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March 14, 2008

INNOVATIONMONTHLY innovationmonthly is a collection of stories on innovation, design and trends.

The Tea Bag Effect By Edwin Chung

In a conversation with CMU’s Heinz School's Adjunct Professor of Management, Brian To, on the topic of organisational change, Professor To explained that organisational change can be driven from the top, from the bottom or from the side. And that changes driven from the top are more likely to succeed as compared to those driven from the bottom. This is not difficult to comprehend as the leader of an organisation is like the conductor of an orchestra. He/she could change how a score is performed via subtle movements of a baton yet a few missed notes by a violinist in an ensemble of a

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hundred pieces would hardly be noticed. Or in the words of retired Gen. Colin Powell1: “In the military, when you become a four star general, people will do anything you even suggest you want. If you say a wall looks a little dirty, by sundown it's painted.” Introducing a culture of innovation into an organisation is no different. Pockets of innovators here and there alone is unlikely to change it into an Apple or a 3M if the organisational structure necessary to promote and sustain a culture

of innovation within the organisation is not put in place and supported by senior management. These innovators will influence those around them, and if supported, this influence may spread to other teams/ groups. If discouraged, either by organisational policies or their superiors, even these innovators may themselves find it difficult to be creative. This effect of the environment on the individual and the extent of a person's influence in an environment is similar to that of water on teabags. In hot water, tea will be released, turning hot


INNOVATION MONTHLY March 14, 2008

The Tea Bag Effect continued... By Edwin Chung

water into hot tea. And in cold water, you may at best get some tea around the teabag. It would still be not much of a cup of tea after stirring. Just as the condition of the water impacts how much tea is released and permeated into the water, an organisational culture will impact the performance of individuals and the permeability of his/her influence, both good and bad, in the organisation.

When James McNerney took over as Chairman and CEO of 3M in 2001, he introduced the Six Sigma program across the company and therefore shifting the culture and mindset away from patient-money towards that of zero-defects. In a BusinessWeek3 Senior management, who are in the position to article in June 2007, it was reported that the make policy changes and introduce new initiatives percentage of sales from new products for 3M has can change a once nonconducive environment for slipped below the 30% target to a quarter of total innovation into one that is. An example of this is the sales. The innovation engine of the company that story of the invention of the masking tape2 and how brought us Scotchlite™, Surgical Drapes, it led to the introduction of policies, programs and Scotchgard™ Protector, Post-it® Notes and more management principles that made 3M the has stalled! innovation powerhouse it is today. Just like the way a teabag is affected when placed In 1923, a 3M engineer, Richard Drew, was running into different mediums, the teabag effect means that some Wetordry sandpaper tests at an autobody shop leaders could put in place policies and programs that when he learned of the difficulties painters were would either magnify and enhance the effect of having masking one section of a two-tone car while behaviours they wish to encourage, or dampen those painting the other (two-tone cars were very popular they wish to discourage. at that time). The tape available then would have either left residue or reacted with the paint. Drew toiled on the problem for 2 years and at one point William McKnight, then a VP at 3M, wrote a memo to Drew asking him to focus on 3M’s then new product, waterproof sandpaper. Drew continued ------------------------------------------------------------------with his masking tape effort under the radar and 1 Context (2000) Follow The Leader. Retrieved February 26, 2008 from http://www.contextmag.com/archives/ ultimately, the masking tape he invented was 200002/Feature0FollowtheLeader.asp. immediately successful with first-year sales of 2 Overfelt, M. (2003). 3M a mining company built on a $164,279, rising a decade later to $1.15 million. McKnight codified this learning into a policy known as the 15% rule, where 3Mers are allowed to spend up to 15% of their time on any project they liked. Other policies and programs were subsequently introduced to further enhance the 3M climate for innovation. One of these policies is the 25% rule which requires all divisions to generate 25% of sales from products introduced within the past 5 years. And in 1993, this percentage was increased to 30%.

