Innovation with Steve’n’Pete
By Steve Saunders and Pete Lockhart
We present a model of natural innovation that anyone can learn. Why produce such a model when
there are a number of fairly good innovation processes available? Our reasoning is simple:
1. The existing models do not match the experience of gifted innovators.
2. The existing models are over-complex for inexperienced users.
3. A model that transcends and includes existing models enables more to be achieved by
those using it.
“Organisations that survive in the 21st Century will be known as learning organisations” Aries De
Geus, CEO Shell.
One innovation business says that it takes 1000 ideas to create 100 projects, leading to 1 new product.
If this is the scale of failure in the world of ideas, then the scope for achieving results with 1 in 10 ideas
or better just might be worth a lot of money!
Change requires innovation, not just in products or services, but also in working practices. Yesterday’s
rules are today’s obstacles to change. Luckily, humans are naturally innovative, and when given the
right growing conditions, anyone can regain their inherent, child-like ability to be curious, to play, to
learn and to change.
A simple and effective model that matches the experience of gifted innovators is inherently valuable to
our community. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to impart an accessible, yet powerful model for
innovation, that lends itself to: a) using, though inclusion, existing models when complexity is
required, and b) simple, fast and effective innovation based upon curiosity and a sense of fun.
What is innovation? As a nominalisation of “to innovate”, we define innovation as the process of
creating something new or different (to those involved) for a purpose in a given context. We could,
therefore, also equate innovation with “the creative process”. We therefore define two, different forms:
innovating through: adapting, changing, evolving, and creating, which implies producing something
new, without an obvious conscious link to what existed before.
How is innovating different from creating? Innovating potentially comprises evolving, whereas
creating can arise spontaneously from the unconscious – although so can the unconscious form of
innovation! Creation is part of the ever-repeating cycle of destruction and creation. Innovation
includes both – out with the old, and in with the new.
What is the purpose of innovating? To create a new product, process, service, concept/idea, work of art
or a new thought form: in response to: the present state and desired outcomes. It is the flourishing of
the action plan to take us from “here” to “there”, when we have never been to “there” before.
Having reviewed the many ways of innovating – as many and varied as might be expected given the
subject – we can begin to conclude as follows:
a) There are fixed and flexible processes for changing points of view to enable change.
b) There is a conscious-mind way of innovating, using inner visualisation and “what-if”
exploration. Once learnt, this way of working can be delegated to the unconscious, and
innovations then “just emerge”.
c) There is an entirely unconscious, parallel way of innovating, that is beyond our words, which
“just works”. One way to reach this point is to be trained to the greatest depths of New Code
NLP and to have practiced innovating for a long time!
The emergent model, that can be transferred effectively, is the conscious-mind way. We base this
model upon the use of space and time through the combined use of visualisation and Clean Space. The
Clean Space parts works as follows:
Client writes a statement of their desired outcome.
Place your "problem" or "desired outcome" where it needs to be.
Now place yourself where you need to be in relation to it. [= Position 1]
Then, TYPICAL SPACES
What do you know about [gesture to desired outcome] from (t)here?
And is there anything else you know from (t)here? Choose From:
And what could this space be called? Sleight of Mouth Reframe Spaces
[Client writes space's name and places paper to mark the space.] TRIZ Patterns
De Bono Spaces
Different Visual Perspectives in
space and time
"Moving" spaces - e.g. walking,
LOCATING A NEW SPACE Senge's Archetypal Patterns
The Dance of Change Patterns of
Facilitator says either: Resistance
Find a space that knows (something Spiral Meme Worldviews
else) about [client's words]. Cultural Views
And where is [new location referenced Spirit / Mind / Emotion / Body
RETURNING TO AN EXISTING SPACE KNOWING FROM A NEW SPACE
Facilitator says: Facilitator asks:
Return to [name of space]. And what do you know from (t)here?
And what do you know from (t)here? And what do you know about [gesture to and name an existing
And is there anything else you know about [gesture to and name space] from (t)here?
another space] now? And is there anything else this space knows?
And what does [name of this space] know about [name of another And what could this space be called?
space]? [Client writes space's name and places paper to mark the space.]
CONTINUE to cycle through these three routines until ...
Return to [client's name for Position I],
After all that, what do you know from
What difference does knowing all this
[sweeping gesture] make?
Clean Space Cued by Established Styles of Different Thinking
The difference between this process and the formal clean space process is the introduction of a number
of different, archetypal perspectives from TRIZ, QFD, De Bono, NLP/N-S, Systems Thinking, Spiral
Dynamics and “New Code NLP”.
The second key part to the conscious model is visualisation – literally have a 3D inner view of the
problem space around which you move to gain perspective, zoom-in to details and back out for
overview. For certain types of problem this includes the ability to create a 3D auditory field, such as
picturing changes to standing waves of sound in rooms as dimensions are changed. For example, in
thinking through electromagnetic field equations, being able to visualise the flow and contours/flow
lines of field strength enable new insights to be formed.
The third key part is to remain uncritical – be open, accepting, playful and curious.
