Friday, January 30, 2009

Dev Patnaik: The New York Times Interview

Elizabeth Olson from the New York Times, interviewed BrightSights' Dev Patnik on Saturday's edition regarding his upcoming book release, “Wired to Care: How Companies Prosper When They Create Widespread Empathy."

In the interview, argues in the book that it is not the lack of innovation that hampers companies, but the “empathy gap” — the chasm between employees in organizations and the people that they serve. Companies, he said, “do a good job of stamping empathy out of employees, then are surprised when employees make poor decisions or try to sell things that people don’t need.”

To read more from their discussion, please click here.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Nation of Green Innovation

In a recent article in BusinessWeek, John Carey discussed how President Barack Obama's new Energy Secretary, Steven Chu, is planning on tapping ideas from the nation’s best green innovators and entrepreneurs.

One of the problems Chu has encountered is the amount of money that is allocated for the Energy Dept. Chu believes that the $25 million budget that is currently set is, “quite pathetic.” The US needs to increase their spending and investment in research in order to get results. Some of the issues Chu will be tackling over the course of his term will be reducing greenhouse emissions (which he is extremely passionate about), giving a boost to renewable energy, and an increased focus on biofuels.

There are high hopes for the innovation plan the Obama administration has set forth throughout their campaign. What are some of the direct impacts on business we can expect from a stronger government emphasis on green innovation?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Nassbaum looks at current companies innovations

Nassbaum recently looked at some companies who are innovating despite today's economic woes. He pointed out that despite the structural changes needed in economic, business and civic institutions, these companies are finding a way to keep innovating for their customers. Amazon has been very successful with the Kindle, Pure Digital with the Flip camcorder. What other examples of disruptive innovation have you seen come through over the past year?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Live at FEI Europe!

We're live here at FEI Europe. The energy is great and the knowledge is flowing. Attendees are sharing stories about their toughest challenges in these economic times. It's truly interesting to see that regardless of what country or industry they came from the obstacles are quite similar.

Key themes from the Open Innovation Symposium on Monday include 1)How to link OI Strategy all the way through your organization. 2) You must involve partners from the very early strategy stage. 3) You must share the risk as well as the rewards through out your entire process.

"Be Humble- help, and be helped" was Graham Cross, Collaborative Innovation Director at Unilever's advice. If you have any key best practices within the OI space please comment below. Stay tuned for more event updates.

Innovation 3.0

Bernard Lunn's blog post at discusses the evolution of "innovation management" and how social media has a significant role to play. Lunn theorizes that we are moving toward a path where social media might enable a third wave of innovation management, or, "Innovation 3.0," which he outlines as:

Leveraging social media. The potential exists to get the best of both the 1.0 and 2.0 worlds. The 1.0 internal R&D labs did not suffer integration issues but usually missed the big innovation opportunities that were achieved by acquiring start-ups. Social media offers the alluring possibility of harnessing outside innovation without the integration issues.

Lunn also describes his version of Innovation 1.0 and 2.0.

Review the post and discern if you agree or disagree with Lunn's theories on the future of Innovation.

Be sure to share with us here or on our LinkedIn group.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Archived Webinar: Learn New Methods to Uncover Consumer Needs

If you missed the webinar Learn New Methods to Uncover Consumer Needs last week, here’s your chance to view the archive. Martin Oxley, the managing director of BuzzBack Europe, presented BuzzBack’s recent research on US and UK consumer attitudes to Sustainability and "Being Green," and how unique interactive techniques were used to develop traditional quantitative data and qualitative insights in the same online research study. Take some time to view this hour long webinar at your own leisure.

Watch the archived webinar

Friday, January 23, 2009

Europe's innovation still lagging behind US

In a recent study released by the European Commission, the EU is falling farther behind the US in the innovation gap. The US performed 33% better in key innovation areas in 2006, with numbers only slightly decreasing in 2007 and 2008, 29% and 28% respectively. The US also received the most number of patents in 2008.

Some positives for Europe to come out of the report were that the use of internet broadband is quickly spanning across the continent and that there more individuals graduating with science and engineering degrees. Germany, Denmark and the United Kingdom are the three countries leading the way for European innovation.

For more on the study, visit Forbes.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Eco-Friendly D-Link Green Wins Laptop Mag Innovation Award

Recognizing breakthroughs in design and mobile technology, Laptop Magazine has given its top honor, the Innovation Award to D-Link Green for their "green" efforts in mobile technology and innovation. According to the judges, one of the many energy-saving features of D-Link Green technology that sparked their decision was the unique Wi-Fi scheduling that allows D-Link's new 802.11n routers. For more information, visit D-Link Green's website.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Speaker Profile: Peter Koen

Peter Koen is an Associate Professor at Stevens Institute of Technology and Director of the Consortium for Corporate Entrepreneurship. Peter’s research is directed at determining best practices in the discovery part of the innovation process and how large companies manage breakthrough opportunities. This research has been published in many academic and practitioner journals. He also founded and is the chair person of the Front End of Innovation conference – now in its 6th year in the US and 3rd year in Europe. He has 19 years of industrial experience. His academic background includes a BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering from New York University and a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Drexel University.

