Saturday, October 18, 2014

This Week in Innovation 10/13/14 - 10/17/14

Payment Innovation: Africa the overlooked hub in what is perceived as a rural unbanked continent

Leaders Give Innovation Low Marks: Other Competencies valued higher across several studie

Business Must Create Process for Innovation: Starbucks IT Boss discusses

Where Does Innovation Come From? 8 Sources of Innovation

Foresight: A forgotten tool in the fight against poverty and hunger

Why New Ideas Fail: "The brain is hardwired to distrust creativity"

Top 10 Disruptions in HR Technology: Ignore them at your peril via Forbes

12 Questions to Ask Before Pursuing a New Business Idea




About the Author:

Ryan Polachi is a contributing writer concentrating his focus on Marketing, Finance and Innovation. He can be reached at rpolachi@IIRUSA.com.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Productivity and innovation: A Canadian Perspective

In mid-thought about why government needs to pursue a cloud-based IT development strategy, an idea about government’s v. the private sector’s role (and shortcomings) in Canadian productivity unfolded.

I pondered: what does government do well and badly? why does it fiddle with various levers and dials at the periphery to affect players’ activities? are there other things it could do? is business doing all/what it can do?

Here’s the notion, admittedly with the blinkered view of someone with a narrow answer to a broad question: I think that business probably hasn’t done what it could have or should have to invest in productivity gain; governments play with levers like taxation and “industry supporting” investment, through credits, grants, and so on, and they probably could do better.

1. Canadian business could be more productive

It is soooo Canadian to overuse assets, scraping the plate right to the porcelain well past the asset’s ability to provide productive value. That reduces investment demand. In my experience, Canadian businesses are at the very least less prone than our American counterparts to spend money for efficiency or capability gains. That makes the argument supporting business not having done as much as it could to close the productivity gap more likely on point.

2. The metrics are misleading

Far be it from me to challenge anyone who studies and understands the intricacies of what goes into performance metrics of any sort including productivity. Whether branch plant economics are at play here or the measures are simply different between Canadian and American firms, I wouldn’t begin to dispute. That said, it seems to me the proof is in the pudding (or the discrepancy in how much power Canadians have to purchase pudding relative to Americans as measured longitudinally over past decades). It’s hard, though not impossible, to argue that our productivity has been anything but foreshortened relatively speaking.

3. Governments aren’t doing the right things

This is the core of the thoughts I thunk. Standing outside a mega-centre store waiting for my wife and daughter, it seemed to me that all efforts at manipulating economic levers to move the private sector in “better” ways have been failures of greater or lesser degrees. There are obvious short-term successes (that Canada’s New Government points out ceaselessly) and many failures. The bottom line is that the private sector quickly learns how to game government largesse to its advantage, and that doesn’t usually lead to increasing the national good.

More than that, governments get nothing from their investments supporting specific industries and innovations. Directed funding to support private sector firms seeking markets for their innovations obviously gives those firms more capital to work with but does nothing of direct value for government. The hope is that the investment will be paid back—its ROI positive—through general economic gain and taxes levied on those businesses.

My reverie shifted to grand societal projects such as the CNR, the postal service, Kennedy’s moon mission, the creation of the Internet (Darpanet) and the GPS satellite system, radio-based telephony, and even skip/ramjets. Unlike simple investing in private sector business activities—as they search for commercial markets—these projects actually generated value for the governments that ran them.

This is fairly critical, I think. In all of these cases, and so many more, government spent a lot of money. Much of that money went directly into the pockets of contractors. And that’s OK because the last thing we want is socialized business. But more importantly, what was developed and built was directly useful to the government for some reason. In the case of CNR and postal service and Truman’s interstate, the reason was knitting together a nation. In the case of GPS, radio telephony, and jets/rockets, the purpose was defense.  Darpanet was not conceived and created to help you sell your trash to people across the country. In the case of the moon mission, the goal was to… impress Marilyn Monroe. But whatever.

