Monday, June 30, 2008

Drivers of Green Innovation

Earlier this month, we invited you to participate in the green innovation poll taking place at Innovating to Win. As promised, we’re bringing you the results. The results of the poll show that two green drivers stood out: customer demand and competitive pressure.

Customers are demanding that companies have social responsibility as a business practice. As result of the poll, it looks as if many companies are choosing to turn to green practices within their company, pressuring competitors to do the same.

As the article states, it’s been debated if companies can go green and maintain their competitive power. As we continue to see the demands change both within the customer base and the environment, it’s a valuable asset to go green.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Google Not Known as Most Innovative Everywhere

In this Nielsen ratings report, they concluded that in the U.S., nearly half of all searches are conducted using Google. The word “Google” has made it into everyday lexicon as well as into Webster’s Dictionary as a verb. For the past two years Businessweek has even ranked them as one of the top five most innovative companies. A Russian search engine called Yandex, however, is providing tough competition abroad.

According to this article in Business Week, a researcher for comScore concluded that Yandex is the second most popular search engine in Europe, and in Russia they garner a 44% share of the market. That is a ten point lead over Google. Another impressive statistic is that investors are predicting that the IPO for Yandex, expected this fall on the NASDAQ, could bring $2 billion, making the estimated value of the company $5 billion.

The reason for the success of this company, as stated in the Business Week article, is because Yandex is “Fighting back with innovative offerings of its own.” One example of this is Yandex Money, a system where consumers can make online purchases by buying scratch cards at kiosks. Also, Yandex has made the purchase of two companies, Smilink, and MoiKrug ru. The first company can check on traffic in the cities of Russia, and the second is a Russian version of LinkedIn. Yandex might have the advantage in Russia right now, but how long do you think it will last?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Room for Innovation in the Paper-Making Industry

At Red Orbit, they highlighted an industry that needs to find the spirit of innovation. Red Orbit recently took a look at the innovation beginning to take place in the paper mill industry. There has been a push to turn current paper mill factories into biorefineries. These factories, with new technology, would be able to use more of the wood that comes into the factories. By using all the bi-products these companies are able to create more products. As a result, these process are allowing forest product companies to remain competitive, because they are able to produce and sell more products.

A biorefinery would be able to use the full amount of incoming wood biomass for the production of wood products, fibers, chemicals, and/or energy. These plants are already making other products such as vanillin and turpentine, but with new process could begin making specialty chemicals. This would, in turn, require the companies to become a more flexible, which is something that pulp and paper manufactures are not known for.

These companies are in an ideal position because they already have the know-how for harvesting and dealing with the biomass. There are some setbacks including little capital to work with, a loss of product development culture, and little knowledge of product quality requirements.

With a wave moving towards green innovation, however, these companies sit in the right position. An example comes from Wisconsin:

However, in late February 2008, the DOE pledged $30 million to a possible biorefinery project at the NewPage's Wisconsin Rapids, Wl, mill. The funding is part of $114 million approved by the DOE for four small-scale biorefinery projects. NewPage has not determined if it will follow through with the project and is still studying the total cost and potential return on investment before deciding on its feasibility. Stora Enso, the mill's former owners, proposed the project. The plant would produce 5.5 million gal/yr of FischerTropsch diesel fuel and consume about 175,000 tons of wood residue.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Cocreation Might Lead to the Next Big Innovation

This week in the McKinsey Quarterly, they took time to detail what might be the next big thing in innovation. In the article The Next Step in Open Innovation, they point out that currently, for most companies, innovation means collaboration within the company throughout a process of managed steps. But recently, companies have seen the benefit of looking outside for their new ideas to places such as their suppliers, investors and university labs. Often, management hopes to get their customers involved, and thinking innovatively for their organization. The technical name for this process is distributed cocreation.

