After Corona (Covid-19) there will rarely be anything as it was. The understanding of the fragility of our global economy, the huge digital divide, our ability to collaborate, and much more is changing right now faster than ever before. And there is no reason to go back.
We are experiencing an amazing transformation and shift, realizing what our various societies are capable of under pressure. What the most powerful people in the world failed to achieve in the past 10+ years, managed a 0.3 µ small virus — Global Digitization within 3 months.

Massive digitization amplification

That very amplification in connectedness, however, is exposing a widening gap between digitally empowered people and the still massive digital illiteracy. Digital Interaction is a skill. That skill is composed of fast cognitive recognition, heightened content differentiation, a digital body language, multi-language communication, the ability to cut loose from old needs that for every exchange one needs to physically see each other, the mechanical capabilities to see, write and communicate, understanding the power of asynchronous communication and so much more. We learned to walk, read, write, speak, hear, and now we extend all these skills into the digital world that is no less real than our physical world. Once it is experienced over a timeframe of 6 months will not go back.

Profound changes in production

Another gap is widening to a degree that most people cannot even comprehend the consequences. Our combined economy lost trillions of dollars almost overnight due to the lack of production continuation. Companies with a very high degree of automation could continue to have their robots and autonomous machines run and produce, and they are doing extremely well right now. Those that require armies of workers have all of a sudden multiple challenges all at the same time: They only produce in a very limited capacity or not at all. Plus, they have to send people home by the thousands. And, they are opening doors for the competition to come in with more automated companies. As a consequence of the sheer survival of the business and also ability to support our society with products, we will be experiencing a massive push to increase the degree of automation as quickly as possible to nearly 100%. What was thought to be Artificial Intelligence, that takes away jobs is now a very different reason. Some companies will not even survive this pandemic – but a next pandemic may increase the closing of businesses and jobs by order of magnitude. Once the pandemic is over this effort will actually just begin.

Accelerating Innovation

We have been working under huge pressure to modify our Deep innovation Design program so that a nine-month program can be run as a crash course in six weeks. In order to train as many scientists as possible to move from experimentation to a methodical ideation process we needed to move from in-person training to digital – but moreover from 25 people classrooms to online classrooms with some hundred attendees if necessary. Every top educator would say it is crazy and cannot work. But we don’t even have an option right now, other than making it work. Innovation is seen all over right now. The degree of ingenuity hasn’t been that high for decades. New types of virus testers pop in almost every industrialized nation. We see all kinds of innovative solutions, which only needs a bit more coordination and information flow. And all this will not stop after the pandemic is over.

Sanitation

Will we go back to be dirty ad sloppy after the pandemic is over? Sure, some will, but the majority most likely will keep the positive habit of more careful hygiene.

Keeping relationships online

Will we go back to always meet people face to face for everything we want to discuss. Of course not. We appreciate the learning that a quick video call is for both parties quicker and more efficient. For sure we will remain to be social and want to meet people in person – at least the first connection. But we don’t need to meet for every little detail.

Home Delivery

Will we go back to shop for everything by going from shop to shop? Most certainly not. Of course, we will still go shopping, having the experience and the fun doing so but there will be an increased percentage of shopping online compared to the past.

Modernizing Operations

Will we go back to endless considerations, pilot projects and eventually still not upgrade? Only the very weak companies will. Those who realized how much faster we are doing things right now, will keep the pace – and if it is only to not let the competition take over. My old mantra: “Speed is more important than perfection”.

Home Offices

About ten years ago home offices have been seen as a large part of a companies way of workplaces. Why did it not work out? Nobody did actually try it for a more extended period of time. Now we do. We get quickly used to do it even full time. We cat regularly with the team, exchange notes via WhatsApp or email. Meetings are much shorter and also if they are still mega long – everybody can work while some others ramble on. The only short interruption” can you still hear me”. :)

The list gets longer every day. One thing is for sure: It is a sad and for many people terrible reason how we needed to learn all that. But we did learn and we learned extremely quickly. Not only about ourselves or your needs but about our capability to adapt and our relationship to leadership in everybody’s home country.

THE QUEST FOR MORE INNOVATION

In the last five to ten years, pretty much any business and any government was pushing for more innovation. But if somebody was asked “How do I innovate? Tell me step by step”, there was no tangible answer. When I was asked that very question, in particular the “step by step” part, it daunted to me, that there was simply no answer that could satisfy this question. Tens of thousands of consultants help people to “open their mind”, other use the “design thinking” model to process ideas – actually very well. But the question remains: “How do you CREATE those innovative ideas” in the first place – so you can then process them in any of the models!

