Obeisance to the Fool

After the last post on Tiding Up art…, hereby the brilliant, crazy and shocking contribution of the Yes Men to our list of people who dare to change the world a little bit. Most organizations love to talk about Leaders, but what would the world be without the services of the Fool. Part of every well respected card deck, but painfully forgotten by mister Belbin when he defined his eight team roles. The Fool is like a mirror: (s)he shows what stays hidden. Have a look at his brave video, and draw your own conclusions. 

Let’s Play Innovation Experiment at Accenture Innovation Awards

Last week de Baak was asked to give a short presentation at the Accenture Innovation Awards in Amsterdam with a focus on Playfulness in Innovation. We replied: “Yes, and… we want to try something new with this audience about this human side of Innovation. Is that ok?”. Do Dutch Innovators like to get out of their comfort zone? 

The setting was really challenging one: all the participants in the room wore headphones. In this way the audience could hear the speakers better, but it was also blocking direct contact in a strange way. It feels like talking into space. So we tried the concept of Bricolage: how can we use those  headphones for the point we like to make, in stead of seeing them as an element of obstruction?

Of course, we hoped for a room  with crazy dancing innovators  singing “Barbara Streisand!”, but learned more then we expected: isolation is killing for people to get out of their comfort zone. To start a movement you need direct interaction between people, and the feeling that they are part of a bigger whole. Some audience members (the early adopters) made it work, but because the audience followers  (majority) didn’t notice their success they waited till the normal situation to return.

Join the movement
Let’s Play Innovation is a movement to stimulate the innovative mindset of professionals in a playful way. So get connected via Facebook, Twitter and our website and play along! If you want to learn more join our Daring Innovation course of Incompany possibilities at de Baak.

Masterclass Reframing – embracing Complexity

Last week Let’s Play Innovation organized the last Masterclass of 2013 on Reframing, by Bruna Setola. He has the the great job title “Gameful Experience Designer”, and is an inspiring guy on new ways of thinking (which says much more;)). Reframing means looking from a different perspective at the same situation. Indeed, that doesn’t sound very new…, but it’s getting interesting with the aspect of embracing the complexity of your environment to the max. Emerge yourself in complexity, and find what’s really going on.

Don’t try to contain what is open.
Don’t make simple what is complex.
Don’t isolate what is a network.
And don’t make static what is dynamic.

Wicked problems on the roll
So, Reframing embraces the fact that our environment has changed and we’re confronted with wicked problems. Issues that aren’t going to be solved on a simple level, because they are part of our complex experience driven economy. No more honest coffee beans, but a Starbucks experience with wifi, couches and at least cappuccino with latte’art. No more offices but moving creators in blended environments. So how can we work with this complexity? Put the next elements in your DNA:

1)    postpone your judgement
2)    Embrace the complexity of your domain
3)    Find the patterns (in stead of problems)
4)    Translate the patterns into new frames (reframing)
5)    Test the relevance of your new frame for your stakeholders
6)    Find the seemingly easy solutions that the frame brings
7)    Translate and test them into reality (Design Thinking can be your vehicle)

Give me an example!
Nothing works better than an example. Let’s take the Railways, with their question “How can we improve our service to get more satisfied customers?”

Current Frame: Transport. We move people from A to B.
Current solution: more trains, faster change of trains, high speed trains

Possible Reframe: Waiting room. We let people wait in trains and on stations.
Possible solutions: WIFI, nice coaches, shops, food & beverages, etc.

station Leiden

station Leiden

You can think of hundreds of reframes, but the best ones are simple, accepted by the majority of the stakeholders, and generate by itself many possible solutions for your challenge. When you hear about a successful Reframe it is always like “Why didn’t they think of that before?”. But make no mistake: it is hard work to find the underlying patterns and to come up with a good reframe.


