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Reflective Essay on Creativity and Innovation

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Reflective Essay on Creativity and Innovation

The last essay in my Creativity & Innovation class (from my Master of Entrepreneurship and Innovation) is about what I have learnt and how my perceptions of creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation have changed.

I hope you get as much out of it as I did.

Enjoy.

Matt

There are many different

The last essay in my Creativity & Innovation class (from my Master of Entrepreneurship and Innovation) is about what I have learnt and how my perceptions of creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation have changed.

I hope you get as much out of it as I did.

Enjoy.

Matt

There are many different

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Reflective Essay on Creativity and Innovation

  1. 1. Important Learning Outcomes I have learnt a lot in this class about gains, pain, de-risking projects and interacting with customers in their natural environment. The most important learning outcomes for me are as follows. Defining Creativity 1. Space-time oasis is essential to creative thought (John Cleese on Creativity) 2. Cross-industry knowledge expands creative problem solving abilities (De Waal, 2014) 3. I now know that creativity and innovation can be absorbed, practiced and followed like a process (De Waal, 2014) While creativity cannot be taught exactly, it is good to know that I can “choose the right lenses,” defend my space-time oasis, embrace change, knowledge and awareness of the situation to become a more creative person (De Waal, 2014). Creative playmates that I can trust are also important in creative thought as they act as a springboard to my ideas; someone you can trust (John Cleese on Creativity). This class has taught me how to find playmates, I just need to remain aware that too much knowledge can inhibit change and become a, “fence that blocks [my] path” (Ward 2004, p. 175). Defining Innovation Innovation is an imperative: otherwise you become irrelevant to your customers, even if you were once a core part of their existence. Large companies miss out on opportunities (or threats) that don’t fit into their ‘lens’ of a future profitable customer is and don’t see the competition until it is too late. The solution (which I can learn from) is to harness the power of disruptive change as it happens (De Waal, 2014). To make use of entrepreneurship, “becoming democratized,” by just getting out there and giving it a go (Disruptive Entrepreneurs: an interview with Eric Ries 2014). I have learnt that many small wows is better: focus on creating lots of small wow points for customers, instead of big ones. This is cheaper and reminds me that, “innovation is just change that adds value” (De Waal, 2014). Innovation also needs to be thought of as a holistic exercise, the Systemic Innovation framework address this and should be consulted to find weak spots, where you have not innovated or could do so (De Waal, 2014).
  2. 2. Paradigm Shifts Pain or delight is from the perspective of the customer (Dos Santos & Paronetto 2014). This means I had to talk to customers and find out what makes them tick. Modifying tools to become interview aids: 5 whys, day in the life study, value proposition canvas (pains & gains) and empathetic listening (Dos Santos & Paronetto 2014). This helped me deeply understand the NFP’s I was studying and how best to solve their pain-points by extracting insights from my interactions with them (Dos Santos & Paronetto 2014). I had assumed that it would be a difficult process but after the interviews it became very clear what my customers were struggling with. This made my team feel like we were getting somewhere. In future, allowing more time to get to the bottom of what makes a customer tick would be beneficial. As this is a fundamental shift from what I was doing previously, just guessing what the customer was thinking of feeling! The hypothesis comes first. In making an MVP, you have to build your assumptions (Dos Santos & Paronetto 2014). Knowing how to write good hypotheses in order to know what to build is based upon the “I believe [target customer] will do [this action/use this solution] for [this reason]” formula is something that I will take into future problem solving to help articulate the assumptions being tested (Yoskovitz, 2011). My only regret with using this method is that I didn’t get onto it sooner! I have found I need to be more intentional when I transitioning from the open and closed modes of thinking (John Cleese on Creativity). While I find it easy to operate in both modes I think it would be helpful for me to clearly define the times for open and closed thinking. I believe this would lead to discovering creative ideas that would have been shut down previously; because I am consciously implementing Green Hat Thinking (Dos Santos & Paronetto 2014). In future, I believe encouraging creative thinking in the open mode will also allow space for new ideas by not demanding my brain to come up with ideas right away or to always follow a process. Tools & Processes for Creative Thinking Design thinking and the Lean Startup will revolutionise the way I approach business and complex problem solving (Dos Santos & Paronetto 2014). Learning how to, “redefine the problem” keeps me on track, solving the customer’s problem and not mine (Dos Santos & Paronetto 2014). While I can see that both approaches have blind spots and overlap, I feel most parts of each style will be helpful in creating solutions that actually solve the real (and not just observed) problems of
