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How Corporate Innovation Champions Win

| On 01, Jan 2010

Message: 1487
Posted by: Richard Platt
Posted on: Monday, 24th November 2008


“Life of a Heretic: Strategies for the Creative Personality” — Author Genrich Altshuller & others. Commentary by Richard Platt (former) Intel Corporate Innovation Program Manager and Senior Instructor for Innovation Methods.

ÒThe important work of moving the world forward does not wait to be done by perfect men” – George Eliot

Here is my version of Altshuller’s ÒLife of a Heretic: Strategies for the Creative PersonalityÓ with my comments added in that is based on my experience; on what worked, what didn’t work and what I had to develop. I am not yet done with adding to it, but perhaps this will be of value to others even where it is at in its current version. Others may in fact be open to adding their own comments on what they think is needed for people who are creative to take their talents and gifts to the next level. I did in fact have this presented at TRIZCON back in 2005, and in that presentation it illustrated many additional tools were used in conjunction with the Ò6 Strategies for the Creative Personality Ò.

There are some who will read this and have a problem with this approach and so this work is not without being slightly controversial and in particular my adaptation of it, and yes this approach is somewhat militaristic, but it does honor those who have been ÒAcademic Scholar WarriorsÓ, and there are many in history, so please I would ask a small favor of you in the interim until you better understand it. Please don’t judge it too harshly, or too soon, nor make the mistake that it isn’t ethical or effective in the long run. You would come to find out that, that assumption is an incorrect one, because in the end, I was successful and it is best not to argue with results, not that in and of itself justifies the means by any stretch of the imagination, but what it does point out is that the Ò6 StrategiesÓ are intended to raise the level of contribution beyond being just a mere innovator or artist.You may come to see that many of my Òbrother opponentsÓ, (as I often call competitor companies and those that work for them), in the corporate world, do in fact know who I am and do appreciate the competitive threat that I pose to them potentially. That by the way is not hubris but just the respect that one competitor has for another brother competitor. If you doubt me, I would ask you to ask your colleagues in your innovation network to see how the folks at Samsung, at the higher levels mind you, what they know and think of me. That is if you think it is a worthwhile thing to understand that is.

Cheers, –Richard ÒPlaying to WinÓOn-Line Prohttp://file: http://www.linkedin.com/in/richardplatt

ÒIt is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows achievement and who at the worst if he fails at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.Ó — Theodore Roosevelt

As this was explained to me by my buddy Sergei Ikovenko (TRIZ Master) this approach was to be used by a creative / innovative individual so they could move away from their own ego based perspective and move towards a higher viewpoint of oneself and one’s purpose, an approach that assists in quelling internally based ego issues. Originally written in Russian, however there isn’t much in the way of detailed information other than the basic 6 strategies. These strategies were developed by Genrich Altshuller and others who researched ~1500 biographies of famous people who overcame obstacles in their lives. All 6 strategies should be used in parallel for maximum effect and benefit (value).

Apparently the reason for it not being made more publicly available had to do with the impression that it wasn’t all that desired by people learning TRIZ, I couldn’t have disagreed more.

Why you ask? My Hania Thiele story: A young lady who came up to me in my 1st class in Costa Rica back in late 2003 who thanked me for my personal and professional sacrifice in bringing TRIZ to Intel, she went on to say that she had lost her zeal for engineering and was contemplating leaving Intel and engineering all together after all these years since it had become drudgery to her. That in fact that what she was most appreciative for was my helping to bring her back to that place where she could be creative and enjoy it once again. Now keep in mind here by that point in time I had come to realize that what I was doing was really about my own selfish best interests, at least I was attempting to be honest with myself about it, and that I needed something to redirect me in a more productive manner. I have never been accused of being a wall flower in this life, and I am not about to start being meek anytime soon so I figure the best way to deal with such a strong personality is to actually embrace the extravertedness and enthusiasm for what it is, that I simply just love innovating and competing, like a duck takes to water. If being smart at all about it, to see if I can actually combine them into a wicked combination. Anyway when Hania told me this it almost made me literally break down in tears when she said that to me. (I did honestly have tears well up in my eyes) By that point in time my illness (mercury poisoning) had just started to reach its peak and I had expended quite a bit of energy and personal and professional resources just getting the program fielded so I was really spent emotionally and physically. After my chat that Friday afternoon with Hania, instead of my usual going out and checking the flora and fauna of Costa Rica I spent the entire weekend and the trip back home contemplating a new approach. The end result was that I sought out Sergei’s advice where I eventually internalized the Ò6 StrategiesÓ, it totally made me rethink my whole reason for doing what I did and went onto do at Intel.

