Tools and strategies for working with cautious, meaningful innovation
for better impact on people and planet.

The world is in a tricky state. Businesses are taking more from the planet and the society than they are giving. Careful Innovation is a healthy alternative for disruptive innovation. Here is a growing repository of tools that anyone working with innovation can use in their daily work. I am very happy to share all the learnings I gained with my two decades of experience with innovation, strategy and design. Hope you find it useful and please come back for updates.

All learnings are derived from years of experience from companies like Sony, Boeing, Spotify, Toyota, Jabra and more.


Leaps and Loops

To pinpoint the most likely path to finding meaningful opportunities.

A loop is when you see a clear repetitive pattern in your professional life where you can feel that you ended up where you started.

  • Identify your main loops. Make sub loops.

  • Pinpoint critical moments in each loops.

  • Set proactive actions that would propel you towards your goals on those moments.

Principles as your algorithms

Create your path before reactionary work takes you to places you don’t want.

  • Start from your personal values.

  • Write down things that you would never do.

  • List things that you would always like to do.

  • Scrutinize yourself when faced with dilemmas.

Good Busy, Bad Busy

Map your tasks according to your own priorities

  • List everything on your to do list. (Go back in time a few weeks)

  • Group proactive items.

  • Group reactive items.

  • Group routine items.

  • Group retroactive items.

  • Try to minimize all items that are not proactively delivering towards your goals.

Self-Looping Cycles

Create positive feedback loops that self-reinforce

  • Go back to your loops

  • Find the ones that will keep going without effort

  • Create incentives that will accelerate the cycles

Impactful User Stories

Craft micro-strategies within one loop

  • Identify a cohort or target group or archetype (not a persona) X

  • Identify a very valuable pain point Y

  • Identify a measurable goal that indicates the elimination of the pain point. Z

  • Combine as: "As an X, I don't want to Y, so that Z"

  • Tie this User Story back to your personal values, or a people/planet goal.

Funeral Exercise

In order to determine your personal values and goals.

  • Imagine your funeral 3 years from now.

  • Write down 3 adjectives that you would like people to say about you.

  • These are the values that are "meaningful" to you.

This exercise originally appears on 7 Habits of Highly Effective People book.


Ethics as a Strategy

Unearth ethical business opportunities before your competitors do

What’s ethical today gets regulated tomorrow.

  • Break down the values of your company so that you uncover ethical themes.

  • Identify which areas you need to be ahead of the curve.

  • Turn ethical problems and dilemmas of your industry into unique opportunities.

Turn Problems into Opportunities

Pivot around amazing problems. Not solutions.

Executives don't necessarily like problems. Pick a long-term problem for your company, the people or the planet. Turn that into an opportunity. You can use JTBD, Lean UX or anything you like. But the point is not to lose sight of the company strategy nor the core of the problem.

Start Small and Scale Up

Pick an area where a small change will bring 10X improvement.

Start from something that other people avoid touching. Clean that area from assumptions by asking powerful questions like: "What are we afraid of?". "What is the cost of doing nothing?".

Don't be Afraid of Numbers

Investment always needs to be significantly smaller than the gain.

You can always calculate roughly what will be the investment and what might be the business outcome. The more you do this, the better you will get at it. Embed measurements into your development cycle.

Eliminate Idea Ownership

Encourage ideators to build on each other.

When someone comes up with an idea, encourage them to tie it back to a big problem that your company is struggling with. Make the result measurable. Encourage them to pivot the idea so it is no longer theirs.

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This is how good practices scale. Thanks for reading this far and come back for updates.

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© 2024 Bilgi Karan