Friday, May 29, 2009

Office of Innovation

The NPR is reporting that Obama has created a new office for his administration. The White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation will work with innovative non-profits who have shown success when working with different social agendas such as homelessness. The most innovative ideas will receive funding, and be spread across the country.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Free Webinar by MarketTools: Quality Research on a Budget

Here's a webinar that is produced by one of our sister events (The Market Research Event) taking place on June 18, 2009 from 1:00pm - 2:00pm EDT that I thought might be of interest to this group:

There are a lot of online survey tools available these days that allow you to do one-off research projects for next to nothing. While these inexpensive tools are relatively fast and easy to use, they don’t always yield quality results on which you can base important decisions. Why compromise? There are ways to do quality research without breaking the bank. Let us tell you how.

Join us to hear how your peers are doing quality research on very limited budgets. Our panel of experts will discuss their experiences and provide real-life examples of how they’ve been able to do it. During this one-hour webinar you’ll learn:

  • Five simple guidelines for doing quality research
  • How a panel can reduce your research cost and improve quality
  • What companies are doing to deal with “professional” survey respondents
  • When is it a good idea to call in the experts
  • And much more…
Facilitator: Mike Waite,
Presenter: Chris Schroll, Research Director, Wolters Kluwer and other research leaders from Fortune 500 firms

Register below, make sure to mention priority code MWS0025BLOG

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Simple Things in Life

C. Engdahl
The Big E of Big E Toys

“Teach us to delight in simple things.” – Rudyard Kipling

With the passing of another Memorial Day in the U.S., the unofficial start of summer, I thought I’d begin with this classic piece of trivia:

Each year, how many hot dogs do Americans typically consume during “Hot Dog Season” (Memorial Day to Labor Day)?

a. 7 million
b. 70 million
c. 700 million
d. 7 billion

[The answer coming up later in the show]

I certainly got my fair share of grilling in this weekend. Burgers, brats and hot dogs on Saturday with my in-laws and extended family. Burgers, brats, and hot dogs on Sunday with my parents. Hot dogs with just my wife and kids on Memorial Day. And lots of ketchup, mustard, and relish to go with these delights.

Generally speaking, I’m not one to get easily annoyed or excited. There are a few things in life though that simply irritate me; 1) people that don’t know how to merge in traffic; 2) those adhesive stickers used to seal cd jewel cases; and 3) the unexpected watery bursts that emanate from upright squeezable ketchup bottles that make my hot dog buns soggy.

There’s not much I can do about those that don’t know how to merge in traffic. I accept this fact.

Sony, the most egregious violator of the annoying cd seals finally got its act together a few years ago and replaced the completely annoying seals with some that are slightly less so (other people must have been annoyed as well). Compact disk as a format is going by the wayside as digital downloads become the norm. And thus sticky jewel case seals will likely at some point go by the wayside completely. Thank god.

And after more than a hundred years, someone finally thought to turn ketchup bottles upside down. And in doing so significantly diminished the possibility of receiving an unwanted watery squirt.

I have no idea who came up with the idea for an upside down squeezable ketchup bottle. At some point though, someone at Heinz either came up with the idea or simply applied the idea to its own products. Brilliant. I hope he or she got a promotion.

Is this innovation going to significantly alter the course of human events? Not likely. Does this innovation reflect a major turning point in our culinary lives? Not really. Is it an innovation at all? Definitely yes. And if you don’t immediately think so, go eat a couple soggy hot dog buns to see how they taste. Teach us to delight in simple things. I’m still waiting though for the consumer version of the ketchup bottle pump (like those dispensers at sporting events and quick serve restaurants). I have no doubt this would totally transform neighborhood and family outings.

For those of you still paying attention, the answer to the trivia question is 7 billion. With that many dogs headed down the hatch over the summer, you gotta figure there’s a bunch of buns going down with them. And with the upside down squeezable ketchup bottle, far fewer soggy ones. Now if someone could just figure out how to dispense squeezable relish without getting a bunch of pickle juice all over the place. If anyone needs help figuring this out, give me a call. I’ve got a few ideas.

Friday, May 22, 2009

FEI 2009: Final Impressions

Thanks to all that attended for making this year's Front End of Innovation Conference such a successful event! Here's a newsletter we've compiled that details updates and write-ups for all three days from the event. We've also included the winner of Maddock Douglas spinnovation winner! Take a moment to read the newsletter, reflect, and catch up on any session details you might not have had the chance to see. Hope to see you all next year!

FEI Final Impressions

Which Country Ranks Highest In Biotech Innovation?

A recent report issued by Scientific American, "Scientific American Worldview: A Global Biotechnology Perspective"ranked the countries with the highest level of biotech innovation. Medical News Today reports that "overall, the US had the highest final score, it did not come out on top for all five benchmarks: intellectual property, enterprise support, the intensity of a country's biotech activities, education/workforce, and infrastructure." The report continues, "although the US came out on top in intellectual property protections, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, and the UK weren't too far behind. The small country of Denmark, however, leads the world in the number of biotech patents per member of the population."

How can countries continue to spur innovation within the biotech industry?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Front End of Innovation 2009 - Thank You!

FEI US 2009 has come to an end. The team worked hard to not only bring a great event to attendees filled with outstanding speakers, great networking, and resources, but also worked hard to share at least a taste of that experience to many of you online and help foster ongoing communication and engagement.

For a look back at all of the great content from this year's conference, be sure and review our summaries of many of the presentations, some including short video clips.

Don't forget, you can still participate with us, not only by subscribing to our blog, but also follow us on Twitter, in our LinkedIn group, and in our Facebook group where you can meet and interact with our industry leaders as they discuss the burning issues, concerns, challenges and success in the Front End of Innovation.

Thank you once again and be sure to sign up now so you can receive the latest information as we begin our work to plan FEI US and FEI Europe 2010. We hope to see you all there!

Enjoyed Front End of Innovation? Wish You Could Have Been Here?

Well take advantage and register for one of these great upcoming events, with special discounts for our readers:

Upcoming Innovation Events

Get The RIGHT Insight to Drive the RIGHT Innovation at the PDMA & IIR Co-located Events Service Innovation Design & Development & The Voice of the YOUR Customer Summit taking place June 22-24 in Chicago. Mention code FEI09SV and save 20% off the standard & onsite rate!

Service Innovation Event
The only event that focuses on the entire service industry and the lifecycle management of new product development.
Voice of the Customer Event
User Experience Design & Innovation

Stay on Top of Trends and Best Practices

Register for any of these upcoming events and receive a 20% discount on the standard and onsite rate. Simply mention code FEILIVE when you register to attend.

Co-Located - Our Innovation Immersion and Eco-Innovation Events

Innovation Immersion Event
A truly unique experience that promotes experiential learning through hands-on skill application.
Eco-Innovation Event
Where meaningful economic, social & environmental innovations enhance your corporate bottom line.

And.. Don't forget...

Future Trends Event
Join industry experts, and other revolutionaries to uncover and action the trends that matter most to your business, brand and service.
Shopper Insights Event
THE event that celebrates the collaboration between Retailers, Brands and Key Industry Players to embrace a new era in retailing.
The Market Research Event
Covers the latest and greatest in how research can be used to affect change and drive your business forward.

