Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Don't Be Intimidated By Innovation: Podcast with Julie Anixter

In advance of this year’s BEI: Back End of Innovation conference, we wanted to start a larger dialog about the execution of innovation programs. In that spirit, I recorded a new episode of our Forward Focus Podcast series with conference chair Julie Anixter, Chief Innovation Officer, MAGA DESIGN GROUP and Executive Editor, INNOVATION EXCELLENCE. 


In this episode we discuss Julie's background in design and how that morphed into a career in innovation, new trends in the innovation field and her recent blog post "Seven Reasons Conferences Matter."

One great takeaway of the conversation for me was Anixter's advice for those just starting out with creating an innovation project or program. She suggests "Don't be intimidated by the word," reminding us that everyone has to start as a beginner at some point. Listen to the podcast here for more.

Looking to hear more? Join Julie Anixter and other innovation leaders at the BEI: Back End of Innovation conference in Boston this October. Learn more by visiting our website.


Michelle LeBlanc is a Social Media Strategist at IIR USA with a specialization in marketing and a background in publishing and advertising. As part of the FEI team at, she tweets at @BEI_innovation and is the voice behind BEI:Back End of Innovation on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Monday, July 30, 2012

New BEI Sponsorship Opportunity: Innovation "Show & Tell"

Do you have an innovation success story that highlights your company’s expertise? Be the “first kid” in your class to tell your story from ideation to commercialization at BEI: Back End of Innovation 2012!

For full details on this new sponsorship opportunity contact David Smith at dsmith@iirusa.com.

Humor, Creativity & Innovation: Excerpts from our Innovation Book Club Discussion

Thursday July 26th marked another successful meeting of the innovation book club. Our pick for the month was More Lightning, Less Thunder: How to Energize Innovation Teams by BEI: Back End of Innovation speakers Bob Eckert and Jonathan Vehar. Eckert and Vehar were kind enough to join us for a live Q & A in our LinkedIn group to discuss the book. Read on for some excerpts from the conversation or join our LinkedIn group to read the full thread.  

Q. What do you think the biggest challenge is for most leaders in facilitating creative problem solving?

Jonathan Vehar: In our experience, the REAL challenge is not the tools or techniques or even familiarity with process. Rather the challenge is to ensure that people in the room are bringing the right mindset to the process. So many times we teach two people sitting next to each other with the same backgrounds and content knowledge the same thing, and one will be incredibly productive, and the other not at all. What's the difference? The former is accessing their creative mindset and the other is self-editing.

The challenge of the mindset is to help people get past the self-editing mode, which is what we were getting at with the book...starting by helping people be humble enough to "let it all hang out" and share the ideas which come to mind, even if the idea isn't likely to set the world on fire. From that pile of wild ideas, innovation can be cobbled together.

Q. What’s one simple step an innovation team leader could take to begin to improve productivity?

Bob Eckert: The real tool that we see people use to great effect is "Praise First, POINt" on pages 52 & 138 of the book. The idea is to first look for what you like in your people's ideas before you look for the danger. It precipitates an entirely different social dynamic as well as different cognition and neurology.

Jonathan Vehar: Bob's answer is completely wrong! Just kidding. That'd be my first answer as well. One of the objections we frequently hear is, "I don't have time to treat every new idea with a POINt." Keep in mind that POINt needs to be used strategically if you can't use it all the time. POINt becomes an investment in the learning and development of your people...when you take the time to provide that feedback, you're educating yourself on the strength of their idea, and you're helping them to see the concept from YOUR perspective, and in fact educating them. It's a great tool for leader development!

Q. Do you have any stories to illustrate the point that you could share with us?

Bob Eckert: An example of POINt: Recently the Marketing VP of a polymer company has strengthened his reputation and effectiveness with his direct reports as being an "Innovation supporter" by consciously shifting to use of a POINt method in his governance meetings. And we're seeing some much more effective marketing strategies as a result.

Jonathan Vehar: Story of the mindset piece is that whenever we're working with a group to facilitate creative problem solving, we always include a warm-up activity to start to shut down the self-editing...it becomes a teaching opportunity around humility. In the past when I've tried to short-cut that process, using the same tools with the same groups, their productivity is severely hampered! Working on the mindset gets groups productive and creative much faster.

