March 22, 2013
Issue 25 – March 22, 2013
The Black Holes of Innovation.......................................................................... Peter Doyle
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD): Why It’s a Good Idea ………...……...…. Miriam Clifford
Why Johnny Cannot Innovate ……………………….……….…..…...……… Matthew E May
Seven Essential Characteristics of Innovative Companies ……..... Jeffrey Baumgartner
Lean Services, a guide for success .…………….…………………….… Geovanny Romero
Is the Innovation Engine Running Out of Steam? ………………...…………. Paul Sloane
Nine Intrinsic Motivators to Increase Engagement ………………...……..... Harvey Wade
Innovation Chat with Scott Anthony …………………………….….….. Evodio Kaltenecker
Is Your Business Model Letting You Down? …..... Wayne Simmons and Keary Crawford
The Brain and Why Innovation Gets Rejected ….……………………..…...… Mark E Miller
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:
Black Hole from Bigstock
The Black Holes of Innovation Posted on March 17, 2013 by Peter Doyle
Astrophysicists spend a lot of time studying Black Holes, a region of space time which gravity prevents anything from being emitted. Black Holes are powerful enough to prevent light escaping, thus they are hard to detect. They form when massive stars collapse at the end of their life cycles and the power of their gravitational field sucks in anything within range. Corporate innovation has a lot in common with Black Holes.
Over the past few years, companies let go large numbers of research scientists, middle management and other staff. It made the balance sheets look rosier, which combined with hundreds of billions of dollars in quantitative easing, that is cheap money, has resulted in companies with trillions of dollars of ready-to-spend cash on the books today. However, they did not invest in innovation, like Black Holes little or no capital emitted from these companies; instead, they sucked in all the smaller profitable companies within range. It may cheer investors and stockbrokers, but it left entrepreneurs and promising early start-ups without funds to develop their companies. It has to change.
There are moves within corporate culture to create ‘intrapreneurs.‘ In a recent article here on Innovation Excellence, John Webb wrote, “One of the biggest challenges for any intrapreneur or intrapreneurial venture is to navigate the idea or initiative through the maize of corporate decision making to get to the ultimate sources of power that can actually sanction the project or provide allocation of resources.”
There is an obvious contradiction here. Companies are downsizing staff and at the same time want to create a culture of internal entrepreneurship. From a psychological point of view, why would any employee risk association with failure when he or she sees colleagues fired? The internal politics of corporations operates as fiefdoms, freewheeling entities threaten the internal power of managers. Further, large corporations operate as a series of internal profit centers for products and services.
As much as Richard Branson believes “everyone becomes so immersed in what they’re doing that they feel like they own their companies,” the reality is that employees have little or no say over their future.
A practical alternative one that will emit capital from the corporate Black Holes is to invest some of those trillions of dollars in promising startups. This does not mean that companies dole out money to every good idea and just let them go one their merry way. Within companies, there are many talented middle managers; most hit a glass ceiling in their career path. As they get older, many with mortgages and children heading to college keep a low profile. Not rocking the boat is a preferred option. Internal politics becomes more important than enterprising ideas. However, there is another approach.
What if companies funded promising start-ups?
What if middle managers oversee the investment?
What if companies pay their salaries for a guaranteed period of five years?
What if these middle managers were only answerable to one executive in charge of these investments?
The benefits are manifold, if the investment succeeds then the middle manager is now an executive of a small growing company, in charge of his or her destiny. He or she gained hands on experience in being an entrepreneur. The large company has a stake in a profitable new venture. Within the “mother” company, young up and coming talent moves up and sees there is a future nirvana beckoning in the form of a possible “Intrapreneurship.” There is no threat to existing fiefdoms, no risk to profit centers. Corporations cease to be Black Holes.
Just one other point, it is worth noting what happens eventually to Black Holes, they keep sucking in mass and energy until they explode and become insignificant white dwarfs and neutron stars.
image credit: bullet holes isolated on black from bigstock
Peter Doyle is an award winning media marketing, news and documentary producer using rich media to accelerate innovation and commercialization. Check me out at http://www.linkedin.com/in/peterjdoyle
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD): Why It’s A Good Idea Posted on March 18, 2013 by Miriam Clifford
Education must move with the times. What can be done to reach a technology-savvy generation that relies on media every free second of their time?
BYOD-Bring Your Own Device, a trend that is catching on quickly. Bring Your Own Device has transformed the classroom by creating new opportunities for learning.
Studies find that Generation Y is highly reliant on wireless devices and phones. And rather than fight it, educators can use this to their advantage.
In Millennians: A Portrait of the Next Generation, the researchers found that most of Generation Y prefers to connect wirelessly (81%) and the majority use social networking to connect with others (73%). Merging education with these devices seems a logical step.
C&R market research found that more students own a cell phone at younger ages: With 22 % owning a cell phone at ages 6-9, 60% of tweens (ages 10-14), and 84% of teens (ages 15-18). Since most students already own a cell phone by high school, it’s a resource that many educators are arguing should be used in the classroom. Much like calculators and ball point pens, it took a while for educators to accept the BYOD trend, but it is becoming commonly accepted.
Why Does BYOD Makes Sense For Educators? 1. BYOD is cost effective.
Computer labs are expensive and costly to replace. For example, many libraries are moving away from computer labs and actually leasing laptops for use in public facilities. BYOD eases the demand imposed on schools. It allows the most effective use of most recent technologies in the classroom, since students replace the technology themselves.
2. Embracing these tools makes education more interactive.
Technology can make learning fun and engaging! Teachers and students might create podcasts, use a software voting tool such as Polleverywhere, or design a digital scavenger hunt. The interactive nature of BYOD hones in on student learning. Digital
books often include free supplemental resources, such as study guides, chapter outlines, and interactive tests that monitor progress and provide immediate feedback.
