Thursday, March 31, 2011

Innovation: Needs Based Design Case Studies + 15% Off FEI '11

What do the designer of the Beijing Olympic Torch, a VP of Design (and former Apple Design Manager) from Coca-Cola, and Senior Directors from BMW, Reebok & GE Healthcare all have in common?

They are sharing case studies on Needs Based Design at FEI 2011: The Front End of Innovation!

Needs-Based Innovation has been revolutionizing the way innovation and R&D departments function across the globe. More and more companies are adopting an innovation process based on customer needs.

FEI Keynote: 
Keeping Curiosity Alive: Melding Technology, Material and Culture into Products People Can Understand

At 23 years of age, Yao Yingjia was Lenovo's first industrial designer - a team that he's grown to over 200 people today. The growth trajectory of the design department reflect China's growing importance on industrial design. His innovative designs show you have to care about people, details and emotions. To do so, design should focus on customer/user research as the purpose for the design, and to lead the user in a more efficient or more pleasant product interaction, to enhance the competitiveness of products and brand loyalty and influence.

Following Yao's keynote presentation, you delve deeper into the topic of "Needs Based Design... Creativity that Creates Value" by selecting one of our four break-outs:


Leveraging Non-Traditional Design Thinking to Improve the Customer Experience and Amplify Brand Equity
- Vince Voron, Associate Vice President, Integrated Marketing Strategic Design Team, Coca-Cola, Former Senior Industrial Design Manager, Apple
Format=Champions (best-in-class case studies)


Translating Design into Business: The New Language of Design Strategy
- Alec Bernstein, Senior Director of Strategy, Research and Strategic Partnering, BMW Designworks

What Comes First, The Invention or the Consumer Need in New Product Development?
- Bill McInnis, Managing Director, Advanced Innovation, Reebok Easytone & Reebok Re-Zig, Reebok
Format=Firestarters (3 unique case studies)


Design Thinking to Foster a New Culture for Accelerating Innovation
- Betty Hohmann and Emil Georgieve, General Electric, Global Design, GE Healthcare
Format=Sandbox (get your hands dirty)


Designing Emotion into Toys: The Future of Empathetic Machines
- Caleb Chung, Creator, Inventor, Pleo, Furby
Format=Storyteller (narratives you won't want to miss)

Join us for the best FEI experience yet!

---> Register today and save 15% off the standard rate. 
Use code FEI2011BLOG to sign up here.<---

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Web Seminar: Silencing the Voice of the Customer (VOC): Focus on the "job-to-be-done" and create breakthrough products and services

Date: Wednesday, April 20th, 2011
Time: 1:00 - 2:00 PM EDT

Reserve your Webinar seat here.

About the webinar:
Over the past 30 years, innovation experts have led companies to believe that it is impossible to know all their customers' needs. They content that customers can't articulate their needs, and that customers have latent needs - or needs they don't know they have. What if it turns out that this thinking is wrong?

There is a new way of approaching your customer needs but it's not with the Voice of the Customer. Over the past 20 years Strategyn has created and refined an innovation process called Outcome-Driven Innovation® (ODI) that invalidates this old thinking. In addition, a ten-year track record study reveals that when the world's most respected companies silence the voice of the customer and gather the right inputs for the innovation process, the experience an 86 percent success rate. This is a complete turn-around in the innovation industry.

In this webinar, Strategyn founder and CEO, Tony Ulwick will demonstrate how thinking about innovation and customer needs from a "jobs-to-be-done" perspective enables companies to create winning growth strategies and breakthrough products and services.

What you will learn:
* The shortcomings of listening to the "voice-of-the-customer"
* How to define a market from the customer's perspective
* How to create a growth strategy using the right customer inputs
* How to organize the innovation process around the right customer insights

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Failure Is A By-Product Of Innovation

C. Engdahl
The Big E of Big E Toys

To fail, or not to fail, that isn’t the question.

Unless you’re a prize fighter taking a fall, a conniving subversive looking to sabotage a colleague, a pathological defeatist looking to avoid real effort, or simply a parent willing to take an intentional dive against a child in a game of checkers, no one typically begins an endeavor with the thought of failing willfully.

To fail, or not to fail, that isn’t the question. Innovators don’t intentionally fail. The question rather is “what do you do after you fail?”

Almost two years ago in a post about the Apollo 13 mission entitled “Successful Failure Is An Option” one of the things I suggested is that “whether we learn from our failures is important.” This basic premise is echoed in a short film from Honda’s Dream The Impossible documentary series called “Failure: The Secret To Success.” Take a look.

Failure is a by-product of pushing the envelope. When you fail it’s not necessarily looked at as a bad thing, as long as you learn from it and make something positive out of it.”
John Kessler
Engineer, Honda Performance Development

What do you do after you fail? Hopefully the answer is "learn something."

C. Engdahl is the founder of Big E Toys and creator of several successful specialty boardgames.  He is also the principle of Big E Insights, a consultancy that helps organizations make sense of consumer and competitive landscapes.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The 10 Greatest Consumer-Oriented Innovations Of All Time

C. Engdahl
The Big E of Big E Toys

Here’s a light-hearted look at what I’d consider the 10 Greatest Consumer-Oriented Innovations Of All Time.

10. Sliced Bread
Before sliced bread people had to eat a lot of buns or were forced to break bread. It was difficult to make a good sandwich. Sliced bread is the greatest thing since…well, I’m not really sure.

9. Wheel
It’s arguably the most ubiquitous innovation of all time. Used throughout history all over the world. Without the wheel, life would literally be a drag.

8. Microwave Oven
Since 1967 when the first personal microwave oven was introduced, countless cups of cold coffee have been saved from an untimely demise down the drain.

7. Television
In the 20th and 21st centuries, television has saved parents millions of dollars in babysitting costs.

6. Movable Type and The Printing Press
Without movable type and the printing press we wouldn’t have an older literate generation that complains about the kids today who aren’t learning anything because of the internet.