1. Set a Noble Goal[Richard Platt] Something bigger than yourself and one that you cannot achieve alone without help and assistance from others. This helps to keep one humble and always open to others input and feedback to improve one’s approach; the means do not justify the ends. My opinion is that it needs to be based on some sort of global goal, give yourself some runway room, if the goal is achieved too soon then you’re without a job all too soon.[Richard Platt] Seek out what it means to live and breathe as a ÒCorporate SamuraiÓ, and what does that mean you ask? The word samurai originally meant, Òone who servesÓ and referred to men of noble birth assigned to guard members of the Imperial Court of Japan. They follow a code of honor similar to the Knights Templar in Europe but without the religious fanaticism. This service ethic spawned the roots of the samurai nobility, both social and spiritual. Corporate Samurai are active practitioners of the Art of War, applied in the domains of society, market place of ideas and business, as well as using new and old technology and leveraging and working with early adopters and adapters,

2. What is your Plan to achieve that Noble Goal?[Richard Platt] Focus the Noble Goal using the Ideal Final Result approach and then identify all of the roadblocks to achieving the results, these are the real problem areas to focus on and resolve, transcend, and / or overcome. Some will appear to be a paradox (see contradictions and then principles) which means in order to overcome them you’ll need strong thinking skills to deal with those particular challenges.[Richard Platt] Don’t forget about maintaining a work / life balance it is a critical underpinning, you own this, not even the Noble Goal can subordinate this. If in your zeal to achieve the goal you get burned out or beaten down or just plain tired of doing it, you’ve failed to address taking care of yourself. If you’re down for the count you are not able to serve the higher more noble goal, or do anyone else any good either, so build in down time to Reset, Refresh, Refit, Retrain and Relax, what I like to call ÒRichie’s 5 R’sÓ.[Richard Platt] Always but always evaluate and re-evaluate your available resources (do a recheck once a month) to put the plan into action; basic rule of thumb triple ALL estimates of cost and time then at least you won’t be under estimating when you’re going to get to implementation and adoption.

3. Develop problem solving skills[Richard Platt] Not just TRIZ or systematic innovation methods but any and ALL innovation tools, including analysis and evaluation tools and methods must be utilized. In fact what I found out is that you need to look into other tools that are not necessarily innovation tools but the tools of economists, as well as dirty and disgusting as it might seem, the tools of political animals as well.[Richard Platt] Make sure that you’re familiar with the organization’s approved method for problem solving; it can be added to your toolbox or can be used as means by which to show the limitations of using such an approach.

4. Passion for Creative / Innovative Work [Richard Platt] If you don’t enjoy creative work, forget it, nothing will get you off your backside, so you better go find something that you care about.

