Manual Flipped: How Bottom-Up Co-Creation is Replacing Top-Down Innovation

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It may, however, be equally hard to find people who agree on how we might go about pursuing these goals. Even the terminology around creativity and innovation can be somewhat confusing, with various terms being used in an overlapping and contradictory way. What does one mean when talking about creativity?


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How about innovation? As these concepts. Remote working is on the rise, with nearly and what we mean by them.

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Ideas and inventions a fifth of the entire workforce reporting working at are the staring points that can be developed into in- least occasionally from home in the US and Finland novations. An idea is a thought for example5. There increased information ness or leap included within it. In- the US alone7. They are ideas or inventions that have Working in these volatile and uncertain conditions, been successfully implemented. Typically defini- centrally anticipating and planning actions becomes tions require innovations to have been successfully unviable8. Even the best prepared plan will fall short introduced to the market and to have been a repeated sooner or later, requiring initiative to achieve success source of success.

The road from initial ideas to in- whether one is acting as a president or a call center novations is long and anything but straightforward. Invention ideas, improving idea development and advancement practices, or fine-tuning implementation. Trying to achieve these can be a puzzling task. Not only are the challenges that we are facing growing in complexity, but so are the arrangements to pursue them. Knowledge work is increasingly conducted. Organizations far too often rely on a few star players.

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The dominant rhetoric has long focused on individuals that both generate ideas and push them towards realization, instead of understanding the collective as the ulti-. While individual heroic veloping eventual innovation output. Sooner or later these top per- ation methods by academics and consultants has formers will tire of the friction been much faster than research and quit their efforts or change on their effectiveness.

That said, Count on average organizations. Most of found to be more inefficient, both in terms of the us must make do with the average worker. However, quantity and quality of ideas, when compared to a this does not necessarily mean that we are worse off. Many examples of so-called average teams outper- This may not come as a surprise as the majority of forming a collection of top players can be found in us who have taken part in a brainstorming session business and sports alike. In order to harness this potential and to capitalize on the diversity found in In all honesty, how often have you organizations, creating and advancing new ideas generated a mind-blowing idea should be made not only possible but easy for the during a brainstorming session?

Further, ficiency of structured ideation, a study of with new generations demanding self-fulfillment companies14 indicated that a mere one percent of in their work11, effective and efficient processes for useful ideas originated in specific creativity sessions. Overall, only 24 From method madness to ingrained percent of ideas were reported to surface during habits actual work, while the majority manifested outside of work, while travelling, commuting, strolling in All too often it seems that organizations respond to nature, doing sports, and so forth.

In line with this, in the need to boost creative output on a more contin- a study of business travelers by Vanson Bourne uous basis by introducing various idea generation for Hewlett-Packard15, 56 percent of the respondents methods and techniques.

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While there is nothing reported getting their best ideas when outside of the wrong with idea generation methods, ideation office. While these studies have not been conducted sessions are only a small piece of the puzzle of de- with scientific rigor, they are indicative of the gen-. If brainstorming is so inefficient and the role of creativity methods in producing ideas is so insignificant, why are organizations—such as IDEO a highly prominent design agency16 —still promoting it so forcefully as part of their version of design thinking17?

And if it works at those organizations, why do studies often indicate that designers do not rely on brainstorming or other structured methods for producing ideas? Should we rely on methods in producing creative outputs at all? Several reasons for the ineffectiveness of group ideation have been identified in laboratory studies, such as social inhibitions e.

While these hold true, research conducted in context, rather than on fictional tasks in laboratory settings, has shown that group ideation has advantages above and beyond the actual ideas produced at that precise point in time These benefits include building motivation and commitment as well as the efficient dissemination of knowledge. Our studies in design agencies suggest that routinely undertaking ideation seems to have made it into a skill within organizations, leading to the sessions being more productive.

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Rather than relying on structured methods of specifically organized ideation sessions, many designers seem to mainly engage in ad-hoc ideation next to their work stations and, for example, on coffee and cigarette breaks20, as depicted in this. If I bump into any of the other smokers on the way, I ask for them to join me. Producing something visual or tangible often gets other designers interested and spontaneously involved in discussion, reflection, and ideation.

