Friday, September 30, 2011

Innovation is... [Insert Phrase Here]

... uncomfortable if you like your rut.


Rut, (def): a fixed mode of procedure, course of life, usually dull or unpromising.


Have you ever found yourself in a rut? You know what it looks like, the pattern of doing the same thing each day until it becomes just "how you live?" Sometimes we call them traditions, other times we don't even notice they exist, like how we take the same route through the grocery store.

We as a human species like our ruts. We settle in, decorate, invite our friends over and generally get comfortable with our ruts. 

We put this under the category of Handling Ambiguity. 


- Handling Ambiguity
1. Picture this, what did you mean by that word?
2. Be uncomfortable, jump the rut your in.
3. Boundaries are good, unless you stay within them.
4. Clarity in time, doesn’t mean clarity now but soon.
5. It means something, there are opportunities to create meaning.



We had this happen to us. 

We got comfortable in the physical space we occupied. It was nice, 6th floor space in an 18th century wood trading building in Minneapolis. We always heard good comments on our space and really liked our tie to the skyway system (which is the subject for another day, when it is closer to 40 below zero outside). We had our rut and it was decorated just as we like it.


Then we were presented with something new, our current space. The deal was economically gorgeous, (Marilyn Monroe of lease deals). The location wasn't far away and the space itself was exponentially better than what we had. But, we deliberated for what seemed like decades (more like weeks). We look back on the time and see the rut of comfort we had around us. It was easy to stay in the Lumber Exchange. It would be disruptive to change. Finally we jumped the walls of our rut and this is where we currently reside.


Change isn't something the human species is comfortable with in general. Sometimes change is forced upon us (Think: Blockbuster, Newspapers or the buggy whip). Other times we make the deliberate and painful decision to change. Even when it could negatively impact us financial, emotionally or socially. 

Here are some ways to see the rut your in and get out.

1. Travel to new places, see new spaces and meet new people. It is hard to see the sameness if you're taken physically out of your sameness. 


2. When a "change" decision is confronting you, look at the real implications. Be honest with yourself, your team or your perceptions. What "real" implications are at stake? 


3. Seek outside perspectives and listen to them intently. Try to keep an open mind to what you're hearing. And, always consider what they have at stake in the decision, if anything at all.


4. Consider what type of advice you'd give yourself if you were looking back on this decision five years from now. Think about it. What will happen and what will the future "you" tell you? Sounds odd so keep it to yourself the first time you do it, but you'll be surprised what happens.


Just some of the ways we get out of our highly designed "rut" and see our world from another perspective.


Aaron Keller
Capsule
CapsuleScape
akeller@capsule.us

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Innovation is ... [Insert Phrase Here]

... easier if you can see the patterns.


Do you remember your grandma's doily






It wasn't hard to see the patterns. You could also see what was missing, the holes or errors in the pattern. And, because the pattern was so consistent, you could see the mistake grandma made while talking to you and not paying attention to her stitch. 


Yes, she still blames you.


Patterns are the topic of this next discussion on the values that surround innovation. And, within this, seeing what's missing from a pattern is the one we'll focus on for this specific discussion. 


Patterns 

- Discerning Patterns
1. What’s here, easy, seeing what’s missing is the real trick.
2. Intuition intelligence, High IQs may not always apply.
3. Four eyeballs or never less than two intuitive observers.
4. Out of context, and you are out of oxygen. Go there often.


Missing information isn't something we are necessarily trained to do. Or more precisely, as we grow more experienced seem less likely to see the missing pieces. Either they become intuitive and less pronounced to us as human beings. Or we just stop seeing the missing parts to the pattern. Or perhaps we don't want to critique grandma's flawed work so we just smile and say yes it looks beautiful. Whatever the case, its a challenge to see whats missing in a pattern.


Why does this matter in innovation? We'll give you a good example close to home for Capsule. 


Do you remember your grandpa's Scwhinn?






We recently did a study for Schwinn Bikes in the aisle of Target stores. The research was designed to help better understand how guests shop the bike aisle. 


One of the numerous findings was around how bikes are not a typical thing to buy in a Target store. They're big, bulky, don't fit in your cart. It makes for an unusual purchasing experience. One of the specifics was surrounding how guests interact with bikes and how it feels to pull down a bike and wheel it to the check out. You can't have a cart with you and even a basket makes the experience challenging. Are these things you see when you look at the aisle? Not until you look for what's missing. Not until you see the entire buying experience do you see what innovations could be considered to improve the experience. This small element can make a big impact on how many guests actually make the purchase of a bike. Our research team is paid to see these missing pieces in an experience and give our clients the tools to capitalize on them. 