Keynote Presentation from Peter Erickson: Innovating on Innovation

Peter Erickson, Vice President of Innovation at General Mills, started off today’s morning sessions by giving a brief introduction of General Mills and its products. Shortly thereafter, he went into breaking down that in 2004 General Mills failed to realize that while they were innovating, so was the competition. Also, during this time period “variety innovation” was in place, and innovation was copied quickly from competitors.

General Mills quickly realized that producing more products wasn’t necessarily better, what they needed to do was find a new way to innovate on their innovation and breaking away from the competition. Rebalancing their portfolio and bringing higher quality innovation into the marketplace was the goal. Rebalancing the portfolio meant moving from the line extension that included brand extensions and new platforms. Metrics were put into place to measure the quality of innovation.

5 actions were needed to improve innovating on innovation

  1. Find great products regularly
  2. Expand available talent
  3. Get smarter sooner
  4. Save to grow
  5. Pave a new way
General Mills invested in weight management solutions because they realized that there was a demand in this space. There were 4 categories in the space and they were low fat products, reduced sugar products, low calorie products, and portion control. General Mills put leaders in place to study weight management solutions for 16 weeks. The process was called I3 and it consisted of 3 steps.

- Understanding the problem
- Build Intuition
- Solve the problem

From this research, General Mills came out with products like the Betty Crocker Warm Delights brownie. It was a tasty low calorie, low sugar, portion control product. General Mills also launched the Progresso Light soup line in which they leveraged best practices with Weight Watchers in order to cater to consumers watching their weight.

General Mills changed their mindset and model from the invention model to a connection model in which their researchers viewed the world as a lab. It helped employees collaborate better with suppliers and food inventors. General Mills approached a food inventing company in Canada that produced Bake-n-Bites and used their distribution and marketing channels combined with the product to reach a broader audience.

Another step in the process including getting smarter and taking products into consumer homes to see if the product line would work. By identifying things that work and things that don’t, General Mills was able to either add new insight or throw it in the trashbag saving time and money. General Mills reevaluated what was built in the product that delivered the consumer experience. By taking non value added costs out, they can save more money to invest in value driver components. The concept of organizational innovation is a key theme when we talk about our innovation process.

Peter concludes by stating that these are the 5 steps General Mills takes to innovate on innovation, but it might not work for every company.


Keynote Presentation from Jody Turner: Future Trends: Brand and Innovation in The New Behavior Economy

Jody Turner begins her keynote speech by describing that design elements should invoke the following:

- Experiences – to share with others
- Invitation – reaction to action
- MashUp – shake it up

Through business we are designing new ways to interact with humanity. We are designing new trends to interact with community. Jody Turner gives an example of having worked with Gap. The old model was Have-Do-Be whereas the new model for Millenials has become Be-Do-Have.

Design needs to be clear and energized. We must think how we can have re-use in our products especially with the concept of green being popular. From now we have moved from “Me” to “We” Companies are going to need to link their products to something of value, like Ethos for example.

Give the consumer many energized way to engage with you, multimedia network is really important. Networks should include newsletters sent via sms and email, reviews, talks, and showcases. We are going to be going around the world and seeing what types of natural products we can use. Intel, Dell, Toyota, and Gap have been giving consumer voice. Jody gives an example of how Scion has created a contest online where consumers can create their own crest symbol.
Jody concluded by giving a great example of a video created for AARP that incorporates many of the design elements using the young generation. Here it is below:

Updated: Here is a short clip from her Jody's keynote presentation:

Keynote Presentation from Max von Zedtwitz: Innovation in China – Looking to Capture the Next Breakthrough

Max von Zedtwitz begins his keynote speech by stating that there is great untapped potential in China that we have not yet reached. Many foreigners have picked up on this trend and have started to invest in R&D. There are more than 1,000 R&D facilities in China, a country that years ago was put in comparison to 3rd world countries in Africa.

China is building up its education resources in order to better innovate. China houses over 2,500 universities and are expanded its infrastructures including books from all around the world. In 2006 there were more than 25 million university students in China. There is a strong connection with the top Chinese universities and the government. The last two Chinese presidents were Deans at their respective university. There is a huge emphasis in education in China. In a few years there will be more students of science in engineering in China than total students in the US.

How Western Companies Leverage Chinese Creativity and Innovation Companies like Nestlé have setup research facilities in China in which they discovered what products worked in that country. Food companies invest in R&D in China because of their kitchen logic, new ingredients, and trendsetting food categories. More and more countries are setting up R&D facilities in China. The two leading cities with the most facilities are Shanghai and Beijing.

There are also some concern in doing business and R&D in China. One of the biggest concerns is how to protect IP in China. There is not a solution…IP will be stolen and will be copied. Managing Chinese staff and making R&D collaboration work are some other concerns and issues.

What Chinese Companies are Doing in R&D Innovation Space technology in China has grown tremendously; they have the ambition to land on the moon which would make them only the 2nd country to do so. Max stated that he would not be surprised if China would be the first to land on Mars. China is also moving to the electrification of vehicles where vehicles right now can get up to 250 miles per charge, whereas GM is only promising 40 miles per charge.

China Wake-Up Call
- Very Technology friendly society- people are looking at technology as a source of progress
- Top-down “directed” leadership – provides stability for R&D to blossom and grow
- Mass-parallelization of R&D work across China – China can throw greater numbers at a problem


Keynote Presentation from Verena C. Kloos: Beyond Imagination

Verena Kloos starts off her presentation by saying, “Innovation is not something you can turn on and off like a lightswitch.” You can not think one dimensionally when you are thinking about the idea of innovation.

Products were only designed to last a period of time, and the car industry went through a similar advancement. Verena mentions that disposable cars, like the ones being made in India, Is not innovation. These cars will not last decades and increased cars will cause major traffic concerns in the country.

Verena gives us two definitions of innovation below
The successful introduction of something new and useful” and “new ways of doing something

BMW DesignworksUSA has opened up design centers in Los Angeles, Munich, and Singapore. The center in Germany provides a sort of cosmopolitan flair to the design. Max von Zedtwitz just finished presenting on the importance of moving R&D centers to China, and BMW seems to be on right track with opening up a design center in Asia.

Strategic vision, then design, and based on that you develop your technical programs. BMW has invested tremendously in in-house learning. Designworks realized that they had to change the culture in order to spark creativity. They literally broke down the walls and eliminated cubicles so that designers could take advantage of the open space to collaborate and work together. BMW created a collaborative creative work culture to keep everyone engaged.

Verena leaves us with this closing comment. “When thinking about the future sometimes you have to shock them with a product. Design is not an exact science, and so tolerance comes hand and hand with it. “


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Track Session: Making Customer-Driven Insight Really Work at the Front End

Presenter: David Thomas, Mars, Inc.

David began his presentation by stating that companies should:

1. Be really clear with your challenges and what you need to solve
2. Generate ideas and meet those challenge
3. Develop Ideas once you have them
4. Then select ideas you want to move forward with

Within Mars, they have the business strategy, then they go into insights, then developing ideas, and lastly go into the innovation process.

Mars Inc. Project Team Process
- Immerse a small dedicated teams for projects
- Defining the project - take a full day with the whole project team and stakeholders to define the project
- Searching all the clues - looking through past research information that relate to the project

Before testing out ideas, companies need to know if the idea will actually work. Prototyping is important because it allows you to learn exactly that. Ideas that do not work should be killed and those that are successful should be tweaked so that it is even better. Prototypes capture a broad span and build bridges to success. Companies should learn about an idea, and bring it to life.