5. Beer
Although I can’t quantify this statement, and despite intoxication perhaps being responsible for as many bad ideas as good, I have to believe some of the greatest (if not simply creative) ideas throughout history have been formulated in a tipsy state.

4. Dentures
Dentures have allowed generations of people to avoid brushing their teeth. They’ve also provided ongoing amusement to denture wearers by allowing them to freak out grandchildren when they pop their dentures in and out of their mouths.

3. Pop Rocks
If I was forced to choose a single candy or candy bar to eat for the rest of my life, pop rocks wouldn’t actually be my choice. That being said, I still marvel at the ability to create a sweet candy explosion in my mouth. There’s nothing quite like the smiles that ensue when the rocks start popping (or the crying that starts when a dad – who shall remain nameless – puts Pop Rocks into the mouth of his unsuspecting then three year old son to see how the kid would react. Dad found it amusing. The son not so much.)

2. Refrigerator
The refrigerator is the primary reason so many people are able to kick back and enjoy a cold beer while dreaming up the next great idea.

1. Toilet Paper
I know not everyone throughout the world has access to this sanitary marvel, which makes me especially thankful to have it. I don’t like imagining my life without it.

I must admit I’m rethinking the inclusion of Sliced Bread on this list. For it has arguably actually led to the downfall of civilization. It has contributed to our inability to simply get along with one another on a global level. No one ever says for instance “let us slice bread together.”

Take the FEI Survey & Enter to Win a Free FEI 2011 Pass

As a valued participant in the FEI community, we would like to offer you a quick opportunity to share some of your particular background and interests with us. Our objective is to use this collective data to improve our conference offerings and inspire innovation based on what matters most to YOU. As thanks for participating, you have the chance to win a free Main Conference pass to the 2011 FEI Conference.

Participate in this short survey and enter to win a free pass to the 2011 FEI Conference: FEI Survey.

Feel free to share it with your colleagues too.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Special Offer for our Readers: Save $500 of FEI 2011 this Week Only

Experience Driven Co-Creation is a leading-edge, transformative approach to innovation that demonstrates the untapped value in interactions with diverse stakeholders - and challenges your thinking about the sources of innovation.

Join Francis Gouillart, Author of The Power of Co-Creation: Build It with Them to Boost Growth, Productivity, and Profits (See book trailer below) at FEI 2011: The Front End of Innovation as he reveals the secrets to "Unlocking New Sources of Value to Drive Differentiation and Growth".

At FEI 2011, Francis explains why the joint experience of designers, customers, employees and even suppliers is the starting point of the future innovation process - and teaches you how to engage multiple parties in a live process to design new experiences for all.

Following Francis' keynote presentation, delve deeper into the topic of "Experience Driven Innovation" by selecting one of our four break-outs:


  • McDonald's Innovation Team's 5 Year Journey to Co-Envision the Customer and Employee Experiences of the Future - Melody Roberts, Senior Director, Customer Experience Design, Innovation Concept Development, McDonald's
  • Remixing the Concept of Design into Corporate Culture in a Billion-Dollar Company - Christian Landry, Senior Executive Director, Worldwide Design & Experience, Cisco Linksys
  • Making Design Thinking a Core Competence: From "Painstorms" to "Sol James" - Kaaren Hanson, Director, Design Innovation, Intuit

  • Implications of Co-Creation for Innovation in New Product Development - Mark Deck, Past President, PDMA, Director, PRTM
  • Using "Engagement Platforms" in Healthcare to Innovate with Patients
- Ben Heywood, President and Co-Founder, PatientsLikeMe
- Peter Kragh, Senior Principal Scientist for Future Innovation Methods, Coloplast

  • A Dialogue with Francis Gouillart

Experience Driven Innovation is just one of themes covered, others include: Business Model Adjacencies / Needs Based Design / Leading Great Ideas Forward / Technology, Trends & Society / Innovation Culture / Open Innovation / Voice of the Customer / Portfolio Management / Social Media / and Service Innovation

Take a look at the brochure here to see the rest of the what FEI 2011 has to offer you and your team.

We hope you will join us for the best FEI experience yet, so we'd like offer our readers a chance to register by Friday and save $500 off the standard rate. Please mention your priority code: FEI2011BLOG here.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

It's The End Of Innovation As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

C. Engdahl
The Big E of Big E Toys

How best to reach and service your customers is an ongoing challenge.  What worked ten years ago, or even a month ago, may not work today.  The challenge is exacerbated by shifting organizational expectations and evolving definitions of success.  What constitutes a big success when your organization is small or just starting out might be a small success or no success at all when your organization has grown.  Personal perceptions and orders of magnitude can affect your ability to innovate.  Sometimes we expect innovation to be of a certain scale before we’ll even entertain the idea of it.

In a recent interview with, R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck insisted touring is no longer important for the music-buying public, and that stringing together a collection of touring dates is often pointless.  “I’m not really sure that touring sells records,” says Buck.  “What sells records anymore?  It seems like less and less people are buying albums, so do what you want.”

There’s no doubt music buying habits and trends have changed dramatically since R.E.M. was at its commercial peak back in the late 80’s and early 90’s with albums like Document and Out of Time.  Digital downloads didn’t even exist back then.  That being said I think there’s more to R.E.M.’s decision not to tour in support of their new album Collapse Into Now than the idea that the band is “not really sure that touring sells records.”  It’s not that touring in support of the album won’t sell records (if this were the case, many bands - especially new bands - might not tour at all).  I think it’s more the case that touring in support of their new album won’t sell enough records to make it worthwhile in the eyes of R.E.M. band members.

Do you think R.E.M. was excited when it quickly sold out its initial pressing of 1000 copies of its first single “Radio Free Europe” back in 1981?  I’m sure they were ecstatic.  This was a big success.  They were reaching new fans and they probably enjoyed the excitement of touring.  Everything was new.

Do you think R.E.M. was excited when it was selling millions of copies of albums like Green and Automatic For the People?  I’m sure they were ecstatic.  This was a big success.  They were reaching even more fans and they probably enjoyed the excitement of touring.  Everything seemed fresh. 

