// ROAD TRIP TO INNOVATIONHOW I CAME TO UNDERSTAND FUTURE THINKING Delia Dumitrescu POWERED BY TRENDONE
Road Trip to Innovation – How I came tounderstand Future Thinking is an investigativetale about a friendly and curious mind thatsets-off on a road trip to find out what inno-vation is truly made of. Highlighting expertinterviews and companies that are heralded fortheir know-how in the fields of future studies,innovation and trend research, the book offersan introduction to the theory and methodologybehind these complicated notions in easy andrefreshing language.
08ALL ON BOARD? What is innovation? The future thinking mindset Trends The Diffusion Theory the basics 34WHERE DO IDEAS COME FROM? Weak Signals Microtrends Macrotrends Megatrends Consumer Insights scanning 98GOT THE TRENDS. WHAT NOW? Trend Consulting Future Illustration The Innovation Cockpit Scenarios & Wild Cards Design Thinking ideation 178HOW TO BUILD STRATEGIC FUTURES? Stepping into strategic stuff Forecasting Strategic Foresight Strategic Planning transformation 222A NEW UNDERSTANDING OF INNOVATION? Watch Think Interpret Act LaFutura The Innovation Alliance A new nature of innovation the f u t u r e n av i g at o r 246ROAD TRIP PROPS The Trend and Future Dictionary Acknowledgements Sources Index About the author & TrendONE f i n a l ly
4 // WHAT CAN THIS BOOK DO? Road Trip to Innovation – How I came to understand Future Thinking is a book about understanding ways of approaching and building innovation. The road trip itself is part of the narrative of the book as I travel from city to city, interviewing people in order to find out, together with you dear reader, the following: what does innovation encompass, how to spot trends, how to use trends for creating innovative products, services and strategies, how companies approach innovation in terms of method (e.g.: design thinking, trend consulting) and how are trends transformed in a strategic asset inside companies (e.g.: strategic foresight, strategic planning, forecasting). The book will offer an introduction into the field of future studies and targets to raise awareness of the innovation and trend research industry. It will explain complicated notions in easy language and with a friendly approach. Road Trip to Innovation – How I came to understand Future Thinking also has educational purposes for students and trainees; it offers a holistic view on methods and tools for building innovation to young managers setting up innovation strategy in their companies and furthermore, it is a good introduction to the trends and innovations industry for anybody who is interested in the topic. My findings are based on literature review and data drawn from interviews and case studies of companies in Europe and the United States. The interviews were conducted with companies that encompass a broad spectrum of approaches and with people of varied backgrounds, as I believe in the power of poly-social groups. Why all these companies and why these people? There is no financial reason. They were either found by natural research (a.k.a. appeared first in the Google search engine) or recommended by Nils Müller, as he is the engine behind this book, mentoring me and connecting me with people from the industry. There is no advertising reason; they are just some examples out of several interesting companies that are out there.
No.01 5 creative idea The Future Navigator that stands for all the contents of this book with methods, tools and applications of the innovation process was created and inserted in this book at the end. It started as a plain piece of paper withNo.02 two arrows that cross each other. It was gradually filled with the approaches presented in this book in order to start a conversation regarding their meaning and purpose. It can be looked at as a chess table. Anybody who has additional information and strong motivations can modify it. Road Trip to Innovation – How I came to understand Future Thinking is the fruit of my thinking on all the aforementioned subjects: It is based on the innovation literature that I’ve read and the fascinating and intelligent people that I’ve spoken with. As we are all different, special and unique persons, anyone could write this book in their own way and interpret things according to their own dimensions. This is a first published wave from the sea of opinions.No.03No.04 roadtrip to innovation
all on board? The Basics What is innovation? 12 The future thinking mindset 16 Trends 22 The Diffusion Theory 29Tensta Konsthall by frontdesign.se
12 the basics // WHAT IS INNOVATION? [ĭn’ -vā’sh n] e e 1 the introduction of something new; 2 a n e w i d e a , m e t h o d , o r d e v i c e : n ov e lt y. Innovation is a change; it is “new stuff that is made useful” as Max McKeon writes in his book The Truth About Innovation. Therefore, the innovation process, in this book, refers to the journey one has to make in order to obtain a new, cool, innovative idea and how to manage it. In a nutshell, it is about how to get the idea and what you can do with it to make it valuable. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report on the New Nature of Innovation states that a new nature of innovation is emerging. How? “Innovation is no longer mainly about science and technology. Firms can innovate in other ways. Co-creation, user involvement, environmental and societal challenges increasingly drive innovation today. Collaborative, global networking and new public private partnerships are becoming crucial elements in companies’ innovation process.” In the early 1990s innovation equaled product development; this approach was actually much too narrow. But the modern approach is also problematic because the plasticity of this term turned the meaning of innovation into a catch phrase. Nowadays, everything that is providing value for a company is being referred to as an innovation. For some companies it may be as simple as gathering around for a pizza on a Friday night at the office in order to create a better organizational climate thus internally providing a better basis for innovation and creativity. As for others, it cannot be called innovation until the brilliant idea that provides value is marketed – like creating an app that tells you the ingredients of the pizza just by scanning the barcode of the box. So, it all depends on how deep you go into the term of innovation, if just about anything can be interpreted as an innovation. But it shouldn’t be this way. In my opinion, the prior example dilutes its powers.
