Leadership for the new world
81 views | +0 today
Follow
Your new post is loading...
Your new post is loading...
Scooped by Ranjith Ramanujam
Scoop.it!

Are You Solving the Right Problem?

“If I were given one hour to save the planet, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute resolving it,” Albert Einstein said.

Those were wise words, but from what I have observed, most organizations don’t heed them when tackling innovation projects. Indeed, when developing new products, processes, or even businesses, most companies aren’t sufficiently rigorous in defining the problems they’re attempting to solve and articulating why those issues are important. Without that rigor, organizations miss opportunities, waste resources, and end up pursuing innovation initiatives that aren’t aligned with their strategies. How many times have you seen a project go down one path only to realize in hindsight that it should have gone down another? How many times have you seen an innovation program deliver a seemingly breakthrough result only to find that it can’t be implemented or it addresses the wrong problem? Many organizations need to become better at asking the right questions so that they tackle the right problems.


I offer here a process for defining problems that any organization can employ on its own. My firm,InnoCentive, has used it to help more than 100 corporations, government agencies, and foundations improve the quality and efficiency of their innovation efforts and, as a result, their overall performance. Through this process, which we call challenge-driven innovation, clients define and articulate their business, technical, social, and policy issues and present them as challenges to a community of more than 250,000 solvers—scientists, engineers, and other experts who hail from 200 countries—on InnoCentive.com, our innovation marketplace. Successful solvers have earned awards of $5,000 to $1 million.

Since our launch, more than 10 years ago, we have managed more than 2,000 problems and solved more than half of them—a much higher proportion than most organizations achieve on their own. Indeed, our success rates have improved dramatically over the years (34% in 2006, 39% in 2009, and 57% in 2011), which is a function of the increasing quality of the questions we pose and of our solver community. Interestingly, even unsolved problems have been tremendously valuable to many clients, allowing them to cancel ill-fated programs much earlier than they otherwise would have and then redeploy their resources.


In our early years, we focused on highly specific technical problems, but we have since expanded, taking on everything from basic R&D and product development to the health and safety of astronauts to banking services in developing countries. We now know that the rigor with which a problem is defined is the most important factor in finding a suitable solution. But we’ve seen that most organizations are not proficient at articulating their problems clearly and concisely. Many have considerable difficulty even identifying which problems are crucial to their missions and strategies.


In fact, many clients have realized while working with us that they may not be tackling the right issues. Consider a company that engages InnoCentive to find a lubricant for its manufacturing machinery. This exchange ensues:
 

InnoCentive staffer: “Why do you need the lubricant?”

Client’s engineer: “Because we’re now expecting our machinery to do things it was not designed to do, and it needs a particular lubricant to operate.”


InnoCentive staffer: “Why don’t you replace the machinery?”

Client’s engineer: “Because no one makes equipment that exactly fits our needs.”


This raises a deeper question: Does the company need the lubricant, or does it need a new way to make its product? It could be that rethinking the manufacturing process would give the firm a new basis for competitive advantage. (Asking questions until you get to the root cause of a problem draws from the famous Five Whys problem-solving technique developed at Toyota and employed in Six Sigma.)

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Ranjith Ramanujam
Scoop.it!

5 Ways To Refresh Your Leadership Style

5 Ways To Refresh Your Leadership Style | Leadership for the new world | Scoop.it
Most leaders in today’s workplace could use a fresh start.
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Ranjith Ramanujam
Scoop.it!

Why Great Leaders Get Passed Over: 4 Reasons

Why Great Leaders Get Passed Over: 4 Reasons | Leadership for the new world | Scoop.it
Feel you are doing all the right things but aren't getting the pat on the back you desire? You may need to have an honest conversation with yourself.
more...
No comment yet.
Rescooped by Ranjith Ramanujam from Transformational Leadership
Scoop.it!

Lessons In Leadership: It's Not About You. (It's About Them)

Lessons In Leadership: It's Not About You. (It's About Them) | Leadership for the new world | Scoop.it
Harvard's Ronald Heifetz urges heads-of-state to think less like surgeons, more like psychiatrists. (Lessons In Leadership: It's Not About You.

Via Dr. Susan Bainbridge
more...
Pedro Barbosa's curator insight, November 12, 2013 3:19 PM

"leadership then is about mobilizing and engaging the people with the problem rather than trying to anesthetize them so you can go off and solve it on your own"


I totally agree with Heifetz´s insight. And you?

Sharad Lal's curator insight, November 13, 2013 12:15 AM

Key insight - only technial leaders know the solutions, rest have to work with their teams ....

Jill Beech's curator insight, November 18, 2013 1:51 AM

Great to hear of actual situations where adaptive leadership has resolved a deep rooted issue. Mobilising people to find their own common ground and build bridges far more effective than previous efforts.

Scooped by Ranjith Ramanujam
Scoop.it!

How to Identify and Overcome Leadership Blind Spots | OpenView Labs

How to Identify and Overcome Leadership Blind Spots | OpenView Labs | Leadership for the new world | Scoop.it
Wondering why your team is struggling? It may be time to look in the mirror. Leadership advisor Mike Myatt explains how a leadership gap — can cripple a company's progress on all levels.
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Ranjith Ramanujam
Scoop.it!

Why Are So Many Employees Disengaged?

Why Are So Many Employees Disengaged? | Leadership for the new world | Scoop.it
The answer most often lies in the manager-employee relationship. Most people chafe under too much authority, too much forcefulness, too much control.
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Ranjith Ramanujam
Scoop.it!

The Keys to Building a High-Performance Culture

The Keys to Building a High-Performance Culture | Leadership for the new world | Scoop.it
There are six crucial components to creating sustainable growth in your company, according to Gallup research.
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Ranjith Ramanujam
Scoop.it!

6 things that made Aravind Eye Care Hospital one of the best social enterprises globally

6 things that made Aravind Eye Care Hospital one of the best social enterprises globally | Leadership for the new world | Scoop.it
Image courtesy: Aravind Eye Care Hospital After five days, the Jagriti Yatra train reached Madurai in Tamil Nadu for a day entirely focused on healthcare.
more...
No comment yet.