Neo sees the matrix. Emergent Futures Lab sees innovation. Hidden beneath the surface of all we see and do, from humanities inventions to observing natures entanglements, lies an opportunity to deconstruct innovations in order to help our clients invent problems worth solving. This is what we do. It's the singular focus of our strategic innovation consultancy.
We partner with clients to foster a culture of innovation. Leveraging disruptive innovation processes, we co-develop solutions to meet your needs and our planet's real challenges.
By design, humans find and follow the path of seeming least resistance, and in short order, habits get cemented into infrastructures: if something works we build it into our environment. As with individuals, organizations get locked into the structures that they and their industries build.
Astonishingly quickly what was once unimaginable becomes the norm: “We havealways done it this way.”
At which point innovation becomes seen as a nuisance, a nearly empty buzzword— something to be kept sequestered from the smooth running of what really works. It is forgotten or relegated to corporate jargon and company lore and few reflect upon the fact that what is now taken as normal was once truly novel, strange and shocking.
But, in a universe where change and creativity are the norms, and on a planet so in need of innovation to address critical challenges, we need to flip this calcifying logic on its head and bring about a genuine and all-encompassing culture of deep and meaningful innovation.
If this resonates with you, we are ready to collaborate.
Innovative change is always about three things: developing a movement, following an effective process, and ultimately getting to a new paradigm with concrete transformational outcomes. This is the focus of our innovation consulting.
We all know what the innovation process looks like:
But, despite all the attention given to these practices, alone they will never lead to a meaningful and lasting innovation ecosystem.
What is needed is a holistic plan for innovation. An authentic movement for change. An understanding of systems, complexity, and emergence and how organizations can harness each for product differentiation and social resilience.
We find ourselves often working with companies that have already hired innovation consultants and seen poor results. We hear of frustrations in getting techniques to both prepare to innovate and for what to do after the kernel of an innovation has emerged — but the actual advice for innovation is not much more than elevated brainstorming.
For us, this is always shocking to hear, for there are genuine, robust integrated frameworks, tools, and methods for innovation itself. We know this very well because we have pioneered effective innovation methods that are the cornerstone of our innovation consulting strategy.
With over twenty years in the field of innovation consulting, we have developed and tested our own set of tools, techniques, and practices which we call the Innovation Design Approach. No business or organization needs to simply hope innovation will happen if they get the right people in the room.
We facilitate the innovation culture and tools into your organization. Innovative thinking and approaches become organic and second nature, woven into the fabric of your company.
It’s hard to be an innovation leader. It is even harder to continue to do so. With the success of a disruptive innovation comes the stabilization of a new ecosystem and a paradigm — competitors emerge. But what will happen when the next paradigm is invented and the world reconfigures yet again?
At the peak of their success did these market leaders ever think:
Novel possibilities can and will emerge. Whole industries and market sectors will develop and disappear. A company that appears to have a tight grip today is gone tomorrow.
As you read this, how many startups are steadfastly improving on your innovation and invention – faster and cheaper? And more importantly: how many are busily inventing the paradigm that will make your world irrelevant?
A company has two options to survive:
This is where we come in as innovation consultants: you can — really should — be pursuing both of these strategies yourself with a resilient ecosystem of innovation (while still developing your current core business).
Do I have the courage to leave the past behind?
This is the big question every leader must ask when faced with keeping a strong viable business relevant in the face of an ever-changing world.
We believe that if leaders create value, visionary leaders foster the creation of new innovative value by embracing that the future will look different than the past.
Do we have the courage and skills to leave the known future behind?
In our rapidly changing moment, many industries find this question is forced upon them by the concrete circumstances of change. For example, all of the ancillary businesses that support gas combustion engines in the auto industry are on the verge of extinction. A major realignment is underway as we move towards electric, self-driving vehicles, and other yet unthought of transportation alternatives. Tomorrow will require a fraction of the number of vehicles that are on the road today.
