Wednesday, August 29, 2012

BEI Innovation Insights #5: Words of Wisdom From LinkedIn


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, and in a joint effort with conference chair Julie Anixter, Chief Innovation Officer, MAGA DESIGN GROUP and Executive Editor, INNOVATION EXCELLENCE we’ve been asking various members of the BEI: Back End of Innovation speaker and sponsor community to share their thoughts.

It's been an excellent series so far, you can catch up on it here, but the BEI: Back End of Innovation community is so much bigger than the speakers that happen to appear on the agenda. We wanted to tap into some of the knowledge that this larger community offers, so I put the question to our LinkedIn group. The word cloud above is representative of some of the first answers.

So far, two major themes seem to be threaded through the advice:

1. Look to your customer
One commenter wrote "Focus on the job customer is trying to get done and not the customer herself" and another added "Start by watching your customers try to do the things you are trying to help them accomplish. BTW, a survey is not watching and neither are interviews that ask them what they *might* do."

2. Planning/requirements/resources
Ranging from executive buy-in to company culture, many pieces of advice contributed to the discussion cautioned that planning, requirements gathering and a clear idea of resources are key to a successful innovation program or project.

One member wrote "Don't start an innovation project or program until the organization has first established an Innovation Management System (IMS)" another added "Get top management buy-in. Without it, an innovation program won't be taken seriously and, therefore, projects will not benefit the customer or the organization" and a third suggested "Keep the (value) end in mind: how will your innovation program make an impact (i.e. increase revenue, reduce costs, optimize services, etc.) Leverage this information to address all the great points already listed - getting executive buy-in, "energizing the troops", driving discussions about process, etc. "

Care to read more? Join our LinkedIn group here and add your thoughts: What one piece of advice would you give to someone just starting an innovation project or program?

Michelle LeBlanc is a Social Media Strategist at IIR USA with a specialization in marketing. 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, August 27, 2012

Creating A "Space" For Innovation...Literally

I was recently listening to this NPR Talk of The Nation Episode, which explores research showing that small changes in an office environment can improve creativity and productivity - by lengthening the tables in a lunch room or moving the coffee station employees were exposed to new people (and ideas) that they wouldn't generally encounter. Listen to the episode here:



Look at any list of innovative companies or round up of "best places to work" and you may see some recurring themes when it comes to office spaces. This piece from Inc. summarizes the benefit of more open spaces:

"...studies show people are actually more productive and innovative when in motion. New office designs encourage that by swapping dingy concrete service stairwells for ornate, centralized open stairwells, and installing signage that encourages people to use the stairs instead of the elevator."

And a quick scroll through this feature on The Cool Hunter of cool offices shows recurring themes of open space, room for mobility and innovative growth, including the following: "Red Bull Netherlands’s director Jan Smilde was quoted as saying that the company wanted a location with an entrepreneurial spirit where they would have the freedom to develop innovative ideas and events."

The open and airy State Room space in Boston,
awaiting its transformation for BEI.
Being exposed to new people, situations and ideas is perhaps my favorite part of
attending conferences for this very reason. Not only is it a great catalyst for hitting on that next big idea you're looking for, but it is also a space for the personal growth of one's creativity and skills. Conference chair Julie Anixter talks about this as well in her recent blog post on Innovation Excellence, "7 Ways Conferences Cause You to Innovate."

She writes:
"Good conferences are petri dishes for relationships that inspire and nurture your work, your imagination and your willingness to push beyond your comfort zone. They are fuel. And they are fun. Like a good TV Drama, they’re highly curated experiences – with a narrative arc all their own, serving up people who want to share their own personal bests via speaking, curation or attending. At best they’re a Corporate Burning Man that produces a very different kind of environment then your daily workplaces As such they make the perfect place to submerge your team or CEO for a day or two, because they won’t leave without having their molecules rearranged."


When it comes to BEI specifically, we wanted to take this opportunity for inspiration to the next level by holding the conference in a different, more creative space. Boston's State Room is a great fit for our unique learning formats. Whether you're connecting with our innovation partners in the loft space (pictured left) or getting inspired by our world-class keynotes, we think this space will be the perfect innovation 'petri dish.' Looking forward to seeing you there!


