3Get a Common Language to Innovation with Russ Schoen

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<p>In this episode we cover :</p> <p>The quest for sustainable innovation continues from E1. In this episode you get to understand at a deeper level where your unique creative thinking fits into innovation, how this feeds into the collaboration of the team and organization. Russ Schoen, shares case studies from around the world of how people have used FourSight to turn up the volume on their performance and move out tension into collaboration to solve complex business challenges within the likes of start-ups and Estee Lauder.&nbsp;</p> <p>In this episode we unpack deeper how FourSight has been used globally to help teams and organizations solve complex business challenges across industries and company size.&nbsp;</p> <p>Understanding our lens for problem solving&nbsp;</p> <p>- It helps unlock what your preferred approach and style is when solving a challenge.Do you prefer to solve within the lens of clarifying, ideating , developing, implementing or a combination? All four are needed to create sustainable innovation.</p> <p>- Russ, shares the highs and lows of each preference type, where they thrive, where they might get stuck, and what to do to make that preference type be happy.&nbsp;</p> <p>- The &nbsp;lows for each type are analysis paralysis (clarifier), project leaping (ideator), perfectionism, (developer), control (implementer).&nbsp;</p> <p>- Teams that do not perform as smoothly, are not aligned on what is needed at the moment in the project, as teams tend to be blind to individual preferences when engaging in problem solving.&nbsp;</p> <p>- Knowing our preference lets us make sure that each phase in innovation gets the due attention.&nbsp;</p> <p>- We are able to short cut conflict when we spend and put the energy in right place.</p> <p>What shall we do when we do not have all the preferences in a team?&nbsp;</p> <p>Our preference is not ability. For those moments we can use tools to make jobs easier, to bolster where we do not currently have a preference.&nbsp;</p> <p>What happens when we are not aware of our blind spots?</p> <p>- Blind spots to preferences have helped explained symptoms in organizations. For example a company started laughing when it was revealed that they were skewed heavy in ideating and implementation. It helped explain why their 30-35 SKUs had failed when they went to market.&nbsp;</p> <p>- It also explained conflict and tension within an organization where the leadership were heavy Implenentors and the managers heavy Clarifiers.&nbsp;</p> <p>Departmental Preference Skew</p> <p>- Certain departments have been identified as leaning heavier into certain preferences than others:&nbsp;</p> <p>- Marketing - ideator /Implentor&nbsp;</p> <p>- Engineer &amp; Accounting - clarifier/ developer&nbsp;</p> <p>- Sales - implentors&nbsp;</p> <p>How to Outperform Others&nbsp;</p> <p>- An independent IBM study showed that teams who were aware of their FourSight profile and had a problem solving process to follow tended to outperform other teams when delivering innovation, as they were aware of their blind spots and were able to ensure that they touched base with each stage integral to delivering innovation.</p> <p>Who is this for?&nbsp;</p> <p>- This is for teams who want to take it up a notch and create higher performance, as well as for teams who are experiencing tension.&nbsp;</p> <p>- This can benefit Start-Up organizations to infuse more structure as well as it has been proven with Este Lauder.&nbsp;</p> <p>For an even deeper dive into how to unlock the creative potential of your organization, you can get in contact with Russ Schoen at \Russ@FourSightonline.com, or myself at www.hihellosura.com.&nbsp;</p>

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Hey there. Welcome to the HiHelloSura Show. I'm the host through Sura Al-Naimi. Today, I have such a treat for you as we have a very special guest Russ, Shaun. He is in the house while that actually, anyway, he's a chief collaboration officer at 48, which is an amazing assessment tool that I talked about in episode one, which enables us to have sustainable innovation, more collaboration and less.

So he has facilitated leadership in India and New Zealand, South Africa, Italy, Singapore, uh, for companies such as Nestle, HBO, Avita, Intel, you know, just some small companies. So I'm really thrilled that he is with us today and that he is going to be able to share with us some of the key studies and the individuals that he's worked with to really bring to life the power of this methadone.

For those of you who haven't listened to episode one, you might want to go and do that before listening to this one, but just know that you can also listen to this one without any of that prior knowledge in this episode, we're going to go super deep into four sites are really breaking apart. The intricacies of the different.

Thinking preferences, as well as finding out about what are the symptoms that we are seeing in organizations when they are aware of their different thinking preferences and when they have their blind spots on. And so that's what we're going to be covering in this episode. Well, welcome Ross. Thanks.

