Inventing the Future

July 5th, 2011 | Posted by John Kapeleris in Future - (0 Comments)

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it” Alan Kay

Value comes from delivering in the future, not the past. As humans we generally spend significant amounts of time dwelling on the past rather than thinking about the future, particularly how we can design the future to create significant value for our clients and our organizations.

The products being delivered today will not necessarily fulfill the needs of customers in the future. Many organizations after they develop and launch their successful products, become complacent and generally fail to continue to innovate or modify their existing products.

Recognizing patterns and trends in global markets that are impacting our lives, our work and our customers is one way of predicting the future scenarios that can lead to new products and markets. It is also important to recognize new patterns that are just brief fads and differentiate them from long-term trends that could be worth millions. The successful leader and entrepreneur must be able to recognize new patterns and trends that can lead to long-term change.

Patterns and trends are simply characterized as sequences of events, ideas, concepts, or behaviours that have economic, social, environmental, cultural or political significance. In hindsight patterns and trends seem logical. The difficulty is detecting them early while they are still taking shape. For example, many Japanese firms in the 1980s were able to recognize emerging patterns and their implications. As a result they were able to dominate particular markets (e.g. quartz watches, memory chips, flat screen TVs) by acquiring patents and research expertise. Timing is also a key influencing factor when capitalizing on new trend opportunities. Moving too soon can easily result in the same outcome as entering the market too late.

To become successful in identifying patterns and trends you need to develop your intuitive and analytical skills. You also need to be aware of and study the following domains:

  1. Driving Forces. What are the driving forces that can impact longer term change? For example, globalization, the aging population, increasing need for food, water and energy, protecting our environment etc.
  2. The Internet. The impact of the internet continues to create change in the way we work, live and play.
  3. Predicting Change. Gaining a deeper understanding of patterns and how they translate to creating change requires further study of six processes through which patterns evolve – extension, elaboration, recycling, pattern reversal, strange attractions and chaos.

Proactively seeking and identifying patterns and trends will allow you to identify new opportunities to invent the future products and markets that can add value to customers.

Dr John Kapeleris

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Creativity is the ability or aptitude by which individuals or groups generate or conceive new ideas, or adapt existing concepts into new principles. Many ideas have led to successful businesses and innovations. For example, these ideas may be a new solution to a problem, a new business model, a new method or a new product concept. By stimulating the creative process within individuals, new ideas and concepts can be generated that can lead to the achievement of new innovations.

The creative process was first described by Graham Wallas back in 1926. He proposed a systematic model that usually follows a sequence of phases: preparation; incubation; illumination; and implementation. However, we find today that many people do not have the interest or inclination to develop their creative thinking capacity. They feel more comfortable with their analytical or logical thinking.

Creative thinking (or divergent thinking) provides the means to generate new ideas and the identification of new opportunities. However, once ideas are generated they must be captured, screened, evaluated and finally implemented, which takes significant effort. This is reflected in the statement made by Thomas Edison that, “Genius is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration.”

So what can we do to develop our creative abilities that will contribute to competitive advantage for ourselves and our organisation? Following I have outlined ten ways to enhance and stimulate your creativity:

  1. Connect with people. Creativity is about people therefore you need to expand your networks through LinkedIn, facebook and twitter and develop creative communities and social networks that can provide creative inspiration. You could also seek a mentor or join a mastermind group with like-minded individuals. A great way of engaging people in the workplace to become more creative is to establish a creativity club.
  2. Take control of your workspace. Create an environment that is conducive to creative thinking e.g. this could involve setting up a den with a large mahogany desk, a library and a soft leather chair, or it could be a quiet and relaxing retreat to read and think quietly without interruptions
  3. Learn new creativity tools and techniques. This can be done through self education or through courses and online resources. You can also attend seminars and workshops on creativity, and become familiar with a selection of creativity tools and techniques that you can begin to implement and use (e.g. brainstorming, mindmapping, Six Thinking Hats, Why-why-why, SCAMPER, random word, force field analysis, creative visualization, synectics, morphological analysis, imagination, intuition)
  4. Expand your mind through reading. Reading articles and publications on creativity and innovation will help you to better understand the topics and the power the knowledge can bring when applied to your personal and business life. You should also read references on  personal development and topics that may be unrelated to your own interests.
  5. Engage in fun and humour. Engaging in brain games and puzzles is one way of stimultaing your creative abilities, however, engaging in outdoor activities, such as bike riding and walking can also have a positive effect. You could also attend sporting events, comedy shows or other live performances. Watching your favorite DVD movies can also create an escape for creative imagination.
  6. Stimulate your artistic flair. Take up the arts through drawing, painting, music or drama. I don’t mean become the next music star or Leonardo da Vinci; just set aside some time to engage with the arts.
  7. Visit inspiring places. Museums and art galleries provide an excellent environment to stimulate creativity and learning. Visiting awe-inspiring locations of interest around the world, such as the Louvre, Tuscany, ancient Greek locations or the Great Pyramids can also stimulate creative thinking. A simple relaxing holiday location at a beach resort is also a great way to free your mind and think creatively.
  8. Understand and utilise the power of your subconscious. Take advantage of the alpha dynamic state and its positive influence on your thinking abilities, or the power of creative visualization to enhance your creative abilities.
  9. Think on paper. Escape from the current dominance of the digital environment by keeping a journal, an ideas notebook, or just grab a pen and paper and write down the problems you want to solve, or the opportunities you want to develop. You can also apply creative thinking techniques and creative problem solving processes on paper.
  10. Convert ideas into action. One of the most rewarding activities is to take the ideas you have captured, develop them further and implement them to achieve successful outcomes.

You don’t need to try all ten suggestions above. The important thing is to make a commitment to enhancing your creative thinking abilities by taking action and trying a few of the suggestions. Dan Pink author of a Whole New Mind, stated, “Left brain thinking gets you the job, right brain thinking gets you the promotion“.

Dr John Kapeleris

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Today’s business environment requires business owners, managers and leaders to deliver more with less time and resources. The impact of the recent global economic changes has further influenced the business environment resulting in diminished resources – fewer people, smaller budgets and significantly less time available to complete tasks and achieve the desired results and outcomes.

One solution to this problem is the power of Speed Thinking. Speed Thinking developed by Dr Ken Hudson and described in detail in his book Speed Thinking: How to Thrive in a Time-poor World is a process that consciously and deliberately accelerates the pace at which an individual or group thinks, creates, solves and acts.

The concept for Speed Thinking emerged when Dr Ken Hudson observed that when managers were challenged by limiting their available time they often produced the desired results and subsequently felt more energised and satisfied. By giving people less time this can unlock their creative abilities to achieve more and still achieve a high quality outcome. It also removes the opportunity for people to over-analyze the situation or task and avoid “paralysis through analysis”.

The concept of Speed Thinking is aligned with the thoughts of Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking which challenges the long-held belief that doing something quickly compromises quality. By relying on your creative abilities and intuition you can improve the efficiency of your thinking, avoid procrastination and get more things done quickly by creating more time for yourself.

Dr Ken Hudson outlines a number of ways to use Speed Thinking in his book, however, one of the processes that he describes is SpeedLinks which involves the following steps:

  1. Using the template SpeedLinks Paper Version write down the issue or challenge you wish to resolve.
  2. Create nine initial thoughts or ideas in the inner nine bubbles in two minutes or less (the Start step). The objective is to write down your ideas as fast as you can without filtering or review.
  3. Select a few of the thoughts or ideas that seem the most promising or just intuitively feel interesting (the Evaluate step).
  4. Now try to develop nine ways to make your selected ideas even stronger by expanding and building the ideas into concepts. The objective of this step is to develop or build the ideas as fast as you can (the Build step).
  5. The last step is to take each of the selected and developed concepts and write nine ways to bring these to life (the Action step). For example, you may want to talk to a customer, develop a rapid prototype for demonstration, deliver a presentation to  agroup, develop a short business plan, or write a  list of tasks or activities. Actions should be specific and tangible.