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, August 23, 2012

Innovation Book Club Update: Winners Announced & A Q & A

Thanks to everyone who entered our book club giveaway of  Reinventing Corporate Growth by Dr. Gene Slowinski. Our winners have been notified and will be receiving their signed copies of the book shortly.

Slowinski will be presenting "Partnerships that Match Corporate Objectives: Lessons from the Leaders" on Wednesday, October 10th at the BEI: Back End of Innovation conference. Download the BEI brochure to learn more.

In celebration of our most recent book club pick, our featured author will be joining us for a live online discussion on LinkedIn on Wednesday, Sept 19, 2012. Ask your questions about corporate growth, discuss your takeaways or questions from the book and connect with the BEI: Back End of Innovation community. Join our LinkedIn group to participate. 

Reading our next book club pick.
About The Book:
Corporations are undergoing a radical transformation as managers seek new ways to grow. Courageous CEOs challenge their organizations to break down the walls and invite the outside world in. Visionary managers see the entire world as their new product development organization and gather the finest resources from around the globe to create products. These men and women are changing more than their organizations. They are changing the nature of business itself. Most management books are designed to help managers think differently. This book is designed to help managers act differently. We will follow executives as they redefine their firms in search of a better way to grow. We will help employees break out of the cubicles of their minds and embrace external products and technologies. We will watch product development teams win marketplace battles by integrating their skills with the talents of others. This book breaks through the 50,000-foot fluff of buzzwords such as “win-win” and “leverage” and takes you into the trenches. We will follow managers as they gather in groups of twos and threes … and tens, to lead their employees in this new growth model. This is more than a book on corporate growth. It is an open letter to management, a challenge to rethink the boundaries of the firm and view the entire business world as a single resource base. Many will find this book provocative. Some will find it disturbing. The value of these words will be judged by their impact on the only two measures that count, improving the firm's ability to maximize its presence in market space and increasing the bottom line.

About the Author
Gene Slowinski is the Director of Strategic Alliance Research at the Rutgers University Graduate School of Management. He is also Managing Partner of the Alliance Management Group. Prior to forming the Alliance Management Group, he held management positions at AT&T Bell Laboratories, and Novartis Corporation. In addition to a Ph.D. in Management, Gene holds an MBA and a Masters Degree in the sciences. For the last 20 years Dr. Slowinski has consulted and conducted research on the formation and management of strategic alliances, joint ventures, mergers, and acquisitions. His clients include GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Lucent Technologies, Motorola, Johnson & Johnson, Ethicon, ExxonMobil, AT&T, Becton Dickinson, Procter & Gamble, Battelle, and many other Fortune 500 firms. An author and lecturer, Gene has presented his work to The Conference Board, The Licensing Executives Society, The Industrial Research Institute, and The American Electronics Association. His articles on managing strategic alliances can be found in Business Horizons, Research and Technology Management, Mergers and Acquisitions, Economic Development Quarterly, Les Nouvelles, Cooperative Strategies in International Business, The Journal of Advanced Management, and Managing the High Technology Firm. In 2003, Gene co-authored the book The Strongest Link with Matt Sagal. Gene is active in the technology management community. He is a member of the Academy of Management, The Conference Board's International Council on the Management of Technology and Innovation, the Industrial Research Institute's Research-on-Research Committee, and the Technology Management Research Center at Rutgers University. In addition, he is on the Board of Directors of Advanced Adjuvants LLC. Gene's latest book, Reinventing Corporate Growth: Implementing the Transformational Growth Model, examines the cutting edge strategies which have been widely implemented by today's top companies. The concept of Transformational Growth (T-Growth) focuses on how company's achieve exceptional levels of growth through better utilization of resources and increased cooperation with the companies who have the resources you need. By joining forces with other world-class companies and sharing resources firms have been able to grow in new and profitable ways. In this highly anticipated book, Dr. Slowinski highlights some of the more successful examples of T-Growth in both an informative and entertaining style, while offering his expert first hand analysis of this innovative corporate strategy.
 

Using Innovation to Transcend Pain Points

There is no shortage of advice and information on how to find pain points as an inspiration for innovation.[1]  The problem, however, is that most innovators aim to solve the problems rather than changing the game entirely.

