Posts Tagged ‘Leonardo da vinci’

Flexible Focus #28: The Principle of Innovation

by William Reed on November 18, 2010

When it comes to innovation, for the vast majority hindsight is 20/20. “Why didn’t I think of that?” These are the famous last words of those who wonder why someone else always beats them to it with a new innovative product or solution. The reason is simple. Innovation is an intuitive process, and unless you tap into intuitive thinking, it is most likely to escape you.

Intuitive thinkers are comfortable in the world of ambiguity and possibilities, and tend to be quite good at connecting the dots which others never seem to notice. Intuitive thinkers are constantly discovering and creating new constellations, while non-intuitive thinkers stick with the familiar constellations. This changes of course, when a previously unknown constellation becomes known. After a new product, such as the iPad comes on the scene, it isn’t long before a host of imitators follow in hot pursuit.

You don’t have to look back too many years to see that at any period of history, even among experts what passed for common sense was completely overturned by new insights and innovations. Read a few quotes of the things people said when making Bad Predictions. Particularly in the area of telecommunications, computers, and transportation, where innovative technology has transformed our world, time and again expertise comes with an expiration date.

Innovation is about foresight, not hindsight. How then can we develop the ability to see clearly through the clouds, and use flexible focus to master the Principle of Innovation?

Desire to discover

The motive power of the innovative mind is curiosity, the desire to discover what is beyond the obvious. Heraclitus, the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher whose thesis was that change was a central principle of the universe, spoke as a true innovator in saying that, “Hidden connections are stronger than obvious ones.”

This applies even when there is no obvious tangible treasure to be gained. Leonardo da Vinci, one of the greatest innovative geniuses of all time, was so fascinated with cloud patterns, moving water, and even the patterns of stains on a wall, that he recorded them in sketches and wrote extensively about the patterns of nature in his notebooks.

Progress in learning a foreign language or musical instrument depends on intense curiosity to explore deeper, without which the process of practice would be tedious and tiresome. When a Japanese calligrapher was asked what motivated him to keep on practicing, seemingly surprised by the question, he responded that it was a continuous process of surprise and discovery. To a curious mind, practice is its own reward.

Inside, outside, and beyond the box

In Japan, the process of innovation actually begins with mastering an established pattern. This is true in all of the traditional arts and crafts, and each school starts by teaching the well-established master patterns. However, at some point students are expected to break from the pattern and explore variations on the master theme. Ultimately, the process of mastery involves freedom to improvise. Known as 守破離 (shū ha ri), the literal translation of the characters is defend-break-leave, as in defend the pattern, break free, leave behind.

This approach to innovation involves thinking inside, outside, and beyond the box. The Mandala Chart is practically designed for this purpose, which is excellent training for flexible focus.

Wealth Dynamics Square

Learning from the Wealth Dynamics Square

The Wealth Dynamics Square shown here was developed by Roger J. Hamilton, to graphically represent how the 8 personality profiles are positioned on the vertical axis of Intuition vs Timing, and the horizontal axis of Extrovert vs Introvert. These are terms originally developed by Swiss Psychologist Carl Jung, the founder of Analytical Psychology.

The Wealth Dynamics Square in effect is a Mandala divided into four triangles and eight profile points. As a navigational compass for entrepreneurs it is unsurpassed.

In this diagram the intuitive process of Innovation takes place in the green triangle at the top of the square. This is DYNAMO energy, represented in Chinese philosophy by the element of Wood, with growth in the Spring season. The three profiles across the top of the square are MECHANIC (山 mountain ), CREATOR (天 heaven ), and STAR (雷 lightning ), all of which represent mystery and high places, the dwelling place of innovation.

The Wealth Dynamics profile is not a point, but rather a shape crossing each of the four triangles in a radar graph. The profile of each person contains a percentage of each of the four energies, DYNAMO, BLAZE, TEMPO, and STEEL, and the person’s profile type is determined by the one that has the largest area in the graph. For more information on how to interpret the Wealth Dynamics Square, visit the Find Your Flow page on my website.

Learn from the Masters of Innovation

Though quite different in style, each of the profiles in the DYNAMO energy range has a special talent when it comes to the process of innovation.

