November 16, 2012
Issue 7 – November 16, 2012
Buncee, Arturi, Curie and Discovery ………………………..……....………….. Julie Anixter
Innovation Goal – Growth or Strategic Renewal? ……………...……….…. Rowan Gibson
Why the Top 20 R&D Spenders Waste Their Money …………..…..……… Adam Hartung
How Innovation Processes Began at Shell and IBM ...…..………..…. Geovanny Romero
Leadership, Influence & Relationships .…………………………………..……… Mike Myatt
Innovation Cannibalism ……………………………………………………………. Peter Cook
Building Your Innovation Language and Culture …..…….….................…. Braden Kelley
Making Innovation a Reality in Your Company …….…..………...…….. Julian Birkinshaw
Innofacturing, the Real Innovation in Manufacturing …………….….. Geovanny Romero
Serendipitous Predictable Innovation …………………………………...… Michel van Hove
Your hosts, Braden Kelley, Julie Anixter and Rowan Gibson, are innovation writers, speakers and strategic advisors to many of the world’s leading companies.
“Our mission is to help you achieve innovation excellence inside your own organization by making innovation resources, answers, and best practices accessible for the greater good.”
Cover Image credit: technology metaphor from Bigstock
Buncee, Arturi, Curie and Discovery Posted on November 12, 2012 by Julie Anixter
We love meeting serious roll-up-your sleeves, get-it-done innovators. When Marie Clarke Arturi told us her story about how raising 40 million dollars for medical research inspired her to create buncee, we wanted to share it with you. With a Madame Curie sense of purpose, CEO Arturi speaks of two strong desires that intersected, and motivated her. Drawn to using the renaissance tools of the web, she wanted to uniquely acknowlede the people she met who are moving science forward. Buncee, Communication through Creation, is the startup that resulted.
Julie Anixter: You have a powerful life story that has informed everything youâ€™ve done for the last 17 years? Can you share it?
Marie Clarke Arturi: I created buncee LLCÂŽ, to be a fun online and mobile digital canvas where users can create interactive multimedia messages to better express themselves across all their social and private networks.
The start of our journey began many difficult years before I was even ready to dream of buncee, though. Our family lost one of our daughters, Daniella, to a very rare disease, Diamond Blackfan Anemia (DBA). To honor her much too short, but remarkable life, we decided to channel our grief into the development of a medical research foundation in her name with the goal of helping to cure this little known disease for the children and families living with DBA. Over the years, the Daniella Maria Arturi Foundation has been very fortunate to help raise millions of dollars for the cause that has not only let us fund individual research projects, but also host several international medical conferences that have helped inspire and multiply research initiatives around the world.
Julie: How did you raise so much money?
Marie: Our family spent years hosting fundraisers in all the traditional ways foundations do – golf tournaments, cocktail receptions, silent auctions, you name it, and we have dedicated personal finances, as well. We also spent time helping people in Congress and within the relevant federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and Center for Disease Control understand the value of rare disease research and the complex and important connections DBA specifically has to other disease areas. We really did our homework and tracked down as many doctors and researchers that may have known about DBA as we could in the beginning. With them, we formed a wonderful team that has grown remarkably over the years. They have helped us articulate to Congress and the agencies the tremendous promise in researching DBA, both for the children and families living with DBA, but also for communities living with other blood disorders, birth defects and cancer. We are grateful that the researchers and health policy experts within the NIH, CDC and Congress agreed with the research potential and that this work is yielding exciting discoveries for each of these disease areas. There is still a lot to do however and we’re thrilled that buncee has come together as a way to give something fun and useful to people to use, while hopefully also helping us raise awareness and funding we need to cure this disease and help other disease communities find their cure, too.
Julie: What is Buncee?
Marie: buncee® is an online content sharing platform and mobile app that helps users create and share their everyday memories, interests, greetings, digital scrapbooks, and business stories in a fun and social way.
To create a ‘buncee’, you simply log on and open your digital buncee canvas where you can grab a background (ours or yours) and add as little or as much multimedia content as you’d like, then share anywhere, via email or by posting across your social networks with just a few clicks. We provide users with multiple easy-to-use tools to add photos, text, messages or quotes, drawings and online content such as YouTubes, Soundcloud, flickr, Google images and even public Instagram images into a postcard sized buncee, which can be expanded into multiple slides if you like. We also have an iPhone and iPad mobile app, buncee bits, for quick, on-the-go ‘bit’ sized buncee creations. Click here for video presentation (1:20 sec).
Julie: What kind of innovation does it represent?
Marie: Creative communication. In a time when so many of the outlets we use for communication today, the twitters and facebooks of the world, have become more and more truncated, we give people an easy tool to say a little more….share a little more…! We’re a group of people that doesn’t think a “happy birthday” post on your wall cuts it. We appreciate the drive toward quick, digital communication, but don’t believe it should limit our personal connection to people, particularly the people we love. It seems to me there are times where we need to say a little more, be a little more personal, get a message across more effectively, and buncee is a tool to do just that. You can mix as much or as little digital content as you like to get your point across and easily share with one person or all “your people” in just a few clicks.
Julie: Why did you start the company?
Marie: It was upon leaving one of our medical conferences, while writing email thank you notes (I know, horrible…) to the amazing doctors and researchers that attend our conferences that the thought came to me. I wished I had a way to share the picture we took of all our doctors on an attractive background, with the all the personal text I was writing, so that I could create a digital “thank you” that would really feel special to them. Not a canned e-card, but something truly unique, creative and personal – online! I googled around for something like buncee.com, but there wasn’t anything out there. I’m happy to say – now there is! We thought that by creating buncee, we could help fill the void for people like me who were searching for a flexible, easy to use platform like this, while also becoming a fun new way to help us raise awareness and funding for our DBA research efforts.
Julie: You’ve just started up a startup! How do you feel about this?
Marie: I underestimated by a monstrous order of magnitude how challenging this would be. While I have a business background, I’m also a Mom and one that until now has been dedicated to rabidly learning medical lingo and the basics of running a foundation for more than a decade. Embarking upon a tech “start-up” at this stage in my life wasn’t exactly what I anticipated. But, here I am. Living out on the east end of Long Island, NY, on the North Fork, has also presented some challenges as well as some perks. While the “east end” would not be considered a hotbed of technical talent, we were fortunate to discover the wonderful talent that Stony Brook University has within their Computer Science department. With outreach to Stony Brook and other local colleges we began hiring graduates and now have a very talented and energized team. We’ve also benefited from our proximity to NYC where we’ve been able to set up a small satellite office within the very cool shared coworking space at the Alley NYC, which has given us great access to networking and creative talent in the City.