Compensation is an age-old issue, and there are increasing numbers of HR professionals tearing out their hair trying to figure out how to evaluate and reward employees in a fair and reasonable fashion.  Having surveyed the field, JoVE co-founder Nikita Bernstein realized that it would be better to change the compensation system rather than figure out a way to make existing ones work.  Enter FairSetup, which Bernstein founded with Yiqiao Tang and Diana Tsu, and which is currently incubating in the Harvard Innovation Lab.

Instead of treating compensation as just doing work and getting paid for it, Bernstein and his colleagues at FairSetup devised a system through which compensation can be rigorously linked to both individual and team performance.  Specifically, they built an easy-to-deploy performance management solution, which calculates impact of every employee using a collaborative peer performance evaluation approach.  In the end, they came up with a system that is rooted in the ideas of impact, perception of fairness, and value of people's work, particularly with regard to how each individual contributes to the company's revenue.

As Bernstein noted when I interviewed him, there are several advantages to this, each of which notably changes the way a company works such that prior compensation-related pain points become irrelevant rather than just resolved:

1) Employees have "skin in the game," which is a motivator to be creative and innovative

2) There is alignment between employees' actions and the aims of the company, which increases job meaning, job engagement, and productivity (since employees are incentivized to take actions that produce valuable outcomes in both the short-term and long-term) -- employees feel like partners in the company rather than grunts.

3) Evaluations are peer-based and collaborative and expectation-based, which in turn increases task-clarity, accountability, and autonomy

4) Management can focus more on the big picture and the integration of employees' work[2]

5) The FairSetup system is adaptable to the needs of any company, from the three-person startup to the international giant[3]

6) The system is transparent and understandable

The major game-changer here is the change in perception of "equity/ownership."  As Bernstein explains:

Equity is a proxy for cash.  If someone takes equity, they take all the risk, which is generally appropriate for startups.  If someone takes cash, then the risk is assumed by the company - moreover, if someone is paid their market rate, which they can get anywhere else, the incentive to do an amazing job isn’t there.  Our approach turns employees into partners in an organization of any size by transparently linking their compensation to their impact and company performance.  This, in effect, is a new form of equity – ownership over one’s impact.


As such, FairSetup is both a game-changer that exemplifies how to innovate, and also suggests several ways to incentivize innovation.

Which problems can your company transcend?

Orin's Asides
1) See Adrian Slywotzky's book Demand.
2) Perhaps a more concrete and realistic idea than going "bossless."
3) Bernstein listed a stunning array of options when I spoke with him and asked him about various contingencies -- this system really can handle any kind of company or compensation strategy.

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.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Making Innovation Systemic, Not Episodic

At the upcoming BEI: Back End of Innovation conference, James Stikeleather, Chief Innovation Officer & Executive Strategist, DELL SERVICES will be presenting Innovation: The Only Sustainable Advantage as the closing keynote of our summit day.

This video, posted to YouTube by Dell Services, gives a great sneak peek of some of the innovation philosophy happening at Dell. My favorite quote was the following:

 "There's this kind of a mindset that innovation is this very artsy-fartsy, episodic kind of activity, when in effect innovation can be a very systemic, managed, measured predictable process"
 For more innovation insights from Stikeleather, watch the full video:



Competency in innovation comes from a culture of innovation, which in turn only comes of a repeatable, measureable, manageable process for innovation. Systemic, not episodic. Join James as our closing summit Keynote as he talks about the systematic process for innovation and why it’s so critically important to get started on a creative innovative culture.

Dell will also be hosting a VIP Roundtable Dinner at BEI. To inquire about participating in this exclusive reception please contact DELL directly at Jessica_Ethridge@Dell.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.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Creating a Genuine Push for Innovation

Truth or Consequences
(Photo: kxlly)
In my last post about innovation, I reviewed a number of indecorous truths about innovation, including:

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

Indecorous Truth #2: There is nothing wrong with a company doing what it does best, and proceeding to excel in that area.

This raises a number of questions[1] about genuine change, and how it is done.  