Track Session: Everybody Wants Something - The Power of "Me" And "We" As Innovation Drivers

Presenter: Paulo Janeiro, Inogate

Paulo begins his presentation by mentioning that innovation departments are now under fire.

Traditional approaches have several drawbacks
- localized initiatives are not good enough take full advantage of individual creativity
- Ideas are about potential, innovations are about results, so can not wait for an "eureka" moment

When managing an idea management process you'll notice that first ideas are generally not completed ideas. You have to engage into feedback process in order to build a completed idea. Traditional approaches depend on having "heroes", and those with super powers sit on the board.

We need to stop depending on heroes
We need to engage not the "usual suspects"

The new vision or model meas that if innovation is to succeed it must be selfish. Companies must have both a "What's good for my company" driver and a "What's good for me" driver. The real incentive is by helping the group first because then the group can help out with your problem.

Final conclusions from the presentation is that innovation should be composed of two complementary dynamics, players, and motivations. It's important to include this concept of collective innovation as a complement to traditional practices. His closing comment was,

"Although you can get methodologies from someone else you will always have to build that culture for yourself."

General Mills 5-Step Innovation Program

Peter Erickson, Senior Vice President of Innovation, Technology and Quality for General Mills, gave a great presentation on his company's innovation processes. There's a good write-up of his talk here on the FEI blog.

For companies, the five steps in General Mills' innovation program are a good start for thinking about their own efforts:

  1. Find great ideas regularly
  2. Expand talent
  3. Get smarter sooner
  4. Save to grow
  5. Pave a new way
Focus on the front end of innovation, let's examine steps #1 and #2. They go hand-in-hand.

Two Focuses for Finding New Ideas

General Mills coordinates two programs for finding new ideas:
  1. G-WIN open innovation
  2. Innovation Squads
G-WIN: Perhaps most well-known is its G-WIN program. G-WIN taps a wide range of external sources for new ideas, including entrepreneurs, inventors, universities and other food companies. This open innovation program, now two years old, has generated hundreds of ideas for products and technologies.

And it represents quite a change in mindset for General Mills. Peter talked about the company's old "Policy 16", which said that no outside product suggestions would be accepted. Such a policy is a part of the corporate landscape, as this case with Apple from 2006 illustrates.

To make open innovation a reality, General Mills took a hard look at intellectual property issues. After setting up processes to address them, they got comfortable with the risk vs benefit calculation and moved forward.

General Mills' G-WIN is now an industry model of leveraging partners for open innovation. The company is highly engaged with its supplier partner network, with a very good feel for issues and opportunities. As Jim Collins discussed yesterday, they are a company with a culture of constant choice.

The open innovation process has also given General Mills a valuable network of talent for sounding out problems and ideas.

Innovation Squads: This is the second part of their innovation program. An Innovation Squad consists of 10-15 people, typically made up of long-tenured employees. These cross-functional teams leverage their internal employee networks to both assess ideas from G-WIN and to find ideas from employees.

One model for this approach is seen in the work to create products around the weight management category. A team worked over the course of 16 weeks to develop their understanding of the job these solutions had to satisfy. From this work, they worked to solve the problem through informed ideation.

Their work resulted in a number of successful products that have differentiated General Mills in the market, such as the Progresso Light soup line.

The General Mills Model

General Mills exemplifies the trend toward increased focus on innovation, and tapping a wider range of resources for ideas. The company has done the hard work of:
  1. Identifying its strategic innovation objectives
  2. Changing culturally
  3. Executing on innovations its program surfaces
Companies will do well to take lessons from their work. General Mills is a great example of a company benefiting from an ongoing, sustainable innovation program.

Hutch Carpenter is Director of Marketing for Spigit. Spigit provides the most comprehensive innovation management platform for the enterprise, integrating emergent social collaboration with traditional workflow and analytics in innovation communities of employees, customers and partners.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Photo Updates from the Conference

Following along? Well be sure and check out these great photos from our pre-conference morning

Panel Discussion: The Day to Day Challenges of Becoming a More Customer-Centric Company

Moderator: Christina Hepner Brodie, PRTM
Richard Nelson, Philips Medical Systems
David Thomas, Petcare, Mars

Q: As you think about the Voc (Voice of the Customer) can you give some perspective on how you define a customer, in the medical industry you have nurses, doctors, consumers. How do you think about that in different industries?

A: We looked at all stakeholder sin that process, and determined their needs. In some instances we had radiologists, CFO, doctors. You want to be sure that you know the WIFFM (What’s in it for me) for each of these.

Q: Can you give some examples of ways to capture the voice of the customer?

A: We took some time to sit in consumer’s space to see exactly how it is to be a radiologist for example. Since he was interrupted so often, he would forget things about the images he was looking at. This information is greatly useful to understand what they go through on a daily basis. Another example is to see what brands they buy, or monitor them shopping. You can get consumers to put together collages and storyboards. Another good one is to identify people who know who your target is – kids can be great.

Track Session: Social Media: How to Innovate and Collaborate with the Workforce of the Future

Panelists: Dan Keldsen, Information Architected
Kara Engelhardt, Lockheed Martin Enterprise
Dan begins his presentation by stating that nothing is adopted instantly, especially when it comes to social media. Wikis have become increasingly popular now, but it is not new technology. The first wiki was actually created in 1995. So what was the reason for the massive explosion – Wikipedia happened. Wikipedia replaced the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Don’t jump into enterprise 2.0 if your culture is not ready for it. If you don’t have Millenials in your organization, you are not exactly doomed. The success of enterprise 2.0 is based more on attitude than age. Create an space that lets you multiply ideas is crucial to today’s businesses. Enterprise 2.0 has not fully been tapped yet, so it is worth diving into if your company has not done so yet.

Kara starts off her speech by bringing up some key point s of a virtual world
- Employees interact and communicate via avatars
- Without relying on travel or other physical constraints
- “walk through” various scenarios and locations without actually being there

Virtual worlds allow you to test things out and get immediate feedback from that environment.

So why do we have to look at changing the way we communicate with our organizations, government, and schools.
- People are changing careers
- Increased complexity at work
- There are new digital users
- There is a digital evolution taking place

Track Session: Why Won’t You Let Me Innovate?

Presenters: Geoff Zoeckler, Birds Eye Foods
Katie Kraus, Kimberly Clark

Why are Millenials important?

Millenials are taking over the workforce whereas many boomers are beginning to retire.
Millenials are different, but they still care
Millenials will not take no for an answer
Millenials spend and will spend a lot of money
Millenials talk to each other about products, especially through social networks

Millenials are not happy when they are only being treated as a resource, they want to be seen as unique individuals.

5 things that are important to millennial employees

  1. Share the need, give us a reason - share consumer need and paint a background picture
  2. Be a role model – Millenials need mentors to help understand when to speak at meetings, first steps for testing ideas, etc.
  3. Greenhouse our ideas – managers should encourage back and forth idea building Ex: use instant messenger
  4. Reward the brave – find a set of system in place that rewards bravery, creativity, and innovation
  5. Break the Box, Get Me Out of Here – give millienials the opportunity for creative space, access to “on the go” technology

Track Session: Innovation Simulation Session

Presenters: Kimberly Johnson, PMP, NPDP, Johnstech International
Wayne Lindhol, Meier Tool & Engineering

Innovation has to be accepted by the user because if people find it useful they will be willing to pay for it. Innovation requires many people working together. Synergy is the energy that drives innovation. The formula that Kimberly uses is 1+1=3.

