can be very difficult. We’re constantly focused on what’s going to happen tomorrow, next month, or even next quarter, to the detriment of thinking about what’s going to happen in three, five, or ten years. I use a technique called Picture the Future to help teams think more long-term and be able to concentrate on what’s driving the business in the first place.
Get your teams together and have them think about this simple exercise: imagine that you’re in an airport and it’s five or ten years from now. You see your company on the front of a magazine or an e-zine. What does that magazine cover say?
Let me show you some examples of what a pharmaceutical company came up with. For example, here on the cover … Read More »
One tool that we love to use with companies that have a lot of barriers to innovation is called Impossible to Possible. Here’s how it works:
Get your teams into a room and pair them up. Have them take out a piece of paper and draw a t-chart in the middle of it. On the top left, write the word “Impossible.” On the top right, write the word “Possible.” Then, give teams either the same or different questions to start brainstorming around things that they think are impossible.
For example, maybe it’s an industry challenge—”What can we not do in our industry?” Maybe it’s an operations challenge—”What can we not do with our operations or business processes right now?” Let’s say you’re a financial services company. One of the things that you might write down as impossible is “We can’t partner with competitors for … Read More »
As the CEO of a corporate innovation training firm, I’ve discovered an art and science to asking the right questions. But the right questions—the ones that challenge assumptions and expand our thinking—are often the most uncomfortable. Over the past twenty years, I’ve often worked with company leaders who are so focused on getting the right answer that they forget how to ask the right question. But unless we ask new questions, we won’t find new answers.
When presenting a situation to a group in our client-training sessions, we generally ask “what’s the solution to fix this?” People are immediately compelled to offer suggestions, but very few actually inquire about the problem itself. The reason? We’ve been taught all of our lives to answer questions and generate results, but have barely even been given the time and permission to examine WHY. Overcoming … Read More »
Sometimes, to be more innovative, we have to stop doing things. In fact, we have to streamline or eliminate the barriers that are holding us back from being more innovative in the first place. One technique that we use with organizations is called Kill a Stupid Rule. Here’s how it works:
Get your team into a room and ask them to brainstorm the following question: “If you could get rid of any rule, either kill it or change it, what rule would you choose and why?” Put some guardrails around the brainstorm. Designate “red rules,” those rules that cannot be touched because they are regulated by the government, or would be illegal if you changed them. Everything else is a “green rule” and it’s fair game to be changed.
After about 10 minutes of brainstorming, see what people come up with. You’ll … Read More »
Like many of you, I’m preparing for my annual trip to Austin for SXSW. In addition to delivering a session on my forthcoming book, Kill the Company, this year’s conference is packed with innovative topics from the nation’s most future-thinking minds. After evaluating the 2012 schedule of events, we’ve created this guide of 10 must-see panels for innovators. See you in Texas!
Similar to the concept of little BIGS in Kill the Company, author Todd Henry advocates making small changes in a few key areas to increase opportunities of generating brilliant ideas. By addressing the dynamics (and assassins) of workplace creativity, and the five key practices for creatives, this session offers a new formula for maintaining creativity in life and … Read More »
We have a philosophy with my team that to get better answers, you need to learn to ask better questions. Too often, we’re focused on being politically correct, or we’ve forgotten how to get at the root cause, or get through barriers by asking really good questions. That’s why we developed a tool called Killer Queries and it has over 100 questions you could ask to move thinking ahead and allow people to think differently.
Let me give you examples of some of the questions. Let’s imagine a competitor question: “Who are the rock stars in your industry and what do they have that you don’t?”
Maybe it’s a management question: “Imagine you’re CEO for the day. What do you wish you could change about your employees and why?”
Or even better, let’s imagine a culture question: “Imagine that you’ve just written a … Read More »
To be innovative, innovation often cannot be your starting point. In fact, at futurethink, we challenge organizations to take a bold look at themselves and rather than only focusing on what works, we challenge them to focus on what needs fixing first. To do this, we use a provocative exercise called Kill The Company.
Here’s how it works: gather your teams (include people of all levels and functions), and ask them a simple question: “Imagine that you’re the competition. What would you do today to put us out of business?”
People in the room will come up with all kinds of threats and vulnerabilities. Have them plot their ideas on a continuum, from “smallest threats” to “biggest threats” and see what needs to be attacked first. Once you can visualize all the different ideas that people come up with of how to … Read More »