3. BYOD makes differential instruction easier.
Teachers can use media to meet different learning needs. BYOD allows students to be in control of their learning. Many tech tools can help students with disabilities or even translate words for ELL students.Gifted students can research more advanced applications and students who need practice can do so individually. For instance, some districts are using programs like Think through Math, which tutors students online in real time.
4. Portable devices make learning a part of students’ lives. BYOD bridges the gap between in school and at home learning. According to an article in edudemic about cell phone use in schools, learning becomes easier to achieve, as it is more collaborative. Students can integrate the device into their daily lives.
Using Remind101, teachers can send email reminders or course syllabi. They might text each other to discuss homework or arrange social media study groups.
A free application called Studyboost, allows students to receive study questions via text.
Cengage Brain even allows college students to use their cell phones or IPads to prepare for tests and read their digital e-books. Students might use their devices to break away in small discussion groups, with one taking notes and others finding relevant questions related to the class topic.
Kindle, Wikipedia, and Google books offer a list of free textbooks that students can access in the classroom.
5. BYOD is a manageable strategy with proper discipline rules. For those who fear devices for the potential of rule bending, BYOD provides new learning opportunities. Educators can teach technology etiquette and ethics, which is becoming increasingly necessary. BYOD can be managed like any other resource in the classroom.Guidelines can be put in place to restrict use to learning. At the workplace, some employers are using Mobile Device Management software, which can mitigate the risk of sensitive information. In the future, this technology can be further adapted to the meet the needs of schools and prohibit inappropriate use.
6. BYOD saves learning time. BYOD makes collaboration easier. Research can also be done faster. More diverse sources can be used to support learning. The alternative seems archaic: Go back to microfilms? I remember sitting for hours in the library looking at microfilms and reference shelves for articles. Educators might even educate students about how to evaluate and find the best resources in a particular field. Virtual walk-throughs are easy with technology at their fingertips.
7. Engaged learners are better learners. Bring your own device puts students in a position of power over their learning. Many educational researchers argue that giving students the authority over their own learning is best: the teacher becomes a manager of learning, rather than a direct source of information. Students might use technology to formulate their own questions about topics, instead of having the teacher pose inquiries.
8. Bring your own device can be used to engage experts from outside the classroom.Students can use communication features to engage in projects that require contacting the community or local leaders. In fact, millenniums are more likely than any other generation to contact leaders and engage in community service projects. Students can apply learning to real scenarios.For example, students might compare candidates’ political views from their website or advertise community projects on Facebook.
9. BYOD is becoming the norm in the workplace. Educators have the responsibility to prepare the millennia generation to enter the workforce. Teaching students to use portable devices is necessary.
According to Littler: Employment and Labor Law Solutions Worldwide, in an article titled, “The BYOD To Work Movement”, technology is blurring the line between work and pleasure. Little argues that employers should prepare to manage this “irreversible” trend due to the changing landscape of the nature of the “workplace”.
Many new employees choose a combination of working at home, or using after work hours to answer emails or attend to lower priority tasks related to their work day. Practice with BYOD in education will better prepare students to have a healthy work and life balance.
10. Some technology experts and CIOs are predicting the death of the personal computer . The further proliferation of portable devices – tablets, phones, laptops, readers, and other portable devices (perhaps more powerful laptops and new types of “cloud” devices) will further influence how schools view BYOD policies.
To talk about this trend, I contacted a software developer for cloud. He predicts that new cloud technologies will change education. When asked how cloud might be implemented, his reply was, “The sky is the limit.” Cloud will revolutionize education in ways never thought possible, such as through easy to access cloud libraries, interactive smart boards, and cloud computer labs.
Why Should Educators Jump On The BYOD Bandwagon? Embracing technology early allows better implementation and quicker development of learning tools. Teachers can help shape the emerging technology. Demand creates an environment where companies will respond to the growing needs of educators.
Better tools will be implemented to meet the needs of students. Being an innovator gives teachers the chance to make these devices easier, friendlier, and safer to use in classrooms.
After all, isn’t it our responsibility as educators to provide the best possible resources available to our students?
Image by nasa goddard photo and tablet computer image from bigstock
Previously posted on informED
Miriam Clifford holds a Masters in Teaching from City University and a Bachelor in Science from Cornell. She loves research and is passionate about education. She is a foodie and on her time off enjoys cooking and gardening. You can find her @miriamoclifford or Google+.
Why Johnny Cannot Innovate Posted on March 16, 2013 by Matthew E May
A few days ago a reporter for Investor’s Business Daily contacted me by email, asking several questions about innovation. I didn’t have the time to answer all of them, so I asked him what he really wanted to know. He replied that what he really wanted was a bottom line answer to the question of what makes the most difference in a company’s ability to innovate. As is my inclination, I reframe such questions to be about what isn’t there, versus what is.
Here’s my reply:
If I think about “why Johnny can’t innovate,” i.e. the things that prevent a company from cultivating a companywide culture of innovation, it would come down to a half-dozen things:
1. Innovation identity crisis.
If you assume that the consultants at Booz & Co are correct, there are perhaps three distinct approaches to innovation: needs-based, market-driven, and tech-centered. The first is the “humanist” approach good designers take. The second is the “capitalist” approach…the fast followers that optimize…like a Hyundai, or in many respects Toyota. They capitalize on Clayton Christensen’s “innovator’s dilemma,” quickly copying and even improving on game-changing innovations as they hit the market. The third is the “technologist” approach, like an Apple. Many big companies simply don’t know or can’t easily conceptualize which of these categories they fall into, or should fall into, given their bench strength. They end up “kitchen-sinking” it, scattering and squandering their attention and efforts.