Attendees then broke into an exercise where they had to rank the order of 15 significant inventions from oldest to newest. Some of the inventions included in the worksheet were Jet Aircraft, Word Processor, Rocket, Frozen Food, and Laser.

“Creating a culture of engagement may be a better way to innovate than focusing just on products”

Here is a clip from their talk:

FEI 09 Your Chance to WIN! Submit Your Answers NOW!

Thank you all for following the conference online today. If you been tracking the contest, we've published 9 questions:

What Did BMW Produce Before Automobiles?

How Many X Factors are there for FEI 09?

According to Innovation Nation by John Kao, which 3 countries trump the U.S. in their focused and creative approaches to fueling innovation?

What is the tagline of General Mills Wheaties brand?

Which company on the FEI conference agenda was named by Fortune Magazine as one of the best companies to work for in America for 10 years straight?

Which FEI speaker keynote's case studies are featured on Apple Pro's World of Color website?

How many members does our FEI LinkedIn Group Have?

Who is the past FEI keynote speaker that invented the Segway?

How many PDMA chapters currently exist in the U.S.?

Well do you have your answers? Now's your chance to submit your answers and enter for your chance to win a FREE PASS to FEI 2010.


FEI 09 Your Chance to Win - Ninth and Final Question

This is it your final question to complete the set of nine questions for chance to win ONE FREE PASS to FEI 2010. Throughout the day, we have posted individual questions, hopefully you found the answers and now very shortly we will post an online submission form where you can submit your responses and enter for your chance to win that FEI 2010 Pass. If you miss any of the questions, simply search our blog for FEI 2009 Contest. Don't wait, get the answers to all 9 questions and submit your responses for your chance to win a FREE PASS to FEI 2010.

Ninth and Final Question:

How many PDMA chapters currently exist in the U.S.?

FEI 09 Your Chance to Win - Eighth Question

We're coming down to the wire for your chance to win ONE FREE PASS to FEI 2010. Throughout the day, we will be posting individual questions, find the answers and at the end of the day we'll post an online submission form where you can submit your responses and enter for your chance to win that FEI 2010 Pass. If you miss any of the questions, simply search our blog for FEI 2009 Contest.

The Eighth Question:

Who is the past FEI keynote speaker that invented the Segway?

FEI 09 Your Chance to Win - Seventh Question

Ever closer, ever closer to your chance to win ONE FREE PASS to FEI 2010. Throughout the day, we are posting individual questions, find the answers and at the end of the day we'll post an online submission form where you can submit your responses and enter for your chance to win that FEI 2010 Pass. If you miss any of the questions, simply search our blog for FEI 2009 Contest.

The Seventh Question:

How many members does our FEI LinkedIn Group Have?

FEI 09 Your Chance to Win - Sixth Question

We're just a few hours and questions away for your chance to win ONE FREE PASS to FEI 2010. Throughout the day, we will be posting individual questions, find the answers and at the end of the day we'll post an online submission form where you can submit your responses and enter for your chance to win that FEI 2010 Pass. If you miss any of the questions, simply search our blog for FEI 2009 Contest.

Here's the Sixth Question:

Which FEI speaker keynote's case studies are featured on Apple Pro's World of Color website?

FEI 09 Your Chance to Win - Fifth Question

Half way through the day and there's still a few questions left for your chance to win ONE FREE PASS to FEI 2010. Throughout the day, we will be posting individual questions, find the answers and at the end of the day we'll post an online submission form where you can submit your responses and enter for your chance to win that FEI 2010 Pass. If you miss any of the questions, simply search our blog for FEI 2009 Contest.

Here's the Fifth Question:

Which company on the FEI conference agenda was named by Fortune Magazine as one of the best companies to work for in America for 10 years straight?

Great Companies Enable Constant Choices - Jim Collins

Greatness is not a function of circumstance but a function first and foremost of constant choice.

What a great statement by Jim Collins, in his keynote for the Front End of Innovation. Every company has the opportunity to be great. Every company. He uses mountain climbing as an analogy to companies achieving greatness. It's a team journey, with success determined by "what you do to yourselves, rather than what the world does to you."

Key, of course, is to enable an organization to create environments of constant choice. Which might sound somewhat odd. Don't employees face choices every day? So let's clarify the meaning of this. Employees do indeed find themselves facing choices throughout their work days. Much of this is the minutiae we all do.

But that's not quite the same thing as creating an organization operating on constant choice. Consider that companies are complex organisms, faced with a daunting array of operational decisions every day. Employees are in the thick of it.

And every day, some of those employees are coming up with notions about ways to improve. Products and services. Field operations. R&D. Marketing. Changes in customer behavior. Sourcing.

Per Jim Collins, great organizations don't let existing processes and previous decisions simply override suggestions for improvement. They create scenarios where the organization is consistently challenged with new ideas. New choices.

Enabling an organization to capture these inflection points - both minor and major - is critical. Success with previous initiatives and processes can risk ossification of innovation, as anything that challenges current success is ignored. Setbacks are not taken as opportunities to innovate, but as exogenous blips that will pass.

As Collins recently wrote in Business Week:
Those in power start to blame external factors for setbacks rather than accept responsibility. The vigorous, fact-based dialogue that characterizes high-performance teams dwindles or disappears altogether.

Great organizations will constantly examine the happenings across all aspects of their business. And they need to leverage those who are most likely to encounter changes first - employees in their daily work routine.

This is where the rise of emergent social technologies becomes a great aid to companies. As ideas occur to employees, as they encounter the ongoing changes that characterize most industries, they have a place to share with their colleagues.

Consider how well your own organization is creating a culture of constant choice. As Collins notes, it's the difference between mediocrity and greatness.

Hutch Carpenter is Director of Marketing for Spigit. Spigit provides the most comprehensive innovation management platform for the enterprise, integrating emergent social collaboration with traditional workflow and analytics in innovation communities of employees, customers and partners.

FEI 09 Your Chance to Win - Fourth Question

We're are here inviting everyone following the conference online through our blog to participate in the chance to win ONE FREE PASS to FEI 2010. Throughout the day, we will be posting individual questions, find the answers and at the end of the day we'll post an online submission form where you can submit your responses and enter for your chance to win that FEI 2010 Pass. If you miss any of the questions, simply search our blog for FEI 2009 Contest.

Here's the Fourth Question:

What is the tagline of General Mills Wheaties brand?

Keynote Presentation from John Kao: Navigating the New Geography of Innovation

John Kao begins by mentioning that most companies believe that innovation is the answer, but what exactly is the question and direction?

Innovation is a territory and journey, not a point, that includes many differnet types of innovation (disruptive, front end, open, etc.). Large scale innovation is complicated because it goes beyond what corporations are used to in their geoengineering space.

Why innovate?
We have a different global landscape where the US is no longer central in the way it was in 1945. The US was half of the industrial workforce back then.

Drivers of Innovation world
1) The internet as global connector
2) Cultural shifts: American dream has become global dream
3) Talent flows “Hollyworld”
4) Capital flows
5) Globalization of science Ex: Singapore
6) Globalization or higher education

China has a brute force as a strategy, they know that quantity will lead to quality. Chile is one of the best countries in building global innovation process, the US excels with the system integrators model. A national strategy that overlies general innovation in still in alpha for theUS, countries like Sweden have someone in place for that role. We need a general innovation role that leads to the other narratives of innovation in the administration. Finland has a national center design lab and we are seeing this as an element of strategic advantage.

