By now you’ve probably seen those famous images comparing design vs user experience – a beautifully designed and straight sidewalk is forgotten, instead a path is cut by people who need to get somewhere. I’m sure that the architect and the landscape designer put a lot of thought into the perfect design for the space, only to be thwarted by what people actually do.
When you are defining an innovation program, or any program for that matter, its key to not force your innovators into specific paths. Sure, it may be helpful for ROI to include one or more challenges which can help to box in the brainstorming, but after that, why shouldn’t all bets be off? If you start with a challenge to frame the discussion, then things go off in a different direction, do you really need them to come back to the path if they are providing value?
I like to think about these programs as being agile in nature – that if the program seems to be heading into a different direction from what you started – then go with the flow. Allow your innovators to beat those different paths, follow them to their conclusions. Keep an eye on the ebb and flow of the conversation – but don’t do too much, if any steering, unless you see people going down well worn and trodden paths.
Interestingly enough, most of the time we have to try to encourage people to go off the beaten path. Typically, especially in some large corporate environments, its difficult to get people to think off the path, so to speak. They are so used to taking the path that’s been given them, that they need permission to stray. To take the easier path.
One of the exercises that I use in order to help unleash innovation in an organization works by removing all of the cultural and technical constraints which the innovators have been living inside of. I allow them to be free to think about the kinds of products and services they can develop if they just remove those constraints. This is usually a turn around moment within the sessions – the ideas suddenly flow at an amazing pace. Things are usually faster when you create your own shorter path.
Of course, even though its a cathartic time when the inventors can freely describe all of these amazing ideas and inventions without their current cultural constraints, they invariably say to themselves – well all of these ideas are great – but there is no way we can implement them.
That’s when I show that we can, that it is possible. That the ideas that they generated could happen. That the path that they forged for themselves can be paved and become the new path for them – that’s when the magic happens.
Of course, follow through is also key – even if we find that there is some reason why that path cannot be taken, there is still no reason why the idea itself can’t be protected. so in some small way, the innovators path is taken. And eventually paved.
Normally, I don’t talk productivity tips here on thinkfuture, but this time I felt that I had to share my “one crazy tip” for getting yourself down to “inbox zero”
Now, we all know what that is, right? That state of bliss that you can only achieve by having ZERO unread messages in all of your in-boxes. (Actually, that’s not even the TRUE Inbox Zero. True Inbox Zero is actually having ZERO messages in all of your inboxes. I know – unthinkable! But it can be done.)
So, whether you are attempting the lazy inbox zero (no unread messages) or the true inbox zero, there is one quick “crazy” tip that will get you there. It’s so simple, you’ll probably face palm once you hear it.
Stop using webmail. Yes, you heard right: stop using webmail. There is no single webmail implementation which can take you to inbox zero. They are simply not designed to do that.
Lately, I’ve been reading Essentialism (great book, BTW) and one point stands out from all of the rest of the great points in this book: that most everything is NOISE. That most things are UNIMPORTANT, and they don’t deserve your time, at all.
In that vein, how does your typical webmail implementation determine what is important? By your frequency of communication, your specified people etc. It tries to figure it out, but fails miserably because it simply does not work on the premise that most things are noise and unimportant. So it shows you page after page of email, and you never get ahead of it. You need a solution where you can dispatch huge reams of email very, very quickly, and there is no way to do that in modern webmail. But there are other ways – ways we may have forgotten: the good old, reliable email client.
Eudora, Thunderbird, eMclient, Outlook and many others have been around for a while. But we’ve stopped using them as our default mail handlers because of the ease of accessing Gmail or Yahoo! Mail or whatever wherever we are. But as we starting using those web based email handlers, we got further and further from being able to wrangle ourselves back to inbox zero.
How do you get back there? Simple. Just find your favorite offline email client app, and have it download your email. It may take a while, but imagine the satisfaction of bulk deleting all that email from that annoying former client (sort by sender and delete) or newsletter that you unsubscribed from but never read the 1000′s of emails from, now stale.
You can get to Inbox Zero. You just can’t do it in web mail. You need to be able to wipe out things in bulk. And for that – you need a desktop client.