If you're wondering, do I see what's missing? Do you often wonder, "why doesn't this have this?" Or "doesn't anyone notice what's missing here?" We've found some people have the natural ability to do this and others are trained over a long period of time. Either way, it isn't an easy task to see what's missing. When you do see what's missing, you have the best chance to fill it.


If you see what's missing, we'd like to meet you. You're likely to see the next innovation before it appears before the rest of the world. 


That's a gift worth something.


Thank you.


Aaron Keller
Chief of Missing Things
Capsule
CapsuleScape









Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Innovation is ... [Insert Phrase Here]

... a good way to get fired.


The chief contrarian. 


Somewhere I was reading what it meant to be a CEO and what your role entailed. One of the items that set out for me was this. Your role as a CEO is to always be on the other side. So, when your team is up and excited about a big success, you have to be pulling the team down to level. And, just the same, when your team is down, it is your role to be up and seeing positive in a big failure.


It struck me as a rather lonely place. 


But, I get it. 

As a firm with 12 years and hundreds of clients in experience, we've been able to observe leadership, teams, cultures and see the inner workings of many of our country's largest brands. 

We've noticed sometimes the CEO takes this Chief Contrarian role, other times its outsourced. Outsourced to someone we often refer to a virus in an organization. You know the person, they come in, make a ton of change, everyone HATES them, but they do something no one else was willing to do. 



Then, like any virus organism, the body (company) spits this individual out. 

Also a lonely role.

Enough on the preamble, the second in our series on the values of innovation. 


- Contrarianism
1. Saying it, okay, put it into behaviors and now you’re fired.
2. Be a champion, for something worth championing.
3. Do you just believe, or is it something else?
4. Caring for your words, support them visually and use them deliberately

The word Innovation has its roots in "change or to renew." This is interesting because most human beings are not fond of change. Just watch "The Biggest Loser" and you can see how hard we fight against change in our lives. This applies to large organizations as they are designed to "manage" growth and improve revenue. This management often comes out in reducing the risk it requires to make the revenue investors expect. 

So, innovation goes completely against what the organization was built to do. How many times have you heard someone say something and you just know they are giving the idea "lip service?" Too many times for me. It is an easy word to say, Innovation. But actions often result in risks. Hence, looking from the outside, we like to observe those who say the word "innovation" and compare them to people who do "innovation." These people are hard to find inside organizations, because just as you notice it them, they are gone. 

So, if you're that type of person, and you know who you are, please contact us because we'd like to get to know more about what makes you a contrarian. We would expect a fair number of contrarians to show up at the Future Trends event in Miami next week. 

We look forward to seeing you there.

Chief Contrarian


The new Patent Law Effects You! The top ten reasons why you must have an idea management system


With the new patent law, now more than ever you need an automated collaborative system for ideas.

The new patent reform law has many ramifications and I want to look at one of them. At its essence the “America Invents Act” has one critical attribute: Instead of awarding patents to those with “first to invent” status, it is based on “first to file” for their patent. Just like Ken Jennings vs. the IBM computer on Jeopardy, the computer can hit the button faster than is humanly possible.

It’s true the America Invents Act purports to shave time off the patent approval, juggling 750,000 patent applications with a 4% increase in filings, from the current three year wait to a guaranteed 12 month turnaround. But the new law will likely force inventors to build a patent portfolio rather than relying on a single patent. Ergo the patent lawyers will have to file several times to keep first-filing status at each stage of enablement of a company’s good idea.

The problems most organizations face include the typical drawbacks associated with paper systems:

1. A requirement to physically archive the paperwork in a central location while not having them accessible in other locations.

2. The need to make a lot of copies for distribution to review teams in preparation of the review board meetings.

3. Managing the multiple languages involved in the global corporate world in which we live.

4. Difficulty to follow up on the review status of each disclosure.

5. Slow processing of disclosures due to long time lags in between consecutive review meetings.

6. Loss of documents due to mailing errors.

7. The errors associated with revision management: who has what revision of the document at what stage at what location.

8. Emailing for document sharing which is inefficient and lacks transparency to the inventors.

9. Difficult to track each stage of the review process and keep up on missing pieces.

10. Difficulty keeping each key player in the process involved when ready and poor notification.

You need three things that a collaborative idea management system can bring to the process:

1. Transparency. Every actor in the process has access to every document they need to see (subject to whatever security is required which is managed by the system). This makes people more productive and increases trustworthiness between inventors, reviewers and members of the patent department.