It is worth noting R.E.M. didn’t tour behind all its albums even during their heyday.  They simply didn’t have to in order to be successful back then.  They were hot, and their albums were going to sell regardless.  But now they’re a Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame band (inducted in 2007) whose peak has come and gone.  They were pivotal in the creation and development of the alternative rock genre, but they aren’t necessarily all that hot anymore. 

Touring behind the new album Collapse Into Now could arguably help sell some records and garner new fans, but not likely enough to make it seem worthwhile for the band.  R.E.M. doesn’t really need the money.  R.E.M. doesn’t even really need new fans.  So why not simply “do what you want?”

When it comes to new products and services, the development of new markets, and our own general efforts to be innovative, we’re not given the luxury of simply doing whatever we want.  Although there’s a certain art to innovation and a need for experimentation, we should not consider ourselves Artists with a capital “A” and expect customers to swallow every expressionist whim we might produce.  We must create value and show a return.

What gets in our way to innovate sometimes however, even more than our own artistic egos, is not whether we are keen to market needs or gaps in technological advancements, but rather simply the scope and scale of our expectations.  How many innovative products and services get abandoned because we don’t have the patience to grow the market?  How many innovative products and services get abandoned because break-even is more than six months away?  How many innovative products and services get abandoned because we can't capture a certain number of new customers in the opening weeks after introduction? 

Bigger is better is often the mantra.  But innovation doesn't need to big to be successful.  Scale it down every once in a while.  And I’ll bet if you do, you’ll feel just fine.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Trust me: You do NOT want to go through your company’s idea list manually.

An electronic suggestion box is not as good as an idea management system. In fact it might be worse than doing nothing at all.

Unfortunately for those organizations unwilling (or shy of proper budget) to jump into innovation all the way; afraid to get a purpose-built idea management system… they decide instead to just offer employees a place to submit their suggestions. These electronic suggestion boxes are not much better than the real metal box with a slot. They accept suggestions. The question is: what you are going to do with the ideas you get.

Amongst the forms these electronic suggestion boxes take are generic collaboration tools. And the vendors of these software tools have made them attractive (read that cheaper). You do get organizational engagement with a generic collaborative tool and that’s a good thing. Within it people are talking, comparing notes, telling war stories. Sharing.

The collaborative tools also may serve as knowledge management systems in the sense that users can post information (like files or white papers or videos or events), discuss them, comment on them, tag them, make them search-able and then retrieve them. So the user community can benefit by having a “go-to” place for problem solving and finding experts (when someone’s profile comes up in a search). So that too is a good thing.

Here’s where we’re about to go wrong with a mere collaborative system for collecting ideas. If some people at an organization think this collaborative tool is a good place to collect ideas…well they’re just wrong. And here’s why….

Employees will be thrilled and start posting their ideas. Without a proper mechanism for automatic idea promotion, someone is going to end up with a thousand ideas on their desk and have to filter them manually. They’ll have to read them all, sort through them, put them into categories, combine similar ones, somehow score them, rank them and decide which ones are the best. I’m going to bet that person is not going to be happy because they have their regular full time job with the company. And, let’s face it with the scenario I’ve just described, they’re going to fail miserably. And this means nothing will be done with the ideas. And the people who submitted them are going to see that nothing was done with them. And that means no one is going to submit any more ideas.

And even if, somehow, you successfully cherry-pick some good ideas out the stack, without any guidance from management about what types of ideas the company would like to get, the submissions are going to be for incremental improvements. Unsolicited ideas yielding incremental improvements are not necessarily bad things. In fact they’re likely to lead to quick revenue rewards. Incremental improvements will just be ideas leading to the means to do exactly what we’re doing now, just faster or better. The buggy whip story comes to mind here. Everyone’s going to submit ideas about the current product line. “If we just did X, then the production line will go faster and we’ll save money” or “If we just did Y then we’ll sell more product and make more revenue”. So your company will be the best buggy whip factory in the world while your competitors are introducing automobiles.

About a year ago I wrote a history of idea management click here to read. These electronic suggestion boxes fall into the first generation of systems (in the time-line somewhere around the sixties) not exactly “state of the art”. This article also can provide you with an excellent explanation of idea management that you can use with your proposal to management when you describe what a system like this can do for your company.

What most organizations want when they introduce a culture of innovation and ask for ideas is Radical Innovation (or Breakthrough Innovation). “What’s the next product that will help us compete effectively in a constantly changing world; in a difficult economic climate”? If you’re a food manufacturer you don’t want to just make your food products better…You want to come up with the next “chicken nugget” and overwhelm your competitors by creating new markets and grabbing revenue hand over fist. That’s Radical or Breakthrough Innovation.

To get Radical Innovation you need to give your user community Strategic Guidance. This is done by putting Challenges or “Seeds” out there. “Dear users, we’re glad you’re all talking (Organizational Engagement) but what we want you to talk about; where we need your ideas is to help us (insert “big” questions here). “Please give us your ideas for completely new products. Take away all your preexisting preconceptions; throw out all the constraining notions of the past. If you could help your company take the world by storm by introducing a new product, tell us what it should be”.

Unlike electronic suggestion boxes, a true idea management system will provide you with a couple of things that are just plain mandatory to succeed.

1. You can Challenge your team by giving them guidance to the types of ideas you want (versus ideas that let you do what you’ve always done better or faster or more economically).

2. You have automated promotion mechanisms that help judge the “wisdom of the crowd” to determine which ideas are the best (versus the poor shmo responsible for manually going through the pile of ideas and building a spreadsheet).

3. And to take it one step further, you have some downstream tools to enhance and shape the top ideas. You have automated mechanisms to support “expert review”.

