Training

    Ten Things United Airlines Might Have Done

    UnitedAirCouldaDonev1Improving Customer Service at United Airlines Requires a Paradigm Shift and Recognizing They Have a Problem

    Creative Training Would Have Helped

    10 Things United Airlines Might Have Done (see below)

    Once again we have an incident of extremely poor customer service from a major airline. This time it’s United (as it is frequently) who dragged a paying customer off a flight by force. A doctor on a deadline. Incidentally, an Asian man. The video is very hard to watch, it’s sad, degrading, humiliating for the passenger, and an example of brutality visited upon an innocent and trusting consumer. The cops went too far as well, but United made the call and got them involved. United is responsible.

    Other than beating him up or shooting the man it really couldn’t be worse. The CEO made a quasi-apology today but even the apology was half-assed, Oscar Munoz said “I apologize for having to re-accomdate these passengers.” That’s a partial quote but he doesn’t apologize directly to the man they mistreated. Wow. To make matters even worse, the reason they needed people to get off was so they could fly four United employees to a flight they were working. The incident, the background of the problem, and the half-baked apology signal a sick culture. United Airlines is a jaded, faded, uninspired, culture — that will die — unless they pull out of this lack-of-innovation, and lack-of-consumer-empathy death spiral.

    Two Points to Make related to Creativity and Innovation:

    1.) The first thing they need to do is admit they are sick. United is not going to remedy a deeply rooted problem without a massive perspective shift. They are so far away from their mission/vision of “fly the friendly skies” that band-aids (like “investigations”) are not going to work. Without a big change in thinking customer service challenges are going to be like Wach-A-Mole. I’m speaking as someone who has flown over a million miles on United. I’ve seen it myself, and consistently; this whole attitude of the school mistress, or steward-as-drill-Sargent. You get on the plane and if you don’t conform to every little rule they have (which are always changing, and are always changing to make life more miserable for you), you are a dunce until you comply. They treat you like a child, not like a valued customer. There are some lovely people who work for United, and, there are some, quite a few, who need an attitude adjustment. This is a cultural problem. The first thing they need to do is see this sickness as their truth; they need to admit they have a big problem. Then, they need to take action steps to change, see my next point. And how about a full throated, meaningful apology to that poor man?

    2.) Culture change doesn’t happen without a project. How United could change would be to organize an innovation project to improve that would involve every person in their organization. An assessment of their culture is not necessary in my mind, they are proving over and over their culture is anti-customer. Training in customer service and creative thinking would be at the heart of a program, but would also need to find breakthrough new ways to serve customers. It would need to involve C-suite employees — because that’s where empowerment and better service start. That training and innovative change program would be enhanced with creative problem solving training. Also known as “CPS” having the tools to do effective brainstorming on the spot would have avoided this incident. The problem of finding ways to get people to give up a seat is a solvable one without bringing cops onto the plane. I can think of about 10 things they could have done first (see below). According to reports, they made two offers to passengers before the incident. With only a little more divergent thinking this incident would have never happened. United Airlines can’t afford Not to do an innovation project.

    Ten Other Things United Could Have Done To Get Passengers to Give Up Seats:

    1. They could have offered more money. Just up the ante.
    2. They could have offered a free trip.
    3. They could have offered free trips domestically for three months.
    4. They could have offered a free coach international flight.
    5. They could have offered a free membership to the United Club Lounge.
    6. They could have offered free baggage for the next three years.
    7. They could have offered free drinks for a year, or two, or three.
    8. A chance to ride in the cockpit for one flight.
    9. A free upgrade from coach to first class on a future flight.
    10. They could have created a package that combines several of the above ideas.
    11. Bonus idea: How about asking customers what it would take?

    I could think of 20 more without too much trouble. And one or more of them would have worked. United needs to focus itself and ask itself tough questions, and then involve all employees in developing creative, innovative answers.