the basics 13THE FIRST AIRPLANEThese days it seems that innovation as a noun has been thrown into so manycontexts that it has become hype. This makes it difficult for its meaningto be securely locked in a box. For this reason, it becomes subjective andhighly interpretative. The good thing is the popularity of the word canonly do well to the world. Innovation turns out to be the source and, in thesame time, the target for more and more strategies. Martin Kruse, futuristat the Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies (CIFS), states that “researchinto innovation offers insights that can benefit everyone working withorganizational development, management, finance or product development.”Defining what innovation means was giving me a hard time. Every answerI got was competing in being more poetic than the one before. Here is oneparticularly poetic definition coming from the Future Driven Innovationpaper from CIFS: “Shakespeare calls Man the ‘paragon of animals’ the ,greatest work in the history of evolution. This is because we have a brainwith 100 billion cells and so the ability to change the world around us togive ourselves a better chance of survival. We develop ourselves throughcreative production, a process that, since the dawn of financial markets, hasbeen known as innovation.”From the same source, here comes the practical definition: “Innovation hashistorically been regarded as inventing a new product, producing it and putting iton the market. It is the result of a creative process with emphasis on value creation.Today, innovation can happen anywhere in the company. The value created canbe internal, as is the case with human resources, or directed out to the customer asa product on the shelf. The point is that value is created and reaches the customerin some way. ”What is important to understand from the start is that there is a differencebetween innovation and having a creative idea. Both processes can beinnovative in their own way but we shouldn’t confuse them. Kruse told me a littlestory that helps to keep in mind the difference between the two processes.
14 the basics The first airplane was actually visualized by Leonardo da Vinci in the 1480s. That was just a creative idea. The idea became an invention when the Wright brothers made a plane out of it, which lifted from the ground in 1903. But the airplane, at that point, was still not an innovation because it was not yet marketed. Twenty-one years later, Continental Dusters (which subsequently became part of Delta Airlines) gave the airplane its first commercial use, dusting crops. This is the point in history when the airplane became an innovation. Similar points of view to Kruse’s are those of Richard Florida and Martin Kenney, in their book from 1990, The Breakthrough Illusion: Corporate America’s failure to move from innovation to mass production, consider invention as a breakthrough and innovation as an actualization. a innovation ive ide ≠ creat
the basics 29 // THE DIFFUSION THEORYDiffusion is very well linked with the tipping point theory. You’ll see why.Academics call the process by which new ideas or products are accepted bygroups of people, The Diffusion of Innovation. The term is coined in 1962by Everett Rogers, professor at University of Mexico. He set up five stepsof the diffusion process and he also tried to build some criteria by whichinnovations spread out faster. He explores how the social environmentinfluences the way a new innovation spreads. This is what it looks like: innovation innovation in n o va tio n innovation innovation i n novators early followers early majority late majority laggards diﬀus ion th eory
36 scanningWEAK SIGNALS HOW TO BOIL A FROG If you drop a frog into a kettle of boiling water it will definitely try to escape. The reason being the temperature difference is too extreme (20°-100°). However, if you put a frog in a kettle of water at room temperature and then start to slowly warm the water, the frog will hardly even notice when the water starts to boil. The moral of this story: we easily adapt to changes; we may not even notice them if they happen gradually. With this funny and insightful tale I began my morning discussion with Elina Hiltunen in Helsinki. Elina Hiltunen, founder of What’s Next Consulting, carried out her doctoralElina Hiltunen thesis about using weak signals in organisational environment and has been interested in this subject since 1998. She is now Finland’s leading expert on weak signals and focuses on issues like anticipating and innovating future changes by utilising them. Through weak signals (the first bubbles in the water as it heats) one can foresee changes. While talking to Hiltunen, I started to understand what this weak signalWeak Signals thing is all about and how they are useful futures tools for companies. Elina are signals offers companies methods, education and inspiring lectures about weak of emerging signals, which she briefly defines as signals of emerging issues. In practice, issues. she explains, “they can be news stories or observations about technological and social innovations, posts in the social media, observations of novelty products in exhibitions, or simply a modest wall-sticker of an alternative movement” . Igor Ansoff, a Russian American applied mathematician and business manager who is known as the father of strategic management, coined the term ‘weak signals’ in 1975 and, according to him, it is “the early detection of those signals that could lead to strategic surprises and to an event that has the potential to jeopardize an organization’s strategy”. On a more proactive note, weak signals mean that today’s information can foretell the changes in the future. Nik Baerten, future explorer at Pantopicon, a studio of future explorers based in Belgium, expounds on the subject on their blog: “Change often starts with a ripple before it turns into
