May 312016


The idea

Innovate NOT Collaborate:  The group is not working as a team, but as individuals combining their attributes to innovate.

Participants within the group divide based on their role, as defined by common ideas, preferences, approaches or personality traits.


The four roles:

1.  Elephant – Right-brain thinker, doer, follows instinct, hunch, and pursues their passion
2.  Rider – Left-brain thinker, planner, conservative, follows proven, safe path of experience
3.  Innovator – Creative person who embraces change, seeks unique, and excels at different
4.  Designer – Big picture person who sees all stakeholders and seeks win/win opportunities

Participants divide into separate groups all working toward a shared vision to address a common challenge.


To innovate, the group follows six steps.

  1. Roles?  (Form)
  2. Challenge?  (Form)
  3. Crazy ideas!  (Storm)
  4. Prototypes  (Storm)
  5. Vision?  (Norm)
  6. Insights?  (Perform)

6 Steps to Innovation

  1. Roles:  Each participant must identify and commit to a role within the process.  Innovation requires the right person on the right task, at the right time to succeed.  Once a person assumes this role, they will begin looking at the task/challenge from their unique perspective.

Four roles: Elephant, Rider, Innovator, and Designer.


  1. Frame the challenge [Requires a Designer’s perspective]

–  Agree on the group mission

–  Identify all stakeholders

–  Inventory all experiences, what is known, not known, and the group needs to know.


  1. Crazy Ideas!  [Innovator’s contribution]

–  Imagine many ideas.  (100 idea rule)

–  Imagine without constraints – Thinking outside the box through heuristic design

Example-  It is noted that if individuals could fly, the challenge would be easy to solve.  After the idea is realized, it could lead to the thought, what does flying do that addresses the issue?  Then, what else produces similar results?  Or, how can we simulate flying?  Which all lead to ideas previously unimagined.

–  Divide into flow groups  (Individuals who share similar ideas or united thoughts)


  1. Prototypes [Performed by Elephant, NOT the Rider, it’s too early in process to form opinions and conclusions.]

–  Test ideas, concepts without preconceived conclusions or judgments.

–  Test small – Not too big.  Explore nuances of the idea that provide insights to the larger solution.

–  Gather feedback from all stakeholders


  1. Vision [Designer’s role]

–  Articulate the direction

–  Convey a clear image of expected results

–  Inspire participants, through creative leadership, to support the core idea


  1. Insights [lead by Rider]

–  All participants perform their role to accomplish the vision.

–  All actions must align with core idea as defined by the innovator.

–  Attention is focused on details of performance.  Insights emerge that are only available at this stage.


  3 Responses to “Innovation Cube”

  1. trent=just testing
    an input- i have trouble with binary dichotomies like left brain right brain
    i think we need a different metaphor
    i will send you a draft essay i just wrote about the spanish computer art pioneer yturralde

    • Roger,
      This has always been an issue in the ATEC program. Much of my work is built on the premise of bold distinctions between disciplines, practices or individuals. I use these “binary dichotomies” as metaphors to begin the dialog, or symbols to help understand a complicated system/process to begin dissecting the nuances. I think of it as the Bohr atom model, which gave us an over-simplified, and even incorrect representation of the atom, BUT it gave us all something to point to as we continued to explore this un-accessible universe to easily view. We use models, symbols, metaphors to frame the discussion and shape ideals around the concepts. Right-left brain analogy is simply a metaphor which represents a perspective or approach to life, information or an explanation to actions.

  2. scott
    i would be interested in unpacking this statement
    Innovate NOT Collaborate: The group is not working as a team, but as individuals combining their attributes to innovate.

    i think instead again of binary innovate or collaborate- we want systems that allow combination, or alternation, of individual practice, with two way collaborations with multi person work- the problem is how to set up the social dynamic so one can go into innovate mode alone

    or maybe i misread your post
    i have joked that collaboration isnt a value in itself- its a means to an end ( eg innovation) and actually innovation isnt a value or end in stelf rather its a means to improving our lifes

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