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Mikael Eriksson Björling

Things that matters! About digital transformation, design, culture and lifestyle in the Networked Society

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5 key steps to creating an innovation mindset

mindset

If innovation is about developing something new that impacts the market and creates value for users – what is required to make that happen?

Innovation is a question of mindset, and creating that mindset precedes everything else. In my opinion, it’s the innovation mindset that overrides the aspects of human nature that are often holding back innovation in large organizations.

So, how do we create an innovation mindset?

1. Be open to change

To be open to change means to admit and embrace the notion that the world is in constant transformation and all areas of society are challenged by this change. It also means to be aware of where this transforming world is heading and to curiously keep track of change and new phenomena. Finally, it also means that you have to constantly keep analyzing what the transformation means and what the possible consequences of the transformation will be for your business.

Change is a tricky thing – we all have to deal with it and organizations are no different. Accepting the fact that technological transformation is about to impact your business is usually very hard for established organizations.

Let’s apply a light version of the Kübler-Ross Change Curve to this:kubler-ross-change-curve-768x401

Denial is a common reaction to new technology and new market forces that can potentially overthrow an organization’s incumbent business.

‘We’ve been doing what we do for many years: it has proven successful and if we just continue to deliver on our quality we will be back on track again. The newcomer does not even have a working business model and are financed by venture capital.’

Defense is the next stage in the Change Curve: a kind of anger or aggressive energy to defend one’s current business model. A prime example of this can be seen in the music industry when MP3 and streaming came along as new technologies, and established organizations tried to change laws and prosecute against their customers.

The next stage is depression, where an organization will begin lamenting the state of affairs. Only after this depression stage are they ready to accept the new market paradigm and start working towards managing and adapting to it.

In today’s fast-moving markets there is little time to dwell in the different stages of the Change Curve, as competitors and new market entrants are pushing forward while you’re in the first three stages. To be innovative, established businesses must learn to shortcut the Change Curve and go directly from shock (pre-denial) to acceptance, without dropping into any of the stages in between.

2. Embrace creativity

The other aspect of an innovative mindset is to truly embrace creativity. An innovator’s attitude is that creativity is the solution to problems, rather than a traditional scientific method. This argument is predominant among many of those who have successfully practiced innovation in the realm of daily business activities. The innovation-as-art perspective in business stems – to a large extent – from the concept of design thinking.

But importantly, to equate innovation with art doesn’t rule out the necessity of structure, processes and methodology for innovation. All these are required also when practicing the art of innovation. However, the innovation-as-art perspective stresses that the starting point for innovation is creativity, rather than implementation of management processes and organizational structures for innovation. Which, in turn, requires a certain kind of culture and organization that enables creativity. In this area, we see many digital companies positioning themselves. For example, Valve Software, who stress their flat organization and the freedom – and every employees responsibility – to be creative in everyday work in their company handbook.

3. Think big

Today, most academic researchers and experts on innovation agree that innovation is about more than just incremental improvements to existing products or product extensions.

This leads to the point that innovation requires an ability and the courage to think bigger and beyond the current norms and truths in the market. Innovation is about stretching one’s thoughts out of everyday ordinary thinking and analysis.

We’d argue that big thinking and innovation is a combination of analytical skills, entrepreneurial spirit and the ability to fantasize. Few individuals are blessed with all these capabilities, but a group of people – and certainly organizations – are well equipped to accommodate these capabilities under the same roof. This is also one of the reasons why a diverse organizational culture has emerged as a key prerequisite for innovation: diverse groups that combine skills and capabilities can accomplish big thinking more easily than homogenous groups that are likely to reproduce versions of similar thinking over and over again.

4. Show courage

Innovation doesn’t happen unless organizations and the innovators within them have the courage to constantly rethink how things can be done. It takes courage not to conform to widespread beliefs and popular “truths” in big organizations. It takes courage to challenge proven strategies and successful products and services before they go into decline. It takes courage to question management and colleagues for doing things the way they have always done. It takes courage to constantly problematize and be that one person who always goes against the grain and tries to think about things from a different angle. It takes courage to be vulnerable rather than playing it safe according to established business practice. It takes courage to venture into the new and uncertain, risking failure.