Innovation can come from many places that many companies have not looked at before, specifically for distributive cocreation which relies on others outside the company to develop new ideas. One place is the value chain. With companies looking at those who specialize to help their product, ideas begin to flow in from outside of the organization. Customers are also a key part of this process. Involving them in the innovation process can lead to better marketing campaigns, and can also lead to more attention to the product.

So what are the problems that can arise from this new process? As the McKinsey Quarterly points out, it’s not clear yet what the companies exactly need in order to streamline this process of cocreation. The problems they see arising in the future are:

-Attracting and motivating cocreators – The company must understand what the participants want from the experience, and why the do work with the community.

-Structuring problems for participants -- The participants should world parallel to each other, so it’s easy to gage their work and turn it into effective solutions.

-Governance mechanisms to facilitate cocreation -- In order to function as a community, goals, rules and leadership must be made clear to the participants.

-Maintaining Quality – It assumed by most people that crowds know more than an individual person. Open source has shown this, an example being Wikipedia. But that quality has to be maintained.

The study also found that participants also join communities to innovate because they have an affinity for the product. They study rarely found individuals contributing to a product that they did not like. They also saw that participants who contributed to a project saw their innovations as those of the company. However, companies will need to give incentives to encourage the participation of the customers.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Green Innovation in an Emerging Market

With surging oil prices, green-minded consumers, and the driving success of Brazilian ethanol coming into place, large plastic makers are aiming to fabricate plastics in Brazil using plant-based materials like sugarcane. According to this article in Business Week, even though plastic manufacturing is $350 billion dollar a year business, “organic plastics” will not yet replace traditional plastics anytime soon. Plastic manufacturing companies like Braskem and Dow plan to produce in Brazil by 2012 about 1% of the world plastic demand, which is growing roughly 5% every year.

One of the setbacks of this alternative plastic is that it does not melt into the environment like biodegradable products even though they are recyclable. Even so, I believe other huge plastic manufactures will follow suit after seeing big players like the Sao Paulo based Baskem and Dow moving to compete favorably with petroleum based plastics. Also, more and more companies are thinking “green” as consumers and businesses become more conscious of environmental protection.

One thing is for sure, companies will have to fix the problem of “organic plastic” disposal so that it won’t end up clogging landfills or floating in the Pacific Ocean before the rest of the world adopts this practice. But, with the growing demand and need for green innovation, it’s only a matter of time before a solution is posed.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Red Hat Looks at Innovation in a Different Way

On Friday, we posted about how Microsoft is opening a new innovation center in Taiwan. Recently at PC World, they take a look at how Red Hat is innovating their software. Jim Whitehurst, the president and CEO of Red Hat has different views on innovation and open source technology. Green innovation has also become a priority at Red Hat, along with encouraging their users to continually innovate the product to suit their needs. A lot of companies prefer not to share their code, due to the fact that they see revenue tied directly to the programs they’ve developed.

Red Hat has a different view on innovation from what we read about Microsoft in last week’s post. They focus on involving their community of users, such as developers, customers and testers. Involving these people in the innovation of their product increases their innovation. Whitehurst also feels this helps in minimizing their carbon footprint due to the fact that they aren’t operating from a single office.

When companies accept that the combination of community innovation and the open source model should be accessible to all customers, costs decrease and innovation increases.

Red Hat looks at their contributors as a true part of their innovation community. Not only do they involve their users in their innovation processes, but they are contributing to the environment by adopting a more green way to run their business.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Microsoft Keeps on Innovating

One reason why Microsoft innovates time and time again is because it invests a lot of capital in its R&D teams. I came across this article this morning in my Google reader from Digitimes that discusses Microsoft’s latest announcement that it will be opening up an innovation center in Taiwan. This center will focus heavily on next-gen web applications and software engineering.