All in all, I’m really proud of where we are as a start-up. I’ve also realized there is a huge upside to doing something like this at an older age. As you get older, you learn about force multipliers. You have done enough different things in your life to know that when your team is on the same wavelength… which is when you feel it in your bones that together you can achieve just about anything. Our medical effort has been somewhat miraculous in this way and I can feel this happening at buncee now, too. You can feel when energy begins to converge and marvelous things await you. I’m not trying to sound too “new age” here, but prior to that moment I’ve had to simply…. Stick to it! Stick to it! Stick to it! That pretty much sums it up. Don’t get too excited, don’t get too devastated – stay focused and keep going.
CEO Marie Arturi, with buncee team member and daughter Francesca, showcasing buncee at the 2012 HOW Design Conference
Julie: What “job” does Buncee allow people to do?
Marie: buncee allows people to create, share, express themselves and even market their brands in a way that you can’t on other sites right now. As I’d hoped when I was first wishing I had a way to send a more interactive, attractive and personal thank you message to our doc’s following our medical conference, buncee has truly become THE solution that now allows me to get as close as I possibly can to articulating a feeling or a message in this new technological world we find ourselves in. There is no other platform that allows you to be warm, professional, cute, corny, sophisticated and/or funny in what your email or post quite the way buncee can. buncee is an outgrowth of your personality – online. We are all, each one of us at different times, silly, professional, poignant, artistic and loving. An “e” site like this needs to accommodate all components of our personalities.
In addition to giving everyday online social users a fun tool to express themselves better, we think buncee will grow into a platform that can help small businesses and not-for-profits that can’t afford expensive web designers and marketing staff by giving them an easy, interactive way to keep in touch with their customers. Whether announcing new products, advocating a cause or sending customizable e-greetings and announcements, these small scale organizations will have the tools to leverage buncee’s customizable canvas, social media integration, embedding functionality, and hyperlink capabilities to expand their reach and engage their customers. We see an application for the “big companies”, too, where buncee would not only enable the same great product reach initiatives, but would also be a new way for say a Coca Cola to team with a great cause for an advocacy or contest campaign by inspiring their customers to express their support or stories in an interactive way using buncee’s. buncee is also an ideal educational tool, providing students and teachers with a functional and fun alternative
for interactive school reports and presentations. We hope to partner up with a ‘perfect-fit company’ in the future, to offer users a print functionality for their unique buncee creations, as well!
People often say that buncee brings out your creative side, but as my self-proclaimed “no-creative-bone-in-my-body” husband said it best, buncee allows a person that never believed they even had a creative side to become creative.
Julie: What have other people done with Buncee?
Marie: buncee is a site where one person will being using it to create an e-greeting or interactive “I miss you” or “happy birthday”, while others are using it to market their products, make a school project, share memories, create a digital scrapbook of their vacation, or simply share their latest finds from new music and videos, to inspirations, fashion, and DIY tips….
Some are very simple – just a great photo with an inspirational or funny video on a cool background, where others utilize more of the functionality to share their story. People will share a collage of photos and a “happy birthday” youtube with a fun birthday background and messages and post for friends and family birthdays, and others have used it as to amplify their small business marketing. For example, if you’re a realtor, you could use an interactive buncee to help market your homes. In a buncee you can add multiple images of the home, hyperlinks to local community amenities, a youtube with a virtual tour of the property, and any personal text and branding you want, then “email” to specific clients, embed on your website, and post to any social network all within buncee. It’s a ideal as a leveraging tool for businesses in this way in addition to all the fun social uses people are using it for.
Julie: What is your hope for Buncee at the very moment in time?
A: While our buncee “viewers” are growing tremendously, we’re hoping the number of buncee “creators” will begin increasing, as well. We believe that the upcoming holiday season is the perfect opportunity for people to try buncee out! While there are plenty of great e-card options out there, none have the customization and integration capabilities that we have. We believe the ability to easily upload limitless photos, custom text, videos even, will appeal to people wanting to create more personal e-greetings, whether they’re sending holiday wishes, sharing family stories from the year, or simply sending a fun digital Happy Birthday or Thank You message. And, while artists and those who are a bit more technically advanced can have a field day with the customization tools on our site, it’s also important to us that those who do not consider themselves “naturally creative or tech-savvy” also have a very easy-to-use tool to create special, personalized e-greetings, as well – buncee provides that.
All in all, as we find our way, we hope buncee remains fun and inspires people to want to say more… and share the love!
Julie: How do you hope buncee will fund DBA?
Marie: Monetization strategies.
We will be working hard to implement a number of monetization strategies, which includes partnering with a print company so that when a buncee user creates a personalized e-greeting, digital scrapbook or “lookbook”, they will have a digital-to-print option. We also hope to build
partnerships with companies and not-for-profit groups seeking new ways to promote their brands, reach new communities, build their outreach and share their stories. We know firsthand how buncee has helped our not-for-profit, from sending out an announcement or sharing stories from our medical research community, buncee has been a terrific tool to have at our fingertips. Ultimately, we hope that buncee becomes wildly popular and whether through any of these monetization strategies or by selling it to a company that can take buncee to even greater heights, we hope we’ll generate funding that will allow us to fund, fund, fund, the DBA research we need to find a cure!
Julie: What has surprised you?
Marie: Many things have surprised us, but one we’ve been particularly delighted by is viewing the fun back and forth when people are “commenting” on each other’s public buncee’s.
Other things that have surprised us is how challenging this space is…. how high the bar is held and how quickly that changes. And, what users need in order to give you their most precious resource – their time!
image credit: buncee.com
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Julie Anixter is Chief Innovation Officer at Maga Design and the executive editor and co-founder of Innovation Excellence. The co-author of three books, she’s working on a fourth on courage and innovation. She worked with Tom Peters for five years on bringing big ideas to big audiences. Now she works with the US Military, Healthcare, Manufacturing and other high test innovation cultures that make a difference.
Innovation Goal – Growth or Strategic Renewal? Posted on November 10, 2012 by Rowan Gibson
What exactly is the goal of your company’s innovation efforts? “Oh, that’s easy”, senior managers usually reply, “We need to grow the business.” The line of logic here is relatively simple: “Innovation leads to wealth creation leads to growth” – which, of course, is fair enough. Based on this logic, companies of every stripe are now racing to pursue the kind of innovation that generates organic growth, new revenues, and wider profit margins.
However, while it’s clear that these goals are absolutely critical and that innovation is the only viable option left for attaining them, the case for innovation actually goes a lot deeper than that. Indeed, there’s an inherent danger to focusing most of a company’s innovation efforts on growing the top line or improving profits (e.g. by cutting more costs out of the system). The danger is that product innovation or operational innovation may take overwhelming priority over innovation at the level of the core business strategy. In most cases, these more superficial kinds of innovation lead only to short-lived success, and in the worst case they may be followed by disastrous failure.
Take Kodak, for example. Back in the 1980′s, the company launched the single-use, disposable film camera. It was a radical innovation that made Kodak a ton of money through the 90′s and right into the early years of the 21st century. At one point, over 200 million of these cheap and cheerful little cameras were being sold each year, representing an incredible 20% of all photographic sales. So, did innovation lead to wealth creation lead to growth? Of course it did.
