Monday, October 5, 2015

See Who You’ll Meet at The Corporate Intrapreneur Summit This Week

The Corporate Intrapreneur Summit is only a few days away - register today and secure your spot among 75 corporate intrapreneurs pushing the agenda forward in their organization.

The curriculum style program and collaborative event format puts you right in the middle of the action. You'll have the opportunity to create an intrapreneur framework, understand how to align stakeholders, learn best practices for creating cultures that allow intrapreneurship to flourish, and to network with leading companies like:

·         Wells Fargo
·         Lilly
·         Johnson & Johnson
·         MasterCard
·         Nestle
·         Intuit
·         PepsiCo
·         Pfizer
·         P&G
·         Unilever
·         U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
·         Cornell University
·         Culturevate
·         Boston Scientific
·         Corning
·         Dailmer
·         Out IdeaWorks
·         Innosight
·         Innovation Excellence
·         Inovo
·         The Kern Family Foundation
·         Medtronic
·         Northeastern
·         Outerwall
·         Printpack
·         Providence Health & Services
·         Qualcomm
·         Target
·         Terex
·         The Clorox Company
·         Thompson Reuters
·         Transamerica Life & Protection
·         VEB Innovation
·         Wedgewood Pharmacy
·         Your Ideas Are Terrible

As a valued reader of our Innovation Blog, you get $100 off when you use code INTRA15BL to register. View the full agenda and register now:

It’s going to be an amazing day and we hope to see you in NYC!

The Corporate Intrapreneur Summit Team

Thursday, October 1, 2015

This Week In Innovation: 9/28/15 - 10/2/15

Attention all music junkies and nerds: forget about the way you’ve been hearing and listening to music through your home speakers. What if you could listen to music as if you were right there in the recording booth? This is exactly what cofounder of Def Jam Records, Rick Rubin, and producer Sir George Martin are trying to accomplish with a little bit of innovative thinking. According to an article on Fast Company this week, the two musical gurus are trying to reshape the way the normal ear hears a record from the comfort of their own home. “Today, they’re focused on how music sounds, not as it emanates from recording studio monitors, but at the opposite end of its creative life cycle: The way it sounds when we press the play button at home.” Rather than listening to their product through the grills of an $80,000 professional audio setup, Rubin and Martin are listening to the Play: 5, a product being developed by Sonos. “The overhauled Play:5, along with a new room-measuring audio enhancement software feature called TruePlay, is set to ship later this fall. But first, the sound must be exactly right.” Working with Sonos, Rubin and Martin are trying to revolutionize the way the normal person hears music, and my life is complete how about yours?

Alright, this article is specifically for those of you who have a constant hankering for tofu and its cousin tempeh. This week, Fast Company released an article discussing a new product in the making called “TempehSure” which essentially is an incubating oven that sits on your countertop and spits out tempeh. According to the article, tempeh is actually a fairly easy recipe that combined beans and spores of Rhizopus fungus. However, who wants to go through the whole process of putting this lovely mess in a warm spot in your kitchen and waiting a few days while the fungus grows into an eatable food? The article claims that an advantage to this newer method is “…consistency and ease of use. The manufacturer promises perfect climate control, as well as an option for pasteurization once the process is done.” This new innovative device will hopefully be available within the New Year, but in the meantime who wants some handmade tempeh?

Imagine owning a home that creates as much energy as it uses. You’re probably imagining what is now called a “net-zero house” and what is usually extremely expensive. However, that dollar sign does not always have to be so high according to a recent Fast Company article. The article, titled “This Zero-Energy Home Is Run By Machines And Costs A Lot Less Than A Regular House”, explains how a new startup company called Acre Designs has dreams to design a house with no energy bills and have it sell for as much as buying a standard power-sucking home. “The Axiom House is ultra-efficient, runs on renewable power, and smart: Robots handle everything from lighting and security to mowing the lawn.” Cofounder of Acre Designs, Andrew Dickson, explains how they felt the typical home today is actually very out of date. “’We view this as an opportunity to redefine what the American home is, and tailor for a lifestyle that is more focused on doing great things than having things.’” According to the article, the 1,800-sqaure-foot Axiom House costs $220,000 (not including land), which is much less than most other architect-designed homes. The full article is a fascinating read and speaks strongly to the eco-friendly AND affordable trend we’re seeing within the housing market.