Happy to be here. I'm so grateful that we can make the time to get together. So for those listeners who didn't listen to the last show, we were talking about this concept of foresight. And so for those listeners who have not yet, um, got up to speed with foresight. Russ, could you share with us what foresight is?

Sure. So, um, Forsythe is a publishing company actually that develops and publishing. Research-based creativity and innovation tools, assessments, and trainings to help individuals, teams and organizations solve complex challenges. Our flagship product is the foresight thinking profile, which really measures where do people get energized as they are solving creative challenges.

And so it looks at, um, folks who get energized by clarifying. The challenge, folks who get energized by generating ideas, folks who get an energized by developing the best ideas and refining them into solutions and folks who like to implement. So we use the language, clarify, ideate, develop, implement, um, foresight to thinking profiles.

On more than 60 years of research and creative problem solving and really has been used for in the last 20 years, um, across the world from, uh, non-profits to education, to government, to fortune 500 companies. Well, that sounds absolutely amazing. So what is it about foresight that would inspire a team to use that?

Because I've seen language and, and I've had personal experience that creates sustainable innovation and increases collaboration. Can you dig into what w what does it mean to have sustainable innovation? Sure. So I think one of the things that separates foresight from a lot of other meds. Um, is that foresight is grounded in a process, the creative problem solving process.

So it gives people not only a sort of a compass in terms of their own energy, how they engage in process, but it gives the team overall a map for how the team can engage in solving complex challenges that require new thinking. So because of this process, why is that? Why is that helpful for an organization?

What, why is that, um, providing opportunity for them? Yeah, I think a lot of times what we find are. Teams often don't succeed in terms of reaching breakthrough results because the teams aren't aligned. And what I mean by that is some of the team members may be, um, wanting more clarification around the.

Whereas others are really ready to go and jump into implementation. And so a lot of times people are blind to their own preferences in terms of how they're engaging in, in problem solving. And so what foresight really allows folks to see is kind of pulls, pulls the sheet back in terms of letting folks get really clear in terms of what does the project or the problem, what type of thinking does it require rather than.

Letting preferences dictate their, their, um, approach. So we're forced, I really is useful as it ends up helping short circuit conflict on teams and helps people spend their energy really thinking through what's the right problem to solve. What are the right ideas to solve those problems? How do we optimize those?

And then how do we get them in that? That sounds so compelling and so helpful and really obvious. But if I didn't know that I had a preference, then I would be blind and over relying on it. So I know for myself, I, I took the, uh, the assessment and I stack pretty high in terms of clarifying and Ida thing.

And so it really made me aware that when I was reaching for yet another study or I was getting excited about yet another idea. That perhaps I needed to buddy up with somebody else on the team so that I could start getting ideas selected, crafted and out the door, because if it was left to me, I would just be really excited to have another conversation about yet another conference.

And then have a flurry of ideas from them, which is very exciting, but, uh, it doesn't really, um, create impacts on the wild and the way that I'd like to have you seen other examples of that with people that you've worked with and teams that you've worked with? Sure. So, I mean, what you're describing when you say excited is.

So you have a preference for ideating talking about ideas. You get super excited. I mean, there are a number of examples with teams. Uh, we've worked with, you know, one in that comes to mind was a marketing team, uh, for a food company, um, where we did all their foresight, individual profiles. And then we created a group profile and their profile.

Was high ideator and high implementer, and they were low on clarifying and low in, on developing. And when I shared the profile with them, with his team, I basically asked. So how has this been showing up? And there was a burst of laughter that came out because what they said is that they had launched in the last year, something like 30, 30, 5 different SKU use of, of a new product, um, and almost all of them failed.

And it gave them kind of, uh, a lens in terms of. Because they didn't enjoy clarifying. They weren't spending enough time really understanding the unmet consumer need, who the target was. What, what was the key, um, insight around that. And so this gave them a lens to go, okay, how are we going to make sure, regardless of our preference, are we gonna, um, make sure that that clarification phase gets.

Uh, it's due attention. And that can be either, like you said about, uh, collaborating with others who might have a preference or in their case, we use deliberate thinking tools, specific clarification tools that help the group make sure that they were, um, uh, designing products that fit their consumer's needs.

So it sounds like each different thinking style, um, really shy. For certain reasons and equally that there are certain aspects that like the, the dark side, but an over-reliance on it can hinder progress. So for our listeners, if they're looking to self identify with each of the, each of the different thinking styles, could you, could you, so then just give us a, a snapshot on, on each one, you know, what, what is it that makes them shine up?

