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

Holding the space for Innovation

There is a metaphor for the concept “holding the space”. When a Jewish woman (or modern couple) goes into labor, there is an old lady sitting in the corner of the room, doing her knitting work. During all the pain, stress and big emotions of the process she just… keeps on knitting. She shows the couple without saying a word that she has seen it all before: There is no need for panic, it’s all part of the process, and everything will be fine. If she start screaming, you can start worrying… So, what can we learn from this elderly lady for our Innovation challenge?

Teams in distress
Innovation is most effective when working in teams, and they have (almost) similar phases. Forming, storming, norming, performing, and reforming according to Tuckman. Or getting together, fighting for understanding, loving, working and breaking up according to Slump:). Especially during the fighting phase in which teams struggle for team rules, ownership and values there is someone needed who keeps calm, shows without saying that it’s a necessary part of the process and only makes process interventions in order for the team to get to the next level. This e.g. team coach holds the space  for this team process. The idea that (s)he can intervene when things go out of hand is more important than actions.


Holding the innovation game
In innovation the tension is even higher, as the outcome of the process is unknown. Innovators need a space where they can overcome their internal blockades, like “I’m not sure if this is going to work” of “I’m thinking of cows now, and I don’t know why…”, and start experimenting. with crazy new stuff.  So how do you create this space as a facilitator?

1. Find a process model as a map. This is especially important for the rational / control freaks in the group. They can’t handle the stress of not knowing where we’re going, and they are right: why reinvent the wheel? So be smart, pick or create a good one.
In Daring Innovation (DI) we make use of Design Thinking.

2. Introduce social rules that define how we interact. For instance: we always react in a “yes, and…” manner, and we stop when we hear the buzzer. Depending in the length of the process you give space for the team to make their own rules.
DI: Applied Improvisation. 

3. Create a physical space that supports the objective of of the meeting. This means on the one hand that we need the right practical tools. On the other hand should the room feel congruent with the phase of the innovation process. Are we at “Hard Rock” or “Singing Whales”.
DI: different locations from class room to Fablab. 

Whatever you do: for the participants it should all feel logical and in control – you’re holding the space. If you want to learn more please get into contact or follow the open enrollment program Daring Innovation @debaak

10 hints uit een Masterclass Prototyping

Elke maand organiseert de Baak – Let’s Play Innovation een Masterclass voor professionals om op een playful wijze organisaties te helpen in hun innovatieproces. Deze maand stond Prototyping centraal en werd gefaciliteerd door Wiro Kuipers en Rutger Slump in ‘De garage’ op Landgoed de Horst in Driebergen. 22 deelnemers gingen los met legosteentjes, viltstiften en hun eigen improvisatiekracht. Prototyping is het gesprek dat je hebt met je ideeën (Wujec). Een typisch geval aldus van “je had erbij moeten zijn”, maar hierbij toch gewoon tien hints.

1)     Word niet verliefd op je ideeën, waardoor je niet meer openstaat voor iets beters.

2)     Zorg voor een gelijk speelveld met de andere actoren in het proces. Dit kan door bijvoorbeeld het werken met LEGO waardoor de focus niet op de persoon maar op het bouwen komt te liggen.

3)     Volg je intuitie op momenten dat je nog geen duidelijkheid hebt door gewoon te beginnen. Beginnen is vaak de lastigste stap omdat je ratio controle wil houden. Mensen vinden instappen vaak zo spannend dat ze uitvluchten zoeken in hun mobiel, vragen over het proces, commentaar op de begeleiding etc.. De ervaring leert echter dat je vaak na afloop goed kan verklaren wat je gebouwd hebt, maar daarvoor moet je wel beginnen.

4)     Werk met duidelijke kaders zoals uitdaging en tijdsbepaling. In te veel ruimte raken mensen verloren. Wellicht herkenbaar als je ooit moest afstuderen…

5)     Gebruik Applied Improvisation (Ja, en… denken) als mindset om vanuit mogelijkheden in plaats van beperkingen te werken.

