Primed Associates, LLC is Presented the ExperienceChange Business Simulation for Free


Primed Associates, LLC is offering a unique opportunity to participate in the ExperienceChange change management business simulation firsthand and free-of charge in Princeton, NJ on Thursday 28 February, 2013 at Princeton Public Library.

Adapting to change is a key ingredient for the success of any enterprise. This opportunity is being provided to participants to demonstrate the value that this change management simulation can deliver an organization that is about to launch, or is working through, a large-scale change initiative.

Consider it a no obligation way to experience a best-in-class learning experience that not only delivers learning it also provides an engaging way to practice what is learned so that it may be applied back in the work environment. The offer is open to individuals and up to three attendees from a single organization or company.

For more information see our event registration and our service offerings.

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Design Thinking Applied – Network of Leadership Scholars & Primed Associates, LLC. Partnering

Primed Associates, LLC. is partnering with the Network of Leadership Scholars, a virtual community within the Academy of Management, to bring scholars and representatives from enterprise together to address real organization issues. Drew Marshall, Principal with Primed Associates will be facilitating a series of challenge-focused sessions using elements of the design thinking process. This conference is to take place on August 10-11, 2011 immediately prior to the annual meetings of the Academy of Management in San Antonio, Texas (August 12-16, 2011).

Our shared goal (in organizing this pre-conference conference) is to enable lively conversations around real issues faced by companies within three inter-connected dimensions: leadership, innovation and sustainability. Our hope is that the research designs and solutions that are generated as a result of these focused conversations will lead to collaborative solutions, potential research projects at the companies, and will lead to wider adoption of evidence-based practice. As one of the organizers, Nagaraj Sivasubramaniam (Associate Professor of Leadership, Department of Management in the Palumbo-Donahue Schools of Business at Duquesne University) noted, “Far too often, academics and practitioners talk past each other, and in attempting to bridge this divide, we hope we can realize the full potential of academic-practitioner collaboration.”

To address this divide, the desire is to capture the spirit of the network – collaborative conversations about issues we care about deeply. To increase the value of these conversations, it was decided to invite companies/public institutions to present a challenge they are grappling with, invite scholars to serve as a subject-matter experts, and utilize a facilitated design thinking framework to explore potentially break-through outcomes.

Participating enterprise organizations are bring challenges to the table such as: developing and leading virtual teams, talent management in quasi-governmental agencies, the application of complexity theory in leadership development, and leadership development to address the void created by the simultaneous planned retirement of a firms group of founders. We will have a mix of academics and practitioners – including participants from additional enterprises who will be participating but not bringing key issues to address. There will also be a blend of different research interests/expertise present as well as several participants from Europe, Asia and Australia, giving this a fairly diverse flavor.

Look for an update in August following the conclusion of this exciting event.

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Playing with a Full Deck – OnInnovation

Low Tech Tools to Foster High Output Innovation Thinking

One of the questions often asked by those seeking to create a strong innovation culture is, “What are some good tools for engaging people across my organization?” Well the consultant in me would usually hedge his bets and would offer the universal response, “It depends.” But that is as singularly unsatisfying to say as it is to hear, so I mostly take a multiple alternative approach in the hopes of landing close to the targeted need. The first place I usually start is with some of the very lowest of low tech: playing cards, or their trading card equivalent. Why?

For the reason why, see the full post here at the OnInnovation blog – powered by The Henry Ford.

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Recap of Day 2 at the World Innovation Forum June 8-9, 2010 – OnInnovation

The following is an account of the second day of the World Innovation Forum. For a review of the first day please see here. Speakers for Day 2 included: Seth Godin, Brian Shawn Cohen, Wendy Kopp, Ursula Burns, Joel Makower, Jeffrey Hollender, and Robert Brunner. It must be said that one of the bigger disappointments during the event was something over which HSM, the event organizer, had no control. Twitter, for whatever reason, decided to embrace its inner FAIL Whale and choked for much of the proceedings. This was a disappointment to many for whom Twitter is a great way to keep in touch with the themes of a conference as they arise. Not too sure if that feedback made its way back to Biz Stone (final speaker at the conference on Day 1) but we can only hope so.