John Kao concludes by showing a video in which John Kao is interviewed and explains how the US has lost its edge. In the video John explains how funding for research and education should be high up there with our priorities in order to catch up with countries like China and Finland that are leaders in innovation.

"We need to acknowledge that we have a problem."

Keynote Presentation from Mike Santori: Using Protyping to Reduce the Risk of Innovation

Mike Santori begins his keynote speech by discussing how the biggest area where we are seeing prototyping to reduce the risk of innovation is in alternative energy.

There is a misconception especially in the automobile industry where computer simulation can replace building an actual prototype, but it is necessary to do so.

Values of Prototyping

  • Vet Unknown technical risk and challenges
  • Vet unknown business model risk
  • Attract resources - people and capital
  • Speed time to market
  • Find and sell early to market
The first step is ideation where you talk to your peers about building a case that the invention or idea is going to create. Next, you start proving a case and building a data sheet. Next comes the specification stage where you start doing alpha testing. Lastly, you have the idea and its in the market, that's when you start getting customers.

8 tips to successful prototyping
- Ideas are cheap, proving values is hard
- Ensure you can demo your prototype
- Start with a paper design
- Put in just enough work
- Avoid focusing on cost too early
- Fight “reversion to the mean”
- Anticipate for multiple options
- Look for opportunities for reuse

Mike leaves us with some comments on how right now there is a transformation going on in the academic landscape where there is more hands on project-based learning for kids. Educators are trying to engage kids in real life science because they are the future innovators of 2020.

FEI 09 Your Chance to Win - Third Question

Following our special contest? No, well you're in luck. For those of you following the conference online, we are giving away ONE FREE PASS to FEI 2010. Throughout the day, we will be posting individual questions, find the answers and at the end of the day we'll post an online submission form where you can submit your responses and enter for your chance to win that FEI 2010 Pass. If you miss any of the questions, simply search our blog for FEI 2009 Contest.

Here's the Third Question:

According to Innovation Nation by John Kao, which 3 countries trump the U.S. in their focused and creative approaches to fueling innovation?

Keynote Presentation from Jim Collins: How Good Organizations Can Become Great

Jennifer Finer, conference director for FEI and Peter Koen, Conference Chairperson for FEI opened up the morning with some introductory remarks. Soon after Peter Koen introduced the morning’s first keynote speaker, Jim Collins, author of Good to Great and Built to Last.

Jim begins by stating that he wanted to share some research that took him nearly five years to gather. A couple of opening quotes that set the tone for the presentation were, “Greatness is not a function of circumstance but a function first most of constant choice.”

Jim Collins stated that we will regain our prosperity and that it is unlikely that we will go into a system of stability. What separates items that build great companies? What environment allows company to stay in the mediocre state?

The world becomes more rapidly evolving, we would see a bigger premium in innovation. The comparison company and not the winner innovated. Innovation is important up to a point but what is that point?

There is no evidence that the great and powerful can not fall, eventually they do. The Mayans fell. Great enterprises that fall might look healthy on the outside but can actually be "sick". Companies in the late stages of the process are harder to cure, you want to be able to detect it early. We found 5 stages and you don’t fall until stage 4.
What are the stages? How do you identify?

It’s hard to detect early, but you can. Not everyone pulls out of it…Here’s the good news, you can fall into late stage 4 and still come back as a great company.

“Whether you prevail or fail, or do or die, depends more on what you do to yourself then what the world does to you. “

It is a cumulative process, it’s a nonsense question to say whats the one thing that made us great. We find more support for the cumulative process the more the world is out of control. Even in these environments most success stories are 20 years in the making. Those who take disciplined action distinguish those who win.

"Overreaching better explains how the mighty fall"

Jim Collins gives an example of how Rubbermaid introduced many products every 6-12 months, after 5 years it was no longer an independent company.
“We find no evidence that those who win predict what happen. Be prepared for what you cannot possibly predict.”

Leaders with the greatest humility produce the best results. The question in place should not be about your personality but the source of your ambition.

"Turbulence strengthen us, for those that are strong going in. Companies should be afraid if they are weak because it will expose and amplify their weakness."

"It’s what you do before the storm comes that outlines what will happen when the storm is here."

Companies can be categorized into 3 parts:

Category 1 – Very strong going into the tunnel - Focus on what can you do
Category 2 – Aren’t severely in peril, but not as strong as they want to be – Focus on the must then the can
Category 3- Caught weakened (GM is a great example) – What can we do and what must we do – Focus is on the must for survival

Jim Collins closes with this thought, "The signature of mediocrity is chronic inconsistency."

FEI 09 Your Chance to Win - Second Question

Remember, for those of you following the conference online, we are giving away ONE FREE PASS to FEI 2010. Throughout the day, we will be posting individual questions, find the answers and at the end of the day we'll post an online submission form where you can submit your responses and enter for your chance to win that FEI 2010 Pass. If you miss any of the questions, simply search our blog for FEI 2009 Contest.

Here's the Second Question:

How Many X Factors are there for FEI 09?

FEI 09: Your Chance to Win - First Question

For those of you in attendance, on the back of your showguide you will see a special gamecard. If you follow the instructions and submit your completed game card you have the chance to WIN a $100 AMEX gift card.

But for everyone following the conference online, you have a chance to participate as well! Simply follow along on our blog for each question from the gamecard, then you can find the answers and by the end of the conference we will post a submission form for you to enter all the correct answers for your chance to win a FREE PASS to FEI 2010. Be sure and check the blog throughout the day for each question to complete the game

To get things going, here is the first question:

What Did BMW Produce Before Automobiles?

Remember, we'll be posting 8 more questions throughout the day on our blog, check back for each question and the final post at the end of the day for the online submission form.

Welcome To The 2009 Front End of Innovation Main Conference!

We are here from Boston for the 7th annual Front End of Innovation covering the industry leaders and corporations as they discuss the challenges and efforts in ever aspect of innovation. This morning, our Conference Chair, Peter Koen, Associate Professor, Wesley J. Howe School of Technology Management, Stevens Institute of Technology welcome all of our attendees and those who are following online to this year's conference:

Our coverage during pre-conference yesterday, gave you a taste of the great speakers here sharing their insights and experiences. If you haven't already, here are our summaries of just a small portion of the outstanding presentations on hand as well as our kickoff keynote presentation by Dev Patnaik:

Opening Keynote Session from Dev Patnaik: How Companies Prosper When They Create Widespread Empathy

Guest Blog Post: The Dark Side of Innovation

Symposium: When Social Trends and Public Policy Confront Complex Motivational Barriers to Behavioral Change

Symposium: Developing Partnerships to Accelerate Open Innovation

Interview with Dr. Alastair MacGregor, Innovia Technology

Symposium: Post-Traumatic Consumer Behavior

Symposium: How Does a Large, Regulated Utility Approach Green Innovation?

FEI US Opening Symposium Remarks

Welcome to the 2009 Front End of Innovation US!