5. Know How to Fight for your ideas and be able to Win every time [Richard Platt] A part of this is also having the internal capability to have what the Russian’s call ÒKnock BackÓ ability. Meaning you can take a professional punch / kick to the groin and be able to get back up and do it all over again, it could be more aptly named Resilience and Courage coupled together. [Richard Platt] Ability to conduct war on the battlefield of ideas, it is best done using a values-based (shield) approach, where one uses data or logical argument (sword) as the argument of proof. [Richard Platt] Learn and Apply ÒThe Art of WarÓ concepts at every opportunity, exploit weaknesses in obstructionist viewpoints wherever you come across them. Be pleasant if you can, however if they won’t let you be nice then move to a more a aggressive stance, and make sure that you are on the higher ground, ethics trumps morals, do not mistake morality to always be ethical, i.e. Radical Fundamentalism both here in the US and abroad. Extremism is the bane of the Òcorporate samuraiÓ. Follow the code of the corporate ÒsamuraiÓ: Make sure that you have resources (time, allies, energy, $$, etc..) to conduct battle. [Richard Platt] Above all else stay sharp and be ready for action at all times. Strapped on and wearing (war) paint without delay, in thought, word act and deed. ÒSnap to Òas we used to say in the Army when the alarm went up about an opportunity to be exploited. Stay focused, stay calm, and cool as a cucumber. Be pissed off it you think that will actually help you, but either way make it work for you, not against your goals. Work towards a cool, calm collected demeanor in all situations. Look, everyone gets ticked off every now and then, however there is no need for it to rule your life, there is many times, justifiable and reasonable reasons that make being ticked off the very correct and right place to be, its shows that you care. Don’t worry about being frustrated, that is merely a pointer towards forcing you to find another alternative approach to achieve your goal, but don’t get stuck in being frustrated that’s a pointless waste of time and energy and it drains you emotionally as well. Remember this, where your talents and passions coincide with other’s needs it is IMNSHO the sweet spot in life. Always seek out those opportunities to exploit; this will win many, if not all of your internal political opponents over to your side. [Richard Platt] Get a mentor for yourself at every turn in the road as you move towards your goal; seek out mentors who are ÒBest In ClassÓ in what they do. Honor them by doing as they suggest and direct. In my case I had quite a few, but first and foremost among them and the clear leader in her domain of expertise was Corine Perez, (now VP of Operations for Intel’s Digital Products Group), yes a woman and one of the finest ÒCorporate SamuraiÓ I have ever had the good fortune to know and follow. Strong, competent, extremely capable, and intimidating when she felt she needed to be. In fact the reason why I chose her as my mentor way before I ever even heard about systematic innovation, was that many people particularly men (seasoned veterans of Intel’s hard years becoming the power house that it arguably is) in the Desktop and Server groups, really were afraid of her. But to me she just plain impressed me with her knowledge and understanding of the business that Intel did. Suffice to say she is the consummate Òbean counterÓ, I say that with total respect without derision in any way. Because of her influence I made sure that wherever I went in the Technology Manufacturing Group (TMG) that I was representing a higher way of approaching issues and that I would do as she had also suggested to me, ÒGo make your bones in TMG Richard and you can write your own ticketÓ, I did and she was right. Another equally important mentor for me was the Senior Vice President of Technology Manufacturing Group (R&D), Sunlin Chou, when I told him of some of the political forays that found myself being entangled in, his advice was ÒRichard there are people (at Intel) that will not get it about what it is that you do, those that don’t, just work around themÓ. Sage advice. There were and are many others, but you should hopefully get the point.[Richard Platt] Challenge preconceived assumptions and beliefs with arguments that defeat the underlying logic by focusing on what the Ideal Final Result (IFR) is and be able to use sound reasoning. It is best not to fight on the terms of other Ôs arguments, instead fight battles that you know how to win; redefining the battlefield by focusing on what the job is to be done or the goal to be achieved and what their role is in achieving that end helps to turn things around in most situations. Point out the moral or ethical imperative that they have as an obligation as an employee, since they are getting paid by the company to perform a particular function. If necessary point out that certain arguments and being argumentative puts them in a negative light with regards to others. [Richard Platt] Bully the bullies ONLY if you have to, as a last resort, best to defeat these arguments at the start of presentations if you know your audience well enough and how to do so. This is a learned skill and only comes after losing a more than a few arguments and getting back into the ring and you start swinging again. Pointing out that productivity and innovation of individuals are actually negatively impacted by as much as 20 I.Q point drop by those impacted by a narcissistic boss or co-worker. Business Week recently had an entire issue devoted to the subject, excellent and well done. Organizations would serve themselves much more effectively by eliminating these negative individuals, and counsel offenders to change their behavior or remove them from impacting anyone anymore, perhaps that will shake them up to change, at least they are given an opportunity to face the impact that their behavior has on others that are around them at the very least..[Richard Platt] If you can blunt the early attacks of opposing viewpoints by making allies with those in the organization who have more organizational and positional power, in the end this is all about managing perception. [Richard Platt] Look for negative events (blessings in disguise) to exploit, when these occur, move as quickly as possible to the high ground (ethical, moral, technical, etcÉ) and establish a clear commanding viewpoint. Opposing viewpoints will naturally be subordinated to your position. This is also known as the principle of ÒWinning without FightingÓ, the challenge can be determining what and where the higher ground is, once you see it, move with all speed.

