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TEDxWarsaw - Sergiusz Sawin - 3/5/10

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Okay, good morning, everybody. For the last five years, I've been involved in more than 50 innovation-related projects. With different companies, on different continents, with different cultures. So today, I would like to share with you some of my thoughts and learnings from this journey, on how to build an innovative organization. So, you know, at Innovatika where I work, we tend to say that innovation is like cooking. Well, because you need some passion, you need some, you know, some recipies, you need a clear process. And, if you're successful, and if everything goes right, you should have a really tasty product at the end. Actually, when I was preparing that slide, my wife came by and asked, "What's that" And I said: "You know, it's a metaphore of innovation." And she was like: "Innovation? This is how to bake a cake. If you want innovation, you should invite probably a group of 4-year-olds, leave these guys with that stuff for 5 minutes, and then you're going to see innovation." So I should try this with my nephew. I'm not sure what my sister would say about it, but we could give it a try. So, anyway, lets hear what are-- what the best innovators have to say, what are the secret recipies that make an organization innovate. And I'll start with one short story about a conference in Barcelona, where I went 2 years ago, and there was a big whiteboard on the side, and the organizer asked everybody to place their ideas, thoughts, whatever they wanted, on that whiteboard. And the first day, somebody drew a really big circle on the whiteboard, and wrote: "Don't touch" in the middle of that circle. So I was really curious, what would happen, you know, with that circle, and nobody really wanted to go inside. On the third day when i was just passing over lunch, I saw that there is a small text inside. So I was really curious, I went to see the circle, and I realized that somebody wrote inside: "The future belongs to those that dare touch where they're not allowed to." Okay? Now, if you think about it deeply, we probably will learn that for some people who dared to touch, the future was not that bright, and probably shouldn't be. But I think it's a good metaphor for innovation, because innovators have the courage to explore. If you think how the traditional organizations look at their markets, you will find that they probably think of their markets as a quest for everest: "Okay, we know where we want to be. We want to be on that summit. We know everybody who is around, we know all the other teams that try to fight with us. So we have a clear goal." Well, I'll tell you what: innovation leaders, they look around, and they see plenty of other summits they can take. There are lots of opportunities. They may not have the skills, but they're willing to try. So you can imagine where would Nokia be, originally the producer of rubber, had they not decided to, you know, pursue the mobile telephones. Or, on the other hand, where would Xerox be right now, if they hadn't decided to stick to their core market, but explore some opportunities that were developed by the Xerox PARC, the research center in the seventies. They would probably be in a totally different business at the moment. OK, so this, "second hand:" Know where you want to be in 10 years. Speaking about Xerox's PARC, Alan Kay, one of the employees once said: "If you cannot predict the future, invent it." So global innovators really want to see what's the future, and [they] spend a lot of time trying to look, what the future is like. One of the greatest examples that I know is, how BBC approached the risk scenarios to digital lives of children in 2014. And this was back in 2004. So they dedicated a lot of time and resources to develop different options and different scenarios. So, if in yoor organization you have a picture like this, it's very much easier, you know, to come up with strategic options, and to find where we want to be, and how to reach these goals. Okay, third ingredient is, to see the world through your clients' eyes. And we tend to forget about it. We say that pictures speak thousands of words, yet we prefer to go through hundreds of pages of reports, on what our customers are doing. Instead of just going into the field, and checking, and asking them, seeing how they do things. I was engaged in a couple projects where we were really looking how people struggled with some products, and it was a great learning for us. Some companies, like Chevron, they even once launched an innovation campaign, asking their employees: "Please, send us photographs, what are the strangest things that people do with our products." And they were really surprised at what were the strangest things they do. If you're thinking that we're living in very hectic times and that it's really hard to keep pace with the recent development of technologies, I have good news for you: products may come and go, but if you focus on the job, on what people are really trying to get done, seperate your thinking from the product that you're offering, you will quickly learn that it's not that fast. Actually, people wanted to store and retrieve music 150 years ago. And they still do it now. What changes is the platform. And what changed is the satisfaction of using different platforms. So, probably none of you would like to recieve a very nice, fancy cassete recorder for your next birthday. Isn't that right? Because platforms change, but the job remained the same. So, if you focus on that, and you find the most important and unsatisfied jobs that your customers are trying to get done, you will learn that the products are not that important. But because there are different options, they can get the job done, but you will have a much broader perspective. Discover your non-customers. And one of the greatest examples that I know is the Nintendo Wii. Do we have any Wii fans in the room? Alright, some of them. Yep. 5 years ago, who would've thought that, you know, the 60 year-old and 70 year-old people will be, you know, the heavy users of computer games? Well, this is the reality. This is changing. If you're looking-- Check the Ericsson's Sports Bowling Tournament on YouTube, and you will see what I'm talking about. I mean, the way people compete, the older people compete against each other is really amazing. So a small bit of advice for you. For those of you who plan to buy a new Nintendo Wii. So if you plan to