Thursday, October 29, 2009

Internet Addresses May Soon Have Non-Latin Script

The language used for internet addresses may soon expand from Latin script to non-Latin script enabling more people around the globe to use the internet in their native language. This week in Seoul the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, which is the non-profit group that oversees domain names will meet to discuss implementing non-Latin alphabets into assigned names and numbers. The BBC reports that this could potentially open up the Web to more people around the world as addresses could be in alphabets such as Chinese, Arabic, Korean, Japanese, Greek, Hindi and Cyrillic.

Hear more on the subject in this special BBC podcast.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

FEI Europe 2010 Keynote Speaker Profile: Adrian van Hooydonk, Director Design, BMW Group

Every Wednesday leading up to the event we will be profiling a new keynote speaker for the Front End of Innovation Europe 2010 Conference in Amsterdam. Today, we're profiling the Director of Design for the BMW Group, Adrian van Hooydonk.

Adrian van Hooydonk is a Dutch car designer currently working as BMW's Chief of Design. Before assuming the position in 2006, he was the President of BMW's Designworks USA studio in California eventually becoming the protege of controversial designer (and former BMW CoD) Chris Bangle, who has since become the Director of Design for the entire BMW group (including its subsidiaries Mini and Rolls-Royce. He studied at Delft University of Technology in Holland, and later at the Art Center Europe in Vevey, Switzerland, until 1992.

As the Director of Design for BMW he oversaw many projects including this BMW Vision EfficientDynamics Vehicle. Take a look below!

Make sure not to miss Adrian's session at FEI Europe The Future Sustainability and The Joy of Mobility and BMW's LIVE unveiling of their new concept car! Hope to see you all there!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Show, Don't Tell

C. Engdahl
The Big E of Big E Toys

A classic mantra for fiction writers is the adage “Show, don’t tell.” In storytelling this basically means a writer should write in a manner that allows a reader to experience the story through character actions, words, and thoughts rather than simply through the narrator’s exposition and summarization. By showing rather than telling, readers can discover for themselves the underlying meaning and depth of a narrative. And although it can take more effort and time, showing brings a story to life in a way that simply telling cannot.

The same mantra can be applied to marketing and product development. Whether we recognize it or not, we are all storytellers. We are trying to capture the hearts, minds, and bodies of our customers through engaging narratives. This might take the form of traditional messaging and advertising, or through product innovation that takes customers on some sort of new journey. As such, we should strive to show, not tell.

I was perusing my November 2009 issue of Wired magazine this past week in an effort to stay abreast of everything Wired magazine publisher Howard S. Mittman calls “new and innovative in the world.” In addition to reading the interesting articles and checking out the product reviews, I found myself looking fairly closely this month at the various product advertisements throughout the magazine. I do this from time to time. Superbowl ads only come around once a year, and sometimes I simply need a little fix of current messaging and branding tactics.

As I visually accumulated more and more ads from this month’s Wired, I began to notice something. Perhaps it was a new phenomenon. Perhaps not. I don’t remember seeing it before though in such abundance. It seems advertisers are increasingly using the word “innovation” or “innovative” in the text of their ads. From energy, to cars, to computers, to clothing. Anything can be innovative. And advertisers want us to know it.

By definition, the word innovative basically means “new and different.” I suspect many advertisers though are looking beyond this simple definition and are hoping to capitalize on other generally accepted associations of the word – cool, cutting-edge, quality, industry-leading, forward-thinking, etc. Innovative isn’t inherently good however. An innovative product or service could just as easily be untested, unreliable, or gimmicky rather than cool and cutting-edge.

I personally am most interested in whether something meets my needs, resolves a problem, or otherwise satisfies me in some way. I don’t really care whether you call the product innovative or not. And I certainly don’t want to be told that a product is innovative – at least not by the manufacturer or its advertising agency. The word innovative should be reserved for product reviews or informative stories by third party observers not intent on trumpeting their own horn.

I can appreciate the inherent difficulty and limitations that exist in print advertising. Not a lot of space. No moving parts. No sound. The challenge to select the perfect words and present the perfect image is great. I still want companies to at least make an attempt to show how and why a product is right for me though. I don’t want to be told it’s innovative. To do so seems a bit shallow, or even disingenuous, or at the very least lazy. “Innovative” has unfortunately become a catch-all word meant to represent all that is good. Forgive me though if I don’t take at face-value the words printed in an ad or included in a press release.

