Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The 70 Greatest Revisited

C. Engdahl
The Big E of Big E Toys

I was driving down Highway 61 yesterday. The Highway 61 - the one immortalized in the 1965 Bob Dylan song "Highway 61 Revisited". While driving back from a Memorial Day weekend up north with my family, I was trying to avoid some construction traffic on Interstate 35 and I found myself on a small section of Highway 61 (a highway that runs from northern Minnesota all the way down to New Orleans). And although I was only on 61 for a short while, it got me thinking again about Bob Dylan.

I kept thinking about last week’s post and “The 70 Greatest Dylan Songs” cover story from Rolling Stone magazine the week before. And the Manchester Free Trade Hall concert in ’66. And Michael Portnoy’s “soy bomb” dance thing at the 1998 Grammy Awards. And the at times intelligible growl-like vocal mumblings. And the scruffy hair. And the…well, you get the picture.

Bob Dylan was creative, and innovative and eccentric, and so on, and so on. He’s considered a living legend. But he’s had his critics. And that’s what I started thinking about while driving down Highway 61.

There are those that don’t care for Bob Dylan’s music. That’s certainly fine. To each his or her own. There are some though that criticize him not necessarily directly for his music, but for other things. Bob Dylan cultivated an image early in his career built around folk music. Acoustic folk music. Then he went electric. Bob Dylan was criticized.

Throughout his career Bob Dylan has cultivated the image of a recluse. He’s been anti- establishment. He’s also the guy that more recently did some ads for Victoria Secret, that big retail brand that’s pretty much as far away from anti-establishment as you can get. Bob Dylan was criticized.

Bob Dylan is the guy that wrote all those protest songs. He’s for personal and political freedoms. Just a couple months ago Dylan went to China and sang what was construed as a censored set list. Bob Dylan was criticized.

I guess my point is this. Change is a hard thing to swallow sometimes. You can spend a fair amount of time developing a reputation, or an image, or even an innovation. And when you decide to deviate from what might be considered your next expected move, you better bet you’ll get some criticism. Just be prepared.

Is Creativity Inherited?

A few weeks back at the FEI11 conference, I helped setup the Lego exhibit. After unloading boxes and boxes of Legos, I dove into contributing the first of many user-generated, or in this case, conference attendee-generated, creations that would grace the exhibit. As I thought about what to construct, I decided it might be nice to welcome folks to Boston by building the skyline. After constructing the John Hancock Tower, the "Boston Legal" building, the Prudential building, and a "Bridge to the Future" with a divergent and convergent staircase, I started on the waterfront. I added water details including

7 Things Anyone Can Do To Become More Innovative

A short insightful clip from the presentation made by Timothy Grayson, author of The Spaces In Between, at the 2011 Front End of Innovation Conference in Boston.

Visit blog.timothygrayson.com to view all of his FEI11 coverage.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Retailers Invest in Internal Product Development to Drive Revenue

More and more retailers are turning to private labeling and exclusive products to drive revenue. With this move comes an investment in building internal product development functions. It is estimated that by 2013, 40% of retailers will generate half of their revenue from private labeling and exclusive products. At FEI11, Michael Kitz, of OfficeMax, talked about this model in his presentation, Retailer Driven Innovation - A Powerful New Business Model.

Here are some key points from Michael's presentation:

  • OfficeMax innovates "to make more money."

  • OfficeMax found, if they wanted to innovate, they need to do the customer research. The biggest change OfficeMax was to leverage design thinking by prototyping and using their retail locations to get into the marketplace.

  • OfficeMax strove to create brands that were meaningfully different. They started with writing instruments and conducted deep ethnographies. Did lots of looking at people shopping at pen aisle...talked to associates and store managers. They found people kept cups full of pens, but had "private stashes" of good pens because they didn't want anyone taking their good ones.

  • As a result of the research, OfficeMax created the TUL line of writing equipment. The name brand sounded German and evoked images of precision and an air of quality. OfficeMax added jewel tones (not plastic) then, expanded the line and found a manufacturer to make product.

  • The TUL line provides margins that are much higher than other brands.

  • All in all, OfficeMax found when people get a little happier in the office, productivity goes up. And, when retailers invest in internal product product development functions, revenue goes up as well.

    Friday, May 27, 2011

    Happy Memorial Day Weekend, Everyone!

    * Original design via POGO website.

    Wednesday, May 25, 2011

    What Are Your 70 Greatest Innovations?

    C. Engdahl
    The Big E of Big E Toys

    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!”

    - C. Engdahl, from an FEI blog post entitled The Difference Between Innovative & Stupid (posted 5/12/09)

    Today (May 24, 2011) is Bob Dylan’s 70th birthday (I actually hit "publish" about 30 seconds too late and "today" is now "tomorrow" May 25). In any case, the cover story on the most recent Rolling Stone magazine is “The 70 Greatest Dylan Songs”. I’ll not list the songs themselves other than to say it’s no surprise really that “Like a Rolling Stone” is number one.

    It doesn’t really matter whether you like Bob Dylan music or not. I’m not here to convince you either way. So whether you like Bob Dylan, or prefer Dylan Thomas, or would rather be watching Dylan McKay (i.e. Luke Perry) in reruns of Beverly Hills 90210, I don’t really care. You’ve got to be at least somewhat impressed though that someone (in this case Bob Dylan) has enough critical and popular acclaim that someone else (in this case Rolling Stone magazine with the input of various “Dylan experts” and musical luminaries) has put together a list of his 70 greatest songs. It’s simply impressive to me that anyone would have “70 Greatest” anything. I mean really…What are your 70 greatest achievements? What are your 70 greatest innovations? Can you even think of your 70 greatest “anything?”

    “Dylan’s greatest songs don’t reduce the world to three minutes. They open it up to endless remappings, and force each of us to find our own way.” – from the Rolling Stone feature article “What Makes a Great Dylan Song?” introduction by Jon Pareles (Rolling Stone magazine issue 1131, May 26, 2011).

    …they open it up to endless remappings, and force each of us to find our own way…

    I can only hope that someone says something similar about something I create someday.

    Tuesday, May 24, 2011

    Failure Leads to Innovation

    There's been quite a bit of talk lately in the innovation world about the importance of failure. In thinking about failure, I'm struck by the negative connotation. Though many of us consider failure a bad thing, sometimes there is an unintended consequence to failure. Namely, failure can lead to new thinking and innovation. I was reminded of the beauty of failure by my son.