Jonathan Vehar: Another POINt story: An international consumer products company required a group of plant managers to attend a two-day creativity training. After the first day, the participants were given homework: to apply POINt to a work situation before coming to class the next morning. One seasoned plant manager shook her head saying, “I am not paid to be creative. My job is to run the plant efficiently and keep my workers safe.” She went on, “I don’t like new ideas. It’s just more work for me.” But she dutifully took on the homework assignment, and called a worker who was always offering new ideas. During their conversation, the plant manager forced herself to first reflect the positive aspects of the worker’s new idea and articulate what positive outcomes might happen if the idea was implemented. The next morning, she reported back to the class. “That idea is going to save my plant $5000 a week!” She further admitted that if she hadn’t used POINt, she would never have had the patience to hear the idea through.

Jonathan Vehar: In another application of POINt, a peer in a meeting – not a manager or facilitator – shifted the way a group was evaluating ideas worth millions of dollars. A large pharmaceutical company created a governance committee to evaluate proposals from teams challenged to look for ways to speed both drug development or promising compounds and the decisions to stop development earlier on dead-end projects. A member of the committee noticed that his peers on the governance committee were reacting to each proposal by looking for what was wrong or weak with the idea. Finally, after noticing this pattern among his team members, he made a subtle intervention by asking the team to first look for the pluses. His peers agreed, and rather than killing the idea, worked through a process of searching for pluses, then opportunities and next identified issues, before turning it back to the team to fix the issues and then implement the solution. The idea was one that could save three days on drug development for any drug that made it to the three year mark in development, which equates to about $3 million on each drug in development. One person interviewed said that without the use of the Praise First: POINt technique, this solution was headed where all the other ideas headed: a binder on the shelf never to be implemented.




Bob Eckert: It continues to please, amaze and humble me that some of the most useful and value creating ideas that are created in our sessions come from what initially sounded off the wall and undo-able. At on large Fortune 500 component manufacturing company, someone recently threw out the idea of building products that needed NONE of the components they sell. To create a technology that made their business obsolete. Everyone chuckled. In fact, an incredible patent came out of that which has the likelihood of revolutionizing their sector.

Bob Eckert: Just this morning, speaking with a CEO in the biotechnology sector, he said "I think all business must die eventually" thinking about my last comment, you may be ahead of the game if your "wild ideas" are those that lead to your own demise, as you are then right where you need to be to be THE dominant player in the new reality for your sector.

Read the rest of the conversation and add your comments on LinkedIn here. 


Want to hear more from Bob Eckert and Jonathan Vehar? Register for BEI: Back End of Innovation as a reader of this blog & save 15% off the standard registration link, use code BEI12BLOG.

Register:
Online: http://bit.ly/Mtylno
Email: register@iirusa.com
Phone: 888.670.8200

Friday, July 27, 2012

Webinar Recording: How to Successfully Execute Innovation Strategy: A Parker Case Study


Last week I had the pleasure of hosting Bill Beane, Corporate Director of Winovation Systems, Parker Hannifin for a webinar entitled "How to Successfully Execute Innovation Strategy: A Parker Case Study" presented by IIR USA's ongoing innovation webinar series, and Sopheon.

Parker Hannifin is the world's leading manufacturer of motion and control systems. In recent years, the $12B business has been widely lauded for its "Win" strategy, a decade-old, multi-faceted initiative credited with generating record revenues and profits. "Winovation", the innovation-focused pillar of the "Win" effort, is an integral part of the Parker success story, accounting for dramatic increases in portfolio values and steady year-over-year expansion of organic growth from new products. To learn more, check out a recording of the event in the player below, or via ReadyTalk here.




About Sopheon:
Sopheon LogoSopheon is an international provider of enterprise product lifecycle management software. Its Accolade® system enables end-to-end innovation management, including innovation planning, ideation, innovation process execution and product portfolio management. Sopheon’s solutions are used by leading innovators worldwide, including BASF, Philips, Electrolux, Northrop Grumman, Merck, PepsiCo, SABMiller and Total Petrochemicals. More information is available at www.sopheon.com

Michelle LeBlanc is a Social Media Strategist at IIR USA with a specialization in marketing and a background in publishing and advertising. As part of the FEI team at, she tweets at @BEI_innovation and is the voice behind BEI:Back End of Innovation on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Innovation Book Club Discussion: More Lightning, Less Thunder: How to Energize Innovation Teams

Our July innovation book club pick was More Lightning, Less Thunder: How to Energize Innovation Teams and, as we mentioned previously, our featured authors Bob Eckert and Jonathan Vehar will be joining us for a live online discussion on LinkedIn today Thursday, July 26th, 2012 at 1 PM EST. Ask your questions about energizing innovation teams, discuss your takeaways or questions from the book and connect with the BEI: Back End of Innovation community. Join our LinkedIn group to participate.