A description of the ideal world: You get a thousand ideas in response to your challenge. The software uses a “similarity search” so you can cluster like ideas. Your experts can conduct a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis, again scoring, ranking and promoting the very best ideas (perhaps twenty out of the thousand). Three ideas surface from the SWOT and your experts have automated software to help them do a Feasibility Study, examining the top ideas using the criteria your company normally uses to assess good ideas. “What’s the competitive advantage? What’s the Strategic Fit with our client community? Is this cost effective?” Again the software can automatically score the top three and makes it apparent what the best idea is.

Someone can march into the executive board meeting and confidently state: “You asked for the next breakthrough product. We collected a thousand ideas. We clustered similar ideas and conducted a SWOT analysis on the top twenty. Out of those we took the top three and conducted a Feasibility Study and decided this is our very best idea that should go to Development. And I have all this data to support our decision that you can pull into the project management system that takes it to market”.

So don’t accept half way measures. Don’t accept free or cheap collaborative tools that are bolted onto other software (that you may love) as a module. Don’t risk a false start that leads to you losing the confidence of your user community. Embrace Innovation properly and get an idea management software system that’s been used by companies renowned for being innovators.

Ron Shulkin is Vice President of the Americas for CogniStreamer®, an innovation management system. You can learn more about CogniStreamer here

Ron has written a slew of articles right here on the FEI blog on the subject of idea management systems. You can find a bunch of these entries here You can find an idea management software tool demonstration "check list" here: Ron’s earlier writing on idea management system as published in The Examiner can be found here: . Ron manages The Idea Management Group on LinkedIn (Join Here) . You can download a free white paper on idea management here:

CogniStreamer® is an idea management software tool. It is an open innovation and collaboration platform where internal colleagues and external partner companies or knowledge centers join forces to create, develop and assess innovative ideas within strategically selected areas. The CogniStreamer® portal is an ideal collaborative platform that invites users to actively build a strong innovation portfolio. In addition it provides a powerful resource for internal and external knowledge sharing. The CogniStreamer® framework is used by industry leaders such as Atlas Copco, Bekaert, Case New Holland, Cytec, Imec, Picanol and ThyssenKrupp. CogniStreamer® represents the best use of adaptive collaborative technology such to harness human skill, ingenuity and intelligence.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Toying With Innovation

C. Engdahl
The Big E of Big E Toys

Time magazine reporter Allie Townsend relatively recently unveiled her picks for the All-Time 100 Greatest Toys. Greatest in her mind doesn’t necessarily mean innovative it seems. Rather the list simply reflects from her perspective the “100 most influential toys from 1923 to the present.” There’s obviously a difference between innovative and influential. But none-the-less, the All-Time 100 Greatest Toys list is if nothing else a bit nostalgic and fun to review.

There are some elements of innovation in this list of 100: Pop-Up Books from the 1920’s; View-Master from the 30’s; Legos, Etch-A-Sketch, Rubik’s Cube, and a few others. Even the Barbie doll was a bit innovative in its own right if only because Mattel figured out how to make a boat-load of money by essentially giving away the dolls and reaping plenty of profits on doll clothing and accessories.

If you really want to talk innovation in toys though, consider these gems:
Get Real Girl dolls
Trivial Pursuit board game
Microvision handheld game system (from Milton Bradley)

A slightly more interesting list of toys, albeit one with much overlap to that put together by Ms. Townsend, is the list of Toy Hall Of Fame inductees. This is a good group of toys. My favorites from the Toy Hall Of Fame are the Cardboard Box (inducted 2006) and the Stick (inducted 2008). (Cardboard Box and Stick are not brand names by the way. They are simply a cardboard box and a stick.)

Brilliant.  Absolutely Brilliant.

You gotta figure, there really is nothing more innovative than a child’s imagination.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Idea management software is just like Facebook except everyone is talking about work

There’s got to be more to an idea management system than just idea generation. Even if it is the true purpose behind rolling out the system in the enterprise. I’ve written in the past how an idea management system can also be a knowledge management system. And it’s those same attributes that enable an idea management software system to be a full blown social media system. Sort of just like Facebook.

The first bit of good news when taking this stance: Everyone on your team is familiar with Facebook and knows how to use it. When you introduce the idea management system they’ll feel right at home, looking at things and commenting on what they find interesting.

The Facebook analogy for an idea management software system is a good one. Like Facebook, when an idea system is installed at your company, you’re hoping people on your team can congregate there and share information. It is, after all, a collaborative tool. So like Facebook, your users should be able to post things. They should be able to post images and videos. They should be able to post white papers and spreadsheets and links to things they find interesting. If the system administrator has the idea management system set up so it’s the place to go to find RSS feeds from news sources germane to the common purpose, that too is a reason for the users to log into the system.

And like Facebook people should be able to post events and profiles. Then all this information should be tagged so it can be discovered with a search by a user. And when something is posted that a user finds interesting, they should get an email alerting them to that fact.

Still, just like Facebook, the user community should be able to look up all this information when they need it. If a user has a problem, an issue, a topic where they need more information, the idea management system, with all of its Facebook-like attributes, is the first place someone can go. One searches on the words of the topic and gets a search result with a list of all the events, images, videos and files in the system. Because it’s an idea management system one can also get a list of all the challenges and ideas that are in the system. You also get a list of profiles… so not only can you look at information to help solve a problem, you can also find an expert to help.

Like Facebook users can comment on all the objects they encounter on the idea management system. Again, because it’s an idea management system, users can also vote on ideas and challenges.

Here’s why the idea management system needs to look, feel and act like Facebook: the user community needs a reason to show up there. You need users to be involved for more than when they have a brainstorm and want to post an idea. You need the users to collaborate and help enhance and shape other people’s ideas. These serendipitous occasions only occur when users are logged in (or are alerted by email).

A good idea management system, with its Facebook-like qualities, will be an interesting place for the user community to show up and collaborate. Like Facebook, they can log on for a few minutes here in the morning and a few minutes in the afternoon. They can see what the most popular places are and click on them. They can see other’s recent postings and click on them. So…just like Facebook, but installed internally at the company, the idea management system engenders users to talk about their work.