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There is also the Genesis Grant where funds are made available to engineers whose ideas have been rejected by management!

mistake stuck it out until a young man came along with ideas about how to tape those blunders together as innovations--leading to decades of growth [Electronic version]. Fortune Small Business, 13(3). Retrieved February 26, 2008 from http://money.cnn.com/ magazines/fsb/fsb_archive/2003/04/01/341016/ index.htm. 3 Hindo, B. (2007). At 3M, A Struggle Between Efficiency And Creativity [Electronic version]. Inside Innovation, June 11, 2007. Retrieved February 26, 2008 from http:// www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/07_24/ b4038406.htm.


FASHION MONTHLY March 14, 2008

Trend Musing By Andrew Tan

We are about a third of the way through 2008 and I was wondering about some of the predictions made at the beginning of the year with respect to trends, and if they still hold true today in my part of the world (Southeast Asia). The 8 trends pointed out by trendwatching (http://www.trendwatching.com) for 2008 were: ✦

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Status Sphere - A collection of different spheres that represent different lifestyles, activities and persuasions. These spheres can be had in various combinations as consumers look to be identified and recognized by various groups of people and scenes. Premiumization - Consumers going for anything and everything premier from fashionable toilet paper by Renova to Lufthansa’s dedicated first class terminal. According to trendwatching, this is fueled by consumers having the means more than ever before and therefore wanting to go for “quick status fixes” by consuming these premium goods and services. Snack Culture - Consumersʼ insatiable craving for services, products and experiences that have been made bite-sized for easier consumption and digestion. These bite-sized services, products and experiences also decrease consumption of time and therefore enable the increase of consumption frequency. The underlying factor that drives the snack culture is the consumers’ continual appetite for instant gratification. Online Oxygen - Consumers needing to be online as much as they need air. Eco-iconic - Eco-friendly goods and services that sport iconic designs and tell-tale signs which help their eco-conscious owners tout their ecocredentials to peers. Brand Butlers - Brands providing goods or services absolutely free to potential and existing customers

when it is truly needed. For example, jeans maker Wrangler providing free laundromat services at the Lowlands music festival. Make it Yourself - Consumers who want to be a part of the creation and creative process of putting goods together. Crowd Mining - Mining the crowd for both intellectual and physical resources to help your brand solve a problem or launch a new business.

and is a clear sign of which group of people holds the wealth in that city.

Online Oxygen Online oxygen is definitely alive and well in both cities. As can be seen by the throngs of young users with their connected devices in McCafés in Bangkok, and the fact that probably 99% ✦ of all cafés and restaurants in KL offer free WiFi. So if you are a local brand targeting the younger more connected crowd, you would definitely want to boost A little disclaimer before proceeding any your online presence if you have not already done so. The other element that further. This writeup is by no means an Online oxygen brings is truthfulness and extensive study on trends in Southeast Asia, it is more my musings on trends and transparency, as can be seen by the results of the recent general election in what I was able to observe in Bangkok Malaysia. Therefore, if you are a brand, and in Kuala Lumpur (KL). you'd better be keeping your promises because if it hasn’t already started, it will Premiumization only be a matter of time until consumers Both in Bangkok and in Kuala Lumpur, you do see the "run-of-the-mill" premium turn to the internet to ascertain the truthfulness of your claims.  brands like Gucci, Prada, Jimmy Choo, etc. What you do not see available are Eco-iconic premium everyday goods such As for Eco-iconic, it is definitely not as Renova’s toilet paper that costs Euro 2.17 per roll or Bling H2O bottled water present in both cities. The only sign I see of making green the next pink is the that comes in a bottle encrusted with encouragement not to use plastic Swarovski crystals which costs between USD17 - 480. The other very noticeable bags too often. However, I do believe that element is that these premium stores are the Eco trend will sweep both cities pretty soon, especially Kuala Lumpur. I frequented by foreigners way more than locals. This is especially true in Bangkok say this because most Malaysians are not ✦


By Andrew Tan

really there in terms of setting trends, but we are definitely avid trend followers and one of the hottest trends in the West right now is for all things eco-related. So you can bet your money that Malaysians will start gobbling up all things “eco” in the not too distant future. Brand Butlers Brand butlers are also not present in both cities except in the airline industry where Air Asia routinely gives out free tickets. Besides that, the only other notion that comes even close to resembling brand butlers are food sample giveaways. The lack of brand butlers means any local brand that is willing to take the lead in being a brand butler will definitely capture the heart, or at the very least, the eyes of local consumers. Therefore local brands should seriously consider using some of their advertising budget on brand butlers instead of only assaulting consumers with one-way advertising campaigns.