Bob Eckert and Jonathan Vehar will both be speaking at BEI: Back End of Innovation taking place October 9-11, 2012, in Boston, Mass. Bob Eckert will be presenting "Innovation Culture: Knowing What To Strive For, What Not To and How to Measure It" and Jonathan Vehar will be leading our various collaboration sessions throughout the event. Download the BEI brochure to learn more.


Congrats to our four winners who have been shipped a signed copy of the book. All winners have been notified. Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway.

Even if you haven't finished the book, feel free to chime in with your thoughts on this topic. I've drafted some questions for our featured authors to get our conversation on the book started:

What do you think the biggest challenge is for most leaders in facilitating creative problem solving?
What’s one simple step an innovation team leader could take to begin to improve productivity?
You talk about people who are “stuck” in a pattern of thinking/acting what is your favorite way to get yourself or someone else “unstuck” from a pattern like this?
You write about the value of making mistakes in the book, how did you come to realize this value?

All group members are invited to post their unbiased reviews, comments and questions on the thread. We will post a recap of some of the best comments and reviews from LinkedIn to feature and share publicly here on our blog, with the permission of the contributor.

Michelle LeBlanc is a Social Media Strategist at IIR USA with a specialization in marketing. She tweets about innovation under the @BEI_innovation moniker, and everything else at @Leblancly.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

BEI Speaker Insight #2: Examine Your Ecosystem

In advance of this year’s BEI: Back End of Innovation conference, we wanted to start a larger dialog about the execution of innovation programs. In a joint effort with conference chair Julie Anixter, Chief Innovation Officer, MAGA DESIGN GROUP and Executive Editor, INNOVATION EXCELLENCE we’re kicking off the conversation by putting a series of questions to some of our exciting BEI speakers.

This week we asked featured Innovation Book Club author and Professor of Strategy & Entrepreneurship Ron Adner “based on your own personal experience, what is the single most important piece of advice that you would give to people who are beginning to implement an innovation project, program or strategy?



Adner's answer: 

Before you commit to your innovation, make sure you are clear about who else needs to commit for it to succeed, and what it will take to get those partners on board. If critical partners fail to deliver their parts of the puzzle, your own brilliant execution won't matter. If you can expand your focus beyond your customers and rivals, and build a clear strategy to manage the partnership ecosystem you need to build around your innovation, you will multiply your odds of success.
Adner will join us to present a keynote address entitled "Beyond Innovation" at BEI: Back End of Innovation taking place October 9-11, 2012, in Boston, Mass. In this session he will explore the fact that, more and more, innovations don’t stand alone. Instead they depend on an ecosystem of partners for their value to materialize. This means that your strategy must expand beyond your customers, your rivals and your execution. Now it must include — from the very start — the partners on which your success depends. Success in these ecosystems requires using a new approach — a wider lens — for guiding and managing innovation.

How are you examining your innovation ecosystem?

To join this session, register as a reader of this blog & save 15% off the standard registration link, use code BEI12BLOG.
Register:
Online: http://bit.ly/Mtylno
Email: register@iirusa.com
Phone: 888.670.8200

Michelle LeBlanc is a Social Media Strategist at IIR USA with a specialization in marketing. She tweets about innovation under the @BEI_innovation moniker, and everything else at @Leblancly.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The 5-Word Difference Between Invention and Innovation

Ernest Hemingway in Milan, 1918
Ernest Hemingway (via Wikipedia)
Most of you may be familiar with the unverified story of Hemingway writing a six-word memoir on a dare. Here's what he came up with: 


“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” 


The idea of capitulating essential information ONLY (in short form) has become increasingly popular, perhaps fueled by IM, SMS, and the brevity of Twitter's 140-character limit, so much so that six-word memoir books and magazines have become a common phenomena.  


Much like in poetry, a concise strand of words imparts both simplicity and power - packing a lot of punch while remaining largely sparse. The activity itself can be a great creative, strategic warm-up exercise for a team.


One of our Front End of Innovation community members on LinkedIn, recently proposed a similar task to our 18,900+ innovation brain trust but he made the challenge a little more constraining. He asked the group, "in 5-words, define the difference between invention and innovation."


