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I have been rather busy lately, so blog is on hiatus. That should not be confused with the silence of the mind or that of the world around me. Quite contrary.
There are a lot of things to talk about. From new blogs I read, to books, to new places, events, people, and experiences.
Plus new year’s resolutions…
A lot to catch up.
Lately I have been a regular reader of Steve Blank and Ash Muraya. Joe Chin one day became a source of a conversation that lead to talks about Steve.

re(searcher) that I am…now I am lead on to or hooked on to Steve, Ash, and a few others..
Started reading Steve’s blog from blogs first post to till April 2010. I still have to cover couple of months, but the journey so far has given a lot of insights, moments of ahas and inspirations. It essentially proves a resounding point that despite being a specialization focused world we live in, it is possible and enriching to have multiple flavours of our lives.

So the new plan of this blog is just that: Flavours
Acknowledge the multiple lives we live, sometime by design, and others by chance. We do have flavours and flavours do make us unique.

Steve showed his life, its flavours, its ups and downs, and that is what I would like to emulate here.

To an audience of one…this is a promise.

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If you are curious about future and you would like to capitalize on the trends that will be prevalent then you need to look at Alexander Manu’s books and presentations. I got introduced to Alexander Manu’s work through an Amazon look up for Foresight. He has work includes two of my favorites. First, The Imagination Challenge: Strategic Foresight and Innovation in the Global Economy and second Everything 2.0: Redesign Your Business Through Foresigt and Brand Innovation.

One of his key concepts that I am particulary intrigued is his notion that Desire drives Innovation. He speeks about it this concept in a very lyrical way. The whole innovation seems to be approachable with his process.

If you are into watching a video rather than read his book then start with one of his lectures which he delivered at University of California and Santa Barbra. Enjoy:

Alexander Manu at Technology Management Program UCSB Innovation

You may check Alexander Manu’s blog.
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Strategic Foresight and Innovation

Strategic Foresight and Innovation

Ever since I got accepted into Strategic Foresight and Innovation (SFI) program at OCAD all of my friends are asking me the same question. “So what exactly is this foresight thing?”
One of them recently offered to pay for my ear piercing, if I decide to go that route, since, according to him, “you got to look like creative types to be innovative my man.”
Now I am a bit confused about accepted definitions of being creative, of being innovative. Piercing is an extreme example but somewhat representative of what is thought to be creative. And on the other hand the whole idea of thinking about future and things that might come with it, is a bit fuzzy. Like the Tarot card lady in our neighborhood, everyone thinks innovation exists but its like a magic.
One of my mentors has a technique of reducing complexity, he calls it: What would you do?. Simply, before you start reading about someone’s advise on some issue, take a moment and think, “what would you do if you were in the same situtation like the author? Chances are there you would come up with a list of things that you might do, if you come across similar situation. You might be surprised that more than half times you are very close to what the author is suggesting. The words may be different but the ideas are very close.
So I applied this technique on my Strategic Foresight and Innovation program and tried to find what it might be. So here is what I came up with.
Strategic Foresight: Educated guess and idea about the future. What might happen! major trends, major ideas, major variables that will influence..
Innovation: Ideas, concepts, products and processes that are unique and that add value in some space.

So strategic foresight and innovation to be is looking into future and identifying some key trends, key influences and then converting these into value-add things, products, etc.
So a good strategic foresight expert should be able to see things that will shape up. Rivines that will form rivers and rivers that will form oceans and oceans that will form…..something else.¬† While innovation will be to do something with that insight. For example, I can share with you that in future computers will become smaller and internet will be wireless and very speedy. Then may be we can innovate within the context of a hospital and think how doctors and patients will interact and affected by it. May be we can build/get together gadgets that will allow patients to attach blodd pressure and glucose monitors with their ipods and transmit secure live data to their docotors. Whose networks act as decision support systems¬† capable of basic intelligent diagnosis and may be managment before they can involve doctors…
Now if we break this example into areas of expertise, interaction of subject-matter-expertise, and new and merging areas of knowledge and massive collaboration among them. Here you go I have chalked out the outline of the entire program today and we have not yet started the classes yet.
Now that is strategic foresight in action.

I was searching for some good resources for Strategic Foresight and Innovation since last few weeks. Specially I could not find a LinkedIn group that catered to the Strategic Foresight and Innovation community. So I created one. You may consider joining it.
Strategic Foresight and Innovation group on LinkedIn is open to all the practitioners and students who are exploring this field.
It is a community group, we can only make it worthwhile if we participate and have conversations.
I will start by opening the group to my class fellows at OCAD’s MDes in Strategic Foresight and Innovation program. Next will be to involve members of the community who are involved with Strategic Foresight and Innovation in their practice.
If you are part of Strategic Foresight and Innovation practice or you are a participant in OCAD’s MDes program then you should consider joining this group.
I am confident that we will have a lot of meaningful conversations here.

