Archive for April, 2012
This weekend the 870-mile Wales Coast Path (WCP) opens, a walkable route that stretches all the way from Chepstow to Saltney, Chester. Combined with the existing Offa’s Dyke Path, Wales will become the only place in the world where it’s both theoretically and practically possible to circumnavigate an entire country on foot.
Pembrokeshire or Shangri La?
What Wales lacks in ‘Land of Milk and Honey’ weather it more than makes up for with scenery, activities, coastal access, and natural and cultural heritage — not to mention actual milk and honey. That’s why last year the WCP was the #1 travel pick for Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2012, beating Borneo, Sicily, Arunachel Pradesh (described as a modern Shangri-La), and six other contenders for the top spot.
From the rugged cliffs of Pembrokeshire to the geologically unique landscape of Anglesey, dolphin-spotting in New Quay and heritage from the prehistoric to the industrial, any project of this scale brings a whole series of challenges and opportunities. That’s why GeoVation, the innovation arm of the Ordnance Survey has included the path and the communities along it in its 2012 GeoVation Challenge.
The GeoVation Challenge
In the past few years, the OS has been opening up its data, making it easier and more exciting for people with great ideas to use spatial data to make those concepts into reality. The GeoVation challenges offer £125,000 worth of prizes to help develop the best ideas that use geography and geolocation.
At Challenge-specific pow wows, GeoVation looked at some of the problem areas that arise with the new path, and at how it will redefine some of the long-standing questions and challenges for the relevant communities.
For example, we can’t change the wet Welsh weather, but we can find ways to make tourism less seasonal, by providing more wet-weather activities. There are increased (and existing) needs for accommodation, toilet facilities, transport and parking, and mobile and internet connectivity. Addressing these needs is not only helpful for visitors but provides engagement opportunities for communities, as well as potential business opportunities.
Inventorium and GeoVation
GeoVation and Inventorium were brought together by our shared dedication to open innovation and collaboration.
Inventorium held a workshop on March 1st, where we brought together stakeholders to generate and shape ideas that could be uploaded to the GeoVation Challenge website. We wanted to engage with tourism providers, local authorities, accommodation providers, outdoor activity groups, local organisations and voluntary bodies, to encourage fruitful collaborations that might not otherwise have happened.
There were 22 participants, and ideas were submitted to the Challenge website, along with other idea submissions from around the UK. We are waiting to hear the winners of the challenge who will go forward to the GeoVation Bootcamp on June 22nd and 23rd, where the concepts will begin to take shape as potentially viable commercial prospects. The winners of the challenge will be announced in early July. The top prize money is £40,000, with two further prizes and a community prize of £1,000 and we’ll keep you posted.
The best GeoVation Challenge ideas will win big prizes, but when they’re implemented, they’ll mean everyone wins.
Posted on April 30th, 2012 by Jenny
Why play a game? Because games are about rules
But can you put rules on creativity?
“Say something funny.” It’s a comedian’s worst nightmare. “Go on — I don’t want to fence you in, say anything.” Why doesn’t this work?
“Say anything” creates a mental block as you try to think of a subject, a theme, an issue. But games are about rules, and when we’re feeling rebellious, we come up with crafty workarounds. Creativity is about breaking, challenging, and reshaping rules and conventions, not ignoring them.
When we have too much room to roam, we end up focusing on things that have worked in the past. And that’s fine — we all stand on the shoulders of giants. But we tend to stay safe, take our time, and end up with strategies that aren’t very exciting. Ideas end up as design by committee, and those rarely result in anything visionary.
No, when we want excitement, we want to see MacGyver build an escape mechanism we never thought possible, using chewing gum and a shoelace — that’s a thrill.
When you’re asked to “be creative”, you end up using your mental energy coming up with a problem to solve, when what you really want is to be laser-focused on coming up with a range of solutions.
What you need are concrete problems. So we give you poker, and poker gives you problems.
Inventorium Poker is unlike any game of actual poker you’ve played or seen, but “Inventorium Blackjack” sounded a little too dangerous, and Inventoriumopoly was a bit on the acquisitive side for us.
How does Inventorium Poker work?
Don’t worry, you can’t lose your shirt, your house, or your wedding ring.
We give each group of participants a deck of cards that fit the context of the event. For example, when we had a Mobile Apps workshops we gave each team a deck of cards.
There was a set for contexts, a set for people, and a set for technologies. You might have chosen the context “mountaintop”, “hospital” or “school”, each of which would bring its own challenge to the people for whom you’d be developing, who could be “older people”, “ramblers”, or “teachers”. And then technology types, which in this case were all mobile technologies, like “GPS”, “MMS”, or “video”.
