Thursday, March 29, 2012

Participate in a Crowd-sourced Innovation Book: Good News from Europe

During the Front End of Innovation EMEA Conference in Zurich last month, the initiative was be launched to create a book with a selection of 100 European innovations: Good News from Europe.

The book is meant as an inspiration for innovators world wide: to share the passion for innovation and to honour those innovators who realised their ideas even despite economic harsh times.

The book will be created through 'crowd sourcing'. Through the FEI network and its connected social networks, we will be looking for innovations that should be included in the book.

The book will published at the end of November 2012, and will present 100 innovations, each on a two-page spread, described in about 500 words, and illustrated with pictures of the innovation and the innovator(s) and as an eBook as well.

The printed book will be in full-colour, on 135grs paper, bounded in hard and full-colour gloss laminated cover.
The book will contain approximately 240 pages in full-colour containing:
•Preface, contents and introduction
•List of sponsors
•100 innovations, each described in 500 words, covering the innovation itself, the origination of the idea, the key elements in the innovation process, expectations for the future and some key figures. They will be illustrated with pictures of the innovation and of the innovator(s). The innovators will also convey their learning in a tip for other innovators. The names, functions and website of the innovators will be listed as well.
•An analysis of the innovations listed in the book, summarising important trends and key success factors.
The book will be published in November 2012 in an edition of at least 3000 pieces, allowing the innovators and sponsors to present copies to their relations at the festive season. The book will be designed by VissenCom, who also designed the Dutch editions.
The book will further contain an analysis of the innovations presented, to highlight remarkable insights regarding the key success factors in the process of innovation.

Submit your Innovation Today!
How you can Participate:

- submit an innovation from Europe before May 15 (100 words only)
- become co-author for your country/region to inspire people to contribute
- become a sponsor of this great book

To submit an innovation, learn more or pre-order the book, please visit

Monday, March 26, 2012

Product Innovation and Seamless Integration of Ideas

In light of emerging trends in product development organizations are quickly responding to changing market dynamics by adopting new and innovative strategies. One of the most difficult challenges for organizations is managing the ideation process and achieving a seamless transition from the conceptual stages of ideation towards successful implementation and execution.

From an organizational perspective, ideation is the activity and effort centered on what’s often called the “fuzzy front-end” of the new product and service development process. It is during these initial steps that the collective ideas of customers, partners and employees need to be leveraged to develop conceptual frameworks for new products or services. However, idea management is not exclusive to the front-end stage. Indeed, there must be a seamless integration of ideas coming from multiple different sources and channels, at different stages of the product development process.

Unifying the FEI and the BEI

There is a vital need for a seamless integration of businesses processes. This means information generated in one stage of the product development process must flow through to the next without the risk of error or the possibility of accidental loss or misclassification.

There are several business benefits associated with seamless integration:

Full traceability and visibility of activities throughout the development process
Accelerated business processes, and faster time to market
Continuous alignment of product feedback with marketplace demands
Improved stakeholder cohesion and more opportunities for collaboration
Streamlined business activities with more clearly defined goals

Design elements

A well-structured ideation process will shed light on the often unclear front end innovation—the generation and capturing of new ideas— and will enable proper execution on the back-end—the actual production and delivery of the ideas turned into viable profitable products and services. It also enables constant alignment with changing market needs. Finally, this process must be strategic from beginning to end, with a focus on seamlessly integrating ideas throughout the developmental stages.
Here are some key elements to consider when designing your ideation process:

    1.   Do an assessment by asking yourself these questions:
Are we able to make decisions based on product data related to our innovation strategy?
What are the sources of ideas? What channels do we use? What happens to ideas once they have been identified?
Are the ideas initially generated in earlier stages reflected in our longer-term product roadmap?