2. Unclear innovation strategy.
Trying to be all things to all people just doesn’t work, and big outfits have a tough time articulating the answers to the questions my friend Roger Martin, dean of the Rotman School and coauthor of Playing to Win, likes to ask: given your chosen approach, where will you play and how will you win?. It’s a question of focus, which is something different (albeit a nuanced difference) than prioritization. It’s the ability to identify what you’re going to say NO to. Steve Jobs was great at this, and you’re now seeing the clear picture under his rule become blurry. He said he was always proudest of the thousands of things Apple said no to.
3. Inaccessible definition of innovation.
When I speak to groups I ask them to show their hands if they consider themselves good problem solvers. All hands raise. I ask for a show of hands for the learners. All hands up. Then I ask the true innovators to raise their hands. Less than 5% raise their hands. It’s because people hear innovation and think: gizmo. Or app. Or code. Or product. Or service. Or feature. They think of innovation as a noun rather than a verb. Best definition of innovation I’ve ever heard is by JetBlue’s founder David Neeleman: “Innovation is figuring how to do something better than it’s
ever been done before.” Dirt simple, and it doesn’t matter if you’re a CEO or administrative assistant…you can innovate. Without the clear definition of what’s considered innovation, you can’t ask people to innovate and expect an intelligent response.
4. No common methodology.
We’re not taught in school to innovate. Just the opposite. The very effective ethos of curiosity we’re born with and utilize during our first 5 years of existence–which is all about observation, experimentation, and play–gets schooled out of us. We’re taught to get the right answer for the teacher. Then the right answer for the boss. We lose our natural born capacity to learn and create new knowledge. So you have to unlearn the ways of business execution and reteach what came naturally: define a problem by observing or experiencing it, guessing how to solve it, creating a solution based on that guess, and quickly seeing if what you assumed might work actually does. Without a common methodology, everything is ad hoc, hit or miss.
5. Methodology doesn’t feature experimentation.
Beyond not having a common method, you’ll often find the de facto “innovation method” in reality being mostly an idea execution process, rather than a more scientific one. The mindset can’t be “I know what will work and I’m going to ensure it does.” It has to be “I think this may work so let me try it out.” Scientists work on hypotheses, which is a fancy term for guesswork. If people aren’t getting their hands dirty out in the field with users and customers, testing early low-fidelity prototypes and adjusting a solution, they won’t be able to truly innovate. For some reason, the hardest thing for those charged with innovation is get out of the office, out of their data reports, and do what the Japanese call genchi genbutsu (go look, go see): muck about with customers and users. I learned how important it is to do this while working with Toyota. Innovation is a contact sport. So beware the pretty process that looks sterile and linear rather than loopy and chaotic.
6. Mismatched talent-to-task fit.
Companies love to move “high potential managers” into roles related to innovation. Bad move. Those folks are great at plans and budgets. They’re great at execution. But what do you think they’re going to do when you move them into the messy and uncertain world of creating something new? They’re going to try to plan, budget, and execute. Innovation is about divergence, rapid prototyping, testing and failure. Big outfits might go to school on Lockheed’s Skunk Works…Steve Jobs sure did when he broke away from Apple to start Macintosh. You have to
do what Kelly Johnson, Lockheed’s maverick Chief Engineer did: break away from the main operation, steal away the hip thinkers that many many consider the lunatic fringe, and set up shop in secrecy to essentially get back to the garage, with the charge being to design a working prototype under a few intelligent constraints. If you don’t, can’t or won’t, you’ll end up hiring an outside firm that’s set up to innovate for you. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it just doesn’t help your efforts to build innovation competency. It allows people to stay in their power zone of planning, budgeting, and executing.
All these things are required for a culture of innovation to flourish. That’s why innovation is so simple yet so hard. Hope this helps, and good luck with your article!
I’m not sure if he’ll use any of it, but I hope he does.
Matthew E. May is the author of “IN PURSUIT OF ELEGANCE: Why the Best Ideas Have Something Missing.” He is constantly searching for creative ideas and innovative solutions that are ‘elegant’ – a unique and elusive combination of unusual simplicity and surprising power
The Seven Essential Characteristics of Innovative Companies Posted on March 18, 2013 by Jeffrey Baumgartner
What makes for an innovative company? An innovation initiative is not enough. Having the word “innovation” in your company slogan or all over your web site is not enough. Indeed, I would argue that any kind of focus on innovation as an end is detrimental to innovation.
Innovation is nothing more than a tool that enables companies to achieve unique, strategic goals. Here are seven essential characteristics of innovative companies. How well does your organisation do?
1. Unique and Relevant Strategy
Arguably, the most defining characteristic of a truly innovative company is having a unique and relevant strategy. We all know what companies like Apple, Facebook and Google do. That’s because they make their strategies clear and relentless follow them. An innovative smaller player may not be recognised globally, but its leaders, employees, business partners and customers all will have a clear idea of the company’s strategy. If a business does not have definable, unique strategy, it will not be innovative. Bland strategies, such as “to be the best”, do not provide a path to innovation in the same way clearer strategies, such as “to be on the cutting edge of mobile communications technology”, “to build the world’s safest cars”or “to deliver anything anywhere” do. If your strategy is vague or fails to differentiate your company from the competition, you should change this situation as quickly as possible!
2. Innovation Is a Means to Achieve Strategic Goals
Highly innovative companies do not see innovation as an end, but rather as a means to achieving strategic goals. Just as a good camera is an essential tool that enables the photographer to take professional images and the saw is an essential tool for the carpenter, innovation is an essential tool for visionary companies intent on achieving their strategic goals. Indeed, if you look at the web sites of the world’s most innovative companies, they tend not to trumpet innovation, but rather corporate vision.
