A hands-on approach to innovation
If you happen to find yourself in the jungle, face to face with a tiger, your brain quickly jumps to one obvious solution: get out of there without being eaten. That, according to Christine Hamblin, Atlantic Innovation Lead at Accenture’s Outpost at Volta, is how our brains work out most solutions to problems.
“A lot of people will identify a problem – which is awesome – but then just say, ‘Oh, this is an easy solution to it,’ so they go to their first instinct,” Hamblin said. “You’re not going to sit and think about all the different ways to get away from a tiger, you’re just going to try to get away.”
And rightly so, if your life’s on the line.
But, where it’s safe to say that most business leaders aren’t running through the jungle looking for inspiration, they still, too often approach their business solutions in the same way they face that proverbial tiger – focusing on one solution based on their knee-jerk response to it, and then run with it as a business concept.
“As humans, that’s how we solve problems … That is how our brain actually processes problems; we identify a problem, then a solution, then call it a day,” Hamblin said. “But unfortunately, with solutions to problems, we’re only looking at it from our perspectives.”
Every so often this may work, Hamblin explained, but there are better, more efficient ways to reach a well-rounded solution. Researching and ruminating over the problem is the first step.
“Getting out and talking to people is key,” she said. “Really being passionate about the problem, rather than the solution, so you’re more willing to change and pivot if it’s not working for you is important, especially if the people out there aren’t saying it’s a good solution.
When you have a solid understanding of the situation, applying different styles of thinking can add significant value to your proposed solution; you may uncover unique customer insights, and enhance the product development process.
That’s where Accenture’s Innovation Outpost at Volta comes into play. The Accenture Outpost formally opened its doors in January, to coach organizations to apply the principles of design thinking, embrace innovation in the workplace, and effectively communicate the organization’s vision or story, among other topics.
Hamblin, who holds two undergraduate degrees from the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand – one in biomedical science and the other in commerce, as well as a Master of Technology, Entrepreneurship and Innovation from Saint Mary’s University here in Halifax, teaches the various workshops at Volta. The sessions range from short discussions and half-day seminars to multi-day workshops, covering topics such as Design Thinking, Selling and Creating Customer Value, Corporate Innovation Assessments, and Innovation Basecamp, to name a few.
“I am all about hands-on learning. With experiential learning, I feel like people learn more from it and will retain more if they put it to use, so we make sure there’s a lot of exercises and work to be done within the classes, rather than me lecturing to people,” she said, adding that this way, as soon as they finish the sessions, they can immediately apply their learnings.
“I’ve always had a particular love of service design and co-design, so working with clients to create their solutions, rather than just handing them a solution is great.”
With Accenture’s Innovation Outpost still serving as a fairly new solution to the Volta community, Hamblin is practicing what she preaches, by thoroughly understanding the experiences and problems business leaders face, and iterating on her program offerings to keep them fresh and relevant to the rapidly changing innovation ecosystem in Atlantic Canada.
As for a favourite workshop or seminar to teach, Hamblin said she leans toward the storytelling ones.
“We need visionaries to lead companies, and so, it’s all about selling your vision and selling your story, and that’s why I really like it because it is of value to the local economy.”
To register for an upcoming workshop, visit Volta’s Eventbrite page.