Innovation Is About Keeping Our Options Open

4 visions of innovation with Censhare’s Dieter Reichert

Innovation is on everyone’s lips except that what we see is hardly what we get. For innovation is, primarily, a matter of vision. Technology is nice and it travels fast, but what is it to us who can understand so little about it? It’s as if we, modern day Frankensteins, had invented new creatures and as they come to life, we barely understand what is going on. As the frightful Swiss in awe with his newborn wretch, we run around like headless chickens, trying to embrace these new technological objects of ours or merely trying to survive them. What if the answer were in the hands of the Indians of an obscure tribe in a Mexican desert? I tried to find out while interviewing Dieter Reichert, CEO and founder of Censhare, a worldwide software house set to redesign the way we handle information. And God knows there is a dire need for this.

Visions of Innovation can be found in the way native Americans perceive the world around them, Reichert says
Visions of Innovation can be found in the way native Americans perceive the world around them, Reichert says

Dieter came to visit me some time ago. We had decided I would interview him about software and we came to talk about his background and experience. Talking with entrepreneurs is always a fascinating experience. One gets to understand how they innovate, how they lead their business in their daily lives, how they overcome whatever obstacles they encounter. This is a very worthwhile experience, especially when you are are yourself an entrepreneur. Talking to Dieter for a few minutes, I realised that our interview would be on a totally different level. His was not the experience of an average businessman, but a real journey through life, deeply rooted in experiments. Well, all kinds of experiments, so to speak.

Vision of innovation 1: don’t do what’s expected of you

Dieter started in a way that wouldn’t appeal to most Parents, by flunking school at the age of 18. He wasn’t “cut out for that”, he admitted. By “that”, he meant reading books, and learning with a teacher locked up in a schoolroom. He was one for larger spaces, he fled to India. There he learned Yoga, then became a teacher and eventually, got bored, because “not much happens in India” he said. Not one for contemplation, Dieter, but much of a rolling stone.

He left India soon after that to live among Mexican tribespeople. Columbus had mistaken them for Indians and named them after others, Dieter went on to live with them. He liked it a lot. In actual fact, living with them shaped his vision of life and innovation. His vision of time and understanding the cosmos. He thinks he can understand innovation better than us because of this. This is a life-shaping experience, not just any kind of experience.

So here went Dieter, from adventure to venture, from the Mexican Indians to the creation of an events organisation setting up symposiums with the Dalai Lama and other celebs, then to the creation of a drugs rehab centre, all the time working with and for Apple. Meditation being the link between these things, most probably. “Think different” is certainly a motto that Dieter could live with. For he is a very different kind of person.

Vision of innovation 2: one day, computers will be less dumb

I liked his views on IT too. It’s true that computers aren’t that smart. This is an understatement. The more we are sold new versions of AI and self-driving cars, the more we have to reboot our machines, circumvent bugs and even live without the features one used to enjoy (where has the old Phatware ICR – intelligent character recognition – feature in our year 2000 PDAs gone?) They are just miniaturised versions of their bulky elders, even though we have gone quite a long way from the prehistory of IT, I readily admit.

Yet, exactly 26 years ago to the day, I was tip tapping away on a computer just like the one I have now in front of me. It’s true I was one of the happy few to be equipped with a laptop computer, its battery life was not going beyond 1 hour and a half and it was black and white (two years later I pawned it in exchange for a brand new colour Zenith PC). Having said that, it was a PC nonetheless, with an older but reasonably functional version of Office by Microsoft. Not much less powerful than the ones we have now and certainly less bug-ridden.

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Disruption explained in a few hundred words

Whether in Silicon Valley, or basically anywhere else in the world, people talk about ‘disruptive innovation’ or simply ‘disruption’. Do they really know what it means? Or they are just trying to follow that new trend, and fit in the ‘innovation world’? Actually, knowing what disruption means makes you more sophisticated than just randomly using the word. This is why this article is a must-read.

What is disruption?

You should thank Clayton Christensen, of Harvard Business School for this “new” term. He used it in his book “The Innovator’s Dilemma”, to describe innovations that created new markets by discovering new categories of customers. I believe that these two words are losing their serious aspect, and are becoming more of “buzzwords”, that a lot of people use on social media. Indeed, the word was mentioned more than 2,000 times in articles last year. But a lot of people still get it wrong.

There are two types of “innovators”: those who simply work to improve existing products (this is what we call ‘sustainable innovation’). And those who invent new products, creating new markets. And these are called ‘disruptive innovators’.

Let’s go back in time, when people used to go from one place to another in horse carriages. Back then, “innovators” obviously tried to find ways to make the horses go from point A to point B faster. Until the first automobile was invented. New markets were created. Also, new needs and demands had to be served. So, in other words, new business models had to be put in place. As a matter of fact, disruption is a process, not just a product or a service offering, like a lot of people might believe.