Here's a random sampling 10 of the 580+ responses:
  1. All Inventions don't become Innovations. 
  2. Invention creates; innovation realises value.
  3. Novel change that adds value.
  4. Innovation applies invention on purpose.
  5. "Original" inventions versus "valuable" innovations.
  6. Invention: Discovery without chasing a need.
  7. Innovation: Discovery that chased a need.
  8. Innovations can happen without Inventions
  9. Invention investement earns innovation value.
  10. Innovation is invention commercialized.
To see the rest and/or add your own, visit the discussion here.

What is your 5-word explanation of the difference between "invention" and "innovation?" Tell us in the comments below.


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

Thursday, July 19, 2012

BEI Speaker Insight #1: "Innovate at the Pain Point” Maria Thompson, Motorola

In advance of this year’s BEI: Back End of Innovation conference, we wanted to start a larger dialog about the execution of innovation programs. In a joint effort with conference chair Julie Anixter, Chief Innovation Officer, MAGA DESIGN GROUP and Executive Editor, INNOVATION EXCELLENCE we’re kicking off the conversation by putting a series of questions to some of our exciting BEI speakers.

This week we checked in with Maria B. Thompson, Director, Innovation Strategy, MOTOROLA SOLUTIONS, INC., asking, “based on your own personal experience, what is the single most important piece of advice that you would give to people who are beginning to implement an innovation project, program or strategy?

Thompson’s answer:
“’What keeps your Senior Managers awake/up at night?’ – Target your innovation efforts here. Any innovation initiative requires senior management support and sponsorship and should be rooted in the biggest pain points for the business. Innovation needs to focus on creatively solving the gnarly/vexing business or customer problems of today or anticipated problems of tomorrow. Otherwise, you’re wasting your time and energy.” 

Update: Julie Anixter has some additional questions for Maria Thompson to be answered at the BEI: Back End of Innovation event, read them and add yours here.

Maria B. Thompson will be presenting “Predictive Innovation: Directed Inventing to Ensure Generation of High-Value Ideas” on Tuesday October 9th at BEI: Back End of Innovation. In more than 15 years of planning, conducting and facilitating more than 100 inventing sessions, Thompson has found one major truth: garbage in = garbage out. The yield of novel, patentable ideas from ad hoc brainstorming sessions is predictably low. The Directed Innovation methodology includes preparation and pre-work in the planning phase that focuses the ideation phase participants on the most important and fruitful problem areas to generate novel ideas. Measurements are pre-defined and used throughout the process to assess the value of problems, as well as the ideas generated.

To join this session, register as a reader of this blog & save 15% off the standard registration link, use code BEI12BLOG.
Register:
Online: http://bit.ly/Mtylno
Email: register@iirusa.com
Phone: 888.670.8200

Michelle LeBlanc is a Social Media Strategist at IIR USA with a specialization in marketing. She tweets about innovation under the @BEI_innovation moniker, and everything else at @Leblancly.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

List: 129 Innovation People to Follow On Twitter

One of our main core ideas at the Front End of Innovation is to bring the collective intelligence of the innovation industry together. In the spirit of collaboration within the social space, we invite you to follow the same brilliant industry folks that we do and connect via Twitter. 

Follow me on Twitter logo
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Subscribe to the lists here:

FEI11 List
FEI12 List


* A very special thank you to our partners at Sopheon, who curated the lists of FEI attendees on Twitter.


If you would like to be added to the Innovation Industry list, contact @Sopheon.



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

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Using Learning Styles To Spur Innovation

Honey & Mumford's Experiential Learning Styles via
http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/experience.htm

There are many (frequently disputed) theories of learning styles. For example, Experiential Learning Theory tells us that the ideal learning process engages four modes: having an experience, reviewing it, making conclusions, and planning next steps.

Different individuals may be stronger on one of these steps than another (and tests such as Honey & Mumford's Learning Styles Questionnaire can help individuals determine where they sit). Additionally learners are frequently broken down into Auditory, Kinesthetic, or Visual learners depending on what sort of stimulation they prefer: seeing an image, listening to a presentation or physically handling or manipulating objects or information. Similarly learners have been labeled as social versus solitary, depending on their preferences for working alone or on a team. Regardless of what school of thought you belong to, most would agree that different stimulus will produce different results amongst members of a team.

As more focus is placed on creativity and innovation in the workplace, you may find yourself wondering how best to inspire a team to that next breakthrough idea. Could catering to different learning styles be the answer?

Putting aside the controversy between the differing theories, taking a team through the experiential learning theory process can introduce new inspirations and teach your team members new ways to reflect and observe and then turn those inspirations into actionable business concepts.