But all of the above is necessary to push innovation forward and to create an innovative climate in organizations. Because when has anything new ever happened unless someone dared to take that step into the uncertainty of the unknown? When I think about the courage needed to take that first step I always think about the guy that started a dance party at Sasquatch music festival. That is exactly how things can work in an organization as well.

5. Think and act fast

Innovation within an organization must be a fast-moving process to keep up with the change going on outside of the organization.

Twentieth century innovation was often a slow process, with long lead times from idea to concept, and concept to market. A lot of time usually went into extensive R&D. In the automotive industry, for example, the timeframe to invent, design and launch a new car model has been around eight years. But today, eight years is an eon in an automotive market that is transforming year by year. Potentially disruptive business models for auto manufacturing like Local Motors have proved that a new car can be dreamed up and launched in the market in 12 to 18 months, and with advanced 3D printing technologies and VR-aided design and manufacturing, that timeframe can probably be cut even shorter in the years to come.

To sum all of this up succinctly, there are five main ingredients to an innovation mindset. We need to be open to change, have a bias towards to creativity, an ability to think big, unrelenting courage to challenge the norm, and be characterized by speed of thought and action.

An organization with the desire to be innovative must think fast and apply a fast-paced innovation process with an efficient go-to-market roadmap. In this context, it’s also critical to adhere to the notion of “failing fast”, as new ideas and concepts have to be tested out quickly and be shut down just as quickly if they don’t fly. In this way, the organization can move resources to the next concept instead of getting stuck in a dead-end innovation project, because after all, the world’s next “big idea” is just around the corner.

Want to know more about how Ericsson works with an innovation mindset? Discover how real-time connectivity is fundamentally changing the way we innovate, collaborate, produce, govern and live sustainably.

For more Big Idea blog post visit: https://www.ericsson.com/thinkingahead/the-networked-society-blog/

 

Why is innovation the buzzword right now?

factory

What exactly is innovation? And how does it work in the business transformation context within ICT?

At Ericsson, we have talked about the fundamental digital transformation that is taking place across our entire society for many years, with particular focus on the new opportunities and challenges it brings.

This shift has matured recently: new businesses move from startup buzz to industry disruptor at lightning speed. Just take a look at the great impact on traditional businesses that companies such as Airbnb and Uber have had in their industries. This will only accelerate as more and more intelligence moves up in the cloud.

Just a short while ago, digital transformation was only on the agenda of the larger tech players. Now, it’s on everyone’s agenda. Businesses and organizations of all sizes in every industry understand that digital transformation is also affecting them and the way they do business both now and into the future. They are all aware that in this new world there might be a garage startup, either around the corner or on the other side of the globe, with ideas that will disrupt their current market by offering radically different propositions.

So, when there is awareness, what should traditional businesses and organizations do? Let’s begin by answering the questions I asked in the beginning of this post.

There are four different drivers in our innovation model, which you can see in the figure below:innovation-model-768x332

  • ‘Outside Drive’ (at the top) are areas outside of a company’s control. This could be changed laws or regulations, shifting consumer behaviors, or new disruptive technologies such as AI, VR or 5G.
  • ‘Inside Control’ (at the bottom) are areas a company can control, such as definition of their core business, consolidation, scale gain opportunities or maturing technology.
  • The left side of the model is evolution from where the business is today, to the right which is disruption.

To secure a good position in the future market of your business, you must be aware of what is happening in your broader industry related to the fields in the model. If we plot where innovation is happening, we can see that traditional businesses focus naturally on the left side of the model in value chain effectiveness and efficiency, while we often find the digital giants and startups on the right side of the model.

