Questions on Innovation

I got a list of questions to probe people’s innovation ability. Here is the list, and I think it is well thoughts and written.

  • Finds new ideas by relating out-of-industry trends and patterns to the business.

  • Creatively solves challenging problems by drawing on diverse ideas or knowledge.
  • Often finds solutions to problems by drawing on solutions or ideas developed in other industries, fields, or disciplines.
  • Frequently connects ideas from industries or situations unrelated to our business (often through analogy).
  • Frequently thinks ‘outside the box’ and others comment on this ability.
  • Frequently has ideas or perspectives that diverge radically from others’ perspectives.
  • Does careful analysis to make well-thought-out decisions at work.
  • Strongly prefers to make data-driven decisions rather than rely on gut instinct or intuition.
  • Insists on realism and facts when making decisions.
  • Does not jump into new projects and ventures or act quickly without careful thinking and analysis.
  • Constantly asks thought-provoking questions to get at the root of the problem.
  • Frequently asks questions to understand why products and projects under perform.
  • Asks insightful ‘what if’ questions that provoke exploration of new possibilities and frontiers.
  • Often asks questions that challenge the status quo.
  • Regularly asks questions that challenge others’ fundamental assumptions.
  • Excels at breaking down a goal or plan into the micro tasks required to achieve it.
  • Consistently creates detailed plans to get work done.
  • Regularly makes and follows plans to accomplish work.
  • Does work according to an organized plan.
  • Is incredibly well-organized in work life.
  • Gets innovative ideas by directly observing how people interact with products and services.
  • Has a continuous flow of new business ideas that comes through observing the world.
  • Regularly observes the activities of customers, suppliers, or other companies to get new business ideas.
  • Often pays attention to everyday experiences to get new ideas.
  • Is very observant of the world.
  • Must have everything finished ‘just right’ when completing a work assignment.
  • Pays attention to details at work.
  • Is careful to avoid making mistakes.
  • Focuses on the details to make sure work is done precisely.
  • Consistently follows through on all commitments and finishes what is started.
  • Has a history of taking things apart to see how they work.
  • Actively searches for new ideas through experimenting.
  • Frequently experiments to create new ways of doing things.
  • Is adventurous, always looking for new experiences.
  • Always follows through to complete a task, no matter what the obstacles are.
  • Holds self and others strictly accountable for getting results.
  • Doesn’t need a push to get started on new tasks and assignments.
  • Doesn’t procrastinate on things that should get done.
  • Regularly meets with people outside of the immediate industry to find best practices and spark new ideas.
  • Regularly talks with a diverse set of people (e.g., from different business functions, companies, industries, geographies, etc.) to find and refine new business ideas.
  • Actively seeks out individuals from very different backgrounds who can help find and evaluate new ideas.
  • Frequently interacts with a large network of contacts to get ideas for new products, services, and customers.
  • Attends many diverse professional and/or academic conferences outside of the immediate industry/profession.
  • Is not afraid of making big mistakes.
  • Frequently takes risks.
  • Has a strong desire to change the world.
  • Thrives on changing the status quo.
  • Creates an environment where others share diverse types of knowledge to discover unexpected connections among ideas.
  • Encourages others to draw on diverse ideas or knowledge to creatively solve challenging problems.
  • Engages others often in brainstorming to generate wild or very different ideas.
  • Cultivates an environment that supports the open sharing of different, innovative ideas.
  • Promotes asking “why” questions to get at the root of a problem.
  • Encourages others to ask questions that challenge the status quo or conventional ways of doing things.
  • Encourages others to ask “what if” questions to explore new frontiers and possibilities.
  • Cultivates new ideas by giving people frequent opportunities to observe the activities of customers, competitors, or suppliers.
  • Provides adequate time for others to directly observe how people interact with our products and/or services.
  • Encourages others to pay careful attention to everyday experiences in search of surprising, new ways of doing things.
  • Encourages others to be adventurous and seek out new experiences.
  • Praises others for experimenting with new ways of doing things.
  • Actively supports experimenting by others to discover and develop new ideas.
  • Provides opportunities for others to network with individuals from very different backgrounds or perspectives.
  • Encourages others to engage in frequent conversations with a diverse set of people (e.g., from different professions, business functions, companies, industries, geographies, etc.) to find and refine new ideas.
  • Supports others’ attendance at professional or academic conferences or events to meet people outside of their profession, function, industry, or geography.
  • Encourages others to challenge the status quo.
  • Supports others’ efforts to initiate significant changes in how we do things.
  • Encourages people to take risks.
  • Advocates taking risks to pursue interesting new ideas or paths of action. 68.
  • Stays more informed about industry and technology trends than colleagues.
  • Does not make rash decisions.