We also recently hosted the web seminar Top Quartile Practices in the Front End so make sure to watch the archive if you missed it or if you want a refresher.

Also, don’t miss Peter Koen’s presentation Why Do Incumbents Fail at Implementing Breakthroughs at the Front End of Innovation Europe Event next week from January 26th-28th!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Where do your Front End Ideas Originate From?

Our latest FEI poll has closed, and many of you weighed in. It seems we get our front end ideas from a variety of places. Do these results surprise you? The most popular response at 19% was ideas from within from employees, and second most popular were other ideas. These include: HUD-community meetings/nonprofit host; analysis of future trends, value chains, market place structures; talking with other innovators; customer discussions; structured thinking; environment among others.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Speaker Profile: Dr. Leo Kärkkäinen

Leo Kärkkäinen is Research Fellow, Chief Visionary in Systems Research in the Office of CTO. Systems Research is the unit of Nokia Research Center with intent on driving breakthroughs that will reach far into the future, enabling new business opportunities for Nokia. As Chief Visionary, Leo is responsible for development of the research content and practices in labs worldwide that pursue disruptive innovation. Systems Research interacts closely with all Nokia functional units and promotes open innovation, working on research projects in collaboration with universities and research institutes around the world.

Don’t miss Leo Kärkkäinen’s keynote speech, The Nokia Vision: From Boots & Wood to Mobile Phones, at the FEI Europe event in Monaco. Check back Thursday, we'll be profiling speaker Peter Koen, Associate Professor, Director of Consortium for Corporate Entrepreneurship, Stevens Institute of Technology.

Take a look at this YouTube clip to take a closer look at the Nokia Research Center.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Read the January Front End of Innovation Roundup

Here’s your chance to view our monthly newsletter that we send out to the FEI LinkedIn group with information revolving around the world innovation. Remember, to join our FEI LinkedIn group and update your email addresses on LinkedIn in order to receive it on an ongoing basis. Enjoy!

Read the Newsletter

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Speaker Profile: Leo Roodhart

Leo Roodhart is the Manager of Strategic Innovation at Shell GameChanger and the International & 2009 President of the Society of Petroleum Engineers. This group executes new innovation processes worldwide throughout the creativity of Shell's creative employees. As the Head of Strategic Innovation at Shell, he focuses on the development of breakthrough technologies for the oil industry.

Click here to read his interview with the Society of
Petroleum Engineers.

He will be presenting "Linking Long Term Scenarios to Short Term Action" Wednesday, 28 January at 9:15.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Innovation games to feed the fuzzy front end

I’m in the Middle East this week to meet with a client to discuss a potential technology project. Part of our workshop included playing innovation games to explore their root needs and rank their priorities. While we have tested this method with internal customers over the last year, this is the first time we’ve used this method with an external audience. I had some concerns about cultural differences and how they might impact acceptance, participation, insight generation… and the relationship with our customer team.

What I found was…

  • The game participants were more reluctant at the beginning of the games than participant groups in the US.
  • Once they became engaged in the process (about five minutes in) their participation, enthusiasm and outcomes were very similar to my previous internal participant groups.
  • The hardest sell I had was to my colleagues that were there to support and observe the games at the workshop. Our local team was very skeptical of the process and feared the games would damage their credibility.
  • Both the client team and our local team were surprised and excited by the openness of discussion and level of collaboration generated by the workshop structure and games.
    Our local technology manager stated he felt the event built more trust and taught us more about our customers’ needs in a few hours than the business development team would be able to accomplish in months of meetings.
  • Our local team was so enthusiastic about the innovation game process and outcomes that they began planning their own games for internal and external events.
  • We gained tremendous insight into our customers’ technical and change management challenges, priorities, perception of our proposed technology’s value and measures of success. Secondary benefits came from insight and ideas on how we can market our technology to a broader market.

All in all, it was a very productive and fun week…

Idaho Gov. "Invest in People, Potential."

In the spud state of Idaho, not much seems to go on--and Idaho's Governor wants to change that. Speaking on President-Elect Obama's stimulus plan for jobs, Idaho's governor wants the state to use the money to go beyond road and bridge construction. Governor Butch Otter wants much of the stimulus money given to Idaho to go towards research and science facilities at Idaho's colleges like Boise State University. The Governor reiterated a quote from BoDo developer and WaterCooler founder Mark Rivers,"these are the new technologies and innovations that will drive new companies and an educated workforce."
Because of Idaho's small population and vast landscape, it could be an interesting place for innovation and technology to take place.

