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What ever happened to "all good things come to those who wait" ? !

We live in interesting times, do we not ? !  You order today, the delivery arrives tomorrow - my sons gets impatient if if does not! You want to watch a film, no need to wait for a DVD to be delivered, you just stream it. You want to play a game, you just download it and get started. You no longer wait for photos to be developed, you cannot only have a look at them, you can modify, print, share them, instantly.  (Does it not almost sounds ridiculous to point this out?) Instant gratification has become the norm for so much. Everything is about speed: grow a company quickly (to sell it), manipulate gens, inject hormones so our food grows quickly - completely ignoring Molière's wisdom that “Trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit” and never minding that we throw away a large portion of our food! In fact, in the UK alone we throw away 15million tonnes of food, with people like you and me (ie individual households) being the biggest culprits - see graph (from love food hate waste).

One rather annoying thing is that we still have to wait to move from one place into the next, no 'beam me up Scottie' just yet.

Annoying .... is it?  

What ever happened to patience, and waiting, and anticipating? Can Chronos finally declare victory over Kairos?  If you are wondering what I am on about, I found a lovely explanation of these terms by McKinely Valentine:

The ancient Greeks had two words for time, and kairos was the second. The first was chronos, which we still use in words like chronological and anachronism. It refers to clock time – time that can be measured – seconds, minutes, hours, years.

Where chronos is quantitative, kairos is qualitative. It measures moments, not seconds. Further, it refers to the right moment, the opportune moment. The perfect moment. The world takes a breath, and in the pause before it exhales, fates can be changed.

How much do we react, rather than pause, then act?  Chronos rules the world, it seems.  And what might the consequence be? As if on cue I just spotted the following tweet by Vinay Gupta (@leashless): “Most of my co-workers worry that we are not moving fast enough. I worry that we are not going in the best possible directions.” While running so fast, do we indeed check whether we are heading in the right direction? Will we even notice if, like the lemmings, we are jumping over the cliff, running so fast because everyone else does so?  I am certainly often guilty of that.  Those who are at the receiving end of my sometimes cryptic emails or texts can attest to that: in the desire to respond quickly I do not even take the time to read what I have written.  Sometimes the consequences are funny, some times rather rude!  Yet there are more important reasons to take time to slow down.

Let me explain hat I mean in a round-about way. During my PhD work I came across the work of Guy ClaxtonIn his book ‘Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind’ he makes some interesting observations about the way we think.  In addition to 'instinct" (an automatic response where we do not think consciously about the situation and a possible response) he identifies two further modes of responding to a situation.  The first of the two mode is based on ‘conscious, deliberate, purposeful thinking’. Claxton calls this the ‘d-mode’ or the ‘hare mode’. The following is an extract from the traits he has identified for the d-mode:

  • D-mode is much more interested in finding answers and solutions than in examining the question.
  • D-mode treats perception as unproblematic.
  • D-mode values explanation over observation.
  • D-mode seeks and prefers clarity, and neither likes nor values confusion.
  • D-mode relies on language that appears to be literal and explicit.
  • D-mode works with concepts and generalisations. 
It seems to me that we could replace ‘d-mode’ with ‘management’…  Traits of the d-mode are important and necessary for completing a task: a preference for structure, the ability to plan and organise, to be in control.  Structuring and planning help within keeping to a set time frame.  Hence, the d-mode is efficient and effective when the problem is clear-cut and when there is one possible, straight-forward solution.  

The d-mode is less appropriate when the situation is intricate, ill defined or complex – does that not just sound like innovation? If faced with such a task Claxton suggests that the second mode of response, the ‘tortoise mode’, is more likely to yield satisfactory results. Here we are more concerned with understanding the questions than with providing an answer fast. This mode of responding is slower, less conscious and less ‘provable’ which is why results of tortoise mode thinking often feel like they have come ‘out of the blue’. Claxton remarks that ‘time pressure increases the likelihood to rely on existing habits and knowledge’. From an innovation perspective, speed, or time pressure, and the d-mode does not sound very promising!  

How about a different perspective on patience and taking some time: “Patience is power. Patience is not an absence of action; rather it is "timing" it waits on the right time to act, for the right principles and in the right way.” Fulton J. Sheen's wisdom, not mine (though I fully subscribe).

If you are not yet convinced, let me throw in one more argument. I am sure many of you will have heard the 21st century being described as 'the VUCA World' whereby VUCA stands for volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous.  Which mode of mind do you think might work really well in VUCA conditions?

Writing this I feel reminded of my first (and only ever) boss, architect and town planner Manfred Tennert.  He would often sit and stare out of the window.  Others in the office would comment on it, make fun of it. Yet when he stopped 'sitting and staring' and started 'doing', remarkable solutions would emerge.  Perhaps we should all take the following poem by William Henry Davies’ (1871 to 1940) heart:

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

So how about taking some time out to read ...
'Hare Brain Tortoise Mind' by Guy Claxton, first published by Fourth Estate in 1997, is of course one of my recommendations.
One book I have been waiting to share with you is "Personal and Organizational Transformation Towards Sustainability, Walking a Twin-Path" by Dorothea Ernst (Business Expert Press, 2016) as I had the great privilege to be observe part of the journey, as well as the creation of the book.  Don't be put of by the title! It is a truly remarkable book that not only offers extremely valuable insights for the challenging journey of embedding sustainability into the innovation agenda, and highly relevant and valuable insights into leading in the 21st century, it also reads a bit like a novel or detective story where you want to keep reading to find out what's happening next. 
Another book I found very inspiring is 'Innovation Manifesto' by Chris Loughlan  Having met not that long ago, it was after skim-reading Chris' 'The Innovation Manifesto', that I could not help but ask Chris whether he might like to jon the ranks of 'Friends of the ILF'.  What is so special about the book? While it is impressive how Chris weaves together thoughts from past and present, philosophy and psychology, management and literature, what really won me over is the fact that it promotes innovation as a way of being. It is about embracing life with all its possibilities and opportunities, and its responsibilities.  Perhaps I like it so much because it resonates deeply with my own thinking and belief that innovation is indeed a wonderful tool to engage, understand, become aware, and be truly alive.  