This center will house a team of 100 members, most of who come from Microsoft’s Chinese R&D team. I’d like to see some examples of other companies out there who realize the benefits of allocating more money towards its new product development teams.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Ed Hardy: An Innovative Apparel Line

Nowadays, celebrities can be seen wearing Christian Audigier’s Ed Hardy t-shirts and, pants, and trucker hats on a daily basis. Christian has figured out a way to get his designed noticed and worn by the best in the industry. Madonna, Ryan Seacrest, Britney Spears, Randy Jackson, and Paris Hilton are just a few of the many superstars who wear his clothes. So what factors drive the former chief designer of Von Dutch to search for new creative ideas?

This article on Business Week explains that after leaving Von Dutch, Christian was on a hunt for a new venture. Taking note of the growing popularity of tattoos, he Googled the words “famous tattoo artist”, and came across Don Ed Hardy. Christian fell in love with Don Ed Hardy’s colorful designs of dragons, skulls, and flowers and decided to license the artist’s vintage design and shorten the name to Ed Hardy. The result…a long sleeve T-shirt that is decorated with colorful skull designs that sell for $92. Although pricy, Christian knows the market all too well, selling his line at high-end boutiques in Los Angeles. Learning from his previous mistakes at Von Dutch that clothing lines have a short shelf life, he’s also licensed his brand to energy drinks and other manufacturers.

If you have an idea, run with it. Innovation can start from simply typing in a key phrase in Google; Christian Audigier is a good example of that.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

New Videocast on Biomimicry

One of our colleagues, Parna Sarkar, of Invention Machine, has shared with us the latest edition their series on Sustainable Innovation podcasts.

John Bradford, Vice President of Operations and R&D at Interface, as well as one of FEI 2008’s speakers, discusses how Interface mimics nature to create eco-friendly products and also offers tips on product innovation through biomimicry. Currently a leader in the carpet business, this company is using biomimicry to help their products and processes to become more sustainable, from the manufacturing process to the marketing process. Biomimicry is the study of nature’s processes in order to create a more sustainable way to innovate and improve today’s problems.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Electric Car Innovation

With fuel prices surging out of control, General Motors has already closed four truck and SUV plants in the United States. It is also planning to discontinue the gas guzzling Hummer brand and instead focus on smaller automobiles. GM must step out from its current stream of bad luck and possibly look into new innovations in the electric car industry.

According to this latest Business Week article, Think Global, a Norwegian upstart, is planning to roll-out its Ox electric concept car in the United States. GM has had a rough start with its EV1 electric car program. There is still a mixed view in the United States. Electric cars are often seen as unsafe, small, and underpowered. Think Global wants to get rid of this common misconception of electric cars by breaking the mold. What separates this model from other electric cars is its Scandinavian design; it features clean uncomplicated lines and uncluttered surfaces. The end result is a sleek, sophisticated design.

Still, it will take time for the US market to catch onto as more and more green believers are slowly beginning to adopt these vehicles. Cutting-edge technology and innovation will continue to be a driving factor as Americans will look for a car that has some power behind it. Unless we can get a relatively cheap 200hp vehicle that is 100% emission free anytime soon, our wait time might be extended.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Data Visualization: 'Life' of Open Source Projects

Part of the "art" of communicating IT and business abstractions - technical challenges, project roadmaps, budget performance, customer relationships, IT effectiveness - is landing on the right visualization. A picture tells a thousand words, and if you can draw the picture well, your target audience will grasp these concepts quickly, and (potentially) get insights that were otherwise difficult to attain.

I have a large backlog of web links to point to, posts to write that I'll probably start cutting into, now that I've seen this latest bit of visualization ... via Slashdot ...

    A student at UC Davis has created some stunning visualizations of open source software contributions, including Eclipse, Python, Apache httpd and Postgres. From the website: "This visualization, called code_swarm, shows the history of commits in a software project. A commit happens when a developer makes changes to the code or documents and transfers them into the central project repository. Both developers and files are represented as moving elements. When a developer commits a file, it lights up and flies towards that developer. Files are colored according to their purpose, such as whether they are source code or a document. If files or developers have not been active for a while, they will fade away. A histogram at the bottom keeps a reminder of what has come before."