Soul Searching – The Deep Trace of the Reason

The term soul searching comes from the book The Facebook Effect, on page 180 of the chapter 9, 2006.

The astonishing success of Facebook’s photos application led to a bout of soul-searching at the company. What was it, Zuckerberg and his colleagues asked themselves, that made photos so successful?

Soul Searching

Soul searching means the deep trace of the reason why something worked. It is easy to be happy about a great feature, and a successful campaign, but it is way to easy to just stop tracing the deeper reason of the product. Just like the photos application of Facebook. It is a simple application without most of the features other photo sites have, but it is soon becoming the most successful photo application on the Internet. What is the driver for that? Why is that? Why, Why and Why?

With the deep trace of the whys, they learnt the secret of social graph, and how application can be built on top of social graph, and that leads to the iconic Facebook homepage – the News Feed (a feature that was originally called Timesorting).

That is what soul searching is about.

Asking more Why’s

If something happens, and it is a good one, don’t let it go. Push ourselves to do a deep soul searching and understand the deeper reason behind it. Thank God we are in Internet space, and we have all the data needed to understand the reason. Just like Facebook can dig into the data and understand every photo change leads to 25 new page views, there must be some link between the reason and the result. Go get it.

Baixing is Moving to New Office

From Monday, majority of the company will move into a new office on the second floor of the building we are in – the Haoran High Tech Building inside the Shanghai Jiaotong University Xuhui Campus. It has been 4 and half years since we moved into the building’s 18th floor.

The new office is much bigger, more beautiful, and more energetic. Thanks to Hua and Jia and many people to make it happen. Here are some photos of the finished area. The other half is under reservation, and will be ready in few months.

Here is the overview of the office, with few lines of long tables. We love long tables, since we are able to share the same space with more people and people get closer. We love intimacy. We enjoy being close to each other. We would rather leave another big area wide open, and we want to get squeezed together. Being close means you are able to over-hear more conversation than far way from each other. Being close means you feel you are working in a team. Being close means you are able to form small groups of task-force easier.

The view outside the window. There are many big trees, and there are one of the biggest mall in downtown Shanghai. You may not know it. This is the first university in China, and the core part of the university – just like Harvard Square to Harvard. The building with red roof was built in the year of 1898 – the Middle House. The library and the surrounding areas were built in 1910s, exactly 100 years ago. I enjoy being intimate with history. Many important events in the recent China history happened exactly in the mall outside the window.

The new phone system.

For my new and old friends, you are invited to visit our new offices. Shall we have a community center open to our users?

CEO Lessons

From time to time, I meet with people who work in big companies, and thought the achievement of the company in the past are their own. That is pretty funny. As a CEO, there are many news things that people in other roles don’t think of. And of cause, as a CEO, there are many things need to be learnt on the job, since no university offer CEO lessons in undergraduate.

In the book of The Facebook Effect, there is a chapter called “The CEO” with the subtitle “You should take CEO lessons. ” That was a vivid reflection of how a CEO like Mark has grown. I can tell you, it is not easy.

People – the key element when you reached the certain level of maturity for the organization.

Culture – a word over used, even abused. But it is the core of the company,

Strategy – need a lot of help to get the data ready and presented in a kawayi way to make decisions.