Two more books for you from members of the ILF Wider Community:
The first, Created in China, by Georges Haour (and his colleague Max von Zedtwitz), is all is about the rise of China as Innovator. If you still think that China is about low cost manufacturing, you should read it;\'
if you want to understand what makes China one of innovation's future power houses, you should read it. While I do not consider patens the best measure for innovativeness, they still are a by-product of innovation activities, and, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization, out of some 2.57 million patent applications worldwide in 2013, China submitted the largest share: 32.1% of world total, followed by the US with 22.3%.  You may also be interested to hear that the European Patent Office (EPO) saw its global share fall to 5.8%.

The second is a book on Open Innovation for SMEs written by Adriano La Vopa and his colleagues Luca Escoffier, Phyllis Speser, and Daniel Satinsky.  As they describe it, "Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have to approach open innovation differently than large companies. This practical guide on open innovation is expressly for entrepreneurs and managers in SMEs. The authors provide strategies, techniques, and “tricks of the trade” enabling SMEs to practice open innovation systems profitability and enhance the long-term value of their company. Included are tools such as brokers, auctions, crowdsourcing, technology transfer, and spin-ups, making it useful for people already in business, starting businesses, or seeking supplemental material for courses."

I am also s pleased to share with you a link to the proceedings of the 2015 Global Forum, "Digitalization: From Disruption To Sustainability" which took place 28th & 29th September in Finland. 

For some seriously inspiring and fun 'stuff' you might want to have a look at the January Edition of a magazine published by industrial design consultancy Bluelarix.

Ah, and mustn't forget a correction!  I had given you the wrong link for the book "Consumer Product Innovation and Sustainable Design" by Robin Roy.  Clicking here will get you to the right place, promise ...
... or attending some of these events ...
11th to 15th April: Crowdsourcing Week Global 2015, London

12th to 14th April: 10th Anniversary Rechargre: Open Innovation 2016, Philadelphia

14th April: 3 UNICOM Seminars for The Digital World, London: 

1. Business Intelligence in a Networked World
2. Data Analytics and Sentiment Analysis as sources of Business Intelligence
3. Transforming and Innovating with Disruptive Technologies

14th April: Intreapreneurship: Get Up To Speed, Paris

14th & 15th April: Industrial IoT USA Summit, Chicago

18th to 22nd April: Design Thinkers Academy Bootcamp, London

19th & 20th April: Innovation Fusion: NPD and Technology Excellence for Chem and FMCG  

... and while you are in Barcelona, you might also want to go to 

21st April by: Innovation Excellence 2016, Barcelona

26th & 27th April, Chief Innovation Officer, running in parallel with the Open Innovation Summit, London

... or getting involved, hands on ?
Let me start with a few Biomimicry related offerings. The first is brilliant online course that provides you with a grounding in the What, Why and How of biomimocry, designed by Friend of the ILF Denise DeLuca.  Very easy to follow, interesting and informative.  Click here to find out more.
The second one is face to face workshop, taking place near Eindhoven in the Netherlands 25th to 30th June. It is a collaboration of  Biomimicry 3.8, Biomimicry for Social Innovation, and Biomimicry Netherlands.  This immersion workshop cross-pollinates the fields of social innovation and biomimicry by applying design lessons from nature to help grow resilient organisations and foster a regenerative society abundant with innovative leaders.  Please note that registration closes May 2 - and that completion of this course counts toward the Biomimicry Specialist Certification.
Like to try a new approach?  ILF Wider Community member Chris Thomason has developed ABC - Applied Busienss Creativity, a pen-and-workbook system for delivering innovative, focused opportunities in response to high-value business questions that need answering. He describes this process as "an innovative alternative to business thinking." More in his own words: "It’s an approach that engages peoples’ minds in compact, thinking exercises when they are in their optimum, mentally-alert state. It engages up to 16 people from diverse areas of the business on a key issue while allowing them complete flexibility in when they partake in their portion of the process. It delivers results in just four-weeks from start to finish."

As Chris is keen to get a few pilots under his belt he has a special offer to the ILF Wider Community: for a limited number of you there is a chance of going through the process for the cost of materials only, which is £145 excl. VAT rather than the standard cost of £4,000 excl. VAT.  If you are interested in applying for this offer get in touch!

Great News: In response to an overwhelming number of requests for extensions, the new deadline for the 2016 Fuller Challenge deadline is now 1st April.  Click here for the call for proposals.



And finally, news and an invitation to submit for the SMART 100 Index from down under. With over 700 nominations and 100 innovations profiled and ranked each year, Anthill's  SMART 100 Index is the largest awards program dedicated to innovation in Australia.  Whether you are an entrepreneur or creative individual, from a start-up, SME or corporation, if you are a player in the field of innovation, don't be shy, submit!.  Here their info on the three stage process:
  1. Step 1. Tell Us About Your Innovation This is your opportunity to tell us how you conceived the idea, turned it into a product or service and how it's making a difference to you and your customers.
  2. Step 2. Provide Statistical Information The information you provide here will not be used to evaluate your innovation. It's purely to help us observe trends and identify cool statistical information.
  3. Step 3. Supply Images and Video They say a picture tells a thousand words. Entrants who provide images and videos seem to rank higher then those who don't. Unfair? Possibly. True? Most definitely.

Pew, what a long Mailout ...  the absence of the ILF's wonderful Students in Residence is making itself felt ...
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