With all of this social media activity going on, with all this Organizational Engagement, you’ve assembled everyone in one place. Once assembled, innovation managers can provide Strategic Guidance by posing Challenges to the user community. “We’re so glad you are all talking. Now please talk about this”. The system leaders can let the community know what company management thinks is important and then ask for help.

The idea management system is a great place for the user community to submit unsolicited ideas. These unsolicited ideas typically lead to incremental improvements with rapid returns on investment. But the main reason organizations adopt idea management systems is to help get Radical or Breakthrough Innovation. So management puts their heads together and plants “seeds” or posts Challenges: “How do we make our company more ‘green’”. “Please tell us what our next product should be in order for us to compete”. If you’re in the food business, everyone wants to invent the next chicken nugget.

One more terrific thing about these social media attributes is the fact they enable the system to measure the “wisdom of the crowd”; to judge which are the best ideas. Sure, it is fine to count votes as a means of calculating which idea the crowd thinks is best. But vote counting can easily be “gamed”. A better measure of what the crowd thinks is to use a social science algorithm that measures, yes votes, but also how many comments, votes on comments, how many views, how many follows, how many bookmarks, how many alerts. A calculation that aggregates all those social media activities more closely measures which idea the crowd thinks is best.

Picture your organization with a collaborative tool enabling all your smart people to work together, to educate each other, to share information in order to keep each other informed. Imagine a place where the members of your team view, comment, discuss, shape and enhance ideas. Your team can have a go-to place to solve problems. They can find an expert when they need one (even if they’ve never met or are in a different time zone or a different division of the company).

This collaborative tool is not the entire vehicle for forcing innovation into your organization. But an idea management system, with its knowledge management and social media attributes, can be the backbone for your innovation effort. Your idea management system can be the place the members of your team routinely show up. They can socially engage with their coworkers and comment on other’s submissions. Most importantly they’ll be encouraged to post their ideas. And these ideas may just end up being what helps your company compete. Your next new “breakthrough” product awaits.

And don’t worry about training too much. Your user community already knows how to use Facebook. When the idea management system rolls out they’ll figure out what to click without anyone’s encouragement.

Ron Shulkin is Vice President for the Americas for CogniStreamer®, an innovation management system. You can learn more about CogniStreamer here

You can have a free copy of Ron’s white paper explaining idea management software in detail by going here:

Ron manages The Idea Management Group on LinkedIn (Join Here) . He has written extensively on Idea Management (Read Here) . You can also search on this FEI web site for my name and find dozens of blog entries on the topic.

CogniStreamer® is an idea management software tool. It is an open innovation and collaboration platform where internal colleagues and external partner companies or knowledge centers join forces to create, develop and assess innovative ideas within strategically selected areas. The CogniStreamer® portal is an ideal collaborative platform that invites users to actively build a strong innovation portfolio. In addition it provides a powerful resource for internal and external knowledge sharing. The CogniStreamer® framework is used by industry leaders such as Atlas Copco, Bekaert, Case New Holland, Cytec, Imec, Picanol and ThyssenKrupp. CogniStreamer® represents the best use of adaptive collaborative technology such to harness human skill, ingenuity and intelligence.

Are You Nurturing a Strong Culture to Drive Innovation?

A strong corporate culture plays a critical role in fostering innovation - where employees feel valued for their contributions. Global manufacturer W.L. Gore & Associates has earned repeated recognition as a top workplace, largely because of its unique non-hierarchical team-based culture.

Terri Kelly, CEO of W.L. Gore will deliver her keynote on the fostering innovation at FEI 2011: The Front End of Innovation: Nurturing a Strong Culture to Drive Innovation. During this session, she will discuss the role Gore's culture plays in driving business results. Learn about the company's core values and business practices and how they help make Gore an innovative leader.

Following Terri's keynote presentation at the Front End of Innovation 2011, we delve deeper into the topic of "Innovation Culture" in one of our four break-outs:


Overcoming Cultural Barriers to Speed to Market: A New Take on an Old Idea
- Douglas C. Powell, SVP, Customer Experience Team, Wachovia, A Wells Fargo Company
Format=Sandbox (get your hands dirty!)


Freedom to Fail - Even When "Failure is Not an Option"
- Charles Camarda, PhD, Astronaut, Senior Advisor for Innovation, Office of Chief Engineer, Johnson Space Center, NASA

What it Really Takes to Create and Lead a Culture of Innovation: The Role of Leadership and Influence in Gaining Business Ownership for the Innovation Agenda

- Syl Saller, Global Innovation Director, Diageo
Format=Coins (one challege, two solutions!)


Creating Initial Conditions for a Beautiful Corporation

- Bill Witherspoon, CEO, Founder, Lover of Sky, The Sky Factory
Format=Storyteller (narratives you won't want to miss)


Supporting a Creative Culture: Inspiring Product Development Teams Along the Path to Innovation
- David Yudis, VP, DCP Global Learning and Enterprise Executive Development, The Walt Disney Company
- John Tuders, SVP, Product Development & Innovation, Bank of America
- Steven Goers, VP, Open Innovation & Investments, Kraft Foods
Format=Fishbowl (where attendees become speakers!)

Innovation Culture is just one of themes covered, others include:
Business Model Adjacencies / Needs Based Design / Leadning Great Ideas Forward / Technology, Trends & Society / Experience Driven Innovation / Voice of the Customer / Porfolio Management / Social Media / and Service Innovation

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Friday, March 4, 2011

FEI Europe 2011: CUSTOMER-DRIVEN INNOVATION/ grasp unarticulated needs

CUSTOMER-DRIVEN INNOVATION/grasp unarticulated needs

Macroforces in Our Newly Emerging World and the Infinite Innovation Mindset
Tom LaForge, Global Director, Human Cultural Insights, THE COCA-COLA COMPANY

If we understand macro forces happen, then we can see people trends and then humans all act differently. If a large enough of people respond, then companies will begin to respond. Corporations have enough power to start trends. If companies and governments aren’t responding to that, more people today are mobilizing to respond. Macro forces cause people trends.

