Think wrong to Innovate

captured by Seoyoun (Albert) Oh

On Tuesday, November 15th, 2020, the Silicon Valley Design Thinking Club hosted a virtual event with Mike Burn and Nikolai Gregory Galle as the speakers to go over how we can apply Design Thinking Methodology in a practical sense. Mike Burn (Founder) and Nikolai Gregory Galle (Co-founder) are leaders of the company, Solve Next, an innovation software and services company whose mission is to equip people with simple, straightforward, and proven languages, tools, techniques, and frameworks to find better problems, and to create and implement better solutions in a faster, more unified process for innovation.

As an introduction to applying the Design Thinking Methodology in practice, Greg and Mike ran a Deflection Point activity as seen in Chart 1 to analyze what it feels like to lead and facilitate Design Thinking endeavors in the organizations and the societies in which we function.

The point of this analysis was to identify two paths. One was a predictable path and the other was a bold path. A predictable path entails that we know what to expect for a result due to no risks being taken. In contrast, a bold path signifies a certain affordable amount of risks was taken to experiment, as the purpose of taking an adventurous step is to identify the anchors that keep us stuck and find the rockets that allow us to shoot higher. Having finished analyzing the currently involved environment, Mike and Greg introduced two useful frameworks that allowed us to start thinking wrong and implementing a managed, disciplined system of innovation: Next Cycle (Development Cycle) and Super Seven (Governance Criteria). Figure 1 shows how Next Cycle explains the sequential steps that organizations should take in order to accurately analyze their current position in innovation.

Mike emphasized the importance of spending enough time to discover the right problem to solve that is strategically aligned with the goals of a project, of a team, and of a company. The reason was that since people have a lot of ideas with a copious amount of assumptions that are not supported by real data, it is easy for people to encounter unforeseen obstacles as they move forward. Mike and Greg said that identifying all of the assumptions present under one idea and coming up with ways to kill all of them as fast as we can is a way to really define the problem that we wish to solve through innovation. From there on, we can develop both efficient and effective solutions that can open the door to dominate the market.

Mike and Greg then shared how we can test whether our ideas will be successful or not by simply asking the Super Seven as shown in Figure 2.

The Super Seven lists the right seven questions that we should ask ourselves during the ideation phase to predict and gauge the success rate of executing an idea. Greg says that the more “Yes” you have, the higher chance your idea will be successful.

As the event came to a close, Mike and Greg mentioned that implementing innovation should happen at every stage and at every level within an organization. However, how much innovation can succeed and flourish depends on how open an organization is to taking risks and how unconventional and traditional the organization is. Sadly, the investment that has gone to the innovation industry in America is far less comparable to a few leading invested industries such as Research and Development, and Commercialization. Mike and Greg urged everyone to recognize the importance of innovation which can function as a driving force to industry and how innovation can be anyone’s full-time career.