Except that, next morning, photographic film was dead – or at least pushed from the mainstream to the margins – as digital cameras and camera phones became ubiquitous. Kodak has been struggling ever since.
In other words, innovating within the context of a company’s existing business model can be a good thing, and for a while it can certainly push revenues and profits into a steep growth curve. But in an age when disruptive change happens at breakneck speed, business models have a much shorter shelf life than ever before.
Consider the telecom industry. A few years back, most telecom companies were giving plenty of thought to innovation in things like products and pricing (coming up “friends and family” packages and so forth), but how many of them were thinking about telephony switching to a completely different kind of network – like VoIP?
Likewise, most airline companies were focused some years ago on how to innovate in things like their loyalty programs, or their onboard catering, or their First Class seating, but how many were thinking about the possibility of a completely new, low-cost business model for the airline business?
That’s why the true challenge facing companies today is not growth; it’s perpetual growth – it’s ensuring that the organization continually prospers, year after year, decade after decade, despite massive and everincreasing turbulence in the external environment. Companies need to develop the capacity to anticipate and adjust to the fundamental change forces at work in the world, dynamically reinventing their core business models and strategies as circumstances alter, and as new threats and opportunities emerge.
A company that has done this really well is Britain’s Tesco. Over the decades, Tesco has not only continuously innovated within its traditional supermarket business, but has also feverishly innovated around its core business model – adding a string of non-traditional businesses, from petrol sales in the mid-1970s to financial services, travel, legal advice, telecom and internet services, music downloads, gas and electricity, and online grocery today. This ability to perpetually reinvent itself and its industry has helped turn Tesco into one of the largest and most successful retailers in the world.
Here’s the point: the conventional line of logic – “Innovation leads to wealth creation leads to growth” – is in urgent need of an update. Executives need to understand the deeper insight that “Innovation leads to strategic renewal leads to perpetual growth.” Only by developing this understanding can companies fully appreciate the role that innovation should play in shaping their destinies. Only then will they commit to making radical changes in the core business itself, before the case for change becomes desperately obvious – as it has, for example, in the photography industry, or the telecom industry, or the airline industry, or the supermarket industry.
Perpetual growth requires perpetual renewal. It’s the only way to maintain continuity in a discontinuous world. And the fuel for renewal is innovation. Not merely innovation at the margins but deep, strategic innovation at the level of the core business model.
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Rowan Gibson is widely recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on enterprise innovation. He is co-author of the bestseller Innovation to the Core and a much in-demand public speaker around the globe. On Twitter he is @RowanGibson.
Why the Top 20 R&D Spenders Waste their Money â€“ Lessons from Microsoft & GM Posted on November 9, 2012 by Adam Hartung
Many people equate spending on R&D with investing in innovation. The logic goes that R&D spending is lab spending, and out of labs come innovations. Hence, those that spend a lot on R&D are innovative.
That is faulty logic.
This chart shows R&D spending from the top 20 companies in 2011:
Chart reproduced with permission of Business Insider
Think of your own list of companies that are providing innovations which change your work, or life. Would you include Apple? Amazon? Facebook? Google? Genentech? (Here’s the link to Fast Company’s 50 most innovative for 2012). Note that none of these companies appear on the list of top R&D spenders.
On the other hand, as you look at the big spender list some things might be apparent:
Microsoft is #5, spending $9B and nearly 13% of revenue. Yet, for this money in 2012 the world received updates to their aging operating system and office automation software. Both of which failed to register favorable reviews by industry gurus, and are considered far from innovative. And Nokia, which is so floundering some consider it a likely bankruptcy candidate soon, is #7! Despite spending nearly $8B on R&D Nokia is now completely reliant on Microsoft if it is to even survive.
Autos make up a big part of the group. Toyota, GM, Volkswagen, Honda and Daimler are all on the list, spending a whopping $36B. Yet, even though they give us improvements nobody considers them (especially GM) very innovative. That award would go to little
Tesla Motors. Or maybe Tata Motors in India.
Pharmaceuticals make up the dominant industry. Novartis, Roche, Pfizer, Merck, Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi,
GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca are all here – spending a cumulative $54B! Yet, they have all failed to give the world any incredible new drugs, all have profit struggles, and the industry is rife with discussions about weak product pipelines. The future of modern medicine increasingly is shifting to genetic solutions, biologics and more specific alternatives to the historical drug regimes from these aging pharma R&D programs. Do you see the obvious pattern? Most big R&D spenders are not really seeking innovations. They are spending money on historical programs, following historical patterns and trying to defend and extend the historical business. In other words, they are spending vast sums attempting to sustain (or recapture) historical success. And, as the list shows, largely doing a pretty lousy job of it.
If you were given $10,000 to invest would you select these top 20 R&D spenders – or would you look for other, more innovative companies. From a profitability, rate of return and trend perspective, most of these companies look weak – or downright horrible.
Innovators don’t focus on what they spend, but where they spend it.
The companies most known for innovation don’t keep spending money year after year on their old business. Instead of digging deeper into what they already know, they invest laterally. They spend money putting the pieces together in new, unique ways. They try to find new solutions to old problems, using new – even fringe – technologies. They try to develop disruptive solutions that actually change the marketplace, rather than trying to make something that already exists better, faster or cheaper.
Lots of people like to think there is “scale” in research. Bigger is better. What’s more important, for investors, is that there is “diminishing returns.” The more you research an area the more you have to spend to find anything new. The costs keep escalating, as the gains shrink. After investing for a while, continuing to research an area is not a good investment (although it may be very intellectually interesting.)
Most of the companies on this list would be smarter to scrap their existing R&D programs, cut the budget in half (at least,) and then invest it somewhere very different. Instead of looking deeper, they need to look wider – broader. They need to investigate alternative solutions, rather than more of the same. They need to be putting more money on fringe opportunities, and a lot less into the core.
Until they do, few on this list are very good investment bets. You’ll do better investing like, and in, the real innovators.
image credit: entrerev
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Adam Hartung, author of Create Marketplace Disruption, is a Faculty and Board member of the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, Managing Partner of Spark Partners, and writes for Forbes and the Journal for Innovation Science.
How Innovation Processes Began at Shell and IBM Posted on November 9, 2012 by Geovanny Romero
In today’s article I will review the beginnings in innovation programs implemented by companies Shell and IBM, using the A-to-F Model described in the book Winning at Innovation .
In the mid 1990s Shell created the “GameChanger” panel, a group of creatively minded mid-level executives who could also draw on other technical resources across the company. They were given the task of developing new ideas, using a $20 million budget to implement disruptive ideas.
The GameChanger panel, in turn, created several more teams to perform some of the basic functions of the innovation process: an innovation lab, would be responsible to explore, refine and improve ideas, and a committee of entrepreneurs, who would be responsible for assessing and financing the winning projects.