    I came home from a long week of work to find a table full of paper airplanes. Some were decorated with colorful drawings and some were left plain. While, some looked a bit battered and worn from their fair share of flight. Of all these airplanes, one stood out. It was an orange airplane that looked different from the rest.

    Of course, I had to ask my son about this orange airplane. When I probed, he frowned and said, "It was a mistake. I couldn't figure out how to make the plane correctly and it turned out like this." Then, his frown turned into a smile and he continued, "But, then I looked at it and really liked it." From there, he shared all of the features of his new design including boosters to make the plane fly faster, the unique design of the wings, and how particular folds helped the plan glide better.

    With this thought in mind, I considered the many failures that turned into wonderful innovations. We all know about the story of 3M and Post-Its, but did you know...

    • PEZ (originally named for the Austrian word for peppermint) was introduced as an after-smoking mint. Luckily, the inventors realized PEZ made a better children's candy than a smoking mint.
    • Jacuzzi tubs were invented in the 1950's for arthritis sufferers. It wasn't until the company positioned Jacuzzis as a luxury item that they found success.
    • Viagra was brought to market to relieve high blood pressure. Though it failed at relieving high blood pressure, it opened up an entirely new market for men's pharmaceuticals.

    When looking at failure, it might be good to take a second glance. You never know when a slight change in positioning, target market, or unintended consequence might open up a whole new category.

    Saturday, May 21, 2011

    Routine Creativity and a Healthy Lifestyle

    Just as routine exercise improves overall health, routine creativity adds to a healthy lifestyle as well.

    In some brainstorming sessions, the climate is calm with people thoughtfully building on each others ideas. In other brainstorming sessions, the climate is more competitive with people trying to outdo each others ideas. Over time I've realized the calm room is usually filled with people who brainstorm consistently, while the competitive room is usually filled with people who brainstorm sporadically. With this hypothesis, I began thinking about the parallels between exercise and creativity and how a sedentary lifestyle (either physically or creatively) can be bad for your health.

    We've all heard why exercising 20 minutes a day is good for you, but why should we make a routine of creativity?

    1. If you're feeling down, tapping into creativity can make you come alive.
    2. Creativity sparks the imagination which leads to better problem solving.
    3. Creativity helps to maintain a positive outlook.
    4. Creativity is the bedrock for innovation.

    If your innovation efforts are on low gear, or if you're in a slump, jump into high gear by making creativity part of your daily routine.

    Friday, May 20, 2011

    How to Turn Great Ideas Into Great Products

    Sometimes companies don’t have enough ideas. Other times they simply generate a lot of bad ideas. And by “bad”, I mean low-value ideas or ideas that don’t contribute to the organization’s strategic goals.

    Research findings by the Product Development Institute show that 79% of companies admit to having too few high-value projects in their portfolio. This is confirmed by what our customers tell us all the time: “we have no problem generating lots of ideas…what we need is better ideas.”

    Our own research and experience tells us that while it is important to increase the number of ideas at the front-end, what is even more important is that those new ideas are of high-value. High-value ideas at the front end of the process means higher-value products that move through the pipeline and out into the market.

    This does not mean that you should always ignore small ideas but rather that you should have a process in place that facilitates the development of all raw ideas – big or small – that match or support the strategic needs of your company.

    To get more specific, we see five common issues that prevent companies from generating more high-value ideas.

    1. Too often, functional and geographical silos isolate people from one another and become barriers to interaction and collaboration. But some of the best ideas come when people find ways to break these artificially imposed boundaries.

    2. Most companies don’t have consistent processes that facilitate their idea generation efforts; as a result, the front-end is disorganized and chaotic.

    3. A third issue is an inability to link and connect related ideas. Today this is likely only accomplished “at the water cooler” but is therefore limited to those that hang around the cooler. Inefficient at best.

    4. Another challenge we hear of often is the collection of ideas that have little to no relationship to the real strategic needs of the company. Companies launch idea generation programs but it is up to the employees to figure out what kind of ideas are actually needed.

    5. Lastly, many companies report great success in generating volumes of ideas but once they collect them, the ideas have nowhere to go….so they die, no action is taken and, what’s worse, when employees realize this, they lose motivation and stop contributing. As one speaker at the FEI conference recently said, these systems are like a roach motel: “Ideas go in but they don’t come out!”

    So the question then, is how do we move past these challenges?

    We would argue that you need to employ the following principles for effective idea development:

    1. Create a strong connection between corporate strategy and ideation. Ideas cannot stand alone. They must be driven by strategy. By linking the two processes, you ensure that the business remains focused on the right kinds of ideas. If this connection doesn’t exist, there’s no way to guard against an idea portfolio that is full of low-value, non-strategic ideas.

    2. Create connections to facilitate discovery. Idea development is a type of activity that emphasizes divergent thinking, open discussion, creativity and brainstorming. In other words, successful ideation doesn’t just happen in a vacuum; it requires cross-functional collaboration and ongoing communication.

    3. Create a culture of ideation. The creation of communities can help your organization to identify and support the development of the most commercially promising ideas. There are tools available that will automatically increase the visibility of ideas with high interest to those communities.

    4. Design idea flows for consistency and efficiency. Good ideas do not emerge from rigid processes, but rather through discussions among peers, teams, and other participants in communities of interest. However, there must also be consistent, flexible workflows that focus on building and improving ideas to move them beyond their initial “raw” form.

    5. Ensure seamless transition to your innovation execution process. It is critical to ensure a strong connection between ideation and execution processes. You need a seamless approach to idea development that moves ideas beyond initial concepting and into the active product development process. Important contextual and historical information from the ideas must move with the ideas as they “make the trip.” And lastly, feedback must be provided to the original idea submitter so he/she can track the progress of the idea as it moves through advanced stages of the process.

    If you’re interested in learning more on this topic, you can download a copy of our new paper on the subject entitled “Overcoming Barriers to Sustainable Market Differentiation: Turning Great Ideas into Great Products,” which is available here.

    Sopheon can offer practical assistance for the development and execution of your ideation process, including establishing a baseline for your company compared to best-in-class innovators. We can help your organization turn your best ideas into revenue- and profit-generating new products.

    About the Author

    Bryan Seyfarth, Ph.D., is Director of Product Strategy for Sopheon Corporation. He is the product leader for the Accolade® solution suite, which includes Process Manager™ for process and product portfolio management; Vision Strategist™ for strategic roadmapping and product planning; and Idea Lab™ for early-stage idea development. Bryan can be reached at bryan.seyfarth@sopheon.com, or you can follow him on Twitter - @BryanSeyfarth.