MUJI Wall Mounted CD Player

FASHION MONTHLY March 14, 2008

Trend Musing continued...

so that every mall is filled with a slew of Japanese restaurants. However the J-factor is much more than just Japanese food or products, it is also about the adoption of Japanese design elements. Japanese design speaks of simplicity -- usually clean; rarely loud J-Factor and pretentious. It focuses on Finally, let me throw in one trend which was not mentioned by trendwatching that I individuality rather than on the brand. If there is one word to describe Japanese believe will become more and more relevant in the years to come. Let me call design, it would be “Zen”. The most recognizable brand that embodies this trend the J-factor (Japanese-factor). Japanese design philosophies would be Yes, we have been infatuated with Japanese food for sometime now, so much MUJI. The name MUJI is derived from the first part of Mujirushi Ryōhin,

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translated as No Brand Quality Goods. MUJI is a Japanese retail company which sells a wide variety of household goods that focuses on design minimalism. The brand is about designing your own life – not someone else's, about emphasizing the avoidance of waste in production and packaging, and about having a no-logo policy.   Some of the early signs of the J-factor adoption ranges from the extravagant shop in one of Bangkok’s most upscale malls that houses not only Japanesedesigned goods but also goods by designers around the world that embodies Japanese design philosophies, to small stalls in Bangkok’s Chatuchak weekend market that is more and more about individual designers churning out one-of-a-kind goods and less about selling knock-off items.


INNOVATION MONTHLY March 14, 2008

“Put 6 people together with one idea each. At the end of a well run brainstorming session, the result is not 6 good ideas but many more than that!�

Finding your own inner genius By Jason Tay

I originally began writing this article intending it to be a satirical take on the subject matter, but after some thought, I decided that the subject of innovation was confusing enough as it is without me confusing our readers even more! There isn't a single day that goes by that someone somewhere doesn't need a new idea, whether it be at work, at home, for business, pleasure or just for fun. For most, the consequence of not coming up with a truly innovative idea is largely... Inconsequential! If you read those 2 sentences above carefully, you'll realise that there is an implication that even for the act or as we believe, the process of coming up with ideas, you'll need a plan to do it correctly and get it done well. Just like anything else, you need a plan for how you will be successful in producing great ideas. Some people who are naturally quite good at generating ideas may already have a system of their own that works for them. Typical anecdotes of this are for

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example how some people claim they had their brain wave after having a shower or exercising. All this usually points to activities that help one to clear one's mind and think through a problem more clearly. No doubt some people find that doing that works for them, but how to apply this to teams at work? One usually finds that taking group showers at work isn't something that is going to happen anytime soon. So what does a business do if it needs good ideas on a regular basis? One way is to depend on having your very own, in-house genius. In other words, one key employee who is really exceptionally good at generating good ideas. Finding a genius is usually like looking for a needle in a haystack though, unless you happen to already have one. However, keeping a genius is fraught with problems, and we argue, far too unreliable to be a systematic means for a company to generate great new ideas consistently and continuously. Geniuses can get too egotistical


INNOVATION MONTHLY March 14, 2008

Finding your own inner genius continued... By Jason Tay

and provide their ideas for sale to the highest bidder; a genius can leave the company if they feel their talents are not fully appreciated where they are; a genius may produce one great idea then dry up; a genius may not be able to perform “on command” as it were. And – sorry to say this – but geniuses can also “expire” unexpectedly.

experience, it doesn't just apply to the social distance between people but amazingly applies to ideas as well. Put 6 people together with one idea each. At the end of a well run brainstorming session, the result is not 6 good ideas but many more than that! Easily in the order of 100 or more, with perhaps 20 making it past further assessment.