The GameChanger Panel began in one division: exploration and production. Currently spread across the company and each division has its own GameChanger Panel process.
There is even a special GameChanger team, dedicated to radical projects that fall outside the boundaries of Shell’s existing businesses.
In order to identify business areas that might hold opportunities, IBM calls on customers, stakeholders and venture capitalist to propose areas of business where IBM doesn’t have a presence and that have potential for the future. IBM calls them EBOs (Emerging Business Opportunities).
IBM doesn’t look to its own R&D departament for such proposals because the latter is focused on current areas of business and therfore lacks the outsider perspective to think about new business opportunities.
IBM’s strategy manager selects the best ideas, and then identified within the company executives with long experience and they are at the forefront of important divisions, with responsibility for a large team of people, to invest in new higher-risk projects within their own unit. They are then designated to build the future of the company, and the height of his careers, put his experience to work on an internal startup.
Since lauching this system in 2000, IBM has generated 25 EBOs, of which only three have not resulted, four of them (Digital Media, Life Sciences, Linux and Persuasive Computing) reached every one incomes more than one billion dollars in 2003 and 2004.
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Geovanny Romero, NPDP, is a professional with great experience in manufacturing and innovation process with a variety of companies in Latam and Europe. His main interests are focused in Productivity, New Product Development and Lean Innovation Management. You can connect with him on Twitter @geovanny_romero
Leadership, Influence & Relationships Posted on November 10, 2012 by Mike Myatt
Have you ever wondered why some people have more influence than others? It’s because they invest more “in” others. Those with influence have built into others through some form of consistent direct or indirect contribution. Those with the greatest amount of influence almost always have the strongest relationships. My hypothesis is a rather simple one: If true leadership is about influence, then influence is about relationships, and relationships are about the investments made into people. In today’s post I’ll examine the ties between leadership, influence and relationships…
You cannot be an effective leader without influence. Let me make this as simple as I can – if you’re a leader, influence needs to be a competency. The key to developing influence is understanding contacts and relationships are not synonymous. Don’t confuse a database with a sphere of influence. A database consists of information records, and a sphere of influence consists of meaningful relationships built upon a foundation of trust – a point of distinction lost upon many. Spammers and info-product sales people add contacts to a database, while savvy professionals interested in creating influence invest into people for the purpose of creating and sustaining high value relationships.
As business people nothing is more valuable than the quality of your relationships. Whether you realize it or not, your success in business (and in life) will largely be dependant upon your ability to not only establish key relationships, but in your ability to influence and add value to your relationships. We have all known professionals that have been smarter, more affable, better looking, possess a better CV, or are more talented than their peers, yet they never seem to rise to the top. These professionals who seem to have the whole package yet fail to grab the brass ring simply don’t understand the power of relationships – they’ve failed to invest in people. Again, leadership isn’t about any single person, but rather a complex ecosystem of meaningful relationships.
Lest you think I’m overly mercenary in my approach, and only view people as pawns in a chess game, let me introduce you to Myatt’s golden rule of building relationships: ”Give, give, give some more, give until it hurts, and then when you have nothing left to give, you guessed it…give even more.” The best relationships are not built on the backs of others, but rather they are built by helping others succeed. It is by building into others and through assisting others in reaching their goals and objectives that you will find success. Reflect back upon your own experience and contrast the responses you’ve received when you ask for help from someone that you’ve previously provided assistance to, versus asking the same favor from a casual acquaintance that you’ve never lifted a finger to help.
When you closely examine the core characteristics of what really makes for great leadership, it’s not power, title, authority or even technical competency that distinguishes truly great leaders. Rather it’s the ability to both earn and keep the loyalty and trust of those whom they lead that sets them apart. Put simply, Leadership is about relationships, and the trust, stewardship, care, concern, service, humility and understanding that need to occur in order to create and nurture them. If you build into those you lead, if you make them better, if you add value to their lives then you will have earned their trust and loyalty. This is the type of bond that will span positional and philosophical gaps, survive mistakes, challenges, downturns and other obstacles that will inevitably occur.
You don’t change mindsets by being right, you do it by showing you care. Logic and reason have their place, but they rarely will overcome a strong emotional or philosophical position. Trying to cram your positional logic down the throat of others will simply leave a very bad taste in their mouths. This is a very tough lesson for many to learn, but a critical one if you take your duties, obligations and responsibilities as a leader seriously. The best leaders are capable of aligning and unifying opposing interests for a greater good. You won’t ever become a truly successful leader until you understand a person’s need to be heard and understood is much more important than satisfying your need to impart wisdom I’m going to make this as simple as I can…leadership is all about relationships. It’s the people – nothing more & nothing less.
Being right isn’t the goal – accomplishing the mission is. If you can only lead those who agree with you then you will have a very small sphere of influence. Stop and think about this for a moment – history is littered with powerful leaders who have fallen, failed, or who have been replaced, usurped or betrayed. Fear doesn’t engender loyalty, respect or trust – it breeds resentment and malcontent. A leader not first and foremost accountable to their people will eventually be held accountable by their people.
Generally speaking there are two types of spheres of influence…those that just evolve over time by default, and those that are strategically engineered. While contacts are rarely purpose driven, relationships are highly intentional. People who are influential have spent years developing relationships spanning geographies, industries, and practice areas. They have invested both time and money developing these relationships to a high level of mutual benefit.
So why is it that most people aren’t as influential as they would like to be? The answer is that most professionals, even if they intellectually understand the benefits of what I’m espousing, just don’t do the work it takes to build an influential network. Great relationships take great amounts of effort, energy and commitment. Think of the most successful people you’ve ever known and they will always seem to know the right person to call on in any given situation to influence or decision the needed outcome. This type of influence doesn’t just happen, rather it has taken years of painstaking effort.
If you want to create a powerful sphere of influence start by taking the following ten steps:
1. Create a Vision: Take pause and examine where you are currently in your professional career as contrasted with where you want to go. Think about the people who could help you reach your destination more quickly and efficiently. Don’t put any artificial ceilings on your thinking –
remember that almost anyone on the planet is only a few degrees of separation away from you. Be sure that your vision is based first and foremost on adding value to the lives and careers of others. Building a great relationship has little to do with what you get out of it, but everything to do with what you put into it…
2. Take an Inventory: Once you have a clear vision of where you want to go, take a personal inventory of your contacts and relationships. See who it is that you know, but also pay attention to who they know. Review in detail each and every relationship in your network and rank them on a scale from 1 to 5 with 5 being the contacts perceived to be of the greatest value to you. Make a detailed relationship plan for each of the people that rank 3 or higher. Take a personal interest in rekindling those relationships and finding out how you can help them succeed.