In a very small amount of time you will have developed a range of possibilities, built new concepts and developed action plans ready for implementation.

Dr John Kapeleris

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In my previous company Panbio Ltd, one of the key success factors of the company was embedding innovation across the whole organisation and not limited to the R&D Department alone. One of the initiatives that I implemented to drive innovation in the organisation was the establishment of a Creativity Club. The main objective of the creativity club was to stimulate creative thinking in individuals and encourage the use of creative thinking tools to come up with new ideas, and to solve problems in the organisation and for our customers.

The original objectives that we brainstormed at our first creativity club at Panbio are outlined below:

The format and structure of the creativity club included the following:

  1. The creativity club was open to all employees of the organisation. Everyone was invited to deliver presentations, and to share their knowledge and experiences.
  2. The creativity club was held either at lunchtime or before work (lunch and breakfast were provided which was a great attraction for employees).
  3. The agenda of each meeting consisted of the following:
    1. Ice-breaker – each participant would be asked to describe a creative experience or reading since the last meeting (those participants that could not describe a creative experience would be asked to tell a joke – right brain thinking)
    2. Formal presentation – a theme was chosen as a focus of each creativity club including: Introduction to Creative Thinking, Serendipity vs Synchronicity, Idea Management, Creativity Tools, Imagination, Innovation case studies (3M, Dupont, Lotus Corporation, Ideo etc), Creative Problem Solving, Intuition, Chaos Theory, etc
    3. Informal discussion – this session included open discussion about the specific topic presented and the practical application of the learnings from the presentation
    4. Action planning – the creativity club concluded with the recording of action plans that each participant could take back to their department or functional area and implement
  4. The creativity club was modelled on the Dupont OZ Creative Thinking Network and the Parisian Salons (creative communities) of the 1920’s. The creativity club included a number of games and puzzles to stimulate the creative juices of participants. It also provided a fun environment conducive to the sharing of knowledge and ideas that could be further developed or implemented. A database was set up within the Knowledge Management system of the organisation to capture and record the presentations, knowledge, ideas, learnings, discussions and action plans arising from the creativity club.

The creativity club at Panbio also spawned the development of Creative Problem Solving Hit Teams. These teams consisted of cross-functional team members that would work on solving problems both inside and outside the organisation. When an internal functional area or an external customer could not solve a particular problem then a Creative Problem Solving Hit Team was deployed. The cross-functional nature of the team allowed a wider range of skill-sets to be incorporated in the team, providing a diverse perspective when investigating each problem. The team included people directly involved with the problem but also people who had never been exposed to the problem. Team members were also equipped with a variety of creative problem solving tools and resources. These teams became so effective that we started to provide this service beyond our existing clients and domain areas of expertise.

Enjoy!

Dr John Kapeleris

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Ideation or idea generation is a key driver of the innovation process. So how do we find our best ideas? Many of us generate our best ideas during the morning shower, or while we are listening to music or driving. Sometimes we come up with ideas when we are actively trying to solve problems or when we wake up in the morning. The greatest impediment to extracting value from these ideas is firstly our ability to actively capture these great ideas before the hard work begins to evaluate, harvest and implement these ideas.

Converting ideas into successful outcomes or benefits, i.e. innovations, requires a disciplined approach, although creativity forms the foundation of the process.  A typical idea management process may involve the following steps:

Generating Ideas

Dr Linus Pauling, the dual Nobel Prize Laureate stated “The best way to get a good idea is to get a lot of ideas”. The more ideas you produce the greater the chance of finding a winning idea. Idea generation was popularized by Alex Osborne in his 1953 book “Applied Imagination” where he described the concept of “Brainstorming”. Brainstorming is now widely used as a tool to generate a large number of ideas in a group setting. Furthermore, Tony Buzan’s Mindmapping® technique has also provided the means for individual brainstorming. Individuals or groups have the capacity to come up with ideas when they are in a conducive state or environment, such as relaxing in a quiet and comfortable place or while taking a shower. Relaxation allows the subconscious mind to continue to process information and make connections.

