Stop Pretending, and Start Innovating

I saw a really interesting position listed on the vacancies list called Head of Innovation the other day. I love the idea of innovation and I have sometimes been called ‘innovative’ and it got me thinking, if that were me, what would innovation need to thrive? Innovation doesn’t just happen, I don’t suppose. It needs certain parameters to happen. But what might those parameters be? Too restrictive and innovation is stifled. Too broad and nothing ever gets done. So what are the components of innovation? Well, here are my ideas:


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Eight Things I’d like to see in iOS 8

It’s Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2014 next week, so I thought I’d join the speculation bandwagon and propose eight things I’d like to see in iOS 8.

1. Actionable email

Trash or More?…that’s not enough. Why can’t we swipe across an email and bring a whole host of option icons like trash, flag, move, calendar, remind me later (a la Mailbox or Dispatch)? Email is boring enough as it is, and so often requires an action, so why not bring it to life a bit and make it work?


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What Can Yahoo! Teach Us About Presentee-ism?

There has been a very positive shift in working culture over the past few years that has encouraged employees to work from home more often – living the flexible working mantra, and understanding that being in a physical office (or not) does not necessarily mean that you are at work (or not!). I take advantage of this enlightened approach and work from home often: the technology allows me to access everything exactly the same as in the physical office, and I am judged not on my attendance in the office, but what I achieve in my role. Great…I thought.


I was a big fan of this approach. Recently, however, I’ve started to consider (or notice) if presenteeism (being at the office all the time) can in fact lead to better results. And the thing that made me consider this is Yahoo!

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PIES at your meeting

PIES. Yum. Who doesn’t like pie?



But on this occasion, I’m not talking about a tasty pastry and meat/fruit filling, oh no. I’m talking about a method of co-operative learning developed by Dr Spencer Kagan and that I learned whilst I was teaching. I recently thought that this model might be really useful to apply to modern, grown up meetings too. It works like this:

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Is this the best design of the 21st Century so far?

I’m a massive Apple fan and therefore a massive fan of legendary British designer, Sir Jonathan Ive .

There are so many pictures of Jony Ive, this one makes me laugh…but he is good

One of my favourite quotes from him is:

“We try to develop products that seem somehow inevitable. That leave you with the sense that that’s the only possible solution that makes sense,” he explains. “Our products are tools and we don’t want design to get in the way. We’re trying to bring simplicity and clarity, we’re trying to order the products.

“I think subconsciously people are remarkably discerning. I think that they can sense care.”

Great design is design where the user instinctively knows what to do with it. It is, in Jony Ive’s words, inevitable. All design leads the user to action – whether that be to sit on a beautifully crafted chair, hit a nail with a solid hammer or move something with wheels. But how often do you, as the user, feel forgotten about? Like the product you’re using is one of millions, made impersonally, isn’t easy to use, uncomfortable, cheap, or you just have no idea what on earth you’re supposed to do as a result of this piece of design. Nasty. Poorly designed.

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Here’s a great aspiration for your team

You know you’ve got a good team when…

I’m sure there are hundreds of responses to this prompt. One that really sticks in my mind was from one team session I was working on. We were discussing our hopes and aspirations for the team and I was asking them what would you see and what would you hear (by the way, this phrase is brilliant for exploring notional ideas like respect, trust, teamwork).

The response that stuck with me is

“we will hear stupid questions”

What a fantastic aspiration! A team that gets on well enough and is open enough not to worry about what other people will think if they ask a stupid question; where the stupid question is welcome.

Ask a stupid question

Ask a stupid question

Hurrah for stupid questions. In fact, is the stupidest question the one you don’t ask?!

How do you know when you’ve got a good team?

Do you dare choose your audience?

I heard a very interesting point yesterday about marketing and the distribution curve thing, which got me thinking about daring to choose a target audience.

The point being that in traditional terms, marketers try to target the ‘mass audience’ – i.e. that there is a large group of people who would want or need what you’re trying to sell and you make it as attractive as possible to that large group of people. On the left hand side of the mass audience would be the ‘early adopters’ who would buy what you’re selling anyway, and on the right hand side would be the ‘never evers’ who will never be interested in what you’re selling. The middle ground was the hallowed ground.

Normal distribution curve

Normal distribution curve

Not any more.

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