3. Participate in the Dialogue: Develop a strong core competency, and then give freely of your time and knowledge. Be visible and accessible, and don’t approach business solely based on a “what’s in it for me” attitude. Don’t be a joiner unless you can be a contributor. I belong to a number of organizations I will likely never see a paying client from, but it is through these groups I build relationships that will help me serve my clients. These relationships are only built because of the time I invest in them. Relationships don’t get built overnight, and are not built without active participation.
4. Value Your Network: It is critical you develop a keen understanding of the following point – your network is your business. The core value of your business is not actually steeped in the conventional thinking imparted to you in business school. The reality is the true intrinsic value of a business is in your network, which adds value to your products, services, brand, stakeholders etc. A strong network = sustainability. It’s your network that will provide you much needed resources, influence and leverage in both good times and bad.
5. Focus on the Positive: Don’t waste time with those who only see problems and flaws, but cannot ever seem to create solutions. The world is full of bitter people, small thinkers, naysayers and those who just get their kicks out of sniping from a safe distance. Remove these people from your network. Associate with energy gainers and not energy drainers. People do business with people they like, and avoid doing business with people they don’t like – it’s just that simple. Are you approachable, positive, affable, trustworthy, a person of character and integrity, or are you someone who is standoffish, pessimistic and generally not to be trusted? Those who fall into the camp of the former as opposed to the latter will find themselves having more influence and success. The key take away here is that being a jerk doesn’t lead to the creation of influence.
6. Quantity and Quality Both Matter: Successful networking requires an understanding there needs to be a balance between quantity and quality. Well built spheres of influence are both inclusive and exclusive, and while the emphasis should always error on the side of quality, this assumes you have sufficient numbers to create leverage and scale to your networking efforts. You want to avoid at all costs the appearance of simply being in it solely for the numbers, but it is also important not to be viewed as a networking snob who doesn’t reciprocate.
7. Influence is built upon a foundation of trust: If a person is not trusted there is a firm limit on their ability to create and use influence. People will rarely make a leap of faith for someone who hasn’t earned their trust. However most people will gladly take a blind leap of faith for someone whom they have come to trust. Trust matters.
8. Influence is built upon making others successful: This is often times referred to as the law of reciprocity. The theory is that if you invest yourself in making someone else successful, then they in turn will likely be predisposed to helping you become successful. While this principle will not always pan out, in my experience it has held true across the overwhelming majority of my interactions through the years. True influence is rarely built upon the backs of others, but rather by helping others achieve their goals.
9. Influence is most often possessed by those with authority: It is important to realize that there is a reason for the statement “the highest authority is that which is given, and rarely that which is taken.” Authority is most often given to those who display honesty, competency, empathy, expertise and wisdom. With authority comes credibility, and with credibility comes influence. While influence can be wielded by those without authority, it will be limited in both scope and scale. Those with the most authority will always have the most influence.
10. Value and scarcity drive influence: Understanding the value of your position, brand, authority, resources, access to people or knowledge and any number of other items as it relates to fulfilling the needs and desires of others creates influence. To the extent anything under your direct or indirect control is scarce or proprietary your ability to create influence will increase significantly.
Keep in mind the purpose of developing influence is not to manipulate for personal gain, but rather to facilitate for mutual benefit. Take a sincere interest in the success of others, work on your likability factor, become adept at gaining commitment, develop your authority, secure access to things of value and/or scarcity, and your influence with others will increase.
Bottom line – engineer a relationship development plan built upon service, trust, giving and adding value – then work the plan. Before you whine about how much time this will take, consider if you will the potential rewards at stake and ask yourself this question: Can I afford not to do this?
If you have any additional tips or advice to add to what you’ve just read, I’d love to have your feedback and input in the comments section below…
Mike Myatt, is a Top CEO Coach, author of “Leadership Matters…The CEO Survival Manual“, and Managing Director of N2Growth.
Innovation Cannibalism Posted on November 10, 2012 by Peter Cook
In this interview, I’m talking with Mark Lambert. With a background in HSBC global markets, Mark is a Deep Purple fanatic and a jazz drummer to boot, having performed with Bernie Tormé at our Monsters of Rock event.
Mark’s controversial thesis is that innovation eats itself. I asked him to explain more:
“The business writer Michael Porter tells us that organisations seek competitive advantage by offering consumers new products and services. Merely cost-cutting and re-engineering are insufficient for a company to survive. Instead, constant innovation is required to stay ahead in the battle for consumers.”
Is there a limit to how far this idea applies?
“Although the number of potential consumers is large and growing, an optimistic view (putting aside famines, droughts, diseases and wars for a moment) is that there will eventually, one would hope, come a time when, to borrow the ideas of Maslow, all of their needs at all levels will be met. Moreover, given the relative pace of technological change compared to the rate of human evolution, that time may be soon approaching. Once consumers have all their perceived needs met, where is the pressure to innovate?
Conventional wisdom would have us believe that innovation is everywhere: mobile phones, e-mail and the Internet have all transformed business and social life in the last 30 years. The world of today is very different from the world of only a few decades ago. People in the developed world, especially young people, are switched-on, on-line and linked-in, with supercomputer-like processing power at their finger-tips, unprecedented access to information and extensive social networks.
Yet in one area, there is less change.
Popular music in the 1970’s was awash with a rich variety of styles. Alongside well-established genres that included ‘easy listening’ and jazz, new genres emerged such as jazz-funk, disco and several variations of rock that included ‘heavy’, ‘progressive’ and ‘punk’. In Darwinian terms, some of these more-or-less random musical mutations can be, with hindsight, considered failures while others succeeded and spawned other new styles such as ‘new age’ and ‘electronica’. The target consumer group was generally people under the age of about 30 and music was one of the major entertainment/leisure time activities available, the main competitor being television (which had the disadvantages of limited choice, lack of record/replay facilities and relatively poor sound quality). A trip to the local record shop and a new LP purchase would typi cally be followed by an evening of contemplative listening, maybe a with couple of friends and a mug of instant coffee.
Now press the fast-forward button on your portable cassette player. In 2012, the typical western teenager’s entertainment needs are met by a greater number of product offerings that are facilitated by more sophisticated technologies, especially the Internet. Music now struggles to
compete with high-quality (in the technological if not the creative sense) audio-visual content from the likes of YouTube. Social networking sites are popular and smart phones have a vast range of appealing apps. Young consumers tend to have less spare time, lower boredom thresholds, and are more adept than their parents at multi-tasking – listening to background television while twittering friends and doing their homework. They generally prefer to download individual tracks from a favourite artist rather than listening to a whole album and buy fewer CD’s than their parents. Editor’s note – there is more on this point in the interviews with Richard Strange and Bernie Tormé.
Without the perceived need, Joseph Engelberger tells us, the reason to innovate diminishes.”
So what would we expect to hear under such conditions?
“Songs which are musically predictable with lyrics that don’t demand attention from the listener and that are performed by artists who all conform to a generic appearance. The music industry becomes a cash-cow where commercial returns diminish and companies are unlikely to invest in new, riskier projects. Eventually, it no longer becomes financially viable to release genuinely new music with old songs being repeatedly re-hashed by an ever-rotating roster of new faces that look and sound just like the previous generation.”