Here is the ABCDE of it:

At the Top

As has been noted by many FEI Conference speakers, making a company innovative must begin with the C-suite.  Innovation has to be part of the company's mission, strategy (both short-term and long-term), and culture.  It requires significant capital at the financial, intellectual, and social levels, and upper management needs to direct it toward innovating.  This also means dealing with investors and the board, and getting them aligned with the new aims and goals of the company.  Keep the goals clear, meaningful, gutsy, challenging, and actionable, and make sure that they are aligned with the mission and values of the company.[2]  This may mean taking a step back and defining the values of the company[3], and and also developing a purpose for the company that can underpin the meaning of the contributions that stakeholders make to the firm  Indeed, getting alignment means that everyone can see how (s)he exhibits the company's values, lives them on a day-to-day basis, and produces work that clearly relates to a meaningful mission of which (s)he is personally proud.

Bring it on Down

Once the executives establish the route they want to take, they need to get input from the stakeholders.  With so much emphasis on the C-suite, it is easy to forget that investment from top management is only the first step.  From there, executives need to talk with the people in the trenches to get their views of the new goals/strategies/etc.  Doing this means actively listening to feedback and encouraging constructive criticism, which can be very hard to do when it is coming from people several levels down in the company.  Yet, these are the people who are going to be executing the new ideas on a day-to-day basis, so their understanding and buy-in are critical.  Discuss concerns, implement suggestions, and recognize that this is going to take multiple iterations to do correctly (make sure to leave time for this!).

Check the Culture


Especially if the company has not been innovative thus far, it is important to make sure that the culture is adjusting to match the new organizational endeavors.  Changes like flattening the hierarchy (perhaps moving to a matrix structure as a compromise), increasing true diversity, giving employees the opportunity to redesign/reframe their jobs, and incentivizing teamwork and creativity, can facilitate the transition.  Make sure that management understands its new role, and also make sure that the lines of communication reach throughout the company (every employee should be able to get in touch with any other company employee).

Determination Overcomes Setbacks

Even if all of the changes appear to go smoothly at first, there is going to be a period of adjustment.  Employees are going to need to learn the ropes in the redesigned firm, and there is going to need to be a pervasive patience and acceptance of the mistakes and failures that are part of learning process.  Some people may not work well in the new setup, and may need to be reassigned or transferred to another company[4] -- others will simply leave.  The company also may not be successful at first, which can be really painful after being successful (or at least treading water), and may need to expend further resources towards new endeavors and changes.  In all cases, the firm must brave the rapids and stay the course, and that means being accepting and encouraging, even while being honest and [constructively] critical.

Evolve by Staying True to the Values and Mission


For each change, and each new endeavor, make sure that it is aligned with the redefined mission and values of the company.  Be honest about actions, successes, and mistakes, and be willing to alter processes that are out of alignment.  Coach employees through the updates, and make sure that they are in a sufficiently free position to go along with the changes.  In doing all of this, the organization will, slowly but surely, transform itself into a genuinely innovative company.


Orin's Asides

1) I got a lot of questions about the identity of the company that doesn't value diversity, and whether or not consultants are willing to participate in such cosmetic changes (and whether that is ethical).  Let me briefly review some aspects of consulting [1a, 1b]:  

1a) Consultants do not identify their clients without their express permission.  In fact, the only [very rare] exceptions to this rule are when the consultant is going to speak glowingly of the client regarding a matter that does not directly relate to the consulting work performed.  Doctors, therapists, consultants, coaches, and all of the others who work with clients/patients, must take great pains to protect the anonymity of those who use their services.  Yet, for instructive purposes, we will mention general cases, and we almost always muddle some information so that our clients/patients cannot be identified (which I surely did in my post).  In general, I have encountered a number of companies that claim to value diversity and do not actually appreciate it, and this is a rampant problem in the business world.

1b) In most cases, consultants need to spend some time working with a company before they realize that the desire for change isn't genuine.  I have met only a few consultants who will take on a client who wants them to rubber stamp cosmetic changes (but they and their firms get an underground reputation for it), for the simple reason that such a client is very unlikely to be a success story.  Consultants build their client bases and businesses on their ability to make and facilitate actual change, and much of the enjoyment and job engagement comes from having an impact and making something happen (and that's why most of us enter the field!).  

2) I recommend Jim Collins's discussion of BHAG's (see this video, also, and several of the others on Collins's page).

3) If this is proving a bit difficult, try reading Peak by Chip Conley.

