Viewing entries tagged
rapid ingenuity

When wrong thinking met pie, met someone who always says "Yes!"


When wrong thinking met pie, met someone who always says "Yes!"

There's never not a good time to give a shout out to Pam Dorr (a one woman embodiment of the Think Wrong Practices), and the amazing service she's given and continues to give in Greensboro, AL, through HERO.  This is a super video from CBS Evening News from 2013 that recognizes her, and the great work done in collaboration with John's Project M alumnae over the years.

If your feeling hot and find yourself in Greensboro this summer, make sure you stop into Pie Lab on Main Street for some iced tea and a slice of pie!


And the Pie Lab story keeps evolving—congratulations to Breanne Kostyk, who had the secret talent of liking pie, a talent that grew into Pie Lab, that is now no longer so secret, read here.


Blitz your way to an Outcome Jihad, or some Bad Ass Dads.


Blitz your way to an Outcome Jihad, or some Bad Ass Dads.

Last fall we worked with the Institute for Child Success in Greenville, South Carolina and their key partners to address a shared challenge "How might we disrupt the existing ways of doing things for children so that they and their families might have more opportunities for greater success in school and in life— earlier in their lives?"

The blitz set out to achieve the objectives:

  • Expand the reach of design thinking so more children in South Carolina—and beyond—can benefit from it.
  • Increase the number of people who understand and can apply design thinking to their challenges.
  • Engage the people who can affect policy and funding to bring design thinking to children.
  • Apply next-generation design thinking to improve childhood—and lifetime—success through the positive disruption of our education and healthcare systems.

Check out the video of the event, the ideas generated were legendary!


It’s All Google’s Fault.

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It’s All Google’s Fault.

There are tectonic changes happening that will eliminate hundreds of thousands of jobs, close factories and have a major effect on the global allocation of capital.

And you can guess from the title of this blog who I’m going to blame.

Google and those crazy autonomous vehicles

For those of us living in the San Francisco Bay area we’re used to sharing our gridlocked roads with fleets of self-driving cars while wishing we had one too. But it raises a question “What might happen when cars don’t crash?”

I’ll start my thoughts from the perspective of the P&C Insurance industry—in which I spent over a decade. In 2011 Bob Joop Goos, chairman of the International Organization for Road Accident Prevention stated, “More than 90 percent of road accidents are caused by human error.” So, what might happen to premiums if that risk were largely removed? Well. They’d fall. A lot.

For us consumers that’s great. There’s nothing like spending less on a product you hope to never use. But. It’s not so good for insurance carriers who generate revenue by investing the float created when you and I pay our bill every month. You see, insurance carriers pump a ton of capital through the markets. In 2013 auto insurance premiums in the US totaled over $207 billion. When a large chunk of that capital moves elsewhere people will notice.

Then there are the insurance brokers (in 2012 there were 443,300 of them) who make a commission from selling policies. You can do the math on that one: lower premiums=fewer brokers.

On the claims side there’s a big, direct supply chain that might substantively collapse. There are about 200,000 US auto claims adjusters and examiners—we won’t need many of those anymore. But that’s just the start.

There are the body shops, the parts and paint manufacturers, the tow companies, the wrecker yards, the car rental companies, the auto industry (3-4 million cars are declared total losses in the US each year—to put that in perspective Ford sold 2,480,942 vehicles in 2014). And all the auto industry suppliers down to the mining conglomerates who dig out the ores to make the metal, and the shippers who move it and the finished product to the dealers.

Then there’s the indirect, or unintended, supply chain that comes along with accidents and injury—the ambulance drivers, roadside safety providers, health care providers, physical and mental therapists, and so on who help those in the aftermath of collisions.

And, perhaps more obscurely, but not inconsequently, the software, technology and consulting companies who serve the insurance carriers and their supply chain will not escape unscathed by The Crashless Age.

You get the idea.

There are a lot of livelihoods involved here. When it comes to people and their cars human error is a huge industry.

The collateral damage from the rise of the self-driving car will be a shrunken insurance market and lower volume throughout its direct and unintended supply chain. Not all insurance carriers will survive, and there will be hurt elsewhere too.

This is not a matter of if, but when. The Crashless Age is nigh. Its inevitable disruption will offer amazing opportunities for those who are prepared to invest in new ventures, initiatives, and options that anticipate the future.

Our point of view: Nobody has better resources to take advantage of those opportunities, nobody can match their talent, their experience, their data, their insight, their channels, or their assets than those already active in the those industries. But it’s going to take a lot of wrong thinking to use those resources in clever, practical, and original ways.

And that’s where we can help.

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Thinking Wrong + Agile = True Love?


Thinking Wrong + Agile = True Love?

We were recently asked (again) if the Think Wrong Practices were inspired by Agile and Scrum methodologies.

The simple answer is “No.”

End of blog?


Since we keep getting asked, it’s probably worth taking a closer look at how they’re related.

Agile has its roots in software development, but today you can find people across organizations using it to run projects. Why has Agile taken hold? Because the big bets and risk-filled assumptions of traditional waterfall project management too often failed to deliver products and projects. Agile wins because it works.