Does it matter?
“Maybe it doesn’t really matter. Music is not the most important thing for a large proportion of the world’s population who have greater concerns (at Maslow’s lower levels). But a world bereft of innovative music is, ultimately, a less creative and emotionally uplifting place for us all.”
I could not agree more. Let’s take a piece of Mark’s favourite music to prove the point. Deep Purple in full flow jamming with their song Lazy from their album Machine Head, featuring the stunning keyboard work of John Lord:
Click to see the video
Mark Lambert is a Business Manager who has worked for several leading financial institutions in London and the Netherlands. He has a couple of physics degrees and an MBA and his areas of specialism include:
Analysing and solving business and IT problems
Creating and managing global teams
Writing : reports, magazine articles
Playing and recording music
image credit: greatamericanthings.com
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Peter Cook is Rock’n'Roll Innovation Editor at Innovation Excellence. He leads Human Dynamics and The Academy of Rock, and provides Keynote speaking, Organisation Development and Business Coaching. www.humdyn.co.uk and www.academy-of-rock.co.uk. You can follow him on twitter @Academyofrock
Building Your Innovation Language and Culture Posted on November 8, 2012 by Innovation Excellence
Are you looking for a way to build a culture of innovation in your organization?
Looking for a way to begin installing a common innovation language in your organization?
Well then, why not do what some of the leading organizations around the world are doing, and either integrate some Innovation Excellence RSS feeds from the nearly 5,000 articles on the site into your corporate portal, innovation management system, or open innovation community – or work with us to build a curated custom feed or email to help establish or reinforce your language and culture of innovation.
If you would like to discuss your custom innovation information or email needs, please contact us.
Here are some of the most popular RSS feeds that organizations around the world are integrating for FREE:
Main RSS Feed
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Or you can integrate a feed for a specific category:
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So, you can see that you can get an RSS feed for pretty much any category or author, by selecting one in the Authors or Categories pulldown in the right sidebar, below the “What’s Hot Now” widget, and then appending “/feed/” to the end of the URL.
If you’re using WordPress, you can find several potential plugins here:
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Go ahead, integrate some of our RSS feeds from the nearly 5,000 articles into your corporate portal, innovation management system, or open innovation community and I’m sure you will experience not only more informed conversations and contributions, but also possibly greater innovation success.
If you’d like us to curate a custom feed or email series for you, please contact us.
If you’d like to have me (Braden Kelley) as a guest blogger on your site or otherwise republish any of my own personal stash of 650+ articles here on Innovation Excellence directly as articles onto your web site or enterprise portal, you are more than welcome to do so as long you preserve proper attribution using this HTML snippet at the bottom of the article:
Braden Kelley is an Innovation Excellence co-founder, a Pull Marketing Strategist, and the author of Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire from John Wiley & Sons. Braden is also a popular innovation speaker and trainer, and advises companies on embedding innovation across the organization and how to attract and engage customers, partners, and employees.
If you take the time to translate my articles (including the author credit above) in a high quality way into other languages, I’ll take the time to tell people about your translations via social media and post them in the relevant Innovation Excellence non-English subgroup on Linkedin. We currently have:
Spanish – Excelencia en la Innovación Portuguese – Excelência na Inovação etc. – We’re looking for volunteer group moderators to moderate other languages
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Braden Kelley is a Pull Marketing Strategist and the author of Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire from John Wiley & Sons. Braden is also a popular innovation speaker and trainer, and advises companies on embedding innovation across the organization and attract more inbound sales leads.
Making Innovation a Reality in Your Company Posted on November 10, 2012 by Julian Birkinshaw
Three Principles to Focus On
Management thinking is inherently faddish, but there are some perennial favourites that never fall out of favour. Innovation is one those evergreen themes: it is a rare CEO who doesn’t list innovation as one her top four or five priorities.
But innovation is an elusive beast. Setting aside a few well-known exceptions, the vast majority of established firms feel there is a big gap between their efforts and their achievements. R&D investments have been made, stage/gate processes have been built, creativity training courses have been run, and yet the outputs –exciting new products and services—don’t seem to be falling into place.
So what to do? We can look to those old favourites –Apple and Google—and try to learn from them. But it is a flawed approach. Apple and Google have innovation in their DNA; they have many years of success to build on; and they have earned the license to take some risks. So we have to be very careful in applying our learning from these two to our own companies.
I think a more useful approach is start from the principles of innovation – the underlying ideas and themes that have been identified over the years – and to see if we can find ordinary companies that are putting those principles into practice. And when I say ordinary companies, I mean established players that are trying to reinvent themselves, and also mid-sized firms that are away from the spotlight, looking for new and better ways of working. If these companies are successful, then they are likely to be much more effective role models than Apple or Google are.
So what are these principles, and who is experimenting with them? Here are three that I think are really important, with a couple of company examples for each one.
1. Time Out
It’s a well-established principle that people need slack time to work through their ideas. 3M and Google, among others, have given “innovation time off” to their scientists and engineers. But most companies struggle to justify that level of slack, and aren’t confident it would be well used anyway. So a more focused approach may be more worthwhile. Consider, for example, the UK software company, Red Gate. They first experimented with a “coding by the sea” initiative, where they got a bunch of volunteers to take over a beach house for a few days to see if they could make progress on a software product. This then expanded to “down tools week” which is a company-wide initiative, once a year, where everyone puts their normal routine work on hold and commits to doing something new, something a bit risky, or something that has been bugging them. There is also a “sweat the small stuff” day, once a quarter, for getting on top of the creeping bureaucracy and niggling problems
that accumulate over time. These activities provide the necessary time out for employees, but with a reasonable degree of focus at the same time.
Loosely Defined Roles
One of the biggest obstacles to innovation is the notion of a job description – it is a sure-fire way of narrowing an employee’s focus around someone else’s view of what is important, and of not making full use of his latent skill-set. Truly innovative companies avoid giving people job descriptions, or they find creative ways of encouraging them to join multiple projects. For example, the UK consumer products company Innocent (famous for its healthy smoothies) asks all its employees to help deliver its vision, “to make natural, delicious food and drink that helps people live well and die old.” Over the last few years, its big new product lines – including a healthy Veg Pot and its This Water line – have both come from ideas conceived and developed by mid-level employees.
Tolerance of Failure
It is axiomatic that successful innovation requires tolerance of failure. Some pharmaceutical scientists will spend an entire career working on drug development without a single one of their products reaching the market. Strange, then, that so many of our management processes, the ones that support innovation, are designed to avoid failure and to ignore it when it does happen. We can try to breed tolerance for failure through our skills as leaders of others, but we also need to find ways of institutionalising this approach. Here are a few examples. Tata Group’s annual innovation awards include a category, Dare to Try, for the best failed attempt at innovation. Advertising agency Grey has a Heroic Failure award in similar vein. HCL Technologies has a prestigious leadership development programme which executives have to apply for by putting together, among other things, a failure CV listing their biggest mistakes and what they learnt from them.