2. Analyze the front-end activities that need to be seamlessly integrated into the process:
Listening for ideas across various channels such as organizational portals, email, feedback forums, help desk, social media sites, etc.
Engaging in two-way dialogue to elaborate on, and clarify product related ideas
Determining which ideas align best with organizational goals and strategies through voting, and priority ratings.

     3. Analyze the back-end related activities that need to be seamlessly integrated into the process:

Turning ideas into actionable product requirements
Analyze ideas and product requirements based on real-word data
Providing all involved stakeholders with increased visibility and traceability throughout the process.

Seamless integration improves communication and breaks down the silos

Organizations that seek ideas of external and internal stakeholders greatly benefit from fresh and innovative perspectives. Often times, ideas can be discovered through conversations and brainstorming sessions, involving many diverse stakeholders. Facilitating communication between teams working at the BEI and FEI levels and sharing information between customers, business partners, and employees improves the innovation management, and increases the success of strategy execution. Through seamless integration, visibility and participation of key players in the innovation process is increased and ideas can easily be shaped into actionable, product-driven data.

About the Author:
Catherine Constantinides is a writer and product marketer who works at OneDesk provider of The Unified Product Platform - A suite of fully integrated social product development applications. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Introducing the FEI Book Club: Win a Signed Copy of The Innovator's DNA

We've noticed a lot of discussion centered around the reading the best books on innovation lately, especially in terms of must-read innovation book lists, and which ones to read in a time of information overload - when everyone is a content producer/publisher.

As such, we've decided to launch our very own Front End of Innovation Book Club featuring the latest books with an innovation focus and leveraging the collective intelligence, thought leadership, and authority of our online community.

How the FEI Book Club Works:

Every month, the FEI Team will select a recently published book based on innovation. We will feature the book here on The Front End of Innovation Blog, along with a free book giveaway when available.

The book club discussion will take place in our 17,000+ Front End of Innovation LinkedIn Group in a thread started by me each month. Therefore, you must be a member of  our LinkedIn Group to participate. You can join here.

All group members are invited to post their unbiased reviews, comments and questions on the thread as we read the book together (or if you've already completed it) each month. When available we will have the author(s) scheduled to participate in the discussion as well at the end of each month.

We will select the best reviews from LinkedIn to feature and share publicly on our blog, with the permission of the contributor.

Together, we will build a timely, continuous, crowdsourced archive of best innovation reads featuring the brightest and most inspiring thinkers of our time.

FEI Book Club Selection: April

Jeffrey H. Dyer
Our inaugural FEI Book Club selection is co-authored by Front End of Innovation 2012 Keynote Speaker, Jeffrey H. Dyer, the Horace Beesley Professor of Strategy at the Marriott School, Brigham Young University and Chair of the Department of Organizational Leadership & Strategy.

We have five signed copies to giveaway to celebrate our book launch and Jeffrey will be joining us on LinkedIn at the end of April to answer questions and discuss the book. Winners will be selected randomly and contacted via email.

UPDATE: Jeffrey H. Dyer will join us April 25, 2012, on LinkedIn to discuss the book.

Join the discussion here.

The Innovator's DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators by Clayton M. Christensen, Jeffrey H. Dyer and Hal B. Gregersen 
Are you the next Steve Jobs?
You could be as innovative and impactful—if you can change your behaviors to improve your creative impact. 
In The Innovator’s DNA, authors Jeffrey Dyer, Hal Gregersen, and bestselling author Clayton Christensen (The Innovator’s Dilemma, The Innovator’s Solution) build on what we know about disruptive innovation to show how individuals can develop the skills necessary to move progressively from idea to impact.
By identifying behaviors of the world’s best innovators—from leaders at Amazon and Apple to those at Google, Skype, and Virgin Group—the authors outline five discovery skills that distinguish innovative entrepreneurs and executives from ordinary managers: Associating, Questioning, Observing, Networking, and Experimenting. 
Once you master these competencies (the authors provide a self assessment for rating your own innovator’s DNA), the authors explain how you can generate ideas, collaborate with colleagues to implement them, and build innovation skills throughout your organization to sharpen its competitive edge. That innovation advantage can translate into a premium in your company’s stock price—an innovation premium—which is possible only by building the code for innovation right into your organization’s people, processes, and guiding philosophies.  
Practical and provocative, The Innovator’s DNA is an essential resource for individuals and teams who want to strengthen their innovative prowess.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Valerie M. Russo is a Senior Social Media Strategist at IIR USA with a technology, anthropology, marketing and publishing business acumen. She will be attending the 10th Annual Front End of Innovation event, taking place in Orlando, Florida on May 15-17, 2012, and covering the event live via Twitter and the FEI Blog. She is a published poet and also maintains a literary blog. She may be reached at Follow her @Literanista.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Attend FEI: Gain Access to 125+ Sessions, 75+ Speakers, 4 Summits, 2 Workshops & More