For more on Idaho and its quest for innovation, please click here.

What do you think of smaller states using stimulus money for innovation and research practices? Should the states be putting infrastructure and construction first? Please share your thoughts here or on our LinkedIn group.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Where do your Front End Ideas Originate From?

A recent discussion on our LinkedIn group that generated quite a buzz sparked me to create this poll that we have posted on our blog. Take a couple of seconds to select your choices on the sources of your company’s Front End Ideas. We’ll be posting the results next Tuesday!

Monday, January 12, 2009

FEI Europe Speaker Profile: Jan Kriekels

Jan Kriekels is the non-conventional entrepreneur. Coming from a background in anthropology he seeks ways to transcend the traditional views in industry, art and economy. Currently he sets out the lines for in Belgium. He is a huge promoter of the ‘creative economy’, letting people design their own products. Being the project’s mecenas, Jan looks to Uchronia as being a symbol for the creative economy. Uchronia is but the start of a larger project involving all creative souls worldwide. You can see a preview for the DVD below.

Don’t miss John Kriekels’s keynote speech, In An Innovative Factory as Jaga, We Should be Daredevils Not Calculators, at the FEI Europe event in Monaco on Wednesday, 28 January. Check back Thursday, we'll be profiling speaker Leo Roodhart, Group GameChanger at Shell International.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Free Webinar: Using Online Collaging to Better Engage Research Respondents – A Case Study

Using Online Collaging to Better Engage Research Respondents – A Case Study

Thursday, January 22, 2009 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM GMT (9:00 AM - 10:00 AM EST)

Using a case study approach, BuzzBack will showcase its recent research on US and UK consumer attitudes to Sustainability and “Being Green,” and how unique interactive techniques were used to combine traditional quantitative data with new types of qualitative insights to yield new levels of understanding. Examples given will show how improved digital approaches can infuse your research and help you think about online research in a totally different way. This approach was awarded the 2007 MRS/ASC Technology Effectiveness Award.

What you will learn by attending:

• Understand new online research techniques to gain richer, more emotional understanding of respondents’ attitudes

• See how to use the Internet can be used to change your research from the boring, click-a-radio-button survey to a respondent interaction that is much more interesting and engaging

• Review examples of research findings from recent research on US and UK consumer attitudes towards what “being green” means to them Featured Speaker Martin Oxley, Managing Director, BuzzBack Europe

Register Today!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Speaker Profile: Jeremy Rifkin

Now that the Front End of Innovation Europe Event is rapidly approaching, we want to take some time over the next couple of weeks to profile the keynote speakers. Today, we would like to begin by introducing to you Jeremy Rifkin.

Jeremy Rifkin is president of the Foundation on Economic Trends and the author of seventeen best-selling books on the impact of scientific and technological changes on the economy, the workforce, society, and the environment. His most recent books include
The Hydrogen Economy, The European Dream, The End of Work, The Age of Access, and The Biotech Century. Jeremy Rifkin serves as an advisor to the European Union on issues related to the economy, climate change, energy security, and sustainable development. Mr. Rifkin currently serves as an advisor to the European Commission, the European Parliament, and several EU heads of state, including President Jose Rodriguez Zapatero of Spain and Prime Minister Romano Prodi of Italy.

Mr. Rifkin’s Sustainable Development Team advises governments and global corporations on the latest in cutting-edge technologies and best practices designed to address the twin challenges of climate change and energy security.

Jeremy Rifkin recently stated at a climate change awards ceremony at the European parliament that “we don’t grasp the enormity of what’s happening to the climate in this planet.” Watch the YouTube clip below to see him speak in Brussels.

Don’t miss Jeremy Rifkin’s keynote speech, Leading the way to the Third Industrial Revolution and a New Distributed Social Vision for the World in the 21st Century, at the FEI Europe event in Monaco on January 26th through 28th. On Monday we will profile FEI keynote Jan Kriekels, founder of UCHRONIA.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Beautiful design in a B2B world

I find myself much more intrigued and inspired by design and behavioral responses to design than I was a year or two ago. Thumbing through a book by the fine folks at IDEO (like this), clicking through the innovation section of or (of all things) walking through the washer and dryer section at Home Depot can distract me for days as I think about the power of design in everyday objects. I find it very odd that I can (and do!) consider a dryer beautiful or ask myself why I never thought of a washer that can hold six months of detergent (I hate handling detergent; I tend to spill it all over the place!).

This may seem like old news to those of you that work in the B2C world, but many of us in the B2B world usually don’t hear phrases like “beauty” or “elegant interface” or “I love it!” when we talk about proposed products, services or business models. Instead we talk about things like “reduced total cost”, “improved workflows”, “integration” and “value added”. Because we sell to a business, we tend to ignore the fact it is the people within the client organization that actually select, use and benefit from our offering.