4) Whatever you do, do not just fire these people, as that will destroy employees' trust in the company. Give a hand to those who cannot make the adjustment, and help them to find another position that is a better fit.  It maintains trust, builds loyalty, and it's socially responsible (which builds further loyalty, is great press, and tends to foster good relationships between companies).



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.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Listen to Daniel Goleman on achieving an "A-HA moment"

In this short clip found on Soundcloud, the steps to a breakthrough including the conditions for an "Aha!" moment are explained by Daniel Goleman, "an author, psychologist, and science journalist. For twelve years, he wrote for The New York Times, specializing in psychology and brain sciences. He is the author of more than 10 books on psychology, education, science, and leadership."


If you have ever wondered about how to spur creative breakthroughs, which are essential to innovation, or if that's is even possible or how such breakthroughs occur, and what are the ingredients for those moments to arise, take a listen below.

 
  Daniel Goleman on achieving an "A-HA moment"

About the Author

Valerie M. Russo is a Senior Social Media Strategist at IIR USA. She has worked in various media positions at Hachette Book Group, Aol, and Thomson Reuters and has an anthropology and brand-building background. She is also published poet and maintains a literary blog. She will be live blogging during Front End of Innovation 2013, taking place May 6-8, 2013, in Boston, Massachusetts, and hopes to meet you there. She may be reached at vrusso@iirusa.com. Follow her @Literanista.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

BEI Innovation Insight #4: You Need The Conviction of an Innovator

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 the exciting members of the BEI Community.

This week we asked Don Creswell, Co-Founder at BEI Sponsor SmartOrg Inc., "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?"

Creswell's response: "I am not sure one can really define a “single most important thing” – there is too much involved to distill to this level of granularity.

However, one very important thing: True innovation does not come from collections of hundreds of ideas that one sifts through to find a pearl from the oyster bed. Rather innovation comes from the conviction of an innovator whose heart and soul is committed to a great new idea – be it a new product or service or a radical change in supply chain effectiveness, etc. – it is then that ideas are important. The organization needs to provide an environment for the innovator to move forward with his/her idea. Fundamentally, innovation comes from committed people, not from ideas."

David Matheson of  SmartOrg Inc. will present Principles of Strategic Portfolio Management at BEI: Back End of Innovation on Tuesday, October 9th, 2012 in Boston, MA. In this session you will learn about the challenges faced in making strategic decisions about your portfolio such as prioritizing projects, culling out those unlikely to pay off, focusing resources, and determining investment levels. Organizations are faced with significant uncertainty, conflicting objectives and difficult-to-compare proposals. The principles of strategic portfolio management, that have been developed for Stanford’s Strategic Decision and Risk Management program, summarize what it takes to create a portfolio that wins.

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/MlPbVF
Email: register@iirusa.com
Phone: 888.670.8200

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Lego, IBM, GE, J&J Rethink the Product Development Funnel

Ideas drive innovation and fuel business decisions, but achieving continual rapid growth and building a sustainable innovation system that delivers effective and profitable results time after time is the competitive edge you need to achieve long-term business success.

There are a few organizations that have a comprehensive system in place for creating a sustainable innovation platform... and BEI: Back End of Innovation brings them to you in its "Process & Operational Excellence" track.

Learn how to Create a Sustainable, Repeatable, and Profitable Innovation System from the top leaders in your space:

Keynote: Rebuilding LEGO: How LEGO Reinvested Innovation and Conquered the Toy Industry - David Robertson, Professor, The Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania and Author, Brick by Brick: How LEGO Reinvented its Innovation System and Conquered the Toy Industry

Rapid Prototyping: Building to Think, All the Way to Launch - Scott Mackie, Portfolio Lead and Dave Weissburg, Portfolio Lead, IDEO

Energy Innovation Accelerator - Mark Bellamy, Innovation Program Manager, Marketing, GE ENERGY

Sleeping Well Through the Night: The "HOW-TO" of Improving Manageability & Reducing Failure Risks of Innovation Execution by an Order of Magnitude - Greg Yezersky, Adjunct Lecturer, Innovation, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN (DEARBORN) and President, INSTITUTE OF PROFESSIONAL INNOVATORS

Knowledge Supply Chain - Matthew Hamilton, Ph.D., President, WELLSPRING WORLDWIDE, INC., and Russel M. Walters, Ph.D., Research Fellow, JOHNSON & JOHNSON CONSUMER PRODUCT WORLDWIDE

Visit our website and download the brochure to see full session descriptions.

