As I already told you, my summer reading list was short but promising. Let see what after 4 weeks of sun, bath and reading, I can say about those books I choose.
Love to read
First let’s have a look at my reading stations. It is always a pleasure to read books but even more in good conditions.
From my sunny French balcony …
…to hot Tuscan summer…
…via the cool resting station of the Jura mountains near Switzerland (by the way a perfect place for Trail Running lovers),
I have really enjoyed discovering those pages. Again, sharing with you my reading commentaries doesn’t mean judging the authors and their work, I am no one for that, but more giving you my very own thoughts about what I, personally as an Innovation practitioners, start-up founder and entrepreneur, think I have learned reading their work.
A timely release
As I have to review all those books, I will post one article per book in the coming day. Stay tuned.
On my shelf for further reading
I have already ordered a book that I should have read for a long time:
Change by Design, How design thinking transforms Organizations and inspires Innovationfrom Tim Brown, IDEO.
I am not used to write article in reaction to news but at that point I have to write it down.
So Microsoft just bought LinkedIn for over $26 B. That’s a lot of money but what is important is another figure: 249$.
I found this number on the net and it is the first time I see a pricing for a profile.
Take $26.2 billion, divide it by 105 million, which is the total number of active members on LinkedIn, and you get $249.52. And that tells us exactly what our professional information and allegiance–yours, mine, and virtually everybody we know–is worth. Inc.com
Just take a moment. Think about it and what it means for you, for us and for the business.
I have just attended to a meeting regarding one project of my running program. This kind of meeting is called « Project Meeting ». Initiated by the project manager, it aims to discuss with the program manager and other selected stakeholders some important facts about the projects before the official Project Review. It aims to deal with important issues and collect options from important sponsors beforehand.
Really often the project team uses those meetings to announce:
a budget exceeding,
What I realize today is that in most of the meeting I have participated to, the project team forgive to bring important information that are keys to their counterparts: a plan.
Explaining that budget is going wild, planning is dead and gold-plated deliverables are everywhere is in a sense not really interesting to take decision about the project. What the project team should focus on are its strategy to take the project on track according to the available options:
Budget should remain unchanged
Planning should remain unchanged
Scope should remain unchanged
According to those 3 different strategy the team should provide scenarii to their stakeholders in order to have clear direction.
What is the plan to keep the budget unchanged while our scope is booming or delay is out of control?
What are the consequences if we keep the original planning (i.e. deliverables dates) regarding to the scope (descoping) or budget?
When experiencing troubles on projects, project teams should of course understand the reasons and act to stop the deviation but also work on alternative and scenarii about the future of its project. If not, the decision taken during a project review could be somehow definitive.
It might seem obvious to use but sticky notes are not that easy to use in a workshop. Let’s discover how to use it wisely for the good of your workshop and to achieve the results your participants deserve.
Sticky notes are somehow the most used tools in Innovation, Creativity, Brainstorming, Problem Solving…. well it is the most used tool when dealing with ideas, structuring and organizing things.
As easy as it seems, using the sticky notes at their top power requires some tips we will share with you.
Why are the sticky notes such a Star?
Sticky notes have a bunch of advantages for organizing and structuring ideas of any kinds.
Visual: Images are processed 6000 times faster than text. With their colours and shapes it amplify information and provide quick understanding of the underlying contextual contents.
They are legions: As they are easy to set, you can catch all ideas coming up in your team life like a streaming of content
Movable: as you can rearrange them, it is easy to cluster ideas, create connections and reorganise your thinking
How to get the most out of it?
A sticky note is more than just a piece of coloured paper glued on a wall. It has 4 characteristics giving them their abilities to organize and visually shape your mind:
Writing Too much text makes it unreadable and will alter the necessary « quick » understanding, giving too much details.
Too less text will not give enough contents to understand the deep meaning.
The good writing of a sticky note should be concise enough to be understood.
Drawing Humans understand much better images than text. A sketch illustrating the ideas will ease the understanding. Sketching is also a good way to stay concise.
Colour Using different colours allow structuring and managing your different ideas and concepts. One colour, one group, one category is a good technique to stay your workshop organized.
Shape Sticky notes are now coming in various size and various shape. Choose the ones that are the most suited for your workshop.
As I have used thousand of sticky notes in hundreds of workshops, I can share with you some tips.They are not definitive, so feel free to add yours as a comment.
