PBTO58: Hunch – Where Insights and Foresights Meet! With Bernadette Jiwa

Credits: Opening music credit goes to Riju Mukhopadhyay & Pavan Cherukumilli

Who is on the show:

In this episode, we host Bernadette Jiwa. She is a best selling author of multiple books and writes one of the most popular marketing and branding blogs – The Story of Telling. Smart Company named as the top business blog in Australia of 2016Seth Godin listed it as one of the marketing blogs he reads.

Why is she on the show:

She just released her most recent book – Hunch. The book talks about how we can turn our everyday insights into the next big thing.

What do we talk about:

In this episode, we talk about how this particular book came about. She shares her insight about how entrepreneurs – small and large are getting deluded in the barrage of data and using it as a crutch to not decide and work on their hunches. She shares some very interesting stories about how Richard Turere (all of 12 years old) helped save his cows from Lions and in the process invented the “Lion Lights“. She also shares the story of how one doctor (Dr. Ravenell) leveraged the popularity and the sense of community in a barber shop – Denny Moe’s to change the lives of thousands of black men by converging healthcare and haircare.

She defines Hunch as below:

Hunch = Insights + Foresights

Simple yet elegant way to define something extremely complicated, I must say. She also talks about the fact that in order to get these hunches, we need to look at the intersection of three things.

Hunches are formed at the intersection of Curiosity, Imagination and Empathy.

There are opportunities all around us if only we stop and notice them. She shares her way of getting these inspiring stories from the everyday walk of life. She says that these stories are all around us, if only we can stop and look for them, if we find them, slow down and think about them.

We also discuss how important boredom is and how crucial having distraction free time for us to think about stuff that we have learnt and allow it to sink in and come up with our own perspective and a lot more. She shares how Sara Blakely founded Spanx with 5000 USD and she takes the long route to work, so that she can get some quite reflection time for herself almost everyday.

This is a short episode but one filled with a lot of insights and learnings.

How can you connect with her:

I strongly recommend that you buy her book – Hunch. The book is packed with a lot of such stories and also has a lot of prompts that can nudge us to practice all the three things that she talks about (curiosity, imagination and empathy) that are important for coming up with our own hunches. Also,  subscribe to her blog. She blogs every single day. Her blogs are an oasis in the middle of a barrage of blogs that dont speak to you. They are short but insightful. They speak to us in a way not many blogs do. You can also follow her on twitter @bernadetteJiwa.

PS: You can watch the TED Talks by Richard & Dr. Rayenell.

Credits: Opening music credit goes to Riju Mukhopadhyay & Pavan Cherukumilli

Innovation Starts with A Question

In a world where it is extremely difficult to sustain any competitive advantage you build, it is important to constantly innovate and come up with new ideas, products and solutions and that too at Speed. 

We all know that innovation always starts with an insight. You have an insight when you suddenly see things differently. You see things differently when you start looking at things differently. You start looking at things differently, when you are trying to answer a different question. You can trace most innovations and creative endeavours to a question that someone asked. 

So, it all starts with a question. 

The question that you ask is what determines the kind of answers you get. 

So, if you ask bad questions, you will get bad answers, if not worse. 

If you ask good questions, you might get good answers. 

However, if you ask interesting questions, you get interesting answers and in my opinion, interesting answers are better than good answers. 

There are different kinds of questions that you could ask: 

Binaries: 

These are questions which elicit a yes/no answers. These are great at clarifying a certain piece of information or thought process. Examples of these questions could be: 

  • Is this your book? 
  • Do you follow this process always? 
  • Do you need more information about the product/services 
  • Should I call you back tomorrow? 

Starters:

These are questions which help you get an answer which could potentially start a discussion. Typically, these questions elicit answers that also tend to be factual. Examples of this question could be: 

  • What do you do for a living? 
  • What does this mean? 
  • What does this product do? 
  • What is the process for me to claim my expenses? 
  • What is our strategy? 

Clarifiers:

These are questions which help you dig deeper and clarify something more or get you more information. Typically, these questions elicit answers that are sometimes factual and sometimes metaphors which would explain the reality as it is. Examples of this question could be: 

  • How would you solve this ? 
  • How would you implement this strategy?
  • How would you measure this goal?
  • How would you achieve your goals?
  • How can I use this product/service? 
  • How can I claim this gift? 
  • Why don’t we do it this way? 
  • Why don’t we go after this segment of customers? 
  • Why don’t we do advertising? WHy don’t we use Design thinking? 

Storifiers:

These are questions that help you find out the belief’s, reasons, intentions, attitudes and help understand behaviours. Typically, these are questions that elicit stories or belief’s. Examples of these questions could be: 

  • Why do you do this? Why this way? 
  • Why solve this problem? 
  • Why have this goal/strategy/vision, etc
  • Why is this important? 
  • Why did you do it this way? 