The reality presented by many studies of design in practice stands in stark contrast to the extensive amount of structured methods and tools intended to facilitate creativity. There is a definite appeal to methods and straightforward, easily communicated approaches that come with a promise of ensuring novel and useful ideas. While for an ideation session, the accumulated evidence seems to suggest that any decent method properly applied is likely to be better than no method at all21, a single method or even mastering a host of creativity methods are far from being enough to ensure creative outcomes, specifically in a complex social or organizational setting.

It is evident that the methods are not going to be the miracle cure but they do have their place in the big picture. A more holistic approach is needed to drive attempts to realize the innovative potential of organizations. This is what we have aimed to achieve with our take on co-creation in the Design Factories across the globe—find core considerations to take into account in local adaptations of promoting development efforts.

While solutions may differ dramatically on the surface level, they often address similar root issues that we have noticed in both theory and practice. Maintaining constant levels of proactive innova- The change-promoting nature of co-creation is tiveness in volatile, dispersed environments is a reflected in its etymological roots.

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The etymology daunting task that no single method could claim to of cooperation points to the Latin words con opersolve. Alas, we too have to admit our inability pro- ari, operating together without the specification vide a satisfying answer. However, based on our of form or target , and collaboration points to con experiences in the diverse Design Factory network laboro, which has a more concrete tone2 but still community, we have come to see that reflecting on lacks a reference to what results from this activity. How do we inspire people process into a new creation.

It builds on collaboto engage in development efforts? To persist on the ration, taking it a bit further: While collaboration long path of turning ideas into reality? In seeking an- tangible output, co-creation by definition results in swers to these questions, we have come to embrace a shared creation, whether it is a material object or a holistic development approach that we call pas- something immaterial such as a service, a musical sion-based co-creation. Rather than being a method, piece, or a new process.

To benefit Factories. While the activity and Simply put, co-creation is from others expertise people immersed in it are typithe process of creating somecally simply referred to as design in doing so? In our view, and designers, holding a general co-creation could be described as having three ba- notion about a designer or design as a discipline sic elements: collaboration, development action, might not be justified.

It is evident that design as and the resulting creation.


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Formal cooperation both a discipline and profession is not uniform but or coordination is not sufficient. Rather, all of the rather denotes a wide variety of design fields and involved stakeholders are active contributors. Furthermore, the activities that could be Stakeholders are perceived as equal, in contrast encompassed under the umbrella of design are in to the asymmetrical settings in many well-estab- flux4 and constantly expanding. This is seen in the lished collaborative development approaches.

For surfacing of new distinctively named design disciexample, while user-centered design and employee plines. The numerous disciplines of design include involvement programs encourage involving users or fields as varied as mechanical engineering design, employees, they are still clearly designer- or man- software design, architectural design, urban planager-driven. Co-creation aims for working together ning, industrial design, furniture design, graphic towards a mutually desired goal on more equal terms.

Our approach is not specific to any discipline of design but draws from and is applicable to various fields and their intersections. We share the bias for action ethos of the Stanford d. Co-creation often includes several different types of stakeholders, taking advantage of their wide array of perspectives and areas of expertise. This can manifest, for example, in utilizing multidisciplinary development teams and conducting parts of the development process together with customers and end-users. Co-creation as a concept highlights the dynamic nature of development interaction and is often marked by its informal nature.

In addition, co-creation emphasizes acting over planning, being an iterative, hands-on approach to development. Experimentation and the abundance of prototyping and visualizations can be seen as distinctive and. In practice, it is important to provide a wide variety of materials for prototyping and illustration since while professional designers can easily illustrate their ideas with pen and paper, other stakeholders often need other kinds of materials in order to be able to do the same.

Approaching the innovation process from the perspective of the skills needed in co-creation, rather than development process skills in general, provides the benefit of being able to specify the required behaviors and practices in more detail. Co-creation operationalizes the challenge at hand into a more manageable set of questions to address. We think of these skills as the interface to domain skills: Even the best processor can be next to useless without a working interface.