I personally use the traditional squared one in different colours (at least 4) and the « citation » one. I categorize the notes and structure my mind.From time to time I like other shapes but only for a dedicated use only. As for an example, I use arrow-shaped ones for process analysis and I have found an bulb-shaped ones for good ideas!
My tips for your next workshop:
Be sure the sticky band is positioned on the top to avoid the sticky note to be up side down,
Write upper case to be readable from away,
Keep the same ink colour during your workshop, unity creates readability.
I have been solicited lately by a company which wanted to deploy a Corporate Social Network. It wasn’t their first try. Let’s see what they did wrong and how to ensure that you CSN will be a success.
The Initial Project
Deploying Yammer!, the company had taken an approach that led to the failure of the deployment and very low acceptance ratio within the teams
A limited deployment
The first approach was planned to be deployed on a limited number of people. As the company did want to take too much risks with its employees, it has been decided to deploy the CSN on a limited number of places and people. Those people were chosen according to their specialities, knowledges, expertise etc…
A community or group approach
As most of the people who had early access to the CSN were selected according to their knowledge and expertise, it is natural that the project team organized the CSN with communities and groups. Those communities and groups were decided by the CSN manager and the company management.
A lack of EXEC support
No EXEC were planed to be on the CSN in its early time. If the EXEC were supporting the project they were not users and did not really understand all its possibilities and capabilities.
Why this initial project failed?
A limited deployment impeaches your community to reach its break even point. If you don’t have enough members, then your members cannot produce enough contents to reach a point where the interest is high enough to attract the reluctant and put your CSN into a great dynamic. A social network is before everything, social. My first tip if you are planing to deploy a CSN: Open it widely and don’t limit the access to your tool.
The adopted community/group approach is also a major factor which can affect the success of your project. The Essence of a Social Network is to be more or less self organized. If you put too much constraints then the community will react and reject your organisation (which happens in our case). To maximize your chance to have a successful CSN, let your users organize themselves the groups and communities. What is important to understand is that the users will self leverage the interest of communities and groups according to their true interests and needs. It is very interesting for your CSN because it will help you to determine the true center of interests of your employees. My second tip if you are planing to deploy a CSN: Trust your employees and let them organize by themselves groups and communities. (You can still gently create other communities and groups later on)
The last point is the EXEC involvement. Not only funding and promoting but also particpating to the CSN. As no EXEC were on the CN, employees took it as granted that the CSN was not something EXEC took really care to. If my EXEC don’t care about it, why shouldn’t? My second tip if you are planing to deploy a CSN: Involve your EXEC as early users
Our new project
A strong EXEC support with clear objectives.. and lots of change Management
All EXEC had their own profile, posted news and even realized some PR on the Yammer! The CEO wrote the first message on the new platform.
As the EXEC, all employees had to have their profile filled (part of their annual objective).In addition, early users were used as « evangelist » to train their colleagues and explain them how to use the platform. On line and off line training sessions were deployed.
A company wide deployment
As a limited deployment cannot allow your CSN to reach its breaking point it is important to open it widely. In our project, the new platform has been promoted to everyone, included in their annual objectives. Profile filled is also of a great tool for the company has the Search allow you to find competencies within your team. It is a new way to gather and access knowledge and competencies with your company.
A self organized network
We did not organize the CSN in anyway. After a while, the self organisation worked and groups and communities were created by the users. Interesting was the comparison among the initial project communities and the actual projects: none were common. However users defined the groups and communities they really needed. No management induces communities are planned because it also helps the company to determine what kind of interest and concerns their employees have.
Did you have such a project? Do you have access to a CSN within your company?
As Innovation manager in a corporate, I nurture a hacking mindset within a group of “champions”. Why is hacking mindset so important within an innovation culture?
What is a Coporate hacker?
A hacker is someone smart but with creativity. Thinking from a different point of view at a given problem gives new original solutions.
Hackers are smart. That’s the starting point. However they leverage the self-learning to establish a new standard that puts the creativity at its highest level. Engineering is not the only way to develop things and necessary qualities are not necessary learned at school.
The Hacker principles
Do it, even imperfectly
Don’t try to deliver something perfect the first time. First iteration are always unfinished. At that point we can connect that to Lean Start-up with its very fast iteration and feedback from the customers. It is really important to see things, to test things to validate.
