Observation, Ideation & Innovation

Last night, I presented at Deloitte's Forensic Innovation Cafe in Sydney. The brief given to me was to run the Forensics team through my thought process around one of my innovative pieces. It was to keep innovation real, and really inspire them to start innovating.

I walked them through ideation/innovations in 3 different industries:

  1. Airline Industry
  2. Non-for Profit Organisations (NPOs)
  3. Mobile

I then wrapped up with four key-learnings:

1. Observe & Reflect

What do Malcolm GladwellAlain De Botton, David Attenborough and Peter Williams (CEO of Deloitte Digital) have in common? What makes them great thinkers and inspirational individuals? They all take the time to observe society around them and reflect on their observations. These guys are able to weave together all of these disparate threads (observations) and synthesise them into articulate arguments.

The innovations I presented across all 3 industries spawned from individuals observing simple problems in the environment around them.

2. Don't Force it

Ideation & Innovation are akin to sitting on a toilet. They are natural processes, and you simply can’t force it. When it comes, it comes – it’ll drop like a bomb, or all of a sudden the ideas will starting flowing straight onto paper.

Want a practical example? Google Maps – that wasn't as a business-driven offering. It came out from a team of engineers, who in their 20% free time,  thought it was a great idea to map the world. Now we can't live without it.

3. Venture into new things

Get into a new skin. Learn new things. Nothing's holding you back. Don't have a skill? Identify the people who do and collaborate with them. For example, the Australian Red Cross Blood Service innovation involved me collaborating with two work mates down in Melbourne. I couldn't have done it without them.

Venturing into new things is also about creating stuff. Mark Pollard, strategy director at McCann Sydney, just recently blogged on Why strategists should make stuff. It's a phenomenal read and it ties in very nicely with this key learning.

4. Have a bit of fun

The CEO of Deloitte Australia, Giam Swiegers, couldn't say it any better, but "Have a bit of fun". Innovation is about having a bit of fun. Never let it become a dull and boring chore. Keep the creativity burning!

Overall, the response I received was positive. It was an alternate approach to looking at innovation. If there was anything I'd do differently, I would've cut down on my introduction (I thought my audience should know a little bit about me before diving into the content) and I'd tell them that ideation never really stops - can't push out an idea at the innovation cafe/workshop? That's okay. If you push it out later, add it back to the collective pool of ideas generated at the workshop.

So there you go, my presentation summed up in a quick blog post. If there's one thing you takeaway, it should be this: Take the time to observe and reflect on your environment.  You cannot innovate without insight. You cannot gain insight without observing.

If you want annotations, view the presentation on slideshare and refer to  the notes tab.

I hope you enjoy it. I'm keen for feedback! :)