When ever he was given an either/or choice, my late father’s answer was always: Yes. Underlying this was a belief that the logic of either/or was one based on scarcity, and that a truer response to the world was to think in terms of “both” and “and”.
At KILN, we use “Yes, AND” a lot. Not just because of my dad, of course. “AND” is a great tool to getting people hearing and building on one another’s thoughts.
Getting the AND into Innovation Thinking
Now, CEO of The Cambridge Group Rick Kash (speaking about successful innovation withResearch World‘s Jo Bowman) says:
“We often make it too hard. We make innovation a creative process first. Wrong. It’s strategic. Where’s the unsatisfied demand, whether it’s in sweaters, mops, shampoo or automobiles?”
Is Kash right? Yes AND no.
Seeing unsatisfied demand – looking into possible futures and designing products and services that meet those needs – is critical. But is it true to say that this process is anything other than creative??
Kash is right when he says we make it too hard. But one of the ways we do this is by setting strategic insight against creativity. We’re applying either/or logic to an area where both/and thinking would really help.
Why do we do this? Well, maybe it’s because in too many places the people collating the insights don’t feel they are (or are able to be) creative?
Let’s try instead:
1) Unleashing the creativity of the people responsible for marshalling the insights
2) Getting real about creative work. As the artists you know, and they’ll tell you straight: creative work is an interplay of imagination and insights about both reality and the raw materials of the art form. It’s not either/or. It’s both/and!
So, today, if anyone tempts you into defining corporate innovation as either strategic OR creative, take a leaf from my dad’s book and reply: YES. And know that innovation is both.
Jo Bowman, “Topsy Turvy: Reorientating Supply and Demand,” Research World; The ESOMAR magazine for marketing intelligence and decision making No 26 (Jan/Feb 2011): 14-17.
And here's Gregg's Yes, AND:
Kash’s remarks are typical of a mindset that believes one can analyze one’s way to innovation glory. He makes a good, if obvious, point that you ignore strategy at your peril, but he misses that strategy must be combined with creativity in order to find breakthrough ideas. All the market segmentation and big picture mapping and researching of markets does indeed provide insight, AND one needs to be imaginative in order to take advantage of an insight. Great ideas don’t arrive through logic. As de Bono has pointed out, they come from out of the blue and the logic is backed out afterwards.
Creativity isn’t just brainstorming (aka Ideation, aka Idea Generation), it’s also a fundamental part of decision making and analysis.