The lower left corner of the model is about using new technologies to innovate for better performance of current offerings. If we take the example of a car manufacturer, this could be using ICT to automate the flow and construction of cars in the factory. Basically: do what you do more efficiently than the competition. ict-cityview-768x440The upper left corner is about using ICT to innovate value chain efficiency and improve offerings to the current market. In the car industry, this is typically a connected car. Today’s connected cars are sold as any other car, but they make use of the connectivity to improve the offerings toward the car buyer. This could be to offer safety features like calling 112 automatically if an accident happens, or having built-in connected features like ‘find where I parked my car’.

Read the rest of this blog post at Ericsson Big Idea Blog

Converging Technology – Diverging Families

ESOMAR10 Year ago, we (Fredrik Öhrfelt, Mikael E Björling, Erik Kruse) submitted a paper “Converging Technology – Diverging Families” to ESOMAR. The paper was nominated to the ESOMAR award ”best research paper of the year”. The research we did 2006 was about technology usage in middleclass families in US, Sweden, and Spain. Well, is an understatement a lot of water has passed the bridge since this research was performed. This was pre- iPhone and Mobile Broadband, but interestingly many questions related to children’s usage is still the same today.

2006 not everything was published online, therefore I publish this paper again as it looked when it was printed in Resarch World.

Converging Technology – Diverging families (OhrfeltBjorlingKruse)

 

Design from the dot com era

I developed this IP telephony concept during the autumn 2000 for Ericsson Business Corporation. The work included doing the interaction design, graphical design, prototype development and usability testing. This was three years before the first version of Skype was launched 2003. The sound quality in the application was incredible good at the time. This at a time when most people used dialup modem to access internet and hardly anyone used a wireless access. Laptops was rare, and about 90+ % of the population in the developed world still had fixed line phones at home. In Sweden at that time about 40% of the population used internet at work at least on a weekly basis.

Personal_voicePersonal_voice_expanded

Mobile phone interface design from year 2000-2001

ER380

These design sketches are from about year 2000. Mobile phone screens still had black and green screens and this is seven years before the first Apple iPhone was launched. I still have my R380 in a box together with most other phones I have used.

I did these screen designs in a project where we wanted to update the Ericsson R380 phone interface to improve the user experience. This was one of the most advanced phones on the market, combining a mobile phone and a personal assistant.

default_closed  default_open
default screen portrait and landscape mode

phoneBook_closed  phoneBook_open
Contact screen portrait and landscape mode

Users could still not install their own applications on mobile phones. 2001 we wanted to add a navigation software called Personal Navigation Tool for which I designed the interaction design and the screen design. Below you can see the flow chart of the interaction design and some of the final screen designs for the navigation application.

PNT_interaction_design

favourites01find01efind06bfind10b

 

 

Say hello to the era of social business

post-1-siembraviva-768x373In our brand new report, The Social Business Era: Creating Impact and Influencing Change, we explore a new model for 2017 and beyond: The Social Business. This is a new type of company on the market that is out to challenge traditional ways of doing businesses.

The majority of companies operating today use profit as their main measurement, i.e. the business is judged by others (the market) with economic figures and the potential for growth. But things are changing.

post1-quote-768x212

It is no coincidence that social businesses have recently emerged and developed in the Networked Society. But why is this happening now?

  1. The ultra-capitalistic industrial society of the late 20th Century is now being questioned as a relevant model for a ‘good world’. At the same time, the state and traditional social institutions that are supposed to care for the welfare of citizens are failing people across the world.
  2. New generations growing up with mobility, broadband, and internet access are now entering the arena of social issues. They are also used to things moving quickly, getting things done right away, and seeing direct impact. They experience frustration with old ways of doing things and the slowness and inefficiencies of institutions to accomplish any real change.
  3. The necessary technology is already in place. Today, we have technology platforms, digital tools, and social networks available for free or at a low cost, which makes it possible for people to start something without the need for large investments or technological skills.

How do we define The Social Business?