Probers:

These are questions that help you explore and open up possibilities and need imagination in order to be answered. These are questions that elicit creative thoughts and new ideas. Examples of these questions could be:  

  • What if we could combine the features of a SaaS pricing with the Higher education pricing? 
  • What would happen if we stopped doing these activities? 
  • What would happen if we started doing these activities? 
  • What if our marketing budgets were cut by 70% and we still have to achieve the same level of growth? 
  • What if our biggest competitors merged or got acquired by Microsoft? 

How and when to use which questions? 

If you notice, there are certain questions that create new options or increase the horizon of our conversation/thoughts and there are certain kinds of questions that help you close out options or focus in on a topic/idea.  

This is how creative people work. They first use questions that helps them zoom out and create multiple ideas/options and then zoom in to focus at one or many of these options. They would then repeat the process until they have found what they were looking for. 

So, you might want to start with a “conversation starter“, follow it up with a “clarifier” and then use a “storifier” to gain deep understanding. You could then “Imagineer” to introduce and explore possibilities. Once you have enough ideas/possibilities, you might use a “clarifier” to start zooming in and close out with a “binary“. 
Cultivating a Designers Mindset:

This is based on a designers mindset and how designers think – they diverge and converge their thoughts and continue to do so as long as they are not satisfied with their outcome of the exercise. 

So, in order to have interesting solutions or ideas, you need to be able to alternate between the kinds of questions that you ask yourself or your team. 

This is a skill and like any skill, you can get better at it with practice. 

So, what questions are you going to ask of yourself and your team? 

Invisible Problems

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I just finished reading the book – Meaningful, by Bernadette Jiwa. In the book she talks about the importance of “Invisible Problems”and refers to a TED Talk delivered by Tony Fadell. I watched the talk and would recommend that all entrepreneurs should watch the talk, multiple times.Seth Godin introduces him selves as someone who notices things for a living.

If you look at some of the most successful entrepreneurs of this generation, you will notice that all of them started with a problem that all of us faced but did not see it as a potential for value creation:

  • AirBnB saw that there were people who had a need and another set of people who could fulfil the need.
  • FaceBook noticed our need to connect and stay in touch with our friends.
  • Uber noticed the frustration we feel when we are waiting for a taxi.
  • Shoes of Prey noticed the need for custom sized shoes.
  • Sheroes noticed the special needs that women have from a career perspective.
  • GoPro noticed the frustration of not having a camera that was suitable for outdoor, adventure activities.
  • Etsy noticed the frustration of artists who wanted to set shop and sell their goods online.
  • Kickstarter noticed the frustration of inventors and creators in getting funds for their projects.

The list goes on. The only thing that they did was to notice these as problems and set out to address them.

All innovation starts with noticing these invisible problems. Some call them insights.

Once you have noticed a problem that is invisible for most of us, you have an excellent starting point to create something that will resonate with us, without you having to convince us about its value.

These are the products or services that when we come across, makes us feel that they make perfect sense and make us think why no one thought of it earlier.

The question we need to ask is the following:

Is this a learned skill and if yes, how does one go about learning to notice things.

Tony already does share some suggestions on how can we go about learning this skill.

In my opinion, the single most important skill that can help us in this regard is our ability to stay curious.

  • Every time we tell someone that is how it is, we need to stop and think about the situation again. There might be an invisible problem worth solving.
  • Every time we find ourselves complaining about things, we need to stop and explore it a bit more.
  • Every time we hear some one utter the words, “this is so frustrating”, we need to stop and explore.
  • Every time we hear our child ask a question and don’t know the answer, we need to stop and explore.

It is much easier to push things downstream rather than push it upstream. Identifying and solving an invisible problem is like pushing a product or service downstream. Its easier, faster and gains momentum quickly, which is of course assuming that we have done a good job in identifying the problem well and the solution is easier, faster and simple to use.

There are other things that you can implement into the solution for spreading the idea faster.

However, the fact remains that if we get good at this, our ability to come up with great products/services increases multi-fold.

So, what invisible problem have you noticed recently?

You can watch the entire TED Talk by Tony Fadell below:

 

 

 

PBTO1: Launching “Pushing Beyond the Obvious” Podcast

I had earlier announced that I will launch my podcast shortly. Today, is the day when I would like announce the launch of “Pushing Beyond the Obvious” podcast.

This is the first episode of the podcast. In this episode, I talk about what this podcast is about and whom is it relevant for.

This podcast is relevant to you if:

  • You are an entrepreneur or a CEO
  • You are a manager responsible for sales, marketing, innovation or strategy function in your organization.

The podcast provide you insights and strategies on how to push the boundaries of the following functions:

  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Innovation
  • Leadership
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Strategy

The format of the show will be a combination of solo episodes where I share my experience and interviews where I host successful practitioners and thought leaders in these fields.

I am extremely excited about the journey and I hope you shall all join me in the ride.

I also believe that this podcast will play an important role in your success, whatever it is that you set out to do.

If you like the episodes, please share your love by rating, writing reviews and sharing this with your friends and colleagues.

You can provide your feedback or questions by writing to me at mgr at rmukeshgupta.com.