Each year FEI: Front End of Innovation combines exceptional keynotes, powerful content and distinctive experiences.

There is no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” approach when it comes to how your company approaches innovation.

That’s why FEI offers more opportunities to customize the agenda based on your specific goals. In addition the main conference days, benefit from either 4 Full-Day Tuesday Summits; OR the Full-Day Workshop; OR the Full-Day Trenz®Walk around Orlando.

Attend any session on any of the 4 Full-Day Tuesday Summits:
The Annual Voice of the Customer Summit: Grasp Unarticulated Customer Needs
The Annual Portfolio Optimization Summit: Managing Investments, Options & Desicisions in the Innovation Trajectory
The ALL NEW Partnering & Co-Creation Summit: The Next Evolution of Open Innovation
The ALL NEW Trends & Technology Summit: Where Consumers, Society & Technology Collide
Download the brochure to see full Summit descriptions.

Or choose the Full Day Workshop:
A Universal Framework for the Front End of Innovation: Helping You Piece Everything Else Together
Geoff Waite, W8on Innovation
Or change the scenery and choose the TrenzWalk:
Orlando TrenzWalk: Beyond the Magic of Disney World - Identifying Trends in Their Infancy
Steven van der Kruit, Creative Director & Visionary, Firmenich Perfumery
What is TrenzWalk?

In addition to the Tuesday activities, the Main Conference feature 6 key content areas, exciting keynotes, and over 750 industry peers (70% from the client side). Download the brochure for more details.

Are you an experienced FEI attendee? Don't forget to check out the FEI Alumni Program!
New to FEI? Take a look at what  FEI 2012 has to offer you that no other event can.

 If you Register by Friday, April 13th & Save $100 off the Standard & On-site Rate. Use Code FEI12BLOG for an additional 15% off.

Registration Details:
Please mention your priority code: FEI12BLOG
Phone: 888.670.8200

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Emotional Intelligence and Innovation

A few weeks ago, my two boys engaged in a heated argument about whether reading Harry Potter, then watching the movie, was a tradition or a condition. My kindergartener started by saying watching a movie, only after reading a book, was a tradition. He pointed to the fact we had read three Harry Potter books, then watched the three movies as proof. Conversely, my second-grader rationalized that watching a movie after reading a book was a condition. He surmised the fact we never watched the movie first, made movie watching conditional to reading.

In the end, I surprised my boys by sharing they were both right. Watching the movie was both a tradition and a condition. This rocked my boys worlds. As I explained why it was both a tradition and condition, they simmered down and listened intently. As emotions subsided, they were able to take in alternative points of view.

As I thought about Harry Potter, I felt there was an important lesson that also applied to innovation. Namely, the importance of emotional intelligence when it comes to innovation. Let's face it, innovation is not easy and can sometimes lead to emotionally charged situations.

Here are three questions to ask when it comes to emotional intelligence and innovation.