Who likes to fly and deal with the hassle of checked bags and fees? Not I said the…well me. This week, Fast Company released an article discussing a new idea on air travel coming from an air travel design studio called Teague. The idea is simple: to make the customers experience smoother and more enjoyable. So how do they plan on going about this? Teague discusses a ban on carry-on luggage (I know...I was outraged at first too) that would not only create more space above the passenger, but also significantly decrease boarding and deplaning times. The alternative would be to continue the charges for checked baggage, but this time include the unique feature of having your baggage delivered to you. The company also plans on upping airline revenue by “…sell[ing] customers special airline-branded bags. These bags would be specifically designed to click in underneath a seat for people who still wanted to bring larger bags on board.” I have to admit I wasn’t completely sold on the idea at first, but after reading the entire article, the three design moves this company raises would definitely make for a better plane experience overall.

Nichole Dicharry, is a Digital Marketing Assistant at IIR USA, Marketing and Finance Divisions, who works on various aspects of the industry including social media, marketing analysis and media. She can be reached at 

The Art of Killing (a Project)

As innovation becomes an increasingly popular topic in business literature, social media and public discussions, it also turns into a powerful magnet for clichés. One of the most used, if not abused, is “celebrating failure.” Of course, innovation is all about experimentation, and experimentation results in failure more often than in success. We must absolutely accept innovation failures, learn from them and recognize people taking risks. An example here could be set by the Tata Group that rewards exceptional ideas even if they weren’t operationally successful (through a special category of awards, appropriately called “Dare to Try”).

But do we really need celebrate failure? In every language, in every culture, the word “failure” carries a distinct negative connotation; placing it in the same sentence with “innovation” doesn’t change anything. By calling to celebrate innovation failures we do nothing to advance innovation in places, still very numerous, where the fear of failing continues nipping innovation in the bud.

Instead of celebrating failures of innovation projects we’d better learn how to minimize the cost of failure through proper portfolio management. In practical corporate terms, that means that we have to master the art of killing projects.
Everyone would agree that killing projects is a key to maintaining healthy product development pipelines. By terminating projects that are going nowhere, companies free up resources to introduce new, potentially more successful initiatives. But in real life, killing projects turns out to be tough. Despite our proclaimed willingness to celebrate failures, we’re actually quite bad even at admitting them, for failed projects negatively affect the company’s bottom line and definitely don’t make our career prospects any better (to say the very least).

So, how do companies approach the ever important kill/continue decisions? This largely depends on which of the two schools of thought they belong to: “pick the winners” or “kill the losers.” The “pick the winners” approach relies on selecting relatively few projects that are expected to have the greatest chance to succeed–and then investing heavily in these projects. As often happens, once a “winning” project has been selected and advanced into the project pipeline, killing it becomes extremely difficult. In contrast, the “kill the losers” strategy is based on launching a large number of projects, followed by carefully monitoring them, identifying those that perform badly and then killing them as rapidly as possible.

A recent study on drug development--an area where “celebrating failures” sounds almost atrocious due to their astronomic price tag--shows that it’s the “kill the losers” strategy that turns out to be a true winner. In particular, the study showed that the number of approved drugs for any company strongly correlated with a high termination rate for drug candidates in preclinical/Phase I stages. In other words, companies making hard decisions about which project to terminate earlier in the project lifecycle did much better than those postponing these decisions for later.

Big corporations should take a careful look at how early-stage companies operate. Of course, startup entrepreneurs don’t run a large number of projects; they simply can’t afford it. However, they never waste time and resources on any single idea that proved to be a loser. They learn from the failure and they pivot, a startup’s equivalent to killing a project. As large companies warm up to the concept of intrapreneurship--instilling the spirit of entrepreneurship in the corporate culture--they must perfect the way they identify and terminate failed projects.