Maybe I’m wrong. But if you keep telling us and not showing us how new and different your products are, the word innovative will get tired, not wired, real fast.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Innovation means squat without sweat

Brad Spirrison of The Chicago Sun-Times writes that it's difficult enough in white hot economies for innovators like Michael Wielgat, who has recently invented the life-saving Hero Pipe for firefighters, to introduce new ways of doing things. A recession can give detractors another reason to throw cold water on untested techniques. Sometimes the only way to get through to anyone is by being a pest.

In his piece, Spirrison discusses inventors who never took "no" for an answer and who have successfully marketed their inventions. For their stories, please visit the article.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Five Technologies That Could Change Everything

The Wall Street Journal reports this week that next few decades, the world will need to wean itself from dependence on fossil fuels and drastically reduce greenhouse gases. Current technology will take us only so far; major breakthroughs are required. So the writer, Michael Totty offers up these five technologies:


We've discussed a few of these on this very blog, but we'd like to get your input. Is Tolly's tally an accurate account of what we may see in the future? What is he missing?

Five Technologies That Could Change Everything

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ideas That Go Up In Smoke

C. Engdahl
The Big E of Big E Toys

If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite.” - from the poem The Marriage of Heaven and Hell by William Blake

From the comments and messages I received following last week’s post “And The Nobel Winner Is...” it’s clear the divide concerning the perceived worthiness of President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize is fairly large. Many people it appears either believe anything and everything concerning the president is worthy of a celebration throughout the universe ala Return of the Jedi when the Galactic Empire was destroyed. Or they believe Arizona State University still shouldn’t award an honorary degree to our Commander-In-Chief. It seems the political associations of this year’s prize prevented some from digesting the overarching message of last week’s post. Simply put, peace requires collaboration.

It’s a new week now. And with my natural apolitical tendencies fully restored I have chosen to tackle a decidedly lighter, if not simply airier topic. I’ll do my best to stay off the politics.

Have you ever had a great idea when you’re really, really tired?

Have you ever had a great idea after getting really, really drunk? [If you’re still wondering, the matching BFF tattoos you and your friends got while in Cancun a few years ago don’t count as a great idea.]

Have you ever had a great idea after getting totally baked?

Or rather, do you have a vague recollection of having had a great idea after getting baked? And are now trying to recapture that fleeting thought?

If so, perhaps you should try

It's positioned as the site to share “the best ideas (while you’re high)”.

It’s a place where you can “Submit highDEA (before you forget)”.

The site is obviously a bit of a farce and should be taken tongue-in-cheek. But the site itself, however absurd you think it might be, is actually fairly clever. It does provide a solution to a problem. And although from a practical, business standpoint, you’ll not find much inspiration or useful thought nuggets in its web pages, some of the stuff is kind of funny when you think about it. Then again, most of it is pretty juvenile and stupid.

A few of the more realistic highDEAS that made me think a little extra if only for a moment included:
Flavored glue
Bras with pockets
Bag in bag (a second compartment in a bag of sunflower seeds used for spitting out shells)

But such tangible, lucid posts are few and far between. The most interesting post I found though was a bit surprising. It wasn’t really an idea but rather a diatribe wake-up rant from one pothead to his less than motivated brethren.

sasquatch.oil writes: Get Off Your Ass And Live
“To the lazy folk, Get your sh%t together. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE smoking Ganj as much as anyone else (like everyday), and I understand that at times you get unmotivated (as do I), but don’t live the stereotypical PotHead life. Sitting on the couch. Sleeping the day away. Eating yourself out of house and home. No job.

Smoke your grass and go on an Adventure! Explore! Stay in good company and please be safe. The World is a Beautiful place, but she can also be a Bit#h.”

For anyone that’s ever had a great idea, or sadly many great ideas, and never done anything with them, I say Get Off Your Ass And Innovate. Mark Twain once wrote “a person who won’t read has no advantage over one that can’t read.” The same is true with innovation. Do something with your ideas.

