Today Post-Its are globally one of the top five most popular office supply products. But do you hear the story of how the sticky notes called 'Post-It' were invented?
It took 3M almost 12 years to commercialize it after a 3M scientist Spencer Silver failed to create a super strong adhesive to be used for aero industry in building planes and instead he developed an incredibly weak, pressure sensitive adhesive called Acrylate Copolymer Microspheres. But it was 3M Product Manager who discovered fascinating use of the this 'grand failure' after multiple trials and validation with possible users. And the rest is history.
This short story brings us to the point when we think over 'The Power of the Unexpected' in an organization. The organization can realize this power and actually benefit it from it by making 'Design Thinking' its DNA.
So how 'Design Thinking' is practiced in context of innovative by organizations across their various functions. It will be a good idea to define basic elements of Design Thinking as refresher. It is a rigorous approach to connect:
Next is, how to unleash Design Thinking in organization - any organization?
Be it Manufacturing, IT Services, Hospitality, FMCG, White-Brown-Yellow Goods, Communication Services, Educational & Training or be it Strategic planning, Marketing, Sales, HR, Operations, Supply Chain Management, Logistics, Procurement, Production.
How to unleash Design Thinking in functional area - any function?
Everyone asks what skills are needed to grow our organization in next 20 years. We are asking the wrong question. Skills become outdated the moment you learn them, knowledge gets surpassed instantly. If we want to future-proof ourselves, we need to become an idea person, adaptable, open-minded, adept at any-problem-solving, persuasive communicator, inventor, artist, story teller, entertainer.
Here are some common elements to unleash Design Thinking in diverse organizations and in diverse functions:
The degree to which the interests and actions of every employee support organization's innovation goals, determine its performance. An organization can not sustain its innovations unless it is strongly aligned to enable it.
It is critical that all the decision makers need to recognize value of alignment and commit themselves to it.
To know if your organization is aligned enough for innovation, ask :
It is basic human instinct to be innovative. Research across innovative organizations shows that most unexpected creative actions come from self-initiated activities.
Key is to recognize this and to unleash an effective system which responds to employee ideas irrespective of hierarchies.
To know if your organization supports self-initiated activities, ask :
Serendipity is fortunate accident that brings forth a great insight. A bias for action, a 'Just Do it' attitude that encourages tinkering and experimentation will lead to potentially more fortunate accidents. Every accident is an exception to what was expected.
To know if your organization promotes serendipity, ask :
A stimulus provides a fresh insight into something you are already set out to do or bumps you into something totally unanticipated. Diverse stimuli come out of diverse experiences and exposures.
To know if your organization is hardwired to provide for diverse experiences, ask :
One of the things happen in small organization naturally and does not happen easily in larger ones is within-organization communication.
Do people and information are brought together in unanticipated ways? Do you have planned programs where you meet people in your organization you normally will not?
To know if your organization has a strong within-organization communication, ask :
My extensive journey into various industries and my fruitful interaction across various functions in the organization led me to 'Discover' the power of the Unexpected. Your new journey will lead you to realize it.Sanjay Jain