Why We Do, What We Do. How to Innovate in there.

Our 8-week-old pup coiled up like a worm, as thunder shook the windows and lightning lit up the night sky. He was positively petrified at the unfamiliar. It happened again a few days later. This time it caused him to clamber expeditiously, tail between his legs, to my daughter who cuddled him. Days later, it happened yet again but this time it seemed far more familiar. Now perplexed, he barked and moved towards the source of the sound. He began to understand the plethora of sounds around him and even distinguish a few of them, quickly adapting to his environment.


Hence, we think about the shift from EMOTION and INSTINCT to KNOWLEDGE and UNDERSTANDING. Underscore these 4 words. This will be the most important takeaway from this blog. In the past 3 centuries, beginning in the 18th C, the industrial revolution brought tremendous disruptive and transformative changes to our world.


To further demonstrate, let’s go back in time; back to the Stone Age. To gain some insight into the earliest forms of music, you can click the linked video created by Oxford Anthropology professor Iain Morley. To this, we compare the evolved product of music and instruments used and produced by ThePianoGuys. The best part is, that as a sociological phenomenon we see a change too. My daughter currently studies sociology at the University of British Columbia, so her input extends from a course involving the understanding of hierarchy within society through class systems. Her insight remains that music started off as a basic love and need for a combination of sounds which complemented each other, which is now considered (at a classical and instrumental level) as something of the elite. It is an art that has been perfected and one that is now widely considered to be catered primarily towards the higher classes, a mere section of society. Essentially, what started off as instinct and emotion, has now evolved through knowledge, understanding into a specialization/focus. What encapsulates all this is INNOVATION ! We can only imagine where it will be 20 years from now, considering where we stand today.


Talking about Innovation, I have a fascination for technological innovation and love the mind and thoughts of Olaf Swantee. Read his latest blog on front line Innovation here. What I like there – Emotions are triggers for Innovation. It’s everywhere. Starts in the front office not back office.


In business, the fundamentals remain the same. It is how we shift from instinct coupled with emotion, to create new ideas and learn (knowledge) from them.  As we evolve (understand) those ideas, innovation comes about.


World Economic Form lists the top skills in 2020. Notice the theme around Creativity, Critical thinking, Problem Solving, Emotional Intelligence and Cognitive skills.


I like my stories as I travel around and listen and learn from my Team, Customers and People.


On a recent visit to Japan, a star player on my team said to me, “My Customer loves reading comics , so I started researching about comics and now I read them . It helped me and my Customer build that “connect” .”  In essence, he understood his customer through the creation of a separate system (innovation) , as the Customer and that connect mattered.

In my view there are 3 core areas to embrace – for people engaging with Customers:


Understanding the human mind through Situation:

Earlier, we looked into how music was born out of a certain situation as a result of, but also resulting in, a certain emotion, that journeyed through innovation. A modern take on this idea is Uber. Yes, Uber. The founders, Travis and Garrett caught themselves stranded on the streets of Paris on a snowy evening, unable to hail a cab (situation). The frustration (emotion) resulted in an idea – Tap a button, get a ride. Hence, the birth of Uber!


Another example: The voice-message. I remember how a team of young professionals in Malaysia discovered the nuances and significance of youth being unable to communicate efficiently with one another, which birthed the idea of leaving voice messages in dropboxes. Sensational – The delivery of recorded voice!

Look at the evolution and constant innovation from those exposed to technology – tapping a button, dropbox, voice/video -message, virtual reality, etc.


Questions to ponder over : What is the emotional connect – personal /business that I am looking for in the person that matters ? Why is it relevant ? What can I do with that in mapping an idea ? …eventually business. 


Human mind to human minds and societies. Societal influence

We look into anthropology through evolution and adaptation, whilst looking at the sociology as a system of influence, growth and innovation. Innovation, necessity and systems within society create business, transaction, give-and-take, consumerism, etc. With its importance growing over the age of industrialisation and spreading across the globe from the West, globalization plays a huge role in business.


Uber went beyond San Francisco and spread across the globe to places like Singapore. Look at the assimilation of local culture into the mainstream in producing cultural hybrids: McDonalds in Malaysia having “Bubur Ayam” or Chicken congee, being influenced by the locals’ love for chicken and rice. McDonalds in India serving “Spicy Paneer Wraps,” being influenced by the frequent and favoured use of cottage cheese (paneer) in Indian cooking.


Essentially, globalization has created a phenomenal platform for business and mass consumption. The “How to scale” of an initial idea and innovation, into a business.


Understanding that we need to Sustain, Re Invent or Innovate, via New Insights

The idea is that the human mind(s), like machines, process vast amount of data to make meaningful judgements and decisions. This system is embraced in the world of business, being one of the determinants in a company’s growth or crippling.


In terms of the telecommunications industry (one that I work in), a business friend told me this – “ In a certain geographical market, the price point for the very same solution dropped over 14x over a period of 3 years! “. Unless they find a way to create and apply newer, deeper insights from attained knowledge, their business would perish…..major parts of it have.


As a budding sales engineer, I had to gather information through copious amounts of application notes and product manuals before I could earned the right to make a Customer Call. Why?


It is necessary, of course, to be better informed than the customer in order to earn their trust and respect, whilst educating and guiding their thought process. Today, much of this process has been eliminated thanks to the internet. The customer, along with the rest of the world, now has access to this information regardless of my knowledge and experience. The tables have turned and it is now our turn to study our customer – their financial statements, stock performance, press announcements, major events etc.; What is that emotional insight ? What is relevant ?


Knowledge is not constant. It is being created, lost and altered. What drives us is our need to be efficient, all-knowing and successful within our contexts and situations. Business is not constant either. Technology, communication, trends and people needs themselves are changing. What we can take away from this is that society and businesses believe in evolution and change, making growth the only constant.


In essence, it has always been in our best interest to discover, use and manipulate knowledge to best-suite our needs as humans. Where this age-old technique will take us, I guess we’ll just have to find out.


To recap,


Listen & Understand

the human mind, a person’s situation, (dys)functions within the environment, emotional connect and the relevance of knowledge though communication.


Learn, Unlearn, Relearn to guide initial instinct into an idea/innovation in your field of influence; transactions or engagements into entire businesses/product innovation


Instinct + emotion –> knowledge + understanding –> Business Innovation in the front office and between organisations –> stronger social connections (trust)


Featured Cover Image: Image by StockUnlimited

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