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Successful Innovation

Want to Accelerate Innovation? Embrace the Power of "And"

The pressure’s building. It’s a consumer-driven world, and staying relevant means keeping pace with an ever-intensifying rate of change.

With so much data available now, new competitors are popping up all over, ready to fill the void if you can’t keep up. The race is on to get there first, to get that new product out there or to innovate your process so you can meet demand and stake your claim on the market.

There are some obvious advantages to being first to market with a new product or innovation. But in the rush to be first on the scene, with the analysis done and the case made, it can be pretty tempting to ignore potential user issues or alternative ideas, or to downplay latent quality issues or opportunities for improvements.

The implication is that you can’t have both: You can’t get there first without cutting a few corners. You can’t be truly, breakthrough, out-of-the-box innovative and still meet a tight timeline. It’s either one or the other—something’s gotta give.

But what if instead of thinking in terms of “or,” you thought in terms of “and”?

More to the point, if you aren’t thinking in terms of “and,” can your business really survive?

Synergy comes from diverse thinking.

Tight schedules and quantitative analysis don’t have to be at odds with imaginative ideas or a focus on the user experience. In fact, the most effective innovators, especially in today’s environment, have learned to bring together all four, because the synergy that comes from that diversity of thought and perspectives is so powerful.

There are so many examples of how companies use this kind of “and” philosophy to accelerate time-to-market and come up with truly groundbreaking ideas that blow the minds of their consumers and blow away the competition. One of our favorites is the story of how Kinect Adventures, the game that ships with Microsoft’s Kinect for Xbox 360, was developed.

The development team at Microsoft’s Good Science Studio had to not only innovate and evolve the platform but also meet an aggressive timeframe for getting the product to market. Studio head Shannon Loftis realized right away that her team was going to need the freedom for necessary creative experimentation, the data and insights to truly understand their audience, and the structure and process to keep the development on track.

While in a typical game design process, the creatives often have the loudest voice, Shannon says that in this case, “we really wanted to break the process apart from the beginning and get away from AB/XY thinking. Part of doing that was making sure the producers had a voice, too.”

To do that, she made Whole Brain® Thinking an integral part of the process. Here’s a high-level look at some of the steps they took to get the most from their thinking diversity:

  • Assemble a cognitively diverse team: Having a balance of thinking on the team was the first step in reinventing the traditional approach to game development. Data from the HBDI® assessment allowed Shannon to put together the right team for the job.
  • Underscore the need for and value of diversity of thought: The team not only learned about their own thinking, they explored how all of the thinkers on the team were critical to achieving their objectives.
  • Encourage balanced participation and cast a wider net for feedback: By using Whole Brain® communication techniques and tools, all team members were able to contribute and be heard, allowing for a broader range of input and suggestions throughout the process.
  • Keep the consumer in mind: The team used a variety of brain-based tools during the consumer testing process to understand their audience, analyze feedback and make product feature decisions.

Meanwhile, because the producers’ more analytical and structured thinking styles kept the creatives on track, the team was able to avoid the overruns and delays that often plague design projects. The result was a much faster time-to-market compared to their previous development projects.

Just as important, as the people who’ve since played the games will tell you, they did it without sacrificing creativity, continual improvement and a focus on the consumer in the process.

How will you make “and” your guiding philosophy?

As an organizing principle, the Whole Brain® Model is a great starting point for helping you and your team think in terms of “and” instead of “or.” It’s a simple approach that can have a powerful effect on all aspects of your business, especially when you’re dealing with complex projects.

Try it and see!

By the way, if you’re looking for more examples from a variety of different industries and organizations, be sure to pick up a copy of The Whole Brain® Business Book, Second Edition.

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Tags: innovation, Communication, Teams, HBDI, Whole Brain Business Book, Whole Brain Thinking

The four-color, four-quadrant graphic, HBDI® and Whole Brain® are trademarks of Herrmann Global, LLC.

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