Rapid Ingenuity has its roots in how designers are taught to solve problems—what has been coined as design thinking by IDEO and Stanford founder David M. Kelly. So, today you can find people across sectors and industries embracing design thinking to solve challenges where MBA thinking has failed to do so. Design thinking produces solutions—and results—that business problem solving orthodoxies cannot.

Many of the organizations who pioneered the broader use of Agile have stumbled upon a new challenge: “We’ve mastered the development and delivery of solutions, but we’re not where we want to be when it comes to conceiving game-changing innovations.”

To address this, engineering, product management, strategy, and innovation leaders have turned to design. They’ve spotted a useful overlap in the Agile/Design Thinking Venn diagram. One accelerates conception. The other accelerates execution.

And Thinking Wrong is next-generation design thinking.

Building on the foundation of design thinking, we’ve added a critical definition and three distinct practices:

Thinking Wrong
A key component of thinking wrong is ingenuity—Ingenuity is the clever, original, and practical use of existing resources to solve a challenge—fast.

This definition provides a helpful checklist for evaluating innovations:
Does your innovation make clever use of existing resources?
Does your innovation make original use of existing resources?
Does your innovation make practical use of existing resources?

The Be Bold Practice.
Be Bold focuses everyone on your challenge and how to make the most from taking it on. It helps you not only take users into account, but also the strategic aspirations of your organization and the people who show up every day to achieve those. Ultimately Be Bold challenges everyone to raise the bar on what’s possible. It’s a unifying practice that inspires and energizes your people, your partners, and the communities you serve through shared purpose and a compelling vision of impact.

The Let Go Practice.
Let Go deliberately breaks the heuristic biases and synaptic connections that result in the status quo and stand in the way of ingenious solutions. The Let Go Practice forces you to solve from a place you would never consider, ensuring solutions you could otherwise never imagine.

The Bet Small Practice.
Bet Small, inspired through our work with best-selling author Peter Sim’s (Little Bets), counters the fear that too often snuffs out new born ideas by applying Sim’s concept of affordable loss. So, rather than placing a massive bet on an unknown and untested idea (what the waterfall methodology was developed to manage), this practice generates a portfolio of small bets from which ingenious solutions can quickly learn, adapt, and evolve.

With its scrums, sprints, and frequent deliverables Agile offers a management approach ideally suited to producing the LFI (Learning From Investment) that Think Wrong’s Make Stuff, Bet Small, and Move Fast Practices are designed to produce.

So, while the honest answer to whether or not the Think Wrong Practices were inspired by Agile remains, “No.” It’s equally true that Agile and Thinking Wrong are kissing cousins.

If you use Agile—of any flavor—you might consider giving the Think Wrong Practices a try the next time you have a challenge that demands a game-changing solution.

Likewise, if you use the Think Wrong Practices and want to adopt an equally reliable set of practices to manage the execution of your portfolio of small bets you might consider bringing in an Agile pro or Scrum Master, regardless of whether your ingenious solutions demand software development.

When used together Agile and the next generation of design thinking yield even more ingenious outcomes.

Even faster.


What did those bloody interns ever do for us?


What did those bloody interns ever do for us?

What did those interns ever do for us in their two months mooching around the studio?

Apart from re-platforming our website, writing a one pager we’d struggled to get around to, participated in a Blitz that resulted in the conception, creation and distribution of 210 mailers to prospects… all hand made—of three different varieties. They only helped build a prototype of Faceball (the basketball literacy game), reformat our proposal documents, create new business cards, repackage and promote the Legend of the Green Watch, create a cardboard craft wall, plan, execute and document their own blitz, and hack a Cricket Trailer.

They sat on their collective ass and moped around visiting Pinterest, Google and Facebook… the d.School,, Not For Sale, Mork-Ulnes Design, Amazon Advertising, Volume, Lit Motors, Miramar Farms, the coastal redwood forest, The California Academy of Science and the California College of the Arts… and when they weren’t doing that they spent their time exploring the area, joining the local yoga sessions and volunteering with The Mission Continues (a fantastic organization that helps veterans serve their communities).

Apart from that—nothing!

They even had the nerve to fail to generate enough drama for us to initiate the reality TV show – The Mavs of San Mateo County… it was going to be spectacular.

Front coffee and El Gran Amigo will miss you, but don’t let the door hit you where the good Lord spit you on your way out.

In all seriousness, we were incredibly lucky to have our interns— The Future Mavericks—over the summer.  The office will be a quieter and less creative place without them. They have blazed a trial and set a high bar for all the Mavs that will follow. Along with previous Mavs and Project M alum they join an elite community that is hard to enter and impossible to leave.

To Anthony, Ehsan, Keir, Melina and Sam (and Shelly who had to leave too soon) a huge thank you for all of your hard work over the summer—don’t be strangers and remember Be Bold, Get Out, Let Go, Make Stuff, Bet Small, and Move Fast.

A heartfelt thanks, and see you all soon somewhere—keep thinking wrong.

John, Greg, Mike, Blanca, and Nani.

P.S. Roxy and Merv, say woof and thanks for all the pets and carries up the stairs.