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Disruptive Ideas – Mastery in Forecasting

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Mon, Jan 8, 2018

Outthinker logo.pngHow do we expand our ability to make good decisions to create, disruptive innovation, ideas to give you a competitive advantage?

The Outthinker Process Kaihan Krippendorff outlines, and which Positioning Systems is working with our customers on, follows principals Adam Grant outlines for original thinking in his book Originals.

In Develop Disruptive Innovation – Step One: Generate Lots of Ideas, we shared the first principle in creating disruptive innovations.

You need to create lots of ideas!


The best way to get better at judging our ideas is to gather feedback. Put a lot of ideas out there and see which ones are praised and adopted by your target audience.

user-feedback-stamp.jpgWhen Dean Kamen developed the Segway, he didn’t open the door to feedback. Concerned someone would steal his idea, or that the fundamental concept would become public too soon, he maintained strict secrecy rules.

Conviction in our ideas is dangerous not only because it leaves us vulnerable to false positives, but also because it stops us from generating the requisite variety to reach our creative potential.

As we gain knowledge about a domain, we become prisoners of our prototypes.

Neither test audiences nor managers are ideal judges of creative ideas. They’re too prone to false negatives; they focus too much on reasons to reject an idea and stick too closely to existing prototypes.

Mastery In Forecasting

In Justin Berg’s (A Google research collaborator) study of circus acts, the most accurate predictors of whether a video would get liked, shared, and funded were peers evaluating one another.

When artists assessed one another’s performances, they were about twice as accurate as managers and test audiences in predicting how often the videos would be shared. Compared to creators, managers and test audiences were 56 percent and 55 percent more prone to major false negatives, undervaluing a strong, novel performance by five ranks or more in the set of ten they viewed.

forecast-reality-road-sign-xs.jpgCreators were more open to different kinds of performances—they saw potential in peers who did aerial and ground acrobatics,

Instead of attempting to assess our own originality or seeking feedback from managers, we ought to turn more often to our colleagues. They lack the risk-aversion of managers and test audiences; they’re open to seeing the potential in unusual possibilities, which guards against false negatives. At the same time, they have no particular investment in our ideas, which gives them enough distance to offer an honest appraisal and protects against false positives.

When we evaluate new ideas, we can become better at avoiding false negatives by thinking more like creators.

Berg asked over a thousand adults to make forecasts about the success of novel products in the marketplace.

He randomly assigned half of the participants to think like managers by spending six minutes making a list of three criteria for evaluating the success of new products. This group then made the right bet on a novel, useful idea 51 percent of the time. But the other group of participants was much more accurate, choosing the most promising new idea over 77 percent of the time. All it took was having them spend their initial six minutes a little differently: instead of adopting a managerial mindset for evaluating ideas, they got into a creative mindset by generating ideas themselves. Just spending six minutes developing original ideas made them more open to novelty, improving their ability to see the potential in something unusual.

Thinking like creators and then donning the manager hat dropped their forecasting accuracy to 41 percent.

When Berg reversed the order, so that they made a list of evaluation criteria first and then generated ideas, their accuracy climbed to 65 percent. If we want to increase our odds of betting on the best original ideas, we have to generate our own ideas immediately before we screen others’ suggestions.

In Originals, Grant describes how the Seinfeld series got turned down and wouldn’t been a success, if not for the creative prowess of Rick Ludwin, whose experience in TV running variety shows, helped him to recognize the talent and possibilities the program had.

OUTTHINKER PROCESS: DISSECT – ANALYZEIDEAS-Framework From This to This (Outthink Competition).jpg

Intentionally or not, the Outthinker Process explores 5-8 different strategies looking to achieve a 4th Option for your business.  In each strategy your team is asked to identify 5 or more different ways your company can exploit this strategy.

We’ve explored some of these possible strategies in these blogs:

By asking your team to develop a minimum of 5 ideas you achieve two outcomes preventing innovative thinking.  You generate more ideas, and get your team thinking like creators.

Growth demands Strategic Discipline.

Positioning Systems helps mid-sized ($5M - $250M) business Scale-UP. We’re experts at helping you determine Your One Thing!  We help your leadership team learn best practices, like the Outthinker Process. To achieve growth, you need to evolve in today’s rapidly changing economic environment.  Are you avoiding a conversation with yourself on how to can grow your business? Contact to Scale Up your business! Take our Four Decisions Needs Assessment to discover how your business measures against other Scaled Up companies. We’ll contact you.

Put Your Worst Foot Forward.pngPut Your Worst Foot Forward – Next Blog

Imagine your new business is looking to attract venture capital for growth.  Then two years later you visit Disney to discover if they might be interested in buying your company. Do you share your strengths or your flaws? Rufus Griscom shared his flaws. In the latter case, Disney paid $40 Million for Griscom’s company. Four reasons its more effective to adopt Griscom’s form of powerless communication accentuating the flaws in your idea next blog.

Topics: strategy decisions, Adam Grant, Originals, OUTTHINK THE COMPETITION, Disruptive Strategies, Outthinker Process, Forecasting

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Doug Wick, President

Positioning Systems


The Strategic Discipline Blog focuses on midsize business owners with a ravenous appetite to improve his or her leadership skills and business results.

Our 3 disciplines include:

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