  1. What emotions are you perceiving? Using verbal and nonverbal cues, think about what you are picking up about yourself and interactions with others. Nonverbal cues include body language and facial expressions. Once you've identified the emotions, think about what is underlying them. What values, things that matter, or beliefs do you and others hold special. Innovation means change. As change can be tough for those who are impacted, thinking about values can help you better read the situation.
  2. Why are emotions running high? Once you've identified the values, the next step is to understand why. Though it is natural to interpret people's emotions, take caution to not fill in the story with your personal perceptions. Be sure to ask open ended questions and to listen with an open mind. Innovation isn't a one answer situation. Deferring judgment (for just a bit) can help open up new thinking.
  3. How to help the situation? Helping doesn't mean telling the person who is unhappy to "calm down." LOL. Anyone who has tried that tactic, knows it is likely to backfire. To help, start with finding a commonality and letting folks know that you've heard them. Restating the other side's position and letting them know you understand their point of view goes a long way. To be successful, it can be helpful to go back to the problem you're looking to solve. Similar to the situation with my kids, you may find a simple way to diffuse the conversation.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What City Should Host the 2013 FEI: Front End of Innovation EMEA event? YOU DECIDE

Monday, March 12, 2012

Everyone is trying to solve the innovation puzzle!

There is a hunger for breaking the innovation code

Recently our partner Cloverleaf, a group of talented innovation consultants, and my company, CogniStreamer, put on a webinar. We all learned many things. Perhaps the most striking thing anyone attending learned was seeing just how many people registered and attended. The numbers were higher than any on line event I’ve been part of. Over 130 people registered and 59 people attended (and of those 59, 55 stayed until the end with the other four dropping during the Q&A session at the end).

We held a similar event (with another partner, the smart people at Innomantra) a week later, timed and focused toward those living in India, with similar attendance results. During the same time period, my company’s managing director spoke at the Front End of Innovation conference in Europe with an informal headcount yielding over 70 attendees…it was standing room only. As a result of these events I’ve been invited to speak in front of additional audiences. This includes tomorrow’s KM Chicago meeting (you can attend in person or log in on line here: )

What this tells me is: There is a (worldwide) hunger for understanding of the innovation topic. All the attendees at all these events hold senior positions at their companies. They all have responsibility for innovation. They are all looking for answers to the questions surrounding “How to embrace innovation”.

I talk to people responsible for innovation at their companies all day long. The messages are consistent:

1. How do I get everyone at this company to jump on the innovation bandwagon with me?

2. How do we get everyone at my company to be engaged with the innovation process and stay engaged?

3. How can I convince our company’s management we have to change our company culture in a way that permits our team members to put time into new topics (instead of merely focusing on our day jobs)?

4. How can I get everyone here at my company to accept frank comments; to not worry too much about polishing their ideas, instead just get them out there; to accept that mightiest of innovation mantras: it is OK to fail (in fact it’s encouraged as a measure of how hard you’re really trying).

Apparently there’s a huge appetite to learn more about innovation in a very pragmatic way. We’re all trying to put on our Blue DeBono Hats.

We're all thinking about being more innovative about innovation.

So…what can innovators do differently? How can we develop new approaches?

Here’s some simple advice:

  • Get a project under your belt.
  • Identify an audience of early adopter types at your company, put forth one challenge you’ll know will get their attention.
  • Run the campaign for a short period and collect usage statistics.
  • You’ll then be able to tell your management that you collected X many ideas that you got Y many people involved, that you came up with these one or two fantastic ideas that can make a difference here at your company.
  • This will give you enough impetus to take the next step of doing all this on an ongoing basis.

And a project like this can be inexpensive. For just a few thousand dollars you’ll amass a bunch of ideas, you’ll get a bunch of people engaged and excited about collaboration and most importantly, you’ll prove your point. The point? Embracing Innovation is the Key Decision that propels your company toward market leading, profitable positions.

And don’t worry if you fail. That’s all part of the process.

