Tag Archives: Innovation

How do you Outthink the Competition?

Kaihan Krippendorff

How great strategists see options others don’t see?

Outthink the Competition is a strategic workshop that organizations can employ to develop creative solutions to disrupt markets and gain sustainable competitive advantage.

Example of a Strategem

#25 – Shed Your Skin Like the Golden Cicada

Original description:

“Make your front array appear as if you are still holding your position so that the allied force will not suspect your intention and the enemy troops will not dare to attack rashly. Then withdraw your main forces secretly.”

Modern interpretation:

  • Create a façade that appears to be the real thing, then move the action somewhere else.

Brainstorming question:

  • If you current activity were an empty shell, to where could you move the action?

Business example to research:

  • Best Buy profits from service not selling electronics

Part 1 – The Foundation

Part 2 – The New Outthinker Playbook

Part 3 – The 5 Habits of Outthinkers

Part 4 – Apply the Outthinker Process

Part 5 – Rebuilding the Organization from Within

Kaihan describes the IDEAS framework

the central process to Strategic Innovation.

“To change the world you need to change reality, and to change reality you need to change perception, which you engineer with creative language. Here are the five steps to begin changing the world – just follow your IDEAS:

1. Idealize: define an ideal future state of the system

2. Diagnose: identify the key issues that must be addressed to achieve this ideal state

3. Explore: brainstorm creative, out-of-the-box strategies for addressing the issues identified

4. Assess and analyze: evaluate potential strategies to isolate those with the highest potential and then test their value with fact-based analysis

5. Story: wrap the resulting solution into a story that wins the interest and support of the key stakeholders needed to bring the idea to fruition

1) Create a compelling idea: when I spoke to Musk about Space X and asked why he wanted to create a private space company, he said something like, “Because a future in which everyone can get into space is more exciting than one in which only the government can.”

Therefore, you need to describe an ideal situation that appeals to people’s common sense. And keep it really simple. If your description of this ideal future is too complex, then you won’t be able to understand nor explain your project well enough.

2) Diagnose the changes that need to take place: for mankind to evolve from hunting and gathering societies to agricultural ones required two major innovations to occur: 1. the invention of the scratch plough and 2. the domestication of the ox. If we did not have both, we would either be riding oxen to hunt or sweating under the hot sun as we scratched lines too short to plant seeds in. For bold ideas to be realized, it usually requires that multiple parts of the system undergo radical change.

Musk’s vision of an electric car that could travel halfway across the country on one charge between breakfast and bedtime requires not only breakthroughs in battery technology but also the creation of a system of “gas stations” at which drivers can stop to swap out batteries. It requires the passing of new laws and regulations to encourage electric vehicles. It’s a multifaceted problem that seems impossible if you view these challenges as reasons the idea won’t work. However, if you view them as variables in the system that you can influence, then they become simply part of the puzzle.

3) Explore possible solutions: having identified the various interconnected elements that need to change, you must now explore never-before-tried solutions. The breakthrough usually occurs through an analogy or metaphor. Yunus, for example, banged his head against the banking sector, which refused to accept his idea of microcredit. His dream became reality when he stopped viewing his project as a social plan but rather as a bank for the poor. Then all of the previously insurmountable problems revealed simple solutions.

A key difference between innovative companies and less innovative ones is defined by what they decide to do with seemingly improbable ideas. It makes sense to focus your attention only on the ideas that are feasible and, indeed, this is what most companies do. But more innovative companies keep “crazy” ideas on the table. They invest time exploring whether these ideas may become feasible.

To avoid your team’s tendency to discard ideas that seem initially “crazy,” it helps to break down your process of choosing from the ideas you generated during the “Exploration” phase into two steps, carefully managing each to give truly innovative solutions a chance.

4) Assess the benefits and consequences: Since you do not have time to test all of your ideas with rigorous analysis, you must first conduct an initial assessment to decide which are worth the effort. Many great ideas die at this early phase, because, upon initial assessment, the team rules them out. Why did it take HP decades to adopt a version of Dell’s “go direct” model? Why did it take American Airlines, Delta, and other traditional airlines 30 years to mount a meaningful counter to Southwest’s budget airline model?