I've already hinted at a number of factors which we feel are essential in an organisation's ability to innovate, generate good ideas and solutions – a systematic process, good planning, repeatability, sustainability – are all essential factors in any method or practice that is to be used by any business whenever it does anything, otherwise you will not be able to plan the future of the business. Indeed, far better than having one star genius employee who generates good ideas is a systematic process and framework of tools and management techniques that can be used to generate new ideas, great solutions whenever it is required, in a repeatable way, and with all teams in an organisation, irrespective of who is actually in those teams. Anyone who owns or runs a business cannot afford to ransom the future and performance of their business to pure chance.

This works by engineering diversity into the team member selection. You need the right number of people – not too few, and not too many – a mix of genders and backgrounds and finally, a really skillful session facilitator. A good facilitator must be able to manage the team diplomatically, bring out the best in the team and although he or she will not generate any ideas of his or her own, will be critical in ensuring that the 2 or 3 hours spent brainstorming have been spent in the best possible, productive way.

I hope that with this article I have awakened a few of our readers' awareness and at the very least, made a few of you think about how your teams are organised and whether you really are planning for good solutions or just leaving good solutions up to lone geniuses and chance. If you'd like to learn even more about innovation for teams, and management One of the key elements in why a well structured and managed techniques to improve innovation, I suggest you contact team can produce far better ideas more consistently than a lone Kwerkus 6's training department. ;) genius is because of Six Degrees of Separation. In our

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INNOVATION MONTHLY March 14, 2008

“WOULD YOU PLEASE BE SO KIND AS TO ASSIST ME, PLEASE?”

baggY trouseR By Rosa Maria Galvan

I don’t care much about brands. At least not in the sense most people care about them. I don’t think using the products of a certain brand can or should define who I am and my personality. I personally couldn’t care less about a branded item unless the item at hand adds extra value to the experience I would get if I were to buy the same item from a different brand or a non branded item at all. I can always buy a pair of jeans in any store, any time, any given day, but there is a casual wear brand I’m always attracted to no matter where in the world I am. The moment I see the logo, I’m immediately healed to go in and look around in all sections, namely: men, women, and even children, although I do not have any children of my own. Their clothes are good quality, durable, conventional, extremely comfortable, modern in styling and more over, attractive to people from all walks of life. You wear them and they feel like your second skin, what else can you expect? A GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE.

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Up until recently my customer experience in this brand stores was good going to excellent; however, that changed in my last visit in mid December. I decided to give Xmas shopping a try on a new very trendy and up-market shopping mall in KL. As I finished buying all the items in my shopping list I decided to get myself a much needed pair of black trousers that can be worn with everything at any time. Knowing that this brand produces very good quality and durable garments and acknowledging to myself that I simply hate wasting my time shopping, I decided to go for a brand I always know I can rely on for style, comfort and quality. I headed to their brand new store and once inside I browsed around looking for the item I needed to buy. Much to my despair nobody came to my help although I called the shop assistants twice. The two available “costumer service officers” were much more interested looking at themselves in the mirror and comparing their hair style, or so it seemed from


INNOVATION MONTHLY March 14, 2008

baggY trouseR continued... By Rosa Maria Galvan

where I was. I actually saw myself forced to raise my voice above its normal volume and, much to my surprise, I heard myself say in a very stern tone “WOULD YOU PLEASE BE SO KIND AS TO ASSIST ME, PLEASE?”. As the apathetic oily faced almost anorexic looking sales assistant approached me with a resentful look in his face he said in a monotonous and lazy tone of voice “howcanihelpyou?”. At that moment I just felt I should walk out the store and write a letter to whoever was in charge of employing such an unengaged young man. However, I decided to stay and save myself another trip to any shopping mall. After I had explained to the young man what I wanted he replied “waitthere” just to turn around and disappear and never to be seen again. A new sales assistant arrived and asked me again how I could be helped. I explained again what I wanted and he proceeded to show me all the items that fitted my needs. I started to try them one by one, I realized that I had been given different sizes and most turn out to be too big or too small. Once I explained to a fourth person what the problem was, he scornfully resorted to looking for the size I wanted in all the different models I wanted to try. Once I had decided on one and the right size, I was told to get a pair of trousers a size bigger because that material would shrink a size down with the first wash. And so I did. Little did I know at that moment that such was not to be the case and now I’m stuck with a pair of trousers one size too big that makes me look baggy and sloppy. After realizing what had happened to me, I had no will whatsoever to go back to the store and complain to whoever was there. It’s not the first time I feel let down by brand and I’m sure it’s not only me who feels this way at some point of their