It’s late now and I’m a bit tired. But I’ve sort of got the munchies.

One final pondering before I sign off though.

What kind of innovations might Bill Clinton have come up with had he inhaled?

Sorry. I couldn’t resist a final puff of politics.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Innovation Action Lags Talking by 35% - New Research

By Dan Keldsen - Co-founder and Principal at Information Architected

In a recent study of over 180 companies, Information Architected Inc. (IAI) found that while most organizations view innovation as critical to their success, less than half of respondents are proactively DOING innovation.


84% view innovation as critical, yet only 49% have put in place any formal process to manage innovation

68% of the surveyed organizations’ management believes that innovation should be managed as a corporate asset and process, yet only 49% have any form of executive management presiding over innovation.

The difference between theory and reality was also stunning in the application of technology to manage and magnify innovation.

Although innovation management is NOT about technology, it can certainly be fine-tuned and enhanced through the application of technology.

In fact, 56% of the individuals surveyed stated that it is imperative that an organization deliberately leverage technology in order to maximize the value of innovation management. Yet 35% stated that there was a lack of effective collaboration and communication technologies within their organization.

Other key findings include:

  • When asked to identify the criticality of several components to innovation management, corporate culture surfaced as number 1, with 71% stating it was absolutely critical.
  • The majority (61%) of respondents stated that serendipity (accidental or coincidental innovation) was the least critical component of innovation management.
  • 82% felt that innovation did not have to be disruptive in order to have significant impact.

IAI will publish a whitepaper that details all the findings of the study later this month, and hold a no-cost webinar to discuss the findings on Thursday, October 29 at 2pm ET (-5 GMT).

To register for the webinar and receive notification when the whitepaper is released go to:

Register for the 2009 Innovation Management Whitepaper and Webinar

About the Survey

This IAI Innovation Management survey was conducted during the second quarter of 2009, and was administered through an online survey instrument. A total of 180 business professionals participated in the survey, representing a full array of vertical industries and company sizes. (Demographics can be provided.)

Partial underwriting of this Survey was provided by:

Friday, October 16, 2009

Archived Web Seminar - Do Consumers Really Care About Corporate Social Responsibility? New BuzzBack Case Study with Nestlé

If you weren't able to make it to yesterday's live web seminar "Do Consumers Really Care About Corporate Social Responsibility? New BuzzBack Case Study with Nestlé" here's your chance to view the archive. Martin Oxley, Managing Director at BuzzBack Europe and Jeremy Pace, Consumer Science Specialist at Nestlé showcased new online research techniques that identified consumer driven issues and emotions of CSR.

Watch the hour-long archive. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

FEI Europe 2010 Keynote Page is Now Up!

Just a quick reminder to sign-up to receive Front End of Innovation email updates and gain exclusive access to the 2009 FEI US Executive Summary Report. This includes key learnings and actionable takeaways from the entire event.

Keynotes for FEI Europe 2010 include Scott Anthony, author of The Silver Lining An Innovation Playbook For Uncertain Times and Adrian van Hooydonk, Director of Design for the BMW Group just to name a few! €500 Discounts are still available! Make sure to check out the FEI Europe keynote page where you will find plenty of resources, videos, and articles from around web on the speakers. Enjoy!

What your manager doesn't want you to talk about

Have you ever been pitching a brilliant new idea to your manager and in the middle of your brilliant pitch they check their Blackberry to see if anything important has arrived? Before you blame your manager, RIM, or whoever invented email, take a look at what you're talking about.

I spent an hour on a webinar yesterday frustrated at the inability of the presenter to recognize that I didn’t give a darn about the features of his offering. I’m not sure, but I may have dozed off. I know that I checked email every few minutes. And to be fair, the offering WAS very cool, and the email that came in was decidedly not.

Unfortunately, because of the distraction of all the “cool things” the offering could do (and the ensuing distraction of a frantic quest for a more interesting email) it took me about 45 minutes to figure out that was what the system does really well. The presenter bouncing all over his web-based offering didn’t help me figure that out. I’ll blame it on my marketing background; I want to know about benefits (WHY) first, and features (WHAT) last.

