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From the moment we’re born, we’re solving problems.

  • Hungry? We wail and cry
  • Confused at school? We raise our hands.
  • Computer not working properly? We unplug it and plug it back in.

From the moment we enter the workplace, we’re solving problems.

  • Boss doesn’t want to hear problems? We bring solutions.
  • Customers upset about something? We offer compensation.
  • Unhappy at work? We find other jobs.

We focus on solutions because it gives us a sense of confidence and control. In a constantly changing world and where we, in fact, have very little control, solving a problem gives us a momentary…

I do. We do. You do.

My Mom taught pre-school. It wasn’t a job; it was her calling. Kids gravitated to her like she was the Pied Piper, and she greeted them with unequaled patience, acceptance, and love. Years later, her students would talk about how she changed their lives when they were only four years old. And she did it by following one simple rule.

I do. We do. You do.

Whatever she was teaching, whether it was sitting still at a table and eating a snack or writing the alphabet, she always did it first so the kids…

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Most people know that 95% of new products fail within three years of launch. It’s often cited as evidence of big companies’ inability to be innovative, keep up with changing consumer demands, and respond to the nimbleness of start-ups.

Naturally, companies don’t want to fail in the market, so they try to get better at listening and responding to customers, more comfortable investing in unproven but potentially market-defining technology, and more willing to question and change their business models.

Yet, the market failure rate stays essentially the same.

“Ah-ha!” the experts proclaim, “if companies are doing everything right and 95%…

“How might we ruin a perfectly good and useful tool?”

This might not be the question that innovators, design thinkers, and brainstorm facilitators wanted to answer. But it seems that it’s the one they did.

“The most popular design thinking strategy is BS,” proclaimed the headline on a June 28 article in Fast Company. “The ‘How might we’ design prompt is insidious, and it’s time to bury it.”

I’m a sucker for provocative headlines, especially ones that challenge that status quo, so I clicked and read the article. And I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.

The reason…

Innovation is all about embracing the And.

  • Creativity AND Analysis
  • Imagination AND Practicality
  • Envisioned Future AND Lived Reality

Looking back, I realize that much of my childhood was also about embracing the AND.

  • Mom AND Dad
  • Nursery School Teacher AND Computer Engineer
  • Finger paint AND Calculus

A few years ago, I wrote about my mom, the OG (Original Gangster) of Innovation. She was what most people imagine of an “innovator” — creative, curious, deeply empathetic, and more focused on what could be than what actually is.

With Father’s Day approaching, I’ve also been thinking about my dad, and how he…

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Some conversations stick with you for a long time.

Some conversations take your breath away the moment they happen.

“Everyone is focused on ‘humanizing’ work,” my client said. “I wish people would de-humanize work. I would love nothing more than to be treated like a line of code or a piece of equipment. We treat our code and equipment better than we treat our people.

When a piece of equipment doesn’t work, we send in teams of people to fix it. We study what went wrong, we fix the error, and we take action to make sure it doesn’t happen…

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post using quotes from “ Moneyball “ (the movie, not the book) to describe the experience of trying to innovate within a corporate setting.

It was great fun to write, I received tons of feedback, and had many fascinating conversations (plus a fact check on the year the Red Sox broke the Curse of the Bambino), so I started searching for other movies that inadvertently but accurately describe the journey of corporate innovators.

If you have not seen The Princess Bride, stop reading and immediately go watch it. Seriously, there is nothing more…

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Of all the facets of innovation, innovation metrics may be the most requested, studied, and debated.

This is not surprising given that companies need to justify the billions of dollars they spend every year on “innovation” and the best way to do that is through a sound set of metrics with proven predictive power and relevant benchmarks.

However, despite the need, and decades of work to address it, a satisfying answer to “what innovation metrics should we use?” is as elusive as ever.

Innovation metrics exist. There are probably hundreds of them.

Innovation metrics are in use. …

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We all love Innovation but there are times when it isn’t the answer. In fact, there are times when it is the absolute last thing a business should do.

  1. Your current business is declining
  2. You need immediate results
  3. You want to play it safe and follow rather than lead
  4. You’re afraid of losing customers
  5. You’re afraid of falling behind the competition
  6. You’re getting pressure from shareholders
  7. You want to hang out with famous CEOs/be on TV and the cover of magazines
  8. You read an article/book/had a conversation and it doesn’t seem that hard
  9. You want to do something fun/different/exciting/noteworthy
  10. You…

“Fall in love with the problem not the solution.”

Although not as well-known as other innovation mantras like “Fail Fast” and “See around corners,” this mantra is, in my experience, truer than any of them. It is also harder to follow.

By the time most of us enter the workforce, we are Do-ers. Our bosses train us to bring solutions, not problems. Our employers reward us for showing initiative, taking action, and resolving issues. We celebrate when we find the answer, crack the case, and drive the change.

We have stopped being Questioners, Wonderers, and Explorers. We stopped asking “Why?”…

Robyn Bolton

Founder & Chief Navigator at MileZero, Growth & Innovation Expert, People & Business Builder, Complexity Buster

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