That said, for those in attendance the World Innovation Forum itself became a backdrop to a whole lot of innovative happenings and the following is a rapid journey through some highlights.

[The recap of the first day is here]

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Garage Based Innovation – Presentation by Phil McKinney – HP’s CTO

Phil McKinney, the Chief technology Officer at HP, delivered a presentation recently on “Garage Based Innovation” at one of the Stanford Breakfast Briefings. In McKinney’s words, “the emphasis being on the personal ability to innovate. ” Although I believe he is speaking directly at the heart of what it takes to foster a culture of innovation and it has a wider applicability than the personal.

Some of the topics he covered included:

* The Rules Of The Garage
* The Challenges Of Innovation (Innovation Gap and the Innovate Delay)
* Knowledge Is A Commodity
* Creativity Is Not A “Gift” But A Skill (and it is one that he believes can be taught / learned)
* Everyone Is Creative (yes, everyone!)
* Skills Of Creativity

I like the way McKinney thinks. He is a true advocate for whole-organization innovation and seeks to debunk the idea that it is the domain of a select few.

The presentation is here at SlideShare

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Recap of Day 1 at the World Innovation Forum June 8-9, 2010 – OnInnovation

The World Innovation Forum 2010, the fifth such conference, was held at the Nokia Theatre on Times Square in Manhattan this week. For over 900 attendees, presenters and organizers it was an opportunity to explore several innovation themes over the course of two days. The interesting thing was that much of the value of the event wasn’t necessarily to be had in the room at the venue. There were smaller luncheons, after-hours gatherings over food and drinks, and even an “unconference” event during which people capitalized on the opportunity to meet and learn from each other. [The complete post is here.]

Look for a Day 2 recap to follow shortly.

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Presenting at the ODN – Long Island Annual Conference April 8

The ODN Long Island Chapter is hosting its annual conference on April 8, 2010 at the Marriott Residence Inn, Plainview, NY . The focus is on building stronger, better organizations so that they can not only succeed but thrive as we work our way out of the Great Recession. More details here.

My topic is: Manufacturing Magic – The Hard Work of Creating an Innovation Culture

In the phrase, “we need to be more innovative”, lies a universe of misspent time, energy and political capital. As the popular media love affair with the notion of innovation continues, and leaders begin looking for answers to their businesses’ economic health beyond those actions necessary to survive the Great Recession, many organization development professionals are being tasked with making their organizations “more innovative.” Unfortunately, it seems that the concept of innovation has been coupled with that of creativity and unless we deliver something bright, shiny and magical, we’re going to disappoint.

Creating an innovation culture is not easy. As with change initiatives that have come (and gone) before, it is fraught with miss-comprehensions, false starts and dead ends. With the right effort applied to the appropriate leverage points in your organization, you might just be able to deliver the results you and your leadership seek.

This presentation, backed by current research in innovation best practices, will provide a rapid overview of the different entry points to begin creating an innovation culture. It will highlight key concerns, critical decisions, potential problems and the planning necessary to begin the process of making an innovation culture that fits your organization’s needs and wants. It will also address the business value to be obtained in terms that are clear and meaningful. While creating an innovation culture may be costly and hard work, the key question to ask is – what is the business impact and cost of lack of innovation?

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Teaching a Person to Fish – Learning and Development for Innovation

Why learning how to innovate is as important as the act itself
Learn everything you can, anytime you can, from anyone you can – there will always come a time when you will be grateful you did.
Sarah Caldwell

It’s like any muscle – you have to use it or lose it
Give a person a fish and they will eat for a day. Teach a person to fish and they will eat for a lifetime.
Chinese Proverb
Learning is physical. At its most basic level, learning is the process of changing the structure and actions of neurons so they retain information in long-term memory in both the temporal and parietal lobes of the cortex. Increasingly, neuroscience will play a larger role in our understanding of the process of learning.

