MBA19 Ramon Vullings

With entrepreneur and keynote speaker Ramon Vullings we explore his insights on cross innovation and the importance of an open mindset. Ramon promotes the concept of “Operational Elegance” as opposed to “Operational Excellence”. Operational Elegance is about caring about the client/user and provide a smooth experience. Just like a waiter in a restaurant picks up your scare without you noticing it was on the ground on the first place.

His personal entrepreneurial journey was a transition from training, to facilitation and now to being a keynote speaker. His main lesson is that one needs to focus on what you really good at and this is not easy to do. It took him some time to figure this out. His book “Not invented here” is the outcome of his focus and it is now available in many languages worldwide. He founded various companies to experiment with non lineair decision making structures to provide more freedom and collaboration inside the company for each partner so each could do what they were good at.

He reflects on 20 years of innovation consultancy, 20 years ago the bandwidth of creativity in large consultancy companies was limited, in terms of experimentation and non trivial solutions, as such the scope is much more limited”. In his view this is driven by the implementation of best practices and tend to stay on the saver side, the consultancy companies tend to be more conservative”. Much has changed since than. “Creativity is something you can learn, using tools like Analogy thinking and Bisociation. In this way you can teach your brain to make more synapses connections and at a certain point you experience that the tools are not needed as the creativity comes in a natural flow”

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In this book “Not invented here” he reflects about the role of humans in the future. His main point is that empathy and real novelty is still a trait humans excel in. It is the context in which new ideas get born based on previous ideas together with the way of thinking. Ramon sees that our drive for automation is putting us as humans back. If we automate to much, people are loosing are their sense of belonging and or their sense of need. Why am I here? This detachment raises the questions of many, of what sense live makes. What does it matter if I’m here or not. Rationalising the human interaction out of our life’s is creating thus more problems than that it solves. The reason for being, is the essence of human life. “Doing the right thing, is about taking responsibility and we tend to have lot our moral kompas.” The current (eco)nomic system has lost its sense of belonging. There is more to life than just the financial incentives. Bad business practice, hollowing out unique brands and business, creating absolute no value.

Nature is also a big inspiration for Ramon. Although much of inspired by nature is connected to the natural science area, Ramon sees much potential to transfer patrons of nature towards management practices and business processes. As nature is much more about elegance than efficiency. It is interesting as such how looking at nature also challenges they way we look at nature to translate natures principles back to the business side of things. With all the technology innovation like AI Ramon sees the trend that we are coming back to nature on how she has solved it. For instance you see this in our understanding of fractals and how it is applied in nature. Or how ant communities are organised, where each ant has a role as part of the whole. And as such a lone ant is lost if its not connected to the group.

Ramon eventually breaks it down, that the unique aspect of humans, is about storytelling and the human encounter and interaction. It raised than the questions about why we have the tendency to follow the negative aspects of storytelling, as to why we are not going back to what really matters to humans. More interconnections, human encounter and compassion.

Some examples we talked about

  • Personally elderly care =
  • ChatGTP has become a great tool for ideation: It is a box of ideas where you can ask the system to generate an overview of examples related to your specific challenge.
  • TRIZ – innovation problem – solutions toolbox to solve challenges.

The Masters of Beautiful Achievements podcast series is where Alexander Prinsen explores natural science, innovation, systems thinking and leadership. In daily life he is an systemic innovation consulting at where he helps organizations accelerate to save costs, do good and operate within the planetary boundaries.

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