We all dream of a better world. We all have amazing ideas that could impact in a positive way the life of those around us or even more, the life of millions of people that we don't even know. Actually, many people try to do it. Many people try to transform their current organizations, launch new disruptive companies or develop new innovative products or services. And little achieve this successfully, because little know the fundamental ingredients.
In this post we will do a revision of the different innovation technologies and methodologies and we will also hack into a secret related to the most important ingredient: the mindset .
The era of Exponential Technologies
Throughout history we have lived different industrial revolutions, all of them caused by new technological advances, that haven’t only changed the playing field in the different industries, but it has also changed the way people live.
In 1786 the first industrial revolution came around in England, based on radical changes in media due to the introduction of mechanical traction instruments - hydraulic and steam - the power loom and the locomotive. Between 1870 and World War I we experienced the second industrial revolution in England, Western Europe, US and Japan, and with this came the electricity, the electric lightbulb, the radio transmitter, internal combustion engines and many industries initiated. At the end of the 20th Century, the third industrial revolution took place motivated by the communication technologies; which boosted aviation, the spacial age, atomic energy, cybernetics, personal computers and the communication technologies. This is how internet was born. Nowadays we are experimenting the first stages of the fourth industrial revolution, as a result of the crossing multiple exponential technologies (named this way because they duplicate their potential everyone to two years) like Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, 3D Printing, Biotechnology, Virtual Reality, etc .
No one knows where this last industrial revolution will take us. There are technologies, like Artificial Intelligence, that their development could have unexpected effects (positive or negative). If the prediction of one of these technologies alone is difficult, imagine predicting the worldwide evolution as a result of the combination of all them. It's merely impossible to predict the future, no one knows where we will be in a couple of years from now. In the book ‘Bold’, Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler described a process called the 6D’s, made up by various phases (all starting with the letter D ), that allows us to understand the impact that exponential technologies are having on industries in general and in our lives in particular: In first place everything gets Digitized (in one way or another we use software for almost everything), after this, we face a Deceptive period (technologies don’t meet our expectations), then there is a moment where technologies Disrupts industries or the world as we know it (everything starts to work in a different way) which causes the Dematerialization of everything (because we use software applications instead of using physical elements to carry out functions), there comes a point that all of this becomes Demonetized (because costs drop) and finally, all technology bring us the most powerful effect of all: the Democratization (because these technologies end up being accessible to a vast majority of people) The big difference from the fourth industrial revolution to the previous ones is precisely that individual people are gaining more power to access all exponential technologies. Nowadays, any of us can access technology in an open way (or access people who can help us implement it) like AI, 3D printing, Virtual Reality, etc. This causes organizations (of all sizes) and people (of all ages and circumstances) to develop revolutionary projects that are changing the world thanks to the democratization of knowledge and technology. There’s no doubt that we are living one of the most exciting times of all humanity.
The map of Innovation Methodologies
Innovation is thrilling, but it’s also risky. When we innovate, we become explorers, we are going through a field where no one has ever been before. No one can tell us which is the right path. Traditional methodologies centered on developing products, services and business management don’t work in these new circumstances. Right now, we need to explore, walk on a new path, that will let us fail and learn from it.
We have the tools to reinvent the world, technology allows us to do this. Now we need to count of tools to help us do it in the right way, and innovation methodologies will help us do this.
On one hand, we have to answer the question WHAT we want to build, or even better, what does the world need us to build. When we innovate (on a new project, a new company or a new product or service) we are creating something from scratch. However brilliant the idea seems to us, it’s very possible that clients or final users won’t be that drawn to it. There’s a lot’s of examples of entrepreneurs and companies that develop a new product that no one ends up using. And it’s a shame to waste our lives developing something that isn’t going to be used for anything.
There are a series of innovation methodologies and tools that allows us to answer the question of what we should develop, helping us define our innovative ideas (which are actually hypothesis) and also helping us evaluate if the ideas are suitable or not (evaluating the hypothesis identified). Some of these methodologies are Design Thinking, Lean Startup, Customer Development, etc. And at the same time, we use tools such as Business Model Canvas, Value Proposition Canvas, etc.
On the other hand, it’s also very important to know HOW to develop the products, services or companies that we have started to create applying the previous methodologies and tools. As we don’t know if what we are building is what the world really needs, we need to be prepared to quickly adapt to the ever-changing circumstances of high uncertainty we are going through.
Some years ago, the agility movement emerged, focusing initially on the area of software development and later it extended to a more general usage, that answers the question of how we should build our innovative ideas. Nowadays, there are a series of frameworks, methodologies and tools, developed in this movement, that allow us to answer the question of how we should build our innovative ideas. Some examples are SCRUM y KANBAN.
However, the most important question to answer is WHY we are doing what we are doing. People need to feel fulfilled, and in order to do this, is crucial to know why we do things. In addition, it’s important to be conscious that we are going through a historical moment due to exponential technologies, which are generating a democratized access to knowledge a resource in general.
In this way, it’s important to take into account the new Abundance model, presented in the book under the same name by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler; because current business models aren’t based around selling a scarce product or service, but around leveraging abidance generated by exponential technologies.
And this is precisely what the model Exponential Organizations (ExO), presented by Salim Ismail, Yuri Vangeest y Michael Malone in the book under the same name, describes when explaining how current business are capable of connecting and managing abidance in a correct way. In order to facilitate the implementation of this model, a few years ago we lead the co-creation (in collaboration with the ExO Community) of a new tool called the ExO Canvas.