As a developer, I can draw connections between the narration of significant events and the "flow" of objects. I've used these tools/platforms for some time now, and the story told by the animation connects nicely with my understanding of these tools' "personalities" - gives some insight on how they "grew up".

Python: This one fits my understanding of a typical open source project; lots of work by one primary, maybe one or two secondary developers, with fits and starts, bursts of activity. Over a period of time, a limited number of additional authors contribute, and things slowly expand until critical mass is hit, and Python is released to the public. Then, a flurry of activity as the popularity takes off ...

code_swarm - Python from Michael Ogawa on Vimeo.

Apache: I was fascinated to see this project start off as an exercise in documentation - and stay like that for the longest time (code doesn't appear until about a third of the way through the movie). Like Python, Apache is a focused platform/application, and had a fairly concentrated core of developers and modules - unlike ...

code_swarm - Apache from Michael Ogawa on Vimeo.

Eclipse: I watched this movie first, but it belongs last in the To-View list. Eclipse is a wide-ranging platform with a large number of modules/functions - and a correspondingly large number of developers. It's amazing to think that the overall project could maintain such a high-quality, unified vision.

code_swarm - Eclipse (short ver.) from Michael Ogawa on Vimeo.

I'd love to see the Linux video ...

Previously ...

  • Another Spam Graph - The Impact of Spammers Changing Tactics (September 17, 2004)

  • Communicating Complex Technical Concepts (March 21, 2005)

  • Spam Graph redux (nice filter!), and an interesting meme I stumbled upon (May 24, 2005)

  • Customer DNA - A Different Take on Understanding Markets and Networks (June 11, 2005)

  • Build a Framework: Your chart junk is my roadmap / vision statement (December 27, 2005)

  • Project Status Dashboards Best Practice (and a PowerPoint trick) (May 3, 2007)

  • Integrated Supply Chain Benefits Go Beyond the Internal Stuff (November 11, 2007)

  • Measuring and Reporting IT Value (1 of 2) (November 16, 2007)

  • Measuring and Reporting IT Value (2 of 2) (November 20, 2007)

  • Invisible Technorati Tags:


    What drivers of green innovation do you see in your organization?

    Our colleague, James Todhunter, CTO of Invention Machine and who manages the Innovating to Win blog, recently posted a poll on Green Innovation. The current poll question at Innovating to Win is “What drivers of green innovation do you see in your organization?”

    Head over to the poll here and cast your vote. The poll is in the left hand column and it closes on Friday. Hope you all will cast your vote, and we’ll bring you the results.

    Raytheon Teams up with Navy for Missile Testing Innovation

    In a recent news release, Raytheon’s latest innovations with the US Navy dramatically change the missile testing process. The Presidio Automated Testing Line has been developed though innovation into a quicker way to test missiles. This new, innovative process will change the missile testing business.

    The missile testing process now has a universal test system that will no longer require multiple test sets. Instead of 17 test positions and 27 environmental conditioning systems, there is one automated instillation. There is no longer a need for multiple test sets. Also, the Presidio Automated Testing Line reduces floor space by 50%, reduces the vibration test time by 66%, and lowers the overall days of the testing cycle from 21 days to less than seven hours. In addition to all of this, this powerful innovation will allow the missiles to get to the US Navy much faster.

    Friday, June 13, 2008

    The State of R&D in the US

    In the beginning of June, we wrote a post detailing the democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama’s goal to increase the state of innovation in the United States. In a research study done by the Rand Corporation, they found that the United States is still the leader globally in research and development, but is quickly being outpaced by other countries for a number of reasons. Even though the United States spends 40% of the global budget on R&D, Korea and India are beginning to spend a greater percentage of money.

    Other causes for the state of our innovative minds is that since 1980, graduates receiving degrees in science fields has only increased by 1.5% a year, and the national salary has remained at a relatively flat rate for 20 years.