Have you noticed a key theme that links these three principles? None of them involve idea-generation schemes. Rather, they are all about translating ideas into action. In my view, many companies get distracted by the allure of new ideas, and they forget that the hard part is taking those ideas and putting them work. That is where the real progress is to be made.
Do you have ideas or case studies to share on how to make innovation an every-where, all-the-time capability? Please enter the Innovating Innovation Challenge, the first leg of the Harvard Business Review/McKinsey M-Prize for Management Innovation.
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Julian Birkinshaw is a professor of Strategic and International Management at London Business School.
Innofacturing, the Real Innovation in Manufacturing Posted on November 11, 2012 by Geovanny Romero
We have been confronted again and again with the message that Manufacturing must evolve to Mind-facturing or Talent-facturing. But according this criteria, where is the future of manufacturing headed? What is the new-growth factory for a company?
In this article I intend to indicate the manufacturing’s evolution through Innovation, the real Innovation in Manufacturing. I am calling it Innofacturing.
For Innofacturing, I define six points that organizations should work towards a Real Innovation in Manufacturing:
1. Increase Productivity
Increase the Operational Productivity through of the well known tools of Operational Excellence as Lean Manufacturing, Six Sigma, Theory of Constraints (TOC), Business Process Management, etc.
Increase the Resource Productivity across the full “Supply Circle”. According to Manufacturing Resource Productivity the manufacturers can generate new value, minimize costs, and increase operational stability by focusing and prioritizing on four broad areas: production, product design, value recovery, and supply-circle management.
In production, the manufacturers should implement programs to improve labor and capital productivity through Operational Excellence. By incorporating energy and materials parameters into product-design approaches, manufacturers could reduce the use of materials that are nonrenewable, hazardous, difficult to source, or expensive. Changes to product design could increase opportunities for recycling and reusing components and materials at the end of product’s life cycle.
For value recovery, companies can satisfy their resource needs by recycling and reusing materials historically discarded as waste. Those involved in waste management and the use of great technological advances to pave the way by developing services that allow manufacturers to capture value from materials left over after production or after a product has reached the end of its life cycle.
In supply-circle management the companies could transform their supply chains into supply circles, emphasizes that materials can be looped back into the production process after they have fulfilled their utility over the life of a product.
With Innofacturing, the companies will have to dedicate much effort to optimizing resources and at the same time rethinking their business models to capture the value residing in resource ownership.
2. Implement a Continuous Improvement Culture
Kaizen or Continuous Improvement is a Japanese term well known and applied by many companies. This is part of Operational Excellence, whose main aim is focused in reduce operating costs, improve processes and working within a permanent culture of improvement. Kaizen is part of two Strategic Diamonds of Firms, this is understood with The Shingo Prize, a standard model for “create excellence in organizations through the application of universally accepted principles of operational excellence, alignment of management systems and the wise application of improvement techniques”.
3. Create an Innovation Culture: Innovation as a core competence of business, organization and culture
How the manufacturers turn “ordinary” employees into extraordinary innovators? How a manager or executive drive innovation to the core? A company should build and sustain an innovation infrastructure, a deep, corporate-wide capability for innovation, where the employees could quickly find the cash and the management support that they need to turn their ideas into market success stories. The manufacturers should seek monetizing the imagination of your employees, customer, and business partners everyday, everywhere.
According to Innovation to the Core by Gibson and Skarzynsky, within Quality Systems, the Six Sigma Black Belts had been trained to wield the weapons of statistical process analysis and continuous improvement; in this manner the manufacturers must implant the innovation gene in the company, must train and support to “Intrapreneurs” or “Innovation Champions”, so, innovation can become a systemic capability inside of organization. Every single one of organization’s employees, in every level and in every location, must be trained in the principles, skills, and tools of innovation greatly enhancing their ability to discover new insights, spot unexploited opportunities, and generate novel business ideas.
I am bringing two examples: when in 2001, Jeff Immelt, GE’s chairman and CEO, launched a “Cultural Revolution”, pushing its strategic focus beyond continuous improvement and bottom-line results toward the creation of bold, imaginative ideas. So when Whirlpool’s former CEO Dave Whitwam set out to define his company’s global innovation strategy back in 1999, the exact words he used were “Innovation from Everyone and Everywhere”.
According to several successful companies such as Whirlpool, P&G, CEMEX, GE, some examples of the changes or activities for create a Culture of Innovation are as follows:
The creation of cross-functional “innovation teams” in each region of operation, that will be lead by the innovation director. Each team consisting of 10 to 12 members from across the company, whose mandate is to generate new ideas and breakout proposals.
The participation of “innovation mentors” and “innovation consultants”, in part time o full time, who acts as highly skilled advisers to new project development teams.
The introduction of a companywide training program aimed at developing and distributing the mind-set and skills of innovation. Support for “innovation champions” in every part of the organization, who are there to guide and mentor any employee who comes up with an idea.
The creation of “innovation boards” in each region and each major business unit for to screen and fund the best proposals.
The organization of big communication events called “innovation days” where innovation teams showcase their ideas to stakeholders. These events are necessary to recognizing and celebrating the work of innovators.
The creation of a comprehensive set of metrics to continually measure the company’s innovation performance as well as its progress in embedding innovation as a core competence.
The establishment of a complete IT infrastructure, which integrates all employees into the innovation effort and allows them to track progress on innovation activities across the corporation.
By experience of experts, build the kinds of skills, tools, management processes, metrics, values and IT systems that are required to create an innovation culture and support ongoing can take an organization three to five years.
4. Developing Talent and Ability to Innovate
While a company is working on implementing a culture of innovation is very important developing talent and ability to innovate, as this will play an important role in defining manufacturing sector’s competitiveness in developed and emerging economies.
The report Talent is Key to Future of Manufacturing Industry indicates that the ability to innovate is the capacity for developing creative ideas and delivering innovative products and services to global markets will be the capabilities most coveted by countries and companies. Craig Giffi, Vice-Chairman and Consumer & Industrial Products Industry Leader at Deloitte LLP, USA said in this report, “Today, and for the future, the manufacturing game is going to look like a global talent competition, one in which countries and companies contend to find and develop highly skilled workers who can handle the advanced manufacturing processes needed to make innovative, high-value products”.
A new manufacturing (mind-facturing) needs to understand that there are certain competencies (in Scientists & Engineers, Technology Managers, Technicians, and skilled trades) associated with the manufacturing of certain advanced products, and if the manufacturers and countries lose those competencies it can affect the overall competitiveness of the nations. For this reason, is clear that there is a key challenge for businessmen to engage their cooperation in strengthening their ability and capacity to innovate.