    Thursday, May 19, 2011

    Overnight Thoughts: Topics from FEI11

    After taking the evening to allow the richness from the past few days to fully percolate into my brain, I wanted to come back and share with everyone my assuredly incomplete list of topics that I saw come up at FEI11. Please feel free to build on this beginning list.

    Topics from this week:

    · Creating an innovative culture

    · Embracing failure – learn from your mistakes and give permission to make them

    · Managing risk

    · Leadership’s role in innovation

    · Culture has a role in defining strategy

    · Networking – Relationships are important and connections are powerful

    · Follow the energy

    · Collective Intelligence

    · Creating a capacity for breakthrough innovation

    · Strategic allocation of attention

    · Co-creation – …can take us to new heights

    · The power of the AND – for example:

    o Technology AND Business innovation – it’s about both, not one or the other

    · Thinking big picture

    · Executing on breakthrough is hard, but critical, and often neglected

    · Talent matters

    · The power of video

    · Open Innovation

    · Communities are powerful – can do a lot and teach us a lot

    · Change is happening

    · Social innovation – innovation for the good of society

    - Clay Maxwell (@bizinovationist)

    Clay is a Business Innovationist with Creative Realities, an innovation strategy consulting firm. He is a frequent contributor to their Innovationist Blog where all things innovation are discussed. You can find out more about Creative Realities at www.creativerealities.com

    FEI Day 3: Are You an Idea Monkey or a Ring Leader?

    For the first break-out session of FEI Conference Day 3, Michael Maddock of Maddock Douglas Agency of Innovation® delivered a high-energy presentation that inspired and empowered the curiosity of the audience.

    An average Fortune 500 company disappears after 40 years because it runs out of ideas. Similarly, companies often incur substantial advertising and marketing expenses – a “tax [they] pay for bad ideas.” In contrast, good ideas are often organically and quickly spread by word of mouth. So how could organizations continue to generate ideas, with a focus on not only quantity, but also quality – to ensure idea implementation results in utilitarian value for the consumers?

    One option is to free the idea monkey and focus its creativity with the skills of a complementary ring leader. The concept is to encourage and make it possible for individuals who inspire and empower with ideas to collaborate with those who excel at maintaining focus on priorities and relevant values to stay on track. More specifically, Michael highlighted these recommendations:

    To empower the idea monkeys, ring leaders need to use processes and rigor to
    “Focus on specific challenges to be solved”
    “Move from inventing to differentiating”
    “Make every touch point uniquely [that of the company]”

    To inspire the (ring) leaders, idea monkeys should
    “Strive for quantity before [solution]”
    “Infuse outside peer-to-peer expertise”
    “Make fast-failures be OK”

    Are you an idea monkey or a ring leader? Whichever you are, it is important to find “the yin for your yang.” It is at this delicate balance of insight, communication/commercialization, and ideation that true innovation can occur. When one of these three elements is out of balance, innovation misalignment occurs, undermining consumer’s utility of product or service.

    While consumers may perceive a number of challenges in evaluating a service or product offering, Michael recommended attention to insight about what is most appealing to the consumers, to stay on track for solutions. However, comprehensive and relevant insights are not always simple to attain from our, individual perspectives. Especially if we have been working on a given problem for a long time, it is easy to become entrenched in a myopic line of thought or find ourselves in a situation not unlike one of being stuck in a jar and trying to read the label from the inside. Another problem with being in a jar is that you miss people too, and the opportunity to inspire and empower them. Ask yourself, as a leader, what are you missing?

    To move outside the constraints of the jar, reframe what you do, Michael suggested. Infuse outside people who think they are doing the same thing as you are, introducing new energy and ideas into your problem solving process. It can be difficult to let go and open yourself to a completely new line of thinking, to learning when you think you really know, because we are naturally drawn to what we need least and to more of the same, the things and practices to which we have grown accustomed. Yet ability to be nimble and humble is critical, for leaders who cannot let go of the tight reins “are the ones that are dot gone.” Not only that, but it is essential that every member of the organization be aligned to the culture of innovation, as the strength of an organization is in its people.”

    Concurrently, apply this portfolio innovation framework to drive your strategy and operations. Move away from business and market certainty toward increased business and market uncertainty: away from evolutionary (enhancing current platforms) approaches and toward revolutionary (R&D) approaches, away from differentiation (difficult but necessary) and toward fast-fail innovation (fast exploration).

    Moreover, the intent alone to innovate is not sufficient. Michael underscored the importance of perseverance and a positive mindset fraught with curiosity, gratefulness, and a sense of wonder to find the treasure at the end of a long journey. Michael reminded us that, “in [everything], there is treasure to be found, and people who look for it, will find it.”

    In summary, “Idea Monkeys and (Ring) Leaders, remember: you are in the Jar! Be a learner, not a knower. Manage your portfolio. Parallel engineer [translate ideas from other spaces and industries to your own]. Find a yin for your yang. Keep looking for treasure.”

    Elena Cavallo is a member of the FEI Community and focuses on Strategic Innovation in Medical Research and Healthcare. She is posting live from FEI 2011 in Boston May 16-18.

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011

    FEI11: Scott Belsky, CEO, Behance & 99Percent on Making Ideas Happen

    I was delighted to sit down next to Scott Belsky, right before his narrative on Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming Obstacles Between Vision & Reality, within the Think Differently track during the morning session of Day 3 at the Front End of Innovation event here in Boston.

    Scott Belsky, considered one of the world's most creative people, is CEO of Behance (a Linkedin like network for creatives) and the 99percent, a think tank of which I am a huge fan. He is also the author of a book on the same topic.

    He opened by sharing some (comforting) stats:
    - Only 7% of creative people feel that they are very organized
    - While 48% feel they are completely disorganized

    Then he shared some great tips on taking ideas from vision to fruition:
    • - Optimize organization: 
    • creativity x organization = Impact
    • - Organize w/a bias toward action (use lots of verbs): 
    • Action method = action steps + backburners + materials
      * There's an app for that:Action Method App by Behance
    • - Surround yourself visually with completed tasks as motivation to keep taking action (positive creative stimuli)
    • - Prioritize your projects visually << energy line >>>
    • - Don't become burdened by consensus 
    • - Be fearless as a creative in the face of the (traditional) stigma of self-marketer
    • - Trust your intuition - when in doubt, listen but don't be afraid to try!
    • - Society shuns what society ultimately celebrates. Take the risk.

