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Design Thinking: 11 Ways to Open Your Innovation Lens! (Part 1 of 2)

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I believe that innovation arises from ideas. Ideas show up when one applies a process of being creative. Creativity is shaped by an individual's engagement. Engagement and commitment to one's work is directly linked to clarity of Personal Values and the Organizational Values of an institution for which one works. Personal Values are molded based on one's Spiritual Integrity (alignment of thoughts, words, and actions). Spiritual Integrity is the expression of one's deep self-awareness of their inherent Human Values. Human Values are the same in all human beings. One's ability to unearth the Human Values distinguishes one's moral compass vs. that of another - sometimes we call that Character.

Therefore, if an organization wants to create a climate and culture of innovation, the best possible lasting solution is to help every employee and leader become more self-aware; more in touch with who they are and what they personally value. And I don't simply mean the definition of personal values but rather the expression of those values; i.e. how do those values show up in their work? - In their projects, in their email communications, in writing a proposal, in negotiating terms with a vendor or a customer? This self-awareness will allow everyone to 'tap into' their inner source where very powerful ideas are sitting dormant.

Great innovation leaders figured this out a long time ago - i.e. innovation arises from one's (or the team's) deep passion for something much bigger than themselves. These leaders have learned how to create ‘drive’ (as Daniel Pink describes in his recent book with the same name) for themselves as well as for their teams. We call this Design Thinking. When an organization taps into the collective pool of Design Thinking, they unleash Intrapreneurship for all.

Practicing Intrapreneurs, using Design Thinking, are the best source for Innovation.

The problem: It is difficult to find such leaders. Even if you do, it is harder to find organizations that practice Design Thinking and Innovation as a core expertise. So, how does one become an Intrapreneur inside an organization irrespective of corporate culture?

The first step we strongly recommend is to learn to see “with a new lens” – which is easier said than done. (My next post will include 11 Practical Ways to Open Your Innovation Lens!) 

Chuck Palus and David Horth, authors of The Leader's Edge: Six Creative Competencies for Navigating Complex Challenges, speak about the need to “see with new eyes”. Human beings are magnificent, imperfect, and predictable, and do not like change. That is why the entire Change Management field was born – to help organizations adapt to a constantly changing world. Since the days of Adam and Eve, Man has learned to lead his life through habits; looking at things with the same eyes, analyzing it with the same logic and creating the same perceptions. It is easy to get used to this routine. Most managers act the same way. According to the authors, most managers “act on what they expect to see”, take shortcuts, do not spend enough time analyzing information and making a sound judgment. It’s as if the managers are walking around blind-folded since they have already created built-in perceptions of what they see. 

In my opinion, the only way Man changes, is through the emotions of Love or Fear. Love as passion, to desire, to achieve, to give,  and Fear as the feeling of failure, loss, negative judgment by others, and death. These two emotions are at the center of human motivations.

Without motivation, permanent change cannot occur.

Without change, nothing new can be innovated. 

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