As Corporate workers we have learned to plan everything. To be sure that everything will be delivered and established as planned. If we failed then we are not good at delivering. That’s something that is inverted by the Corporate Hacker mindset. Corporate Hackers should be allowed to deliver incomplete product, test it and learn from feedback to iterate and reengineer their product. As Project and Product manager, I have developed Human Interface mainly on card box thanks to Bill Baxton method of sketching User Interface. Is it imperfect? Definitely. Does it give you more info than weeks of coding? For sure. What is the best solution in terms of ROI and OTD? I let you decide.
That’s the second point of Corporate hackers. They have to deliver quick and often. One can understand that concept in the field of IT but be sure that it is not only IT related. I have myself experimented that kind of methodology in a B2B electronic device development project with a great success. If you are able to deliver quickly, then you are able to sustain the effort to test functionalities o your product, iterate, learn from customers feedbacks etc…
Break your work
If you do things imperfectly, if you did it fast, you will break you product often. It is easier to throw away a day of work than a week. So admitting that you can look ridiculous at a first glance is key. Accept that your work can be criticize.
Pasteur is a hacker, Dyson is a hacker, Edisson is a hacker. We all know what all their stories are about today. They all did something complicated with limited resources.
Hackers are that kind of people. Be sure that you can do things, wonderful things without any resources. At that point you can connect it to the popular concept of Jugaad Innovation. If you have the appropriate mindset, you can be a hacker and find an innovative solution to a given goal. Not only each problem has a solution, but each problem has many solutions.
A Corporate Hacker?
In a corporate, you have hopefully smart people. So you have the basics. However it is a duty for you to allow your team to stop asking permission to do things. If you want a corporate hacker culture, then allow your team to stop playing with your corporate rules. Asking about permission is the good way to never deliver.
This is a very important fact and step to establish an area within your company where teams can play their rules: A sandbox, within a special HR process to recognize their efforts and results. This is really important to set a frame where your hackers will work. Establishing this frame will free their mind and develop the consciousness of your management of the initiative. Call it whatever you want. Some call it “Corporate Incubator”, come call it “Corporate Accelerator”. In a way you don’t care, adopt the hacker philosophy and create it. You will be learning by doing yourself.
Hacks for you
A very important step not to underestimate is to identify the potential hackers within your company to create and aggregate organically a community. If you can, establish a communication tool among you on Slack or Yammer or whatever tool you have. Connect your community, encourage people to help other. It will first create a real mindset of intrapreneurship and also it will create “virtual” debt among your hackers that will unlock situation later.
Let the things go. Meaning that as manager you have to admit that some projects will succeed without your help. Your job as innovation manager is to establish the environment that will allow your hackers to success.
Read the Lean Start-up (by Eric Ries) and Sketching user experience (by Bill Baxton).
Are Corporate Hackers a special kind of Intrapreneur? Are they intrapreneur?
Do you see more hacks to share? Want to share your comments? Let’s go!
Last October I have been lucky enough to be a mentor at the BigBooster event in Lyon, France. BIG BOOSTER is an international acceleration program in cooperation with MASSCHALLENGE in Boston (the sister city of Lyon if I am not wrong).
That was my first time mentor and I have been very interested sharing my comments, experience and knowledge with 3 very promising start-ups (it ended with one of our mentored start-up ECHY – @echycontact – being selected to go this February in Boston and at last being selected among the 10 most promising start-ups of the pool. One more step in April and they might get the price 😉 ).
However during the days we were working I did to myself several comments regarding this kind of events and my own value to the start-ups there. That was a life changing experience for me and a truly new vision of what need and what is a start-up that have changed the way I am envisaging working and collaborating with them as Innovation manager in a Corporate.
Here are the points I would like to share:
Be sure you provide value to your mentored startupsbut also to your start-ups representatives as an individual. Not only for the company but also for the representative it should be an opportunity to grow.
Made clear among mentors what are your skills, in which topics each of you is a killer and in which topics you can’t really help. That’s key for your mentored to understand what they can seek from you and what they have to find elsewhere
Clarify frankly and from the beginning what are the objectives of the startups: winning a slot at the accelerator? working on their projects with professionals with no particular needs or wills to be selected? Challenging their approach? That’s key for you to be sure you provide the need values and advises to your mentored.