    Lastly, don't get boggled down by the idea to idea syndrome. Create a culture of action-oriented ideation.

    The most organized companies include logistics businesses like UPS but interestingly enough, one of the most innovative companies of 2011, Apple, ranks 3rd in that space making their COO, Timothy Cook, just as important and valuable as Steve Jobs.

    Valerie M. Russo is a Senior Social Media Strategist at IIR USA with a technology, anthropology, marketing and publishing business acumen. She is a published poet and also maintains a literary blog. She may be reached at vrusso@iirusa.com. Follow her @Literanista.

    FEI2011 - Chief Innovation Officer Panel

    I found this morning’s Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) panel especially fascinating. CIOs from Walgreens, Dell, Chubb and Humana shared their insights and experiences with the FEI audience. Here’s a snapshot of the questions and some of the answers from the panel:

    Q: With the inherent difficulty of managing the day-to-day, how do you create a capacity that also focuses on the new?

    Dell: Telling and translating stories that will stay in people’s minds will keep in particular executives from going off on tangents; Balance urgent with important.

    Humana: Urgency is a day-to-day reality. Unless there are separate resources set aside, the first chop comes to innovation and market research, things not essential to the day-to-day survival. Top management has to have buy-in, protecting the innovation capability. Innovation has to make itself very relevant to the daily business – it has to have significant linkage to the business realities not just the long-term goals.

    Chubb: History is written by the winners – look back at historic success stories to glean insights and translate for the new.

    Walgreens: Recognize that a lot of innovation will happen at skunkworks level. Set yourself up to do a lot of the work under the radar screen – start some stuff that’s headed in the right direction, but not necessarily lobbed up in front of senior management. If you scare senior leadership they tend to pay more attention – set a competitor up as a villain and they’ll be more inclined to allocate resources, and/or set strategic stakes to strive for before really knowing how to get there, which obligates the organization to innovation. In short, make the future so compelling that it can’t be ignored, play to human behavior.

    Q: Senior Management doesn’t get it, what should I do?

    Dell: Use stories. Start with customers coming back to innovation group telling their own story, and then have the innovation group go to senior management conveying that story, then senior leadership will pay more attention.

    Chubb: Do a mature, emotionally intelligent size-up. There are politics at play – find the problems that executives have passion around and play to those.

    Walgreens: Ask how they think about innovation. Do almost mini-VC pitches to engage management.

    Q: How do you organize for breakthrough?

    Walgreens: We created a very lean innovation function to act as catalyst for innovation in the rest of the organization. Also created an internal consulting capability that does training – evangelizing innovation throughout organization. Also, we immerse operators in sessions – get them to be better customers of our product – and then we rotate through innovation team and operations.

    Humana: Innovation is not a standalone function. We placed ours in conjunction with marketing to move money easily across, and provide the opportunity to redeploy resources, both monetary and personnel. Infusing into innovation group business folks with a bent for out-of-the-box thinking, leads to both commercialization of innovation and traditional creative thinking. We provide on-the-job training immersed in business and innovation departments to understand both more deeply.

    Dell: We focus on education, changing the way people think about our industry, our services. Our secret sauce is having the whole organization have an innovation mindset. We can’t just be a fast follower as we move from product to service. But we have no classic breakthrough focus, the IT space is just too dynamic.

    Chubb: To be successful in breakthrough, you have got to have cadres throughout the organization. We have internal business school classes that focus on innovation. We put “students” to work on real BU challenges, so they have hands-on experience in execution.

    Q: What prevents you getting to breakthrough?

    Dell: At the end of the day you’re playing house odds in the casino, betting that one of ten will pay for the rest. What you can’t do is kill the group after 5 die.

    Walgreens: Solve through structure. It is constantly changing. What’s going to work is revisiting structure following strategy 12 months from now.

    Chubb: The variables change constantly.

    Walgreens: Talent can be built around and ultimately drives businesses.

    Humana: Symbolic acknowledgement of innovation is critical to the organization. Must have top-tier commitment and buy-in, budgets that are sacrosanct. For us, the philosophy now has to seep into next level of management.

    Dell: Creation, selection and execution of ideas are the three main phases of innovation. Each piece is a different operational unit/level, and has to know how it fits in the whole as well as what its role is.

    - Clay Maxwell (@bizinovationist)

    Clay is a Business Innovationist with Creative Realities, an innovation strategy consulting firm. He is a frequent contributor to their Innovationist Blog where all things innovation are discussed. You can find out more about Creative Realities at www.creativerealities.com

    FEI11: Leveraging Design Thinking (via Apple & Coca Cola)

    Yesterday evening, Vince Voron, Associate Vice President of the Integrated Marketing Strategic Design Team at Coca-Cola (and former Senior Industrial Design Manager at Apple) took us on a fascinating historical view of utilizing design to amplify your brand and innovate customer experience vis a vis his own professional experience at Apple and Coca-Cola.

    He spoke about the importance of bringing designers into the boardroom and inversely inviting executives into the studio. Opening and nurturing relationships between the expert holders in each division, creating conversations between what seems like very diverse teams is extremely important. Inclusivity allows each team to share insights and create continuity of all brand assets and goals. Designers should be allowed the freedom to use all historical capital assets to tell a story (a holistic one).

    The best example he presented was of the Coca-Cola Freestyle Machine, a revolutionary fountain machine that incorporates the iconic look and feel of the Coca-Cola brand and assets with modern design elements and innovative technology (adopted from precise pharmaceutical micro-dosing systems) to deliver over 100 custom flavor options using an interactive touch screen to create an unprecedented customer experience.

    The new self service fountains took four years to develop and integrated the historical look & feel of old fashioned fountains and vending machines, along with iconic branding and new rich design elements, and fused that with external research and creativity (true open innovation - utilizing outside intelligence and drawing it in) to create an innovative machine that even offers data mining on consumption, peak times, and locations back to headquarters.

    It was a great case study on leveraging everything your company and brand has with the external creativity and technology to build new, beautiful, and strong, from a great foundation.

    Now, that is SWEET!

    Valerie M. Russo is a Senior Social Media Strategist at IIR USA with a technology, anthropology, marketing and publishing business acumen. She is a published poet and also maintains a literary blog. She may be reached at vrusso@iirusa.com. Follow her @Literanista.