When the whole problem and desired outcome is clearly understood, the solution becomes obvious –
there is no need for a “critic” or a review phase – the answer is clear, obvious and will work. This is a
departure from established processes like brainstorming and the Disney strategy.
Necessity is the mother of invention. Little happens in a vacuum – apart from the spontaneous creation
and destruction of particle-antiparticle pairs. Perhaps this, too, is a necessity of nature’s abhorrence of
Where and When?
In essence, anywhere. For most people, though, a clear, light, well-ventilated place is excellent for
innovation. The emotional environment is most supportive when it is open, honest, flexible, seeking to
understand, with a strong, urgent “Necessity” operating. Innovation under hostile conditions comes
under the heading “Necessity is the mother of Invention” – just consider the number of escape attempts
from Colditz to understand the attitude of prisoners at the time.
Anyone can innovate – it is natural. Perhaps, to achieve the most, one desires to be “wholly engaged”,
and thus “the whole person” or “whole group”.
Like any effective flow state, innovating has no tagged identity, although in the conscious process, one
adopts identities in the clean space process above to gain knowledge (Einstein, Mozart, etc).
What is important?
Necessity is vital. Until a powerful, motivating need exists, people tend to stay with how things are
currently. This is why so much innovation happens during crises like wars. Like it or not, creating a
managed sense of crisis and a real sense of urgency gets things done!
For example, consider the 1-minute phobia cure. It was created because a phobia was limiting an
attendee’s learning during an NLP introduction course. He asked for it to be dealt with urgently, and
there was no time to do a conventional, 15 to 45 minute cure using double VK dissociation or even the
so-called “fast phobia cure”. Given it was a learning situation, Steve asked himself: “what can I use,
from the NLP that is known to these students to cure a phobia fast?” The answer came in seconds, and
it worked. Since then, this approach has been demonstrated to work in 80% of cases. The remainder
are cases that require a deeper cure than the traditional approaches, so now we have a new capability
that transcends and acknowledges how phobias were cured before! The technique was then used to
innovate several other cures, such as certain cases of Dyslexia and clearing the air in difficult
“Understanding” is the key factor – seeking to understand is important, because it is the understanding
that gives rise to the solution.
A broad knowledge base enables a person to bring insights from difference subject areas. Specialists
without a broad knowledge will inherently miss the breakthroughs that come from fusing questions
Visualise in full detail, 3-D, through-time, able to vary the submodalities of the visualisation, and stay
curious and open.
Why is this visualisation so important? The example below shows how a simple but complete
visualisation of an entire context created a new solution. The solution had to be visualised in order for
the mechanics and physics to be considered.
Consider the example of a desire to work outside in the sun, using a computer. The problems
encountered include: battery life, connection to internet or files on a server, sunlight reflecting off the
Solutions that spring easily to mind include: extension cable, wireless networking, power-save
innovations, dark top (minimum reflection), sunshade/parasol, sunglasses to reduce glare in user’s
eyes, UV lamp indoors.
Now, these are simple and obvious solutions, created how? All of these innovations are typical
problem solving ones: they get around problems by creating a “fix”.
But, what other choices are there? These depend upon understanding the real outcome. The person
wants to be: in the sun, in a relaxed posture, with shaded eyes, with access to a keyboard, mouse and
display to achieve some higher purpose. Knowing this, one can now innovate to a new level. Why not
make the sunglasses the screen, or use something to display the screen directly onto the retina? Then, a
battery-operated display and a plate keyboard-mouse using wireless communications would enable the
same end task to be achieve, and with a more ergonomic body posture. This technology is available –
because someone got very clear about creating Virtual Reality displays for computer games – to put the
player into the game!
The final outcome is the real innovation, very different to part-by-part problem solving because the
whole situation was considered, rather than only individual aspects. When the whole is addressed, the
answer becomes obvious and works for all of the aspects, too.
The Key Mental Processes
To move into a good mental attitude requires self-control and self-awareness. This is where the Flow
States can really help, enabling excellence-on-demand.
Movement creates physical energy that seems to transfer to mental energy. Therefore, the New Code
approaches like going for a walk and interpreting symbols brings together activity and different
Create a clear picture of the current situation and desired outcome. Move around the picture to get a
series of perspectives. Seek to find the essence of the desired outcome and the problems. Trust that
your unconscious mind will surface the perfect answer. Or, use Clean Space to obtain insights from a
number of difference sources.
In essence, innovation has been shown to require the confluence of ideas from diverse fields of
knowledge. The essential building blocks of innovation are:
Depth and breadth of knowledge.
Curiosity and a genuine sense of play.
The “Clean Space” process applied to innovating combined with a number of pre-defined
perspectives known for giving new insights.
Denis Bridoux, “Evolving TRIZ using TRIZ and NLP/Neurosemantics”
Edward De Bono, “Parallel Thinking”
Peter Senge, “The Dance of Change”
Peter Senge, “The Fifth Discipline”
Penny Tompkins and James Lawley, “Clean Space: Modeling Human Perception through Emergence”
Ken Wilber, “A Theory of Everything”