Little “i” Innovation: Why Small Ideas Matter as much as Big Ones

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When it comes to design-led innovation, we love the big idea — those breakthrough inventions that signal a disruptive change. But these big ideas are rarely the result of a single moment of genius. Instead, it comes from the culmination of smaller ideas, developed over time, from the minds of many. The ideas that really stick in our fast-paced digital world are the ones that “live in beta” — embracing a culture of learning, adapting and improving everyday. In Little “i” Innovation, we will explore how the process of continual, incremental improvement has been used to develop some of the worlds most innovative and dominant consumer brands.

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Little “i” Innovation: Why Small Ideas Matter as much as Big Ones

  1. 1. LITTLE ‘i’ INNOVATIONWHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES Guthrie DolinDMI Design/Management Thinking 24 Executive Director of Strategy @gee3
  2. 2. Body goes here... WE’RE ODOPOD, a new kind of design consultancy — one that thinks like a start-up, understands brands like an ad agency and creates products and services2 like an innovation firm. 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  3. 3. 3 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  4. 4. The seduction of big ideas.A FEW MINUTES ON BIG “I” INNOVATION
  5. 5. BIG INNOVATION 9000 BC The domestication of plants and animals (also known as farming). A big innovation that really settled us down — so to speak.5
  6. 6. BIG INNOVATION 1996AD The first mammal was cloned. A sheep named Dolly — born from a somatic cell using the process of nuclear transfer.6
  7. 7. BIG INNOVATION 3500 BC The wheel. Arguably the most important mechanical invention of all time — and one of humankinds most significant.7
  8. 8. BIG INNOVATION 1902 AD The mass production of affordable automobiles debuted. And the suburbs followed shortly thereafter.8
  9. 9. BIG INNOVATION 1440 AD Gutenberg developed a complete printing system, including movable type — leading to the mass production of books.9
  10. 10. BIG INNOVATION 2007 AD Amazon released the first gen Kindle. E-book sales triple year-over-year while paper books decline in every category.10
  11. 11. BIG INNOVATION 77 AD Encyclopedias, reference books filled with printed articles of factual information, have existed for more then 2,000 years.11
  12. 12. BIG INNOVATION 2001 AD Wikipedia launched. The collaboratively edited encyclopedia has fundamentally re- architected information publishing.12
  13. 13. We’re obsessed with big ideas.
  14. 14. We idolize their champions.
  15. 15. Why do we love them so much?THEIR SIMPLE SWEEPING NARRATIVES ARE SEDUCTIVE, BUT...
  16. 16. “ It’s very, very rare to find cases where somebody on their own, working alone, in a moment of sudden clarity has a great breakthrough that changes the world. And yet there seems to be this bizarre desire to tell the story that way. STEVEN JOHNSON | AUTHOR OF WHERE GOOD IDEAS COME FROM: THE NATURAL HISTORY OF INNOVATION16 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  17. 17. Most big ideas come from little ones. CULMINATION CONNECTION CAPACITY Many big ideas are more of a ‘slow Innovative ideas often come from the Often a technological advancement, hunch’ that develops over time — from connection or the collision between devoid of specific purpose, will inspire multiple inputs and perspectives. smaller (or even half-baked) ideas. new, sometimes innovative ideas.17 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  18. 18. But, this isn’t about big versus little — it’s about considering them together.18 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  19. 19. Think of it as an “innovation portfolio.” TRANSFORMATIONAL ADJACENT CORE FROM MANAGING YOUR INNOVATION PORTFOLIO HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW — MAY 201219 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  20. 20. Think of it as an “innovation portfolio.” TRANSFORMATIONAL ADJACENT EXISTING CORE MARKETS AND Optimizing CONSUMERS what’s existing EXISTING PRODUCTS AND ASSETS20 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  21. 21. Think of it as an “innovation portfolio.” TRANSFORMATIONAL CONTIGUOUS ADJACENT MARKETS AND Expanding into into CONSUMERS neighboring territories CORE Optimizing what’s existing RELATED PRODUCTS AND ASSETS21 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  22. 22. Think of it as an “innovation portfolio.” ENTIRELY NEW MARKETS AND TRANSFORMATIONAL CONSUMERS Inventing new things for AND/OR NEEDS markets that don’t yet exist ADJACENT Expanding into into neighboring territories CORE Optimizing what’s existing ENTIRELY NEW PRODUCTS AND ASSETS22 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  23. 23. Think of it as an “innovation portfolio.” TRANSFORMATIONAL Inventing new things for markets that don’t yet exist 20% ADJACENT 70% Expanding into into 10% neighboring territories CORE Optimizing what’s existing THE GOLDEN RATIO For most companies the 70/20/10 split is a good starting point.23 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  24. 24. And, 90% of the investment is here... 90% INCREMENTAL UNHERALDED MAJORITY Yet these efforts are often ill- considered and/or underestimated24 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  25. 25. Who are the little “i” innovators?JUST A FEW EXAMPLES, AND THEY MIGHT SURPRISE YOU.
  26. 26. 26 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  27. 27. APPLE’S IPOD A HISTORY OF INCREMENTAL INNOVATION27 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  28. 28. 1998 They have followed (continually) with Google Search had an index of about 60 million smaller core and adjacent innovations to pages in their engine. their initial search offering ever since.28 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  29. 29. All while developing transformational ones for the broader brand.29 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  30. 30. Not the first-mover, but the best mover. 8 Text 25 900+ MIL MIL MIL 2002 2003 2004 FRIENDSTER MYSPACE FACEBOOK One of the first social networks with Launched to improve on Friendster — Launched as “hot or not” — over a million users. Today, it’s a social got seedy, looked awful and now is continually innovated and now has gaming site — big in Singapore. focused on music entertainment. nearly a billion users worldwide.30 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  31. 