Capturing Ideas

Where do you look for ideas? You don’t need to go far. Ideas already exist within individuals working in an organization or they can be easily sourced from the external environment, including the market, customers, competitors and the Internet. We can improve the process of capturing ideas by:

  • Actively looking for ideas around us through observation and listening e.g. talking to people, newspapers, the environment
  • Building idea sources such as reference books, the Internet, thought leaders
  • Recording and banking ideas in journals, notebooks, electronic databases or mobile phone apps

Discovery through serendipity results in a random coincidence or accident that triggers an idea or concept. An attentive mind is important in recognizing and capturing these random ideas. Alternatively, synchronicity or focused awareness is more powerful since the individual is actively seeking an idea or a solution to a problem.

Constructing and Harvesting Ideas

When ideas are generated and captured they are usually in a raw form and require further constructing or processing into a concept or application. For this to occur a number of creative thinking tools can be used including brainstorming, morphological analysis, scenario building, rearranging, cross-linking or randomizing. The final step involves harvesting the developed ideas that will either, satisfy an existing market need, solve a known problem or provide a new opportunity for further development. At this stage some people will include an incubation step to sleep on the ideas before the evaluation stage.

Evaluating and Protecting Ideas

The previous steps in the idea management process all involve some element of creative input, while, the evaluation stage involves traditional analysis of the ideas using a number of predefined criteria relevant to the individual or the organization. Although, intuition may also play a role.  In evaluating ideas an initial feasibility should include a preliminary market, technical and risk assessment to determine the viability of the opportunity. It should also include an intellectual property search to determine whether someone else has already patented the idea, and to confirm that you have the freedom to operate. This step is followed by determining the value of the idea to the organization and the costs associated with the implementation phase. Paralysis by analysis should be avoided if the idea is to progress to implementation.

Implementing Ideas

One of the most difficult steps is the implementation phase. To develop great ideas and not to action them is the same as not having any ideas at all. Implementation requires planning, hard work and discipline to achieve successful outcomes. Many people underestimate the effort involved in converting their ideas into successful products, services or processes. A typical implementation process may involve:

  • clarifying the objective,
  • developing the plan,
  • identifying key processes and tasks,
  • prioritizing activities,
  • resourcing and budgeting,
  • funding,
  • assigning responsibility, and then
  • doing it!

Developing a compelling business case or business model with a clear path to market is a key factor of success.

Measuring Outcomes and Results

Progress can be monitored using appropriate measures to determine the effectiveness of the idea. Measures include value currencies such as revenue, cost savings, efficiency gains, social benefits and environmental benefits. Remember, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”.

Your next idea could be the breakthrough innovation, new solution, new product, new service or organisational system that could add value to your organisation or to society.

Dr John Kapeleris

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Intuition

May 26th, 2010 | Posted by John Kapeleris in Creativity | Mind - (0 Comments)

Intuition is the ability to know or understand without conscious thought, observation or reason. It is associated with the right-brain functions of the mind, although it is commonly referred to as gut feeling. Intuition provides us with the ability to develop valid solutions to problems or make appropriate decisions beyond conscious understanding.

Intuition is a sensing function where we experience a flash of sudden insight. For example:

  • The hunch that you should investigate a new idea or opportunity
  • The feeling that you need to look over previous work or information
  • The sensing that you will meet someone you know at an upcoming function

The intuitive process can unexpectedly lead you to the right solution, a valid decision, a new discovery, a creative experience, or a new opportunity. Studies have shown that many senior executives have relied on intuition or “gut feeling” to make the right decision when their businesses have come to a defining moment in time. However, we generally do not want to admit that we use intuition to make some of our decisions and choices in life.

Philip Goldberg in his book “The Intuitive Edge” describes six types of intuition:

  1. Discovery
  2. Creativity
  3. Evaluation
  4. Operation
  5. Prediction
  6. Illumination

Intuition is central to many scientific discoveries and creative inspirations. Intuition can also be a spontaneous experience where a solution to a problem emerges in our minds without prior analysis or incubation.