3. Innovators Are Leaders
The one thing innovation provides more than anything else is market leadership. When companies use innovation to achieve strategic goals, they inevitably take the lead in their markets. Unfortunately, this does not always translate to being the most successful or profitable. Amazon has been an innovator from the beginning, setting many of the standards for e-commerce. Nevertheless, it took some years for the company to become profitable. Cord was one of the world’s most innovative car companies, launching cutting edge innovations such as front wheel drive and pop-up headlights — in the 1920s and 30s. However the company was never very successful financially and went out of business in 1938.
On the other hand, innovators like Apple and Google have been financially successful as a result of their innovation. In short, innovators are leaders, but not always profitable leaders!
4. Innovators Implement
Most businesses have a lot of creative employees with a lot of ideas. Some of those ideas are even relevant to companies’ needs. However, one thing that differentiates innovators from wannabe innovators is that innovators implement ideas. Less innovative companies talk more about ideas than implementing them!
5. Failure Is an Option
I would argue the the most critical element of business culture, for an innovative company, is giving employees freedom and encouragement to fail. If employees know that they can fail without endangering their careers, they are more willing to take on risky, innovative projects that offer huge potential rewards to their companies. On the other hand, if employees believe that being part of a failed project will have professional consequences, they will avoid risk — and hence innovation — like the plague. More importantly, if senior managers reward early failure, employees are far more likely to evaluate projects regularly and kill those projects that are failing — before that failure becomes too expensive. This frees up resources and budget for new innovative endeavours. However, in businesses where failure is not an option, employees will often stick with failing projects, investing ever more resources in hopes that the project will eventually succeed. When it does not, losses are greater and reputations are ruined. As a result, companies that reward failure often fail less than those that discourage it.
6. Environment of Trust
The Innovative company provides its employees with an environment of trust. There is a lot of risk involved in innovation. Highly creative ideas often initially sound stupid. If employees fear ridicule for sharing outrageous ideas, they will not share such ideas. Likewise, if employees fear reprimand for participating in unsuccessful projects, they will not participate (see item 5 above). If employees do not trust each other, they will be watching their backs all the time. If they fear managers will steal their ideas and claim them as their own, employees will not share ideas. On the other hand, if employees know they can take reasonable risks without fear, if they know outrageous ideas are welcome, if they know that their managers will champion their ideas and credit them for those ideas, these employees can be creative, implement ideas and drive the company’s innovation. In short, creativity and innovation thrive when people in an organisation trust each other and their organisation.
Along with trust, individual and team autonomy is a key component of innovation. If you give individuals and teams clear goals together with the freedom to find their own paths for achieving those goals, you create fertile ground for innovation. But, if managers watch over their subordinatesâ€™ shoulders, micro-managing their every move, you stifle the creativity and individual thought that is necessary for innovation. Of course giving employees autonomy means they may make mistakes. They may choose inefficient routes to achieving goals. But at worst, they will learn from their mistakes and inefficiencies. At best, they will discover new and better ways of accomplishing objectives. Most importantly, if you hire intelligent, capable, creative people and give them the freedom to solve problems, they will do so. And, in so doing, they well help innovation to thrive throughout the company.
What Do You Think?
There you have it, the seven essential characteristics of a creative company. What do you think? How well does your company fit? Have I missed an essential characteristic? Iâ€™d love to know your thoughts.
Jeffrey Baumgartner is the author of the book, The Way of the Innovation Master; the author/editor of Report 103, a popular newsletter on creativity and innovation in business. He is currently developing and running workshops around the world on Anticonventional Thinking, a radical new approach to achieving goals through creativity â€” and an alternative to brainstorming.
Lean Services, a guide for success Posted on March 17, 2013 by Geovanny Romero
Why have companies been so slow to apply lean principles and techniques to service processes such as finance, human resources, accounting, health care, and customer service? One reason is that the waste and inefficiency that can interfere with services are rarely obvious.
For decades, manufacturers have used lean tools and techniques to improve productivity, reduce waste, and get more from their assets. But the same principles of lean innovation can be applied to service functions.
In manufacturing, the customer doesn’t see or care about the production process itself, as long as workers aren’t abused and the product is acceptable. But in health care, banking, travel, and other service industries, the customer is the product moving through the process, and experiencing firsthand the frustrations of inefficiency. Satisfaction is critical, whether the customer is internal or external. And a lack of satisfaction is costly when it prompts customers to take their business elsewhere.
Key reasons for inefficient service processes are a lack of standardization and consistency, exceptions and rework that slow throughput, and an inability to analyze and manage the drivers of work force productivity and customer satisfaction.
BCG reveals six factors that increase the odds of success of services:
1. Identify and map end to end processes: A detailed analysis of processes and subprocesses often reveals inefficiencies, “work-arounds” and complexities as well as opportunities to improve performance.
2. Reduce complexity wherever possible: Complexity is a major obstacle to process efficiency. Flag and eliminate any variations, disruptions, rework or exceptions that slow the workflow. Rethink and redesign the process to eliminate elements that sap efficiency.
3. Define and standardize discrete work modules: Break each process into discrete, repeatable pieces with distinct inputs and outputs. Then standardize these repeatable process steps.
Besides increasing speed and efficiency, standardization can reduce errors.
4. Harness the power of â€œbig dataâ€?: The advances in computing power and processing speed now allow companies to gather vast amounts of data and perform complex analytics. The resulting insights can minimize waste, lower costs, and sharply improve process performance.
5. Set and track performance metrics: Once process work has been broken down into discrete pieces, those pieces can be measured and target benchmarks can be established. The metrics provides value in three areas: 1) To improve performance of people 2) To coach and improve workers, and 3) To set performance benchmarks and improve overall process excellence.
6. Cross-train to increase productivity: In some service functions, employees have uneven workloads at different times of the day, leading to periods of frenetic activity mixed with periods of downtime. In some industries, workers often share the workload by wearing different hats, for example taking customer orders, serving food, and so on, and other company cashiers can shelve products and department specialists can provide customer service when it is needed.