BTW, You can watch a recording of the webinars here: and here: You can read more about our managing director’s presentation here: I recently wrote a blog entry about the common struggles facing innovation champions as they attempt to encourage their organizations to migrate to a culture of innovation here: The first step toward embracing a culture of innovation is to provide a place for your team to collaborate on innovation topics.

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

Ron manages The Idea Management Group on LinkedIn (Join Here) . He has written extensively on Idea Management (Read Here) . 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, Phillip Morris, Picanol, ThyssenKrupp, Vesta and Vesuvius. 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.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

NASA Innovation Advisor, Astronaut: “Failure IS an Option”

FEI TV Explores Mission Critical Failure-Innovation Connection

By Marc Dresner, IIR

The 50th anniversary of John Glenn’s historic Friendship 7 flight and NASA’s FY 2013 budget request, respectively, put the spotlight back on space exploration in February.

But as many Americans fell prey to an acute breakout of space fever, some long-standing, difficult questions yanked imaginations back to earth: Notably, what’s an acceptable tolerance for risk when human lives are at stake?

Critics have argued for years that NASA has become so risk-averse that the only thing it is willing to risk is irrelevance. Meanwhile, aspiring carriers like Virgin Galactic draw increasingly close to making commercial space travel a reality.

Wherever the line is ultimately drawn, you know there’s some truth to the charges when one of the very people on whose behalf the agency adopted a decades old culture of extreme caution agrees that the space program should take more risks—albeit within reason.

Dr. Charles Camarda—a former astronaut who’s been to space and back—insists that even when it comes to human space flight, the Apollo 13 adage Hollywood attributed to NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz, “failure is not an option,” is a policy lemon.

If you’re not pushing the boundaries, if you’re not failing, you’re not doing your job,” Camarda, now Senior Advisor for Innovation in the Office of the Chief Engineer at NASA's Johnson Space Center, told FEI TV.

In this exclusive interview with FEI TV—the official streamcast network of the Front End of Innovation conference and exposition—Camarda discusses:

- Praiseworthy failure and permission to fail
- Why small teams are better suited to accomplishing feats of innovation than large organizations
- The necessity of challenge and a shared, higher purpose
- Teaching NASA engineers to create fluid, virtual networks of multi-disciplinary experts built around a specific, major problem
- How the lessons learned are being applied in exciting ways to education at the collegiate and high school levels…

And more! Watch this episode of FEI TV and subscribe here!

Editor’s note: FEI TV is produced by the 10th Annual Front End of Innovation conference and exposition taking place May 15-17, 2012, in Orlando, FL.

For more information or to register, visit


Marc Dresner is IIR USA’s sr. editor and special communication projects lead. He is the former executive editor of Research Business Report, a confidential newsletter for the market and consumer research industry. He may be reached at Follow him @mdrezz.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Tight Budget? Get the Most ROI at the Front End of Innovation Conference

We know your budget continues to be tight and that you want to see ROI on sending your team to The Front End of Innovation conference.  Simply put: FEI delivers MORE VALUE than any other event.

In just 3 days, your team will gain access to over 125 world-class speakers, over 75 content driven sessions, 4 pre-conference full day summits, 2 full day workshops, 6 key main conference content areas, and over 750 industry peers (70% from the client side).

Still deciding?  Here's what your team will get ONLY at FEI:

All New Information.  No Repeat Performances.  The FEI main conference features 100% new speakers.  No repurposed content.