There are two undeniable points in this:

(1) Each of these projects ultimately became a successful platform for private sector innovation and wealth development for a long time over a rich, evolutionary life-cycle, and
(2) Each was done to satisfy a nation’s needs as identified and pursued by its government, not to bet on private sector, market-based objectives.

Creating sustainable platforms for long-term growth is just not something that private sector firms can or will do, full stop. That falls to government. Government can ideologically abdicate responsibility and turn it back onto the private sector through investment credits, tax breaks, and the other candies it has in its bag. It hasn’t, doesn’t, and won’t work. Business, for its part, needs to stop pretending it can and will take on such grand infrastructure, and stop bleeding society for those credits for “innovations” that do nothing but create short-term rents for itself. Short-term rents are business’s wheelhouse, and best it should be compelled to stick to that space.

Today, I think that by shifting itself to cloud computing, government could make tremendous productivity gains in IT spending and operations. Those gains alone could release to government the resources to do something selfish and create something for itself (which is for Canada or British Columbia or Vancouver, after all). That, in turn, could first increase productivity and expose platforms for unsupported private sector innovation that can’t even be imagined today.

I have more, specific thoughts and ideas about cloud computing—with some clear examples of how productivity improvements open up opportunities for innovation that can be enormous in terms of wealth creation...

About the Author

Timothy Grayson, is the Author of "The Spaces In Between" and Director of Digital Product Development at the Canada Post Corp Management. He blogs at blog.timothygrayson.com and can be reached at @graysonicles.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Building Connected Networks in the 21st Century: Start-ups & Partnerships (Roche/Genentech)

This Learning Lab was presented at the Back End of Innovation 2014 Conference, by Ayelet Baron, Futurist, Simplifying Work and Innovator in Residence, Roche/Genentech.

Ayelet helps people thrive – she is a global strategist who speaks, writes and consults people and organizations to gain a 21st century edge. Today Ayelet is at the forefront of fixing what’s broken in business and transforming organizations. Ayelet is an Innovator in Residence with Roche’s Product Development Strategic Innovation team.

This talk started with another conference leitmotif: get out of your work building and go into the world.  The team she is working with at Roche have started a program called “Get Out of the Building” as a way to not only get exposed to new ideas but also to build new relationships.

Ayelet shared that she recently went into the Ecuadorian jungle to learn from the Achuar community. All aspects of their culture reflect spirituality oriented around dreams and visions. Each morning finds tribe members sharing dreams and interpretations. This was a wake up call for Ayelet. Honor your dreams, both your literal and figurative dreams.

Imagine if you could dream the future. You can, she says.

Many people and organizations are still stuck with archaic, 20th century practices. Scarcity is the mindset of the recent past--and this shadow is still cast over today. Remember, she says, "cookie cutters work only when we are baking." We need to understand our culture and know what will and won’t work and not try to follow someone else’s playbook. Every culture is unique.

One constant in our world is change. Therefore, let's not manage change; let's embrace it. We need to be more agile and better integrate the world into our businesses.

21st Century: abundance. We live in a world of opportunity and possibilities and the organizations that will thrive will be the ones creating new markets instead of those focused on taking market share away from their competitors.

Healthcare shows this category-swapping sense of abundance. Who would have guessed that Disney, Nike, Google, and Apple would have been in the healthcare space? Perhaps how we define Industries will change.

"What is exciting about the 21st Century is that you don't have to take away something from someone else to create," says Baron. Abundance comes from experimentation, risk taking, disruptive innovations, partnerships, and conscious leaders.

One shortage we will face in the future of work is talent. Therefore, the next generation working model may be network-based, a nodal system of partners that come together over projects. Tapping into internal and external talent and intelligence is key, especially when 40% of the US workforce becomes contingent in 11 years.

How we engage changes, too. In the 20th Century we have meetings, in the 21st Century we have conversations. We connect with each other over conversations so we can co-create and innovate.

The last point: work-life balance is a myth. In the emerging model think Life-Work. Life fits into work. Questions like What's your virtual policy? What kind of mobile devices are supported? Can I work from home one day a week?