LinkedIn group for Strategic Foresight and Innovation: http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=2143964

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Just finished reading Adventures of Johnny Bunko, a new book by Dan Pink. Its a story of Johnny Bunko, a bored young man working for a big company doing meaningless things. Johnny meets the “good” spirit Diana. She comes to his aid thorough revealing a few mantras of career success.
The unique thing about the book is that its in a manga format. One can read it, or visual read it,¬† or whatever we do while enjoying graphic novels, in less than two hours. But simplicity of the book don’t fool you, its an amazing work. Dan Pink has some great experiences and science going on in these lines.
Here is my understanding of these mantras of career success.

There is no plan
No need to make a five-year plan or ten year or for that matter three years plan. Life is too unpredictable. I get a sense that Dan wants us to not run away from planning but rather plan with an expectation of not being right. Plan with an awareness that things might change.

Work to your strengths
Before Diana I heard this comment from my younger brother, “work to your strengths and instead of filling the gaps of your weakness”. My brother is a black belt two dan in Tae Kwon Do. He is a winner of over 100 competitions and has 100s of bruises, bleeding nose, hurting muscles to prove that he knows his sh-t.
All rounders in sports as well as in life is a myth. We are all a combination or strong areas and not-so-strong areas. We can gain a bigger advantage by focusing on strengthening our strengeths.
I agree.

It’s not about you
Many an artists among us suffer from the dishonesty syndrome, we go to work places and want to produce masterpieces that promote our agendas and yet want to be paid. Its not about you, says Danny Bunko, oops I mean Johnny.
Its about your clients, its about your team, its about your colleagues – it’s not about you.
If I keep this in mind I will design, develop and execute things differently.
Persistance > Talents
Amen. Oh my, oh my. How many times I have seen this in action. vow. Talent can allow us to form a sketch of music theory very quickly, may be faster than the whole band of musicians. But it will takes years and years of practice to achieve that mastery that creates masterpieces.
I would go even as far as to claim that Persistence is the only key to success. It’s the enlightened trial and error that will teach deeper lessons, its not just the flashes of genius.

Make excellent mistakes
Let me call it the “Enlightened Trial and Error”. Intelligent Mistaking. Its not just the destination it’s the journey my dear. The key being that there is a gap between clarity of comprehension and experience of getting something complete. The folks in the field call it “tactile” knowledge. Excellent mistakes allow us to learn these tactile capabilities that result in deeper understandings which are the difference between conceptual “talent” and deep-rooted “persistent” understanding.

Leave an imprint

So life is bigger than a few achievements of material nature, look beyond these. Thinking in terms of legacy is one of those frameworks. But i would rather say it next level of thinking. It allows to think in perspective. What use is of that career success that costs health. A balanced life, a balanced work, a balanced profitability, a balanced production practice, or a balanced working of a business.

Large Scale Innovation

Innovation
I find it a bit challenging to digest when traditional design firms talk about innovation. I am particularly concerned when they de-emphasize the importance of processes, and just highlight superficial “cosmetic” improvements only as innovation.

To me it is analogous to thinking that creativity is only possible by folks who have a pony tails or who park their bikes in their offices or who wear gray suits.

These color coordinated folks go to businesses and transplant some flash card innovation ideas and then leave. The ideas they leave behind immediately collide with walls of established, entrenched process and die. What is left behind are some superficial changes, some logos, some color printed creative charts and a few acronyms.

I always felt that a good innovation strategy should be sustainable. It should have a built in self-adjustment mechanism and it should always strengthen fibers of creativity with solidity of processes.

That explains why I find the design thinking attractive; it is an approach that brings both spot-creativity and process strength together. It takes creativity, and ideas and implements them thorough procedural and organizational infrastructure. In the absence of good processes and organizations we exist only as awesome individuals but mediocre enterprises.

Recently I saw a video of John Kao, founder and Chairman of Institue of Large Scale Innovation. Deloitte LLP is one of the founding sponsors of the institute. I worked for Deloitte’s New York office and was aware of their Innovation Practice but not this initiative.

Seeing Deloitte’s name gave me some kind of a personal satisifaction. Aha!, Deloitte gets it, and among my friends I get it; hence [albiet intellectual] connection there. But peronal gratification aside it is a great opportunity for process, and organization experts like Delitte to join the innovation conversation.

I am sure any solution that comes from this meeting of different minds will have more possibility to impact.

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