Made a clear and honest feedback. As for an example, we had a start-up which was way to early to confront with the others. That was our duty to tell them and help them making progress during the 3 days.
Work together on the subject. As a mentor you are also here to work and produce what is needed by your start-up. You are not only a counsellor but also a kind of Blue collar…
Last but most important: Be humble. Those guys are working hard on their project, that’s their life, their passion. And frankly I have learned a lot from them during those days. Being an entrepreneur is hard.
Intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs are buzz words today. However letting your employees be entrepreneurs inside your company is not straight forward.
In lots of Corporate time is to wake up the internal start-upers and copy/paste the start-up dynamic and growth into the existing organisation. The « start-up » state-of-mind is seen as the holy grail of product development and the good way to invent the future and to innovate. Some companies think that it is a question of life or death as Uber is the new Devil within Corporate.
One characteristics of start-ups is the agility in the way that they can test, learn, modify very fast in order to find quickly the good product for the right customers and opposite. This entrepreneur state-of-mind is the secret of internal entrepreneur also called Intrapreneur.
How can we encourage such behaviour? How can we leverage on the energy?
First of all there is a problem of human resource. Do you have the right talents for this new shift within your company? Corporates are risks adverse so they hire people that are risks adverses. But Corporate as such talents hates risks. And we are talking all about that. taking risks, failing and bouncing… Focus should be made on delivery, inside and outside the organisation.
Kick your employees out of the wall
Entrepreneurs are creative people. How do they manage to be creative and find new ideas of products or services? Observation and connection are keys. Those guys are out, they observe, they look at things, they ask people. Creativity is really often the possibility to connect an existing concept with a need and manage to adapt it and fill the gap.
One should push employees out of the wall to encourage their creativity, open their minds and increase their creativity.
Too much experts
Your company is organised in order to have experts discussing of their technical points. It reminds me the quote for Einstein stating more or less that we will have the same solutions if we try to solve the problem the same way we ever did.
That’s about innovation, letting new things fertilize our minds and generating new ideas and new way to address one issue or one need.
So let your employees go out and get inspired by what is outside the company. Then brainstorm internally to get the best out of this. I have heard really often my colleagues or clients saying that « no our industry is different, it will never work here »… Well did they try already? hard enough? I am sure no. I am sure no because I ran several workshops of this kind with outstanding results in very different industries; Energy (of course, that’s my job) but also electronic, Insurance, banking…
Coworking is key and allow team to leverage their capabilities and results. So if you are trying to establish a culture of entrepreneurship within your organisation, don’t forget to plan co-working possibilities. Because finding the good resources, the good knowledge (connecting) within the company is a entrepreneur state-of-mind. Mixing temporarily (sometime for an hour) the people with different expertises will add so much value to your project.
Do you have your own office? Alone in a room. I do. That’s counter productive for innovation and coworking. Set coworking space: a fablab or innovation Lab, a meeting room transformed to be the Project’s place, an open office…
In a future article about #MyDigitalTransformationProject (follow this hashtag for more info) I will present you our dedicated office and what advantages it gives to the project.
What is an intrapreneur?
Someone who is curious, interested, open minded, an expert of nothing but good at everything, a continuous learner (on that point try to find out how much employees in your organisation are attending to MOOC… That’s a good sign), taking manageable risks, knowing how to learn from failure, enriching his/her knowledge with other experts, connecting the dots to make a new picture.
We all have been confronted to a stuck project. I remember me on my seat, looking at the project data, talking to my team and telling me how we will manage to turn it into, even not a success but at least something we could speak about later without any shame. Not talking about avoiding the complete disaster 😉
Often working with your project team and making the diagnosis together one will find an acceptable way to continue the project and deliver what should be delivered. The force of working as a team, accepting all together the current situation and the actions to take to get out of it is just awesome.
Setting new planning, setting new deliverable, setting new resources requirements all in accordance with the situation and the possibilities offered by the organization is necessary. First it clarifies to all stakeholders the new projects perimeter and then it shows to the team that the « new » project is achievable.
I would summarize the process to un-stuck a project as follow.
Achieve a consensus with the project team, establishing a new road to success, and re-motivating all involved people are the key parameters.
I have also found this interesting video.
This is a Periscope replay of the #DailyMentor.
What was your way to restart a stuck project?
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