How do you conquer the Everest of #business #innovation. 7 #integral steps.

Creativity and #innovation (especially the disruptive type) is so scarce that it would be pitiful to waste any possibility to get it. Scarce is also the possibility to reach the summits in Everest. From the integral point of view (Ken Wilber – AQAL), any business should be viewed as a mix of individuals, culture, individual deeds and results and systems, procedures and rules. Climbing Everest is the same, a mix of own dedication, passion and self confidence plus real action, professional gear plus a collective effort and a certain system of doing it. 

In this respect, the integral view ensures the largest possibility of having it. A possible map to comprise all this territory of #business #innovation would be similar to this one bellow.

I am going to use the metaphor of conquering Everest, as #innovation in #business is as hard, full of errors and total failures as #innovation is in real business.

1. The BASE CAMP (5400 m / 17700 ft.) – Preparation of the CEO and of the business for creativity and #innovation

The CEO or manager of a team in a company is on a level of consciousness or another (Red, Amber, Orange, Green, Teal, etc. – see Frederic’s Laloux recent book on “Reinventing Organizations”); a proper “initiative for #innovation” starts with rising the CEO up to at least the next higher level.

Let the CEO declare a future campaign of creative and innovative ideas collection from all the employees, based and centered around a specific dilemma to be announced in 1 month.

Gather several good creative people to form a “Facilitation Team” for the development, set up and deployment of the campaign.

Let the facilitation team run the processes to set up tools, information, company internal publicity campaign for the whole endeavor.

Let this team involve any consultant (external or internal), information, notion, knowledge database to work on the current individual and collective mindsets regarding creativity of each and every people in the company, during the preparation month.

You may see this stage as the preparation stage, where you gain your forces and dedication, prepare the instruments, get knowledge from peers and arrange the climbing campaign as fit as possible.  

2. The ICEFALL (5500 m – 6100 m / 18000 ft – 20000 ft.) – Set Up of a Corporate Dilemma

Have a desired outcome settled by the Board of Directors: a problem to be solved, a dilemma, a goal. The more specific it is, the better. The more “client centered” is it, the better. Use any tools to get employees’, clients’ and competitors’ inputs in deciding the “dilemma” to be solved.

Let the CEO communicate it within the company and let the CEO launch it as a focus for the next 1 month as a “Creatively Solving the Dilemma” (CSD) campaign, let’s say.

In reality, the “icefall” is considered a “huge horror-chamber at an amusement park”. Anything wrong may turn your expedition into a nightmare. A crucial point for any company’s #innovation campaign also, as you understand now.

3. CAMP 1, VALLEY OF SILENCE (6100 m – 6400 m / 20000 – 21000 ft.) – Generation of New, Creative and Innovative Ideas

Have as many as possible burst idea generation sessions based on the format described within “The Leadership Spark” or any other format you like. The key ingredient here is to suspend judgement and embrace anything coming out from the people.

“Endless snow, deep crevasses and mountain walls often washed by avalanches”. Cross your fingers and stay silent while others are coming with ideas. It is not the time to judge anything but only listen “to the deep, murmuring cracking sounds under our tents – it is the crevasses opening and closing deep down in the glacier beneath”; it is the sound of judgement trying to get out.

4. CAMP 2 (6400 m / 21000 ft.) – Feedback of the Pool of Ideas

Have a “Employees’ Ideas Pool Poll” executed on the generated ideas for the best employee engagement. Let everybody vote for the most innovative, “out of the box” idea, the most extraordinary, the most 10 steps ahead ideas or the most integral ones.

Have a “Clients and Competitors Pool Poll” executed on the generated ideas for the best clients’ engagement and competitors’ (dis-)engagement.

On Everest, at this stage you “reach a rocky patch. This place is absolutely stunning. Clouds roll in from the lower ranges of the Himalayas, up the valley and into the camp. While acclimatizing, we spend time looking for cool old climbing gear; left here by all of Everest’s climbing history. This is also the last chance to get a decent, prepared meal.”

At this stage, the #innovation campaign is receiving its view from above and aside; like history is depicted by historians looking at artifacts. You will get the most relevant pieces (ideas) here.

5. CAMP 3, LHOTSE WALL (6800m – 8000m / 22300 ft. – 26300 ft.) – Exploration Of Selected Ideas

Have as many iterations as possible of idea exploration sessions based on the format described within “The Leadership Spark” book or whatever format, on the most voted ideas during the step before. Exploration means playing with the few ideas selected before.

“Imagine sliding a fun, icy slope on a sunny winter’s day. Only this one is 1200 meter (4000 ft) high. This is not a place to play. You might feel not too clear in your head but it’s crucial to concentrate. ” This is innovative idea exploration; not really clear but with a great interest in going up. 

6. CAMP 4, THE DEATHZONE (8000 m / 26000 ft.) – Validation, Decision and Implementation

The most critical aspect of business #innovation is not to have enough ideas; most companies struggle in this very step, of evaluating and implementing. Therefore, simplify it to the greatest. Just let the people (stakeholders, not managers or the Board or the CEO) rate it collectively using solid validation instruments.

This is “taking the risk” part of the whole #innovation program; decide which idea merits to be followed, invested in and cherished furthermore. 

“Only fear remains on everyone’s face. People don’t talk a lot. Resting in your tent, feeling weak already,
you try to get some sleep as night falls outside. The wall towards the summit is steep and dark, you are in the death zone and you can´t help thinking that within the next 48 hours, there is a very real risk that you might not live. You will feel great as long as the day is bright but lose spirit fast when night falls. The cold, scary darkness outside is anything but inviting. Fear is always worse than reality.”

7. THE SUMMIT (8850 m / 29035 ft.) – Implementation

Implement the idea chosen. No comments, no fuss, no second-thoughts. Innovation = Ideas x Execution. It is not about the idea to be implemented; what everybody gains in the end is a freedom of conquering the #innovation mechanism, the self-confidence of generating, exploring, evaluating and implementing ideas.

“You have reached the summit, friend.”


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George Bragadireanu

George Bragadireanu