Innovation refresh

June 14, 2010

Just back from the ISPIM ( in Bilbao.  An excellent event with some fascinating insights.  Some of the highlights for me were (in no particular order)

  • Learning about combining scenario planning with systems thinking – all the work associated with developing the scenarios can be re-used in developing a systems view of the situation.  Then the systems thinking can be tested to see what happens if the parameters (i.e. the dimensions of the scenarios) are reached.  (Samuli Kortelainen, Lappeenranta University of Technology)  And it seems to me that it provides an ideal opportunity to build a shared view among an executive team about what are the linkages in their world, how the drivers interact and what are the dynamics of their organisation.  By tying the systems model in with the scenario it brings the scenarios alive and, most importantly, makes the insights actionable.
  • ­Value models for service innovation – assessing not only the financial value but also the strategic and relationship value of your service innovation efforts coupled, of course, with a risk assessment? (Tor Aas, University of Agder).  And the obvious extension of this is to explore what small changes you can make to the service innovation to add so much more value.
  • ­Aligning strategic objectives as a means of pulling projects through the pipeline – arguably better than using them as decision criteria to filter out the ideas you don’t want.  (This from one of those conversations over lunch)
  • ­Applying some of the thinking from ‘Blue Ocean Strategy’ ( to service innovation (Desai Narasimhalu, Singapore Management University).  The extension in thinking that appealed to me was the idea of explicitly reviewing what you can and can’t control in service delivery.  By understanding the interdependencies between the service provider and the customer and between the service provider and other suppliers and intermediaries the areas of innovation potential are highlighted.  And just as importantly for delivery of a service, the areas that need the most risk management are also identified.
  • ­Ever noticed how roadmaps tend to fade out, losing detail and usefulness, as they project further and further into the future?  The solution is to explore scenarios and use those scenarios to make the roadmaps more stimulating (Daniel Koch, Fraunhofer ISI)

Other insights included a “release question” (the sort of question that unleashes innovation) – “What assumption, if shown to be untrue, would completely transform the way we view the problem?”  Thanks to Marcie Segal of CreativityLand Inc for that one.

The conference dinner was held in the Guggenheim Museum / Gallery – a stunning venue and perhaps the most engaging architecture I’ve encountered. See the building at

Now, back to reading the papers I missed.