Hopefully, The Corporate Intrapreneur Summit (organized by the Institute for International Research and Culturevate) taking place on October 8 in New York City will address the topic of portfolio management as part of the corporate intrapreneurship process.

We live in a success-driven society. We should strive for success and success only. And let’s reserve celebration for those occasions, however rare, when we succeed.

About the Author: Eugene Ivanov is helping organizations of different sizes design and implement internal and external innovation programs. He’s an expert in selecting and defining R&D problems that can be successfully solved by crowdsourcing. He writes blog Innovation Observer and tweets @eugeneivanov101. 

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Internal Innovation Networks as a Basis for Corporate Intrapreneurship

Intrapreneurship is a relatively new concept developed to help large companies create new businesses, a process often called transformational (or disruptive) innovation. Intrapreneurship aims at instilling the spirit of entrepreneurship--usually associated almost exclusively with startups--in the corporate culture. Being intrapreneur means working for a large company, yet constantly taking risks and experimenting, as small company’s entrepreneurs do. 

Intrapreneurship may take multiple form and follow different models; the upcoming Corporate Intrapreneur Summit (organized by the Institute for International Research and Culturevate), taking place in October 8 in New York City, will showcase practical examples of corporate intrapreneurship from  more than a dozen of leading corporations.

Yet no matter which specific shape corporate intrapreneurship might assume, there is one vitally important question that must be addressed: the relationship of the corporate intrapreneurship unit with the rest of the organization. If the newly-formed intrapreneurship structure is located within an existing business unit, there is a danger that it’ll lose its entrepreneurial edge by falling back to solving short-term problems relevant to the “host” business unit. On the other hand, if this structure is too isolated, both geographically and administratively (“an island and the mainland” model), it runs the risk of becoming irrelevant to the rest of the company.

Many perils of creating a corporate intrapreneurship unit will be significantly alleviated if the maternal company already has a functional Internal Innovation Network (IIN). I already wrote about the crucial role played by IINs in the overall corporate innovation strategy. Here, I’d like to highlight four major reasons why a viable IIN would help support corporate intrapreneurship:

1.      IINs help foster the very culture of collaboration the lack of which makes disruptive innovation in large companies difficult in the first place. Much has been spoken about the “NIH (Not Invented Here) Syndrome”; however, it’s important to realize that the NIH Syndrome applies to intra-company collaboration too as individual units are often reluctant to share with others their findings. By breaking internal silos and promoting intra-company collaboration, IINs prepare the whole organization to accept new ideas regardless of their origin.

2.      Corporate intrapreneurship requires close coordination of multiple functions within an organization, both that are (R&D, Business Development, Marketing) and are not (Finances, Legal, HR) directly involved in the corporate innovation process. However, in the majority of organizations, there is no institutional platform for all these units to collaborate on strategic issues. IINs provide such a platform, increasing the efficiency of decision-making and reducing the need for endless face-to-face meetings.

3.      IINs provide intellectual and operational support for the company’s external innovation programs. First, they help identify problems whose solution would require external sources of knowledge and expertise. Second, they facilitate testing and implementing of incoming external ideas and solutions. In other words, they provide a much needed “bridge” between the corporate intrapreneurship unit (“island”) and the rest of the company (“mainland”).

4.      IINs help identify emerging corporate intrapreneurs who--especially in junior positions and in geographically remote units--often remain unnoticed to the corporate innovation leaders. Because IIN platforms are intrinsically democratic, they provide voice to every employee regardless of their rank and location in the company.

Of course, it’d be an exaggeration to say that by themselves IIN can guarantee the success of a corporate intrapreneurship initiative. Yet it will definitely make chances for such an initiative to succeed much higher.

About the Author: Eugene Ivanov is helping organizations of different sizes design and implement internal and external innovation programs. He’s an expert in selecting and defining R&D problems that can be successfully solved by crowdsourcing. He writes blog Innovation Observer and tweets @eugeneivanov101. 