What is it that they needed? Like, what are the warning signs that they might be a little bit stuck? Sure. So kind of the upside and potential downside. Sure. So, um, someone who has a high preference for clarity, Uh, this is referred to as a clarifier. These are people who really enjoy exploring the challenge and the opportunity.

They like to examine the details of a situation and get a clear understanding of the issue what's been happening. The history. They really prefer a methodical approach to solving problems. Um, they're big watch. Is, they may suffer from what's termed analysis paralysis. And what I mean by that is wanting to get another research study over and over more data, more data, more data, um, and not being willing to, to move forward.

Um, what, what clarifiers need to bring their best thinking to a project is order the facts, access to information, and they need to be able to ask questions. Okay. If you want to frustrate a clarifier, invite them to a meeting and don't tell them what it's about. There'll be very frustrated. They want to have an understanding of what they're walking into.

So that's kind of clarifier at a glance. The next preferences, ideator. These are folks who love generating ideas. They like to look at the big picture. They enjoy toying with ideas and possibilities. Um, they tend to take an intuitive approach to solving problems. Um, their big watch out is they may overlook the details of an idea.

Um, they sometimes, um, like to do what's called project jump. That is they get they'll start on one project and then their mind will take them to another project. So they can sometimes be seen as not sticking to one idea or, or really not following through, uh, what ideators need to bring their best thinking.

Sort of our project is room to be playful with ideas that is room to explore multiple options, variety, and change, and they need to understand the big picture, the third preference or the next is developer. Okay. These folks really, um, take a little bit of a slower approach to solving the problems. What they enjoy typically is putting together workable solutions.

How is that? Potential solution actually going to work in the real world. So they like to examine the pluses and minuses of an idea. They like to, um, really compare competing solutions and really focus on the fine details of the solution. They want it to be perfect. Okay. Their watch out is they may get opt into perfection.

And not want to launch something until they can be a hundred percent sure it's going to be perfect. Um, what developers need more than anything else is time. They need time to. Consider the option to refine it and to evaluate. And so they, they really tend to take a slower approach because they want to make sure that it's as good as it can be implementers.

On the other hand, um, probably are getting impatient with this description and just want to get to the chase. They like to just jump into it. Um, they are decisive, determined action. They say, let's just learn as we go. Let's try something. See what happens, fix it. Uh, if we need to implementers can their potential downside is they can be seen as too pushy or overselling their ideas or take the, what we call the fire.

Ready? Aim. That is they launch and then they go, Ooh, maybe that wasn't even against the right problem. Um, what implementers need is a sense of control and that the process will move forward and they need timely responses to their ideas. Um, if they don't get that, they get frustrated because they want to be an act.

So when you talk about preference, it sounds like we have oppressed preference of something, but it's not hardware that we have the ability to acquire these new skills. Can you, can you talk more about that? Sure. So when I'm talking about, um, preferences, we're talking about preference, not about. So for myself, for example, I've a high preference for ideation.

I have a low preference for developing. Um, however, in my career I've often been asked to edit articles around creativity and innovation and editing is really about taking ideas and refining them. It's a developer activity. Um, 20 years ago. I was not good at it. I didn't enjoy it. It was really draining.

Now I've gotten a lot better at it through practice and using tools. It's still not as exciting to. As ideating, but I'm competent in it. And so what the research really shows around, um, this is people can get better at clarifying ideating, developing and implementing. And one of the things that really helps people do that is to use deliberate tools, tools are designed to make jobs easier.

So if I have a little preference for clarifying and it takes me more energy, I might use a clarifying tool, like phrase challenges as questions, which gets at really starting to identify what the opportunity, what the right problem to solve is. That sounds actually amazing. So that's a relief that I can actually acquire these skills that makes me very happy.

Um, you mentioned one scenario where this organization wasn't getting the growth that they wanted. What are. Challenges or archetypes are you seeing in these organizations when you're coming across them? So you've got the, the high ideation, high implementer. What else? What else? What other symptoms are you seeing?

Well, I mean, different there's actual demographic data that we're starting to have on different functions within organizations. So for example, marketing tends to be high ideate or how you implement, or you get more towards engineering. Accounting, you tend to get more high clarified. Hi developers. You get to sales.

You tend to get a little more high implementers. Uh, regardless though what research at IBM has shown is that teams that become aware of their foresight projects. Uh, preferences, excuse me. And they become where of process that there is a process that you can follow, um, tend to outperform other teams. And what I mean by that is you don't necessarily need a perfectly balanced foresight team with exactly the same numbers of clarify ID or develop implementer.

