Cyril Bouquet joins us to discuss “A.L.I.E.N. Thinking: The Unconventional Path to Breakthrough Ideas.” His book breaks down five keys to creating disruptive ideas called ALIEN Thinking: Attention, Levitation, Imagination, Experimentation, and Navigation.
Cyril is a Professor of Innovation and Strategy at IMD. Growing up, both of his parents were professors, but he had no desire to become one. Cyril had to do French military service, and one way to got about this was through civic service. Through his civic service, he fell in love with being a professor.
Cyril Bouquet was a professor in Canada and later came to teach at IMD in Switzerland. He has been an immigrant most of his life, to which he attributes a lot to his passion for innovation. He was raised in tropical islands, lived in France, Canada, and now lives in Switzerland. Through coming to different countries, Cyril has learned that there are many different ways to approaching the same situations.
Better Innovation with ALIEN Thinking
Through Cyril Bouquet’s story, it is interesting to see how different parts of the world view things differently. This ties into the new book he co-authored called “A.L.I.E.N THINKING: The Unconventional Path to Breakthrough Ideas.”
A.L.I.E.N is an acronym for identifying the keys to being highly innovative. It is a metaphor that highlights the need to get rid of our previous assumptions. We have to think like an alien, coming from a different planet, or as I like to say, thinking outside of the box. The book explores the A.L.I.E.N acronym that applies to innovation in any field.
The A stands for attention, or how you look at the world. Sometimes we need to zoom in or out and switch our focus. In the book, Cyril emphasizes not being too focused, as it can restrict your ability to come up with new ideas. There is a balance where you need to be engaged and concentrated while being attentive to the right things. If you want to develop an innovative concept, you need more fluidity than often taught. The L stands for levitation or stepping back, separating yourself, and expanding your understanding.
Imagination and the Loss of Creativity
The I stands for imagination composed of playing with ideas and putting things together. A few weeks ago, I did a show that talked about a study N.A.S.A. did on kids and adults using their creativity test. 98% of the kids under the age of 6 passed the test, while only 18% of the adults passed it. Above all, much of the loss of imagination comes from schooling that teaches you to stay on specific paths.
Moreover, young kids are less afraid of what others think of them. They don’t care what they look like and are okay being themselves. As they become older, they start to care more. As they grow older, conformity starts to creep in. This concept is the same when dealing with innovation creativity. The more we think ahead, the less we innovate as we become afraid to play with ideas.
Experimentation and Navigation
The E in A.L.I.E.N stands for Experimentation. The way we test ideas is often wrong, as we do it to prove we are correct. We use data to rationalize the story we have in mind and fail to learn from it. It is essential to be open to learning and discovery within the experimentation process.
The N stands for navigation or finding ways around things that are blocking innovation progress. Cyril believes this is the hardest part of innovation. It is because people often don’t understand your idea. We often overestimate the support for our ideas that we will get.
Often killed immediately, most ideas scare people when they disrupt existing business models. In other words, the success of any innovation is very low. Innovators have to describe their ideas in a way that resonates with people for them to be successful. The language used to describe your innovation is so incredibly important.
If you want to keep up to date with what Cyril Bouquet is doing or grab a copy of the book, check out the website here.
About the Guest: Cyril Bouquet
Cyril Bouquet is a Professor of Innovation and Strategy at IMD, where he orchestrates all kinds of innovation journeys for companies that seek to create the future. He is the co-author of ALIEN THINKING: The Unconventional Path to Breakthrough Ideas (PublicAffairs; March 16, 2021).
As a professor at IMD, Cyril is doing research that has gained significant recognition in the field. His Ph.D. dissertation won the Academy of International Business 2004 Richard Farmer Award. Since then, he’s published one book “Building Global Mindsets” (2005), and several academic articles in the most prestigious academic journals, including Harvard Business Review, M.I.T. Sloan Management Review, the Academy of Management Journal, the Journal of International Business Studies, the Journal of Management, and the Journal of Management Studies.
To know more about Cyril Bouquet and ALIEN Thinking, listen to this week’s show: Cyril Bouquet – Better Innovation with ALIEN Thinking.
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