Lastly, what gives us the final answer to the question of why we do everything is the purpose that all people and organizations have. This is why Ángel María Herrera and I decided to write the book Massive Transformative Purpose, where we present a methodology and a tool called MTP Canvas, that allows people and organizations to discover their purpose, which is, defining why they do thing to make a positive impact in the world.
It’s important to know that a methodology alone doesn’t work, there’s no point in developing the right product unless we do it in the right way. And there’s no point in developing an innovate product in an agile way if we don’t do it for the correct reason, not only to make a positive impact in the world but to take into account the exponentially and abundance that defines the world we are living in. For this reason, the correct answer is the combination of all these methodologies, tools and approaches.
The question we have to ask ourselves to know how to combine all of these is what we are looking for. Occasionally, what we want is to transform our current organization for it to survive external disruption and/or for it to make the most of the current opportunities exponential technologies offer us. In other cases, what we want is to launch a new project that will succeed in the current situation. This is why I have dedicated the last years of my life to creating specific process and meta-methodologies (because they take into account all the previous methodologies) that will allow the transformation of current organizations and the launch of new high impact initiatives.
If we are looking to transform a traditional organization into an Exponential Organization we can use the methodology called ExO Sprint, a 10 week process, that combines all the previous methodologies and will result in a series of improvements to the current businesses and a series of disruptive initiatives that could eventually lead the industry in the new era of exponentiality and abundance.
The ExO Sprint methodology (along with the ExO Canvas) was published in the book ‘Exponential Transformation ’, which I wrote together with Salim Ismail and Michelle Lapierre; and in which we recognized more than 200 people who contributed their feedback for the development of the final version of the methodology.
If what we are looking for is to evolve an idea or startup in early phase to an Exponential Organization and/or purpose oriented we can use the methodology Purpose Launchpad, which consists of an iterative process that will continually evolve our initiative until making it sustainable, using the exponential technologies and the series of innovation methodologies previously mentioned.
I started developing and testing the Purpose Launchpad methodology with different projects several years ago and it also has a group of more than 150 people from around the world who have contributed to its final version. We have recently launched a pilot process to test the methodology and it is being used in hundreds of projects around the world in which official collaborators are using it in real initiatives to learn and incorporate final improvements to the methodology, which will come to light in a few weeks.
The good news is that we have always open-sourced these methodologies and processes in an open and accessible way to all. This way, not only exponential technologies are accessible to the whole world, but also, we have democratized the access to knowledge related to innovation methodologies. The only thing left in order to have a successful positive impact is the main ingredient: the right mindset.
The Entrepreneurial Mindset
There are people and companies that boast about using the latest technologies, continually mentioning buzzwords like AI, Blockchain, Internet of things, etc.; and believing that by simply using these technologies they are going to create something valuable.
In the same way, there are people and companies that continually repeat key words of the recent innovation methodologies, like Hypothesis, Abundance, Agility, Lean, etc.; and believing that by including these concepts to their common language (without it meaning a profound change in how they see the world ) they will achieve the desired results.
If there's something I’ve learnt from my extensive experience developing innovative projects, is that the key isn’t the technology or methodology we use to build something new, the most important thing is the mentality, the way we think.
When we build something, we are beginners. This means that we need to be opened to continually unlearn and learn new ways of doing things.
When we build something new, we are explorers. This means that we can’t outline a defined plan, we have to feel comfortable in the uncertainty.
When we build something, we are craftsmen. This means the we have to implicate ourselves till the very last detail of what we are doing, and we have to be the ones capable of doing everything, to learn whilst doing and to have the capability to change things in an agile way.
Technologies and methodologies are at everyone's reach, but what will allow us to have success or not, is to not stay put to the changes of our surroundings, we need to risk, throw ourselves out there and be willing to fail. And when we fail (because we will fail), get up, learn and try again. And when we have reached success, don’t think that everything stops there, you must keep evolving in a constant way, in the same way that our surroundings does, and don’t remain still. The riskiest thing is not to risk.
The mindset is the key to life. Charles Darwin said it: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change”. And this applies to people and organizations, when adapting our current business models and creating new products, services or projects of any type.
In fact, the secret I would like to reveal in this post is that when I designed the ExO Sprint and Purpose Launchpad, I didn’t do it only with the intention of combining the possibilities that the latest exponential technologies and innovation methodologies cam bring, but also with the intention of updating the mindset of people who use these processes.
People in a corporative surrounding that implement the ExO Sprint process will eliminate from their culture the impact of the corporative immune system (that always attacks innovation), they will become intrapreneurs and it will allow the organization to transform in an exponential way. On the other hand, people in an entrepreneur surrounding that apply the Purpose Launchpad process will realize that they are explorers and the goals aren’t only to execute a certain plan but to find in an iterative way and the best way to reach our purpose in a sustainable and, most possibly, and exponential way.
I believe that an entrepreneur is born and also made, the entrepreneur mindset can be acquired, we all can evolve. The key is not to limit ourselves to be technologists neither to be methodical; the key is not to let yourself get carried away by the buzzwords of technologies, because they can make us fall into the trap that of thinking we know everything, but we need to force ourselves to update our mindset to have the right attitude, and to use technologies and methodologies as part of the tools that will help us make our purpose come true.
As Steve Jobs used to say: “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do”. Let's keep our feet on the ground, let’s use technologies and methodologies that work, but let's not stop dreaming. This way not only will our dreams come true, but we will also change the world.