Perhaps people’s obsession with features is a strategy to justify one’s existence and big budget to the organization. My frustration stems from the fact that too many otherwise smart people get tunnel-vision and lose sight of the fact that the features – characteristics – of a product (like size, weight, buttons, appearance, functionality) or service (what is done, the offerings, what you see people doing) are not important to the person you’re selling the concept to until they are deep into the decision-making process.

This is true whether you’re talking about your customer, consumer, end-user or your boss. Yep, especially when you’re trying to sell the next big idea, it’s best to lead with the benefit to the user, the insight that says WHY the benefit is important to them, and then eventually get to WHAT are all the really cool features it offers.

It’s too easy to get sucked into the tunnel, seeing only WHAT your service/product does rather than WHY you do it for your customers. Until you’ve identified the WHY, you haven’t distilled down the importance of your product/service/idea, you’ve only described it. When that happens, it’s unnecessarily harder to convince people to buy or support your offering. Remember, “The true purpose of business is to provide ongoing and recognized value -- and to continue to stay in business by providing it.” So say Margaret King and Jamie O’Boyle of Cultural Studies and Analysis -- a company that is outstanding at figuring out the value of a service/product (For more, See the “Business and Culture,” article in our newsletter, The Innovative Brain.

So when you’re selling an idea and you see people lose interest, get distracted, interrupt you with questions you’re not ready to answer, check their email or generally nod off, remember to focus on the WHY not the WHAT. Convince them of the WHY, and the WHAT becomes useful information rather than an impediment to the approval process.

You can read more about how to sort features from benefits here or how to sell ideas through the organization here. You can also argue the point with me at the Innovation Immersion next week in La Jolla, CA. It'll be a great conference, and I hope to see you there!

So what are some of your secrets for getting people to accept your innovative ideas?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Are you ready to design your perfect ride?

Today at Epcot's Innovation Pavilion, Disney is introducing a ride where they're allowing children to use their knowledge in mathematics and engineering to design their preferred roller coaster. This new attraction at the Pavilion allows children to be introduced to the basics of mathematics and engineering involved in creating a ride, then allows them to use that knowledge to create the track path choose the car they'll ride the ride in. Then they're taken to a simulation machine to experiences what they've designed. Read more about this new ride here.

I think a ride like this is great for the coming generation. It injects knowledge into the normal amusement park experiences, and shows children that math and science can be fun. Do you think more amusement park rides will follow suit? Not only does it introduce a new aspect for the amusement park industry, but creates a situation where the designers can comprehend physics and engineering in an everyday situation.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

And The Nobel Winner Is...

C. Engdahl
The Big E of Big E Toys

As Alfred Nobel recognized, peace cannot be achieved by one man or one nation. It results from the efforts of men of broad vision and goodwill throughout the world. The accomplishments of individuals need not be remembered, for if lasting peace is to come it will be the accomplishment of all mankind.” – Henry Kissinger, from his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech December 10, 1973*

For those of you that tuned in last week and read "Collaborate and Win (a Nobel Prize)" you may have noticed a few Nobel prizes absent from my analysis. (For those of you that missed last week’s post) I had used the historical record of the Nobel Prize for Physics, Chemistry, and Medicine to demonstrate the increasing importance of collaboration in these scientific fields. Those with even the most basic awareness of Nobel happenings however probably recognized that I did not incorporate Literature, Economics, and the Nobel Peace Prize into the breakdown.

The history of scientific endeavors – those of physics, chemistry, and medicine – generally speaking is characterized by the gradual build of one idea upon another. Previous work becomes the basis for new revelations and discovery. There are inherent links from one scientific exercise to the next if only because science is measurable, testable, and repeatable. In some respect, the history of science could be viewed as one, big collaboration.

Literature does not share these qualities. Although literature has historical traditions with influencers that shape its arc, new literary endeavors are not dependent on prior knowledge and history as in scientific endeavors. Unless you consider the work of editors, agents, illustrators, and publishers as a form of collaboration worthy of inclusion in such circles as the Nobel Prize, writing by its very nature is a solitary endeavor. A piece of literature can and often does exist as a reflective point in time, created by a lone genius. It should come as no surprise then that the Nobel Prize in Literature has never been awarded to collaborators.

