Author Archives: Michael Graber

Practicing Innovation: An Inside Job

It is a heroic adventure being an innovation practitioner. To lead an organization to where it is ready to flex its culture, business model, practices, and management style requires the types of talents and skills that only metaphors can describe: the hunting instincts of a lion, the fortitude of a buffalo, the wisdom of an owl, and the patience of ...

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Once upon a Time, in Business

In business and daily life, we are wired for stories as a species. One creation myth begins by saying God created humans because he needed good stories. Stories bind us together, creating an emotionally connected narrative through which we make sense of the world. I want to share a Here’s What I Love About My Careerstory with you. The background is a co-creation session ...

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Healthy Dose of Amnesia

When doing both strategic planning and innovation work the biggest hurdles are your own experiences, world-views, and knowledge of the market and players in it. Sounds odd, I understand. You’ve worked hard to come to your understanding. Still, don’t trust it. These hurdles create blind spots, biases, and fatal assumptions. Don’t believe me. Look to the market for example after ...

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Poo as Good Business

Talk about nothing wasted. Behold the founding story, which reads more like a creation myth, of Poo~Pourri. A 40-year old woman from Jonesboro, Arkansas declares her second bankruptcy. Conventional “rules” of success did not work for her life. To heal she renounces the world of commerce and takes two-year spiritual quest, experimenting with alternative healing methods that included the lost ...

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Capitalism isn’t broken. It’s been high-jacked.

We live in tense times. In our era even seen systemic and corporate fraud at SkyTel, Enron, and others. We’ve watched our tax dollars bail out many of the largest banks and insurance companies. We’ve witnessed a huge economic shift that favors the very wealthy and minimizes the Middle Class. We’ve wondered why CEO pay has risen to the level ...

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Innovating Human Resources

If you boil down the function of Human Relations to logical extremes, you end up with polar opposites. On one hand, you have the traditional view of HR: a place to fill out all of your essential employee paperwork, ask questions about benefits, send out messages about birthdays, and a place to be heard if you have an issue with ...

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Extreme Collaboration

Collaboration, as a concept, can be used by those seeking control of a culture for their own purposes. If collaboration becomes a form of groupthink or censorship, watch out. I’ve seen many different professional cultures version of collaboration—and have left some feeling as if I were in a governmental public input meeting where very little actual input is allowed by ...

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The Bigger the Back End, The Stronger the Backlash

Be careful. When innovation gets real, people react in unpredictable ways. People whom you thought were forward thinking recoil in reactionary conservatism. Others are willing to move a step forward but vigilantly cautious. The more concrete you get in detail, the stronger the reaction you receive internally. The Back End of Innovation is where you host learning in-market pilots, where ...

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Belly Button Meeting Tips

We get hired to moderate and facilitate a lot of meetings. Sometimes they are annual strategic workshops. Sometimes they are customer co-creations. They range from strategy to innovation and every combination between the two poles. Some of the most telling is the meetings that explore a potential growth area for a business. Many organizations cannot summon the objectivity to lead ...

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