INNOVATION ON DEMAND

Innovation, was an accidental event – a combination of many instances, experiences and the brain pushed out an idea. In some cases, those ideas have been big enough to warrant starting a whole new business. But today, we have a situation where we don’t want to have an accidental brain flash leading to a possible innovation. In times where we have a crisis we actually would want to have solutions on demand.  But as long as we don’t even know how ideas are created, we are far away from creating ideas on demand.

MAYBE THE BIGGEST SHIFT IN INNOVATION HISTORY

Neuroscientists helped me understand that human beings are not really creative – we can only COMPOSE ideas from past experiences, from whatever we saw, heard, felt and so forth. All our daily experiences are actually get associated with existing experiences and create some interesting IDEAS of which we actually don’t really know. The biggest idea machine is our mind when we sleep. There is much to explain but the net of it is: We are not creative and we create ideas by the millions. So what is the problem?

Our historic evolution, our culture, our education and our brain itself poses a problem: It is conditioned to allow only the most obvious and the least demanding ideas to pop up. Only one in a trillion or less is actually making it from our right brain to the left and stimulates a communication between the two, that forms a “thought” that may break through all the other barriers. And once we understand that process, we have the foundation for creating innovation on demand, like we create a house or bridge or something as simple as a paper plane.

DEEP INNOVATION DESIGN – PoC

in 2016 we began our first careful attempts to help startups to come up with disruptive business models. What was thought to be a “one of a million” chance, turned out to be better than 50%. Half of the startups in that, for us historic batch, were creating a disruptive model – on demand. They created what we call a “Disruptive Moment”. Disruptive moments are the part in a business model that will push competitors to change their course in order to catch up with these startups. It was the first version of a Prove of Concept (PoC). In the past two years we went deeper into the “mechanics of our mind”. We learned what we needed to actually DO to play with our billions of neurons and synapses to form those innovative ideas. After two years of work we found an early concept that works well enough to come up with an innovative solution, whenever we want. It was in itself a innovative concept to create innovation. We called it the “deep innovation design method”.

Four ‘T”s, one “M” of Deep Innovation Design

1) TALENT
We need people who have a “talent” in creating innovation. Very much like others are talented to play music, paint pictures, drive race cars, cook amazing meals, create fashion, help others or simply entertain people. The talent is the ability to play with ideas, seek experiences, are least pre-conditioned, reject conformity, create their own rules. We have millions with that trait. Almost any toddler has that talent until we press them into a societal system that unknowingly suppresses that talent, but it is still there – hidden. Do you remember: “Don’t be so childish”, “you are a dreamer, be more realistic”, “Focus, learn your lessen, you need to repeat it tomorrow in class”…
2) TEAM
Like a music band, or a football team, innovation is a team sport – if you do it alone you end up waiting for accidental ideas. And one of the most important player in the “Innovation Play”, are the affected people: Customers, users, victimes. If you start the game without them you are doomed to lose. And if your actors (innovators) are all of the same trade, you will lose as well. Diversity is the magic formula. Understanding that part, makes it also very obvious why enterprises CANNOT be innovative. They try to surprise the customer with their ideas instead of co-creating an experience. And their ideas come from a mono culture called R&D center, engineering teams or other experts. And finally the decision maker, who may not be able to ‘experience’ the idea in their mind will need to reject the idea. It almost couldn’t be worse. We learned that ‘innovation’ is one of the most counter intuitive activities humankind is conducting – yet mother nature is pushing it out wherever she can.
3) TRAINING
Our brain is an old machine with lots of upgrades. More upgrades than any other organ in our human apparatus. It is also the most adaptive body part. To overcome some of the 300,000 year old habits and some even go back 5 million years, we need to train our brain. I often wonder how long our children would crawl if we never help them to walk. We need to train our bran in opening a treasure chest that is heavily guarded by about 200 million nerve strands or Axons, our so called Corpus Callosum.
With good talents, a great team and well defined techniques we actually can. And that is the beginning of “Innovation on demand”.
4) TOOLS
You know the saying: “I think my head explodes”- right? And that is always when you reach your capacity limits of learning or thinking, or comprehending – or – innovating. In an interesting way, it’s all the same. Since the last 12,000 years we experience this more and more often and we built more and more tools and ever bigger teams to deal with exactly that problem. We have yardsticks to measure distances much easier than computing it in our brain. We build cranes big enough to lift the weight we need to lift without architecting it over and over again. And today we developed tools, methods and finally technology that shall help us to go through this rather demanding process called innovation. And guess what – it is no different from what athletes perform in their contests, musicians on stage, race driver on the street or on the water, and so forth. Both, athletes and innovators, can easily loos one or two Kilo of body weight, during such processes. When I processed complex ideas or learned entirely new things rather fast, I fall asleep, equally exhausted then after a 20 km run (12.4 miles). Our brain can consume massive energy! That energy consumption is of extreme importance to know, when we try to get ground breaking ideas out of it.
5) MARKET
Here is when the rubber meets the road. There are an estimated 100 Million patents in drawers that have been never used. It shows that the initial value of an innovation, evenpatended is exactly ZERO. The value is only and exclusively created when an idea gets executed, brought to life and into the market. The value then grows with the size of its distribution. We can be as innovative as we want – if we cannot make it available to a market or the market is not interesting, the value remains to be zero. In the end, sales channels, creative marketing, service and support organizations, transport (and if it the Internet) are key to the success of any innovation. This success is seen best, when we look through the macroeconomic lense: A company creates a product. It is sold through distribution and dealer channels, it is shipped across all oceans, it is serviced locally, maybe education organizations provide training, maybe consulting companies help apply the product. At the same time new ideas pop up from companies that build add-ons to that product and create even a market extension. All of a sudden a company with 5,000 employees actually creates 50,000 indirect jobs. That innovation is clearly valuable. The worst of all versions is to create a valuable idea, get a patent and then not only not use it but prevent anybody else from creating it. It is a crime on society – stealing an advancement, just based on self interests.

