Monthly Archives: October 2015

Savvy Saturday October 31, 2015

“If you had shown [companies] the iPhone 10 years ago and said, “This will be the future of how civilization works,” they would have said, “No, it won’t.” In fact, some companies looked at this space and elected not to pursue it.

This is because their innovation process doesn’t give their leadership a context for thinking about profound innovation. In a conventional company, an innovation process is often a substitution for creativity and thoughtfulness. Companies have come iStock_000014701722XSmall_610_300_s_c1_center_centerto us and asked for something like “disruptive innovation.” It is fashionable and they’ve read about it; they don’t know why they need it, but they hope it will help. However, they are seldom prepared to embrace what’s necessary to actually do this.”

Bran Ferren on the Art of Innovation interviewed by Art Kleiner in Strategy+Business magazine.

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Community is Viable

Now, more than ever, the power of collaboration is manifesting itself across space and time. Digital tools are helping us to create connections between seemingly disparate interests and to solve problems on a global scale. Nevertheless, in regions in development and, in particular, in Latin America, there exists a range of problems in the public and private sectors that could be solved through collaboration, innovation and excellence. Problems such as energy generation, response to natural disasters, and high school desertion to name just a few. Design thinkers say that collaboration is viable when there is a better understanding of users, a relevant place to prototype ideas and the built-in motivation to implement those ideas. If you turn this around, it holds true that if you don’t have these three elements, collaboration – and the viability of using “community” to solve problems – may just be impossible. What is happening in Latin America, then, to make “community” viable? Perhaps a closer look at these three elements can help us see why the region is falling short.

First, when we better understand users, we can better address needs and design a product or service that fits those needs. Seems simple, but implementation of this element is difficult in high context cultures such as those that exist in the majority of countries in Latin America. In cultures that encourage alignment with social status and formal social rules, understanding users – and users in multiple interest groups – is a challenge. It involves using interviewing techniques and empathy to gain a complete understanding of stakeholders and usage. Understanding what question to ask and being able to bring the answer from various areas into context, helps form an accurate picture of users and their needs. Striving for a better understanding of users – and using multiple research methods in order to overcome cultural characteristics – is key in solving users’ problems.

Second, designing solutions must be an interactive process. We will always need a place to work with stakeholders, test assumptions and take risks. This is why innovation centers sometimes fail: they need to work with community and not in isolation from them. Nevertheless, innovation centers in Latin America specifically are extremely useful in fostering more cross functional collaboration and mitigating some of the risks associated with large scale innovation investments in developing countries. Multinationals Dupont and BBVA as well as “multilatina” Stefanini have successfully gained insights and new products through their centers; illustrating that while innovation centers may have their drawbacks, they can be a relevant place to prototype ideas.

Finally, motivation must be present at the idea implementation phase. This means that while we may have a prototype or project, there is always more work to be done in implementing the idea. What can help with the successful implementation of the idea is community. As the old saying goes, people are more committed to that which they help build. If communities are collaborating on ideas that benefit them; they will have a higher successful implementation rate. There is also the possibility for the ideas that spread. Like a TED Talk, a good idea can spread and be implemented much faster when members of community that will benefit from the idea get involved and share their passion around a solution.

Is community viable? Yes it is. But seeing collaboration for what it is – working towards understanding users, engaging users and prototyping with users in the Prototype-Pilot-Product triad – makes community collaboration viable. In Latin America in particular, understanding these elements and their unique challenges in our region, is essential in community viability.


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Savvy Saturday October 24, 2015

“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.”

— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
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Savvy Saturday October 17th, 2015

“Courage is grace under pressure.” – Ernest Hemingway

Grace under pressure.

Grace under pressure.

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Savvy Saturday October 10, 2015

The great leader knows that most success comes from making a few large decisions correctly rather than trying to be involved in making lots of small choices.

– Michael Moritz, Sequoia Capital from “The Qualities That Make a Leader Great.”

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White Space

We all need “white space” in our lives. White space allows us to think, be creative, be strategic, focus on what counts, do something fun, laugh, cry or a combination of all these things.

I usually factor “white space” into a project because it provides you or the project manager the opportunity to pause, reflect and tailor actions before things go too far in the wrong direction.

White space is not only reflection. White space is planning, thinking, future looking, story building time that allows us as human beings to remember we are human. Check for mistakes, celebrate a success, write that thank you letter or start that side project you have always wanted to do.

White space makes us human. Without white space we run the risk of becoming machines. e3dc9e58e2c5faad2871843721955e3d


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