You may know that we’ve been redesigning some modules of LEAD 365 this year (along with changing its name to LEAD 24/7). Some of you went through a version of the program before we even started exploring innovation. Over the past two years some of you participated in our innovation session, which was taught, at least partially, at Twisthink—a cool company whose corporate purpose IS innovation.

This year we are messing with the design one more time. Even though we loved taking groups to Twisthink for most of a day, the sustainability of that approach seemed unlikely as we continue to grow. We also have a close relationship with another great innovation company in our neighborhood, DISHER, and it may have looked like we were playing favorites, which was never our intention.

In addition to this, we’ve received feedback from participants over the years that the Business Acumen session was good, but didn’t feel like a full day of challenging concepts. We also knew that the Building a Great Team session had way too much content in it. Because of all that, we’ve combined the Business Acumen session and the Innovation session into one so we have an extra day to focus on building a great team. Here’s how the building a great team sessions look now:

  • Building a Great Team Part 1: Hiring, Healthy Conflict, and Firing
  • Building a Great Team Part 2: DISC, Developing the Individual, and Communication
  • Building a Great Team Retreat: Developing the Team as a Whole 

Our new combined business acumen and innovation session is called The Business of Value. Can you recall our definition of value from the original Business Acumen Day? Pause… thinking… hmmm…

Okay, it’s Value = Perceived Benefit divided by Perceived Cost.

In the morning of this newly designed day, we still take a deep dive into this concept of Value. You may remember some examples, most notably, Chanel No. 5, the product that costs $8 to produce and sells for $325. Enough people perceive that benefit to be worth their cost of $325 and so they buy it.

You may also recall our contention that the purpose of any business (and maybe any organization) is to bring real value to the world. Of course some people will create scams to extract money out of “customers” with no real value provided in return, but that’s not our understanding of what business is about (or at least SHOULD be about).

One of the comments we’re making that seems to stick with participants is that this concept of value should haunt you. Virtually everything you do either brings value or doesn’t. People are constantly and intuitively assessing whether you give more than you take, or take more than you give (which is what the value concept is all about). In the afternoon of this newly designed day we dive into innovation.

This is probably a good time to share something with you about my unique design (my root system)—something that makes me uniquely, and maybe annoyingly, me. I tend to notice when a word or phrase reflects back on itself, and I’m sensitive to when there isn’t alignment with that word and what one is doing. Here are a couple examples:

  • If I write about the concept of quality or excellence, then I better write well and NOT misspell the word Qwality or Excellense. How well I write reflects on my topic.
  • When we teach about public speaking, we should do a good job of public speaking. We may not be the best public speakers in the world, but when teaching that module we are keenly aware that we need to present ourselves as well as we possibly can.

Why am I bringing this up now? The word “innovation” has been speaking to me in this same way.

So many books have been written about innovation in the past twenty years, and so many people talk about its importance, that, for me, the word itself is getting tired. For me it is no longer a very innovative word and yet it’s trying to describe the concept of creating new and fresh things that bring new value.

So, we’re choosing to stop using that word so much. We’re calling this practice of innovation “creating new value.” Maybe we’ll come up with a more compelling name down the road, but my contention is that innovation really is nothing more, and nothing less, than finding new ways to bring real value to the world (as perceived by consumers).

Many of you have studied innovation as part of your education and career. I too have had the opportunity to learn from some great innovators—I can name five of them off the top of my head, but I won’t drop any names here.

Now let me be clear here. Leading by DESIGN is NOT an expert in innovation or the way that new value is created. However, like with the DoKnowBe Tree, Living Systems, Shaping Culture, and so many of our other modules, we’ve learned enough about it to offer some perceptions that are unique and hopefully valuable. So we’ve chosen to talk about and teach innovation in a new way. (Notice how that phrase folded back on itself?)

One of the key things we do differently in the Business of Value session is to put the focus for creating new value on two areas:

  • The first is defining and teaching a process for creating new value. Every innovation mentor or teacher that I have learned from does this. Their processes aren’t identical, but they are all quite similar from a broad view.
  • Our second area of focus, which I don’t recall having heard others talk about, is the concept that some people will naturally be better innovators than others. I suspect many people believe anyone can be great at creating new value. And while I believe that any person can, in fact, use the process and create new value out of it, I also believe some will naturally be better at it than others.

Does this resonate with you? It will be interesting to see how it is received by participants going forward. So far, it seems to make sense to them.

Next week I’ll share the simple model that we’re teaching and also write about the special characteristics that help one person be better at creating new value than another. In the meantime, maybe you can take some guesses of what those characteristics are.

Be great this week!

Image by Phototravelography. Used under CC by 2.0 license.