    A few of the recommendations from Rand include increasing science in the public school system and implement a national test. The US also needs to find a way to recognize and implement the studies done in other countries.

    The US needs to find a way to emphasize the importance of science in the classroom from a young age. Without these young minds carrying along the passion and desire to research and innovate in the future, the US will surly be outpaced by other growing nations when it comes to science and innovation.

    Thursday, June 12, 2008

    Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth

    Ever feel that the creative juices in the company are running out? Here’s an interesting solution we don’t hear much. GET RID OF PEOPLE. Scott Berkun discusses in his latest post how firing those employees who slow down processes and have absolutely nothing to contribute at meetings and during work hours might boost innovation levels within the company.

    Ultimately who do you want to keep in your company and invite to meetings, the answer is risk-takers and those who actually have something useful to contribute. Eliminate those who have nothing useful to say from meetings, you will only waste more time, thought, and energy by arguing. Scott goes on to explain that too many people quarreling over one single decision can ruin the creative flow. Simply there are too many egos and everyone is battling for the decision making power. When there is more decisions to be made with less people, there’s less motivation to fight over decision power.

    So what do we take from this?

    1. Eliminate dead weight from the room.
    2. Invite those who have something useful to say to meetings
    3. Too many people deciding on one thing can restrict innovation flow

    Wednesday, June 11, 2008

    Kellogg’s Focuses on Health Alternatives

    One of Kellogg’s main goals is to stay ahead of the game with innovation. Recently, they’re following the health trend and finding ways to provide both children and adults healthy and innovative ways to consume food. In this article at, Kellogg’s reveals that they’ve invested $40 million in their Institute for Food and Nutrition Research in Michigan. In 2007, they saw 17% ($2 billion) of their net sales come from innovations that they had developed within the past three years.

    So what are they doing to continue their innovation strategy? As the push for adults to lose weight and stay healthy continues, Kellogg’s is finding ways to provide them with healthy, tasty alternatives. They’ve added a pecan cinnamon flavor to their Special K line of cereal. As for the children, the push to have more nutritious cereals has led them to bring two new cereals to the market: Frosted Flakes Gold and Animal Planet Wild Animal Crunch, both of which have 10 grams of whole grain.

    Three Search Spaces for New Ideas

    The first productive stage in the innovation process is the generation of ideas for new products, services or business models. This is where the front end of innovation is at its fuzziest.

    If you study the literature on creativity, you will find a confusingly large number of different methods. This state of affairs has led to the "Idea Engineering" research being carried out by our company Zephram together with the University of Magdeburg in Germany. One of the objectives of this research is to systematise the methods for generating ideas.

    One very simple visualisation which has come out of this research is shown in the diagram above. It shows the space of all possible ideas for solving a problem, which is divided into three search regions: Rational, Creative and Hidden.

    • The Rational region contains all the ideas to be found using methods based on experience, expertise or common sense. In product innovation, these methods include all the questions and checklists found in the innovation literature such as the Lead User Method, TRIZ and the Blue Ocean questions. Analysing the competition and other rational analogies also belong in this category.
    • The Creative region contains the ideas to be found using weakly related and unrelated stimuli. The prime example of this class of methods are the methods which use randomly chosen words or images to stimulate new ideas. These methods are the darlings of the creativity literature and generic ideation sessions. However, they are of little importance in ideation for innovation, since they cannot be easily steered and their success rate is very low. In our innovation workshops, we use these methods only to liven things up, since they can be implemented in a fast and fun way.
    • The Hidden region contains the ideas that are inaccessible to the expert because they are invisible to him/her or even explicitly excluded. This region owes its existence to tunnel vision, functional fixation and other psychological and cultural effects. Provocations are the method of choice to overcome these blockages and access this region of the search space. This is the region which often contains the best and most innovative ideas. At the same time, it is the most difficult to execute effectively, because it questions long-established beliefs and customs.

    In the centre of the diagram is a yellow circle which represents the expert's own horizon. This is the region of ideas which he/she can access without the use of questions or other stimuli.