Keynote Provocateurs....
Chris Anderson, Editor-In-Chief, Wired Magazine, Author, The Long Tail
Phil Duncan, Global Chief Design Officer, Proctor and Gamble
Jeff Dyer, Author, The Innovator's DNA
Michio Kaku, Farmed Futurist, Physicist, and TV Personality
          ....Mixed with over 70 Real-World Case Studies.  Including:
Karen Freidt, Lead, Navigation Center for Creativity, Collaboration, & Innovation, NASA
Gordon Jones, Director, Harvard Innovation Lab
Barry Calpino, Vice President, Breakthrough Innovation, Kraft
Bill Lunderman, Vice President, Global Strategic Brand Design, Colgate-Palmolive

Seven Conferences in One. 
Benefit from the main conference plus either 4 Full-Day Tuesday Summits,
the Annual VoC Summit,
the Annual Portfolio Management Summit,
the All New Trends & Technology Summit, and
the All New Co-Creation Summit;
OR the Full-Day Workshop on A Universal Framework for the Front End of Innovation;
OR the Full-Day Trenz®Walk around Orlando.

Attendees Become Speakers: Choose from 8 different learning formats that encourage interactvity: FIRESTARTERS,
To see which learning format is right for you, click here.

Cutting-Edge Content Areas:  Featuring sessions on Reverse Innovation, Storytelling as a Core Competency, Design Integration at the Front End, Collaboration in the New Social Space.  FEI continually serves as the industry's catalyst for change by masterfully facilitating the intersection of thinking and acting.

Tangible Take-Aways to Bring Back to Senior Management.  FEI's all new CHALLENGE & CHANGE sessions leverage the collective intelligence of our attendees.  After each session, your team will work together to create a PowerPoint that will be immediately distributable to your colleagues when you leave the event.

Register today to secure your spots.

Don't forget, if you send more, you will save more!

Save 25% off the standard rate - Send Group of 7 or more
Save 20% off the standard rate - Send Group of 5 or 6
Save15% off the standard rate - Send Group of 3 or 4

Can't take advantage of the special Group Rate?  No Problem!  If you Register by March 16th you will save $200 off the Standard & On-site Rate. Use Code FEI12BLOG for an additional 15% off.

Registration Details:
Please mention your priority code: FEI12BLOG
Phone: 888.670.8200

See you in Orlando!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Congratulations to the Winners of our 2012 FEI Zurich Connect Meaningfully Challenge

Last week at Front End of Innovation Zurich event, over 250 of the best and brightest minds came together to solve for the challenge of how to create buy-in for great ideas. Click here to see photos of the FEI Challenge.

We are pleased to announce the winners of the challenge:

  • Francois Bertero, Dow Corning
  • Robert Andexer, MACO 
  • Brigit Rieder, Swarovski
  • Dries Moors, NV Bekaert SA 
  • Kendra Gittus, The University of Reading Whiteknights
  • Andrew Luscher, Kaba  
  • Arti Krishna, Innovia Technology 
  • Carlo Garuccio, Sisal Spa 
  • Carolyn Dougherty, Elsevier 
  • Depy Carron, Calliopae Reims 
  • Donna Carroll, Leiden University 
  • Francois Bertero, Dow Corning 
  • Gilles Boyer, Rolex 
  • Jamie Bucklet, PDD London 
  • Jennifer Hirano, Elsevier
  • Julianne Trummer, Mormedi 
  • Karin Kleeli, Mibelle AK 
  • Lorenz Wyss, Swiss Post International 
  • Marc Schmid, Beverage Partners Wordwide 
  • Maricus Heinen, Ernst & Young 
  • Oliver Hsu, Dialego AG
  • Regus Jaris, Elsevier 
  • Rob Wilkinson, Innovia Tech 
  • Robert Andexer, Maco 
  • Sebastien Goubaud, Dimos 
  • Sira Saccani, BMW Designworks 
  • Susanne Wosch, Ernst & Young 
  • Tim Altham, Fluid-o-Tech 
  • Vassilios Kanellopoulos, PDD Group

Monday, March 5, 2012

Game Changers and Rule Breakers

Cesar 2Yesterday I attended a performance by famous Dutch drummer Cesar Zuiderwijk from a band called the Golden Earring, known for its international hits Radar Love (1973) and Twilight Zone (1982). 

