Innovation Unpacked with the Satori Lab

Vicky Green

Vicky Green

A few days ago I joined a Satori Lab workshop  which was simply called ‘Innovation Unpacked’.  I had met the hosts Esko and Jo, aka ‘culture hackers’, when they visited the Bromford Lab and I  wanted to find out more about them. I hope my blog today gives you an insight into my highlights of the day.

Innovation isn’t a new thing – its been around for ever! In fact I once had a job title of Innovation Manager about 12 years ago! Did I innovate? Yes probably, but did anyone recognise that? Probably not!  But fear not, there are  lots of phrases that can perfectly describe innovation:

Incremental – that’s what we used to call ‘continuous improvement’

Radical – this one is about big perspective change. One example is ‘moonshots’ – The Google Think Tank called 'Solve for X', launched by Google to resolve global issue, describe moonshots as a;
a)    Clear understanding of a problem
b)    Radical solution that could solve it, and
c)    Good reasons to believe that the solution could work
You can read lots more about Moonshots by checking out Solve For X; there’s some fascinating stuff on there, just find the inflatable robots and you will agree!

An example which Esko shared with us to describe radical change was about the Patient Hotel.

Patient Hotels.jpg

It was identified that patients were taking too long to recuperate post admission. Their solution was to create a patient hotel which gives patients who don’t necessarily need to be an inpatient (think of those who stand outside in their gowns  to smoke a cigarette) but do need to be nearby a hospital! Patient hotels offer all the comfort of a hotel – not just for the smokers, but anyone who needs the service!

The Innovation Unit say the concept has reduced care costs;
‘It changes where health happens - Patient Hotels offer a less clinical and more relaxing environment for people to recover from illness in the company of people they know and love.
It empowers patients to manage their care - Patients are given the independence to manage their recovery while still having access the expertise of nurses and doctors.
It supports family members and peers to provide support - Family and friends of patients are supported to care for their loved ones and groups of guests often provide informal peer-to-peer support, gathering in the communal spaces to help one another to deal with their conditions.
The evidence that it works - The average cost per night for a bed at a Patient Hospital in Lund is 3,000 Sek (£260) compared to a hotel bed of 823 Sek (£90) per night. The model has been widely replicated across Scandinavia.’


Disruptive Innovation – this is an idea that can either create a brand new market or completely destroys an existing market and replaces it with something new such as Netflix vs Blockbuster - I shall say no more!

Open Innovation: sometimes known as collaborative innovation. It's accepting that you don’t have all the answers – innovating in the open brings together networks of people interested in your problem! It’s powerful stuff!

Example: Esko and Jo talk of the AnsariXPrize. This was a competition in 2004 to find a company that would solve the problem or ambition of creating a privately financed  shuttle to get people into space… it changed everything!


Frugal Innovation: those low cost hacks that just sort the problem out! We have a saying in the Lab; ‘keep it simple, stupid’! Always start there and then get fancy!

I just loved the examples of frugal innovations in developing countries – where it has to be easily accessed, cheap  and most of all useful!



So, with all of that innovation speak out of the way, we spent the next few hours talking about the absolute importance of knowing what your own problems are!

Define Your Problems

Now I will admit, I struggled with this one… after all I am a self professed Innovator – I help others identify their problems, find solutions etc.  But after some quick coaching by Jo and Esko I realised that its something I have to be able to do! If I can’t, how can I help others do it!
We each took a problem and then were instructed to sit in the corner facing the wall! We read out our problem and then were bombarded with questions about it! Some silly questions were thrown in just to keep us on our toes. We had to write down the questions really quickly but weren’t allowed to answer them. It was a fascinating exercise – it didn’t feel like I was being interrogated, but felt like it was a little voice of conscience on your shoulder asking the questions you would ask yourself if you stepped away from the problem.

Next on to Why... Why… Why… Why… Why… Why… getting to the route cause of your problems.  That was difficult for us all, but remember that  practice makes  perfect.  Don’t  allow yourself to answer the why… with a statement! You have to make sure you answer with a problem – otherwise you won’t find the route cause and never solve the real problem.
‘I have certainly expanded my box of tricks and will be using  these techniques on unsuspecting guests in the lab… they think they have a problem – they can jolly well think again!’
So problems clear! We then want to be able to ideate with some  (you guessed it) ideas.  

We had great fun thinking of ideas from different perspectives and it was crucial to get silly with it!  Don’t just think of ideas to solve your problem from your perspective.  Think as a customer (we love customer journey maps in the Lab)! Or think as a competitor in your market, maybe think of ideas as a Disney character!
I actually found that my best idea came out when I thought as ‘Batfink’; my favourite cartoon from my childhood! Batfink wanted to send out his sonic radar and update a customer record on a computer system!


Turns out that the Google Lab Solve for X are on that already – see the link below - so don’t be put off going wild with some whacky ideas! Mix and match your ideas to find something worth moving  forwards with.

And finally… I wanted to share with you the fun you can have prototyping!

Jo had a magic bag of little dolls, string, pens,  an abundance of polly pocket accessories oh, and a smurf! Which we all played with  to mock up a prototype of our solution. It was tangible and fun… moving things around and then finding  another iteration. The whole group enjoyed it, even those perhaps a little more sceptical about it! in fact they turned out to be the one who ended up moving their idea from being something OK, into something great and so became a convert! This was my absolute favourite part of the day! And I am doing a toy box raid this weekend! Sorry kids.

Courtesy of Jo Carter

Courtesy of Jo Carter

So Finally
I hope I have given you enough to make you feel like you had a peephole into the day, and not too much that the Satori lab no longer need to do their workshop! There was loads more content on the day and well worth a day of your time.

Thanks Jo and Esko. I am sure our paths will cross again, in fact I am doing a moonshot concept now that guarantees it! As a blogging courtesy – I have permission of the Satori Lab to share a few of their slides and here is the licence for anyone who wants to check it out.

Please do have a look at the Satori Lab who run several courses that will help anyone become a successful innovator and then create a culture in your organisation that will let it happen!