Great companies fail to adopt great ideas because, initially at least, they fail to recognize an innovative idea as holding strategic value. They are not even willing to invest the time to measure the idea’s risks and reward potential.

To help your group avoid its natural tendency to rule out ideas that initially appear “crazy,” it helps to assess your ideas across two unrelated dimensions. I call these the “path” and the “ease.” The goal is to find a way to win with the least amount of effort and find the path of greatest ease.

 The Path is defined by the impact the idea would have on achieving your goals. If you had a magic wand with which you could achieve every idea you conceived, which ones would prove to be the most impactful and profitable? Judge those ideas using a scale of high, medium, and low to the impact they can have on your organization’s path.

Then assess the Ease with which you could realize each idea. Consider how little it will cost, how quickly it can be implemented, if your organization has the capabilities or knowledge to do so, and how complex execution will be. Again judge the achievability of each idea as high (low


Are all outthinkers found in high-tech industries?

Kaihan Krippendorff – author of Outthink the competition – describes how Urban Outfitters was able to bring strategic innovation to bear in a very traditional industry: high street apparel retail.

In his book Kaihan sets out how to apply Asian strategic thinking from 500 AD to modern day business situations and describes the 36 strategems,

Kaihan has identified that there are 5 key strategems that have been applied in modern Business to get ahead of the pack.

He has developed a set of frameworks and methods that I am calling the “Kaihan Kitbag”

You can either attend one of his workshops or read his book to find out more about the secret sauce that winners need to apply. 



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If CIOs are not Business Leaders are they Change Agents and Innovators?

In recent posts I have been banging the drum about how COBIT 5 provides Business Executives and Technology Leadership with a common language to drive the Business forward in a joined-up way. 

So the article below, which appeared on CIO.com on Friday 18th May, made me sit up and take notice.


Bernard Golden is CEO of consulting firm HyperStratus, which specializes in virtualization, cloud computing and related issues. He is also the author of “Virtualization for Dummies,” the best-selling book on virtualization to date

CIOs Don’t Need to Be Business Leaders – LINK

“Given the complexity of today’s applications, it’s folly to suggest that the future role of the CIO is less technical and more businesslike, columnist Bernard Golden writes. If anything, it’s the opposite — the business side of the enterprise should embrace technology.”

Notion of CIO as Business Leader Just Plain Wrong

You Can’t Discuss Tech Without Knowing Tech

In Today’s Economy, CIOs Obligated to Know Tech

“Frankly, that issue of talking to the CEO in business language with which he or she is comfortable is a red herring. The fact is, businesses today are technology businesses. Information technology is core to what they do.”

Please find below two real world examples of the CIO as the driving force for Transformational Change and how Innovation is taking Systems of Engagement to another level.

IT transformation drives the business forward

Mike Wolfe – Senior Vice President and CIO @AMD

IT Transformation is a bit of a slippery term

Typically IT spends 70% of the budget on keeping the lights on which is not acceptable as the CEO gets 30 cents back on each dollar of their investment

Blank sheet innovation, doing things radically different is difficult for people to do

03:20 – You have to get to the place where a very complex topic can be stated very simply in a way that it applies to everyone in the company.  For our Business Leaders it has to be about how does this impact the company, they don’t care about the technology frankly.  They just want to know how it is moving the bottom line forward – more sales, more profitability, less cost.

Philip Clarke at Tesco is one of the few CIOs (Group IT Director) who have made it to the top job.  He became CEO in March 2011 and made the following statement at the annual results presentation in April 2012.

“I’m announcing today our 1 billion pounds plan to put the heart and soul back into Tesco,” Chief Executive Phil Clarke told reporters after the group reported a small full-year profit rise that met market expectations.

“The plan isn’t radical, isn’t a radical change of direction, but it’s a radical change of pace,” he said.

From ‘Broccoli Cam’ to electronic shelf edge labels, Chief Information Officer Mike McNamara shows us around the latest technology innovations in store, as well as a short preview of technology currently being worked on in the labs.

This video clip showcases hand scanners to staff badge sized computers.  The convergence of physical and online is best shown when you buy the DVD physical product and the film is available to view online in the customers Blink Box Digital Locker.

Labs are working on bringing to life an Augmented Reality application that enables a smartphone to take a flat image and give it three dimensions, e.g. providing serving suggestions for the customer.   