Since it was organized by Rhythm Impact, a local drum school, the performance was preceded by a drum clinic where people (many of them kids between 8-15) could ask Cesar questions. In the age of youtube all the kids had closely observed Cesar’s playing style and were able to ask very probing questions why he played some things differently than they had been taught in drumschool. 

In his entertaining stories Cesar drew many parallels with other disciplines such as sports and quoted the famous example of the Fosbury flop (Dave Fosbury Fosbury flopradically changed the way athletes performed the high jump in 1968) to demonstrate it can pay off to question common beliefs (breaking the rules). 

A result of Cesar's challenging nature is his ambidextrous drumstyle (whatever he can do with his left hand/foot he can do with his right and vice versa) which is not commonly taught at drum schools. This ability enables him to play different rhythm styles with greater ease and allows for more experimentation in his musical adventures. 

There’s more detail to it (he also mentioned a different more energy efficient way of drumming by changing the way you play) but the point is he continuously questions common belief to develop his playing style which is a way of thinking that can pay great dividends if you are attuned to it.

What lessons can we learn from this example:
  • Questioning common beliefs can lead to making changes or doing things differently that provide much better results
  • Identifying analogies from other disciplines (industries) can stimulate thinking that leads to different approaches
At the front end of the innovation process most businesses nowadays include trend analysis and synthesise consumer/customer behaviours into insights that drive their idea generation. 

Applying the lessons from the example above can lead to developing additional different perspectives on how we do business as a company or as an industry, how we view our markets, customers etc. The good news is that you can train people how to do this systematically. 

The process can be simply described (although we do use special tools to make it even easier).
  1. explore how we do business today, what our assumptions are about our customers etc.
  2. question why we do it in certain ways, these are your orthodoxies or underlying beliefs
  3. explore which of those orthodoxies are valid, i.e. help the business perform and which do not hold true anymore and could prevent you to evolve
  4. think about what you would do differently if certain beliefs could be ignored
Questioning beliefs is a way to think about how you can challenge the way an industry operates. Industries operate on many “unwritten” rules that have evolved over time to help them perform more efficiently. 

Once the rules are commonly accepted the industry “forgets” they are there even though at some point new developments in technology and consumer behaviour indicate the rules have reached their sell by date. 

The first company to recognise this and develop new value propositions for their customers,  new ways to serve them, new ways to compete can be the rule breaker, the company that will be recognised as “having changed the game forever” and reap the rewards.

The starting point is about developing rich insights by applying different tools and approaches and using these to stimulate idea generation at the front end of your innovation process. 

We would argue that broadening the front end to include orthodoxies (questioning common belief) and analogies (what can we learn from examples that originate in other disciplines or industries) would lead to even richer idea generation and ultimately better results.


Michel van Hove is Principal at Strategos, a division of Innovaro, in the Amsterdam Area, Netherlands. Innovation has been the main theme of his career. For the past 20 years, he has worked for small and large multinational companies in different industries, setting up and leading major innovation initiatives. Since 2004 as part of Innovaro/Strategos, he has supported organisations across US/Europe and Asia, helping them raise innovation to be much more of a strategic imperative. Innovation for him is what business is all about, establishing a point of view, identifying opportunities and acting on them to build a sustainable business.

* This was originally published at the Innovaro / Strategos blog by Michel Van Hove. 

A View of FEI EMEA 2012

We're back from the Front End of Innovation EMEA event in Zurich, Switzerland and here's a look at the 3-day event below:

FEI EMEA 2012 Slideshow:

We'd like to thank everyone who attended and followed our live coverage! 

We would like to extend the reach of our growing community's collective intelligence well into 2012, therefore, we encourage everyone to join the Front End of Innovation LinkedIn Group.  This is a global network of innovators and professionals across all industries, who are constantly seeking to innovate and are interested in innovation in the front end.

And also subscribe to receive email updates on FEI EMEA 2012 and all our innovation-focused events and webinars at

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