Friday, May 20, 2011

What Do You Bet? - Idea Generation and Innovation

I just read an interesting innovation article called Little Bets: Think Differently, written by Peter Sims and drawn from his new book, Little Bets. His article, published in Change This, starts with the provocative quote “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” He offers an interesting perspective on idea generation and innovation that challenges some conventional wisdom. For example, he contrasts the genius and experimental approaches while also exploring the attributes of fixed and growth mindsets.

There are many useful perspectives, drawn from varying sources like Chris Rock, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Starbucks’ Howard Schultz, for various ways to approach the creation of ideas, and the testing and realization of those ideas. Two topics stand out for me: prototyping and “plussing”. Sims is a very strong proponent of idea prototyping and shares the collaborative design process of “plussing” as used by Pixar. The idea behind “plussing” is to build upon and improve ideas of your team mates without using judgmental language. Two good concepts and quotable thoughts relate to the architectural engineering world:

“Ingenious ideas almost never spring into people’s minds full formed; they emerge through a rigorous experimental discovery process.”

“For most of us, successfully adopting an experimental approach requires significant change in mindset. After all, we’ve been taught to avoid mistakes and failures at all costs.”

But of all the topics, discussions and examples, the theme of little bets and related small wins, is the most powerful and useful. So as Peter Sims summarizes, "It all begins with one little bet, what will yours be?"