Our team has worked hard to put together a remarkable event, if you see them during the conference, be sure to tell them your impressions of this year's conference. Finally, we're covering the conference with live blog posts, twitter updates, photos from Flickr, daily emails, and discussions on LinkedIn and Facebook as we provide you coverage throughout the event. Don't forget, if you're attending the conference and twittering, use #FEIBoston in your tweets to share in the conversation.

Keynote Session from Dev Patnaik: How Companies Prosper When They Create Widespread Empathy

The keynote address began with a warm welcome by Front End of Innovation conference director Jennifer Finer. Soon after the introduction Dev Patnaik, Founder and Principal of Jump Associates, went into how the PS2 scared Microsoft when the video game platform became the digital media hardware leader. Microsoft knew that they had to do something out of the box to succeed because they were software experts, not hardware.

Microsoft launched a separate game console called Xbox which tailored to hardcore gamers. This had been the most successful game console launched to date, before Atari. Microsoft then wanted to break the mold like they did with the video game console when iPod sold over 60 million units. The same team that worked on the Xbox worked on the Microsoft Zune, which failed in regards to the iPod. So why was it that with the same people and the same budget they came up with a product that failed in the market?

This photo from his slide below sums up why:
"The biggest challenge with Zune was trying to figure out who we were building it for… With Xbox, we knew those guys. Hell we were those guys.”

In order for companies to grow and innovate they need high levels of:

  1. Empathy
  2. Creativity
  3. Execution
Empathy is the missing element that companies need to grow. Harley Davidson is a great example of a company that has a great sense of empathy. From the minute you come into Harley Davidson they tell you what is important to them, and to them it’s the culture of riding. The company refers everyone to riders instead of consumers. One of their mottos is “we are them and they are us.” Another company that does a good job of showing a sense of empathy is Nike. Many employees are devoted to sports in some way. Even the wings in their buildings have names like the Mia Hamm Wing or the Tiger Woods Wing. This is a way of reminding people of what is important in company and keeping the culture of sports alive. As a result of this it made employees think like the consumers and it gave them the gut sense from the outside world.

Dev presented a chart of companies with high empathy and low empathy. Commerce Bank, Harley Davidson, and IBM are the leaders in high empathy whereas companies like Citibank, Delta Air Lines, and Kraft rank high in low empathy.

“The lesson is we all have a sense of empathy but companies do a good job of beating this out of us.”

The problem lies that we do a good job of telling people to leave baggage and emotion behind because this is business and we need logical answers. When companies have an empathic relationship with their consumers they succeed.

The Dark Side of Innovation

C. Engdahl
The Big E of Big E Toys

“The Force can have a strong influence on the weak-minded.” - Obi-Wan Kenobi

Supposedly there’s no such thing as a stupid question. At least that’s what I tell my kids. I wonder though if this is actually true. In any case, every once in a while I deliberately attempt to ask one.

In grad school I remember sitting in class listening to an Operations professor talk about Deming and the definition of “quality”. Having also recently studied business as an undergrad, this particular lecture didn’t really offer any substantial new insights for me. And perhaps having been up late the night before and thus a little tired, my attention span wasn’t likely stellar that day. I could feel my mind going a little numb (not in a good way). As I listened to the explanation of “quality” and various examples of “quality” products, I began formulating a “dumb” question.

At some point I finally felt compelled to make an attempt to divert the discussion towards something at least slightly more intellectually engaging. “Is there such a thing as quality cocaine?” I asked.

I actually had already formulated my own answer. Based on textbook definitions of “quality”, there indeed exists quality cocaine. Quality technically doesn’t really have much to do with the underlying nature of a product or service offering, but rather simply its conformance to requirements, zero defects, and the idea of continuous improvement (or more recently six sigma). To prevent my mind from floating off into the abyss though, I was hoping to get at least a minor philosophical discussion going with my classmates on the moral and ethical obligations we have as business leaders. It seemed we always talked about quality as a good thing, when in fact it’s simply a neutral concept. The prof acknowledged the limitations of the textbook definition, but was reluctant to begin a philosophical discussion on this duality. He didn’t have any notes or overhead slides to assist in such a discussion.

Although it seems innovation is always put into positive context, there is nothing intrinsically good about innovation either. New doesn’t inherently equal good. It is up to us to apply innovation in a manner consistent with our own values – good or bad.

Obi-Wan Kenobi: A young Jedi named Darth Vader, who was a pupil of mine until he turned to evil, helped the Empire hunt down and destroy the Jedi knights. He betrayed and murdered your father. Now the Jedi are all but extinct. Vader was seduced by the dark side of the Force.

Is there a dark side to innovation? In our quest to be innovative (or in our quest to get rich or earn notoriety through innovation), might we too be seduced?

Unfortunately, yes.

There is no doubt that innovative products can have negative consequences or unintended side effects. Nothing is perfect. Nor can we control exactly how an innovation gets used now or in the future. Alfred Nobel, a pacifist who liked to write poetry, was dismayed that his most notable invention – dynamite – was used extensively for war rather than peaceful purposes. The Wright brothers couldn’t possibly have known that an airplane might one day be used as a terrorist missile. And Jonas Salk certainly wasn’t going to stop development of his polio vaccine simply because a small percentage of people might experience complications from the vaccine itself.

These are all innovative. But they are not examples of the dark side.

Darth Vader: I’ve been waiting for you, Obi-Wan. We meet again, at last. The circle is now complete. When I left you, I was but the learner, now “I” am the master.
Obi-Wan Kenobi: Only a master of evil, Darth

The dark side of innovation is the use of innovation for personal gain coupled with either an explicit intent to do harm, or in a more common situation simply a total disregard for the broader known consequences and well-being of others.

Examples that come to mind include: the use of Special Purpose Entities (as employed by Enron) to conceal actual financial realities; artificially elevating the nicotine content of cigarettes to keep people addicted; and although not the originator of the Ponzi scheme, add Bernard Madoff to this list of examples. The shear size and scope of his charade makes it particularly noteworthy.

Arguably all innovative practices. Definitely dark side.

Isn’t the nature of innovation at least equal to if not actually more important than the innovation itself? I think so.

When all is said and done, like Vader, might there be redemption for the likes of Kenneth Lay, William Cambell, James Johnston, Joseph Taddeo, Andrew Tisch, Thomas Sandefur, Ed Horrigan, Donald Johnston, or Bernard Madoff? Somehow I don’t think a Peace or other type of prize is destined to honor any of their names.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Track Session: When Social Trends and Public Policy Confront Complex Motivational Barriers to Behavioral Change

Presenter: Paulette Kish, TNS Landis

Paulette starts her presentation by giving a timeline of when government intervened with public health guidelines and campaigns to help people reduce their dietary fat.

Policy requiring companies to list fat content changed the game. Companies like Frito Lay and other launched many low-fat products because of the new focus on health. Companies like Lean Cuisine and Healthy Choice transformed from becoming a calorie reducing company to better eating. The concern for dietary fat within consumers changed from 9% to over 40% within the time period of 1980’s- 1990’s.

In the early 2000’s we saw a different fad when consumers saw the carb counting craze with such diets like Atkins.

Paulette went on to describe that consumers that are stressed are less likely to eat sensibly than those who are not. There is a bigger percentage of consumers now that feel that they are more stressed than from last year.

As marketers we do segmentation of health and wellness and not the holistic consumer. As a result the industry and government are not credited for doing anything well for health and wellness.

Social policy can drive innovation and commercial wins because attention levels the playing field.

