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Live from DIALOG – Innovation Black Holes – How do you avoid them?


Day 3 of DIALOG and I am blogging live again. Yesterday I was on a panel and the DIABLOGgers captured the gist here (thanks Daryl). First session of the day was a keynote – Innovation Black Holes – How do you avoid them? by Allen Fahden, an author and speaker (more information about him on the ILOG site). Allen’s presentation was a lot of fun but a little hard to blog as it was very dynamic! So, he starts off talking about how people are different and this gets forgotten every day. Allen used a $2 bill as an way to show how people react differently:

  • Creators love the new and get excited by receiving a $2 bill (35%)
  • Executors are focused on details and follow the process and are often suspicious of new ideas like $2 bills (25%)
  • Refiner is more of a thinker than the executors and tends to follow an idea to the end and see what might go wrong – will tend to ask for something in place of a $2 bill (25%)
  • Advancers are good at setting priorities and immediately think of a way to do something, fond of new ideas – just deal with the $2 bill (15%)

Allen listed three innovation black holes:

  1. The meeting
    Tend to be zero-sum games and suck money and ideas out of the company. There is a brick wall after a meeting of people saying no – creators will say no because they like their own ideas, refiners can see what goes wrong, You can resolve this with what Allen calls a speed meeting where the two groups take turns. Executors also say no because they don’t like change and only 15% of people are the advancers who will say yes. These “relay” meetings can be dramatically faster.
  2. The deliverables
    A lack of connection around objectives and importance can make deliverables a real problem.
  3. The idea paradox
    Culture of a company is often antithetical to new ideas – every idea is “born drowning” as there is always a downside.

He had a couple of other good comments

  • He described innovation as about implementing ideas, creativity as about having them
  • He made the point that people who are miscast can seem like idiots – they need to work in their strength to avoid this
  • Strength and talents drive results and passion drives success but passion is not enough, must play to your strength
  • Your Strengths determines your Role (find the right role for someone’s strength) which is delivered by Process.
  • He told a funny story about selling his book in a single book bookstore in downtown Minneapolis which had departments (all selling his book), silly slogan etc.

He wrapped by saying that only 17% of people work in their strengths and that trying to train square pegs to fit round holes is pointless. What do you do well is what you love, do more of what you love and find others who like to do the stuff you don’t like.

Allen was a riot with lots of references to the kind of de-motivational posters that you can buy here.

Don’t forget to look for more posts on DIABLOG.