This doesn’t mean to say that there is still not a wealth of information to be gleaned from cognitive psychology, behavioral psychology, and social psychology as they relate to the way in which people learn. Neuroscience will simply afford us another window into the way our minds work. And what will we do with that knowledge?

What both the behavioral observation of learning and the physical understanding of learning agree on is that for learning to be lasting it must be practiced. In fact, the best learners not only practice, they study – hard. Malcolm Gladwell proposes that for true excellence to emerge the magic number of hours required to dedicated practice and ever-increased proficiency is 10,000. Less than that and the learning may be substantial but will not result in elevated performance. The same can be said of innovation. Unpracticed innovators make fewer cognitive leaps, fewer bold choices, have fewer insights and their innovations are poorer for it.

The approach of IDEO, the design shop headquartered in Palo Alto, takes the concept of the learner even further and describes “T-shaped” people. These are learners who have not only gone deep into an understanding of a particular field of interest (the perpendicular stroke in the “T”), they have also developed a broad awareness and understanding of many subjects (the horizontal stroke in the “T”). A consistent attention to both types of learning increases the utility of these people in the design and innovation domain. Perhaps the Gladwell number needs to be an equation, i.e., 10,000 x 1000 x n? Where “n” is the number of separate domains of learning pursued?

Think differently for different results
Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.
Chinese Proverb
Innovation fosters new thinking, including the way we learn to think. The way we create the promoters (activities or environmental factors) that support learning is a key component to improving learning and development outcomes. Did you know that there are five key promoters to consider? They are:
1. Innate learning programs (the things we just know, you know?) (Gallistel, 2002)
2. Repetition of information. (Repetition of information – get it?!) (Squire and Kandel, 2000)
3. Excitement at the time of learning (Woo Hoo!) (Cahill & Gorski, 2003; LeDoux, 2002)
4. Eating carbohydrates at time of learning (A personal favorite) (Korol, 2002)
5. 8-9 hours of sleep after learning (To sleep perchance to dream) (Kuriyama, Stickgold, & Walker, 2004)

Very few learning programs actually consciously accommodate one or two of these promoters, let alone all five. Is it any wonder that the process of learning may seem draining and even futile at times? To maximize the learning and development outcomes change the nature of the learning environment, change the perspectives of the participants, and change the delivery mechanism. All can be achieved in simple ways. Use a rapid prototyping method – what can you change in under an hour for less than $100 (or less than $10)?

When considering learning and development focused on innovation practices the inclusion of elements that actually promote learning might be worthwhile, might it not? Take two innate learning programs for example; the first allows us to rapidly associate words and labels to objects within situations, and a second enables us to compute social status and insults to social status. If we acknowledge and fold into our learning and development activities these innate learning programs we can structure experiences that capitalize on them. Improvisational activities, like improv theatre games, could help us unlock the influence resident within these learning programs so that the experience fosters increased innovative behaviors (resilience, risk-taking, generosity, etc.)

Letting go and leaving justification behind
Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn.
Benjamin Franklin
Lessons learned are not necessarily procedural or systemic, they are predominately behavioral and social. One of the key learned behaviors is that with success comes praise and possibly adulation. Well, the process of innovation actually requires that we be less-than-successful at times. Yes, we sometimes have the glorious opportunity to fail (perhaps not the first time, bust certainly more publicly than we would like.)

There are two essential behaviors to learn and develop in order to “make it” as an innovator. The first is the ability to let go of an idea. The concept of ownership within corporate organizational life is one that people learn early. The people with the best ideas not only “win” they also receive the reward of advancement. That may mean access to things previously unavailable, i.e., the offer of increased responsibility, or even greater compensation, perks and benefits.