Welcome to abundance. It's yours if you want it. After all, life is about relationships and getting to know people. Relationships are the gold worth mining in this era, a community or "connected network."

The goal is to become a connected network inside and outside of organizational boundaries. The method is empathy and the ability to understand patient’s points of view, for example. We need to think beyond our current structure and listen to the people in our expanding network.

Roche is applying Design Thinking and empathy with its clinical trials and role-playing. Their experiments with co-creation patients, payers, doctors, and caregivers. Their Innovation Advisory Board helps bring together their connected network to have conversations and solve issues.

So, what can you do?

·       Connect with an innovator
·       Remove silos
·       Introduce your networks and get out of the way
·       Work out loud
·       Take risks
·       Listen, have conversations
·       Get outside your comfort zone
·       ____________________ add one here from your experience. 


Ayelet ended the provocative talk by encouraging leaders to lead from the edge, to look through the eyes of abundance. Connect and prosper. Dream.   

This Week in Innovation: 10/6/14 - 10/10/14

Starbucks Uses Cloud to Manage Innovation and Disruptive Technology

Effective Risk Management Encourages Innovation: Accessing untapped benefits to improve business processes and stakeholder's confidence

5 Disruptive Technologies for 2015 and Beyond

Fast and Furious: Volvo is Using Innovation and Turbochargers to Save the Planet

Disruptive Technology: A huge opportunity for innovation and the utility locating sector

Why Experts Reject Creativity: "Knowledge doesn't turn us into critical thinkers. It maybe turns us into over-critical thinkers"

A New Way to Fund Ideas: Crowdfunding, Crypto-Assets and the future of decentralized investments

5 Tools That Keep Team Communications Untangled

New Generation of Malware: The Malware sneaks behind security measure and you are running it without
realizing it

Jobs of the Future: Harnessing Human Capital

Why Your Company Resists Innovation, and What You Can Do About It via Huffington Post




About the Author:

Ryan Polachi is a contributing writer concentrating his focus on Marketing, Finance and Innovation. He can be reached at rpolachi@IIRUSA.com.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

4 Trends that Will Impact 2015: From FEI Toronto via Trendhunter

We had another chance to catch up with the lovely Shelby Walsh, who is President at TrendHunter and soaks up trends for breakfast, lunch and dinner along with her team at the Front End of Innovation Toronto and Consumer Insights Canada event last week.

Here's what she told us:

How did you find the experience at FEI Toronto & Consumer Insights Canada?

The experience at FEI Toronto was fantastic. The breadth of sessions everyone had to choose from was incredible -- from the Internet of things, to the mind/body connection and authenticity. 

On top of the takeaways from all of the sessions, there was an impressive array of individuals in attendance, which made breakfast, lunch and networking breaks all of the more interesting. 

FEI Toronto - Consumer Insights Canada Can you share the biggest takeaway from your Trendhunter partner and fiancee, Jeremy Gutsche’s talk? 

The biggest takeaway from Jeremy's Better & Faster talk was that we need to focus on overcoming the psychological traps that are blocking successful people everywhere from realizing their potential. 

We need to awaken our "inner hunter" and instead of "farming," creating only incremental change, we need to be open to destroying in order to create breakthrough innovation. 

Jeremy’s keynote was very personal and touched on drawing inspiration from his dad and how he proposed to you, as a social media strategist I know there can sometimes be a fine line between what you share and what you keep private. I understand the video he shared is up on YouTube, can you tell us a bit about the proposal, the video and sharing it online.

I personally never share anything that could put me in an unprofessional light or is negative about other individual or brands. Social media is supposed to be a great way for people to connect with others and a lot of times, celebrate the most interesting parts of our lives. 

I didn't hesitate to share our engagement video to over 20,000 of our closest friends because the way Jeremy proposed was creative and very Trend Hunter-esque. It was an authentic expression of who we are and a touching moment that we wanted to share with others who've felt the same or hope to one day!


We had planned a field trip to tour your Trendhunter headquarters but received such an overwhelming response, we decided it made more sense to open it up to everyone and do a cocktail mixer instead. Can you tell us a bit about the research you shared during the tour and gives a bit of insight into how your office environment inspires your innovative culture?