    Save the Date: Back End of Innovation Event

    When: Oct. 17-19, 2011
    Where: San Diego, California

    We invite you to join us for Back End of Innovation (BEI 2011) - Innovation that Sustains Creating a Systematic Corporate Innovation System

    Once ideas are generated, what happens next?


    • Return on Innovation
    • Optimizing the idea portfolio
    • Leadership & Organizational Structure
    • Quality Innovation Structure
    • Innovation Culture
    • Integrated Partnering Ecosystems
    RSVP - put it on your calendar & see who else is coming:


     Stay tuned for news at www.iirusa.com/backendofiinovation!

    FEI Day 2: Business Model Innovation at Johnson and Johnson

    In the afternoon, Mark Johnson (Author, Seizing the White Space; Chairman and Co-Founder, Innosight) interviewed Sheri McCoy (Vice Chairman, Executive Committee, Johnson & Johnson), generating an insightful discussion about business model innovation at J&J.

    The interview highlighted elements of sustaining and disruptive innovation seizing white space opportunities in healthcare by Johnson & Johnson. A truly ambidextrous corporation, it creatively addresses all three opportunity quadrants Mark mentions in his book: core business (fits well with the current organization to serve existing customers in traditional ways), adjacency (fits well with the current organization to serve existing or new customers in fundamentally different ways), and white space (a substantial deviation from current business model to serve customers in fundamentally different ways).

    These are some of the questions and insights gleaned from the interview.

    How does J&J innovate to “create the new”, while addressing commoditization and other threats in healthcare?
    The company draws on the understanding that “decisions are best made closest to the customer,” said Sheri, and is therefore “focused on a decentralized model” with management for the long-term. In so doing, it seeks to strengthen its core business and adds on new as an adjacency. The company “believe[s] that the future is about innovation” and having a spectrum of sectors is valuable.

    How does J&J deal with the high level of industry transformation and disruption?
    J&J firmly “believes in having a sense of urgency” and a “mentality of differentiation.” Among its therapeutic areas of focus are two risk categories: the more predictable (such as immunology and infectious disease) and the high-risk due to particularly rapid scientific evolution (such as Alzheimer’s in the neuroscience therapeutic area). As the company “look[s] at [its] portfolio, [it] also look[s] at the risk,” commented Sheri, “[and] senior leadership plays a very important role [in understanding] the risks [involved in innovation].” Having a core business allows it to take some risk. When it comes to pilots, Sheri’s recommendation is to go as low as possible but spend enough to thoroughly test the idea.

    Has there been significant business model change?
    J&J has experienced a “shift from an internal to a more external approach.” An example is a recent move to the wellness and prevention business, stemming from an understanding that many illnesses are preventive. Although this business does not constitute a core competency, the company believes in the value of being broadly based in healthcare, which is why this move is of strategic importance to J&J. However, it remains to be determined whether this will be an integrated or a stand-alone business.

    Is there business model change part of the expansion efforts into the emerging markets?
    In the developing countries, J&J relies on partnership strengths, such as with governments, hospitals, and generic manufacturers, and applies the “pilot --> fail early --> make the decision --> move” approach. Infectious disease is an area of focus for J&J in expansion to the emerging markets. Here, Sheri underscored the value of J&J’s partnership with the Tianjin University in China, where the company focuses on pulmonary research. Cross-sector collaboration is also a priority in emerging markets, with hospitals presenting some of the best opportunities.

    How does RedScript Ventures support innovation at J&J?
    RedScript Ventures was developed for areas or initiatives that do not fit with other structures at J&J. “This group is about internal innovation with external focus… [It] allows [the company] not to lose sight of opportunities that may be more risky.”

    How does J&J motivate and excite its employees?
    “At the end of the day, it is all about the people,” Sheri emphasized. “Some of it has to do with role model behavior. Some people are [simply] wired [for innovation], so you want to make sure [to involve these].” It is also important to stretch people early in their careers and give them different experiences. In addition, M&As have provided another source of entrepreneurial capabilities at J&J.

    Where do you see J&J 10 years from now?
    Sheri believes that “we will see more personalized medicine [that will offer a broader range of] solutions... [The J&J] business will be more skewed toward emerging markets… [with increased integration of] social media, [evolving] new platforms [in] molecular diagnostics, [growing] the wellness business, and [close work with payers to define reimbursement for use of biomarkers in personal medicine].” An important emphasis will also remain in having a diverse talent base with more entrepreneurs.

    Elena Cavallo is a member of the FEI Community and focuses on Strategic Innovation in Medical Research and Healthcare. She is posting live from FEI 2011 in Boston May 16-18.

    Tuesday, May 17, 2011

    Key Takeaways from Day Two Value Rooms

    The afternoon is quickly coming to a close. Lots of great learning to report. Here are some highlights from Day Two:

    From Best Practice vs. Next Practice, I learned the value of taking a patient experience and visualizing it to tell a story. The data visualization from the Patients Like Me presentation was striking in its ability to take complex, very personal information and to display it in a way that brings meaning. Also, with Coloplast, I learned a powerful technique for building membership for an online community. What is it? Arm your community members with posters, business cards and presentations featuring your community and leverage existing members to attract new members.

    From Inspiring Teams Along the Path to Innovation, I learned how Bank of America, Kraft and Disney use "peer reviews" and prototyping to lower the risk associated with innovation. The three use these techniques to build buy in and engagement with risk and legal teams.

    From Building Businesses, Rebuilding Lives - Social Entrepreneurship and Local Economies, I learned how Lending4Change uses the combination of neighbors lending to neighbors, a 12-14 week training program, credit union involvement, and grass roots support to re-imagine ways to support distressed communities.

    FEI2011 - Morning learnings

    Saw themes from both morning keynotes reemerge in the breakouts. In particular, the importance of failure and the value of co-creation. The intersection of these two nicely played out in the conversations I listened to, where testing with customers and learning from the inevitable mistakes to improve and retest, were highlighted in real business case examples. Dan Edgar from DuPont shared their reinvented front end process, Melody Roberts from McDonald’s shared its test & learn design-focused co-creation process, and Kaaren Hanson from Intuit shared organizational processes that feed a small scale, low-risk testing process to roll out its big ideas.