6. Drive For and Get Intermediate results[Richard Platt] Reward Early Adopters are key to your overall success, get early wins and promote them far and wide, no one is going to do it for you, so learn about the different communication channels to exploit. [Richard Platt] Reward those others outside of your organization who provide services, products and advice where ever an opportunity presents itself.

These strategies were what I used to take on, and win, against the internal resistance that I was bound to face within Intel’s Type A Driver dominant environment. So these strategies do work, I only wish I had them earlier, it would’ve made my life easier because this aggressive environment was way more challenging than what I thought it was. The truth be told it was something that I had to overcome, I had a natural aversion to being a political animal as many do, rooted in the whole Machiavellian thing, and I just didn’t want to have to become another political corporate careerist to achieve my goals, frankly I had to admit that I wasn’t going to be effective in what I was doing until I learned the in’s and out’s of politics and come to terms with it, until then I was only going to be facing a insurmountable wall. I do in fact believe this is an accurate depiction of Intel at the time of the printing of the publication. Now don’t take this the wrong way either, I love Intel and all of the engineers and managers that I worked with, in fact, in my opinion they are without doubt or reservation, the best damn bunch of individuals and professionals that I have had the pleasure and honor of serving with. If you have questions, comments or feedback please let me know.

Cheers,Richard “'Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death” — Thomas Paine (1737 – 1809)


Message: 1957
Posted by: Richard Platt
Posted on: Friday, 17th December 2010


I do want to comment that this approach to corporate change is really only just a starting point for enabling and creating change, and in some ways this approach can be quite a blunt instrument, and would comment further that it needs to be augmented with many other change methods. Further research and application since I originally wrote this has been widened to include Dr. Kotter's approaches and in particular “Lewin's Change Theory” just to name a couple.

The field of “change” is an extremely challenging one; namely people being people don't like change being forced on them, no matter how well intentioned. So in order for any real change to become embedded they need to be included in that process, authoritarian approaches are losing their value when it comes at the expense of the people who are being asked to carry out that change. People and the issues they may have with a given change need to be respectfully addressed without marching people through the change without their having a voice in the end result and what it is going to take to get there.

I reasonably believe that when Mr. Altshuller originally developed the events of human history where the research was done on change, did not take into consideration the impact of that change on others and how they might be affected by this change. The actions that are laid out by the CPD theory are coming from an individual perspective and need to be balanced by the impact on others.

Upon reflection I believe that we are still a long way from really seeing a comprehensive and effective methodology for such an activity, more research and application will be necessary for this become a complete and effective approach to creating change, social networks being just one example that is illustrative of how that impact on others and how they perceive the proposed change.


Message: 1986
Posted by: MMerges
Posted on: Wednesday, 16th March 2011


I found this post very interesting as in order for any change or transformation programme to be sustainable, the people aspects are key.  All behaviours in an organisation need to be role modelled and championed by its leaders.  I am attending a conference, Innovate to success, in order to hear Dr Liz Mellon of Duke Corporate Education speak on the topic of successful leadership mindsets in the context of change/transformation programmes.  I think this conference will throw more fire into this debate.


Message: 2903
Posted by: Richard Platt
Posted on: Friday, 11th November 2011


MMerges – I didn't hear back from you, how was the conference, anything that would add value to the discussion?