CREATOR is the purest form of this energy, and famous Creators include Leonardo da Vinci, Walt Disney, Richard Branson, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs.

The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs, by Carmine Gallo, is an excellent resource available for people in any profile to learn from one of the undisputed masters of innovation. Carmine Gallo has been interviewed extensively about this book, as well as the preceding volume, The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs.

Innovators lead, imitators follow. Jobs himself described imitators as being like “Someone who’s not cool trying to be cool. Painful to watch.”

According to Gallo, the Seven Principles of Innovation are:

  1. Do what You Love
  2. Put a Dent in the Universe
  3. Kick-Start Your Brain
  4. Sell Dreams, Not Products
  5. Say No to 1,000 Things
  6. Create Insanely Great Experiences
  7. Master the Message

And he illustrates these not just with the achievements of Steve Jobs, but with other companies which have also mastered the process. Gallo gives us seven principles. Why not eight? Use your imagination to fill in the eighth principle as your own creative motto, whatever phrase triggers the creative process for you. You can download an INNOVATE LIKE STEVE JOBS Mandala to get started, but get the book to keep going.

Take a master for your mentor. Just remember to emulate, not imitate

Don’t just Invent. Innovate.

by Robert Driscoll on July 26, 2010

There are many misconceptions about what inventions and innovations are in the marketplace, but they are two very different things.  You can invent something and not do anything with it.  Think of Bell Labs which has hundreds of thousands of patented inventions.  Many of these inventions are just simply ideas and only some were great enough to be innovative where it changed the marketplace.  Or think about Leonardo da Vinci.  A great inventor who was ahead of his time, but many of his inventions simply were not practical during his lifetime.  Now look at Thomas Edison.  While he might have failed hundreds of times trying to invent the light bulb, when he perfected his invention and introduced it in to the marketplace, he created an industry.  He was an innovator.

  • Innovation isn’t about being new to the marketplace.  Look at the iPod from Apple.  It wasn’t the first MP3 player in the marketplace.  They just did it right and made it simple.
  • Innovation isn’t about technology.  Look at Starbucks.  They’ve created a business model around selling coffee in a comfortable environment and charging a premium.  They weren’t the first ones to sell coffee. They just created an environment that people wanted from a coffee shop and marketed in right.
  • Innovation isn’t about doing it better.  Sometimes you just need to make your product simpler and more affordable.  Look at Windows from Microsoft.  They opened up a new marketplace where people could afford it and gain access to it easier.  They don’t have the best operating system in the marketplace, they just made it easier to use and made it affordable.
  • Innovation doesn’t always come out of big research and development budgets.  There might be some initial research and development, but you don’t have to go broke in the process.  Look at Red Bull.  They tapped in to the youth culture in clubs and created their own viral grass roots marketing campaign and turned it in to a multi-billion dollar empire.
  • Innovation doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.  You don’t have to spend a lot when you’re innovating.  You can do it very inexpensively and create a new marketplace with low overhead.  Ebay, for example, was profitable from almost day one and found a way to connect with the marketplace immediately.  Its first year revenues were modest, but it took the earning from its initial years of operation and invested it in to research and development to grow the service.

What do all of these have in common?  They’re obviously innovative products and services, but they all made an impact.  They all did something that was different in the marketplace that connected with its users.

Sometimes creating that next big thing is just simply doing it better than your competition or making it simpler.  Ideas are all around us.  Now innovate.

Welcome! to the first post in the Change Management Series. This blog is a simple user’s guide to a change management map, compass, and navigation method. We will look at their make-up and how they work. Later blogs will go deeper into how they work.

In leading your company through change you have a lot in common with Medieval explorers who studied their maps and ventured into the unknown: On the edge of the known world cartographers wrote, “There be dragons!” The environment is exciting and scary. Like those explorers you need your own map, compass, and navigation method in setting a successful course through an ever-changing environment.

Introductory work helps since the three tools have a surrealistic aspect and take some getting used to. There are two reasons for this:

  1. The tools function as a set. There is no one lead tool. Working well with one requires familiarity with the other two.
  2. The simplicity of the tools can be deceptive. Leonardo da Vinci’s statement, “The sophistication is reflected in the simplicity,” sums it up well. There is much that needs to be taken into consideration and balanced. Progress isn’t linear and at times it can be frustrating. It’s not enough to see it all. It has to be seen differently.