Companies should look at whether or not companies are good for society? Society has to begin using a different set of rules to succeed. Business is starting to respond to the coming trends, as set by the people. In order to be valued in the future, people have to figure out how to provide creativity beyond what benefits are provided. If you’re not helping the happiness of general society, society will push back at the company and question their existence.

Connecting Emotionally with Your Customer
Michelle Gansle, COE Innovation, MARS FOODS EUROPE

Archetypes help to play into consumer behavior. They are the core of who we are. They influence our values and beliefs which play into the skill sets acquired. At Mars, M&Ms is the jester, Uncle Ben’s represents innocence, Virgin is like an outlaw.

How can you apply archetypes to innovation?
  1. 1. Define your brand. What archetype are you?
  2. 2. Communication should convey the archetype you’re communicating
How can you make this actionable?
  1. 1. Learn more about archetypes
  2. 2. Identify the brand archetype

Collaboration, Integration, and Inspiration to Cutting Edge Innovation
Jovita Ivanaviciute, Global Research and Innovation, Vestas Wind Systems

Their goal is to improve the capture of wind for energy. It’s constant, dependable and reliable. A wind plant can be up and running in up and 12 months, and the ROI is much faster than any other energy source. It also creates green jobs. How is the world changing? China is in the center of almost every conversation about the future. Should companies be afraid of the number of exports that can come out of it or should countries be excited about the number of people to export to? With this in mind, how do we power all of these people?

A Novel Approach to User-Driven Innovation in Business
Rune Norager, Associate Professor & Teacher, Department of Product and Design Psychology, AALBORG UNIVERSITY

Males and females think difference. Companies should start thinking about this when consumer electronics are concerned. Gender perspective greatly, as we know on these things: social values, physical differences, pinking and shrinking and marketing.

When looking at interaction design, many things can be learned. The engineers and programmers who produce electronics are very different from the females who use them. How can consumer electronics be made better for women?

Where does gender come from?
  • • Cultural relativism
  • • Inate differences expressed and shaped through culture
The basic biological difference between males and females will remain the same, although many of these change across behaviors.

Find out more at:

FEI Europe 2011: INNOVATION CULTURE/free up organisational creativity

INNOVATION CULTURE/free up organisational creativity

When Was the Last Time You Celebrated Failure?
Martin Ertl, Chief Innovation Officer, BOMBARDIER TRANSPORTATION

Is there a culture of dealing with failure in our enterprises? Failure is apart of daily live, but no set way for how to deal with it. There is little scientific documentation on how to deal with failure in companies. Failure is not the opposite of success, but it’s a building block to it.

If there is no disruptive elements to create innovative ideas, then pipelines will run dry. The European and Northern American market are mature. Asia is still growing, and the management structure should realize that.

How does Bombardier Transportation deal with this? They are #1 in the rail business. In the past, they’ve been a project-based company. They are currently working on 200 projects. What they need to do instead of waiting for contracts, they believe they need to create an innovative project pipeline to draw companies to them. From the beginning, they know that something is going to fail. In the KPI, they added “Number of projects they kill early.” They also listen to upper management and find figures to help them prove that their innovative ideas are worth pursing, not accepting failure in certain cases.

A company is designed for success. Failure is viewed as a personal problem.

Improving the Innovation Capability of Teams in Decentralised Organisations
Susanne Schwekendiek, Director, Product Strategy, FIDELITY INVESTMENT MANAGERS

Fidelity needed to go local for the markets they are in. How have they done this?

They have decentralized innovation for growth. For successful decentralized innovation, employees have to be empowered with the right tools across the entire organization. This may have to cross country borders. Corporate culture should be considered, and examined to see if it does fit the process. Leaders should help the employees understand the company culture.

As a team leader, you need to keep your team focused and involved on innovation. The team should be kept at a sense of urgency and that they are the responsible ones for the success of the project. Without innovation architecture, it will be difficult to create new ideas. A full understanding of corporate culture will be helpful, and it is different for every company. As a part of upper management, one should lead by example.

Creating a Culture of Courageous Leadership: Part 1
Simon King, HR Vice President, ASTRAZENECA

What does it take to make culture and innovation happen? What does it take for everyone to be at their best and most creative?

Why is innovation important in the healthcare industry? It’s the difference that medicine can make with a single individual. The difference one medicine can make is huge. Medical break troughs are still in need for things like asthma and cancer. The number of compounds coming out is typically the same: even though the same number of compounds come out of innovation, the numbers going in has gone up.

Leadership and culture starts with change one person at a time. They saw a need for a change in leadership. They looked at their leaders, and then looked at the industry. In a leader: strategic vision, authentic and deep interest in people, scientific and evidence based judgment. With new leaders, they invested in team building. They did this by sending them to external organizations to see other leadership models and other team building activities.

Leadership change is not enough. Their organization structure has changed. Open innovation has created a new structure to bring new ideas in. They have just finished running an “Inspire to Innovate” week. They had events around the world to promote innovation that has created 2000 ideas around the world. This 4-5 year journey is just two years in, but they have two drugs already on the market.

Creating a Culture of Courageous Leadership: Part 2
Thierry Van Landegem, Global Operations Dir Bell Labs, R&D, ALCATEL-LUCENT

Be excellent at what you do. Stay focused on your core business. The people you hire should be the best and they collaborate and encourage each other to work harder. Entrepreneurial skills. Ideas and people are separate. But encourage them to get together to make actionable ideas. By encouraging entrepreneurship, they’ve seen new, innovative business positions. Their leaders have become more diverse, written business plans, boosted innovation culture.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

FEI Europe 2011: SOCIAL INNOVATION/the move to sustainable solutions

SOCIAL INNOVATION/the move to sustainable solutions

Eight Innovation Stories: Eight Innovations
Bracken Darrell, President, WHIRLPOOL EUROPE

Whirlpool is the #1 Appliance companies in the world. They are new to the Europe/Middle East/Africa Region. Innovations, at the end of the day, have to be applicable to your direct customer.