From these cards, groups are quickly able to spark the problems that lead to truly creative ideas that are targeted at the appropriate users in the right context, and that use the right technology — that gives us something to start evaluating commercially.
We encourage participants to use Inventorium Poker to entertain all the ideas that spring to mind, even the daft ones — sometimes the most ridiculous, impossible idea can be hammered into a practical, useful one.
Groups come up with a series of ideas that seem like they’re worth exploring, and then they present them to the larger group. From there, each individual chooses the project they wish to work on, which means that you’re not stuck with only the idea of your initial team. We want people to go where their skills and interests are. Our open innovation model means that ideas shared with the group are shared. It doesn’t mean you have to give up your best stuff. In fact, the more you work with your idea, the more it is reshaped and reenvisioned into one that might be one step closer to reality, for you, and for your potential customers and users.
When you want to be creative, don’t give your brain time to think about thinking — just do! People don’t solve problems because they have the time and space to do so, they do it because they have no other option.
And we work fast because the more we let our doubts creep in, the more we second-guess the quality of an idea before we explore it, the safer our ideas get. But our job as an innovation intermediary is to take calculated risks — we make a venture less risky by crash-testing ideas and business plans. Once the brainstorm is down on paper, that’s when we can start to determine if an idea is a realistic business proposition.
We use Inventorium Poker — among lots of other strategies — to give you the boundaries and the sense of urgency that force you to rely on your ingenuity, rather than your tested experience. Experience certainly helps when it comes to evaluating concepts, but first you need the ideas.
Make them as exciting as you want! They might just be possible.
Got an idea for a game we can adapt for our events? Let us know!
Posted on April 23rd, 2012 by Jenny
“The original architects of the Internet got the big things right. By making the network open, they enabled the greatest exchange of ideas in history. By making the Internet scalable, they enabled explosive innovation in the infrastructure.” Tom Tauke, Verizon Executive Vice President of Public Affairs, Policy, Google Public Policy Blog
With those words, Tom Tauke reminded his audience to continue to let loose the tigers of openness and co-operation against limiting closed models of innovation and development. Open Innovation (OI) continues this movement and is one of the key processes underlying Inventorium.
OI starts from the idea that innovation is not a solitary activity. Organisations and individuals should use external as well as internal ideas, and internal and external paths to market, as they seek to advance their technology and processes. Henry Chesborough, Director for the Center of Open Innovation coined the phrase in his book: “Open Innovation: The New Imperative for Creating and Profiting from Technology.”
The key characteristics of OI revolve around creating collaborative and convergent business linkages, opening up new channels to market, finding and exploiting new and emerging technologies as solutions to problems, accelerating and improving internal and external R&D connections, and improving exploitation of existing Intellectual Property.
The Chesborough model is illustrated here:
The vehicle in Ireland and Wales for optimising these OI characteristics is Inventorium. We bring together people with opportunities and needs, digital solutions and know-how to create new products, systems and services.
Large corporate structures, particularly internationals, have departments, subsidiaries and comparatively massive budgets to pursue and develop new products and services internally, within a possessive paradigm (closed innovation). This is not possible for individuals and SMEs. Yet it is individuals and SMEs who are inherently more innovative, focused and fleeter of foot in assessing risk – and who have greatest difficulty in funding, marketing and distributing their ideas and technologies.
The Inventorium vision is one which draws on the growing expertise of our technologically orientated small enterprises and the expertise in our universities to fulfill the need and demand for innovation within our public sector and small or start-up enterprises.
The market for knowledge is growing as fast as technological developments can support it. The increasing availability of skilled technicians and “ideas merchants” and the growth of the venture capital market, coupled with increasing capability and logistic prowess of external suppliers and external options for good ideas waiting to be activated, plus the potential for extraordinary rewards, are all accelerating the new market for knowledge. If businesses or individuals do not use their knowledge, someone else will.
A critical point for Inventorium is engaging existing entrepreneurs and nascent new entrepreneurs, while encouraging creative people, sector specialists, technologists, academics, undergraduates and research students into the process.
Inventorium thus provides the framework in which trusted relationships are built and ideas carefully nurtured. Outcomes should be a revenue stream for some participants, or better service delivery for others. A result orientation is essential for success and satisfaction for all participants. Out of such successes grow future ideas and collaborative projects.
This is a transition period. As people come to understand and trust the power of OI when managed by an intermediary ‘honest broker’ organisation such as Inventorium, so the concept of openness for idea growth will spread. It will become more embedded in corporate culture and success beyond technology. We would call that a “win win” for everyone.
Posted on April 10th, 2012 by Jenny