Image credit:

Friday, September 25, 2015

This Week In Innovation: 9/21/15 - 9/25/15

Imagine you go to work every morning wearing a badge that tracks your every movement conversation and interaction. Sounds like a futuristic scene right? According to an article posted on Fast Company this week, this was a reality for 20 employees at Fast Company for two weeks during April of this year. A new company by the name of Humanyze builds these devices, bearing a similar purpose to that of the Fitbit, and consults for different companies who would like to try the new system out. In April of 2015, Humanyze offering free badges and free analysis, Fast Company decided to try the experiment itself. “Our goal was to discover who actually speaks to whom, and what these patterns suggest about the flow of information, and thus power, through the office. Is the editor in chief really at the center of the magazine’s real-world social network, or was someone else the invisible bridge between its print and online operations?” As the article brings out some of the analysis, the better part of the first two weeks were almost spent in silence because employees felt awkward and uncomfortable having a device that recorded everything they said or did. The article also stated that after receiving analysis from the organization, the information is extremely private and cannot be demanded by the organization of Fast Company. In other words, the employees are not in any way forced to share what the device found with any personnel in the Fast Company business. The full article is quite interesting and definitely reveals how innovation and technology can add to market research whether it be outside of a company, or directly within the walls of an organization.

If you live in a big city, or even if you don’t but you still need a mode of transportation to get around, you’ve probably heard of Uber. It’s the car service app that usually offers lower rates than cabs and offers almost immediate and convenient pick up service. Well, this startup company has just announced that it will be releasing and debuting a new commuter service in china called, UberCOMMUTE. According to an article released on Fast Company this new service will pair two different people who may be going in the same direction in a “carpool-like” design. “The service is targeted at people going to and from work; riders can continue using the existing UberPool option in China, People’s Uber+, to tap into the new service.” Amidst significant pressure from the new Lyft and China company, Didi Kuaidi, deal, Uber has decided to launch this new feature within this particular region to strike the completion head-on. “Lyft's new alliance could hamper the company's progress, since Didi Kuaidi already looms large over Uber in China.” I see this bold new innovative move from the startup as a smart decision considering how huge the Chinese market is for Uber. Read the entire description of this new feature and what it will mean for you at Fast Company.

Usually when you think of new solar-energy houses you envision a house in a rural area with lots of grass and trees. However, according to an article on Fast Company that’s not what these student-engineers had in mind… In an entry to the Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon, students from the New York City College of Technology built their model in an urban setting that’s meant for cols city streets. “Team leader Amanda Waal says NY City Tech wanted its house to reflect the background the students, the college's own location in Brooklyn, and that the majority of people are going to live in cities in the future.” The students, almost all of whom are undergraduates, designed the house they call D.U.R.A (diverse, urban, resilient, and adaptable), which carries a relatively small footprint and is also designed to be stackable. According to the article the team is unsure what will happen with the model after the competition is over, but the New York Fire Department has shown interest so anything is possible!

Nichole Dicharry, is a Digital Marketing Assistant at IIR USA, Marketing and Finance Divisions, who works on various aspects of the industry including social media, marketing analysis and media. She can be reached at 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Why Every Organization Needs Big Bets & Spectacular Failures

It's no coincidence that our most revered business icons are also the boldest risk-takers, such as Richard Branson and Steve Jobs. Yet businesses today are continually playing it safe - focused only on short-term gains, rather than long-term value creation - resulting in a stagnant business culture, generating forgettable results in a world that demands significant solutions.

Ensure TMC is unforgettable at BEI: Back End of Innovation this October.

BEI 2015 will share proven skills, techniques and strategies to help you uncover how you can step into the unknown in spite of uncertainty and ambiguity, and be successful.