31. Then there’s Justin Timberlake.31 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  32. 32. Singer-songwriter, musician, record producer, dancer, actor, comedian, businessman — JT is constantly pivoting with core and adjacent innovations to evolve — and in doing so he’s enjoyed a successful, long lasting career in this extremely fickle consumer environment. LET’S REVIEW32 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  33. 33. The Innovation Timeline of Justin Timberlake33 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  34. 34. The Innovation Timeline of Justin Timberlake 1982 JT debuts his bright smile.34 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  35. 35. The Innovation Timeline of Justin Timberlake 1992 JT, the child country singer (with a bright smile).35 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  36. 36. The Innovation Timeline of Justin Timberlake 1993 JT sings and smiles as a child star.36 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  37. 37. The Innovation Timeline of Justin Timberlake 1995 Child star becomes teen heartthrob.37 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  38. 38. The Innovation Timeline of Justin Timberlake 2002 Heartthrob gets heart broken, and goes solo.38 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  39. 39. The Innovation Timeline of Justin Timberlake 2002 (Britney cries a river)39 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  40. 40. The Innovation Timeline of Justin Timberlake 2004 JT precipitates a sexy “wardrobe malfunction.”40 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  41. 41. The Innovation Timeline of Justin Timberlake 2006 And then brings sexy back, officially.41 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  42. 42. The Innovation Timeline of Justin Timberlake 2006 JT puts his sexy in a box.42 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  43. 43. AN OMELET D*CK IN A BOX BARRY GIBB A BEER A SINGLE LADY BON IVER A BREAST IMPLANT43
  44. 44. The Innovation Timeline of Justin Timberlake 2006 And puts sexy on the runway.44 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  45. 45. The Innovation Timeline of Justin Timberlake 2007 Brings sexy to the big screen.45 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  46. 46. The Innovation Timeline of Justin Timberlake 2010 JT makes Internet entrepreneurs sexy.46 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  47. 47. The Innovation Timeline of Justin Timberlake 2012 And now, JT is a real Internet entrepreneur.47 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  48. 48. Taking notes young Padawan?6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  49. 49. Four fundamental principles.BUILDING A CULTURE FOR LITTLE ‘I’ INNOVATION
  50. 50. EMBRACE CHANGE50 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  51. 51. EMBRACE CHANGING Life is flux. Plan and work accordingly.51 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  52. 52. Adopt an agile approach Develop flexible frameworks and smart toolkits to enable ideation — avoid locking into ridged processes or dictatorial methodologies. • Be responsive and ready to adapt your plans • Work iteratively in smaller, faster cycles • Establish a pace that you can sustain, continuously • Maintain focus, favoring clarity over certainty52 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  53. 53. “ Profound and powerful forces are shaking and remaking our world. And the urgent question of our time is whether we can make change our friend and not our enemy. PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON | 42ND PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES — FIRST INAUGURAL ADDRESS53 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  54. 54. FOSTER EXCHANGE Chance favors the connected mind.54 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  55. 55. Develop a “platform” for sharing ideas Innovation isn’t something you stick in a secret lab in the basement — you need to encourage innovative thinking everywhere, and from everyone. • Let ideas fly (no judgement) and see what sticks • Create an environment for serendipitous discovery • Invite unexpected people and perspectives • Reward participation and reduce friction (make it fun)55 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  56. 56. “expand the range of your possible ... next moves by exposing yourself to as much serendipity, as much argument and conversation, as many rival and related ideas as possible; to borrow, to repurpose, to recombine. STEVEN JOHNSON | WHERE GOOD IDEAS COME FROM: THE NATURAL HISTORY OF INNOVATION56 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  57. 57. THINK ECOLOGICALLY Examine the whole as intimately as you do the parts.57 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  58. 58. Consider the full ecosystem No view on innovation is good if it’s myopic — don’t get lost iterating on the details, or go “all in” on one big idea. • Clarify your innovation goals and move with purpose • Strike the right balance with your ‘innovation portfolio’ • Place little bets, double down on what’s working • Coordinate efforts, considering how it all works together58 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  59. 59. “ Rather than hoping that their future will emerge from a collection of ad hoc efforts, smart firms will manage for “total innovation.” BANSI NAGJI & GEOFF TUFF | MANAGING YOUR INNOVATION PORTFOLIO — HBR MAY 201259 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  60. 60. INNOVATE EVERY DAY Actively seek improvement, daily.60 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  61. 61. Our perennial design questions • What isn’t there that should be? • What is there that doesn’t need to be? • How can I make this more valuable? • How can I make it more delightful? • What do I understand today that I didn’t yesterday? Compete with yourself. And, don’t fall in love with ideas!61 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  62. 62. 1 EMBRACE CHANGING 2 FOSTER EXCHANGE 3 THINK ECOLOGICALLY 4 INNOVATE EVERY DAY62 6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  63. 63. Please keep in mind, this is about attitudes and a culture not adhering to some stone-chiseled doctrine.6 / 2012 LITTLE "I" INNOVATION WHY SMALL IDEAS MATTER AS MUCH AS BIG ONES
  64. 64. And, don’t forget to innovate (a little) today.
  65. 65. Thanks. Guthrie Dolin @gee3 Odopod @odopod

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