Reframing and Playfulness
Reframing has, just like all playful methods, a user centered approach. That means that we follow the needs and dreams of a person, instead the possibilities of e.g. your iPhone. Technique empowers our dreams, and everything is possible. For many, including myself, this is sometimes a scary thought. We want simplicity back in our life because it is so… simple, clear and honest. And at the same time the current possibilities are very hopeful, because they create an opening for a more sustainable environment. I love final thoughts;)

Possible program to follow: Daring Innovation

Review Masterclass The Innovator’s Eye (by Nicole Kemp)

Last Wednesday Suzanne Merritt facilitated the Masterclass The Innovator’s Eye on Purpose Driven Innovation and the C.U.R.I.O.S.I.T.Y. framework. She was key note speaker at the Beat The World event, and de Baak invited her back to teach professionals from the Let’s Play Innovation network how to empower your workforce with a more innovative mindset. Master Student Nicole Kemp was there, and gives us her insights:

de Baak
“Curiosity model and the 8 paths-to-purpose brings infinity to meaningful innovation”
Contradiction: I am speechless about this masterclass while I feel to shout out loud about it.
Universal: I am inspired by every single beauty who participated in this class and I am curious to the unknown beauty in the rest of the world.
Rules: This class makes me a stronger believer in “everyone’s beauty will save the world”. – Cristian Mihai Intersections: This class teaches how opportunities become attracting when two extremes (re)applied with pride
Ordinary: Suzanne Merritt let you play with Art in such away that it turns you in an extraordinary innovater
Surprises: The surprising effect of this class is becoming in one day an artists yourself and revealing the innovator in you
Invisible: Learn how to get an innovators eye by seeing through literally different lenses and angles (photography, poem, ..)
Transformation: Suzanne Merritt teaches you what you did not see before and “Let the beauty you love be what you do”. -Rumi
Yours: Your resources are infinite; they go beyond what you see at first sight, take a master class yourself and discover it.

Thank you very much Suzanne Merritt, but also everyone who participated and thanks De Baak, in particular Rutger, for organizing this.

An unforgettable lifetime experience.

420128_3157149178454_1237176163_n (1)Nicole Kemp is a Master student Business Administration – specialization strategy. Her Master thesis is on open innovation in the early stages of innovative large companies in the high-tech industry. “She did not know it could not be done, so she went ahead and did it” – by Almanac, Mary S. After her thesis she aspires to a management traineeship and to launch her pre-stage idea. 


Get connected to the Let’s Play Innovation platform, and receive information about the next Masterclasses, Playground Sessions, Events and more! 

Q42 – Kras op de planeet

Deze week was ik op bezoek bij het innovatieve internetbedrijf Q42. A happy place for Nerds, en prijswinnend als bedrijf om voor te werken. Met acht Q-ers gingen we in gesprek over wat innovatie voor hun is. Het simpel verlangen was een “kras op de planeet”. Daarmee was Apple met de eerste iPhone werkelijk innovatief, als zou je het kunnen zien als een slimme bijeenraping van bestaande technologieën. Dus wat kunnen we leren van Q42?

Leiderschap: Hoe kan ik jou ontzorgen?
De vraag die elke leider / manager aan zijn medewerker zou moeten stellen is: “Hoe kan ik jou maximaal ontzorgen, zodat jij je volle innovatiekracht kan inzetten?”. De leider als facilitator in plaats van aap op de rots. Je krijgt ook geen goede ideeën onder een douche die af en toe koud water doorlaat. Tegelijkertijd zullen er altijd gesprekken zijn over wie de afwas moet doen op momenten.

Regels: Alles mag worden veranderd!
Zodra we dingen vastzetten in regels komen we aldus vast te zitten. Het is aldus niet zo dat er geen regels geïntroduceerd kunnen worden, want de hoofdregel is dat deze aangepast mogen worden. Sterker nog, je bent verantwoordelijk om altijd de regels ter discussie blijven stellen.