Track Session: Developing Partnerships to Accelerate Open Innovation

Presenter: Dr. Sarah Coulter, Clorox Company

Sarah begins by mentioning, "The foundation of Open Innovation is Partnering" which set the underlying tone her presentation. According to Clorox, partnering makes sense for those who want to be competitive in the space. Insights from consumer thoughts can better understand the process.

Sarah detailed some steps in Clorox's work process in Open Innovation –

  1. Scouting
  2. Selection of ideas to move forward with
  3. Securing an agreement with your partner
  4. Relationship Management
Sarah finished her presentation with an example of how Clorox accelerated innovation for a product that Clorox was already established with. Through research, Clorox discovered that consumers wanted to apply bleach exactly where they want in clothing and with precision. Through scouting, Clorox found a company in Japan which had a design which gave accurate finger control, and had a dual tip. Clorox used the power of bleach with the Japanese package design to create the Bleach Pen.

Some other products that Clorox has collaborated with through external partners are Disinfecting Wipes and Green Works.

Here's a short clip of her presentation:

Interview with Dr. Alastair MacGregor, Innovia Technology

Dr. Alastair MacGregor, CEO of Innovia Technology is speaking during our pre-conference symposium: Innovation in Uncertainty - Harnessing Globalization, Sustainability and Economic Change. Here we meet with Dr. MacGregor as he tells us about his presentation.

Track Session: Post Traumatic Consumer Behavior

Presenter: Megan Stanton, Nissan North America

Megan mentions that when you take a look at the enhancements and innovation in cars from the past 20 years compared to enhancements done with a company like Apple, there is a huge gap. We can go way farther in terms of innovation when it comes to vehicle technology.

Nissan takes a look at social trends, social psychology and cultural anthropology to get a good sense of how people think. Social psychology and mental processing takes a look at how the brain works how we are wired. Cultural anthropology takes a look at how people interact with products. People are history based, we render pictures from our past and make future projections. When purchasing a car for example, consumers think about what cars their parents have owned in the past, what sort of gear they can fit in the car, whether or not leather is necessary or not, and all of these things will effect the purchasing decision of the consumer.

In certain states, wage earning and completion of Master's Degree for example have increased for women whereas it has stayed the same for men. This is important because projections change over decades. Fads are only a couple of months so you must dig deeper to a slow change that is taking place which will lead to a trend. First, segment based on mindset and then separate by generational differences.

Automobiles are about self moving. It's hard for people to innovate if you call an employee a "suspension engineer". You have to change the mindset and values within the companies.

Closing quote from Megan:
Go Long, Think Deep, Design to Concept


Track Session: How Does a Large, Regulated Utility Approach Green Innovation?

Presenter: Stanley Blazewicz, National Grid

Stanley Blazewicz mentions that we must do something to address the direct use of fuel because greenhouse emissions will not be greatly reduced until we find an alternative. In the future National Grid believes that consumers are now in the top of the value chain whereas you need to get consumers involved in their own energy choices. It's going to become more customer centric. Future infrastructure and networks will help reduce the pricing for consumers, especially in the summer months.

National Grid is going to be moving out of the energy utlity domain, but it will change a couple of things. Renewable gas will be a new area for National Grid. They recently did a survey and found out that they can displace 40% by using renewable gas. National Grid has been doing this in the Staten Island area for the past 20 years, but the challenge for them is rolling it across the board.

What does a utility need in order to be successful?
1. Strong executive leadership
2. Strong partnering skills
3. Strong Technology Management
4. Innovation Labs
5. Incentives

Overall National Grid is looking to reduce over 80% of greenhouse emissions by 2015. It will take a lot of work between all teams and government in order to get this done. Stanley closes by stating that the "Apollo Model" is not very different from innovation today. Back then the government set the goal, saw the vision, set partnerships, and the result of that was landing on the moon. If we can apply the same models towards reducing greenhouse emissions that it will create a major impact.

FEI US Opening Remarks

Front End of Innovation US has officially kicked off in the societal factors track with opening remarks from Tavor White, Director at PRTM. Tavor set the pace for the tracks giving a brief overview of what to expect from the upcoming tracks and then begins his opening by mentioning how states like California are pushing forward towards green innovation, especially with the recent legislation passed by California state governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. This represents a whole new way of doing business.

According to Tavor White, green chemistry is expected "spur economic growth and job creation." Dow Chemical is an example of a company using this concept. This is the next frontier to make everyday lives safer and easier.

China is among the leading countries that have used green innovation to its advantage. Tavor mentioned that China can build a plant for a third less than the US currently can. Tavor closes his remarks by mentioning "societal factors are all working together to innovate."


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Welcome to the 2009 Front End of Innovation US!

We are here live from the 2009 Front End of Innovation US, making final preparations for the opening of this year's conference. As readers of this blog we offer you an opportunity to share in some of the great presentations and information from the conference. This year to help you stay informed and in the loop of everything that is happening here at FEI as it is taking place, we have several tools in place like live blog posts, twitter updates, photos from Flickr, daily emails, and discussions in our LinkedIn and Facebook group that we will continue to post throughout the event.

We plan to be live-blogging throughout the conference, so be sure and subscribe to our RSS feed to continuously receive updates direct from the conference. The conference is scheduled to begin tomorrow afternoon, but we've captured some footage of the setup here at Boston. Here's a look:

Finally, we also spent a few moments with Conference Director, Jen Finer to tell us a bit about what we can expect from this year's event:

Friday, May 15, 2009

Web Seminar: What are Words Worth? New Ways to Optimize Consumer Language

Join us for a Free Web Seminar: What are Words Worth? New Ways to Optimize Consumer Language

Thursday, June 4th from 2:00 PM - 3.00PM EST

Reserve your Web Seminar seat now at:
Mention priority code: MWS0018BLOG

Seeing words, hearing pictures, feeling sounds. You get the picture?

The exploration of consumer language is a key ingredient in understanding what makes people tick. But consumer language is as much visual as verbal. The challenge then is how to get your message home as quickly and clearly as possible. In that first moment of truth, how do you truly engage?

Through a series of original case studies featuring online techniques, we will help you understand how consumers think about one or more of the following words: luxury, indulgence, natural, and quality. What do these words mean? How are they perceived by different types of consumers? We have chosen these words because they reflect the marketing challenges of today, resonating across a wide spectrum of client industries.

As you listen in, you will get a better understanding of what these words mean, the visuals and imagery around what these words represent, and new learning for ways to engage respondents online for deeper, more personal reactions.

Attendees of this webinar will learn:
• How to go beneath the surface to uncover consumer emotions and personal connections linked to copy and language
• How to improve and refine consumer language critical in exploratory and copy development
• New techniques to identify imagery and visual feedback in copy and positioning development
• Innovative methods for mining and distilling rich consumer language

Presented by:
Brendan Light, SVP, Research and Development, BuzzBack Market Research

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Seizing the Silver Lining Checklist #2: Innovation Potential

Scott Anthony's 10 part series highlighting what companies need to do to seize the Silver Lining will be published on Harvard Business Online and The Silver Lining launching on June 1.

In the second part of his series he discusses innovation potential. Here's from his article as it relates to innovation,

Does your organization have a handle on the future potential of innovation projects and existing businesses?

Like it or not, most companies are going to have to trim their innovation investments. In many cases, this means shutting down some ideas in the development pipeline. In other cases, it might mean shutting down or selling off a product line or a business unit.

