The Dolphin Wave
Breakthrough Innovation Process You Can Use
For Business & Public Administration
The wave represents all the business environments or eco-systems in the world today.
Waves are dynamic and ever-changing, even though it may look calm on the surface. They maintain a gradient of biodiversity all the way from the surface, down to its deepest depths. Without waves, there would not be as many species living in the sea. Similarly without the diversity business environments such as politics, culture, socio-economic climate coupled with the country-specific rules and regulations, there would not be as many businesses as there are today.
The ocean currents allow their larvae of sea-creatures to be dispersed and to be carried great distances. Many creatures spawn only during storms when large waves can mix their gametes effectively. Likewise, transportation systems by land, air, sea and now the internet allow even small businesses to have a global reach, which was previously inaccessible to them.
The large ocean currents transport warm water from the tropics to the poles and cold water the other way. They help to stabilise the planet’s temperature and to minimise its extremes. In the business world, bilateral, regional and international agreements stabilise business practices to bring about a greater equitability in business and to somewhat level the playing field.
The waves allow the wind to transfer its energy to the water’s surface and to make it move. At the surface, waves promote the exchange of gases: carbon dioxide into the oceans and oxygen out. Currents and eddies mix the layers of water which would otherwise become stagnant and less conducive to life. Nutrients are thus circulated and re-used. In the business world , the wind represents technology that drives and nourishes business.
A tsunami is a devastating tidal wave, usually caused by an underwater earthquake. The Asian economic crisis followed by the global financial crisis can be compared as business tsunamis. The Western world, particularly, the USA and Europe have yet to recover fully from the last GFC.
The dolphin represents innovation to cope with the changes in the business environment – the wave. Bottlenose dolphins are adorable, lovable and charismatic creatures considered to be friends of humans. Their curved mouths give the appearance of a friendly, permanent smile.
Based on studies by scientists, the dolphin – particularly, the bottlenose dolphin is the second most intelligent mammal, next to humans. Its brain-mass to body-mass ratio of “encephalisation quotient” (EQ) of 5.6 is surpassed only by a human’s, which measures 7.4. In addition, the complexity of the dolphin brains was verified by 3-D MRI scans.
In fact dolphins can be said to be smarter than humans as they don’t have to worry about earning income, paying taxes, coping with social and relationship problems as well as abiding by the myriad of laws and regulations. Thus they lead much happier lives than us.
On the essential skills for innovation, renowned dolphin expert Lori Marino had demonstrated that dolphins exhibit human-like skills. These include mirror self-recognition, cultural learning, comprehension of symbol-based communication systems, a well-developed sense of humor and an understanding of abstract concepts.
Dolphins can also use tools to solve problems. Scientists have observed a dolphin coaxing a reluctant moray eel out of its crevice by killing a scorpion fish and using its spiny body to poke at the eel. Off the western coast of Australia, bottlenose dolphins place sponges over their snouts, which protects them from the spines of stonefish and stingrays as they forage over shallow seabeds.
At the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Mississippi, Kelly the dolphin has built up a great reputation as an innovator. All the dolphins at the institute are trained to hold onto any litter that falls into their pools until they see a trainer, when they can trade the litter for fish. In this way, the dolphins help to keep their pools clean.
Kelly has taken this task one step further. When people drop paper into the water she hides it under a rock at the bottom of the pool. The next time a trainer appears, she goes down to the rock and tears off a piece of paper to give to the trainer. After a fish reward, she goes back down, tears off another piece of paper, gets another fish, and so on.
Her innovation skills did not stop here. One day, when a gull flew into her pool, Kelly caught it. She then waited for a trainer to appear before offering it to the trainer. As a reward, she was given lots of fish. This triggered a creative spark in Kelly. The next time she was fed, instead of eating the last fish, she took it to the bottom of the pool and hid it under the rock where she had been hiding the paper. When no trainers were present, she brought the fish to the surface and used it to entice the gulls, which she would capture to win even more fish. After mastering this innovative strategy, she transferred it to her calf, who taught other calves, and so this gull-baiting innovation was disseminated to all the other dolphins.
Hence, the dolphin was chosen as a symbol of innovation. In fact the Dolphin Index has been created to assess the relationship between organisational climate and creativity and innovation. It was built upon the ground breaking work of Professor Göran Ekvall. With its 13 dimensions measurement, the Dolphin Index is considered the most comprehensive measure of innovative climate available.
Together the dolphin and the wave represent the thriving co-existence between innovation and the ever-changing business environment.
The Five Steps of the Dolphin Wave Innovation Process
1. Zooming in on the target
Finding out what exactly that you need to innovate
2. Diving deep with the dolphins
Begin with the end result in mind (vision , mission & purpose)
3. Surfing the waves
Searching the global brain for winning solutions and selecting the most appropriate
4. A new Dolphin is born!
An innovation is created!
5. Nourishing and maturing
Allocating resources for implementation and celebrating success.