🟢 What is a canary in the coal mine?

One innovation tool we often use is the "canary in the coal mine." I've been illustrating and writing about quite a few in different contexts these last few years but never really explained the tool and how to use it. So, here goes...

🟢 What is a canary in the coal mine?
Photo by Kaikara Dharma / Unsplash

Past the initial taste you'll have about it; innovation can be felt as elusive, if not deceptive. For, as a business discipline, intelligence can only get you so far. And this is why I often see profiles such as designers having an easier time understanding its core mechanisms than engineers.

Not that designers are less intelligent, mind you, but rather they grasp the intuitiveness and non-linear thinking involved faster than rigorous A+B profiles (if only designers had proper elementary business training from the get-go, too – but this is another story).

One of the nuances that most struggle with is the notion of weak signals and trends. Their complexity is often times overlooked as we just want to map out the future in a linear way so that we can plot the course with proper timing. As such, I usually prefer discussing canaries in the coal mine.

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