  3. 3. customers. Redefining the problem will lead to greater clarity on what metrics are being used to measure each hypothesis and which hypotheses pass or fail. By using tools such as, journey mapping, personas, 5 whys etc. (Dos Santos & Paronetto 2014) you can make sense of customer’s experiences, designing them to add points of delight and fixing the things that irk them. While I have a fairly low tolerance for uncertainty or things not making sense, this semester has been a stretching process for me. Going through waves of uncertainty, then using tools to make sense of it all has been an eye opening process into how my personality interprets information. I can easily understand complex and intangible concepts but struggle to communicate my understanding to others. Using tools to make sense of customer’s experiences and communicate them is definitely something I am going to add into my future business and problem solving processes. Customer development interviews and surveys with questions based on insights from previous research I have found to be a great way to gain validation of hypotheses before building an MVP (Dos Santos & Paronetto 2014). Early market validation can save a tone of time and money in finding out what customers are prepared to pay for and can actually benefit from (Dos Santos & Paronetto 2014). This process can also aid in knowing the features that are important to customers and therefore must be included in the MVP or future iterations thereof. In future I also plan to use visualization a lot more to communicate ideas. I have discovered that I have an aversion to visual thinking because my drawings were made fun of in high school. However, if I use diagrams, flow charts and other visualization techniques I can still communicate intangible and complex ideas in a much clearer way (Dos Santos & Paronetto 2014). Visualizations, such as: value chain analysis, storyboarding, mind maps and diagrams allow my team to be on board with the same intangible and complex ideas that are in my mind (Dos Santos & Paronetto 2014). Pivoting because the tools said the idea did not stack up was a good exercise in allowing the team to take the emotion out of equation. The Business Attractiveness Analysis (Alitek Consulting 2005) allowed me to see the most attractive concepts through the lenses of demand, profitability, deliverability and level of current competition in the market. The R-W-W analysis (Day 2007, p. 110- 120) allowed me to see if the market and product where real? Whether the company and product could be competitive? And, whether the risk was worth the profit? Now that I know the process of a
  4. 4. pivot is not to be feared, I will embrace it! After all it only prevents further waste, which is a core concept of Lean that I am familiar with. The V-D-S-D model is another genius tool (Foley 2014)! I will definitely use this to articulate assumptions and their tests in future as it helps table all your thinking on one page. Also, I believe it can be modified as a precursor to the Business Model (Alexander, Pigneur & Clark 2010, p. 15) or Lean Canvas (Dos Santos & Paronetto 2014). Regardless, it is the most helpful tool I have come across in articulating assumptions, their testing methods, how to test them, the data and metrics involved (Foley 2014). In conclusion, creativity and innovation are not the ephemeral and elusive concepts that the rest of the world believes they are. They can be absorbed, practiced and followed with a flexible process (De Waal, 2014). The world has changed for ever, as more and more top companies fail to keep abreast of change and customer desires (De Waal, 2014). To innovate is now to survive, with only those daring to break-free from the, “sea of sameness” rewarded with growth and profit (De Waal, 2014). One of the most significant disruptive changes is the, “democratisation,” of entrepreneurship (Disruptive Entrepreneurs: an interview with Eric Ries 2014). Anyone who wants to, now can be an entrepreneur.
  5. 5. References Alexander, O Pigneur, Y & Clark, T 2010, Business model generation: a handbook for visionaries, game changers, and challengers. Hoboken, NJ, Wiley. Alitek Consulting 2005, Business Attractiveness Analysis, Tool No. 5, Strategic Focusing Workshop, participated, 22 November 2008. Day, G 2007, Is it Real? Can We Win? Is it Worth Doing?, Harvard Business Review, December 2007, pp. 110‐120. De Waal, A 2014, Lecturers, Introduction Lecture, ENT60005 Creativity and Innovation, Learning Materials on Blackboard, Swinburne University of Technology, 2 March 2014, viewed 27 May 2014. Disruptive Entrepreneurs: an interview with Eric Ries 2014, McKinsey, viewed 30 May, 2014, <http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/high_tech_telecoms_internet/disruptive_entrepreneurs_an_in terview_with_eric_ries?cid=other-eml-nsl-mip-mck-oth-1405>. Dos Santos, C & Paronetto, M 2014, Lecturers, What is? through to Presentations Lectures, ENT60005 Creativity and Innovation, Learning Materials on Blackboard, Swinburne University of Technology, 10 March 2014, viewed 27 May 2014. Foley, N 2014, De-risk Your Innovation Project with Assumption Testing, Peer Insight, viewed 14 May 2014, < https://vimeo.com/92870471>. [The John Cleese video no longer exists on YouTube] Ward, T 2004, ‘Cognition, creativity, and entrepreneurship’, Journal of Business Venturing, vol. 19, no. 2, p. 173-188, Elsevier, viewed 30 May, 2014. Yoskovitz, B 2011, How to Structure Good Hypotheses for Your Lean Startup, instigator blog, viewed 2 June, 2014, <http://www.instigatorblog.com/good-hypotheses/2011/05/05/>.

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