The Innovation Quadrants
The most useful thing at all I have found, you should have it on your worksheets, is the Innovation Quadrant. Because the thing about innovation is it's a slippery thing. It's a concept, right? People like to try and quantify innovation, and it's a hard thing to do. What happens with these quadrants is it allows you to locate where you're currently working and then, once you've located where you're currently at, where you could take it. And the where you could take it is super useful. So I use these when I'm teaching teenagers, I use them when I'm teaching teachers, and I use them in businesses, because this allows you to track your progress, but also, at the same time, if you're not progressing, to look at where you could take it. And then take the tools relevant to that direction and apply them. So you might look at it and go, 'You know what, not everybody has a market.' But that's not necessarily the case. For instance, when I use this with teachers, the market is students they know...
and students they don't know. So if you have a look at that vertical, the market vertical is just about people. It's about the people you do know, the people who are like you, the people you currently serve. And at the other end, we have the people we don't know, the people for whatever reason we don't care about, the people whose whatever it is we do doesn't suit, or the others, which is potential, but it's not what we know: people. Then over here, on the horizontal, we have how something is done, and it's not just tech. I mean tech is so often we improve something by changing our tech delivery, or we might make it an app when it was once like a mainline computer, whatever. But it's the action, and that's why it can be as much design change as it can be tech. 'Cause it's basically the way we've always done something, the way we're familiar with, the way we deliver normally right up to what we've never tried. So I'm gonna show you how this quadrant works. I'm gonna explain each of the quadrants so that you get it, and then I want you to look at where your current thinking lies. So the quadrants work a little like this. If we're down in minimum tech and existing market, this is where most people are working in general expertise in an established company doing what they do, so basically you know your people and you know how you're delivering. Now you can still be innovating in that quadrant, because you can be making incremental improvements. This is where lean continuous improvement... Anyone here use lean? Yep. ...so lean is originally from Toyota, and it's a system that began with manufacturing but it's incredibly relevant for management and any sort of deliverable. It's very customer-focused and bottom-up. And it requires you to be continuously improving. This is where you will probably be working. It's incremental improvements, for instance, the evolution of a light bulb. You know, we're now going to LED. We're going to all sorts of new things. Or the evolution of solar... Would all sit in here where we basically still have the existing market, which is we needed light, we needed solar power, whatever we needed, and we're just advancing ourselves along the tech delivery to work out how we can make it better. Walmart putting Nitrogen in the tires of their trucks to make them more efficient on the road, that sort of thing, is incremental improvement. Make sense? Cool. So much of us are there, but not all of us. Perhaps, we're working up, pushing up into new markets. Now that's an interesting one because that is often just repacking something we already have. This is what we already have but we're doing it a slightly different way. So Twitter, for instance, you know we've always been able to text-well, we haven't always, but you know what I mean-but now we're gonna package it a certain way, with a certain number of characters. And that delivers it to a new market. That makes it something new. Snapchat, Insta, all of these things, so many apps fall into this category where we're basically repacking something we've always known but we're pushing towards new markets. So if you're working down an incremental improvement, and you're like, 'Where can I go next?' Immediately, you could say, "Well, look, I'm gonna take what I already have, and I'm gonna work our way out either how to outreach to a new market people-wise or I'm gonna work out how to repackage what I have to deliver it to people in a different format." Make sense, move up? Okay, so something like the Selfie Stick sits up there. Like it made a new market in terms of I was able to sell these things to people who used to use their arm and now they use a stick (laughing). It's an amazing thing. So there's not normally, and this is still innovation, but it's generally in the marketing, in the branding, and in the packaging. Still innovative-everything on this thing is still innovative. Now down here is another area where most of us are working. So existing market but we're really pushing either our design element or our tech. So there would be we're doing it for competitive advantage. The thing about this area is we can quickly be overtaken by our competition, especially if they're watching what we do and just copying it and stepping it up one more. So you could say the evolution of like cassette and record into compact disc into streaming, perhaps? Streaming music, Spotify... might sit down there. In terms of we're still a market of people who want music and we're looking at different ways to deliver that same thing. We're getting techier and techier. Or