Innovation Starts With "WOW"

What does success look like?


John Van Vleck, founder of The Green Room Collective, offers a business innovation model that brings creativity and innovation to problem-solving and critical thinking. John discusses the model, Windows of Wisdom, which helps teams visualize the issue or challenge and encourages people to ask meaningful, insightful questions.

The framework divides problem-solving into four different quadrants (like window panes); each quadrant represents a portion of the issue at hand. As part of this business innovation model, John also shares the one question that he recommends we all avoid asking.

One of the things that I think good leaders have is the ability to ask good questions. One element that helps that is to have some tools, some frameworks from which to guide you when you're in a pinch. A tool that we use often is called Windows of Wisdom, WOW for short, but basically it looks at four different quadrants. If you imagine a window, and window pane, and one of which are simply the context. Why now? What's going on in the marketplace that is causing us to have issues? What happens if we do nothing? Another quadrant is the constraints, what are our resources, people, time, money that we can allocate to this challenge.

Third quadrant is one that is often overlooked, but is always the elephant in the room, which is politics. Who are the key players? Who are the leaders? Who are the decision makers who are truly the problem owners? I can't tell you how many times I've done projects where I've worked with somebody only to realize that the eleventh hour that they're actually not the owner of the problem, and that identifying that person early on or those people early on is critical to success.

Finally, another one, that in the rush to do stuff that we might overlook, is success. What does success look like if we do our jobs right, if we solve this problem? That can be for the business, but it could also be, and this is another place that's often overlooked, for the problem owner. What's in it for the people involved and how can we help them achieve what they're trying to achieve?

One of the other things that I would suggest to anybody who ask questions a lot is to try to avoid the word "why." I've moderated lots of focus groups and lots of people in my time and "why" can be a really threatening word. It causes people to be defensive. But "what" is a great word. What is it about that, that's so interesting? What was it about that situation that made you do X or Y? So that's a little tip that I would urge people to reframe things open-ended so that they're allowed to speak and allowed to think, and not to be afraid of silence because silence is actually a good way to get people to open up.

John Van Vleck

What's missing in business? Humanity. Feel. Edge that leads to something new and unique. John Van Vleck is the founder of The Green Room Collective, working with organizations to help bring these values to organizational culture, team b...

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