What's more important is for the team to be aware of where their blind spots might be and to make sure that they are, um, accounting. That they're going to touch each base of the foresight process. That makes a lot of sense. And so I would imagine that when we have this awareness, what have you seen in individuals when they've got their preference back?

What, what is like that aha that you see on their face? You know, I think a lot of times people tend to just smile and laugh and feel kind of a sense of relief in terms of like, oh, that's why I tend to do X, Y, or Z, or I get excited about that. Um, I also feel, you know, in, in certain there's a, there's a story.

That we like to tell about Eva and Barbara who were two work colleagues, um, who were together for 10, 15 years and, um, went through a foresight debrief. And when they matched up their profiles, they burst out laughing because they were exactly complimentary. And what they said is when they first started working together, they were put on a.

Um, a team, they were recruited out of grad school, put on a team and given a really complex challenge and. Eva, you know, as a high ideator high implementer is like, Hey, we're going to get this done. Um, you know, really quick, I have some ideas Barbara on the other hand was like, listen, I want to go back and review all of the research for the last couple of years and maybe even do more studies.

And, you know, there was initial some tension, but as they, as they work together, you know, that they. They realized that they were complimenting each other and that project went so well that they were given another project and another project. And over time they became known as the dynamic duo when they got their foresight results.

It just sort of illuminated them to why they worked so well together and, um, that they each brought their own gifts. And. Um, to the table, but they also had enough emotional intelligence to value the other gifts that the other preferences brought. That's such a great story. I want to do that with some of the people that I've worked with in the past and see what comes up.

Yeah. It'd be interesting if there's, uh, you know, a team of a couple of people that work really well together. It's sometimes interesting to let them reflect that experience through their. Preferences and see how they naturally, um, might've been using their preferences to work really well together.

That's really interesting. So can you speak to the opposite side when groups really are lacking together, all that well and collaborating well that well and annoying each other, so to speak, which is really, uh, slowing down innovation and creativity. Um, sure. Um, you know, We sometimes get brought into work with teams that they would S self-described as, um, might have a little tension or dysfunction going on.

Um, you know, what foresight tends to help do is really allow folks to understand why some of the conflict might be occurring and to depersonalize it. Um, so for example, Um, we've been involved with a couple or I've been involved with some strategic planning. Um, processes recently, uh, one in particular with a small team of about seven to eight folks had some tension to say the least.

Um, and it became apparent that there was a lot of tension because a couple of the folks on the leadership team. Had a high preference for clarifying a while the founder and a couple of the other folks really had a high preference for ideating and implemented. That's that's really helpful. So if I'm a leader and I'm looking at my team, like at what point would I come to you to do this assessment?

What scenario would be quote unquote the right moment or moments for me to think about bringing this to. Yeah, I think, you know, what's a great question. And we've got very specific scenarios where people will reach out to us, you know, a new team, forming team conflict. Um, you know, an innovation project is just starting.

I really think the key is when they folks are looking for their team to be more effective or to take what they're doing up a notch, uh, or they're working against, um, a big challenge and they just want to give their folks. Uh, sort of, uh, an upgrade on their operating system. So this, this can be helpful for teams that are not working well, but teams that are working well that want to take it up a notch and see even more, um, collaboration, more breakthrough it's it can be a useful approach.

And so if somebody is working with an existing system, I'll, I'll say that in a different way. Let's say they're working with our design thinking or with agile or, um, the creative problem solving. Does this reflect to any one specific, you know, innovation approach or, uh, what should people bring. Yeah. So what would it say is foresight?

You know, the original research comes out of creative problem solving, but really foresight measures. Anyone's preference for process. So your preference for a creative process. So we've had teams that use design thinking that have used foresight. Uh, we have teams that use agile that use foresight or, or project management approaches use foresight because all of those processes have a clarifying phase and ideating phase developing phase implementing phase.

They may be called different things. Um, You know, design thinking might use the term empathize prototype, but if you use foresight, you can match up people's preferences. That specific phase in that process. And we've, we've gotten, you know, really great feedback from, from teams, for example, that use design thinking that use foresight, the thinking profile, and it helped them kind of turbocharge their use of that process.