2. Efficiency. A collaborative idea management system can keep track of everyone’s responsibility. It can make the process a worry free activity. Each person involved in moving the idea from concept to patent (and each patent that’s part of the patent portfolio) is automatically notified when their action is due. And when they log into the system persuasive design can make it apparent what they should do next: “Click here!”.

3. Robust Workflow. Instead of the sequential process required in a manual system, a manageable workflow in the collaborative idea management system can enable parallel processing of tasks. And if the law or the company procedure requires a new workflow, the system can easily accommodate it.

If your company embraces innovation and you are managing your company’s ideas manually (and by manual I’m including a system based on spreadsheets, word documents all handled by E Mail), then you are at a clear disadvantage to those organizations who have the benefit of an automated idea management system.

These collaborative idea management systems are key to keeping up with your patents.

An automated collaborative idea management system can provide a backbone for your company’s culture of innovation. All the smart people on your team (and even external advisors) can share ideas, collaborate in order to determine the best ones, have those best ideas automatically promoted, and enable specialized work groups to do downstream analysis like SWOT and Feasibility Studies. Every act and actor can be captured and the information produced in a report.

The patent process can be transparent, efficient and manageable, enabling your company to produce more patents and therefore make more money. It’s not hard to cost justify an idea management system when you think of it this way.


Ron Shulkin is Vice President of the Americas for CogniStreamer®, an innovation management system. You can learn more about CogniStreamer here http://bit.ly/ac3x60

CogniStreamer has a Patent Flow module you can read about here: http://cognistreamer.com/en/products_patentflow.html

Ron manages The Idea Management Group on LinkedIn (Join Here) http://bit.ly/dvsYWD . He has written extensively on Idea Management (Read Here) http://bit.ly/b2ZEgU . If you search on “Shulkin” here at the FEI blog web site, you’ll find numerous entries on idea management systems.

CogniStreamer® is used as the backbone for many companies’ culture of innovation. It is the idea collaborative tool to generate ideas. CogniStreamer is both an innovation knowledge management and idea management software tool, available both SaaS and behind clients’ firewalls. 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, BPost, 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. Plus it supported by a team of experts who have built best practices and lend guidance based on practical experience.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Innovation is ... [Insert Phrase Here]



... started with an ideation culture.


We were once commissioned with the task of translating "Innovate Like Edison" and then asked to present it to the Product Development Management Association (PDMA). We found it to be an interesting task and took it on with all the fervor of anything that enters our Capsule.


The concepts we chose to cover included: Ideation, fluid intelligence, handling ambiguity, discerning patterns and contrarianism. Within each of these we applied values we found important to our innovation efforts and relevant to the concept.


By Sarah Miller Caldicott + Michael Gelb


While this isn't the venue to provide a deep description of each, it does offer a place where a couple can be covered with each post. So, we'll start with a couple of the values from IDEATION.


Ideation
1. Everyone can be creative, yes even accountants and lawyers.
2. Visual isn’t just for artists, we can all use some visual in our diet.
3. Like what? Using metaphor-this and simile-that to help everyone get it.
4. Physical things make the intangible, tangible as quickly as possible.
5. Disciplines v capacities, inspire me and give me direction, please.


Everyone can be creative:
Many cultures have given creativity an iconic character and the US character typically has at least one tattoo, perhaps some cool piercings and plenty of suspicious "historical" drug use. We would like to debunk this misperception here. Creative people come in all forms of clothing, body art [or not] and don't have to look the part to be creative. In fact, I have found some of the least creative people are actually just trying to play the "role" of creative without anything "there, there."


The "Creative" Financial Guys.
For further explanation, how many people do you know who would say they know a creative accountant or financial professional? Now, look back on the Enron fraud and dig deep into how the financial individuals structured that criminal act. You'll find it was incredibly creative. Now, this may be why no one knows a creative accountant, because they all end up serving time, but the point is still there. Creativity crosses all disciplines, including accounting and financial. Sometimes to our collective detriment. 


So, the next time you're forming a team of "creative" people, don't skip accounting in your sweep. You might just find you get what you need from unexpected places.