    The diagram makes it very clear why well-designed idea production techniques are so important: they provide access to a much larger space of ideas. It also explains why classical brainstorming and the many related methods which do not use stimuli perform so weakly: they do not support the expert in leaving his or her existing idea space.

    High-quality ideation sessions are facilitated using a script. It is part of the art of the scriptwriter to find the right mix of idea generation techniques which helps the participants to explore all relevant regions of the idea space in order to obtain the best possible inspirations for the next generation of innovations.

    Tuesday, June 10, 2008

    Google’s CEO talks about Innovation

    Browsing through the blogosphere I came across this article on freepress which highlights thoughts that Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt had on where companies must shift their focus in order to stay competitive.

    According to Schmidt, industries must begin to “embrace a new online lifestyle”. He admits that even though most companies have already begun to adapt to this lifestyle, the internet is ever-changing and so businesses must move away from traditional computing. One reason that Google remains an innovative company is because of the open and free environment the company creates for its employees. Engineers are allowed to use 20 percent of their time to work on projects of their choosing. The projects worked on during this time tend to be some of Google’s most successful and innovative breakthroughs.

    Companies can all take something from Google’s innovation plan. Create an environment where positive encouragement, collaboration, and a free flow of ideas are presented and performance should speak for itself.

    Monday, June 9, 2008

    The Evolution of the Movie Renting Business

    The thing about innovation is it’s always happening. You may be on the top of the market today, but in a few years, someone who’s had the next big idea about how to change your business could be sitting on top of you in the market you were once dominate in. In a recent blog at Innovation on Purpose, Jeffery Phillips takes time to address what’s recently happened in the industry of video renting. He points out that ten years ago, Blockbuster ruled the market because they were virtually the first national chain to provide a huge selection of movies at your fingertips.

    So when Netflix surfaced changing only two parts of Blockbuster’s model (no late fees a different delivery method), they’ve put Blockbuster running for the market they dominated. It’s been shown that they’re constantly innovating, by way of Netflix movies on demand, but there’s always someone after the market. Enter Flexplay a new type of DVD, which is no longer playable after 48 hours, and can be recycled. These movies have a preset viewing period, and upon the 48 hours, the movie can no longer be viewed, and the DVD is recyclable.

    So what’s next in the movie renting business? It’s clear that there’s someone waiting in the wings, ready to innovate past Netflix. Which way will the industry go? And more importantly – what are Blockbuster and Netflix going to innovate to keep themselves competitors?

    Friday, June 6, 2008

    Emerson’s Embraces New Innovation Metrics

    Emerson Electric has a long track of measuring numbers. If something can be measured, then this company doesn’t hesitate to do so. This latest article in Business Week details how Emerson has created a new metric to measure it’s innovative process.

    Emerson’s new approach to tracking new product sales is seen as more revealing, effective, and more insightful. New product sales are divided into four different categories: minor improvements, major improvements, products that are new lines for business, and ones that are completely new. These guidelines offer a more accurate reading for decision-makers. Through this rubric more time and money can be allocated to the processes and categories that are doing best.

    Thursday, June 5, 2008

    Opportunistic Insights from the RSS Stream

    Opportunistic Insights from the RSS Stream
    I've written about using RSS for internal as well as external information sources. This past week, I found a couple of interesting tidbits in my feed reader (behind the firewall) ...

      1. Eyes on the Skies: It's that time of year again; oil price volatility will continue if any big storms create problems for refineries in the Gulf - something new to keep an eye on. Never fear - our friends at NOAA kindly put out an RSS feed for storm details - here's the latest graphic on Tropical Storm Arthur, the first of the season. You can keep track of incoming storms using this RSS feed - at the very least, you can be first on your block to know the name of the next storm ...
      Some of the responses to this original item pointed out the need to watch the tornado forecast as well put and potential impact on manufacturing plants and/or shipping lanes. There are many different ways that weather can impact the supply chain ...