In the annals of scientific history, economics is a relative new-comer. Some view it as the bastardized child or distant cousin of real science. It does not include some might say the rigors and traditional measurements and corresponding experimentation of other scientific fields of study. And thus is not worthy of sharing the same stage. Even the Nobel Prize (which isn’t actually awarded by the Nobel Foundation but rather Sveriges Riksbank, Sweden’s Central Bank) wasn’t established until 1968, and was awarded for the first time in 1969. There is some evidence to suggest however collaboration is still an important element within economics. Since 1969, including the 21st Century, it appears 15 prizes (including my personal favorite John Nash in 1994) were awarded based on some type of collaboration. It’s worth noting however that even in these cases some appear to have been awarded to economists who shared fields of interest and investigation but whose actual collaboration may have been loose at best.

So what of the Peace Prize?

To what extent is collaboration rewarded in this realm? The very nature and purpose of the Peace Prize seems altogether different than the other Nobel Prizes. Peace seems like such a monumental endeavor that to award the Prize to an individual would be oxymoronic. To some extent though I suppose the prize must simply be viewed symbolically.

Since the first award in 1901, the vast majority of Nobel Peace Prizes have been given to individuals. A few organizations, such as the Red Cross, Amnesty International, and the United Nations have also been recognized, but there are only ten or so other instances of identifiable collaboration. The most famous of which include Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin in 1978, Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk in 1993, and Arafat, Peres, and Rabin in 1994.

There has certainly been much hullabaloo around the recent Nobel Peace Prize given to President Barack Obama. I’m not concerned though whether you think President Obama is “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.” The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize isn’t up to you or me. It simply is what it is.

Yet for whatever President Obama has or hasn’t actually accomplished to date, I’m led to believe he does understand the true nature of lasting peace – collaboration.

Excerpts from remarks made by President Barack Obama shortly after receiving news of the award include:

“Let me be clear, I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations.”

"Throughout history, the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement, it's also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes."

“These challenges can't be met by any one leader or any one nation. And that's why my administration has worked to establish a new era of engagement in which all nations must take responsibility for the world we seek.”


Perhaps more so than any other endeavor, peace requires (demands actually) an unprecedented level of responsibility and collaboration.


*As the Laureate, Henry Kissinger, was unable to be present on the occasion of the award of the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, December 10, 1973, the acceptance was read by Thomas R. Byrne, Ambassador of the United States to Norway.

You can read the full text of President Obama’s remarks here.

BMW Innovation Days: The Mini That Roars -- and Tweets

Motortrend reports that BMW's Innovation Days is a developing in-car communications system dubbed Mini Connected Live. The idea behind the new technology is to add all the functionality available in popular smartphones (such as Apple's iPhone) to the actual car itself. Specifically, the system would allow the driver to use smartphone apps through the vehicle's user interface, rather than on the actual smartphone. For more information about innovations at BMW, please visit the original article here.

Adrian van Hooydonk, Director Design, BMW GROUP will be speaking at the 2010 FEI Europe event in Amsterdam. His presentation, "The Future Sustainability and The Joy of Mobility" will be on Monday 8 February, 2010. He will also be showcasing an exclusive preview of BMW's new concept car at the event!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Archived Web Seminar - Learn How MeadWest Leverages Sustainable Solutions to Meet Economic Challenges

If you weren't able to make it to yesterday's live web seminar "Make Money and Do Good: How to Profit from Your Most Sustainable Solutions in the Fastest Growing Regions of the World" here's your chance to view the archive. Bruce Thomas, SVP of Global Market Strategy and Emerging Markets at MWV Corporation shared first-hand experiences that will show you how to:

• Design sustainable products specifically for emerging markets
• Determine which products “play well” in other countries
• Talk to government leaders and get them to listen
• Address the burning needs of consumers around the world

Watch the hour-long archive. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Call for Presenters: FEI US is now open. Plus – Are you considering the future?

The Front End of Innovation US - Call for Presenters is now open!

FEI US 2010 will be a true innovation catalyst and idea exchange for cross-industry senior innovation practitioners.