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“customer career”. After all, we are all customers since we are all consumers. Our shopping habits and consumer needs may vary from person to person according to our lifestyle and disposable income, but we are all customers of some supermarket, petrol company, mobile phone service provider, computer brand etc., . We need shoes to walk, soap to clean ourselves, cars to go from A to B and any other product or services that makes our daily lives possible. The difference is what makes us choose one product or service and discriminate against others available in the market. In a world dominated by brands in a consumerist society most companies go the extra mile to get new customers and keep the loyalty of the existing ones. Some get the edge by offering the trendiest and latest models at a lower price range at the expense of quality, but are fully aware that that’s what their target market wants. Others prefer to cater the needs of niche markets that have specific needs and no other service provider or manufacturer has capitalized on before. But whatever these different companies offer, however much effort goes in market research, R&D, branding, marketing, PR, its purpose is defeated by bad, bad to terrible or simply non-existing customer experience. A product or service that does not create memorable experience for the consumer and creates no loyalty, or worse even, makes the company lose consumer’s loyalty, is defeating the purpose of whatever other effort there has been for a successful delivery of the final product. And let’s face it, in most cases our only contact with the company that produces or creates a product or service is at the delivery end, when we are the recipient of the finalized product. For which we pay.


INNOVATION MONTHLY March 14, 2008

企业与创新思维 By Lim Cheng Wei

想象你坐拥一个企业,拥有一群肯为公司拼命的

创新思维的训练,注重在如何把创新框架变成团

资深员工。每一次业务会议,主任们都能

队的文化。很多人误会,创新思维是与生

报告所策

的一切。公司业务看似稳定,但作为

天分,而且是个人,是在夜深人静,

来的

机一动的

一个领袖,你知道外面的竞争对手越来越多,也

的表现。其实这是不对的。创新思维,是能

越来越强大。它们都伺机想从你的企业中,分一

过后天的训练及练习得来的。创新的点子,是可

杯羹。你想:居安思危,应该改变了!可是,改

以在团队中,通过技巧及一些工具,讨论出来

变什么?如何改?

的。大多数人都知道爱迪生发明了留声机 (Phonograph)2,但鲜少有人知道爱迪生创意

如果你正面对着以上的问题,你企业所需要的 是:创新思维的训练!管理专家普拉哈拉德和哈

的背后是一个壮大的团队。通过创意思维的训 练,你企业的团队将可以

发出与众不同的企业

默(C·Prahalad & G·Hamel)在1990年提出了企

方案、产品,进而把公司或企业带向一个全新更

业核心竞争力(Core Competence)。他们认为

高的平台。领导者更可以建立一个特殊的企业核

企业核心能力是一

心竞争力,在对手中,一枝独秀。

稀缺的、难以模仿的、有价

值的、可延展的能力1。企业竞争优势来源于企 业的竞争能力。在竞争激烈的商业市场,如何寻 找自己企业的核心竞争力可扮演着举足轻重的角 色。单单就企业核心竞争力的定义(稀缺的、难 以模仿的)来看,企业中的创意及原创力是一个 很重要的元素。没有创意,根本不可能建立自己 企业的核心竞争力。

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------------------------------------------------------------------1 人无我有,人有我优:核心竞争力来自原创力 2 The Inventions of Thomas Edison


UPCOMING EVE

NT


rticle, a n a n o t n e m Want to com article or n a e t u ib r t n co s a line u p o r D ? ic p suggest a to s6.com u k r e w k @ n a @ andrew.t

inovationmonthly Feb 2008  

innovationmonthly is a collection of stories on innovation, design and trends.

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