not always the innovative solution of a problem concerns only the end of a process. there are times when organizations are faced with complex challenges that seem insurmountable within the confines of traditional thinking. this is where problem reframing comes into play. by adopting a new perspective and exploring alternative interpretations, companies can break free of conventional thinking patterns and open themselves up to a world of innovative solutions.
following this logic, we present here a powerful innovation methodology for organizations: the tao of shanzhai, which is based on chinese philosophy and culture. an original approach that guides organizations, whether they are startups or large corporations, exploring the eastern perspective and concepts of tao, zhen ji, xian zhan, fuzhi and zhēnchéng – which are applied to create an iterative and evolving innovation process.
the tao of shanzhai is a powerful tool, ideal to be used to drive authentic and iterative innovation through a process that encourages organizations to stay true to their identity, even starting from a pre-existing idea. to apply it, it is first necessary to understand two fundamental concepts that are the backbone of the methodology:
tao – a fundamental principle in taoism, it is often interpreted as the way and represents a natural, spontaneous and unimpeded way of life that flows in harmony with the universe. just as water naturally flows around obstacles, the tao encourages adaptability, resilience and harmony with the ever-changing environment.
shanzai – means deconstruction in chinese. the concept of “shanzhai”. traditionally associated with counterfeits in the chinese market, it has evolved from mere imitation to innovative adaptation. far from being mere imitations, they are known for their versatility, novelty and sometimes superior functionality compared to their originals.
from the convergence of these two concepts, a journey is structured that comprises five stages:
finding the tao – the process of identifying your unique path of innovation and growth for an organization. finding the tao of an organization is a key step in this framework, as it provides a direction and focus for subsequent practices of “zhen ji”, “xian zhan”, “fuzhi”.
identifying zhen ji – translated as the original, zhen ji refers to the unique and innovative aspects that differentiate products or services. zhen ji is more like a single starting point for continued evolution rather than a static original that needs to be preserved in its exact initial form.
applying xian zhan – The term refers to leisure stamps in China, traditionally affixed by collectors to works of art. xian zhan can be seen as the process of endorsing and adding value to an existing product, service or idea.
creating fuzhi – would literally translate as “creating a copy”, however it is not an inferior imitation of the original. on the contrary, it has equal merit and value as the original, often playing a critical role in promoting innovation.
practicing zhēnchéng – embodying a concept of authenticity or sincerity. the word zhēnchéng is used to describe a way of life that remains true to one’s heart and spirit. taken to the context of companies, it would truly incorporate a sense of purpose and authenticity in their innovative actions.
a continuous evolution
the tao of shanzhai offers a unique perspective on innovation that contrasts with many western philosophies. its core elements – tao, shanzai, zhen ji, xian zhan, fuzhi and zhēnchéng – encourage an approach that is fluid, adaptable and deeply authentic. paves the way for new creative breakthroughs and strategic advantages, while cultivating a responsive mindset and culture, as well as fostering iterative improvement and authentic engagement with stakeholders throughout the process.
we set up a free tao of shanzhai journey in strateegia so that you can now experience this new innovation methodology developed by associate scientist at TDS Company, André Neves. want to know a little more about the framework before using it? just download the free e-book here. discover a new path to sustainable innovation and success using tao of shanzhai!