How to start from here

On April 23, the Society3 Group who worked on the Deep Innovation Design Model for four years is providing a free online seminar (webinar) and explaining how the Deep Innovation Design Model works, where you can get trained and how you get involved in this new model. www.society3.com/webinars/. The World Innovations Forum is providing the training programs and support in emerging countries and is able to provide stipends for talented innovators to learn how to be extremely innovative.

In the past four years, we were attempting to understand how innovation is actually created and analyzed how we where building startups that became ten years later billion-dollar companies. We were also exploring how other startups that became billion-dollar companies created their ideas and successes. We found striking insights about the difference in innovations power between startups and established billion-dollar enterprises – who were startups themselves just a few decades ago.

From invention to innovation

The automobile evolved from INVENTION to INNOVATION. The disk brakes moved from INVENTION to IMPROVEMENT. The first electric BMW car made it from INVENTION to an EXPERIMENT, while Tesla made it to INNOVATION without even having it invented. A self-driving Mercedes S-Class made a 1,000-mile journey from Munich to Copenhagen and back in 1992! It was already using computer vision and computers to react in real-time. The autonomous car achieved speeds exceeding 110 miles per hour (175 km/h) on the German Autobahn with nearly no human intervention for 95% of the distance. It drove in traffic, executing maneuvers to pass other cars. Also, here, all the necessary inventions have not been taken to innovation but ended up in drawers. Analyzing the reasons is equally complex and interesting but exceeds the purpose of this post. We will do this in another post.

Invention vs. Innovation

In most enterprises, we may find hundreds if not thousands of geniuses with fabulous ideas but no way to go. There is this massive difference between INVENTION and INNOVATION. INVENTION is the act of having and documenting an idea, maybe building a prototype and perhaps even being granted one or more patents. Unfortunately, the invention is of no value at all. Bringing such an invention to market, scale the business or business unit and make it a global success is when we talk about INNOVATIONS. The full cycle of invention, prototyping, market validation, product-market-fit, funding, marketing, testing, producing, launching, more funding, branding, selling, customer engagement, servicing, business model optimization, more funding, going international all the way up to being a global player in that segment is a successful innovation. Innovation is neither a product or service nor the marketing or sales effort to make it big – INNOVATION is the result of a series of activities, engagements, teams and market conditions that lead to groundbreaking new solutions for a larger group of users.

The value of innovation grows with its distribution!

The good news, pretty much every large enterprise on earth is struggling with being innovative. Even enterprises that came just two decades ago with highly innovative solutions to market, now struggling being innovative. The bad news, more innovative startups, than ever before in history challenge any size enterprise. The question arises: Is the lifecycle of the innovation, the future lifecycle of a company in general?

The five biggest mistakes

  1. The company never developed a comprehensive plan to identify the brilliant ideas, which their employees already created, usually based on their experience with the problem. Inventors are mostly not communicative managers but more the introverted engineers!
  2. Seeing the brain spark of an invention already as innovation and wonder why it is not successful in this highly competitive global economy.
  3. Completely ignoring the fact that innovative businesses require a lot of funding to become that innovative business everybody is dreaming about.
  4. Running innovation alongside and hoping for the magical growth and market disruption.
  5. Management teams never asked themselves where these ideas are actually coming from and how they can be harnessed.

