How To Change An Airplane Wing Whilst Flying Mid-Air Through An Electrical Storm

By Joe Coppard, Another Tomorrow

The globe is in a pretty crazy place right now. People, power and nature are shifting before our eyes in increasingly complex ways, whilst the internet is creating a 4th dimension upon which communication becomes omnipotent. The culmination of this: epic opportunities – but only for those organisations willing to embrace change.

“If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.” – Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric

But how are we meant to change our organisation whilst flying through an electric storm being attacked by virtual drone hawks?

The internal lab has become the go-to solution for organisational innovation. Its potent blend of nerd, hipster and biz creates an intoxicating ‘innovation experience’ but as the lab wave matures, a closer look shows that rather than disrupting the silo’d way of working, the lab itself becomes yet another. And that means it doesn’t create the sort of change today’s transformation requires.

Our cross disciplinary team have worked at Google Creative Lab, curated scores of hackathons and been building experimental things with technology for decades. Our collective learning has led us not to an agency, incubator or, indeed, a lab, but rather a process.

Prototyping as Process

Our process, called Sling spawned from three key learnings from years of work. 1. Creativity thrives on constraints. 2 . Cross-disciplinary collaboration creates breathrough ideas. 3. Doing is the best kind of thinking.

Once we combined these together, prototyping came out. For us prototyping is the vehicle we use to create breakthrough ideas during rapid interdisciplinary collaborations. As we are sitting in the midst of the digital revolution/ electrical storm, ideas to do with technology, communication and society are often the output.

A fish walks into a bar

What do a fisherman, behavioral scientist, game designer and a sustainability expert have in common? They, together with 10 more cross-disciplinary participants, spent two days at the Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences prototyping the future of cod fishing in the Baltic Sea. Quite a mouthful! And a truly transformative experience. After numerous heated discussions of policy, drones and data we, together, landed on a visionary idea that all agreed could transform the industry for good. We then packaged the concept in a video in order to share it both within the industry, their respective companies, and eventually to the world. The film ‘The Internet of the Seas’ will launch publicly in April.

We have applied our process to prototyping the future of banking experiences, cultural integration, sports shoes and of course cod fishing. But we're not done there. By combining the knowledge inside our clients’ organisations and engaging key perspectives from outside, our process can be applied to any challenge and all industries wanting to build visionary ideas.

Collaborators not competitors

Although this approach touches many existing fields, organizations like ours aren’t competing with production houses, management consultants, creative agencies or trend forecasters. This new breed of company is working in the space between them. For Another Tomorrow it’s all about about supporting our clients to explore opportunities in a fast, agile way. For that reason, we are small agile team and don’t intend to become a big one. Our clients see us as a rocket pack speeding up the rate of change within their organisations and facilitating all of their staff to master this fear of failure. Why? Because every time you ask any organisation what is holding them back from working in innovative ways, there is a long pause and then the answer hits. The fear of failure. We believe in failing fast not big, and in this sense, prototyping is the perfect tool to face this electric storm.

As Sir Ken Robinson, the godfather of creativity, tells us “if you’re not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original.”