A successful innovator needs to understand that her idea may actually find greater success when used by another or in conjunction with another person’s idea. They also need to understand that while their idea might be a great idea, if there is no passion for it among the people who need to capitalize on it and bring it to market then it is as good as dead and useless to all. Letting go is an essential learning that is counter to so much we have learned in order to survive in organizations. But letting go is not the hardest lesson to learn for many.

Perhaps a more damnable habit to break is that of justification.

Justification is the hard-earned ability to defend your position in the face of withering opposition. It brooks no alternate view, nor does it easily accommodate modifications to its core or demarcated essential truth. The power of justification is that it makes ideas unassailable (especially when carried out by a master or mistress of the art.) The only problem with justification is that as a practice it allows no room for the new, the additive, or the tangential. Justification creates cul-de-sacs in which innovation goes to die.

Learning how to combat holding onto an idea too tightly and justifying an idea to the point of lunacy are essential practices. Which leads us to the role of exactly that in innovation – practicing what we have learned.

Practice makes permanent – practice with feedback makes perfect
Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.
Douglas Adams
Most have heard of that old aphorism, “practice makes perfect.” My experience, and the firm word of a former business associate, Tom Doyle, is that practice does not make perfect, “practice makes permanent; only practice with feedback makes perfect.”

In order to become better at the art and substance of innovation it is necessary to work on it. In working on this skill set it is also critical to receive feedback and coaching. The application of observational assessment and associated feedback to an innovator enables them to see their mental models reflected in the words of others as well as the way a life time of habits influences how they not only see the world, but seek to change it in the present.

Having a subject matter expert observe and provide feedback, even if they are not a practiced innovator, may be of great benefit to those seeking to innovate. The critical eye is an essential ingredient in improvement. To borrow another Gladwell-popularized concept, that of the maven – a trusted specialist or subject matter expert connected to other like-minded practitioners across a community – it is a given that mavens make the best mentors. Their deep expertise, and the authority with which they can observe, mean that the feedback that they provide can not only provide clear opportunities for growth but may also provide ways to create a step-change in our approach to innovation and the challenges at hand.

After all, while it has been said that those who can – do, and that those who cannot – teach, it is preferable to think on Seneca:

While we teach, we learn.

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Knowledge Management – the Engine for Innovation

In advocating for innovation it seems as though “innovation happens” is the mindset carried by many mistaken adherents to the cause. You just have to trust it and it will come, they say (or not). This is the equivalent of saying “magic happens” when faced with a “Mechanical Turk”. Data goes in one end, magic happens, and a desired output comes out the other end. I’m sorry – innovation is not based in gold-pooping unicorns, nor is it something that should be left to the whims of inevitability or caprice. Innovation needs to be specifically and studiously fed a fuel of knowledge in order to succeed. And if knowledge is the fuel, then knowledge management is the engine that drives innovation.

It’s not what you know, it’s what you do with what you know
Of central importance is the changing nature of competitive advantage – not based on market position, size and power as in times past, but on the incorporation of knowledge into all of an organization’s activities.
Leif Edvinsson Swedish Intellectual Capital Guru

When Peter Senge defined The Fifth Discipline (as opposed to The Fifth Element) in 1994, one of the tenets of embracing the concept of becoming a “learning organization” was the use of effective knowledge management. Knowledge management in his model was a way to accelerate the performance of the organization so that it might better think holistically and systemically, and thereby design better solutions to its challenges faster. It required that organizations not only attract and retain bright people, but that they harness the thinking of those bright people in such a way that their efforts could be captured and populated across the organization.

The issue with knowledge in organizations is not that it isn’t available; the problem is that knowledge is not readily available at the time and point of need. As this dilemma relates to innovation, it is an even bigger issue. Innovation places huge knowledge demands on organizations. To be truly effective it must reach across all knowledge sources both internal to the organization and increasingly, thanks to open innovation practices, external to it. Knowledge must be easily and freely available for recombinant thinking approaches and to be applied directly to pressing challenges. Unfortunately, many knowledge management solutions sacrifice ease and access to the twin overlords or taxonomy and ownership.