      2. Innovations in Materials: Another item made some interesting predictions on future impact of bioplastics.
      New applications in the automotive and electronics sectors will drive the growth, although packaging will remain the dominant market. This is despite its share forecast to fall from 65% in 2007 to 40% in 2025.

      I took this to mean that packaging is the dominant application of bioplastics, and will remain so. However, the future will see multiple other applications for this material emerge. More applications means larger markets, more innovation in the basic material - which is better for all plastics manufacturers.

      3. From Rumor to Fact: One of the project managers recently added (1234) Project XYZ to our PMO database - I found out when the items popped up in my feed reader. That's how it's supposed to work ... Actually, my first reaction to the project was that the description (jpm note: we call it a "mini_charter") was a bit thin. But then I read the first comment, and there's definitely more meat there. At this time, Project XYZ is a multi-headed mystery monster - there are initiatives, teams, projects and such in multiple areas of the company. Clearly, more details to follow - but now we have a validated source of information for at least one of the BU's!

    Show vs. Tell
    These were my insights for the week, but a number of folks have told me of their own Aha! moments, watching project updates aggregate on their desktop via RSS. I suspect most folks reading this would think little of my "insights" - but that's because we understand how RSS works. To the rest of the world, websites are proactive (I have to go to them) while e-mail inboxes are reactive (the information comes to me). RSS and feed readers turn that paradigm around; once you see it in action, you get it immediately. But it's enough of a phase shift that sometimes explanations and PowerPoints aren't enough. Timely, relevant, in-context examples such as these just click.
    Previously ...

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    Innovation Industry Break Points

    A post at the Marketing and Strategy Innovation blog poses an interesting question: Can you create an industry break point with innovation? They point out that in order to do this, companies must be able to do several things:

    1. To learn about the breakpoint potential in the industry and have a sense about when it will happen

    2. Commit to making a quantum organizational change and

    3. Have an economic engine (cash flow) to sustain the transformation.

    With these things in mind, can your company actually create an industry break point? Idris Mootee, the author of this post, believes for the best results, it’s your front line employees that must be observant and take not as to what your customers want from your product on the market. They’re the ones who will see the chances at opportunities for you to innovate and bring that next big product to the market.

    Have you ever seen this happen in your market? What’s the best example you’ve seen of a company making the break point with their innovations for a product?

    Wednesday, June 4, 2008

    Innovating on a National Level

    After yesterday and today’s post on NassbaumOnDesign’s post on Barack Obama’s position on innovation I had a brief email exchange with our colleagues and LinkedIn group members, Parna Sarkar-Basu and Jim Todhunter, of Invention Machine. Jim is CTO at Invention Machine and he had posted some comments to Nassbaum’s original post, at an hour that makes me wonder if he sleeps. But Jim offered some really interesting insights on the topic. I thought I’d share and invite folks to add their comments here and tell us what you all think.

    James Todhunter

    May 30, 2008 02:49 AM

    There are many aspects that a comprehensive National Innovation Policy should address. While a quick comment on your blog post is unlikely to do justice to the topic, the key topics that I would like to see included are:

    Let’s face it. The most important resource in the new age of global innovation competition is brain-power, and our educational system is failing. We need to stop flapping our gums on this topic and begin transforming our educational system with the objective of producing the type of innovation workers that future economic success requires.

    While there are several potential dimensions to this, here I simply want to second your comment on high-speed data connectivity. The rumors of the death of the information age are highly premature. The growth in demand for information transmission is causing our current infrastructure to creak. It is definitely time to get ahead of this coming problem.

    Intellectual Property
    We need to ensure that our intellectual property is adequately protected abroad. At home, we need to retool the PTO to keep up with the volume of applications.

    Bayh-Dole Act
    This 1980’s legislation should be reconsidered. It has its staunch defenders, but it wasn’t the right way to accomplish its goal and hasn’t really done so. For more on this, see

    Basic Research Support
    Funding for basic research support should be strengthened for public research, and R&D credits protected for private research.