5. Design and Build New-Growth Factory – Go from R&D to C&D
To systematize innovation and growth in a manufacturer company according of Scott D. Anthony’s article How P&G Tripled Its Innovation Success Rate is necessary create the right organizational structure for Design and Build New-Growth Factories. This includes large newbusiness creation groups, focused project teams, and entrepreneurial guides who help teams rapidly prototype and test new products and business models in the market. The teams follow a step-by-step business development manual and use specialized project and portfolio management tools.
Continuing with Innofacturing, consider important to apply the model for innovation created and implemented by P&G that allows go from R&D to C&D. Connect and Develop innovation model has a clear sense of consumers’ needs, the company could identify promising ideas throughout the world and apply their own R&D, manufacturing, marketing, and purchasing capabilities to them to create better and cheaper products, faster.
To spur innovation, manufacturers are collaborating more than ever before. Innovation is not going to happen in isolation, is necessary increasingly in collaborative arrangements with suppliers, customers and partner companies. The manufacturers will work with customers for customized product development and with suppliers for product design. According to Global Manufacturers Balancing Innovation, Cost Management there’s a decisive shift by manufacturers towards collaboration in the earliest stages of product development. Jeff Dobbs, KPMG’s global head of Diversified Industrials said in this report that “This inclusive approach to innovation not only disperses potential risks, costs and rewards across the supply chain, but it also lets manufacturers focus on what they do best by leveraging the expertise of external partners and accelerating speed to market.”
The companies that want to achieve Innofacturing, the real innovation in manufacturing must on the one hand to transform their operations through an innovation culture for build a New-Growth Factory and other dramatically increase their productivity (operational + resource), to stay within a continuous improvement. In the future, the smart companies will have to use their talent-facturing to dedicate much effort to optimizing all their resources, while at the same time rethinking their business models to capture the value residing in resource ownership.
image credit: brunel.ac.uk
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Geovanny Romero, is NPDP Plant Manager at Renovallanta-ContiLifeCycle. Managing Director at NPD Strategy in Andean Region. Member of PDMA International. His main interests are focused in Productivity, New Product Development and Lean Innovation Management. You can connect with him on Twitter @geovanny_romero
Serendipitous Predictable Innovation Posted on November 9, 2012 by Michel van Hove
Does innovation come from carefully planned research and facilitated ideation, or is it the result of individuals that somehow seem to be able to come up with groundbreaking ideas? The latter seems to have been the case when we look at some well known examples both in science as well as business, e.g. Penicillin, Post-it notes, Cornflakes and the Microwave to name a few.
There have been many discussions about the ability of larger organisations to act and behave like start-ups and have a more entrepreneurial culture. The entrepreneur connects the dots, â€œseesâ€? patterns and an idea emerges upon which he/she builds a business. While it is certainly true that large organisations could benefit from this type of behaviour they are big for a reason. Large organisations focus on planning for predictable business outcomes while entrepreneurship is often seen as a gamble that needs to be managed to reduce the risk on existing business operations. As long as the original business flourishes there is no problem.
But innovation is not and should not be an either/or discussion. In large businesses predictable outcomes need to be balanced with risk-taking for longer term survival. Managing both at the same time is a significant challenge, but it is possible and many have succeeded in doing so.
Letâ€™s look at how perfumers come up with their fine fragrances. This is a mystery to us much in the same way that great painters create their art or musicians compose. Perfumers seem to take inspiration from a diversity of sources and often interact with artists from other disciplines. Insights into consumer preferences and a sense of cultural context of the target market are critical to create perfumes that appeal to the customer. The perfumer somehow associates all this information with the ingredients that they blend to create the perfumes that we want to buy.
To a large extent this is a planned sequence of events to help the perfumer generate ideas for new fragrances. While there is a high degree of creativity and serendipity involved, (Chanel nr 5 is rumoured to have been the result of a mistake in the dosage of a certain ingredient) we can still see a carefully planned sequence of events, a managed business process with perfumers at the core of the operation. Serendipity and predictability co-exist.
We can learn from this narrative how to best facilitate both the seemingly random nature of serendipitous ideas and the rigour of progressing an idea from its inception to commercialisation. At the front end the question is how do we increase the chances of serendipity?
Our research shows that the basic ingredients for successful innovation is increasing the diversity of inputs and the number of interactions between them. That is why we find that in urban environments creativity flourishes because the high density and proximity of people causes more interactions between them. In businesses there are ways to facilitate this in terms of workplace design, e.g. Steve Jobs decision to place the bathrooms in the centre of the Pixar Atrium because it makes people run into one another during the day, but also in an organisational sense when people collaborate on innovation challenges.
We find there are generally four principles that help to facilitate serendipity in the innovation process:
1. Select a diverse group of people
Take a diagonal slice of the company, look at roles, backgrounds (professional and personal), experience, expertise and personality. Think beyond what you believe you may need for this particular innovation challenge to include as many perspectives as there are individuals.
2. Start with a clear sense of purpose
There is no innovation without aspiration. Spark the innovation engine by letting people know why you are looking for new ideas, what is expected and how you will facilitate the process. People like to know why and what they are trying to achieve and how you will help them achieve these goals. Whatâ€™s in it for them? Whatâ€™s in it for the organisation?
3. Develop a diverse set of insights that stimulate discussion
Organisations rely heavily on readily available raw data. Information on trends is abundant and many companies make significant investments in customer research to drive their innovation activities. But to develop a process that drives new idea generation we need to increase the diversity of inputs by developing insights in additional categories (or lenses in Strategos lingo) including orthodoxies, competencies, customer needs and analogies.
4. Maximise the interactions over time
Facilitate the innovation process by making sure there is ongoing dialogue between the participants. Setup teams that collect, research and explore information using the lenses to develop their own perspectives and insights. Ensure enough time to organise meetings, workshops, interviews and observation sessions where teams discuss their findings, challenge core competencies and orthodoxies and synthesise combinations of trends. The value is as much in the resulting insights as it is in the journey the teams will make, the interactions they have, and the dialogue it enables.
These four activities can be managed and planned without jeopardizing the creativity involved in getting to significant results. As with the perfumer, there comes a time where we hope to have an “aha” or “eureka” moment. Often we won’t quite know how it happened, but what we can do as innovation professionals is make sure we increase the chances of it happening.
image credit: miloadornoworld.com, pharmacytechnician.com, obviously-marvelous.com
Michel van Hove is a Partner at Strategos. Based in Amsterdam, he leads programs that help clients identify growth opportunities and build innovation capability. His experience includes strategy and business development, managing client relations and leading teams through innovation change programs. Since joining the firm in 2004 he has led strategic innovation initiatives across a wide range of sectors including energy, telecommunications, consumer electronics, and food and beverage.
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Published on Nov 15, 2012
Our seventh issue of Innovation Excellence Weekly for Issuu. Inside you'll find ten of the best innovation-related articles from the past w...