Permission-based knowledge management systems, the ones that sequester information into functional groups with associated administrative and rights management restrictions, do not foster and promote the kind of knowledge transfer for which the learning organization calls. They kill it. Is there a place for intellectual property protection and management? Absolutely. But knowledge management need to head towards greater freedom to be of better value for innovation.

Groups filled with big brains and bright ideas applied to thorny issues equals…
Imagination is more important than knowledge
Albert Einstein

What is the promise of knowledge management? For one thing it enables organizations to leverage their tacit knowledge more broadly among their members. By applying knowledge management to key data sources, and capturing the experience of organization members in an explicit and coordinated manner, the opportunities to decrease the innovation cycle time are correspondingly increased.

To better coordinate knowledge management, via systems and processes not only technologies, user-led innovation communities may be created. Innovation communities when people within an organization who work together explore and create new approaches and then implement them. They are usually a subset of communities of practice or information communities (both of which are commonly tied to functional expertise.) Communities of practice are communities or networks of individuals and/or organizations that coalesce around an information commons, usually a body of knowledge that is open to all on equal terms. The Project Management Institute is one such community of practice.

Knowledge management will never work until corporations realize it’s not about how you capture knowledge but how you create and leverage it.
Etienne Wenger

From communities of practice, innovation communities may form to directly apply their shared knowledge in new and interesting ways. As the costs of diffusing knowledge are getting steadily lower, as computing and communication bandwidth expand, the geographic dispersion and cultural diversity of these groups may increase, too. This makes the notion of having the big brains all in the same room for innovation to occur (e.g., the Manhattan Project) is no longer a necessity. But as a proponent of both knowledge management and face-to-face communication (and relationship-building) I see a place for them both to continue to coexist.

Dick Brandon once said that, “documentation is like sex: when it is good, it is very, very good; and when it is bad, it is still better than nothing.” In a sense, knowledge management exists in a similar vein. Some, no matter how rudimentary, can be helpful in the development of innovation. The challenge is to “wire up” knowledge so that it is readily available to inform innovation practices, such as, design thinking, ethnographic study, and prototyping. That process is often best addressed at the human interface level.

The innovation wisdom of individuals, crowds, communities, countries
Knowledge without wisdom is a load of books on the back of an ass.
Japanese proverb

The purpose of knowledge management is to help an organization marshal and management it’s knowledge for the best gain. Knowing who to connect and what to connect them to is a part of the wiring up previously mentioned. It takes a clear understanding of the social network at play in an organization to understand who those people might be that can most benefit from both access and connection. It takes a form of organizational wisdom that many organization’s lack.

In a previous post I discussed a variety of impacts that may be felt through an over-reliance on the formal power resident in the organization chart. Knowledge management cannot fall prey to the turf battles that organization charts so often represent. Instead it must be liberated so that the cross-pollination often necessary for the greatest innovations might occur. Because even if you manage your knowledge carefully – you organize it, structure and store it, within an inch of perfection – if people aren’t using it to help make your organization more effective, efficient, and successful, what’s the point. A better filing system is not the heart of creativity. But knowing and using what you know?

There’s genius lurking in those files. It is just waiting for the right people to use it.

There’s no such thing as knowledge management; there are only knowledgeable people. Information only becomes knowledge in the hands of someone who knows what to do with it.
Peter Drucker

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Mix Business With Design Thinking – from Fast Company

We’ve all heard the news that the traditional MBA framework is broken, but adding courses on business ethics and financial crises won’t solve the problem. And although Harvard, Wharton, Kellogg, and the rest are all considering bringing new ways of thinking into their hallowed halls, a relatively small school in Canada is actually transforming the meaning of an MBA right before our eyes. The Rotman School of Management, helmed by Roger Martin, proposes a radical idea: to develop business leaders who are well-grounded in multiple disciplines.
The complete Dev Patnaik article may be found here.

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