Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Soren Kaplan, Leapfrogging to Learning Breakthroughs and Innovation, Opening Keynote at #LSCon

These are my live blogged notes for the opening keynote at the eLearning Guild’s Learning Solutions 2014, happening this week in Orlando, Florida. Forgive me any typos or incoherence.

Soren Kaplan, Redefining Innovation: Harness the power of surprise for business breakthroughs.

So how do we create breakthrough innovations?

1. Rethink your role. Instead of a lawyer billing by the 6 minute increment, bill by how quickly they can resolve the case. Give them a different incentive.

Understand what business you’re really in. A drill company is in the hole business. 

What business are YOU in? eLearning, training, education, professional dev? How do you think about what you’re providing. Maybe there’s a different way to think about what you’re doing.

2. Fall in love with problems, not solutions.

E.g., the guy who founded Open Table had a different solution at first. But he redefined the solution based on the problems that he learned restaurants had (they didn’t know WHO was at their restaurant – and so now Open Table is really a back end CRM).

Solve a problem, don’t fall in love with your solution.

What business problems are YOU solving? Hint: the answer isn’t “learning”. It’s probably something else. Learning is a way, perhaps, of addressing the real business problem.

3. Go outside to stretch the inside.

Surprise yourself and your team to come up with insights that will surprise other people. You need to disengage your auto pilot.

Kaplan went out to research his book and looked for books with the words “Surprise” in the title. All the business books were about eliminating surprises, No surprise. InNOvation.

We need an element of surprise and uncertainty in order to innovate.

Intuit (the makers of QuickBooks which completely disrupted the small business accounting market) – have an official company value: “Savor Surprise”.

Cool things they’ve done at Inuit:
  • The innovation wall of fame. Not just product innovation. But HR: Immersive college recruiting.
  • TechKnow Bar – you can walk right up to the IT desk and get help (like the Apple Genius Bar)
  • Customers come in once a month so they can hear directly from them…

Design for Delight:
Deep customer empathy, go broader to go narrow, rapid experiments with customers.

Test and learn as you go.

Adopt a business model

How can we be the _________ of ___________? (the Apple of IT Support? The Starbucks of eLearning?)

Provide “experimentation time”
  • Atlassian has FedExDays – you can take the day off but you have to deliver something of value overnight.
  • Could just be 30 mins at the end of your team meetings? Ask: “what opportunities do we have to innovate?”

Bring the outside in:
Coke hired people from Xbox to bring in new perspectives.

You have to try new things and be OK with looking a little stupid sometimes.

The idea behind innovation – we try things out, we experiment, we learn something (it’s not failure), and we move on. We get comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty.

  • WD-40 -- 39 failures to get to one big breakthrough.
  • For the first two years, Wikipedia had 24 entries (they had a seven step review process!) -- so they decided to open it up instead.
  • The founder of Wrigley was selling soap and baking soda. He was giving people gum as a perk...
  • The iPhone was 3 years in development (an eternity in technology).

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