Cultuur: Extern innovatief bouwt op intern innovatief
Elke organisatie die niet intern innovatief georganiseerd is kan ook niet met innovatieve producten of diensten komen. Culture eats …  for breakfast. De founding fathers van een organisatie zetten hierbij de trend, maar de huidige leiders moeten het lef en vertrouwen om deze ruimte te blijven geven. Mag ik iets radicaal nieuws doen, met het risico dat we een maand aan het puinruimen zijn, of moet ik me eerst maanden verantwoorden? Welk mandaat krijg ik hier? Bij Q42 gaat het soms mis door bijvoorbeeld vernieuwende technologie, maar het wordt altijd weer met elkaar opgeknapt.

Beheer: Beheer is remmend op innovatie.
Ik heb een situatie proberen te verzinnen waar de bovenstaande stelling niet opging. Volgens mij is het altijd zo. Als je als innovator met beheer aan de gang gaat, gaat je energie aldus naar beheer… En als je iemand aanneemt voor beheer, dan haal je een beheercultuur in huis. Dat kan een bewuste keuze zijn, maar heeft impact op de cultuur van de totale organisatie. Beheer introduceert regels om te behouden in plaats van te willen vernieuwen.

Focus: Wat is je innovatief referentiepunt?
Wat voor mij innovatief is, is voor jou wellicht oud nieuws, en voor mijn moeder onbegrijpelijk. Het is interessant om met elkaar in gesprek te gaan van wie we willen horen “dat is werkelijk bijzonder cool!”.


Veel medewerks van Q42 hebben ‘Q-er’ als functietitel op LinkedIn. Zij verbinden zich daarmee aan hun organisatie in plaats van aan hun hierarchische positie. Het belangrijkste is dat je passie en plezier in je werk hebt als je wil vernieuwen, en uit je comfortzone durft te stappen omdat je werkelijk iets nieuws wilt neerzetten, en het vertrouwen in je collega’s hebt dat ze er zijn ook als het een keer misgaat. Misschien is de strech vraag voor de directie van een bedrijf wel: mogen jouw medewerkers zich soms vervelen?

Oskar Fischinger experiments with Animation

Create the future by playing with existing elements and add something extra. I just visited the EYE in Amsterdam to see how Oskar Fischinger did just that 90 years ago, and helped to build animation. From abstract objects moving on music to “living” dinosaurs now. It shows again that connecting business to arts is a proven concept to innovate. But do you have the Innovator’s eye?

No individual knows, but collectively we do

I have been reading some of Matt Ridley’s books in the past with great interest.
The books Genome and the Red Queen are great popular science books about human biology and the role of DNA. Little did I know that this aristocratic man of science would als try to lead a bank. During his term, he would face a near bankruptcy, walk away unharmed and write a book. His dad was also a banker, so it must have been a matter of the right DNA.

Here is the TED talk which is also the opening chapter of his book “The rational optimist”. During this talk he touches upon the toaster project, which you can see and read about in my other blogpost. Making a toaster without the power of the division of labour is not so easy. Especially when you decide to make all components of the toaster from scratch. This talk stresses that no individual knows enough by him or herself to make (for example) a toaster or a computermouse, but that collectively we do.

Post from China

The reason that I could actually not write this post from China is because the wordpress blogosphere is not accessible from within China.

I want to raise a point about imitation and innovation. I have seen so much of the first in China that I actually started wondering abut the innovative aspect of imitation.

What does it actually take to make a good imitation? When you start out you might have no idea how the actual thing that you want to imitate is made. On the other hand alot of imitations are originals without the right labeling and a different price level. But I am talking about the real fakes here. The pictures below give you some hint about what type of imitation we are talking about: Adivon and Adidas, both sportshoe brands, not necessarily unrelated shoe designs (-;

But is imitation of an existing design actually simple? And is imitation inherently contrary to innovation? I don’t know. My visit to China has not given me the evidence that imitation is a simple and dumb process. The toaster project from the English artist Thomas Thwaites has made me doubt even more whether it is actually easy to imitate things of which the design is publicly available and generally regarded as a simple technology. Watch and enjoy the toaster project, he explains thouroughly his complex imitation process of an industrial toaster.

The interesting thing is that the Chinese do alot better job at more complex items than simple standard toasters, look at this beautiful selection of highly complex car designs.
Please disregard the annoying music and enjoy the similarities.