    In the late-morning keynote, Terri Kelly, W.L. Gore CEO, first wowed us with their incredible diversity of offerings. She lauds that aspect of the business in combination with 1) its unique culture, 2) emphasis on personal relationships, 3) high expectation for networking, 4) minimal bureaucracy, 5) environment that encourages innovation and collaboration, 6) leadership defined by followership, for its success and growth. She also points to the high level of autonomy within the organization. Gore Associates espouse 4 principles in pursuit of innovation: freedom, fairness, commitment, and waterline (measuring risk to core). She shocked many of us in saying that many of their innovations took 10 years to mature. Terri says to watch enthusiasm and go with the energy, creating small groups to pursue opportunities. She advises staying honest, reconciling that “products must do what we say they do.” Other best practices: implement a reward system that rewards the innovators via peer review, collaborate with customers and end-users, and leverage culture to drive success. Some challenges: 1) balancing focus with entrepreneurial diversity, 2) valuing innovation and organizational effectiveness, 3) developing sufficient capability and capacity of leaders. In this part of the presentation, the power of the AND came through – need to balance both flexibility AND discipline, innovation AND efficiency. She closed with some critical insights: 1) Constant leadership vigilance is necessary, 2) make sure all of your practices and policies reinforce an innovative environment, 3) don’t let discipline be viewed as a constraint to innovation, 4) organizational choices are important (ask: what are you going to be best at?), 5) ensure balance of skills and support in teams, 6) embed innovation philosophy, tools and disciplines throughout the organization, and 7) handling of failures sets precedent for risk-taking. Lastly and most impactfully she posited, “A continuous discovery process, environment and people are more important than tools and processes.”

    Leading into the lunch/networking break the trends continued in my FEI experience as I heard stories from NASA and Diageo about managing failure and risk.

    - Clay Maxwell (@bizinovationist)

    Clay is a Business Innovationist with Creative Realities, an innovation strategy consulting firm. He is a frequent contributor to their Innovationist Blog where all things innovation are discussed. You can find out more about Creative Realities at www.creativerealities.com

    From FEI11: Jonah Lehrer on HOW WE DECIDE

    This morning Jonah Lehrer, author of HOW WE DECIDE presented a very inspiring and fascinating keynote address on how our minds work and how we can utilize the way our brain works to solve impossible problems and innovate.

    First, he observed that instead of working long hours focusing on resolving an issue, we gain insight and clarity through relaxation and meditation - and that must be part of innovation culture. We can train to become insight machines.

    Secondly, failure is the birthplace of innovation. Logic doesn't lead to creativity, risk aversion doesn't help you get it right. Listening to your intuition isn't always the smart thing to do however, it's an important part of innovation. The only way to get it right is to make all the mistakes that can be made. Welcome dissent in your teams, open the floor to criticism - it is vital.

    Lastly, he shared psychological and social insights from the Marshmallow Experiment, which tested children's ability to delay instant gratification. One thing that he noted was that children who had the ability as early as from age 4 up to not eat the marshmallow actually did better in life.

    The kids who didn't eat the marshmallow were able to do delay gratification by not thinking about the marshmallow or rather distracting their minds. This skill is an essential skill for life. The only thing we can control in life is what we pay attention to and what we focus our thoughts on.

    Valerie M. Russo is a Senior Social Media Strategist at IIR USA with a technology, anthropology, marketing and publishing business acumen. She is a published poet and also maintains a literary blog. She may be reached at vrusso@iirusa.com. Follow her @Literanista.

    FEI2011 - This morning's keynotes

    Jonah Lehrer brought psychology to the FEI party to start off the morning of Day Two. First, he advised we learn how to relax so that we can have more moments of insight. Relaxing is an essential ingredient in epiphanies or breakthroughs. He said that when we are active, our entire attention is focused entirely on “noise”, and it’s not until the noise is tuned out that the “quiet voice” of insight can come through. He also offered that, contrary to popular belief, stimulation (e.g. caffeine) is not the way to achieve these moments of insight. Furthermore, listening to this voice is hard – we’re so busy we never take the time to do it. Unfortunately, in part because of the prevalence of technology in our lives, finding time is also harder, and thus this voice has little opportunity to come through. He discussed the value of true grit – persevering even when it’s not very fun – and the importance of trusting our feelings. He asked, “How do we develop those ‘wise’ emotions, how does practice lead to feelings, emotions and intuitions, which expertise is all about?” To this end, he emphasizes the importance of making mistakes, saying, “The only way to get it right is to get it wrong again and again and again.” Performers who rely too much on logic fail to trust their instincts/intuition. Perhaps a controversial opinion amongst this crowd, he suggested that brainstorming doesn’t actually work, and in fact inhibits our imagination. This is linked to the classic rule thou shall not criticize. He says that we should recognize that bad ideas actually lead to better ideas – “mistakes are engines of learning, and help us solve our hardest problems.” The ability to strategically allocate attention is a skill highly correlated with success. Do this and you are positioned not only to be more innovative but more effective in general. He closes offering, “Our self-knowledge of how the brain works is very useful knowledge that can help us make it work a little better.”

    Francis Gouillart then led us into the morning breakouts with a talk on the value of co-creation. He began by discussing what co-creation is and gave us a lighthearted but insightful definition: “Co-creation is a little like marriage, having two people solve problems they would have never have had in the first place if they had remained single.” He touts the role of experience as being a critical factor in co-creation, saying, “Co-creation relies on human centricity, relies on everyone around the chain.” Offering a sequence of events, he states that value comes from experience, and experience in turn comes from interactions (enable the experience and let people connect – see what happens). Then, new interactions require engagement platforms, and engagement platforms assemble new networks. Co-creation relies on these components, and provides a window to new, previously unreachable solutions.

    - Clay Maxwell (@bizinovationist)

    Clay is a Business Innovationist with Creative Realities, an innovation strategy consulting firm. He is a frequent contributor to their Innovationist Blog where all things innovation are discussed. You can find out more about Creative Realities at www.creativerealities.com

    Live from the FEI11: Exhibit Hall 360 Degree Panorama - Before & After

    We welcome you to take a look around the exhibit hall at the Front End of Innovation and see what it looked liked before & after in 360 degrees:

    Yesterday morning: Click here to see full panoroma

    Mid-day today: Click here to see full panorama

    Valerie M. Russo is a Senior Social Media Strategist at IIR USA with a technology, anthropology, marketing and publishing business acumen. She is a published poet and also maintains a literary blog. She may be reached at vrusso@iirusa.com. Follow her @Literanista.

