"Vision Without Action...Is Just a Dream.
Action Without Vision...Just Passes the Time.
But, Vision and Action...Can Change the World."
Why didn't Philips' Visions of the Future turn into winning products? They created a VoF website in 1995 and a book. The original site is long gone but their is a trace here. I downloaded some of the illustrations.. the red and black models shown above and combined with emotive experience pictures... as shown in the book :
I mounted the resulting picture, without explanation.. as people came into the office (door always open) they would ask "What is it" and I would say it is an evocative fragrance device... when you activate it there is a waft of your favourite perfume and it plays a little movie clip of a moment that you associate with the fragrance." "Can we do it?" would be a common response. "Not yet I said, " but we will be able to soon!"
After a year or two we could see how to do it and we built a model that reflected our own market sector, showing what was possible.
The extract below comes from original website reproduced in Social Trends and Product Opportunities: Philips Vision of the Future Project (link)
These multimedia products are designed to be given as special presents. They have a small screen, a loudspeaker and a scent compartment. Emotional Containers come in various versions to allow people to choose the one they feel would be most appropriate to give. The products are made of rich materials and are meant to last and be cherished by the recipient. Emotion Containers offer a more sensory way of giving. They are attractive on two levels: as objects in their own right, and as carriers of messages of special significance. The future could be that you're watching an old movie 'Casablanca' and you remember your best friend with whom you went to see the movie many times. Instead of calling him up and leaving him a message, you send him 30 seconds of your favourite scene from the movie.
To turn these experiential stories into products means co-creating a vision with all the people who can actively or passively affect the direction and outcome of the project, and then generating ideas and planning actions that will deliver the vision as a product, service or combination of both.
“Dream your dreams,
for your goals are merely your dreams,
propelled by your determination
and guided by your network.”
From Masters of Networking by
Ivan R. Misner & Don Morgan
If we have a reductive funnel or stage-gate innovation framework then our idea will more often than not be seen as too radical, and anyway the project lists for this year have been selected... try again at the end of the year. No wonder we give up or go elsewhere, or just inspire someone elsewhere to make it real. Certainly I saw this happen with ideas that were regarded as a "bit too far" which is often equivalent to "NIH". Also people feel threatened by transforming ideas... after all they might actually transform! So I guess maybe that involving the business groups in blue-sky thinking can be fun for a while but we then go back to our day-job and forget what we have learned. Is this what happened then... in Philips? in my own organisation?
We were in the throes of embedding an inn ovation funnel into the business whilst also adopting EQFM as an overall business approach; our focus was on getting fewer projects out into the marketplace rather than crowding our funnel. So being more transforming in our project choice was not so high on the agenda. As the emphasis switched our leadership team created these models, incremental funnel on left and a transforming whirlwind on the right:
which we characterised as:
So moving to designing and developing transforming products and services meant another transformation. The organisation tried one or two projects in-house for which we did some of the packaging and realised we needed to almost ignore the funnel structures we were currently building.. ok for efficient delivery of our necessary incremental activity... lousy for more radical ideas. As we were looking at transforming ideas that played to our strengths... top-right quadrant of this matrix we needed to collaborate outside of the system.. this leads to a paradox as there are two well known definitions of collaborate:
Any "shadow" team will try to live the first but their work colleagues may perceive the second. Rituals is an example of a venture that started as a "shadow" collaboration. This led to the setting up of a venture organisation to fund more radical ideas. MiLife is one example of a ventured idea and is a result of Unilever's 21st century mission: to add Vitality to life. As the site states:
Our mission is to add Vitality to life. We meet everyday needs for nutrition, hygiene and personal care with brands that help people look good, feel good and get more out of life.
So how does this help Philips...What is their equivalent of Vitality... the vital signs of which were emerging from VoF. Maybe like Unilever who tried a Path to Growth strategy in the first years of this century... top down doesn't work. Although my (design process and technology) group were used to transformative behaviour we were the exception to the rule (what rule? The one that says keep your head down and the senior management wwill move on and the initiative will whither.). I would guess Philips at this time had a similar challenge. There is a gap between transformative thinking in the design services and transformative behaviour in business groups that they are attempting to bridge.. but it does mean change.. which is hard; after all Mercedes did not take the SMART car fully into the organisation until it was launched with a new form of value chain put together by SWATCH...
["Don't you understand the meaning of collaboration?"
Picture uploaded by Carolyn Coles. Used with thanks under CC.]
so there were patterns of success before they were fully on board with the concept.... Change isn't easily as it is a cultural thing... which takes time and sustained, focused effort... hard to maintain radical behaviour and do incremental innovations simultaneously.