Big Data, Creativity and Big Data, Insights from Big data, Innovative Solutions, Innovation Consulting

Big Data, Creativity and Big Data, Innovative Solutions, Innovation Consulting

Connie Williams, CMO and General Partner Synecticsworld

By Connie Williams

Big Data is one of the top business terms of the last couple of years. Of course, it refers to data that is too big to fit on single servers or spread sheets that is beyond the reach of conventional analytics. It has become the province of a new breed of “data scientists” and big consulting firms have jumped on the bandwagon. The value of Big Data, though, is not found through conventional analytics. It is not only big but also unstructured and flowing vs. static and with multiple streams, so it needs to be harnessed to find new value. The value comes from discovering insights about what can be exploited with a strong focus on exploration and innovative ways to use those insights.

So when one of our clients came to us recently, just shy of committing to one of the big consulting firms for a Big Data program, they expressed a need to “get beyond that analytical approach to ‘see’ something truly new in the initial exploration”.

So, we helped them take a completely fresh approach, working with senior staff across regions, divisions and functions. We helped them think both analytically AND creatively (approximately) in the initial think through.

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Here are 5 examples of successful Synectics Big Data workshop design elements we used that traditional consulting would likely never consider:

  1. Visualize:  Explore photos and pictures (from nature, art, abstraction, people, etc.) to get them to visualize data in a different way, bypassing those rational ‘get it right’ censors in our heads.
  2. Odd Pairing:  Employ constraints in an exercise called “Odd Pairings” to help them be more creative with familiar data combined with less familiar (we know that giving some restrictions helps people be more imaginative than just completely open ended approaches).
  3. Gap Identification:  Eschew current boundaries by having them express what information they wished they had that would help better execute the overall company strategy (where are the gaps of knowledge/data?) and work backwards to solve with Big Data.
  4. Imagine the Impossible:  Imagine they individually had powers of super heroes; then use those powers to help close the strategy gaps.  By having some fun with this unlikely exercise, taking small steps, they were able to see completely new possibilities.
  5. Insight Techniques:  Engage an “insight technique“ — what is hidden to us?” to play I Spy to elicit what has been unused or underutilized in terms of current data elements they are collecting but not necessarily capitalizing on.

To get the most from Big Data move beyond a purely analytical approach.  Be amazed, delighted, at your power to bring really new thinking to the Big Data surface.


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