It is difficult to develop our intuitive abilities, however, we can learn to become more aware of our intuition. For example, we can become more receptive to our feelings and thoughts, believe in our own abilities, and internally ” listen”  to subconscious messages.

To strengthen our intuition we can implement the following simple steps:

  1. Prepare by sourcing as much information as possible around the issue or problem you are trying to address.
  2. Incubate the information in your mind to allow your thoughts to create new connections – allow the creative process to occur.
  3. Trust your mind that it will come up with a solution or new discovery.
  4. Pursue unrelated activities or try to relax your mind, avoiding tension.
  5. Recognize intuition and the internal messages created.
  6. Act on the intuitive ideas immediately when you feel complete certainty.

Make it a great life!

Dr John Kapeleris

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Few people think more than two or three times a year; I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week”. George Bernard Shaw

The human mind is one of the most powerful information processing tools on Earth. It can process enormous amounts of information per second and stores a large quantity of knowledge in the form of memory, yet we struggle to use more than 10% of its capability.

The key to unlocking the power of your mind lies within your subconscious. The subconscious mind has the ability to influence your beliefs and attitudes, and subsequently to direct your thoughts, desires and purpose.

Although studies have shown that we use less than 10% of our brains (the conscious mind), phenomenal capacity exists within the subconscious mind to achieve greater use and application. If we could tap into this power that is readily available we could achieve far greater outcomes in our personal and business life.

The subconscious mind offers a wealth of resources to transform our lives, including:

  • Positive beliefs and affirmations
  • Imagination and dreams
  • Intuition
  • Creative inspiration
  • Visualisation
  • Alpha dynamic state

In order to tap into and develop the power of your subconscious you need to be open-minded and receptive to new ideas. The infinite capability within your subconscious mind can reveal and unleash new thoughts, ideas and creativity to transform your life and capitalise on opportunities.

Your subconscious mind can provide you with new ideas and inventions, new discoveries, new works of creative expression, new thoughts and knowledge that can be applied to your personal and business world.

Within the subconscious mind you can find solutions to problems, new opportunities, hidden powers and new wisdom to achieve abundance, success, health and happiness.

In the next few blog posts I will be providing knowledge and exploring techniques,  from my personal experience, on how to tap into the power of your subconscious mind and access the other 90% capability of our brains.

Dr John Kapeleris

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What is Success?

February 4th, 2010 | Posted by John Kapeleris in Success - (1 Comments)

Success means so many things to different people. For many, success is about achieving financial freedom in their lives and having the time to do what they enjoy doing. For others, success may involve achieving harmony with their mental, physical and spiritual aspects of their life. Success can also mean achieving the goals and objectives that you set out for your life journey and achieving the outcomes that you anticipated.

Your own idea of success may be a combination of the above, but the key will be to make it happen now!

Three Steps to Success

I have tried to simplify the process of moving to the next level of personal development and achieving success in your life. Having read numerous books and listened to a number of audiovisual programs on success I have reduced all the different approaches to three key steps in achieving success:

  • Think – positive mental attitude, beliefs, creative thinking, intuition, dreams and desires, subconscious programming, visualisation
  • Plan – life purpose, goals and objectives, commitment, detailed action plans
  • Do! – positive doing, self-discipline, taking action, implementation, evaluation

Although all three steps are important to achieving success the emphasis should be on the “Doing”. Ultimate success comes from the actions you implement in life once you have taken the opportunity to think about what you want and then plan what you are going to do. Success is a journey therefore you need to start working on it now. Today is the start of the rest of your life.

Many people spend a lot of time thinking and dreaming of success without actually planning and putting into action their plans. Don’t get me wrong. Thinking and having a positive mental attitude are important precursors to success, however these alone won’t pull you through. I can now understand why Thomas Edison stated that genius (success) is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.

What is your definition of success?

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