Whirlpool innovates through the sandbox. They saw an opportunity in American garages. IT is away from their core, but frigates in the garages are the starting point to enter the garage organization market. They’ve created a SousVide oven system, allowing cooks to cook more food with the same amount of quality.
Refrigeration began in 1000 in Persia. In 1934, the first refrigerator was invented in Scotland. It’s taken1,000 years to perfect cooling. Now, Whirlpool is building humidity control into their machines.

(Thought Leader Perspective): Management of Abundance: A New Paradigm
Josef Hochgerner, Scientific Director, CENTRE FOR SOCIAL INNOVATION

What do we expect and trust in? Collaborative intelligence and intelligent collaboration. An innovation is a socio-technical system.

All innovations are socially relevant –
Any innovation emerges form certain background in society and has an impact on particular social entities. Social innovation can be small or large. There are resistances and must compete with other proposals to meet the challenge presented. The things you can change quickly are the products, second most is the processes, and what takes the longest is the values of the society (economy, legislature, politics and culture). The economy has been heavily linked with the population of society. How do you measure welfare?

Innovation Strategy for Sustainable Growth
Dieter Nickel, Director, HENKEL AG

What is Henkel’s definition of successful innovation: Growing sales, increasing market share, higher margins. To steer projects, they look at the consumer needs and the technologies might occur and based on these two things, they look at the needs for new products and projects.

FEI Europe 2011: Open Innovation/when meaningful ideas collide

OPEN INNOVATION/when meaningful ideas collide

Pioneering New Partnering Ecosystems
Andre Convents, Head of R&D, PROCTER & GAMBLE EUROCOR NV * Joe Amaral, Vice President, Surgical Technology, JOHNSON AND JOHNSON CORPORATION * Petra Soderling, Founder, Mobile Brain Bank, and Director, Symbian Smartphones, NOKIA * Josh Aber, Director, Technology and Innovation Management, ROCHE DIAGNOSTICS

*All opinions expressed during this panel are from an individual view point, and do not represent the views of the company.*

Soderling – Open source opens up a company to come up with stronger ideas. It’s like standardization. Agreement on a basic level across platforms allows for innovation farther than the standard line. Nokia provides the platform, then developing communities innovate from their. To attract developers they provide the nice devices, tools, in-store opportunities.

Johnson & Johnson functions through a global network of individuals in regions. They interact with technology officers with investigators. A challenge in healthcare is identifying who the right people are. Roche works closely with them to give ideas, suggestions and they see the opportunity that reduces risk.

Convents believes that shared collaborative innovation is the most successful when your company has found the right partner. Collaborating on the regulatory front can be extremely beneficial. Working together towards a solution creates extreme amounts of benefit.

Amaral believes companies should identify what they want to keep and what they want to give away. Your products are on the market, your stories are out there, but the company hasn’t given away their “secret sauce”.

You Can’t Innovate Alone
Dr. Graham Cross, Collaborative Innovation Director, UNILEVER

It may be surprising, but a company like Unilvever can be behind something as powerful as Starbucks. They work together because Unilever sees the value in the alliance for companies like Starbucks. One of the key motivators for the partnership was company ethics.

Different types of innovation work better in different economies. When building a partnership, it’s focused on building risk and reward. Unilever focuses on building world class workers.

The relevance of partners: routes to customers and markets, hard assets, access to use intellectual property, access to use skilled hands. Re-developing and co-branding a product could provide more success than previously thought. For example, Marmite partnered with Guiness and the product exploded.

The Requirements for Success in Creative Partnering
Nicole Russell, External Networks & Open Innovation, GSK

The CE0 that started in 2009 really understood the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare business. How have they reorganized for innovation? They decided the needed to know how to reorganize the business. They chose to focus on the top 11 brands, and then thoughtthat they would be best governed by a single place.

Key success factors: dedicated innovation resources, co-location, culture of open innovation, structured pipeline process, governed by portfolio management board, superior project management board, marketing excellence and high level of visibility in the pipeline.

FEI Europe 2011: Business Model Innovation/ reset for growth


Making Innovation Everyone’s Job
Job Julian Birkinshaw , Professor of Strategic and International Management, Co-Founder of the Management Innovation Lab (MLab), LONDON BUSINESS SCHOOL

Where does the responsibility for innovation reside?

Two questions to consider with innovation:
How can you build innovation into the corporate DNA so everyone is involved?
How can you harness new web-based technologies to democratize the process of innovation?

Five Myths of Innovation:
  1. 1. The Eureka Moment
  2. 2. Build it and they will come.
  3. 3. Open innovation is the future
  4. 4. Pay is paramount
  5. 5. Bottom up is best

Most innovation comes from the bottom, but to be successful, it needs to be aligned with the goals of the entire company. The internet should be looked at as a way to inspire change.

A New Business Model for Crossing the Final Frontier
Stephen Attenborough , Commercial Director, VIRGIN GALACTIC

For one example of how humans can innovate in a fast amount of time effectively, we can look at the 1960s and the US going to the moon. Since then, fewer than 500 people have been to the moon. One in 50 that have tried have died in the venture, which is not great for progress.

The Virgin Companies all share a brand, but are all separate in terms of each brand , from mobile to airlines. The employees for each company also love the innovative terms that take place, which leads to great ideas.

Innovation at Virgin is about looking at the existing world and looking to do it much better than others in the market. Attenborough references Virgin Atlantic.

To push the suppliers and customers, Virgin believes they need to do things more efficient than they are currently doing. Virgin set out to do this by funding an aircraft that traveled around the world. This technology resulted in the 787 Dreamliner. They worked with Boeing to do so.

They’ve set out do this in Space. The problem: the way we get to space hasn’t changed in 50 years. They set a prize up to get someone to develop a new and innovative system to get humans into space several times with one vehicle. Modeled the landing gear from a shuttlecock, as they always land ball down. After developing this, they had to make sure they had a market that would buy their product. Over 410 individuals contributed $55 million to the project to become astronauts. Spaceport America in New Mexico, is the first commercial spaceport.