Trend Hunter had a blast hosting a cocktail mixer for FEI! Our office space lends it well to the creative environment we have, as well as events like this! People loved our bar complete with Trend Hunter marquee lights, our London telephone booth and our open-concept, brick and beam space. 

It's a great environment to let ideas flow!


The 4 key trends discussed during our Trends in 2015 presentation include

Beacon - This burgeoning technology has been utilized by those on the cutting edge in the art, retail and charity worlds. The next generation of these location-responsive devices will make communicating with consumers even more customized, interactive and ultimately, effective.

Makeshift Luxury - Retailers are turning to pop-up events that are super lavish. These temporary luxe shops and consumer experiences are the next evolution in brand marketing that's more experimental and temporary.

Meta-Marketing - Millennials are approaching peak purchasing power, and marketers are keen to capture their attention by creating ads about ads that self-mock and have a focus on being authentic.

Flavor Reversal - Bacon beer cupcakes and avocado donuts are just a couple of examples of how sweet and savory are being experimented with creatively to create buzz and appeal.

FEI Toronto & Consumer Insights Canada 2014 FEI Toronto & Consumer Insights Canada 2014 FEI Toronto & Consumer Insights Canada 2014FEI Toronto & Consumer Insights Canada 2014


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  Valerie RussoFormerly a senior copy editor at Thomson Reuters, a research editor at AOL,  and a senior web publicist at Hachette Book GroupValerie M. Russo is editor at large of The Front End of Innovation BlogThe Market Research Event BlogThe World Future Trends Tumblr, the Digital Impact Blog, and also blogs at Literanista.net. She is the innovation lead and senior social media strategist for the Marketing and Business Strategy Division of the Institute for International Research, an Informa LLC., and her poetry was published in Regrets Only on sale at the MOMA Gift Shop. Her background is in Anthropology and English Literature. You can reach her at vrusso@iirusa.com or @Literanista.



Wednesday, October 8, 2014

BEI Keynote: John Kao, Bringing Innovation to Innovation

Bringing Innovation to Innovation
a keynote by John Kao, BEI 2014, Las Vegas

2.6 billion google queries were on "innovation" last month, Kao posits. The issue, there is no shared definition, or mental map, of Innovation. We are creating a tower of babel effect.
There is:

  1. large-scale innovation
  2. digital innovation
  3. open innovation
  4. user centered innovation
  5. indigenous innovation
  6. sustainability innovation
  7. - 30. ... 300. yadda, yadda
 At the same time, innovation models are evolving.

It's complicated. Innovation resides in individuals, groups, enterprises, and national economies. So, how do you make what is complex simple?

Plant. Grow. Harvest.
You have three schools: corporate innovation, design thinking, and entrepreneurship. These are three distinct disciplines, he says to set the stage. Kao thinks of it as plant, grow, and harvest to simplify the muddy mix.

But, if innovation were a movie, we are only into the first five minutes of it.

As they disciplines become formal professions, they will seek to codify, but, wait! "Innovation is not a discipline, it is not a profession--it is a movement." 

Here is a proposed framework for discussing innovation:
  1. Define: Innovation is a capability, not a wish.
    • Innovation refers to a set of capabilities that enable the continuous realization of a desired future.
    • What are the capabilities? (Kao presented an exhaustive list with such skills as tech transfer, ideation, empathy, many others.)
    • Capabilities are developed through practice, by doing consistently. 
  2. Metrics: One you have definition and capabilities, then, and only then, can you develop a set of metrics. 
  3. Stewardship models: Who is responsible? Who will work on the strategy, the process, the projects? What are the expectations? 
  4. Learning models. How do we learn by doing? How do we figure it all out? How do we expose our team to the real practice of innovation? 
  5. Organization: How do we organization these efforts inside our specific organizations?
  6. Keeping Insights Local: Innovations are ultimately experiments that solve a problem for real people. Start in your own backyard, then see if it scales. 
  7. Innovation as Diversity: Take the local insights and prototypes and get the widest feedback possible. Crowd source. Take other markets, other audiences, others countries. Show it to kids and teenagers. Get diverse points of view and see through their eyes. 
We are only five minutes into the movie, Kao says as he wraps up, let's start by teaching teenagers collaboration and creativity skills--what a world that may create.  Hope this framework helps your thinking about Innovation.