"hands on" creative learning in action at FEI 2011
At BEI: Back End of Innovation we're working to give you concrete steps for creating repeatable, sustainable innovation programs, that's why we've taken this idea into account and separated our program out into four unique learning formats.

Find inspiration for your inner "activist" learner with sandbox sessions, engage the "reflector" with tactical, in-depth case studies in the "champion" sessions, please your "theorist" with our "classroom" sessions that recall the theory behind the practice and let your "pragmatist" out to join the conversation in "Fire Starter" sessions. Read more about the learning styles here and view video from our past events for a peek at the experience. Download the BEI brochure to review the different offerings in each area.

But you don't have to wait until the conference to put this idea to work. As varied vacation schedules force a slower pace in many offices, summer can be the perfect time to step back and re-energize your innovation team with a creative exercise.

Here's my suggestion:
1. Cater to the activist by taking the team to a different environment, have an innovation scavenger hunt in your town or just get out of the office together and experience something new, get out of your comfort zone. Work on a problem together that is not your everyday problem.
2. Have each team member play reflector by taking photos or notes based on the experience
3. Group brainstorm and share: what did you learn and what inspired you? How can we put these ideas to work? Note the differences between different team members. Ask why and probe for understanding.
4. Try something out: can you simulate one of your ideas or even put something into action? Find a way to get your hands "dirty" and try it out.

Be it bringing your team to BEI or trying this activity out at the office, something as simple as this can re-engage team members by breaking established patterns and can even be the trigger for that next breakthrough idea. Let us know your stories if you give it a go.

Michelle LeBlanc is a Social Media Strategist at IIR USA with a specialization in marketing. She tweets about innovation under the @BEI_innovation moniker, and everything else at @Leblancly.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Two Indecorous Truths About Innovation

Orin's Introduction


How many companies can you name that became innovative firms when they weren't initially?  If you stop and list most of the innovative companies you know, you will realize that they started as innovators.  Even the companies that became innovators often started with some kind of clean slate (and in some cases, that meant wiping some slates clean).  Companies often establish their strategies at their inception, and yet they face a significant amount of pressure to "innovate," be it from investors or from the C-suite, and these endeavors are not always successful because they are not consistent with the genuine goals of the company.  The result is that companies end up putting on a masquerade of purported changes and spend a lot of money on fanfare that amounts to nothing.  But, it is rare for anyone to shine a light on the masquerade and foster some honest discussion -- in the hopes of doing just that, I am going to highlight two indecorous truths about innovation in companies.


***


Any search on how to innovate will lead to a deluge of information that is cross-referenced, categorized, and summarized in all sorts of ways.  There are so many resources out there, including consultants, papers, and companies, that any firm that wants to innovate can find out how to get it done.  This should leave you wondering why so many companies are still not very innovative.

Indecorous Truth #1: Many companies don't want to innovate.

As a consultant, I have watched company after company go through "changes" that are never meant to be anything more than cosmetic.  Firms want investors and employees to think that they are turning over new leaves, making things different, solving problems, and the like.  But, what they are really doing is going through a bunch of motions, sometimes hiring consultants (and either paying them to give a scripted answer, or later ignoring everything they have to say), and generating a lot of fanfare about "the new, improved us."

For example, I once worked with a company that started a major push to increase diversity, and hired a bunch of people, including me, to advise the endeavor.  In a couple of outside conversations, several of us consultants admitted to each other that the company will never achieve a serious level of diversity, simply because their only major reason for increasing diversity is that it looks good to outsiders and prevents lawsuits.  No one in upper management really saw the value of diversity, nor did any of them genuinely care whether the demographic makeup of the firm was uniform.  Yet, the company trumpeted its new diversity initiatives, made a lot of noise, hired a few token demographic-fillers, and ignored nearly all of our suggestions.  And the employees of the company "smiled and grinned at the change all around," picked up their guitars and played (just like yesterday!)  An indecorous set of truths, perhaps, but a set that resonates more deeply than many people want to admit.

Companies with desires to innovate often look like the company that was "increasing diversity."  They want to claim that they are doing something different, changing it up, developing new initiatives, or something similar-sounding laced with management jargon that sounds professional and pseudo-sophisticated.  Yet, the chocolate inside that candy shell smells a lot like fertilizer (but is still reputed to cause growth!).  So consultants and employees round up the data, fire up their PowerPoint decks, give the best of their advice, get slapped on the back with a nice testimonial...and nothing changes.  A decent proportion of the time, this is not the fault of the consultants/employees.  This is the fault of companies wanting to look like they are innovating without dealing with the risks, changes, and challenges of becoming an innovative firm.