In my view, any successful CIO has to demystify the Technology and show how transformational change will deliver value to the Business.

I keep repeating the same mantra that any Technology capability only exists to serve the Business.

Its not about the CIO being an expert in either Business or Technology it is about the CIO having a foot in both camps.

Tesco will bounce back because the Company has invested heavily in accelerating change by delivering innovation in-store.  The CEO “gets it” and is sure to provide full support for the CIO.


 Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things.

Theodore Levitt

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Take the first step on your journey from the Knowledge to Creative Economy

Gary Hamel – Business Thinker

“Don’t miss the innovation boat, turn management assumptions upside down.  Change must be dramatic, deep, and transformational. Gary Hamel explains the need for radical thinking that enables every employee to be a business innovator.”

01:45 We are no longer in the Knowledge economy we are now in the Creative economy and that is going to require huge changes in the way we think

02:55 Dramatically increasing the creative potential and capabilities of your own people.

05:00 Require a radical change in Management

Gary Hamel also mentioned that IBM took a $14bn swing in earnings in the 1990s.  Under Lou Gartner’s leadership IBM transformed from a Product led to a Services company. Gerstner said:

“Services is clearly the largest and fastest-growing portion of the information technology industry, and we continue to extend our leadership position each quarter, … Our software business continues to gain momentum.”

IBM has a heavy focus on innovation and spends >$25bn a year on R&D.  This has had a significant positive impact on the company share price.

Warren Buffet has seen an increase in his $10.7 bn investment in IBM stock to $13.2 bn (Mar 12)

Smarter Business Needs Smarter Thinking

The way we work isn’t working

What if there was a way for CIOs to take the busyness out of Business

Collaboration solutions enable people to connect to co-workers share knowledge and be more creative as a result.

Social Learning Fosters Innovation

Connect, Contribute and Cultivate to create One Global network

By investing in business innovation both Global High Value Consulting and Services companies are thriving whilst the Indian Pure Plays (HCL, INFY, TCS and WIPRO) are struggling to convince the Market that they have the “secret sauce” required to deliver the same CAGR. 

So the thinking around Knowledge Workers has been widely accepted and organisations of any size are at various stages of adoption.

These same organisations are also exploring how new ways of collaboration can unlock the creative potential of people.  

Increasingly an individuals performance is being assessed on their ability to create new content, connect with others to share their ideas and help build value for the organisation. 

To know is nothing at all; to imagine is everything – Albert Einstein


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HR Needs to Play a Bigger Role In Driving Innovation

Leslie Stevens-Huffman is a business and careers writer based in Southern California. She has more than 20 years’ experience in the staffing industry and has been writing articles, blog posts:

In today’s tepid economy, companies need creative people and new ideas to drive revenue and profits. Unfortunately, the department most responsible for talent management isn’t doing enough to help the cause.

First, the good news. Nearly 60 percent of HR leaders say they’re involved in brainstorming sessions related to product and business innovation, and roughly 50 percent of companies say they’ve adopted new technology to encourage internal communication, collaboration and innovation.

Now, the bad news. Even though they’re participating in these discussions, most HR leaders haven’t revised their talent management practices to drive wholesale improvements in creativity and innovation.

For example, only 31 percent provide training and development courses that foster innovation, and 71 percent don’t screen candidates for innovative qualities. Only 27 percent include innovation measures and metrics in employee performance plans, while 20 percent measure the innovative efforts of only some employees.

You can get the ball rolling by aligning innovative output with rewards and offering employees access to online training courses, research materials and lunch-and-learn sessions to help them develop their creative capabilities. Of course, experts say you need to train line and middle managers first, lest they inadvertently impede the flow of new ideas.

And you can certainly spearhead a suggestion box or process for submitting new ideas and even propose ways to recognize and encourage new behaviors. By following in the footsteps of J. Randy MacDonald, senior vice president of HR at IBM, you can take advantage of your ability to review and mitigate HR bureaucracy, which could be stifling creativity.

Once you establish the basics, who knows what might come next. Maybe you’ll suggest bigger changes to drive innovation, like implementing a version of Google’s 70:20:10 time allocation rule or letting employees telecommute, so they can come up with new ideas instead of sitting in traffic.

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