Similar to early explorers, by keeping a steady eye on the goals while being persistent you can succeed…with the risk of becoming totally lost ever-present! The risk is worth it.  The success is not just more of the same. It is a success that is different in kind. A whole new frame of mind emerges.

Those Medieval explorers broke out of the Middle Ages and helped lay the foundation for the Renaissance. That’s the type of change you and your organization can make. Break into the unknown and thrive! Besides, you know that death is inevitable with standing still. So let’s begin.

The Map

In complex, changing environments the map is like something out of Alice in Wonderland. It is always changing. Anytime someone does something the shape of the map changes. The terrain is dancing – never sitting still. Just look at Napster and the music industry terrain. A student writes a peer-to-peer file-sharing program. Traditional CD music sales drop. People become used to getting only the songs they like. The iTunes store appears and legitimizes some of the change to the music environment. The terrain just keeps on dancing. Having up-to-date terrain information is critical. Now, here’s the most important point in making and using maps: everyone in the organization becomes part of a sensing organism watching and listening at different frequencies, feeding information to everyone else, and updating the map. A rigid, top-down, command-and-control approach will fail.

The Compass

You have a map, know where you are and where you want to go. Moving towards the goal requires the organization to orient itself and track its progress. A compass is needed. Like any compass it has 3 components:

  1. A stable reference point- a magnetic north;
  2. A device pointing consistently towards the stable reference point as position changes – a compass needle;
  3. An indicator of the desired direction of travel – the arrow fixed on the front of the compass housing or the front of the ship.

In a changing situation the “magnetic north” of your executive compass comprises your values and beliefs. They need to be rock solid and visible to all. As the organization moves on the changing terrain this stable reference will help them orient and decide what the next action should be.

Your compass needle is the consistent aligning of actions with values and beliefs. As the terrain shifts you modify your behaviors to hold your bearing and stay on course. Those around you shift their behaviors accordingly. You can be trusted because you are walking the walk.

The compass arrow is the plan. It points the way. This plan is tied to the map and changes with the terrain. How fast the plan changes is critical. If the plan changes too fast and too frequently the organization drifts aimlessly. If the plan remains unchanged while the terrain shifts it becomes irrelevant. So, like something from a Salvador Dali painting the arrow changes with the terrain.

The Navigation Method

Moving on an ever-changing terrain requires unique skills and traits. A complex, changing situation has a unique characteristic, i.e., there is no one best path to get to the goals. Rather, there are multiple paths and some are better than others, for now, on this terrain.

Instead of marching in a straight line there is probing in different directions to see what works. Tactics change with the landscape. Where there once was a hill there now is a flat surface and movement is now unobstructed. The organizational structure shifts accordingly.

Here’s an example. Social networking increases the speed and simultaneity of disseminating information. Some organizations are adopting a more distributed structure where the speed and accuracy of local responses to customers’ requests increases while everyone maintains needed connections within the organization. In complexity theory this is called complex adaptive behavior.

Navigating towards goals in this manner requires a constant evolution. Here is where things can again become surreal with another unique characteristic of navigating a complex terrain surface. Taken to the extreme, the goals themselves can change if the organization is to survive. Monsanto shifted from being a supplier of commodity chemicals to being a biotech firm. It saw it was on a barren terrain and jumped to another!

This is not for the faint of heart. In fact, one might wonder why anyone would work this way and how the organization holds together. It has to do with the compass. By publishing your values and beliefs team members can compare it to their own. If they see a fit then they align their behaviors with yours. This is the glue that holds everything together as the organization goes through the stresses and strains of working towards the goals. It is called self-similarity.

Think of a couple bringing the first child home, then the second. A promotion occurs. A recession hits. Their lives can change in ways unimagined. It’s the self-similarity, the alignment of beliefs and values that holds them together. The organization continues in an almost constant state of flux.

In the next blog we will look deeper into the structure and operation of an organization undergoing change.

This introduction to the tools of change management can be taken further. In addition to being beneficial in business I find it quite fascinating. If you do too, send me an e-mail at or visit