Indecorous Truth #2: There is nothing wrong with a company doing what it does best, and proceeding to excel in that area.  (This is better known as "The Hedgehog Concept.")


There are lots of articles in business periodicals that discuss the constant need for innovation, promote the fear of competition sneaking in and ripping the market out from under an industry leader, and so on.  There is some truth to those issues, but there is also some truth to companies like McDonald's, Nordstrom, and others, which have made money doing the same excellent things they have been doing for decades.  All of those companies have made incremental changes over the years, but if a time traveler went back three decades, (s)he would still recognize the Big Mac, the golden arches, and the inquiry about whether the order should include fries.


Companies often start with a strategy, goals, and marketable products/services that may or may not include innovation[1].  While companies do need to keep up with the times, and they do need to make incremental updates in the process, this does not mean that a company needs to innovate, and it does not mean that a company needs to be an innovative company.  In fact, when a company's products depend upon algorithmic processes[2], true innovation, and the management processes that go with it, are not a good idea[3].  This may be the very reason that management does not want to innovate, even as investors poking around in the business media may have other expectations.


In short, businesses do not want to change what they think works, be it a lack of diversity, innovation, et cetera.  That may be a disadvantageous move in the long term, but the incentives in the short term are for avoiding change (and there may be no long-term incentives for good long-term performance).  As many business thinkers have noted, innovation requires a long-term perspective, but to this I add that it also requires a structure and strategy that is consistent with innovating.  Hedgehog companies do not do more than incremental innovation, and they don't need to, either.  They also do not need true diversity (which is far more than demographic makeup[4]), because that could incite unnecessary, and unwelcome, change.


Of course, some companies genuinely want to branch out into innovation, and they generally do so successfully.  Often, this starts with the C-suite and a department or two, and the change wends its way through the necessary parts of the company.  Such genuine changes are often difficult, but usually occur with success when they are carefully built into the heart and soul of the company.  At other times, it's a waste of time, money, and energy, and amounts to putting a colorful candy shell on bite-sized horse apples.


Whichever direction you go, be genuine!


Orin's asides


1. See Miles and Snow's Typology for a good description of how companies design their strategies: 


2. See Teresa Amabile's Creativity in Context for more on this.

3. See Lex Donaldson's The Contingency Theory of Organizations for more on this.

4. "Diversity" is a buzzword in human resources, and refers to the demographic makeup of a company.  Typically, this is about gender and ethnicity, and sometimes extends to religion, sexual orientation, and age.  As such, "increasing diversity" usually focuses on ensuring that those who have historically faced discrimination have equal opportunities to be hired and promoted.  I would point out that true diversity extends well beyond these measures and into the variety of perspectives and capabilities that people can provide, which transcends the measures used in HR.


About the Author

Orin C. Davis is the first person to earn a doctorate in positive psychology. His research focuses on flow, creativity, hypnosis, and mentoring, and it spans both the workplace and daily life. He is the principal investigator of the Quality of Life Laboratory and a freelance consultant who helps companies maximize their human capital and become better places to work.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Introverts, Extroverts and American Idol

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 01:  American Idol jud...
American Idol judges Randy Jackson, Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and host Ryan Seacrest arrive at Fox's American Idol finalist party at The Grove on March 1, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

While we have to remember that it is entertainment—and that some parts of it might not be totally real—it’s been an interesting study for me to watch the differences between the judges on American Idol.

Randy Jackson exhibits all the hallmarks of a flaming extrovert. He interrupts the other judges, and host Ryan Seacrest, all the time. Not because he’s being rude, but because he’s thinking. And extroverts think out loud. He says a lot of words when he talks, and often repeats one or more of them many times—especially if he’s passionate about what he’s saying. His gestures are large. His voice is loud. And while the last two don’t necessarily point to extroversion (I’m a rather loud introvert myself), they do often go hand-in-hand.