Physical things:
Our modern culture has become very intangible. We have more physical things, but we also have more intangible elements of our lives. We can own land in a virtual world, "Second Life", and expect an exchange of virtual or real currency for its sale. While this is amazing, we are still physical human beings and it helps to get physical with our ideation. We encourage sketching / scribbling / drawing out ideas, whenever possible. Not because we are artists and should be using pencils, but because getting someone to see an intangible idea in the light you see it often requires an act of making it tangible.


This is common practice in design firms, ad agencies and perhaps other entities "paid to be creative." We encourage it with everyone. Here's a simple thought exercise with the word "innovation." Imagine asking 100 people to draw a picture of what they think that word means. How many different interpretations would you get? My guess is 111, because some bloke will give extra answers. 


Now, the next time someone in an "ideation" session says out loud to the group, this has to be "innovative." Stop and ask the room to draw what that means to them individually. You'll find more sketching to show ideas in your next ideation session. 


That's two of the five. Ask us about the other three.


Aaron Keller
Capsule
CapsuleScape Blog
akeller@capsule.us





Monday, September 26, 2011

Who’s in charge of this idea anyway?


The thing about good ideas is that usually more than none person has something to contribute. That’s why some groups have brainstorming sessions. And also why most people agree “two heads are better than one”. All of that thinking con tributes to the value of a collaborative environment facilitated by an on line system… connecting the players by software (available on a browser).

Of course idea management systems have other layers. There are mechanisms to tap into social science measurements to determine the wisdom of the crowd. The best ideas have more than just the most votes, but also the best ideas have the ones where the most similar ideas are submitted by various players, the ideas has the most comments, the most votes on the comments, the most views, the most “follows”, the most bookmarks…all of them contribute to the determination of which are the best ideas.

It is also good to set up various teams to work together. Usually these people have a common area of interest. Although the ideation process benefits from having different disciplines contribute (engineers, marketing people, financial folks), each with their own perspectives. Di Bono promotes the idea of different emotional perspectives weighing in: “let’s bring in the naysayers to pick this apart; let’s bring in the emotional people; let’s bring in those that like to share”. Good idea management systems help identify each type of person and integrate with their email in order to bring them to the discussion.

Idea management systems, like most collaborative tools (think Facebook) are very democratic. Everyone is on an equal footing. Unlike a meeting in the real world where frequently the most well paid person always has the best idea (whether he does or not), contributors on a collaborative system have an equal voice in the process. Anyone’s idea counts. And good ideas frequently have multiple inventors.

Our interest in hierarchies may be more than just practical. As humans, we may be wired to appreciate them. In a recent study, “The Fluency of Social Hierarchy: The Ease with which Hierarchical Relationships Are Seen, Remembered, Learned and Liked” in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, a series of experiments found that hierarchical relationships were the easiest to understand.

Organizational charts were more easily memorized than other arrangements. As a result they were more liked. If you can see the layout of your relationships, you accept them and work more readily with your team. A collaborative idea management system can tie all the players in and you can even get a graphical representation of the team, with various power elucidated.

Who gets to vote, which gets to contribute, who is on what team…who the “innovation managers” are. When the best ideas are promoted, who will do the downstream analysis? It doesn’t make a difference what division you’re in, or what time zone the other guy is in, all that matters is that you’re on a team with a common purpose working together to come up with the best ideas and making the best ideas ready to be turned into a project.

Simply stated, an idea management system can bring a team of people together and present a graphical organization chart so every team member knows who they’re working with, who they report to, what power each has in the process and more. Each person has the confidence of knowing where they stand.

So get with the program, an idea management system brings people together from disparate locations, sometimes disparate disciplines but all from a common area of interest. The relationships are easily understood and a “stuck” team can get help when they need it.


Ron Shulkin is Vice President of the Americas for CogniStreamer®, an innovation management system. You can learn more about CogniStreamer here http://bit.ly/ac3x60

Ron manages The Idea Management Group on LinkedIn (Join Here) http://bit.ly/dvsYWD . He has written extensively on Idea Management (Read Here) http://bit.ly/b2ZEgU . If you search on “Shulkin” here at the FEI blog web site, you’ll find numerous entries on idea management systems.

CogniStreamer® is used as the backbone for many companies’ culture of innovation. It is the idea collaborative tool to generate ideas. CogniStreamer is both an innovation knowledge management and idea management software tool, available both SaaS and behind clients’ firewalls. 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, BPost, 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. Plus it supported by a team of experts who have built best practices and lend guidance based on practical experience.

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