If your current innovation system consists mostly of ideation sessions and creativity exercises, BEI’s “Processes & Operational Excellence” track will help YOU create a more consistent and successful innovation funnel.

We look forward to seeing you in Boston!

Best, The Back End of Innovation Team
 ________________________________________

Registration Information: 

Register reader of this blog & save 15% off the standard registration link, use code BEI12BLOG.
Online: http://bit.ly/N4DiTV
Email: register@iirusa.com
Phone: 888.670.8200

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Controlled Innovation: Are You Asking The Right Questions?

BEI Speaker David Robertson
In anticipation of the BEI: Back End of Innovation conference, I was reading up on some of our speakers. In particular, one of our keynotes this October will be "Rebuilding LEGO: How LEGO Reinvented Innovation and Conquered the Toy Industry" with David Robertson, Author & Professor of Practice Innovation.

This story, "Innovation Almost Bankrupted LEGO -- Until It Rebuilt with a Better Blueprint" on Knowledge @ Wharton gives some background on his session. I was particularly taken by the following quote by Robertson: "If you are going to accelerate innovation, you need to know which way you are going."

This line also stood out: "Innovation still exists at LEGO now, but follows a more structured approach Any innovation had to prove to be consistent with the company goal of LEGO being recognized as the best company for family products."

For LEGO, finding a repeatable innovation system meant always asking the right questions. But what can we learn from this? In this Fast Company Design article, the author explores the power of "What if?" to drive disruptive innovation, as inspired by Luke Williams' book Disrupt. But when it comes to repeatable innovation systems, "what if?" may need to be joined by the more practical concerns of "How? and "When?"and perhaps even "Why?" or "Should we?"

Back in 2010, Holly G Green wrote about asking the right questions for Innovation Excellence, suggesting leaders use “success visioning” to figure out what those questions would be. I like that her suggestions balance positive, encouraging thinking with pragmatic concepts. Meanwhile in May of this year, Innovation Excellence also ran the post Framing 4 Critical Questions for Innovation by Paul Hobcraft which provides a handy framework for the innovation questions that can bring your project to clarity.

So, what is the right question for you? Are you taking a 'big picture,' 'what if?' approach, or something more focused? Personally, I'm looking forward to hearing more from our speaker David Robertson this October on this topic.

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, August 6, 2012

Innovation Book Club: Next Book Pick & Giveaway

Last week we posted the wrap up discussion of our July Innovation book club pick, to read the recap, visit the blog post here, or add your thoughts on our LinkedIn group.

We're pleased to announce our next Innovation Book Club pick:  Reinventing Corporate Growth by Dr. Gene Slowinski. Slowinski will be presenting "Partnerships that Match Corporate Objectives: Lessons from the Leaders" on Wednesday, October 10th at the BEI: Back End of Innovation conference. Download the BEI brochure to learn more.

In celebration of our pick, our featured author will be joining us for a live discussion on LinkedIn on Wednesday, September 19th, 2012, and we have two signed copies of the book to give away to our readers.


About The Book:
Corporations are undergoing a radical transformation as managers seek new ways to grow. Courageous CEOs challenge their organizations to break down the walls and invite the outside world in. Visionary managers see the entire world as their new product development organization and gather the finest resources from around the globe to create products. These men and women are changing more than their organizations. They are changing the nature of business itself. Most management books are designed to help managers think differently. This book is designed to help managers act differently. We will follow executives as they redefine their firms in search of a better way to grow. We will help employees break out of the cubicles of their minds and embrace external products and technologies. We will watch product development teams win marketplace battles by integrating their skills with the talents of others. This book breaks through the 50,000-foot fluff of buzzwords such as “win-win” and “leverage” and takes you into the trenches. We will follow managers as they gather in groups of twos and threes … and tens, to lead their employees in this new growth model. This is more than a book on corporate growth. It is an open letter to management, a challenge to rethink the boundaries of the firm and view the entire business world as a single resource base. Many will find this book provocative. Some will find it disturbing. The value of these words will be judged by their impact on the only two measures that count, improving the firm's ability to maximize its presence in market space and increasing the bottom line.