Can you tell me a little bit about that turbocharge? Like what have they, what are they. Uh, what, what they've shared is basically something similar to that first story that I shared with where, um, in that case, again, they had a low preference for clarifying. Um, and by understanding that. They could take on that empathize piece and know that they needed to do it in a way that would appeal to their preference, which was ideation, you know, so they designed some ethnographic research where they went out and interviewed real consumers, et cetera.

Um, so it just gave them a lens for how we're more likely to skip this part of the design. Process that we're not spending enough time. How are we going to make sure given our composite makeup that we're going to make this engaging to our team and also get the information we need to form sort of the basis for our whole innovation project?

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I was, I was talking to a friend of mine that owns a media company. And she suddenly came to understand that one of her team memos was really great at clarifying and she was the project manager and she was only bringing that project manager on later in the process with the clients.

So she realized she actually needed to bring her on a little earlier, because that would be the individual who would be asking you the questions that we prevalent. And then that way they wouldn't have to duplicate and, you know, go back on top. That exactly. Yeah. So that way. Made her have this moment to think, okay.

I need to change my process out to accommodate the strengths that I personally don't have a preference. Yeah. I mean, that's a great example. And we've seen that, um, you know, on big teams and on little teams, I mean, there's a consulting practice that I worked on or worked with that, um, you know, the two main people, um, again, and this does not mean that all people are a little clarifiers.

Let me just, I'm sure I tend to, but this, uh, consulting practice. Um, their main people were low clarifiers and they were high ideas and they put up a sign in their office because what used to happen is they get calls around training or designing an event and they'd immediately jump into ideation. And so one of the things they did is they put no ideating on the first call.

So they have those assigned there as a reminder that it's really about, um, you know, what is the client needs? Really understanding that and asking a lot of questions before kind of jumping into who we could do them this or this or this, which was really fun for them. Oh, that's a great signal. Like what looks like signaling behavior, appropriate behavior for that certain phase.

That's super helpful. So I'm thinking about a friend who has, um, he works for a robotics company. So what about these organizations like tops, you know, who are in kind of a young phase looking to really accelerate that impact, get alignment. In what ways have you seen this tool help these companies? And I'm sure they come in different shapes and sizes, but then you still raise the.

Yeah. So I got to think about that. Um, you know, what we find on, on startups is a lot of times, again, there's a great idea they've implemented. They might start to see growth in where they, um, tend to struggle is with putting in systems. So, you know, oftentimes, um, uh, entrepreneurs will come with. Not all of them, but there is a generality in terms of those who identify as entrepreneurs or startups on their first side profiles end up being high ID or high implementer and what they really need to take their business to the next level is making sure there's some clarification in development in terms of what systems need to be put into place.

And how do they standardize some of their operating procedures so that they're not just making things up, uh, over and over again. So an example I had actually was a financial services firm, a small one that was, had a very niche product, um, that had been very successful and it was sort of tailing off and, you know, the organization, uh, Hadn't really done a good job clarifying, like what was the next phase?

And so there was a lot of concern there. And when we went in there again, it was helpful for them to see, uh, instead of just jumping to the next idea, really going back to their core user in this context and figuring out what the needs were in designing to that. Thank you for clarifying that that was really helpful.

So. I think we're at time right now, but is there anything else that you would like to share with the listeners of that one thing? What you, you know, if they left listening today, one action. One thing that could make things easier for them or, or better for them with foresight in mind. Um, yeah, as they think about, I would say, as you think about, you know, a challenge that you've recently solved is map out the steps that you went through and just look at those and figure out which side.

Did you enjoy the most? Um, so for example, when I'm faced with a challenge, typically I will talk to as many people as I can to get their perspective. I love. And, and that really is around ideation. Um, you know, and I invite folks. You know, to, uh, contact me with any questions or check out Forsythe online.

There's a great case study that just went up about S state loner, um, how Estee Lauder, their marketing team use foresight to really, um, Hit their growth goal, which they were having trouble doing. And so I think that's a, a really good illustration of, of, of the potential power of foresight with the team, but ultimately know that, um, you have the power to clarify ideate, develop, implement, uh, it's very learnable in terms of the skills necessary to do that.

Uh, and they're terrific resources like yourself, um, and others out there who are happy to help, uh, if needed. Well, Ross, thank you so much. That's super powerful. Thank you so much for being here today. If you would like to get in touch with Russ, he is contactable. Um, on Ross at foresight, online.com or you can look him up on the interwebs Russ, Sean, and I will include all of those details in the show notes.

If you enjoy today's show, which I hope you did, please do not hesitate to rate it on the beings and the platforms that you use until next time. Take care.