Implementing lean services is really an exercise in change management and one that is most effective when people at the front lines are engaged and involved in problem solving.
The companies should aim to develop lean champions and trainers who can teach lean methodologies and tools to others within the organization, ensuring that results are sustained going forward.
images credit: www2.hull.ac.uk
Geovanny Romero, is certified NPDP Plant Manager at Renovallanta-ContiLifeCycle, and Managing Director at NPD Strategy in Andean Region. A Member of PDMA International, his main interests are focused in Productivity, New Product Development and Lean In
Is the Innovation Engine Running Out of Steam? Posted on March 19, 2013 by Paul Sloane
The Economist recently ran a feature entitled, ‘Has the Ideas Machine broken down?’ The front cover showed a Rodinesque figure sitting on a toilet and pondering the question, ‘Will we ever invent anything as useful again?’
There are many pundits who think that the innovation engine which has powered the growth of the world economy is running out of steam. Peter Thiel, one of the founders of PayPal says that innovation in the USA is ‘somewhere between dire straits and dead.’
Consider as a marker the speed of travel. It improved dramatically through the late 19 th and early 20th centuries with major innovations such as trains, automobiles, airplanes, jet engines and rockets. But the big advances came to an end in the 1970s. Movement by car now is no faster than it was then – indeed it is often slower. We can fly from London to New York no faster now than in 1970 – indeed with the abandonment of supersonic passenger it takes significantly longer. Only 12 people have walked on the moon and the last of those was over 40 years ago.
At a more prosaic level consider the kitchen. Technology made massive improvements in the domestic kitchen in the first 70 years of the last century with refrigerators, gas hobs, microwave ovens and dishwashers all making life much better for the housewife (or househusband) but what has changed since then? What major innovations can you name that have significantly impacted the kitchen in the last forty years?
Productivity in terms of output per person increased in the major economies between 1950 and 2000 but since then it has stalled. Robert Gordon, an economist at Northwestern University believes that the past two centuries of economic growth may represent a one-off spurt rather than a sign of uninterrupted progress. He contends that there were only a few truly fundamental innovations and they have already been made. They include the use of electricity, the ability to travel anywhere, vaccination, mass production methods, and the ability to communicate with anyone at will. Surely there will be many more innovations but they will not have the impact of electricity grids or the telephone.
More evidence comes from the world of research and development. Studies by Pierre Azoulay of MIT and Benjamin Jones of Northwestern University indicate that an average R&D worker in the USA in 1950 was seven times as productive as one today measured in terms of contribution to innovation and growth. Many of the easy wins have been made. Also it takes much longer for any researcher to catch up with the frontier of their science or technology because there is so much more knowledge out there.
Countering this pessimism about innovation, the optimists would point out that although progress in speed of travel has slowed it has continued in safety and fuel economy. And if mature industries such as air travel have slowed, innovations in computing and mobile technology have powered ahead. Computers today continue to offer huge increases in computing power and storage capacity and these are being put to use by more people in more ways than ever before. And then of course there is the Internet – possibly the greatest technological innovation of all time.
The pessimists remain unconvinced. They point out that all capabilities of the World Wide Web, mobile technology and computing power have had little impact in improving productivity or driving economic growth. Indeed office productivity has stalled. It is likely that Google and Facebook are slowing down office work rather than improving it.
There are other reasons to worry about the pace of innovation. Governments speak much about the need for innovation but their actions often inhibit rather than promote it. Regulation is much heavier now than it was a generation ago, raising costs and making approvals of new products much more difficult. Furthermore governments are now unable or reluctant to fund the major new long-term infrastructure or exploratory programs such as the Apollo space project. Some of the largest sectors of western economies â€“ such as education, health care and government have long proved difficult areas for innovation, productivity improvement or cost cutting. It is hard to argue for, let alone implement, radical solutions in these sectors because of vested interests and public attachment to familiar methods.
Perhaps the doubters overstate their case but the worry persists that we have become complacent in assuming that innovation is thriving and can continue to drive growth and productivity in the West. Our levels of regulation and institutional rigidity are making innovation much more difficult. The emerging economies in Asia, Latin America and elsewhere are seizing the opportunity to change, innovate and grow rapidly. This is the challenge that we must contend with if our innovation engine is really running down.
image credit: teaching children philosophy.org
Paul Sloane writes, speaks and leads workshops on creativity, innovation and leadership. He is the author of The Innovative Leader and editor of A Guide to Open Innovation and Crowdsourcing, both published by Kogan-Page.
Nine Intrinsic Motivators to Increase Engagement Posted on March 20, 2013 by Harvey Wade
In previous posts, I discussed the role of a leader in innovation and the traits of successful innovators, but I have not explored the motivation behind getting people involved in innovation. I am fascinated by people’s behaviours and why they do what they do. Before I get too far into this, I must state that I am not a behavioural scientist, so this is a practical view from my experience in the field.
As any line manager will have experienced, your staff are not machines; everyone is unique in reaction, thought and views.
So why is this relevant to innovation? It is very easy to forget that someone will have a different view from yourself, and so potentially, think or act differently in same situation. An idea is simply solving a problem or exploiting an opportunity, and so if I want someone to consider my problem and suggest an idea, I need to identify what will make them do this.
Does anybody do anything for nothing? I believe that there is always a motivation for doing something, be it consciously or subconsciously. I have identified nine motivators that are intrinsic to somebody taking any decision or activity.
