Tuesday, March 08, 2011

N-of-8: a view from a creative group perspective

The lessons of effective innovation transcend brand category, market sector, business model, media, and even regulation.

My firm has worked with creative groups from more than three-dozen companies in health, science, and technology.  I have written, supervised, and conducted hundreds of surveys, teleconferences, and focus groups for nearly every kind of pharmaceutical, device, instrument, and service imaginable.  At last count, I had worked on more than 50 new product launches in my career.  And our consultancy has created and/or advanced more than 150 brands since 2003.

And now my upcoming book, N-of-8, takes on a creative storytelling process.

I’ve outlined the principles in a logical flow of situation-problem-solution-application.  Then, I offer a series of examples that might best illustrate those principles. This has meant reconstructing case studies from both my personal and my company’s memory.  Finally, I’ve attempted to document the N-of-8 processes in a meaningful and useful way.

All the while, I reflect on the successes, failures, and learnings from the experience with the N-of-8  tool.  I've learned from brands ranging from Fortune 100 pharma corporations to start-up biotech companies.  They represent N-of-8 projects conducted in some 23 countries.  And I have insights gained from in-depth interviews with clients, colleagues, moderators, participants, and sponsors of many of these projects.

In addition, my book references dozens of books and articles on group dynamics, storytelling, creative process, and idea facilitation – including how movies, music, and theater can teach us about developing and executing ideas in business.

N-of-8 is a creative brand innovation model that uses the science of "breakout" idea facilitation.  By definition, it represents:
  • An ideal group size -- 8 -- with participants who respect each other’s expertise
  • An optimum timeframe to create productive group interaction
  • A set of proven facilitation tools and technologies to accelerate ideas and capture action steps
In their book The Breakout Principle, William Proctor and Dr. Herbert Benson support this model and this group size.  They write,  “More than a numbers game. Each participant recognizes that the others have been chosen not because everyone is the same or naturally compatible, but for the opposite reason -- i.e., because as many participants as possible are quite different from one another and may even be prone to intense disagreements."

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