In an all new, collaborative event format we are calling all corporate innovation practitioners to submit proposals on several innovation hot topics. In addition to case study presentations, we are looking for practitioners to participate in unique, interactive event sessions. These details as well as the full Call for Presenters can be found here.

Best regards,
Jennifer Finer
FEI Event Director

Are You Considering The Future? Exclusive Offer to Attend Future Trends 2009

The speed at which businesses change leads us all to ask - where will we be in the next few years or more?

Front End of Innovation would like to introduce you to the event that not only allows you to look into the immediate future but way ahead.

As a valued member of our group, we’d like to offer you an exclusive 20% discount to join us at next month’s Future Trends 2009 conference. FT'09 is your opportunity to join industry experts, corporate visionaries, trendsetters and other revolutionaries to uncover and utilize the trends that matter most to your business, brand and service. There you will gain the focus on making it relevant for your business - before others do. Lead your team to relevant trends to make the necessary decisions, engage in real conversations, and create meaningful change. To claim your exclusive discount, please use code FTFEI when you register.

Visit Future Trends 2009:

Find out more in the brochure:

Register for Future Trends 2009:

Get the answers to your most pressing questions within one full day symposium and three targeted tracks:

• Symposia: The Global and Tech Flavor - Channeling social networking and global trends such as happiness and community into business growth
• Tools and Processes to Identify Trends - The methods and resources to find the most applicable trends for your brand
• Implementing Trends: Innovations & Applications - Using and measuring trends for actionable results
• The Future Trends - What’s next in fashion, art, design, baby boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, consumer values?

As special preview of the conversations and thought-provoking sessions you can experience at Future Trends:

Webinar: NEW BuzzBack CASE STUDY WITH Nestlé: Do Consumers Really Care About Corporate Social Responsibility?

Time/Date: Thu, Oct 15, 2009 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM EDT

Complimentary Webinar:
Mention priority code MWS0019BLOG

Companies are investing in it, consumers demanding it, pundits applauding it …. but what does Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) really mean – to consumers as opposed to shareholders?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Collaborate and Win (a Nobel Prize)

C. Engdahl
The Big E of Big E Toys

I must admit, the idea of the lone genius is alluring. For some reason, perhaps even more so in the United States, where independence has historically and culturally been highly prized, the idea of the individual innovator continues to be especially compelling. We want to believe.

Maybe our understanding of innovation is simplified if we can attribute its outcomes to specific people. Either we’re able to figure out for instance what made Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, or Guglielmo Marconi tick, and thus can unlock their secret formulas and techniques and replicate their innovative ways. Or we chalk up their innovations to pure genius that we have no hope of ever duplicating ourselves. The first approach seems a bit reductionist. The second a bit fatalistic. Neither is likely an accurate depiction of the truth however (whatever that means).

For as much as we – me included – want to put Steve Jobs on an innovators pedestal, we cannot ignore the likes of Steve Wozniak (or the team at Xerox PARC for that matter). For as much as we want to believe in the individual genius of Bill Gates – and I do believe he is – we cannot ignore the likes of Paul Allen. We can choose to attribute the World Wide Web to Tim Berners-Lee, and Napster to Shawn Fanning. I know we want to. Doing so certainly makes the writing of history easier and our communication with one another simpler.

I have no doubt there were and are in fact lone geniuses in our midst. I cannot honestly speak to history however. And I have no desire to rewrite it. But more often than not I believe, especially in today’s world, innovation is a collaborative endeavor.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore.

Although it’s much easier to talk only about Mark Zuckerberg, rather than Mark Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes, we must acknowledge that innovation is a collaborative endeavor.

Apparently the Nobel Foundation increasingly thinks so too.

The 2009 Nobel Prize in physics was announced today. It was awarded to Charles K. Kao “for groundbreaking achievements concerning the transmission of light in fibers for optical communication” and to Williard S. Boyle and George E. Smith “for the invention of an imaging semiconductor circuit – the CCD sensor.” Since 1901, with only a few exceptions, the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, Sweden, has awarded each year a Nobel Prize for achievement in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and peace.

Today’s announcement concerning Boyle and Smith made me wonder how often the Nobel Prize in physics, and also chemistry, and physiology or medicine were awarded to collaborators rather than a lone genius.

The data are rather interesting.