This gives you a clearer picture of what a “disruption” or a “disruptive innovation” is. It is a new way of exploiting old or existing technology, to create something pioneering.

sustainable vs disruptive innovation
There is a fine line between sustainable innovation and disruptive innovation

What is uberization

Uber, the multinational online taxi dispatch company, is the first example that comes to one’s mind when talking about ‘disruption’.

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Digital nomads: combining work and travel

Not a long time ago, we’ve all heard about the blogger Sam Cookney who lived in Barcelona and worked in London. This sounded like a weird thing to do. However, a lot of people have that exact same lifestyle today. Indeed, there is an increasing number of digital nomads. If you type these two words on any search engine, a huge list of posts, stories and testimonies will roll out in front of you. As the name suggests, digital nomads are individuals who use technology and telecommunications in order to live and work independently, in a nomadic manner. Let us discover and understand this new phenomenon further.

Digital nomad: a new type of traveller

Technology and telecommunications are at the basis of this new phenomenon. Indeed, the Internet has created a new definition of ‘work’. It has revolutionized the traditional 9-5-job routine. Focusing on one’s career is not an excuse anymore to say no to travelling. Thanks to the huge digital development that happened in the last decade, a growing number of digital nomads are now independent, and are able to work from anywhere. Even teams are successfully leading this lifestyle.

So, in other words, digital nomads are travellers who can work from anywhere in the world. These people are not dependent or constraint to any location, or any cubicle space anymore. Whether it is in an exotic destination like Bali, or a big city like Barcelona, digital nomads found an efficient and productive way to combine work and travel. Is this perfection?

digital nomad
The digital nomad’s lifestyle combines the best of both worlds : work and travel

What’s the coolest place to live and work in?

Every now and then, people publish lists of the coolest offices in the world. One could say that digital nomads have the best and the coolest office, which is composed of all the different Read more

Technology changes our behaviour

David Shing, also known as Shingy, is a digital prophet. His job is to identify trends for brands, audiences and companies at large. He spoke at the SAS Forum 2015 which took place in Paris on November 5 2015. He delivered a great presentation. Right after the show I had the chance to ask him a few questions..

You are a digital prophet. Could you explain this term to us?

The idea is to look at the trends, to still them down from the industry for brands, for clients, for companies and for the industry itself.

So, you work for AOL. But people probably don’t always know what AOL is about now.

You are absolutely right. They don’t necessarily have to know about the core brand of AOL. They know about services and some of the brands I work with; such as Huffington Post and Engadget. There is some science that we own; people call them ‘love brands’. Within our industry, our job is to bring people to brands and brands to people. AOL Inc. is an organization that classes together all brands that actually deliver these ad solutions. And that is the idea of brands to people, people to brands.

You delivered an amazing and very inspirational pitch this morning, in which you said “technology changes our behaviour; it does not change our needs”. What do you mean by that?

Technology is something you are holding that has changed your behaviour. In fact, I saw a photography piece done recently: an artist who had taken out the divisors to see how people’s behaviours have changed. The result is amazing! We’ve had these touch screen devices for less than about 10 years now, and look how our behaviours have changed. I was thinking about it yesterday: I have all these photographs of people that are completely not interacting and they’re missing actual connection because they think they’re connecting elsewhere. We have a generation of people that are head down. We’re going to end up with some sort of syndrome
I’m sure! But this is almost a disconnection; that’s changing the behaviour of what we are
doing. Now does it change our need? No, we still need to connect. So a younger generation is actually connecting more digitally at physical events like sporting, because they still have a need to connect. They’re just doing it differently now, they’re doing it digitally.

You mentioned something that really struck my mind as well: “the current generation has more to do with their grandparents’ generation that they have with their parents”, how can you explain that?

The values that they have are definitely more in tune  with the grandparents’ generation. They understand consciousness, they understand things like organic and eco. Read more

How far can your Twitter bird chirp?

They say “word travels fast”, but today, it can travel the world in a few clicks. Have you ever wondered where your 140 characters on Twitter fly to? I recently re-activated my twitter account. I’ve been sharing and retweeting quite a lot of content with people from all around the world. Indeed, people from different origins follow my account now. Thus, making me curious to know where my followers come from. When I asked myself this question the other day, I decided to try different tools available online. These tools are as practical as scary. I decided to try and compare some of them. Let’s discover what different features they offer.

Mapmysocial:

Mapmysocial is a tool that allows a social media user to map their Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Foursquare followers. It gathers followers’ profile pictures and positions them on the world map. This map can be then shared on social media in 2D or 3D. The use of this application is totally free. There is no obligation to follow mapmysocial on any platform, or publish a promotional post. All you have to do is sign in on the platform, through the mapmysocial website. This authorizes the website to access some of your account’s information.

Twitter map my social
www.mapmysocial.com

Tweepsmap:

Personally, I found this second tool to be great. It allows Twitter users to map their followers – even to a city level-, to observe their followers’ trending topics, and explore keywords (hashtags). This is useful to analyze further the engagement and effectiveness of a digital activity on Twitter. It also helps Twitter users to Read more