we might look at teaching and creative life maybe. We might say we have a market of people who are continuous learners but we wanna deliver their learning in a different way, so we're gonna have audience, we're gonna have online, we're gonna have downloadable-whatever it is. We're gonna change up the design or the way it's delivered but, at its heart, we're still delivering to the people that we've generally outreached to in the past. But up here in new market and radical tech, this is completely virgin territory. This is brand new. This is very exciting. So right up here is a market you've never worked with before. It's tech that you've never tried before. It's brand new. Say, for instance, drone delivery, maybe drone delivery of emergency supplies into remote areas. So we've got people who were never able to get supplies before and we've got a delivery method that is brand-spankin'-new, or can academy... or telemedicine... so telemedicine, and that allows us to outreach to people that could never get medical services and now, via this amazing technology, they can access remote services. So this is where we work with Parkour way up in this corner here. And it's really fun. This has a high failure rate, super high. But it's also where most companies need to work with if they want significant growth. 'Cause down here, for all of us, and whether we're self-employed or a massive company, down here gives us grief, all of those things give us grief, but if we want massive return, it comes with a risky adventure, it's gotta be up here. New market, new tech, new design, new game. This is quite exciting. It's all exciting. So have a think about whereabouts you work. Like where currently do you think your thinking lies on these quadrants? And if you can't work out where you're currently at, ask me, and I'll help you. Anyone need help? Have a little think about that. 'Cause the beauty of this thing is in the mapping where we go. Now imagine if you had teams, right? And everyone within a project, within a team, had one of these things, and part of your coming together every week was agreeing as a group where you might try and push the development of whatever it is you're working on, and then checking in and looking at what you've each done. Like maybe half of you decide we're actually gonna push on the tech and the design but half of you decide that we're gonna push on the market. The key to this is it starts quantifying innovation. Besides making it quite doable, it gives you a system, another bit of structure to work with. And so what I'm gonna demonstrate to you with each of the lenses is where the lens takes you. The beautiful thing about negative space, which is the first lens we're gonna look at, is that it covers everything, because it's looking for the context. Context is huge. But some of them are very specific. So Parkour will only operate up in new market and radical technology, because it's completely disruptive. Sideways is basically dealing with people, so our sideways lens stuff is gonna move you up and down this market. Backwards is really interesting because in looking for sustainable options, we're gonna manipulate not only our functions, which are usually people, but our materials, and so that can radically change where we sit. Actually it can sometimes bring us back to minimal tech where we thought we needed really high-tech. So moving back down into this quadrant is not a bad thing. Incremental innovation is in fact where most companies want you to be innovating because they believe it's cheaper. It definitely doesn't have the fail rate of this extreme stuff over here. But nor does it bring the massive return. And much like either of these two quadrants, if you're working here, you can be overtaken by competitors pretty quickly because after all, we're still dealing with our existing market. I feel like it would be good if I just grabbed one of you to demonstrate, rather than me talking about what I've done on this thing. Anyone in the back got a vocation that they're currently working in that they wanna share with me?
So we work for a digital healthcare company, and we're helping people with asthma/COPD manage their illnesses
Excellent. Better by attaching a Bluetooth censor into their medication so that it tracks and records their usage and timing.
So it's inside of them and monitors?
No, no, it's actually attached to their inhaler.
Oh, it's to their inhaler. I thought when you said it was in the medication it was actually heading through... (laughing)
So there's a people with asthma and COPD existing market already, but we're using different, or actually existing, technology actually to use it in a different way.
So, interesting. So that brings you squarely into this quadrant. So you've got existing people because they needed the medication, so they've always needed it. But you've come up with a totally different way to monitor them?
Be more adherent and just kinda be better with taking their medication and learn more about how they're being...
That's fantastic. So currently, you've moved in this quadrant, right along here, probably down here because we're with an existing market. So if you're already in this quadrant, and you have a tech that you're still developing, it would make sense then to be focusing on the other markets. So what we'll do with adventurous thinking using that, if you're gonna use that, is we would then look at who, like we've got these people, and perhaps they're... Is it just in America? Is it just in the USA?
It mostly is, but we're expanding.
Is it just in developed countries?