Companies shouldn't make these decisions haphazardly. A simple inventory detailing the potential of existing efforts and businesses can help companies make the right strategic decisions.

When making decisions about in-development ideas look beyond short-term financial projections. Focus instead on upside potential, residual risk, and the cost of testing the most critical assumptions. The degree to which the consumer has an important, unsatisfied job-to-be-done should play a critical role in the process. For existing businesses, look at unexploited potential in existing markets and to-be-created potential in new markets.

For example, General Electric regularly assesses the industry attractiveness and business strength of each of its business units. A business unit in an increasingly unattractive industry or with deteriorating potential could be a candidate for divestiture.

A simple way to get started is to ask leaders in different business lines to develop a list of existing projects and a simple checklist to prioritize existing ideas. These actions can help make sure everyone is viewing today's business through similar lenses.

What do you think of Anthony's use of the Innovation? What can companies learn from his Silver Lining techniques?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Live from FEI Next Week!

Just a reminder that we will be live-blogging from Front End of Innovation next week and twittering so make sure to follow us and tweet along if you are attending. Make sure to add the hashtag #FEIBoston. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Survey Results: Portfolio Management Issues

In our current issue of ValuePoint™ (monthly eNewsletter featuring information about value-based project and portfolio management), we posted results of a survey taken during a recent Stanford/SDG webinar. Here is a summary of the survey findings:

Most important portfolio business challenges:
Too many projects for our resources: 42%
Cutting costs without cutting the future: 23%
65% agreed they were frustrated about:
Decisions that go back and forth and get made late or ineffectively
Politics dominating the decision process
No consistent and transparent way to measure the value of R&D projects
Inability to address risk and uncertainty in a disciplined manner

To view the webcast:
To subscribe to ValuePoint™: send e-mail to

HP's Rich Duncome to Join Pre-Conference Workshop

FEI 09 Update:

Rich Duncombe, Director R&D Advanced Product and Devices Lab for HP's IPG Technology Platforms, will join SmartOrg President/CEO David Matheson as a key presenter at the pre-conference workshop "Forecasting and Managing the Economic Value of Innovation" on Monday 18 May.

The highly interactive workshop will highlight best practices for delivering growth and profitability in a difficult economy drawing on real world examples from HP, Sprint, Inspire Pharmaceuticals and companies.

"I am extremely pleased to have Rich join me at the workshop," said Matheson, "he is one of the most creative persons I have worked with. He will bring a wealth of practical knowledge based on his years as an innovative leader at HP."

The Difference Between Innovative & Stupid

C. Engdahl
The Big E of Big E Toys

[I’d be interested to hear from others on this topic. How do you tell the difference between innovative and stupid?]

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” - Mark Twain

Hindsight is usually 20/20, unless of course you’re a perpetual drunk or a serious candidate for rehab. It’s relatively easy to look back with the wisdom of time and the help of modern day crowd-sourcing to identify great moments and products. Or specifically, innovative moments and products. But how, in the midst of the moment, can you identify true innovation? How do you know your idea isn’t simply stupid?

Of course there are different types of evaluations an organization can perform on new product ideas – Stage-Gate® scoring, customer feedback, test market campaigns, etc. But such evaluations are a reflection of, but do not necessarily pertain directly to innovation. They’re actually specifically geared towards determining market success, which may or may not actually be completely attributable to innovative ideas and practices.

Bob Dylan went electric at the Newport Folk Festival on July 25, 1965. He was booed aggressively when he did. Despite the negative crowd reaction, he continued to perform plugged-in throughout the formative years that followed. I imagine Bob Dylan didn’t care too much about what the crowd actually thought at the time. He would forge ahead with or without their approval. I wonder though if he realized the innovative impact his electric guitar would have on folk and rock ‘n’ roll music.

I recently had an opportunity to participate in a discussion with music critics Jim DeRogatis of the Chicago Sun Times and Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune. In addition to their respective writing duties, Jim and Greg also host the nationally syndicated radio program Sound Opinions (, the world’s only rock and roll talk show. It can be heard coast to coast on public radio stations throughout the United States.

At some point during the discussion I asked Jim and Greg the question, “How do you determine whether a new piece of music is innovative, rather than simply just stupid?” When I asked the question, I knew whatever their answer would be, it wouldn’t actually address the fundamental issue facing a musician in the midst of the creative process (or organizations attempting to develop innovative products). Jim and Greg were answering from the perspective of a listener (or in this case critic). For the most part, the music they listen to (like all of us) has already been recorded and released by the time they hear it. They’re not struggling to create innovative music themselves.

Their responses were enlightening and entertaining none-the-less and reinforced some of my own ideas on the matter.

Jim DeRogatis began by suggesting there’s a fundamental difference between Patti Smith laying down the track “Piss Factory” and some random person that, as he put it, “farts into a mic and posts it on MySpace”. Both might be entertaining. But the former is innovative. The later is just stupid.

For Jim, the primary differentiating factor between such dichotomous recordings is the sense of “passion” emanating from the effort. Passion is a key component to the innovation process and should be reflected in its outcomes. Listen to “Piss Factory” and you can hear the passion in the voice of Patti Smith. As for the MySpace posting, I imagine you’d hear something fundamentally different emanating from…well, you know.

Greg Kot introduced an interesting phrase I’d not heard before. He concurred with Jim regarding the necessity of passion, but also suggested an additional element he described as “amplified personality”. This is the extension of oneself as expressed through the music. It’s personal and what makes the music unique and different. Via the amplified personality, an artist is able to “transcend one’s basic combination of influences.” It’s as if the artist goes beyond the basic summation of his or her musical influences to create something truly innovative. From an idea and product development standpoint, amplified personality to me is akin to the expression of an organization’s values and beliefs.

Greg made another interesting point when he said “music is only as good as the person who listens to it.” But I’ll save my discussion and the applicability of this statement to product innovation for another time. For now let’s just say I concur with Jim’s basic assertion concerning passion and Greg’s concept of amplified personality. I’m of the opinion that a product should embody and be an extension of an organization’s values. And whether you’re assessing something after it’s introduced, or attempting to evaluate the innovative merits of an idea in development, both passion and expressed values are critical elements in discerning innovative from stupid. I’ll save this for another time as well, but passion and an expression of values are key components in what I term Gonzo Innovation.

Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” was selected as the No. 1 song in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (Issue 963, December 9, 2004). “I wrote it. I didn’t fail. It was straight.” So said Bob Dylan shortly after he wrote and recorded “Like a Rolling Stone” in June 1965. I’m not sure how he knew the song was revolutionary in design and execution, but he knew it. Passion and amplified personality I guess.

As I try to finish my thoughts here in the wee hours of the morning, I can’t help wonder whether all the people that booed Dylan because he turned on his amp during the mid to late 60’s now recognize and are willing to acknowledge the innovative impact his electric songs and shows had on folk and rock ‘n’ roll. Do you think the guy that yelled “Judas” at Dylan during the Manchester Free Trade Hall concert in ’66 looks back and has had a change of heart concerning the innovative impact of that performance? I would hope so. It didn’t take Dylan more than forty years and hindsight to figure it out though. In response to the heckler, Dylan kicked in to an acidic version of “Like a Rolling Stone” and turned to his band and simply said “Play it f**cking loud!”

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