BEI: Back End of Innovation 2015
October 21-23, 2015 // San Jose Marriott // San Jose, CA
Download the full program:

·         The Risk Factor: Why Every Organization Needs Big Bets, Bold Characters & the Occasional Spectacular Failure
Deborah Piscione, NYT Best-Selling Author, Secrets of Silicon Valley and The Risk Factor

Exemplifying the heroes of risk, entrepreneurship and venture capitalism - and the role risk-taking and failure tolerance play in their success, Piscione makes the case not only for big, flashy mergers and acquisitions, but also for making anarchic choices in everything from leadership to corporate image and responsibility. Drawing on case studies from start-up business giants like Netflix, to upstart giants in business like Sir Richard Branson, Deborah distills lessons for both new and old entrepreneurs whose practice of risk aversion has cost them more than they will ever know.

·         Risk Taking & Decision Making in Poker, Business & Life
Caspar Berry, Risk Taking & Decision Making Expert, Professional Poker Player

Former professional poker player, Caspar Berry, shares his insights into how uncertainty can be a force for good in our lives. Using the metaphor of poker Caspar demonstrates the chaos created by a deck of cards and how and why we should be taking calculated risks for the good of our businesses. He looks at how we can break through fear of failure in our personal and professional lives. Through a combination of economics and psychology he promises to liberate us from conformity and create the most compelling argument yet for how, when and why to take risk, fail some, but succeed more than ever before.

Unite with some of the best in innovation execution and learn how planned, strategic risk can drive revenue and unlock growth in your organization.

Use code BEI15LI for $100 off the current rate. Register today:

We hope to see you in San Jose this October!

The BEI Team

Monday, September 21, 2015

Meet our BEI Blogger, Michael Graber

The Back End of Innovation Conference features live blogging from innovation thought leaders.

 Meet one of them, Michael Graber, in a podcast interview from The Everyday Innovator.

TEI 038: Product Managers Take Note: Changing a Culture for Innovation – with Poet Michael Graber

Product Manager, Innovator, Poet - Michael GraberI met my guest at Innovation Excellence, the online home of the global innovation community, where we both contribute innovation insights regularly. Truth be told, I was giving in to my vanity and checking out the top-20 posts for the month. My record is three posts in the top-20 in one month. For the month I was checking, Michael Graber’s name took the spotlight, and of course, I immediately thought he would be a great person to interview. When I did, I was not disappointed. Michael has more than twenty years of experience leading marketing and innovation efforts. As an expert in marketing and user interface, he has become an accomplished brand strategist. And, this is what really made me curious to talk with him – he is also a published poet and musician – creative forces that compliment his analytical side. Even when he is talking about innovation and brand strategy, he does so poetically and effectively.

Practices and Ideas for Product Managers, Developers, and Innovators

  • Michael has a firm grasp on the connection between his artistic pursuits and innovation development. Story propels brands and God created the universe for stories. Further, poets are the original systems thinkers. The root of the word “poet” means “to make.”
  • The heart of storytelling is motivation and getting people to think new thoughts – the connection with brand development.
  • Storytelling also requires knowing your audience and speaking in terms that your audience will understand and appreciate. Product managers and brand managers must do the same thing.
  • When preparing a story to tell, creating a persona for the group you’re telling the story to will allow you to make a better connection and make a more persuasive argument.
  • To understand your audience, apply empathy and walk in their shoes.
  • An odd dynamic is taking place among the C-suite of many companies. They are demanding more innovation from the organization without really knowing what that means and the implications it has for the organization. Innovation requires a change in the organization but leaders are too often unwilling to do what is required to make the changes.
  • When the organization needs more innovation, start with innovation exercises, such as meeting with customers, practicing empathy, conducting interviews, etc.
  • The second element is working on the culture. Without working on the organizational culture, a new innovation team can do ideation work with customers and be excited about the new product opportunities, but the existing culture can stifle these efforts. It is like antibodies attacking an unknown element in the organization.
  • To begin considering a change in culture, one activity asks the senior leadership team to examine new models of revenue. This helps to push the team in new directions and can also identify revenue opportunities that are easily attainable.
  • Another cultural change tool is examining existing orthodoxies. Once these are understood, then conduct a mindset change exercise by introducing a completely new direction for the organization. For example, if the company was purchased by a competitor, how would that change orthodoxies?
  • To become more innovative as a company, you first have to decide what you want to become.
  • These cultural change activities help the organization to understand what exists, what can be changed, and what is essential. Organizations frequently find that what they thought was impossible is actually within reach.
  • Organizations seeking to improve their innovation culture need three things:
    1. The full support and backing of the executive team in ways that are visible to the organization.
    2. Building multidisciplinary innovation teams that understand how to lead innovation efforts.
    3. These teams then help others in the organization, being Sherpas to show methods, teach, and walk alongside those learning the new techniques.
  • Michael defines brand in exactly the same way as culture – what we do and what we don’t do. Culture is the actions we take and don’t take and brand expresses what we stand for and what we don’t stand for. Your brand is your culture.