bring it home, and unpack, please make sure that your grandma is not around. Because this might be the last time that you'll see, you know, the stuff. This is how Nintendo approached the older people, and it was a huge success. So smart innovators constantly challenge their thinking about the customer, saying: who are our non-customers, who are our unexplored customers that we can bring on board to our products and services? Find out your lead users. And Eric Von Hippel defines "lead users" as, "some people who may have similar needs to yours they try to solve their problems on their own, they use different, strange, maybe some strange products to do that, but they're out there, they are outside your industry. If you want to-- If you have any specific challenge, technological challenge, that you want to solve, probably there are some people, outside your industry, who already had the same challenge, and who got the solution. So some companies I work with, and 3M is on of the greatest examples of that is, that they learn that it's much harder to hire an external solution than just to spend lots of time trying to develop the solution on your own. So try to look around and see who else can help you in your quest. We were talking about creativity and collaboration today. And I was involved in a very interesting research project. It started in 2006. We were going around the world and trying to find what are all the methods, technologies and tools that support creative collaboration. And there are many places that engage people in future thinking and collaboration, but the one that I was the most impressed [with], was the one we found in Utrecht in the Netherlands. And this is the place, how it looks like. It's fully dedicated to future thinking and to bringing people, to jointly collaborate on future issues. And the most surprising thing is that this thing is owned by the Dutch Ministry of Transportation and Waterworks. So if you think about, you know, our ministries, how people work in that, I think we have still quite a distance. You can walk around special rooms where you Google Earth any areas of the Netherlands that you need, and you just sit around there, develop, you know, future policies, and stuff. Be open to new ideas. This is something that may be obvious, but it's not very obvious for companies. There's a huge power of crowdsourcing on the Internet. Everybody would love to share their ideas and their products, but not many companies are that willing to open. There is one big company, whose name I don't want to mention, who recently opened a web portal, saying to the clients: "We want your ideas." So it's beautiful, you know, you enter that, you have a field. You submit your ideas. But at the bottom they write: "We are very much open to your ideas, but we're not interested in ideas about products, about product ingredients, about marketing, about delivery channels, because we have stuff for that." But any time, any idea that you want to submit, feel free to do that." So what do you guys want? I mean... Well, I have some ideas how to make my cat fly. I even developed some prototypes for that, but... Is it really what you want? Prototype. This is really interesting, and not many companies do that. Dedicate some time, bring some resources to the stuff. Buy some stuff to make people really turn their ideas into reality. I was-- When I was in Stockholm, I had this-- I was invited by a group of designers, and we had a challenge to develop sustainable solutions for the future house. And, actually, it took us really three hours to come up with some very interesting solutions. Just because we had lots of stuff that we could cut, we could connect together, we could play with. And it's much better, when you look at it, to see it just like this than to read a report on your idea. There's no better way to turn your ideas into reality, than just to prototype it. And... "In order to succeed faster, you should've failed sooner," as David Kelley says. So when you try and fail, you're getting much closer to the-- to the final solution. And last, but not least: Prepare for tough resistance. And I hope the Hollywood guys would not sue me for that, but... Innovators in most companies are like John Rambo in the jungle. They are. You have limited resources, you're on the enemy territory, you really don't know where you're going, you have no support, and every step may be your last one. (laughter) So when you feel that you're one of these guys, just make sure that you have some supporters, somebody that can cover you, somebody that, you know, will fight for you, and never sell your ideas alone. That's not the best way. Because this may be, as I said-- This step may be your last one. So these are all the ingredients of the secret recipe that I've found over the years. Pick any one of them and, you know, think about it. Play with it, put it in your context and think about it. Maybe it will bring you some interesting ideas. So we at Innovatika have this Chinese saying that we particularly like: "When the wind of change is blowing, you can either build a shelter, or a windmill." So I would like to wish you that you have the courage and the passion, and also a bit of patience to build-- in your organizations, to build the windmills. The great windmills that you desire. Thank you very much. (applause) (Ralph Talmont:) Of course, innovation's all about passion and courage. But you seem to-- You've drawn a real schematic of how to about innovating. How much is it a science, and how much is it art? (Sergiusz Sawin:) Well, this is a really good question. (laughter) I mean-- (RT:) That means he'll take at least half an hour. (SS:) Yea, let's discuss this over lunch, okay? I think, honestly, I think it's both. You need to have some clear process so that it goes into the right direction, so you know what you're looking for. But then you need this creative element, and this element of art to really come up with solutions that will surprise the market and your customer. So that's, I guess, both of them. (RT:) Thank you, Sergiusz. (SS:) Thank you. (applause)

Video Details

Duration: 15 minutes and 33 seconds
Country: Poland
Language: English
Genre: None
Producer: TEDxWarsaw
Director: TEDxWarsaw
Views: 120
Posted by: tedxwarsaw on Mar 15, 2010

Sergiusz Sawin is an "innovation chef". He is the Chief Innovation Architect at a Warsaw-based innovation consultancy firm he co-founded. In this TEDxWarsaw talk he shares some of his innovation recipes.

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