What to do

  1. A great starting point is to see the act of invention as an ignition point that triggers a comprehensive process of innovation.
  2. It is far better to develop trust in the “Innovation Potential” of the company’s employees than looking into startups.
  3. Rationalizing that any major innovation is also a significant investment, and there is no difference between a startup and a global enterprise.
  4. Creating a serious effort to include customers into the innovation process and stop looking at what the competition is doing.
  5. Stop hoping that employees think like startup entrepreneurs. If they would, they would be long gone, and if they stayed, they much better contribute to an enterprise-level innovation process.

We will share more findings and more insights as we progress.

The Innovation Challenge

Corporations of all sizes, older than 15 years are in jeopardy. It is NOT LACK OF INNOVATION as such, it is lacking the UNDERSTANDING HOW TO INNOVATE. TEST: Tell your teams to be more innovate. The response to the question may be: “Yes, we’d love to do that, but please teach me what I must do to be innovative”. Your team learned to handle machines, compile algorithms, develop strategies and business plans, how to sell and how to market, create a long term financial forecast or how to hire talents. They never learned how to innovate or how to create a disruptive business model. Most even set innovation equal to invention. The real challenge is:
1) We need to understand how one creates ideas in the first place?
2) How these ideas may turn into an ‘innovation’?
3) How do we know that those ideas are actually something the market will buy?
4) When do we invest in such an innovation and how much?
5) How do we organize an innovation process from idea creation to market success?

Not lack of innovation but lack of understanding how to innovate

 

IN SEARCH OF INNOVATION

Most businesses are seriously challenged and try all kinds of ways: Creating an innovation lab, investing in startups, trying to observe young innovators, hire teams to be creative and innovate – and all kinds of random actions in the pursuit of “finding innovation”. This already went on for decades with no serious success. Young businesses continue to disrupt entire industry segments. Whether it is the car industry, the taxi industry, the hotel industry, the mobile communication industry, the micropayment industry, the mobile payment industry, and on and on and on. Who is next: the insurance industry, the airline industry, the food industry, the waste industry, the ITC industry, the automobile industry, the mechanics parts industry, the legal advice industry…  Every industry will experience major disruption in the coming years. And this is NOT because some come up with some crazy ideas and think differently. 200 to 500 out of 1 million startups make it. So that is not much . But those 200 – 500 disrupt any available industry. And will not wait for anybody.

LEARNING TO INNOVATE

Each and every corporation has its own innovations paradigm. Most don’t even know. The innovations paradigm is the entire complex from idea development in an R&D center or innovation lab to successful market entry. Today this is all experimentation, trial and error. And we apply the mechanisms that we know to find out. Yes we need to think very differently – but not how we try today. Funny enough we need to follow age old rules:

  • We need to find out how ideas are actually created and processed
  • Once we understand how our brain works, we can apply strategies to use it.
  • We then will need to dive far deeper into our business ecosystem than ever before
  • And finally develop radically different solutions that unfold an ideal way for customers
  • Leadership in this entire process can make it a repeatable process so one can continuously innovate

Implementing such a “Innovations Paradigm” into the enterprise is far less difficult as it may look, yet it is not done over night and requires the buy-in of the C-Level. When anybody says we need to think like a startup, WE is all of the company. And the key driver is always the CEO – Startup or Global Enterprise. Carl Benz, Henry Ford, Robert Bosch, Graham Bell, Robert Noyce, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos were all young crazy entrepreneurs when they started. And many of that league are just about to get disrupted from people who think and act different – but that thinking is no secret any more and not unique.

You may want to join our webinar series of how to innovate and how to get your team to true innovation.
https://www.society3.com/webinars/

@AxelS

The Growth Accelerator and the brand new Entrepreneurs Academy are now open for applications.
Lots of news:

  1. Updated Growth Accelerator Program
  2. New Entrepreneurs Academy
  3. Partnership with World Innovations Forum

Updated Growth Accelerator Program

we added a new session INNOVATIVE THINKING based on our experience with “Disruptive Business Model Development”. It’s all about thinking out of the box, creative, big… but how do you actually shape your thinking process? In this new session, we teach you how to actually think innovative.
Admittedly – our all online accelerator program failed in emerging countries. Hence we are back to the former and highly successful “hybrid model”, consisting of a one week bootcamp and 10 weeks online program.

New Entrepreneurs Academy

Between fall last year and now we developed an all new Entrepreneurs Academy program. This is thought to be a precursor to the growth accelerator. It covers the key topics of entrepreneurship, company purpose, team development without a budget, business concept & funding, and so forth.

Partnership with World Innovations Forum

The partnership with the World Innovations Forum Foundation allows us to give stipends with substantial discounts, up to 99% to attendees from emerging and developing countries. It may also allow us to provide stipends for teams in developed countries with special conditions.

 

 

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