    This is a delicate issue that must be examined carefully. We just don’t have all the skilled innovation workers to fill our needs today. So, we do need to provide access to global resources to fuel our innovation engine. However, any policy must also consider the transportability of innovation skills and the phenomenon of brain-drain.

    Open Markets
    We provide the most open markets in the world. We must work to ensure that we have a level playing field and encourage other markets to move in the direction of becoming more open.

    Personal Data Privacy
    A growing segment of innovation is built on data. A looming threat is a meltdown in this sector based on poor data protection and personal security provisions. We should act to fend off this threat before it becomes a difficult problem to address.

    Innovation: Cal Berkeley Starting It’s Own Way

    Yesterday, we wrote about how one of Barack Obama’s goals for the future of this country was to increase the science and innovation education throughout the US. One college campus, UC Berkeley, is ahead of the game. In a recent article at Business Week, they tell the story of what Tom Kalil, a former official during Bill Clinton’s administration, is bringing change and the spirit of innovation to the UC Berkeley campus. He currently holds the position of Chancellor of Science and Technology.

    When he started out here, he had two goals:

    1) He wanted to be able to find a way to transform academic institutions into a place where the students could be mobilized and engaged to focus on their goals

    2) He wanted to find a way to change society by taking on some of the most important issues facing today’s world: environmental pollution, energy problems as well as sustainable development.

    So with this in mind, he created three ways to capture the thoughts and voices of the students: a Big Ideas Contest with help from the student government and research centers, Big Ideas at Berkeley Marketplace, which is an online forum to connect students, as well as alumni and donors, and third, to start a program where he could gather resources to mentor, coach and inspire future student leaders.

    These three things were indeed an effective way to bring innovative and creative ideas together in order to help the environment. Just one of the ideas that came out of these efforts was an Energy symposium, as well as new courses at UC Berkeley which focused on energy topics and sustainable innovation.

    At the end of the article, there’s a great list of how big companies should look at innovation in their company. It’s important to start at the edge, and a great way to do this is through the diversity of the people working on the project. Click here to read the rest of the list.

    Tuesday, June 3, 2008

    Barack Obama and Innovation

    In a recent post at NassbaumOnDesign, he pointed towards the speech Barack Obama gave at Google in November on his view of innovation and how he will change the innovation procedures of the USA, should he become the next American president.

    Obama’s plans are extensive, many focusing around innovation and science to unlock the potential of our future. He looks to introduce technology into healthcare, use innovation to find a way for cleaner air in America, and a way to give young Americans the knowledge so that they can become tomorrow’s leaders in science and technology.

    Other innovation goals outlined in his speech were:

    --Free and open exchange of information on the internet

    --Everyone have access to broadband internet

    --Government data should be online for everyone so they can track the progress of what the government is doing, so that they can weigh in on legislation before it passes through the houses

    --A Chief Technology Officer

    --Double funding for science education

    Obama looks to use innovation and technology to change the United States from the bottom up. He wishes to increase the funding to science education so this can happen, starting with today’s children. What are your views on how Obama is looking to change the innovation landscape of the United States?

    Watch his speech below or here at YouTube:

    Monday, June 2, 2008

    Dean Kamen’s Latest Invention

    When the government came to Dean Kamen two years ago, they were looking to find someone who could invent a human-like arm specifically for the veterans of war in Iraq and Afghanistan who had returned without their limbs. The government gave him deadline of two years, and wanted enough precision to eat grapes and hold on to raisons. It also couldn’t weigh more than a human arm. (Source: Yahoo Finance)

    Dean Kamen was one of this year’s keynote speaker from the Front End of Innovation Conference. “Luke,” named after Luke Skywalker, is controlled by movement of a foot, and is extremely agile, functioning as a real human arm. Check out this video of a news report on CNN to see how it works:

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