  1. No dividends allowed. “A non-dividend company that is created to address and solve a social problem”.
  2. Focus on intent and output: “An organization formed by one or more people whose commercial activities are primarily driven by the desire to create positive social change”.
  3. A broad, pragmatic approach: “A business whose primary intent is to create social impact and that uses revenue streams to become financially sustainable in order to further that impact”.

Create positive impact…who wouldn’t want to do that?

In my next post for the Networked Society blog, I will take a look at the main differences between traditional and social businesses.

Read more about this report at Ericsson Networked Society site

Related: The Social Business Era: Creating Impact and Influencing Change

 

Intelligent medicine: the future of health

The Swedish American Life Science Summit, held August 21 – 23, had many interesting presentations and discussions about various topics across the life science sector, such as Innovative Healthcare Delivery Models and Creating a Digital Health System.

At the event, I presented Ericsson’s vision of the Networked Society and some of the concepts that could be realized today if we utilize the possibilities we have within connectivity and networking.

Here are a few examples:

The Doctor in a Box is a device that you can either have in your home or that can be brought to you by a home Samaritan, relative or friend. It offers distant healthcare and video conferencing with real doctors for daily/weekly checkups like blood pressure and a simple blood test to see that you are fine and that the medications you take are working well.

The “Doctor in a Box Program” aims to make it easier to get medical assistance, by simultaneously reducing the pressure on the health care system.

Intelligent Medicine Jar acts together with the Living Tray ( an app running on the tablet that connects with the medicine jars), and displays live, up-to-date information on the outside packaging. You are identified with fingerprints, so no one can take the wrong medicine. The packaging is secure, keeps track of your consumption and dispenses only the right amount of pills. If the patient combines medicines that are negative to each other it will send a warning.

Fast line traffic management is an advanced traffic logistics system, providing real-time information through its network. This enables green lights along the route of emergency vehicles and directs traffic flow effectively in rush hour. This reduces the risk of collisions and shortens travel time in matters of emergency, saving lives for patients and reducing risk in traffic.

To learn more, view my presentation on SlideShare or look at the Networked Society blog 

Social life of the young – same needs, different tools

When I was young, dating – or at least trying to date – consisted of slipping a note into a girl’s locker, or shuffling nervously towards her to ask her out with my friends offering humiliating support in the background.

Today it’s much simpler. Ericsson’s ConsumerLab report, Social Life of the Young, looks into how US teenagers are using technology in their social lives. What it shows is that a few text messages can test the temperature of a girl’s interest without you having to suffer the humiliation of your friends’ encouragement. Texting also allows you to communicate with your circle of friends during class or in the privacy of your family home.

Back in the day, walking around school holding your girlfriend’s hand was proof that the relationship was “official.” In today’s technology-driven society, and with Facebook being the highlight of a teenager’s online life, changing your status to “in a relationship” is now seen as the official announcement to your friends.

Read the full post at the Networked Society blog >>>

Changing the way business is being done

How can business and the public sector adapt to – and utilize – the power of creative people?

In the latest Ericsson Business Review, I wrote an article about the game changers – the creative and entrepreneurial individuals who are bringing their innovations to global social networks and letting the public access their ideas, participate in them, or buy their products.

Previously, established corporations used to create consumer demand. Now, they are increasingly being challenged by the “game changers,” who often come up with the most attractive product concepts – changing the way business is being done.

There have always been creative and entrepreneurial individuals. Some of them have made names for themselves, started up businesses or become artists or corporate stars. But more often, they have nurtured their creative sides and entrepreneurial drive only in the seclusion of their own private sphere, as hobbies and garage projects. But this is no longer the case.

The internet holds digital content from all industries and simple communication tools, such as social media, spread this content to everybody, cutting transaction costs for distribution and communication to close to zero. The creative individual no longer has to make the leap that is required when starting up a business to participate in the market. Their projects are available to the market simply because they exist online, whether they were intended for commercial use or not. The presence of individuals’ content in what used to be commercial market categories, most notably newspapers, the music industry, TV and books, is turning the traditional market logic upside down. Read the full article at the Networked Society blog

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