Whenever I ask people how they come up with ideas for new products, services or solutions for their organisation, the usual answer is “Well, I’m really not that creative!” And right after that, they’ll talk about their creative hobbies and entrepreneurial side projects. Or how they recently solved an issue for their manager, resulting in company wide adoption of their solution.
It’s rarely a lack of creativity blocking people, it’s focussing their creativity energy, applying it to a specific customer/consumer segment or a challenging (technical) issue, and all that under pressure. Or worse, the company culture makes them feel unsafe to share their ideas.
I’ve helped many organisations focus their (collective) creativite brainpower and overcome these obstacles, and would love to do the same for you! Be it in creative brainstorm sessions, through training and working on your company culture, or by setting up robust Idea Management practices.
Imagine the number of good ideas you’ve had in the past year, that you just didn’t follow through on. Now multiply that number by the employees in your organisation. Higher than you thought? That’s how many good ideas your organisation has missed out on, simply because they were not captured, fostered, and enriched. In short: You need Idea Management!
And it doesn’t just stop when you have lots of ideas in your Innovation Funnel. Selecting the right ideas to develop further is easily as big a challenge. And when decisions are eventually made, there’s often little rationale to it and a decision trail is missing.
Building on 15 years of experience at organisations large and small, I can help you organise for successful Idea Management, and employ a rational Idea Selection methodology. This includes visualisations that we can use when pitching a portfolio of ideas to your (innovation) board or other stakeholders.
Developing (ecosystems of) products, software and services is - and will always be - where my background is. Some of the activities I can help you with, or even take off your hands completely:
Which activities are relevant to your specific business depends on so many variables that it's impossible to list them all here. So let's just have a chat about how I can help you specifically!
With today’s products, software, and services becoming evermore complex and markets increasingly competitive, it’s no surprise many organisations struggle with ‘peak design’: Re-inventing the best possible wheel again and again, with little or no consideration for interoperability, (backwards) compatibility, or architecture.
Sharing knowledge of the product/software/service and its (incorporated) standards and interfaces helps mitigate these issues, but it is also vital to record and consult the decisions made during the design and development process. Building on top of, instead of reinventing. Or, as Sir Isaac Newton wrote in 1676:
If I have seen further it is by
standing on the shoulders of Giants
I can help you with embedding this type of knowledge management into your design and development process, and implementing the practices needed to facilitate harmonisation and reuse.
You may or may not be aware of it, but there is most likely a 'single expert' in your organisation, or even several. They are that one colleague in your organisation who knows all the ins and outs of that certain product (line), a specific process, a regulatory framework, et cetera. They're where everybody goes with questions, they're key to all development, and are often seen as the 'architect'. Nothing wrong with that, right?
Well… Except if that 'single expert' is the only one in the entire organisation with this expertise. It's the 'single'-aspect of 'single expert' that becomes a liability: When that 'single expert' would ever leave, all their knowledge leaves with them. Whether they’ve found a different job or they simply go into retirement, finding a suitable replacement can take a long time and be very costly.
My partners over at GuruScan specialise in making your (hidden) knowledge networks visible, identifying your ‘gurus’, and shining a spotlight on your knowledge gaps.
Who knows what? 80% of knowledge is ‘hidden’. To achieve your strategic objectives, you need to know who knows what in your organisation. GuruScan creates a clear picture of your knowledge network, and identifies the ‘gurus’ in it.
Are you aware of what you already know? Some employees might not consider themselves knowledgeable, whereas their colleagues see them as experts. Or vice versa. GuruScan helps you uncover the full scope of their collective knowledge.
And… What don’t you know? Mapping your knowledge network also makes your knowledge gaps obvious. Confronting these gaps enables you to start prioritising and closing them, for instance by focussing your recruiting and training strategies.
You may have read (a variation of) this quote, adapted from 18th/19th century diplomat Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord:
Nobody is smarter than everybodyAnd that is truly the case for communities, from mass social media (think Twitter) to internal (think Yammer), and everything else.
Without getting hung up on definitions, these are two I like: Crowdsourcing; the practice of sourcing a task (such as solving, selecting, improving) from a 'crowd'. Community; a group of people coming together for a common purpose, practice, interest, or vision. Note that this can be online, or offline!
Over the years I've gathered a wealth of experience with crowdsourcing projects involving communities of direct colleagues, dispersed multinationals, sister-companies, field workers/offices, strategic partners/suppliers, professional networks, customers, consumers, etc. Let's discuss how I can help you engage with yours!
Before engaging in crowdsourcing, with any type and size of community, the following three questions are always key:
At the office
On the road
The days when employees were just faceless cogs in a big machine are thankfully mostly behind us. Today, every employee - even a civil servant - is expected to take initiative, improve customer service, refine processes, develop new ideas, and sell their ideas. This type of behaviour, however, does not always come naturally to everybody. My Innovation Masterclasses are specifically meant to elicit an innovative mindset and honing it in a safe environment, with the end result of persisting it in their daily work activities.
These masterclasses usually run for three (non-consecutive) days and are attended by trainees, and/or employees taking a next step in their career. Practical application is key in Action Learning, so ideally all participants will work on their own current assignments (cases/projects) throughout.
Inspiration for innovation is all around us, every day. Discovering opportunities is mostly a matter of being aware, keeping an open mind… and opening your eyes! The EyeOpener helps achieve this by finding inspiration in everyday situations. It guides your team through an Action Learning process, specifically guiding them in:
The EyeOpener has helped teams gain valuable insights into the needs of their consumers/customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders. As an added bonus, it has had a radical effect on the general awareness and innovativeness of the participants themselves. And… it’s just great fun!
Slide decks, assignments, exercises, reading, simple e-learnings, animations, questionnaires, infographics, learning plans, et cetera. I’ve written, designed and created them all over the years. Some for my own facilitated trainings and workshops, but also a full course “Innovation & Knowledge Management” for the online MBA program at Schouten Nelissen. I’ve even mentored MBA students in their graduation assignments.
If there is any training or education you want to offer your colleagues, and you need a course and materials developed, contact me! Together we can define learning goals, examine the ideal mix of theoretical knowledge and practical experience, and shape this into a tangible and effective learning experience.
Especially when the topic is (related to) innovation, open innovation, creativity, idea management, knowledge management, business models, communities & crowdsourcing, consumer insight, et cetera, I'm sure I can help you!
To void misunderstandings, in any business modelling exercise, it’s always pivotal to first distinguish between your Business Model and your Business Case.
Your business model(s) describe the various aspects needed to conduct your (new) 'business' and achieve your goals, even if you are non-profit or governmental. It describes key activities, roles, partners, supply chains, the intended customers or consumers, et cetera. All of these aspects must work together seamlessly. Some organisations have their own templates for recording and conveying this, but in case you don’t: I can wholeheartedly recommend we work in the Business Model Canvas. Read more on the Wikipedia page or in the book.
The Business Case (or “Earnings Model”, or "Financial Model”) describes the flows of cost and income, models these, and then attempts to make calculated forecasts. I’ve created and reviewed dozens of these, and can of course help you with yours!
Over the years, I’ve delivered countless presentations, and would love to do the same for you. My favourite topics include:
Also looking for somebody who can organise your event together with you? That’s out of my scope, but I would happily refer you to my skilled friends at Donkergroen Creators!
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De Ruijterkade 5,
1013 AA Amsterdam,
My name is Ebbe Nieuweboer. With nearly a decade of working at creative, cultural change, and consultancy agencies in my backpack I founded Singha Innovation as my very own adventure.
CoC number: 59581883
Utrecht, The Netherlands
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