Everyone says we need to 'think out of the box' to innovate…

Simply asking workshop participants to think outside the box is hardly a methodology and in fact it does not work. As a result most solutions people come up with are frankly not that different from what already exists. Solutions developed in brainstorming or ideation sessions often improve existing products and services, but they rarely lead to genuine innovations that drive growth and differentiation.

We know, having run hundreds of workshops, that you can’t make people think out of the box unless they can see the box they are in.

These boxes are made of our cultural beliefs, dominant industry conventions and all those things that we have become so used to that they seem entirely natural, totally immutable and we therefore stop questioning them. In fact we don’t even see them. In some cases, we will hold onto them because they have become part of our identity.

Cultural beliefs are the biggest obstacle to innovation today.

How can this be addressed in corporate innovation, strategy design and ideation workshops? To start with, you need to understand the unique composition of the box you are in:

  • What are the unique beliefs of your organisation?

  • What are the holy grails of your industry?

  • What rules are currently in place and what behaviour are protecting or reinforcing those?

  • What are the belief systems of the market?

  • What are the cultural beliefs of your customers?

  • How do belief systems influence leaders, teams, and employees?

Once you have understood the core beliefs and drivers of behaviour, you can then start breaking those down to identify alternative beliefs and unlock genuine innovation opportunities.

Using our experience and frustrations as innovation and management consultants, we have developed an approach derived from the social sciences which we have called Hacking Cultural Beliefs. It is structured and helps systematically generate Radical Innovations.