Steven Tyler exhibits the tendencies of an introvert. I know it seems hard to imagine that this rock star, who has made his name (and fame) by being the exhibitionist front man for one of the most famous bands ever, could be an introvert. But based on his behavior as a judge on Idol, I’d guess that’s who he really is. He rarely speaks until he's specifically called upon by Ryan. He never interrupts the other judges. He says far fewer total words than Randy does.  His speaking voice is relatively quiet (again, not that that necessarily means he’s an introvert, but it seems to fit the demeanor in this case). His gestures and body language generally aren't flamboyant (again, not necessarily the sign of an introvert on its own, but another clue). While he does make the occasional grand gesture (like diving into the pool fully clothed at the end of one episode) it appears to me that this is him performing. I think the “real” him is the thoughtful, relatively quiet, more introverted person.

Jennifer Lopez's preference for introversion or extroversion is less clear, based on her behavior on the show. I tend toward thinking she prefers more extroversion, but that's more speculation. The other two’s preferences seem more clear to me.  So I'm going to focus on the differences between Randy and Steven.

While Randy might, on the surface, appear to be giving more feedback, if you really think about what's being said, Steven contributes an equal amount of thinking and feedback as Randy, just more in the style that an introvert contributes. He's equally effusive, although less wordy, when someone performs outstandingly well. And he's equally honest when someone doesn't.  He appears to think through what he wants to say before he says it—a classic trait of an introvert.  Randy, true to his extroverted style, appears to do his thinking as he's talking.

How Does This Relate To Your Innovation Work?

Well, besides the fact that I just find it interesting, it can illuminate how to get the best of each person on your innovation team—by making room and space for both introverts and extroverts to do their best thinking.

A lot of innovation work, particularly in the early discovery and idea generation phases, tends to be done with a team all in a room, or on the phone together. This group work is where extroverts are most at home—they love the energy of bouncing ideas and thoughts off other people, it’s often where they do their best thinking, and it’s how they get jazzed about a project. So make room for that in your process. Let them talk all they need to, because that's how they think best.

But, to ensure that you get the best thinking from the introverts too, you need to give them their commensurate time and space. You can start by publishing the objectives and agenda of any meeting well in advance, so they have time to incubate on it privately.

When you need to generate new thinking in a group, ask that all participants do a preparation assignment in advance.  This allows the introverts to do some deep thinking about it when they're alone and can do their best thinking. It also offers the added benefit of getting the idea generation off to a quick start when you do get the team together. The introverts will come with some ideas already thought-through. The extroverts might come with their thoughts less fleshed out, but they'll use the energy of the moment to generate even more.

And when you do need to come up with ideas more in the moment (when there isn’t time for a prep assignment), make sure you have a few minutes of silent thinking before people start talking. The extroverts will be chomping at the bit to start talking, and will think the three minutes of “thinking time” isn't necessary. But if you skip this, the introverts in the group will never have time to think, because it can be tough for them to think when everyone else is talking. So, if you're the one running the meeting, say: "Everyone please take a quiet moment to jot down some thoughts before we start talking."  The three minutes you spend, even though they feel wasted to the extroverts, will buy you dramatically better input and participation from the introverts.

In summary, keep in mind that you need to allow both types of people to feel like they're contributing at their best. An easy way to remember to do this is to remember what they might say:

An extrovert would say, “I don’t know what I think until I say it.”
An introvert would say, “I don’t know what to say until I think about it.”

You need to create both individual thinking time and talking time into your innovation process. Or you just might end up with ideas only Paula Abdul could love.

About the Author

Susan Robertson is a Facilitator and VP of Business Development at Ideas To Go, Inc. Ideas To Go is an innovation process consulting firm. Our expert facilitators, along with our Creative Consumers® associates, will help stretch your thinking to discover insights, areas of opportunity, and your next big idea. For additional information, contact srobertson@ideastogo.com.



Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Innovation Live Q & A: July 26th at 1pm EST

In celebration of our July book club pick, our featured authors Bob Eckert and Jonathan Vehar  will be joining us for a live online discussion on LinkedIn on Thursday, July 26th, 2012 at 1 PM EST. Ask your questions about energizing innovation teams, discuss your takeaways or questions from the book and connect with the BEI: Back End of Innovation community. Join our LinkedIn group to participate.

Bob Eckert and Jonathan Vehar will both be speaking at BEI: Back End of Innovation taking place October 9-11, 2012, in Boston, Mass. Bob Eckert will be presenting "Innovation Culture: Knowing What To Strive For, What Not To and How to Measure It" and Jonathan Vehar will be leading our various collaboration sessions throughout the event. Download the BEI brochure to learn more.