1. Love – of a person, object or outcome
2. For the glory – appealing to the competitive nature and the desire to be the best
3. Identity – it is what someone is known for or wants to be known for
4. Pride – to be able to boast of what has been achieved
5. Reward – driven by the incentive offered for potential activity
6. Self-satisfaction – could also be termed as enjoyment, believing that activity is doing good
7. Fear (or the “big stick”) – fear of a person, outcome or potential situation
8. Empowerment – having the opportunity to influence, shape or determine the outcome
9. Duty – involved and active because it is expected of a role or position
The real skill is not identifying these motivators, but what mix to use to successfully drive activity and behaviours from a group. It is obviously far easier to identify what motivates an individual than a group or crowd, so you must use a mix of motivators that will engage the majority of your target group. It is rare that this will be 100% “on the
moneyâ€?, but as you recognise what factors are in play, you begin to learn what works best with certain types of people in different circumstances.
Innovation is not just about having ideas, it is about implementing those ideas to create new value. Therefore, both ideators and implementors need to be motivated, so a different mix could well be needed for these different people groups and situations.
This may seem manipulative, and to some it will be, but I believe it is part of being self-aware and emotionally intelligent. Humans do this naturally and unconsciously, and so we need to be aware and consciously use these motivators to increase the success of our innovation programs.
image credit: 2013-valentinesday.com
Harvey Wade is Director of Innovation Strategy at spigit where is provides strategic direction and support to Citi Bankâ€™s global innovation programme. Prior to spigit, Harveyâ€™ the Innovation Manager for Allianz Insurance (UK). His blog is Innovative Thoughts.
Innovation Chat with Scott Anthony Posted on March 20, 2013 by Evodio Kaltenecker
Scott D. Anthony is managing partner of Innosight, the strategy and innovation consulting firm. He has advised senior leaders in organizations like Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, General Electric, LG, Credit Suisse, Cisco Systems, Ayala Group, and the Singapore Economic Development Board. Anthony leads Innosight’s venture-capital investing activities (Innosight Ventures). He also chairs the investment committee for IDEAS Ventures, a SGD 10 million fund Innosight runs in conjunction with the Singapore government. In 2009, he joined the Board of Directors of Media General.
Mr. Anthony has written extensively about a number of innovation topics including disruptive innovation and business model innovation. His passion is in enabling innovators around the world to realize their untapped potential. He is the author of Harvard Business Review article “The New Corporate Garage,” and co-author of the Harvard Business Review article “How P&G Tripled Its Innovation Success Rate” with Bruce Brown, P&G chief technology officer. He is also the author of The Little Black Book of Innovation, published by Harvard Business Press in January 2012 and author of The Silver Lining, published by Harvard Business Press in June 2009. He co-authored Seeing What’s Next with Harvard Business School Professor and Innosight cofounder Clayton M. Christensen and was the lead author of The Innovator’s Guide to Growth. He has written articles for publications such as Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, BusinessWeek, Forbes, Sloan Management Review, Advertising Age, Marketing Management and Chief Executive, and serves as a judge in the Wall Street Journal’s Innovation Awards. He has appeared on Good Morning America, CNBC, and FOX Business. He also has a regular column at Harvard Business Online. Mr. Anthony received a BA in economics summa cum laude from Dartmouth College and an MBA with high distinction from Harvard Business School where he was a Baker Scholar. Here comes our interview with Mr. Anthony.
How do you compare the perception of Innovation 10-15 years ago, when you left business school with today´s business perception? How this perception has evolved?
The biggest change is what I would call the “mainstreaming” of innovation. When I left business school it was still a very niche topic. Obviously innovation happened – entrepreneurs formed great companies and intrapreneurs took their companies in new directions – but there was a stench of randomness to it. A few forward-thinking practitioners were challenging that notion, using the great research done by Christensen, Mintzberg, McGrath, Burglemann, Govindarajan, Utterback, and others to approach innovation like a management discipline. Today there is a growing understanding that innovation is a discipline that can be mastered and managed. Individuals can get better at it with careful practice. Organizations can dramatically improve their success rate and productivity through the right approaches. I don’t think it’s fair to quite call it a science today, as there still are many questions that lack good answers, but it has come a long way over the past decade.
What are the newest trends in Innovation?
One clear trend is the smart management of strategic risk. About 30 years ago, Henry Mintzberg co-authored an influential paper that identified in some circumstances the right strategy couldn’t be determined a priori. Rather, it emerged from trial-and-error experimentation. Rita McGrath and Clayton Christensen have further detailed this idea. Over the past few years the entrepreneurial ecosystem has really pounced on the idea. It started when serial entrepreneur turned business school professor Steve Blank detailed his “Customer Development” process. He teaches that a startup is a temporary organization searching for a scalable business model. Since no business plan survives first contact with the marketplace, entrepreneurs have to build products and learn through experience what works and what doesn’t. Eric Ries’ popular book The Lean Startup naturally followed from Blank’s work. The notion of scientifically managing risk isn’t necessarily new, but it has exploded in popularity over the past few years. Another growing trend involves using social media tools to increase participation in innovation. Whether it is running an internal idea contest, or creating a so-called open innovation program, more and more companies are using sophisticated tools to make innovation a much more participatory activity.
Do you see differences in the way multinationals from industrialized countries and multinationals from emeging countries manage Innovation?
That’s a great question. One thing I see is that generally multinationals from industrialized countries are more systematic in how they manage innovation. Take Procter & Gamble. The company is famous for the disciplined way in which it approaches innovation. It has been working for decades to develop systems to increase innovation productivity. The company views it as a key strategic part of its growth plan. After all, it is an $80 billion company that hopes to grow organically about 5 percent a year. Some of that growth comes naturally from the “rising tide” of the expanding middle class in markets like Brazil and Indonesia. But a point or two of that growth requires innovation. You just can’t count on randomness to deliver $1 or $2 billion in new ideas every single year! Multinationals based in emerging markets generally are a bit less disciplined in their approach to innovation. Part of this is because they don’t need to be. Many still have substantial room for growth by expanding today’s business model. Others still have innovation deep in their DNA – they have succeeded by being nimble and pouncing on market opportunities. There are a few I know of, like the Tata Group of companies in India, the Ayala Group of companies in the Philippines, or Haier in China, that are more disciplined in their approach. But that’s the exception, rather than the rule.
