An innovation process begins with taking stock on the situation at hand, and defining the issue that needs work. This might be a challenge, or simply a theme around which a new product might emerge. It is vital at the beginning of the innovation process to ensure that the group you are working with can see the whole picture. They need to see the business as a system, and apply systems thinking when generating ideas to meet the challenge or develop a theme.

To get everyone on board with this and train them to see a system as a whole instead of seeing it in parts, I use a glass with some water in it. After all, a glass which is half full is also half empty at the same time. Why do we focus on half the image when the whole is so much more accurate and informative? Our view and experience of that glass is so much richer when we allow ourselves to look at the whole thing. Seeing the whole glass provides you with additional information, perspectives and context.

We then repeat this exercise using the business as the glass of water… we look inside, outside, around the through it. We wonder if it is even water inside of that glass, and when we get to the innovation challenge or theme, everyone is much better at starting out with a systems-based approach.

For more about this idea, please read the following LinkedIn article.