In the first half of the 20th century (1901-1950), seven groups of collaborators were awarded the prize in physics. Note that in some years, as is the case in 2009, an individual may also have been recognized in addition to the collaborative effort. And also note the prize in physics, for various reasons, was not awarded in the years 1916, 1934, 1940, ’41, or ’42.

In the second half of the 20th century (1951-2000) by contrast, 31 groups of collaborators were awarded the prize in physics. Even with some sort of adjustment for the unawarded years in the first half of the century, this seems like a dramatic difference.

And from 2001 to 2009, collaborators in physics were recognized in every year.

How about Chemistry?
First half: 5
Second half: 21
And 5 times since 2001 (2009 hasn’t actually been announced yet)

How about Physiology or Medicine?
First half: 10
Second half: 38
And every year since 2001

Hmmm. Interesting.

How should we interpret such information?

Perhaps innovation in more recent times has become harder or more complex and requires more brain power, more people. Perhaps it’s simply not as easy to innovate these days.

Yet innovation has never been easy I don’t think.

Perhaps instead these days we are better able to recognize and are simply more willing to acknowledge the true nature of innovation. Collaboration.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Technological innovation and its current impact on the bottom line

When it comes to economic growth in these years following the economic downturn, Forbes contributor Steve Ballmer stated that innovation is important, but especially in technology. Not only can new innovations increase efficiency, but they also do not detract from customer service or workforce creativity, both of which currently contribute to business growth already. As technology reduces barriers, it also opens more doors as communication and collaboration are able to take place more freely in the work place. View Ballmer's full view on technological innovation and the economy here.

As companies continue to contribute to innovation in these hard economic times, they'll see the benefits. While some benefits may show instant results, how important is it that companies continue to contribute to innovation that will make their company more efficient in the future?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Upstate NY Towns Receive Innovation Grants

Upstate New York towns are reaping the benefits of a new State initiative known as the Green Innovation Grant Program. The program promotes sustainable, environmentally sensitive water infrastructure and technologies.

The North Country Gazette
reports that The City of Glens Falls will receive a $1.33 million Green Innovation Grant for environmentally- innovative and energy-efficient upgrades to the wastewater treatment facility by creating an alternative approach to managing waste grease from commercial kitchens.

Other awards are:

* $1 million to the City of Ogdensburg, St. Lawrence County for the upgrade of equipment with energy-efficient and innovative components including the creation of biomass fuel, from sewage sludge.
* $1 million for the Village of Saranac Lake, Franklin County for the installation of approximately 2,000 new water meters, fully metering the remainder of the system and reducing water usage by approximately 70 million gallons per year.
* $216,400 to the Town of Orleans, Jefferson County for the installation of over 300 new water meters for the water distribution system in the Hamlet of LaFargeville, promoting water conservation through individual metered water consumption.
* $12,500 to the Village of Speculator, Hamilton County for the purchase of pipeline inspection equipment to identify areas of the sewer lines where infiltration and inflow are occurring. This analysis will enable the Village to take steps to reduce water in-leakage and energy usage.

For more information about the innovation grants, please click here.

Glens Falls Receives $1.33M Green Innovation Grant

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Free Web Seminar: Do Consumers Really Care About Corporate Social Responsibility? New BuzzBack Case Study with Nestlé

Date/Time: Thu, Oct 15, 2009 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM EDT

Companies are investing in it, consumers demanding it, pundits applauding it …. but what does Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) really mean – to consumers as opposed to shareholders? Is it just a new buzzword? Does it encompass fair pay to women? Reducing the carbon footprint? Focus on local communities? Donating to charities? Do consumers really care or is it just hype?

With its client, Nestlé, BuzzBack will highlight original fieldwork conducted in the US, UK and Germany about CSR, showcasing new online research techniques that identify consumer driven issues and emotions of CSR.

Attendees of this webinar will discover:

• The importance of CSR to consumers
• New research techniques that showcase emotional aspects of CSR
• How one of today’s top global food companies is dealing with issues of CSR

Featured Speakers:
Jeremy Pace, Consumer Science Specialist, Nestlé
Martin Oxley, Managing Director BuzzBack Europe

Register below, mention priority code MWS0019BLOG

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