Making hard choices like an improviser
Our innovation strategy models also share periods of making hard choices. In a Harold this is when improvisers pick which ideas they will take from the opening into their beats and the Double Diamond has the Define and Deliver phases. These are the stages during the process in which we bring back our critical faculties and we put our most promising ideas to the rest.
During these phases we are approaching our potential solutions honestly, using our own experiences and respective point of view to judge these ideas without bias. That is to say, we pick the best ideas regardless of who the originator was.
It would be a misunderstanding to think that good Improvisers blindly say yes during this period, instead they think what would be the best course of action for the group. Using their own expertise and experience, they decide what ideas are most promising from the opening and then actively test them in front of their live audience. As their performance continues, the improvisers listen intently for feedback from their audience. They ask themselves what is working and what isn’t. Towards the end of their performance, the best improvisers continue to use the most successful elements of their show and softly disregard ideas that are no longer relevant or aren’t receiving a response from their audience. While we are using the Harold as an example, this is a common trait found in the best improv performances.
Although in a different medium, successful innovation strategy models follow the same philosophy. We take the strongest ideas based on our own expertise and experience and put them to the test. For businesses, this takes the form of a critical discussion and then the trialing of ideas.
We enter the opposite mindset of divergent thinking and reintroduce a critical mindset by becoming convergent thinkers. Wilfully ignoring this stage will result in ideas that have no merit outside pie in the sky thinking.
We ground and analyse our concepts to see what ends up standing up under pressure. We listen to feedback from our colleagues and likewise give honest and helpful feedback to ideas that are on the table. The strongest ideas that come from this stage will be prototyped and put into a real world scenario to see what works and what doesn’t. We learn from what isn’t working and keep and develop what is.
Honesty is pivotal at this stage. We remove our own ego from the equation and instead be honest with what’s working and what isn’t. The best innovators pick the choice or choices that are most beneficial to the group. That means not putting your own ideas on a pedestal, as well as not giving undue prominence to the ideas coming from the senior members of the team. Ideas are judged on their own merit with the goal of success for the group rather than the individual.
Once an idea has been decided upon by the group in all the above models, the other choices are left behind and whatever is left on the table is fully committed to by the group. Everyone commits and contributes to the development of the concept as if it was their own, pulling together as a team. Clinging onto previous ideas not only slows the innovation strategy process, it kills it. It means we’re not focusing on the common goal anymore as we pull for our own brainchild.