Ambidexterity vs. Ecosystems: In Search for Sustainable Model of Intrapreneurship

Innovation has climbed to the top of the corporate agenda in many large organizations, but its practical impact on the corporate performance has often been disappointing. Some would go as far as to say that the corporate innovation is “broken.”

This is perhaps an exaggeration. Large companies are actually quite good in what is commonly known as incremental innovation, which is a systematic improvement of already existing products or services; they’re also doing a decent job in streamlining operations and cutting costs. However, it’s definitely true that many corporations are much less successful in creating new businesses--no matter how you’d call this type of innovation: breakthrough, radical, transformational or disruptive. 

The reason is simple: a hallmark of any successful modern corporation is a flawless, impeccable execution. However, while perfecting execution and establishing the culture of predictability and control, corporation lose the culture of entrepreneurship, the habit of experimenting and taking risky bets. That’s why transformational innovation, with its high rates of uncertainty and failure, struggles to take root in the corporate soil.

Many experts and innovation practitioners see a solution to this problem in bringing the spirit of entrepreneurship back in the corporate fold; a special term, “intrapreneurship,” coined more than 30 years ago, is now actively used to describe this process. Being intrapreneur means working for a large company, yet behaving as a small company’s entrepreneur, that is, cherishing risk-taking and experimentation. 
On October 8, in New York City, The Corporate Intrapreneur Summit will take place, organized by the Institute for International Research and Culturevate. The Summit will bring together thought leaders in the field and practicing intrapreneurs from more than a dozen of leading corporations. One topic that is likely to come up in the discussions will be what models of intrapreneurship can be used to get real results.

Back in 2004, Charles O’Reilly and Michael Tushman wrote an influential paper for the Harvard Business Review titled “The Ambidextrous Organization.” O’Reilly and Tushman argued that corporations actually don’t have to choose between investing in existing (core) and new businesses; they can do both (be “ambidextrous”) by creating corporate structures supporting both incremental and transformational innovation.

Critics of the ambidextrous organization concept pointed out that the requirements for both types of innovation are so different, even contradictory, that what makes companies great at optimizing the current business makes them terrible at creating new business opportunities. For this reason, ambidextrous organizations can’t be but a rare exception (3M and Google are traditionally mentioned as these rare exceptions).

An alternative to the ambidextrous organization approach has also emerged. In his recent book “Collective Disruption,” Michael Docherty, the CEO of a consulting company Venture2 (and a past successful intrapreneur himself), suggests that corporations should support transformational innovation by creating innovation ecosystems including startups. In this innovation symbiosis of sorts, startups will provide large companies with disruptive ideas along with a playground for testing and early prototyping, whereas large organizations will use their resources to scale up the most viable ideas. 

Many would argue that differences between the two models of intrapreneurship are more semantic than real. Both require more openness to the external sources of innovation; both require more flexibility in relationships with outside partners; yet both require the creation of some corporate structures to facilitate the process. It’s therefore very likely that a new, “hybrid,” model may emerge combining the best features of the two original concepts.

Hopefully, the upcoming Summit in NYC will make a significant contribution to creating of such a viable model of corporate intrapreneurship.

About the Author: Eugene Ivanov is helping organizations of different sizes design and implement internal and external innovation programs. He’s an expert in selecting and defining R&D problems that can be successfully solved by crowdsourcing. He writes blog Innovation Observer and tweets @eugeneivanov101

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