Virgin cannot promise a start date for commercial service. This rests on the opportunity for the trips to be completely safe. Test flights are in progress.

“Virtualization”- Revolutionizing the Value Chain
Dagmar Chlosta, Senior Vice President, ADIDAS GROUP

Adidas’ goal is to be the leader in the sporting goods industry. For 2011, they are at almost 12.99 billion euros worldwide. The main brands: Adidas, Reebok, Taylormade, Rockport. They had to re-evaluate their value chain to keep up with the fast pace of today’s fashion cycle.

They wanted to virtualize their sample process: move away from physical examples to 3D examples. Nothing like this existed yet. They saw virtualization as the perfect opportunity to meet their needs

Adidas sees virtualization as the future of the sporting goods industry. Now they can produce one sample in one color, then create the rest virtually. This also gives them the opportunity to work hands-on with their customers and create new sketches in real time.

Circumnavigating the Corporate Immune System
Christian Doll, Product Service Innovation, SIEMENS AG

Keys to successful innovation:
- Knowing Good ideas do not only make a difference
- Understanding that innovation is risky
- Protection of top management
- Trust from project members
- A large team is needed
- The innovator is a threat for stake holders not involved
- Formal and informal organizations needs to be involved
- One can never be sure of what’s happening

Balancing Risks and Opportunities in Collaborative R&D
Carlos Haertel , Managing Director , GE GLOBAL RESEARCH

Most of the critical business decisions have to be made around countries that are far away from the headquarters. The GE Campus is strategically set up on the campus of a University in Munich. They want to collaborate with their partners, so they placed themselves close.
  1. 1. Reaching across disciplines
  2. 2. Spreading technology across the company
  3. 3. Specialize in tackling the “New”

To bring and idea to live, you have to have technology. You must also determine if the technology is possible.

Keeping core technology that makes you unique to yourself is important.
Keeping in mind for partnerships: cost, speed and quality, getting to market and creativity

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

FEI Europe 2011: The Power of Design Thinking

DESIGN INNOVATION/ a catalyst for re-definition

Experience Led Innovation: The True Value of Applied Design Thinking
Gus Desbarats, Chairman, The Alloy: Experience Led Design, BRITISH DESIGN INNOVATION

Human decisions determine the outcome of all innovation processes. Companies must set up projects to set up the brief for other projects.

Keys to design thinking:
1) Have a core purpose (aligned with customer need) and character
2) Get decision makers close to customers
3) Plan your business by customer journey not by ‘operating division’
4) Know your touch points
5) Understand, value and exploit cognitive meaning
6) Create, simulate, role play, learn, improve and iterate
7) Co-create with integrity
8) Ramp up the realism, ramp down the options
9) Be passionate about the detail
10) Anticipate constraints
11) Document everything that matters

Desbarats’ website:

Audi Design: The Art of Progress
Lutz Sauvant, Manager, External Design, Audi Design, AUDI

The Design Department at Audi: is based inside the Technical Development Department, this creates a close bond to the Engineer Department. The key in this part of the company is the spirit of challenging and looking to do projects where they could fall to ruin. These are 200 independent thinkers? How does a company focus these people in a single direction? You set a common goal and encourage all of your thinkers to find a way to get there.

Audi looks at its cars as athletes. There are many types of athletes such as competitive and luxury athletes. Audi dips in to culture when designing their car – architects as well as visiting the lives of the people who drive their cars. Audi works to have personal design networks. They engage In activities to reconnect with design in different ways. Their designers also go into the field to visit the best in different fields to free their creativity.

For Audi, perfection is the most important thing for their drivers. They must fall in love with it from afar, and continue to be in awe through the experience of the interface to driving experience. The interface experience is one of their core competencies. Their systems are designed for extreme use and untrained customers.

FEI Europe 2011: Culture, risk and what's next?

Future Trends Summit: Engaging What Matters Next
Probing the Future: Design Provocations and the Culture of Innovation

The Innovation Art of Avoiding Uncertainty- Understanding Cavemen
Ciaran McGinley, Principal Director, EUROPEAN PATENT OFFICE

We usually experience most cultures through stereotypes. They are a combination of truth with exaggeration. When it comes to strategy and culture, culture will always win. The local culture will always dominate wherever business is taking place. IS it more likely that the culture of innovation will change if the local culture changes its views on uncertainty?

Intuition is not always correct. No risk no pay is not supported by innovation research. The more you avoid uncertainty, they more you’ll pay.

Society copes with uncertainty with three things: technology, law and religion. Everyone can get into the innovation process, but it’s just as important to get that idea in to the production process. It’s important to value everyone, not just the person with the innovative idea.

Monitoring Change Through Global TrendTreks
Steven van der Kruit, Global Director, and Mikel Cirkus, Global Director, Conceptual Design Group, FIRMENICH PERFUMERY

They have to look to the trends five years in the future. They have two years from then for market readiness. Trends are not specific, the implementation of them into business is what counts.

Three principles of change:
  1. 1) Big ideas are already in the making
  2. 2) Change comes at the end where fun, danger, pain and action is
  3. 3) The edge is underground
Areas of innovation: LA, New York, London, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Istanbul, Soeul, Tokyo, HongKong, Bangkok, Sydney and Sao Paulo. NYC, Tokyo and London are the top

They collect the trends across the towns, the artists communicate across the borders. This has become easier thanks got digital cameras, longer camera battery life and more memory space on computers.

What are emerging trends they see now:
  1. 1) Transient/fluid
  2. 2) Back to the origin
  3. 3) Revalue
  4. 4) In praise of diversity
  5. 5) Connectivity applied
  6. 6) Who wants to live forever
  7. 7) Nature’s last call
  8. 8) Respectful living
  9. 9) Neo urban
  10. 10) Magic & fairytales
  11. 11) Technical scientific wonderland
  12. 12) Togetherness

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