For a sneak peek of the "New & Improved" approach to leadership in innovation teams, enjoy this irreverent look at the importance of taking responsibility to find new solutions... see and what happens when you don't:




Our July Innovation Book Club pick is More Lightning, Less Thunder: How to Energize Innovation Teams and we're giving away four signed copies. The giveaway ends at midnight tonight, so be sure to get your entries in: entry details here. 

About the book:
More Lightning, Less Thunder: How to Energize Innovation Teams introduces the fundamental behaviors and specific attitudes necessary to function in a team environment. It's designed to help you work more effectively with others to create innovative results and bottom-line improvements. Mere tools and techniques are not enough to change the way people and organizations work together. Innovation demands that individuals adopt specific behaviors and attitudes in order to flourish within teams.This book shares how to spark your brain and your teams to generate more creative results.

Don't miss out! Add our live discussion to your calendar here. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Ever wonder what it's like to use a collaborative innovation portal?

If you've never experienced what it might be like to use a collaborative innovation portal, here's your chance!  Well sort of anyway.  Take three minutes to watch this video. It takes you though a brief moment in the day of the life of an average contributor on a collaborative portal designed for innovation.

Assuming this ongoing environment has been rolled out for internal use at the "XYZ" company, take a peek how users can pose challenges, contribute ideas and, in general, collaborate in order to tap into the "wisdom of the crowd".  By accessing the opinions, both negative and positive, both informed and capable of "out of the box" thinking, this environment is capable of discovering the best ideas within an organization.

A user community can rely on an environment like this to solve problems (incremental innovation) and to pull the organization in whole new directions (disruptive innovation). 

Users can

  • belong to teams with common areas of interest; 
  • they can share ideas, enrich the ideas of others; 
  • share "inspiration" (videos, white papers, URLs, RSS feeds, etc.).  

In an idea world, this collaborative innovation system, or idea management system, can be the place everyone assembles to make their contributions, essentially the backbone for any organization's culture of innovation.

video


There are many systems out there to choose from.  Some are merely electronic suggestion boxes.  Others are full blown social networks dedicated to innovation.  Ask for demonstrations to discover the differences.

You can help your company firm up an innovation strategy.  You can nurture a culture of innovation.  And you need a technology to support both efforts.


Ron Shulkin is Vice President of the Americas for CogniStreamer®, an innovation ecosystem.  CogniStreamer serves as a Knowledge Management System, Idea Management System and Social Network for Innovation.  You can learn more about CogniStreamer here http://bit.ly/ac3x60

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Free Webinar: How a $12B Company Successfully Executed Innovation Strategy



Join Us: How to Successfully Execute Innovation Strategy: A Parker Case Study
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
1:00PM - 2:00PM ET (10:00AM - 11:00AM PT, 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM GMT)

Presenter:
·         Bill Beane, Corporate Director of Winovation Systems, Parker Hannifin

Register today.
Please use priority code MWJ0018-BLOG

Bill Beane, Parker Hannifin
Parker Hannifin is the world's leading manufacturer of motion and control systems. In recent years, the $12B business has been widely lauded for its "Win" strategy, a decade-old, multi-faceted initiative credited with generating record revenues and profits. "Winovation", the innovation-focused pillar of the "Win" effort, is an integral part of the Parker success story, accounting for dramatic increases in portfolio values and steady year-over-year expansion of organic growth from new products.

Hear one of Parker's top innovation executives provide an instructive, inside look at the strategies, processes and operational principles that underpin "Winovation's" remarkable success. Gain insights into what this Fortune 500 stalwart does to fill its product development pipeline with high margin, new-to-the-world offerings, and how it's able to consistently drive measurable and repeatable business results from innovation investments. 

Participants will learn: 

·         Why fewer projects can actually mean higher portfolio value
·         How to achieve the right balance between creativity and innovation execution
·         Best practices for measuring innovation-driven growth
·         Six keys to achieving consistent, high-value innovation performance

Title: How to Successfully Execute Innovation Strategy: A Parker Case Study
Speaker: Bill Beane, Parker Hannifin
Date: Wednesday, July 18th, 2012
Time: 1:00 - 2:00 PM EDT

Register Now After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.
Sponsored by:
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About Sopheon:
Sopheon is an international provider of enterprise product lifecycle management software. Its Accolade® system enables end-to-end innovation management, including innovation planning, ideation, innovation process execution and product portfolio management. Sopheon's solutions are used by leading innovators worldwide, including BASF, Philips, Electrolux, Northrop Grumman, Merck, PepsiCo, SABMiller and Total Petrochemicals. More information is available at www.sopheon.com.  

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