    FEI11 - Monday Keynotes

    Douglas Holt was the first keynote of the evening presenting Beyond Trends: How Cultural Innovation Builds Breakthrough Brands. Doug shared his brand-focused model of innovation, which he says is quite different from the more familiar models of technology-focused innovation. He believes this cultural innovation model is in fact the driver behind some of the biggest brands in the world, and further that it is necessary for building big (>$billion) brands and revamping tired ones. He argues that some standard efforts like pursuing trends and consumer co-creation don’t lead to new billion dollar businesses.

    He started first with two academic cases, first Jack Daniel’s then Nike, and by way of their brand reinvention histories makes the case for his culture-based model. He describes the traditional model Red Ocean Branding – a situation in which brands duke it out within categories, imitate one another, engage in so-called “benefit wars” and “emotion word” wars, and chase the same trends and clich├ęd ideologies. He does clarify that this area is not static, and is often fertile territory for traditional largely sustaining pursuits. In pursuit of the bigger stuff though, he suggests we ask what are the social disruptions specifically acting on categories of interest creating demand for new ideology, new culture. Holt says that social disruption creates demand for emergent ideology, making cultural orthodoxy less and less important. Brands are repurposing cultural material that already exists – brand myths – to convey ideology. Jack Daniel’s reached a much broader audience by creating a powerful representation of the masculine, frontiersman ideology. His next example Nike was focused on traditional “better mousetrap” innovation and was reaping only modest gains, if any. Nike reinvented its brand by recapturing the tenacious fighting spirit behind achieving the American dream – conveying the “mythology of the hood”, the overcoming of strife in its messaging. The principle of “mythologizing ideology” around stories of discrimination brought significant growth to Nike’s brand. Other companies that followed this framework: Starbucks, Vitamin Water, Whole Foods – and these are not just product-focused. In application, the model gets flipped to build a strategic framework. His next case, Fat Tire beer, existed in the craft beer red ocean centered on an artisanal-cosmopolitan ideology – what he termed “aestheticized” beers. Fat Tire pursued a “creative rebel discourse” – which he defined as “some quixotic pursuit or obsessive interest/avocation” – to get out of craft beer marketing game.

    I think the message from the presentation was that, while cultural input is useful in traditional marketing pursuits, there is incredible potential for achieving enormous growth if you incorporate culture into your strategy. Overall, an interesting smattering of cases; a fascinating incorporation of culture into the innovation model.


    Don Tapscott wrapped up the keynote portion of Day One with his talk on Innovation in the Age of Networked Intelligence. This one started powerfully discussing the dramatic changes in our world, and change was the recurrent theme. He used the example of “revolution in revolutions”, discussing how the Internet has changed the transactional cost of dissent, insurrection and rebellion. On the flip side, he wonders aloud, “How do you use social media to create a secular society to bring a new democratica into being?” He states that “the Internet is a global computational platform that lowers transactional costs” – “collaborative innovation is the new way of innovating” - and furthermore, that the “future is not something just to be predicted, it’s something to be achieved.” He posits that we are at a major turning point in history, qualifying that “the industrial age has run out of gas” – just about literally, I think. He suggests that we need new models of innovation across industries. He fights the misconception that the upcoming generation is one full of “slacktivists” countering that they’re actually doing more and having a greater impact (e.g. the Obama campaign) than anyone could have imagined, saying it’s the “first time in human history we are being mobilized and we’re all on the same side.” I love that optimistic framing, and agree completely – just look at the rise of social entrepreneurship and social innovation. He then explored the need for change within the University model. Traditionally, teachers are transmitters of knowledge but today there are better and easier ways to learn. “The smartest kids aren’t going to class”, they’re getting rounder perspectives by exploring the multitude of knowledge stored online. This is the rise of the age of networked intelligence, as he says, “the Internet now giving us the ability to be publishers, to access knowledge in the crania of others.” Because of this, “whole ecosystems of human beings can be connected.”

    He then ran through the major drivers for change: 1) The technology revolution – With Web 2.0, the physical world is becoming “smart”. 2) The Net Generation – Youngsters who want to impact the world and have high expectations wanting freedom, customization, scrutiny, integrity, collaboration, entertainment, speed, and innovation. 3) Collaborative Communities – Self-organization and the innovative process have tremendous power – example: the Obama campaign. He says that if you put these three together you get an economic revolution and a profound change in innovation. Lowered collaboration costs allow peers to come together. Applying the principles of “peering” and collaboration to innovation opens up the process – he says, “Think global and act global.”

    He wraps up by breezing through some of our collective to-dos, “rethinking innovation ecosystems” and “innovating industries”. In summary, the theme of the talk was change – point being that change is happening in spades. He left us saying, “We can move to a greater level, share intelligence or even our consciousness, and problems of innovation at one end and social justice at the other could be solved.” The message: Collective intelligence is extremely powerful and could provide a way for us to innovate at the exponentially increasing pace of change. A lot of unanswered questions but certainly ample food for thought!

    - Clay Maxwell (@bizinovationist)

    Clay is a Business Innovationist with Creative Realities, an innovation strategy consulting firm. He is a frequent contributor to their Innovationist Blog where all things innovation are discussed. You can find out more about Creative Realities at www.creativerealities.com

    Live from FEI11: Photos

    If you are attending the Front End of Innovation this week and want to share your photos, feel free to add them to our group pool: http://www.flickr.com/groups/fei11/, just tag them #FEI11.

    And, if you couldn't join us in Boston this time, here's what we've seen so far:

    Monday, May 16, 2011

    Front End of Innovation Day 1: The Voice of the Customer Summit - Selected Review

    Ellen DiResta (Lecturer, Boston University School of Management) opened this summit with a reminder that today’s consumers, unlike those in the ‘80s, are not a source of answers but rather are a source of information. Therefore, it is the job of a market researcher to find the right consumers and to translate their insights into products. Companies do not want to develop ideas and waste time and money if they do not know whether these ideas are even possible to materialize. This is why the role of consumer feedback is critical. In addition, the way consumer research is conducted must be innovative because “the low-hanging fruit [in this arena] are gone” and everyone speaks with the consumers, as Ellen commented. In fact, “we can’t take anything [when it comes to consumer research] for granted” and [must always ask ourselves] what [we may be] taking for granted.”

    Linda Ashbrook (Sr. Manager, Taco Bell Consumer Insights) proceeded to discuss a social media emphasis approach the quick-service restaurant (QSR) chain uses to meet its goal of new product launch every 5 weeks. With competition increasingly more fierce, Taco Bell uses a multiple sources of inspiration: food trends, chefs, competitive audits, internal wisdom, and customer input. The company recognized the need for consumer input earlier in the product development cycle and has pulled consumers more into it.

