Innovation without Co-creation Just Doesn’t Fly

August 9, 2009

Why the Starbucks “15th Ave” Store Is Doomed to Fail

In the last week there has been a minor buzz in the media about Starbucks attempt at unbranding as a means for innovation.  On the surface, there may be some positive aspects to this tactic. My take is that without the input of their community stakeholders, this lacks the power of co-creation. It’s not likely to succeed.

I am fortunate to have a birds-eye view of the venture. My daughter lives a few blocks from this morphed location. I know the spot since I frequently walk or drive by when I am in Seattle. Within 1/4 mile there are a dozen other local coffee houses that are unique icons in the neighborhood.  They grew up from the imagination of their owners and the style and influence of their customers.  No “out of the box” and into the storefront operations, they are all a work in progress.

Folks vote with their purchases and and their feet when it comes to coffee. As someone who has consulted to change and innovation projects in business, I see employees and customers making similar choices. In every organization there are opportunities for making change with and without the constituents. The former may make a big show and start off with a bang. The latter is more likely to go from hum to song to chorus and end with a crescendo. Much more satisfying for everyone.

Raising Expectations: Design of a Code of Conduct

August 1, 2009

Positive behavior and working relationships are front and center in healthcare as The Joint Commission for Hospital Accreditation established a standard for all institutions that calls for a code of conduct for all staff in addition to previous ones for physicians.

I took this opportunity to work with a hospital to develop their code of conduct (a provocative proposition) using a combination of AI and World Cafe. They were amazing! The conversation was rich, the ideas flowed and the core strengths were vital, relevant and truly shared.

To design the final document, I began by transcribing the conversation scribes and harvest of the cafe and mapping comments of the 40+ participants. Here is the result:

The background is the hospital and chapel.

The background is the hospital and chapel.

Belting Out a Chorus of Appreciations

November 25, 2007

I’m enjoying my ritual viewing of CBS Sunday Morning. Bill Geist has an interesting story to share about people who join in choral singing . . . of complaints.  They are part of a global movement, Complaints Choirs of the World.  You can hardly believe the story line:

It all got started during a winter day walk of Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen in Helsinki. Perhaps it was due to the coldness of the day that they ended up discussing the possibility of transforming the huge energy people put into complaining into something else. Perhaps not directly into heat – but into something powerful anyway.In the Finnish vocabulary there is an expression “Valituskuoro”. It means “Complaints Choir” and it is used to describe situations where a lot of people are complaining simultaneously.  Kalleinen and Kochta-Kalleinen thought: “Wouldn´t it be fantastic to take this expression literally and organise a real Complaints Choir!”

 In 9 easy steps you can organize your choir! I like the clarity of directions that spurs on potential participants. Kalleinen and Kochta-Kalleinen deserve credit for branding and putting some process into this endeavor.

 In the name of Positive Psychology, I want to counter their offer. How about belting out a chorus of trends in the Discovery phase?  Some 4-part harmony as we Dream of our collective future? An outburst of song as we commit to each Design project? And best of all, we could burst into song as we achieve Destiny! And just to be clear, I promise to appreciate your voice . . . as you appreciate my less tuneful contributions too.

Design . . . is a Smart Investment

September 21, 2007

Those savvy folks at Fast Company have a very exciting October issue. The online articles and resources are rich with the nuanaces and controversies around Design.  And one lovely insight is that investing in it leads to financial returns that are tangible.The Design Dividend

Having just had a conversation with a CEO who bemoaned that his CFO wanted to go from AI project concepts into full blown project management, this quote made me want to send him an urgent email:

The real challenge  . . . is infusing design thinking throughout a large organization. “It’s not the senior executives–most of them get it,” Lawrence says. “It’s the middle management, which is charged with implementing the company’s strategy, that wants everything proven to them.”

Design is now an acknowledged bottom line advantage. Yippee!

Shifting gears to the appreciative

September 21, 2007

My friend Peter Durand of Alphachimp Studio posted the most intriguing story about Will Bowen, a Kansas City clergyman. Just as AI practioners have known, he recognized that positive language inspires positive action. By requiring participants to switch wrists for a plastic bracelet with each lapse to complaining, Rev. Bowen increased their awareness of their language. Of course, recognizing habits is a first step to altering them.

Words have meaning that we give to them. The ‘we’ being collective, as the community of co-creators adds the tags of life experience, culture, personal preference, intention and so on to make each syllable and phrase rich in texture and nuance. Tim Ferris wants us to stop using some words.  He believes the words are overused and have lost meaning.  His purpose is to lower our stress by lowering ambiguity. It’s an interesting idea. But I’m more in favor of adding more conversation around the words. The human connection leads to appreciative understanding  . . .  as long as the words don’t get in the way.

Soundbytes at the Third International AI Conference

September 20, 2007

Design resonated in many of the conversation and breakout sessions that I attended this year. Charlotte Dalsgaard in Denmark worked with Christian Binau Nielson to use AI for  Imaginative product design  for Oticon.  Dave Sherman and John Whalen shared their work with Walmart ,”Strength based  Organizational Change: A Walmart Case Study. Lee Scott  is engaging stakeholders and strength based change in his quest to make Walmart an environmentally sustainable company. You can view parts of  “Sustainability ”  a DVD that was used at . 

 Peter Coughlin with IDEO provide a playful keynote session in rapid  product protyping.

A designer at lunch was sharing her work with using AI to design a Cancer Wellness Center and garden.

It was wonderful to see artist, engineers, designers, R&D and marketing teams embracing AI as a design methodology.

Marcus Buckingham Gets Us Focused on Strengths

September 18, 2007

Author of First Break All the Rules, and Now Discover Your Strengths, Marcus Buckingham has lots to say about how we perceive and deal with the strenghts and weakenesses we believe we possess. Here’s a question to get your interest:
 Raise your hand if you have a sibling; think of them – characteristics and traits.  Buckingham’s memory of his brother and sister was that he recognized their different strengths and weaknesses,  and how aware he was of this early in life; beyond obvious differences, were the subtle ones. He knew he was not the same as they were.

 SLIDE : Build on your strengths and manage around your weaknesses

 Proof of this principle: organizations ask him to study their best <whatever> and he discovers  there is range where there shouldn’t be range; there are great teams in not so great companies and not  so great teams in great companies; a high performing company is a collection of great teams

Some examples:

Based on local economic potential, retailer place stores; what’s going on appears to be improving overall, but when individual stores are graphed there is a scattergram of very broad range of performance;
  luxury car company believes that the quality of the dealership experience is key to success; top 10%
 factory with various shifts which commits to employee safety; top 10% of shifts on number of accidents had none; bottom 10% had 25.26 of recordable incidents

Researching this at Gallup, they found that 12 questions really got at what’s going on (are in First Break All the Rules) – most important question was “At work,do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?”

Some people are delusional about their strengths, while most others are accurate.

 SLIDE: In 2000 “Which do you think will help you be most successful?”
 People in US replied:
 41% Strengths; 59% weaknesses
We think good is the opposite of bad and study bad to get more good; our balance is all off