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Human Potential in the Age of Exponential Tech

MaRs Emerging Technology – IDEO Tom Kelley’s Ten Faces of Innovation

The afternoon keynote at the MaRS emerging technology conference was a speech by Tom Kelley from IDEO. Kelley talked about this latest book “The Ten Faces of Innovation” and some of the challenges companies today face.

Today’s Landscape:

  • Today’s companies need to manage a market of continuous change
  • In practice, the nature of today’s businesses live in Stephen Covey’s Quadrant I (the emergencies) and they categorize innovation as a nice to have.
  • In reality, innovation has an urgency all of its own.

“What’s new in this new branded worls is the need for greater innovation. In the future, standing still will be lethal to any brand.” Scott Bradbury, A New Brand World.

The Red Queen Effect:

Kelley quoted a scene from Through the Looking Glass, the sequel to Alice in Wonderland. The scene takes place on a large chessboard. Alice and the Red Queen are trying to get across the board, their feet are moving but they are not going anywhere. When Alice expresses her frustration the Red Queen Says “If you want to get somewhere else you have to run at least twice as fast.”

Meaning: It’s not enough to be an innovator, you have to out-innovate the other companies who are innovating. Â

Beware the Underdog

The underdog is hungry, and those who are hungry will go the extra mile to get ahead. They will be relentless, creative, resilient and resourceful. Industry leaders can’t afford to waste too much time patting themselves on the back, the competition is always looming!

The Ten Faces of Innovation:

  1. The Anthropologist
  2. The Experimenter
  3. The Cross-pollinator
  4. The Hurdler
  5. The Collaborator
  6. The Director
  7. The Experience Architect
  8. The Set Designer
  9. The Caregiver
  10. The Storteller

Kelley decided to focus on his favorite “The Anthropologist”

  • The Anthropologists are the single biggest sources of innovation at IDEO
  • All organizations have great problems solvers, but Anthropologists are experts at figuring out the most important problems to solve, often ones that hide in plain sight.
  • They identify latent customer needs
  • If you can be the first one to address these needs, your customers will reward you handsomely.

I actually liked this speech because it touched upon my earlier post “Deep Diving vs. Skimming the Seas.” My instinct was correct. Kelley says that often people get stuck diving so deep into their respective knowledge silos that they become incapable of understanding some of the issues faced by their clients. He said it is essential to step back and spend some time observing and putting yourself in your consumer’s shoes.

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