What do you suggest to a multinational from an emerging country which has just recently realized that innovation is key for its longterm success?
I’d say three things. First, recognize that as much as you love your people, you might have to bring in some new talent from outside. Look to some of the multinationals that have innovation at their core, like the IBMs, P&Gs, Unilevers, Philips, Nestles and so on. Those can serve as great sources of innovation talent. Second, recognize the importance of a common language. We find that even the word “innovation” is defined differently by different people. The best organizations not only have a clear definition of innovation, they identify specific types of innovation that are of strategic importance to the company. Citi, for example, looks for core innovations (improving what they are already selling), adjacent innovations (either bringing an existing product to a new customer, or a new product to an existing one), and disruptive innovations (creating new categories). Finally, pick a defined starting point. Instead of trying to get everyone in the company to focus on innovation, pick a product line, or business unit, or geography that can serve as a “test bed” for approaching innovation in a different way. That focus helps you to figure out what works for your company and your context.
What are the most common mistakes companies make when they start a process to improve innovation?
The number one mistake is a lack of understanding about what innovation actually is. I define innovation as “something different that has impact.” Note the definition doesn’t have the word “new” in it. Innovation is different from invention, or the creativity that precedes it. Sometimes the best way to innovate isn’t to invent, but to re-apply an idea that has been proven in another industry or market context. Note too the last word: impact. Many companies perceive that improving their innovation success rate is all about coming up with the right ideas. They bring in creativity consultants, run idea hunts, hold brainstorming meetings, and create teams to license technologies in from universities. These aren’t bad things to do, but remember the old line from Edison: “Genius is one percent inspiration, and 99 percent perspiration.” Most companies are swimming in ideas. Those ideas might be locked up in their employees heads, or might have been shelved in the past because they were before their time, but they are there. The big problem isn’t generating ideas. It is translating those ideas into impact. I call this the “first mile” problem, where companies take the vital first step from a plan on paper to an actual product or service that generates revenues, net income, and free cash flow. While letting 1,000 flowers bloom is great in innovation’s early stage, focus and discipline is critical in innovation’s first mile. So, instead of trying to generate more ideas that will sit on a shelf or will get under-resourced and struggle, pick a few ideas that seem promising enough, put reasonable resources on them, and get busy attempting to grow them. Odds are that each of those ideas is wrong in some material way, but you only can learn that through experience. As one-time boxer and sometime actor Mike Tyson notes, “Everybody has a plan, until they get punched in the face.” Take your punches and see what happens.
Final question: What do you suggest to a young business manager that want to work in the field of innovation?
I would offer two pieces of advice. The first is to invest the time to read the literature. Innovation is an intersectional field, so that means going beyond “pure” innovation books to look at marketing, strategy, finance, behavioral psychology, organizational behavior, and more. The second is to find a place where you can consciously practice. It’s like riding a bike. Reading the theory is nice, but until you get on the bike and pedal, and fall down, you don’t really know anything about it. This could be at a company like ours that provides advisory services, it could be starting a new business, or it could be working on something innovation-related inside large companies. The last option might feel the most foreign to
people. For some reason many people have this notion that startups are the place where all the exciting innovations come from. That’s not true. There are some things only big companies can do. There are a growing number of companies that are blending entrepreneurial behaviors and difficult to replicate assets in ways that allow them to unleash big impact. Think about Nestle’s Nespresso, Apple’s iPad, Unilever’s PureIt water filtration system or Medtronic’s Healthy Heart for All program bringing affordable cardiac care to emerging markets. In my view, big companies are actually the best places to go to innovate. They have the capabilities, and increasingly have the desire as well
Mr. Anthony, many thanks for this interview about innovation – a fascinating subject
Thanks for the opportunity. I hope to visit Brazil soon. A lot of interesting things are happening in your country.
Evodio Kaltenecker is responsible for innovation and strategy in US and European multinationals in several industries such as Oil &Gas, Energy and Infrastructure. Editor of the blog estrategiaparatodos.wordpress.com, which addresses innovation and strategy concepts and explain them to larger audiences. He has an MBA from Harvard Business School and works towards his Ph.D. degree in internationalization strategy of multinational companies from emerging market countries and innovation.
Is Your Business Model Letting You Down? Posted on March 15, 2013 by Wayne Simmons and Keary Crawford
Finding the business model sweet spot can help companies generate both incremental growth from optimizing existing offerings and transformational growth from generating entirely new offerings. Rather than simply figuring out more streamlined or efficient ways to operate in existing markets, the components of business models can, individually or collectively, be reinvented to create entirely new markets and new opportunities. With Business Model Innovation, companies can build new pathways to creating value, inventing new ways to conduct business and formulating new ways to get paid for it.
Let’s explore Amazon and their pathway to becoming the most dominate retailer on the web. There is no doubt that Amazon’s e-commerce structure created a competitive advantage over traditional retail distribution channels. Such features as “1-click check out” created a highly efficient shopping experience that attracts suppliers and customers alike. But Amazon also recognized the potential to transform the way we shop by building the next generation platform and infrastructure that facilitates a “virtual mall” and gives customers unprecedented choice, scope and value.
By building the online shopping platform, Amazon reinvented its business model by creating an entire ecosystem of products available for purchase. This platform structure also supports the success behind the Kindle e-reader with not only selling the device itself, but also offering the content to download directly to Kindle. It also facilitates a double-sided platform – “Amazon Marketplace” – where sellers can offer new and used items alongside Amazon’s offerings. Instead of competing directly, the company earns commissions on each sale while gathering information on consumer buying habits. This allowed Amazon to substantially grow its customer base and to become a relative indicator of product popularity with its “best sellers list”.