BEI 14 Key Note: Why Corporate Innovation Activities Fail

Iliya Rybchin of the Highnote Foundry and formally of Bloomberg discusses where innovations break down in the corporate world. This lively keynote was stronger than a good cup of coffee.

He comes out swinging. Warning: "I'm going to offend some people here." The room perked up.

1st point of failure: the meddling HR department. If HR's duty is to maintain order, it is the innovator's duty to disrupt established order. "HR will spend months writing a dress code manual, rather than supporting value-generating ideas."

Employees who care are employees who innovate. You need to find ways to strip away the "corporate layers of stupidity" to allow them to do what they care.

2nd point of failure: Insufficient intelligence. "Brilliant innovations do not come from mediocre minds," he claims. Citing the author of Flow, he says to hire bright people. Focus on discerning creativity, ability to deal with ambiguity, problem solving, critical thinking, not resume experience.

Here's the key: Brilliant people beget brilliant innovations.

3rd point of failure: Out of touch management. Managers need to understand the factory floor, the call enter, sell product, and have genuine contact with customers. Go "among the people." Get managers to leave the conference room and immerse themselves in the field.

Lesson here: Profound market awareness yields profound innovation.

4th point of failure: Low employee turnover. "I want and seek out turnover in my companies." Resume gaps are good, he says, because it shows aptitude for risk taking. Find "good switchers," those who seek out knowledge and complex creative challenges, not those looking for the illusion of stability.

Take away: A truly diverse workforce creates original ideas. According to an HBR study, companies that have turnover and a diverse mix show a 45% higher growth average.

5th point of failure: Not seeking help. Hire smart advisers, consultants, part-time partners, and others on contract to bring fresh thinking to the mix. Draw from their external perspective, industry expertise, a wealth of practices and experiences, and depth of focus. Face it: you just don't have all the talent under one roof. It's a big world. Find partners.

Moral: Find the right advisers. Make sure they are not just a hip, cool, experiential firm. Find one that can facilitate creativity and how to speak the language of business. Have they had experiences in the trenches, not just case-study theory? Would they partner with us, invest with us in the concept they develop?

Finally, it's all about People. People make it happen. Create the context for the people to thrive on your behalf.






BEI Attendees Are Welcomed Like Family at Zappos and The Downtown Project


"The family is the nucleus of civilization." - Will Durant, American historian

On Tuesday, Back End of Innovation (BEI) attendees were welcomed into two family-focused cultures - Zappos and The Downtown Project - both of which create an environment of entrepreneurship, learning, collaboration, innovation and creativity.

The Zappos tour included a closer look at Zappos Family Core Values:
  1. Deliver WOW through Service
  2. Embrace and Drive Change
  3. Create a Little Fun and Weirdness
  4. Be Adventurous, Creative and Open-Minded
  5. Pursue Growth and Learning
  6. Build Open and Honest Relationships with Communication
  7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
  8. Do More with Less
  9. Be Passionate and Determined
  10. Be Humble
We also saw first-hand how The Downtown Project is transforming downtown Las Vegas by investing in tech startups, owner-operated small businesses, arts, education, and real estate development. The Downtown Project is inspiring and empowering people to follow their passions to create a vibrant, connected, family-focused community.

Special thanks to our Zappos and Downtown Project tour guides who showed us how their "families" are redefining a city and inspiring communities around the world.

Stay connected with BEI:
- Twitter.com/BEI_Innovation #BEI14
- LinkedIn.com/Back End of Innovation
- Facebook.com/BackEndofInnovation














Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC is an Accredited Business Communicator specializing in corporate communication best practices. Connect with Peggy on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, and on her website at www.starrybluebrilliance.com.

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