Innovator skills: Your colleague can’t draw a bicycle

Of course, you can sketch a bike. Give it a try. 2 circles, a few lines & you should be done. I often ask participants of our workshops to do this exercise. On average just one out of three is able to visualise a functional bike. Others draw a variation on the sketch you see below. They forget a chain or pedals, draw random triangles, etc.

Most people don’t understand how stuff works!

Still, you expect those people to anticipate on what the future might bring to your company. If they haven’t grasped how a bike works, how do you expect them to form an opinion whether or not your company should experiment on the potential of cryptocurrencies or the use of artificial intelligence?

Innovators must learn to see again

This basic task is just a warm-up exercise for participants of a brainstorm session and a quick reality check for the weeks that will follow. In most cases, this reveals that they should spend more time on observation before the actual idea generation can start.

As an example: Don’t just copy Tinder’s business model to your industry, because you assume “millennials” like a swiping interface. Dig deeper. Why was or is Tinder successful? What is specific to the dating market that is different in your world? Did you understand how Tinder makes money?

Design Thinking training: develop new habits

In order to understand why products or services are successful, you’ll often need to start with the observation of actual behaviours of people. What are the emotional drivers and triggers that lead clients through their customer journey? Just because youngsters like to send 1000 messages/chat/… to their friends, doesn’t mean that they would prefer a textual interface (bot) to talk to your company.

Next to understanding the consumer motivation, it is also important to understand the scope of how products & services work. Why are they feasible, viable and desirable? This is a basic skill that can be trained. During our design thinking training, we pay special attention to developing these skills and also showing you how you can practices these skills yourself.

Another tool we use to better understand the underlying principles of innovative startups is our business model kit. This visual langue helps to describe the patterns of how companies make money. Once you truly understand how a revenue model works, you’ll be able to copy & remix elements to your own industry.


– During my studies as an industrial designer, I was addicted to Pity this website has evolved to a click-bait content farm.

– If you want more examples of poorly sketched bikes, you should check out the velocipedia project created by the artist Gian Lucagimin.


I’m Nick De Mey, founder Board of Innovation and foresight analyst at Venturesight – foresight-backed venture design. Let’s talk!

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