But business model innovation hasn’t stopped there – Amazon’s infrastructure facilitates the Elastic Compute Cloud product that is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers. It allows companies to quickly respond to IT needs, ramping up hundreds or thousands of servers as workloads grow and scaling back down when demand slows.
Amazon’s exceptional business model facilitates company’s diversity of products and remains their main competitive advantage. Incorporating innovative practices into their business model structure allowed Amazon to build the next generation platform that sets the foundation for highly scalable business growth. As Amazon demonstrates, with business model innovation it is possible for growth opportunities to flow from the basic way a business is put together.
How can you configure your business in unique ways?
What new revenue streams can you create?
What is your main product platform (technological, process, service)?
How many product platforms should you define?
What leveraging strategy can be adopted for the platform?
How do you maximize the scope of your product platform?
image credit: growthstrategy.com
Wayne Simmons is an accomplished executive, innovator, value creator, and entrepreneur and co-author of GrowthThinking: Building the New Growth Enterprise. As CEO and Co-Founder of The Growth Strategy Company, Wayne leads the vision, strategy and growth of the company. He has worked for global advisory firms Ernst & Young, Deloitte Consulting, and has been a trusted advisor to C-level executives at Fortune 500 corporations, venture capital firms, and small and midsized companies. Wayne was trained in airborne reconnaissance for US Army Intelligence; and is an alumnus and Fellow of The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Keary Crawford is a results-driven executive leader with extensive experience in operations, M&A and finance for start-up, entrepreneurial and middle-market companies. As co-founder and COO of The Growth Strategy Company, she manages the strategic growth and vision, and day-to-day operations; and is co-author of GrowthThinking: Building the New Growth Enterprise. Keary was trained in Behavioral and Social Sciences and is a Fellow and alumna of the Executive Development Program at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
The Brain and Why Innovation Gets Rejected Posted on March 13, 2013 by Mark E Miller
Tell me if this sounds familiar: You’ve been working on a project or assignment and you have a breakthrough idea. Maybe it’s about what you’re working toward or maybe about something else entirely. Excited, you go and tell your boss or your team during your next meeting, expecting praise for your innovative thinking. What you get is careful, measured responses at best and outright rejection at worst.
Why is this? Are others at your organization simply not forward thinking? Are they egotistical and only focused on their own ideas? Is there no culture for rewarding innovation? These all could be the case, but it goes deeper than that.
Researchers from Cornell, Penn and the University of North Carolina completed a landmark study around our perceptions about creative ideas when faced with uncertainty. This article by Oral Roberts professor David Burkus details the research, but the findings are eyeopening…because it highlights that as humans, we have a natural tendency to reject things outside the status quo.
We love the concept of creativity and extol the virtues of being creative, but the way we’re wired precludes us from fully embracing new ideas. How creative and innovative can our organizations be if we don’t understand the bias that even the most open managers and leaders come with?
The bad news is that this confirms that there is NOT an easy path to innovation or a magic switch you can turn on in your brain to boost your creativity. Not only that, once you DO have a breakthrough idea, this research (and no doubt your own anecdotal evidence) points to the fact that you’re already facing an uphill battle to implanting your creative ideas.
Burkus makes a pivotal point that has huge implications for any person or organization: “It may not be the idea itself that is being rejected. The more likely culprit could be the uncertainty your audience is feeling.”
Assuming something truly is creative (novel and unique) and innovative (is applicable and fulfills a need), it’s not the idea. It’s the way its defined. It’s the way you communicate it. And, it’s the audience.
When you’re presenting innovation, you’ve naturally got your back against the neurological wall so to speak, but there’s two things you can understand, know and control:
1. Yourself – Knowing how you think and the way you behave is critical. Any person–whether you are typically characterized as a “creative” type or a “right-brained thinker” or if you’ve got more structured, logical and analytical tendencies—has the capacity for innovation. But knowing where your ideas derive from is key in understanding how they’re going to come across. You may naturally connect the dots (in a conceptual
manner) but not everyone will. You may think having a fully fleshed out, detailed plan for an innovative idea is necessary, but not everyone will. Think too about the way you behave—if you’re gregarious and driving, you’re breathlessly describing your idea and unabashedly speaking out. More quiet types won’t connect with this kind of presentation.
2. Your Audience – You can’t control who hears your idea, but you can look deeper into who they are and what drives that person. Are they relational and will they need to see how a creative concept affects employees, customers or the world as a whole? Do they have several key modes of thinking that mesh to drive a tendency to explore many options before making a decision. Start by asking questions that delve into what their thinking styles are as that can tailor how you approach pitching your own idea. Mirroring the behavior of others can be an on-the-fly adjustment that pays big dividends.
Laying the groundwork for successful innovation starts with understanding how our brains work—the new and novel is tough to swallow at times. So, it becomes an imperative to pinpoint a deeper focus, on a unique and personal level, about how ideas are derived and communicated.
This means that there needs to be a new foundation for the way individuals and organizations approach creativity and the translation of creativity into true innovation. It isn’t enough to come up with ideas…it now becomes necessary for innovators to understand the psyche of an idea.
Innovation is a complex business and what we’re continually uncovering with new brain and behavioral research may make it seem even more so. However, increased understanding also opens the door to greater efficiency and effectiveness in bringing new ideas to the marketplace in the future.
image credit: hand hiding image from bigstock
Mark E. Miller is the Director of Marketing for Emergenetics International – an organizational development consulting company dedicated to expanding the capabilities of the one thing most valuable to every one of our clients – their people. Follow us on Twitter.
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