    For this, Taco Bell uses a range of social media tools, including Facebook, Twitter, Radion, and others. On Facebook alone, the company has over 6 million fans. As market research moved from door-to-door investigation to phone-based interviewing to social media, consumers are now beginning to welcome market research and this is not surprising. “With so much competition for our customers’ attention, we need to play on their playground,” the online community, said Linda. Using Facebook to engage consumers offers numerous advantages, including that social media is substantially cheaper, faster, and better (more long lasting, flexible, consumer relationship nurturing).

    The latest birth of the beefy crunch burrito is a direct result of new product design through leverage of Facebook recruited consumer feedback. The process was simple. Participants from a pool of general public (not just the fan base) were screened online via Facebook. Then, online conversations were conducted and, subsequently, participants were selected for the study. Consumer feedback was collected through the “Food Innovation Panel” and “Technology Innovation Panel”.

    Not only did Taco Bell obtain the recipe for its new product, but also valuable information about consumer habits. Among these are that 1) their consumers experienced lunch as the most rushed meal of the day; 2) lunch was functional but critical and typically a solo event; 3) lunch was often a trade-off; 4) portable food was perceived as premium; 5) the car was frequently the preferred location for food consumption; 6) and that mobile technologies are “changing the way we eat” with consumers locating nearest restaurants on the go, scheduling lunches through apps, and children serving as the largest consumers of cell phones.

    Based on this and a plethora of other collected information, Taco Bell is convinced that new concepts can be born from a combination of insights gleaned about the use of car + mobile technology + lunch. Next steps will include further ethnography research, early guidance screening, and quantitative exploration.

    Dan Edgar (Emerging Markets Innovation Leader, DuPont) commentary resonated with the above two speakers, as he also underscored, “we are looking to customers not for ideas, but for information.” Dan proceeded to introduce a different approach to obtaining this information. DuPont’s blueprinting model is optimized for B2B customers with peer-to-peer mediated but customer-led dialogue that, in conjunction with just-in-time web-based training of company representatives and use of easy-to-read digital projections, has opened wide channels of communication with the client.

    This blueprinting approach is a set of rigorous, repeatable, and rapid processes with a specific progression: market research --> discovery interviews --> preference interviews --> side-by-side testing --> implement product objectives, technical transformation. The new product blueprinting offers tools for the “fuzzy front end” of the projects to help translate customer needs to distinct solutions, while further building a relationship with the customer. A further noteworthy benefit is the ability to kill bad projects earlier and strengthen good projects.

    Dean Acocelli (Manager, Global Consumer Insights, Hasbro Games) offered yet another approach to obtaining consumer insights for new product development. At Hasbro, consumer research is a 5-step process:

    1) Rethink rules and define challenges. Cross-functional teams consisting of marketing, design, and other functional groups, collaborate to rethink rules and define challenges.

    2) Explore. Take the time to explore before gathering insights and conducting research. Define scope, identifying who the consumer is. Answer why? What? Where?

    3) Establish what information is available and what is missing. Determine what is known and where some of the information gaps reside that we need to fill.

    4) Go deep. Be resourceful, become your customer (example: by engaging in the same activities), be weird (do or find out about something that would be unusual for the target audience)

    5) Review existing research and fresh insights. Develop insight-based platforms for idea generation, really get into learning about the consumer and trends. In this, allow everyone on the team to feel creative, embrace your inner hunter-gatherer, get out of your sandbox, take a walk on the wild side (consider how you could go beyond the usual day-to-day), get emotional (consider what the customer is feeling and the emotional connection between the customer and the product), be open-minded.

    Rob Goudswaard (Sr. Director, Product & Service Innovation, Philips Home Monitoring) and Lucy Rowbotham (Consulting Director, Innovation Management, Cambridge Consultants) presented yet another example of a new product born out of consumer insights. “Every 2.3 seconds an older adult over the age of 65 will fall in US,” risking what is extremely important to people – staying independent in their home. Lifeline with AutoAlert substantially reduces this risk. This is the approach Rob and Lucy described:

    1) Develop criteria with support from senior management. Include scope and goal definitions. For Lifeline with AutoAlert, one goal was 10% of customers to adopt the premium service.

    2) Gain crowd insights. Include all those involved. Gather ethnographic research to see through the customer’s eyes and feel what they feel. Sample findings for the new Lifeline product included that seniors wanted independence and something to call when they cannot. 9/10 insights achieve resonance with the crowd, but it is also important to understand which insights are pertinent and where.

    3) Create reasons to believe – why do it? – for a range of insights and insight clusters. It is key to generate as many insights as possible. For the new Lifeline product, researchers used innovations from other industries to generate insights and compiled 19 clusters of 159 ideas. However, Rob also cautioned about a pitfall: ideas will not necessarily fit all screening criteria. As a solution to this problem, find answers that meet at least some of the criteria, as long as these answers do not fail any of the screening criteria (positive discrimination).

    4) Aggregate information into propositions and initial ranking. Note: do not necessarily focus on concepts with the highest fit – performance also needs to be evaluated.

    5) Conduct brief technical investigation. For the new Lifeline product, 5 concepts were investigated and evolved into what was initially termed a “Falltimeter” that combined height and acceleration data to detect falls.

    6) Test for crowd resonance. In the case of the AutoAlert, 2 concepts had a nearly perfect score of crowd resonance.

    7) Perform final ranking. Select 1-3 concepts ready for feasibility study. At this stage, the Falltimeter became the AutoAlert. A recommendation here is to avoid temptation to intent during the development process – it is important ensure inventions are completed before development to reduce re-work and other costs.

    In the case of Lifeline AutoAlert, the original goal was by far exceeded – 50% of new customers recognized the value of the premium AutoAlert service.

    In summary, to achieve customer satisfaction, the Lifeline AutoAlert team recommended focusing on
    1) Understanding your market
    2) Spreading ideation across market insights
    3) Watching out for pitfalls
    4) Validating your assumptions and whether these resonate with the full crowd.

    Four different approaches to tuning in to the voice of the customer were presented in the first 4 hours of this summit, offering valuable takeaways for service- and product-oriented organizations.

    Elena Cavallo is a member of the FEI Community and focuses on Strategic Innovation in Medical Research and Healthcare. She is posting live from FEI 2011 in Boston May 16-18.

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