6)     Maak concreet wat je in je hoofd hebt of in tekst staat geschreven. Hierdoor ontstaat beleving bij vaak abstracte woorden, en de mogelijkheid voor anderen om hierop praktisch te reageren. Bouw Weconomy of Duurzaamheid maar eens met LEGO.

7)     Bouw samen. Vernieuwing ontstaat tussen mensen – jezelf proberen te verrassen is bijzonder lastig.

8)     Vaardigheden zoals bouwen, hoofd leeghouden, en creativiteit zijn te trainen net zoals boekhouden.

9)     De fysieke ruimte en begeleiding van de facilitator hebben grote impact op het proces. Een garage geeft bijvoorbeeld een informeel gevoel, waarin mensen zich meer vrij voelen om dingen uit te proberen.

10)  Prototyping is hard werken. Zorg dus voor een goede afwisseling tussen inspanning en ontspanning. Iedereen was uitgeput aan het einde van de middag.

Prototyping is onderdeel van een proces zoals Design Thinking, en staat uiteraard niet op zichzelf. Wil je er meer over weten of aan de slag in jouw organisatie – neem dan contact op met r.slump@debaak.nl, of meldt je aan voor het nieuwe innovatietraject Daring Innovation (bijna online, dus druk die F5 / Refresh vaak in!).

“If you freeze an idea too quickly, you fall in love with it. If you refine it too quickly, you become attached to it and it becomes very hard to keep exploring, to keep looking for better ideas.”

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?

Inspiration Design

Since you may have noticed: I’ve got a lot of inspiration since my small journey to Berlin. During my way home I wondered what “ingredients” caused that inspiration. This blog is the analysis of this question. It helps you to learn how to design a process that guarantees getting inspiration. The process is divided into four parts: The journey  towards, during the stay, the return journey and back home.

The journey towards: The journey towards your destination proves to be very important. You’ll sit in a car for 7 hours doing nothing. Your brain gets time to process what happened the past weeks. A great time for reflection. Write down your insights and maybe some first new ideas might come up. It works especially well if you have been a little bit too busy the past weeks (like me). Once you arrive at your destination, your mind has been freshened up for the most part.

Dinspirationuring the stay: Recent behavioural scientific studies show that who you are, what you think and how you act is strongly influenced by your environment: Context determines behaviour. Changing your environment changes your perspective on challenges you face back at home. What really helps is to ask yourself the question during your stay: How do the things I see, the people I meet, the things I learn relate to the challenges I face back at home. It can come through a story your guide told you, through a conversation you had during dinner or just through a piece of art. Write down all the insights you have and talk about them with the people your with or meet. Make photos of the things that surprise you, inspire you, and make you smile or blush.

The return journey: When you’re on your way back, you’ll have to sit in the car again doing nothing. You can’t go anywhere; you’re locked for another 7 hours. Look at all the notes you made. What other thoughts come across your head. Look at all the photos you made: what do they have in common? What patterns can you find? For example: You made a lot of pictures of unusual combinations that work out well. For example a Hamburger shop which is housed in an old public toilet. Write down all the actions you want to take when you back home. Try to make a big list of small things. For example (in my case): Write a blog post on how to design your own inspiration. If you look at this list, what actions are you really longing to do?

Back home: Incorporate time in your schedule to make sure you’ll do these actions; the energy that comes with the inspiration has an expiration date. So use it while it’s there. Create time to plan that meeting, write that blog post, do that experiment etc. Don’t underestimate this. Getting inspiration is easy, but actually doing it (the transpiration) is a lot harder.

Most important insights in designing for inspiration:

–         Change your environment
–         Go short and go frequent. After 3 days you’ll have enough inspiration for the coming weeks
–         Make sure to incorporate doing nothing to clear your mind (like the journey in this blog post)
–         Write your insights down and talk about them with other people

What can you add upon these ingredients?