So what you might do as a team is, having been down here and working on this and you've got this thing moving is, while a whole lot of your technical people are advancing and improving and continuous improvement of the tech side of things, you all might be looking at, 'Okay, who has this thing that we can't help? Is it because they can't afford it? Is it 'cause we can't reach them? Are they too far away for us to communicate with? Or is there some other reason? Right, do we not have support there?' Or whatever it is... And then a part of the team could be using sideways thinking, perhaps, to be looking at how then in our game plan do we move up for these people here? And in doing that, interestingly, you might even shift backwards a bit on the tech, which often happens when we're delivering to developing countries, but you start reaching out in these other directions. So what's cool about that is then if you split your team off, you can then see how people are working in different directions and trace it. 'Cause so often when I go into companies, I hear that innovation is this sort of amorphic thing and that tracking it is so valuable, particularly to the bean counters, right? At the end of the day, the accountants wanna know if you're spending five minutes to 25 minutes a day, or say even a week, trying something new, they wanna see an outcome, which is frustrating, because the whole point of adventurous thinking, the whole point of innovation is process, not result, you know. At the end, obviously, if you're a successful innovator, you wanna see money, which is a result, right? Or you wanna see a business out of it, which is a result, but we need to be celebrating the process. And what I find is for people that are very logical thinkers, this system and tracking where you're going, especially if you can overlay it and show where the whole team is going, is actually quantifying you for the people that need that sort of rationale behind innovation, ironically. So I was recently with teachers, and we were talking about how you would use this in education. Tricky thing in education, of course, is that it is a very results-based system. And you can't buck the system, which is why that 70-20-30 rule, err, 70-20-10, is really useful because what you can say is 'Okay, for the 10% of the time, we're gonna use this thing. We're gonna use it to make sure that even though we're teaching the same thing over and over again to the same people, we're gonna use this to make sure that we're using innovation in our delivery of teaching.' And so we started looking at, 'Okay, if we're working in here right now, as teachers, and we've got the way we do things, and we've got the students we always deal with, who aren't we outreaching to? We're outreaching to the students that don't turn up? The students that don't speak? The introverts, perhaps? The ADHD girls who are inwardly focused with anxiety, say?' So if you look at how teachers function, they can straight away go, 'Actually, there is a whole market we're not reaching inside our classroom, if you look at it as people... People we're not connecting to, people we have no relationship with...' And then if you extend it to the stakeholders, we're looking to the parents we never hear from, which is interesting when you're in the Bay Area (laughing). The parents you never hear from, or the staff members who never interact with you... So regardless of whether you're working, you will always find a new market just within your context that you can be moving into. It can be a customer new market, but it can also be a relationship new market. Either way, if we're looking for a growth mindset, we need to be continuously improving and continuously learning, and this quadrant is the key. Because if you're feeling stumped... ever feel like I need a check-in, or, in my case, I have a time-management guide guru, Dan Markovich, who manages my very haphazard thinking into something that vaguely resembles swim lines just so I can like get it all happening... I have this that I can check in with him in to ensure that I do have a level of innovation happening at any given time... You know, to ensure that I'm moving at least a little and that I can quantify to him what I've done... Super useful. So this is a download that I would suggest you have pinned somewhere to remind yourself that you know in our day-to-day grind, in our day-to-day expertise, or in our at-home, or if we're between jobs, or if we've got the summer off from Uni/college that we can remind ourselves to still try and bring the game forward. Whether it be just looking, my big one right now is where I'm trying to shift myself, is in design and tech is actually for me in knowledge. I'm reading a book called "Elements" about chemistry, because I dropped Chemistry in Grade 9. And I figure I really need to know what my elements are, since I'm almost 50. So this can be a really handy thing in life, as well as in work, and maybe something interesting to have on the family fridge as a check-in because all it does is reminds you, right? That you can constantly be changing and constantly be improving, which is really important. Because, like curiosity, our really quick lifestyle usually gets in the way of us pausing and taking a moment to question and look outside our expertise. This thing can be a really beautiful reminder, whilst looking so simple, and also a check-in, and also a reason for groups to get together and have a chat because if you're doing that sort of cross-pollination, if you've got a group that meets once a week, how much easier again to create a level of structure by everyone bringing their quadrants? You know, maybe you have a giant quadrant as part of the discussion, or maybe everyone brings their own and just picks a partner and has a chat about it. But either way, again, you're proactively going out, you're hunting down imagination with a club. You're gonna go out and bring it in and force something to happen every week, every month if you must. I'm gonna say a month is too long. Every week is doable. Every day is ideal. So it's just another way to prompt curiosity and get you moving. Any questions?
No, I think we're good to go for break if you're...
Anybody in-house got any questions before we go to break? Yeah, just one here, thank you.
Just a comment. I think this is very useful because, ironically, I used to work in this building, like eight years ago, when it was Zynga.
And then Zynga kinda became huge gaming company because the entire business model is basically just copying somebody else's game, just doing it better. But because they didn't move on to something else after that, eventually their business model kind of got old and somebody else caught up. They just kinda started declining pretty quickly so I think that if they had spent a little bit more time thinking about how to sort of grow from where they were just instead of being comfortable, then they would of, I think woulda been much more successful.
Yeah, thank you. It is true, people get wrapped up in the present. And often, we'll see this in the backwards lens in particular, often they don't think, 'You know, where were we planning for the next step? You know, we're riding a wave right now. Everything is fantastic, and we're killing it, but you know, if you want a growth mindset, and ideally, you want it across your entire team, you don't just have one little bunch of innovators who are like the fun guys at the back of the bus, woo, and then everybody else is dragging the ship along, doing all the boring stuff. Ideally, you want everyone activated and everyone feeling valued for their creative input, right? And this is a way for everyone to do it. You know, those people who need sort of rational rationale behind things are more comfortable with this. And of course, if we make people more comfortable with that weird, amorphic thing that's innovation and creativity, the more likely we are to have it accepted into the workplace. And I really feel like, you know, we get so distracted by the stuff we have to do, but if you have this, it just reminds you. It reminds you that it's not about, you know, you're doing what you're doing now for 70% of the time but let's get ready 20% of the time to then take the leap for the next thing for the 10%.