Would beautiful industrial products and elegant business services drive an emotional response in our corporate customers’ employees? Would that ultimately allow my company to sell more… or sell at a higher margin… to justify the investment in design? Would I even be able to sell the concept to my internal stakeholders? Would our organizational culture accept it? I don’t know.

I’d like to hear your thoughts on “beautiful” design in the B2B universe or your stories of driving a design ethos into your company culture. Cheers!

Are you getting ready for FEI Europe?

Hundreds of leading innovation experts and corporate practitioners will gather in Monte Carlo 26-28 January for a world class information exchange focused on driving innovation forward. Through real life case studies, they will showcase practical strategies and techniques to guide you in developing a profitable ecosystem for innovation.

Attending companies include: Shell International, Volkswagen, Nokia, P&G, Swarovski, Bombardier Aerospace, BBC, Best Buy, Cadbury Schweppes, Cisco Systems, Coloplast, Eli Lilly & Company, Halliburton, IDEO, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, LEGO, Philips, Siemens, Nestle, Whirlpool and many more.

Space is still available. Visit for more information and to reserve your spot.

Mention code XM2150LQA and save 15% off the onsite rate. Feel free to pass this discount along to any colleagues who would be interested.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

TRIZ and the Front End of Innovation Process

TRIZ: A Russian acronym meaning "the theory of solving inventor's problems."

Sounds pretty useful, eh? GE seems to think so as they're working with TRIZ technology to develop better technology and not wasting money on bad technology. The company has seen a decline in their share prices and they're seemingly desperate for a way to mend the situation. So, they've turned to Stalin-era Russia for TRIZ technology.

From The core ideas were dreamed up by engineer and science fiction writer Genrich Altshuller, whose critique of the Soviet Union's record on invention in the late 1940s landed him in the gulag. There, he learned from imprisoned scientists and, when he was released, put together a step-by-step innovation method for people who aren't born with the gifts of Edison or Einstein. Since then, his theory has evolved into an elaborate system for analyzing problems and generating solutions. In contrast to brainstorming, TRIZ uses deep analysis of possibilities based on science and math algorithms.

In this rocky climate, its important to look to innovative ideas to ensure growth throughout our companies. What other companies are you seeing that have developed strange, if not archaic means to survive?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Innovation Means Less Jobs – A Mistaken Belief

This article in the NY Times discusses an old-age misconception that innovation brings automation to the table, which people believe will eliminate jobs altogether. Kevin Efrusy, a venture capitalist that has funded several start-ups including Facebook, mention in the article:

“If you invest in a technology that makes something more efficient, the fear is that people will be put out of work, but it’s just the opposite. When anything becomes cheaper, we consume a lot more of it. The overall economic effect is, you create and expand entire new industries and employment goes up.”

Several studies including one conducted by Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development show that periods of high job growth correlated with periods of high productivity which were often achieved through automation. Robert D. Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, believes that investing in the nation’s digital infrastructure is vital to foster innovation through the downturn. The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation have already presented a case of investing $30 billion into digital intelligence. Many other economists have even proposed petitions that call for a tax credit for companies who have been spending more than 80 percent of what they have been spending annually on information technology.

It’s clear that America has to invest in the innovation economy. It will be interesting to watch Obama’s innovation plans unfold over the next couple of months.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Innovation in Consumer Electronics

With the holiday season coming to an end, we can expect a lot of returns in consumer electronics this January. The Wall Street Journal reported in May 2008 that 11%-20% of all consumer electronics are returned. This becomes increasingly important since there is a decrease in spending in electronics this year. Sohrab Vossoughi of BusinessWeek has listed four ways the industry can fix this problem in this article.

Know Your Customer
The first recommendation is know your customer. Sohrab gives an example of how even soccer moms own iPhones and GPS systems, and so these products are no longer innovative. Tech geeks are looking for a more satisfying experience with consumer electronics.

Create a 360-Degree Experience
Marketing, packaging, and design must all mesh together to help explain to customers the product benefits. Sohrab once again gives an example of Apple because they do an excellent job with the 360 experience. Their design is sleek, the packaging is elegant, and they send a unified message.

Speak in Layman’s Terms
Most consumers are not tech experts, and so they might even leave stores like Circuit City and BestBuy without making a purchase because of the daunting task of listening to tech buzzwords. The consumer electronic industry needs to speak in terms the average Joe can understand. Ex: “120GB= 30,000 songs”

Tell the Truth
If your product consists of hour long setup, lots of wires, and a ton of techspeak, don’t label it as “easy to use” or “simple”.

If the CE industry follows these recommendations we might just see a surge in consumer spending.

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