As one of these automotive vendors, you can fold or try to be the one that just might survive in some diminished capacity; but this crisis of existence is really the most important moment for opportunity and a true test of innovation leadership.
And it is here that we can be most helpful: innovation is radically counter-intuitive. All innovation begins with asking the seemingly modest question “and what else can this do? — what else can my products or services do?”
From the evolution of new species in nature to the birth of the internet — the transformation of the unintended is where all disruptive innovation begins.
All of these ancillary auto businesses have an innovation opportunity forced upon them: what else can all the things they do and make lead towards?
For many, this idea of betting on the accidental and the unintended is absurd. How will this achieve anything? In our own research, we have discovered that all disruptive innovation evolves out of some unintended feature or capacity. We call this Exaptive Innovation after the process of exaptation that drives all natural evolution.
As we said, innovation is radically counterintuitive: visionary leaders in times of disruption need to harness the revolutionary power of the unintended.
The Innovation Design Approach evolved out of this exaptive insight into the genuine logic of the innovation process. It harnesses the power of the unintended in a systematic manner to innovate with the products and services you market today. This can happen with the right methods, approaches, and techniques.
The Innovation Design Approach allows one to develop something entirely new with the least amount of investment of money or time; pivoting prior investments and knowledge assets into innovation opportunities. We call this ROII (Return on Innovation Investment).
We believe that visionary innovation leadership should always be looking towards the unintended and the tangential for emergent possibilities to be cultivated into meaningful innovation. Innovation leaders are the ones maximizing their innovation capital; pushing what exists beyond its current use to evolve a novel and meaningful future.
There are times — especially today — when developing a new paradigm is essential and required. The question for many remains the same – how do we create a paradigm change? How do we evolve to something truly unique and novel?
Most innovation consultants will have you brainstorm your way to novelty. They might dress this up with techniques from trend analysis, futurism, or design thinking — but if you look closely at the heart of all of these methods, it is always a version of ”get creative people in a room and facilitate their brainstorming.” When looking at other techniques, there’s no big idea on how to actually innovate.
But this is an industry fallacy — really a cultural fallacy. Ideation is not innovation.
If you can think and ideate a solution, then it already exists.
If it exists, your competition is working on it.
The real truth about how to innovate is harder to explain and harder to accept — for it goes against so many deeply held cultural beliefs: radical transformative and paradigmatic innovation is not about grand ideation.
The novel paradigmatic ideas come very late in the process. Long ago we put aside the easy assumptions and studied how paradigmatic change happens: it's an engaged experimental systemic process that leads in unpredictable ways to emergent novelty.
The Innovation Design Approach is designed to push innovation to novel paradigms that differentiate an organization from the competition through developing new market opportunities entirely.
Using the innovation framework, we guide companies through a series of phases to harness their strengths, technology, and industry knowledge to discover new opportunities not previously considered.
The 21st century is already littered with unprecedented challenges derailing organizational success and slowing advancement.
Leaders across the globe agree – innovation leadership is critical to the successful navigation and evolution of these challenging times.
Unfortunately, innovation has become watered-down and reduced to a buzzword marketing departments use to elevate a company's image.
The reality is: everyone agrees that innovation is critical to the longevity of an organization – but no one tells you how to innovate.
Worse, most innovation consultants perpetuate the myth of innovation with easy, fast brainstorming and ideation sessions. The truth is there are innovation methods and frameworks that facilitate novel innovation — they just don’t fit our stereotypes of what innovation is or looks like.
How does a company actually prepare for these radical challenges? They do so by developing a robust and resilient innovation ecosystem, providing their human capital with the tools of innovation.
We call these methods The Innovation Design Approach. It is designed to support and guide company culture. Arming your team with the innovation skills necessary to outmaneuver the competition and the challenges of the early 21st century.
Whomever you are (we are industry agnostic innovation consultants), our diverse team will work holistically in a fully individualized manner to co-evolve a unique, powerful, and resilient innovation ecosystem sure to have a transformative impact on what, why, and how you do things for today and tomorrow.