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March 25, 2017

Disruptive creativity is in the 3rd third

The 3rd third approach assumes that you want to have some creative thinking for example to fill a business model canvas, to come up with a new product, or just to become disruptive. The 3rd third approach is an approach to help yourself or your team to become truly creative up to a point that you can be disruptive.
Especially when you're a startup in a commodity market, or at least an established market and you have found a means to become a player as well, you need to be disruptive. Having said this, when you're established or even market leader, you need to make sure that you will have a competitive advantage. The third-third approach helps in that it implements a process that weeds out all the usual suspects in creative thinking.
The complete management team should be in the workshop because they need to not only understand what the business model is, but also why it is the way it is. And understand everybody's input. Furthermore, all areas are related to each other.
The approach means that when you have to come up with ideas, you timebox this idea-flow in three periods of about 5-10 minutes with in between at least 5 minutes but preferably 10 minutes where you take a coffee, have a smoke if you need it, or take a bathroom break. Or answer a call, although I prefer not to make that call until after the third timebox. During each timebox everybody writes down as many things that spring to mind about the topic at hand. Once the timebox is over, there's time for pause. The second timebox is exactly the same, but every idea already on the table is off-limits. So you'll need to come up with new ideas. The third timebox is a repetition of steps.

In my experience it makes sense to have a facilitator in the room who keeps track of the time, ensures that there're plenty post-its and sharpies in the room. Who sees to it that everybody is drinking sufficiently and who makes sure that there're energy bars and fresh fruit available. During the breaks the facilitator makes sure that all written down ideas are easy for everybody to read, even to the point of recreating the post-its in a readable handwriting. The facilitator should not be involved in the creative process.

As you'll notice when you take this approach, the each timebox will be harder when it comes to generating ideas. Especially when you've never thought about the topic before. But the wonderful thing here is that the most outrageous and therefore most likely disruptive ideas are created in the third timebox. There're the ideas of value, otherwise revert back to the first timebox after considering the second timebox. It should be worthwhile to look into the ideas written down in the third third and see if they're feasible. They might seem too outrageous at first, but then again, that is probably the sole reason why they will be disruptive; Nobody had thought of them before. So feasibility might very well be the way to increase your business' value, market position, or relevance.


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