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    Colorado Innovation Training

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    Get a Grip on Innovation — 10 Questions, 20 Minutes

    Get a Grip on Innovation — 10 Questions, 20 Minutes Ten questions for you to focus on assessing the state of your organization’s innovation program. Twenty minutes to learn something and take action steps. If you think your current program is working, non-existent, or just a disaster — you will learn something by taking this quick survey. Yes, there are other ways to assess innovation culture that are more thorough (such as Teresa Amabile Ph.D. “KEYS“). However, the purpose of these ten questions is to get you off the dime and into action around your innovation program/department. If these questions raise any red flags, you might need to go deeper, perhaps using a qualitative approach. But in the interest of




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    Invest in Innovation Skill Building

    Invest in Your Innovation Capacity In my various consulting engagements I have learned not to take much for granted. I thought by this year in history (2016) everyone in the business world would have a clue as to how to do ideation (aka brainstorming) properly. Wow, not even close. It’s a glaring missing ingredient in staying competitive. It’s a key to growth and it’s routinely done poorly. The art and science of developing valid business ideas has a formula. There are variations but at the heart of it you have: Problem Framing, Ideation, Idea Development, and Actions. Within each of those areas there are tools and techniques. If you know them, and use them in the context of an innovation




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    Projects Are How Innovation Happens

    Projects, Projects, Projects Innovation is complex and difficult — but one thing about it is not. What’s quite simple about innovation is that projects are what make innovation real. The following concepts, frameworks, approaches, etc. are Not Innovation.  Unless they are in the context of an actual project. Thinking about things is not innovation Having beers and kicking ideas around are not innovation Brainstorming sessions are not innovation Idea Campaigns are not innovation Guided visualizations are not innovation Design Thinking is not innovation Creative Problem Solving is not innovation DeBono’s Six Thinking Hats are not innovation Lean is not innovation Prototyping is not innovation Crowd sourcing or Open innovation are not innovation TQM and Six Sigma are not innovation Defining




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    Fast Company’s Brainstorming Fail

    Fast Company Article “Brainstorming is Dumb” Misses the Point Brainstorming, Done Properly, Is Not a Tool, It’s A Multi-Step Process See BrainWriting How-To Instructions at the Bottom of this Post* Here we go again. And yet another major publication publishes a misleading article about brainstorming — Brainstorming is Dumb. This happens about every six months. This time it’s Fast Company. The article gets a few things right, but misses the big picture, and smears a giant of the field, Alex Osborn. The headline is dead wrong, but wonderfully provocative. Fast Company missed an opportunity to inform more fully at the very least. The omission is so large one wonders if they have a fact checker on staff. The big picture




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    Innovation Strategy Power Tools

    Challenge Mapping & IdeaKeg Do you want to cut through the clutter when it comes to innovation strategy? Are you sorting through plans for year-end strategy and ideation sessions? Are you at the very front end of innovation and not sure where to go, where to start? Are you asking questions like these (you should be!): What projects might we get started before the end of the year? What might be our innovation focus for 2017? How might we leverage those research insights we’ve developed? What trends and ideas outside our industry might we adapt to innovate? These questions can be tough to sort out. I’m suggesting here two bits of “sorting out” technology. Consider using two powerful innovation and




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    Intrapreneurship Chicago 2016

    Authentically Different Conference In recent years I’ve become a bit anti-conference. I still go to some but I find the formats tired. The formula favors big name authors and speakers who sometimes miss the mark. The agenda is so jammed you don’t have time to talk to your peers. The social events are fun, but a bit… forced. So, you may be surprised when I bend over backwards to promote Intrapreneurship Chicago 2016.  The event is going to be held at the TechNexus accelerator in the River North area. Chicago area innovators and intrapreneurs, take note. June 22! This conference is authentically different. And highly useful if you are a real working Intrapreneur. 90% of the conference attendees will be




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    Innovation Facilitator Tool Kit

    I am sometimes asked what a Facilitator should have in their kit bag. Here’s my answer — the Innovation Facilitator Tool Kit list. The items are below in bold. Many have links to where you can source the materials. I’m assuming the facilitator is a hands-on project leader who facilitates meetings, such as idea generation or strategy sessions. I did not take into consideration travel via plane or car. Obviously, some things are more portable than others. Consider this a master list which you can subset for your needs. Some of these items are not available off the shelf retail, so, put this kit together ahead of time so you can focus on design and executing your session plan as




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    Woulda-Coulda-Shoulda Innovation

    The Time is Now to Plan for 2016 Innovation This time of year it’s natural to get an innovation plan in place — if you’re not there already — the time is now. Talking to customers about their innovation efforts I’m hearing regrets in December. Wishes for having done more, and done more sooner. Shel Silverstein wrote a poem that sums it up nicely: Woulda-Coulda- Shoulda All the Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas Layin’ in the sun, Talkin’ bout the things They woulda-coulda-shoulda done… But those Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas All ran away and hid From one little did. by Shel Silverstein A Simple Innovation Plan — in 7 Steps I get it, innovation, if it’s not part of your culture, is hard to kick start and get




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