compar online e or ma tch information reality onmental scann envir ing ! uch oo m e! i lt e r t ang Don‘t f to c h R e m ain open weak signal most often used inmoﬆ often used in predicting predicting new trends new trends in technologicalin technological and social and social development development emerging issue e v olvi n g tren d interpreta tion deve lo p needs time to
248 the trend & future dictionaryTHE TREND&FUTUREDICTIONARY A collection of definitions picked up from interviews, articles, books and blogs discovered and used during the road trip. WEAK SIGNALS News stories or observations MACROTRENDS about technological and social Pattern-based understanding innovations, posts in the social of past and present, help to media, observations of novelty determine the likelihood of products, or simply a modest wall- future events. Their life span is sticker of an alternative movement. five to ten years. macrotrend Weak signals are current oddities, e.g. Fair Trade strange issues that are thought to be in key position in anticipating future changes in organizational environments. / E. Hiltunen e.g. H&M starts selling vintage clothes. MICROTRENDS microtrend Concrete examples of marketed MEGATRENDS inovations: technologies, products, Last decades, affect many different start-ups etc. aspects of society, and involve Life span of 1-2 years until they a complex process that often develop into a stronger trend or includes politics, economy and disappear completely. technology. A microtrend is something new, e.g. Sustainability intelligent, mass-market ready and structure changing. dnertag e.g. Ben&Jerry‘s fair tweets: Ben & Jerry‘s TREND e m and Twitter use every unused character by The general direction in which automatically adding a message linked to something tends to move. the tweet. The aim is promoting fair trade.
the trend & future dictionary 249CONSUMER INSIGHTS USER DRIVEN INNOVATIONA fresh and not-yet obvious Customers are observed tounderstanding of customer beliefs, understand how they workvalues, habits, desires, motives, with the product and whatemotions or needs that can unrecognized needs they have.become the basis for a competitive / Design Thinking is a broaderadvantage. / M. Sawhney. approach and describes a wholeInsight is about what’s happening process while User Drivenin the space between the consumer Innovation just indicates that theand the product, his key motives, user is integrated in your projectdrivers and barriers. development.Spotted through close observation, User-initiated innovation: the tionempirical research and direct innova consumer creates or improves acontent with the consumer. product. Von Hippel called thise.g. People startig to consume regional ‘user innovation’.products being away from their hometwon.Insight: people are feeling home-sick. CREATIVE THINKING The term innovation is often usedDESIGN THINKING to refer to the entire process byA human-centered approach to which an organization generatesinnovation that draws from the creative new ideas and convertsdesigner’s toolkit to integrate the them into novel, useful and viableneeds of people, the possibilities of commercial products, services,technology, and the requirements and business practices, while thefor business success. / term creativity is reserved to applyD. Brown. specifically to the generation of novel ideas by individuals or gnikniht groups, as a necessary step within ngised the innovation process. / Wikipedia
If there is one single book I recommend to get a joyful taste of what the work inthe fields of innovation and trends is like, then it is this impressive work by DeliaDumitrescu. She tells the story of her mental and physical learning trip and easilymanages to shed light on and give answers to most of the pivital questions anoutsider would ask.Dr. Pero Mićić, CEO FutureManagementGroup‘Road Trip to Innovation’ is a fun to read, non-pretentious exploration intothe world of innovation told through a refreshing and honest voice.It’s not about making grandiose statements, it simply gathers and compilesinformation from the movers and shakers of innovation into one comprehensivelook; and more often than not, that’s all you want and need – simple, honest, andcomprehensive.Susan M. Choi, Director of Strategy + Innovation, CScout Inc.As a ‘Trend Passionionate’ person I love to work with insights and trends asinspiration for idea and concept development.The term ‘trends’ covers a broad variety of definitions. This is both chance andconfusion simultaneously.For my daily innovation work I aspired a kind of navigation tool. ‘Road Trip toInnovation’ is the perfect synergy of this type of tool: educational and beneficialconcerning the various perspectives of future research and it is fun to read – beinspired!Jens Bode, International Foresight Manager at Henkel AG & Co. KGaAISBN 978-3-00-035736-7