About the Author
Gene Slowinski is the Director of Strategic Alliance Research at the Rutgers University Graduate School of Management. He is also Managing Partner of the Alliance Management Group. Prior to forming the Alliance Management Group, he held management positions at AT&T Bell Laboratories, and Novartis Corporation. In addition to a Ph.D. in Management, Gene holds an MBA and a Masters Degree in the sciences. For the last 20 years Dr. Slowinski has consulted and conducted research on the formation and management of strategic alliances, joint ventures, mergers, and acquisitions. His clients include GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Lucent Technologies, Motorola, Johnson & Johnson, Ethicon, ExxonMobil, AT&T, Becton Dickinson, Procter & Gamble, Battelle, and many other Fortune 500 firms. An author and lecturer, Gene has presented his work to The Conference Board, The Licensing Executives Society, The Industrial Research Institute, and The American Electronics Association. His articles on managing strategic alliances can be found in Business Horizons, Research and Technology Management, Mergers and Acquisitions, Economic Development Quarterly, Les Nouvelles, Cooperative Strategies in International Business, The Journal of Advanced Management, and Managing the High Technology Firm. In 2003, Gene co-authored the book The Strongest Link with Matt Sagal. Gene is active in the technology management community. He is a member of the Academy of Management, The Conference Board's International Council on the Management of Technology and Innovation, the Industrial Research Institute's Research-on-Research Committee, and the Technology Management Research Center at Rutgers University. In addition, he is on the Board of Directors of Advanced Adjuvants LLC. Gene's latest book, Reinventing Corporate Growth: Implementing the Transformational Growth Model, examines the cutting edge strategies which have been widely implemented by today's top companies. The concept of Transformational Growth (T-Growth) focuses on how company's achieve exceptional levels of growth through better utilization of resources and increased cooperation with the companies who have the resources you need. By joining forces with other world-class companies and sharing resources firms have been able to grow in new and profitable ways. In this highly anticipated book, Dr. Slowinski highlights some of the more successful examples of T-Growth in both an informative and entertaining style, while offering his expert first hand analysis of this innovative corporate strategy.


To Enter This Give-away:
You have several options for entering our book giveaway, and for each task performed you will receive one entry into the contest. Tweet about the book club (as much as once per day), follow us on twitter, "like" us on Facebook, or leave a comment below telling us which session you are most looking forward to at BEI: Back End of Innovation. We have two signed copies of the book to give away and winners will be contacted at the end of the contest. This contest runs through 08/16/2012 at 12:01am.

Enter using the widget below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway  

A Refresher on How the Innovation 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.

This month's book club discussion will take place in our Back End of Innovation LinkedIn Group. You must be a member of our LinkedIn Group to participate in the conversation. 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). 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 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, August 2, 2012

BEI Speaker Insight #3: Develop a tolerance for ambiguity

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 Vice Admiral (Ret.) Joseph W. Dyer, iRobot Corporation “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?

Dyer's response? "Develop a tolerance for ambiguity."


Joseph W. Dyer will join us to present a keynote address entitled "The People Side of Innovation: A Toolbox" at BEI: Back End of Innovation on October 9, 2012, in Boston, Mass.

In this session he "will put tools in your innovation tool box." He speaks to how to overcome resistance, how to focus and align teams, and how to accelerate your career success. “Be a steward of the whole and not just an owner of the part.” Down the brochure to learn more about BEI: Back End of Innovation.

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/MlPbVF
Email: register@iirusa.com
Phone: 888.670.8200

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Great Disruption: The Future of Personal Tech (Infographic)

An Exploration of the Disruptive Innovation Theory

A disruptive innovation is an innovation that helps create a new market and value network, and eventually goes on to disrupt an existing market and value network (over a few years or decades), displacing an earlier technology. The term is used in business and technology literature to describe innovations that improve a product or service in ways that the market does not expect, typically first by designing for a different set of consumers in the new market and later by lowering prices in the existing market.

In contrast to disruptive innovation, a sustaining innovation does not create new markets or value networks but rather only evolves existing ones with better value, allowing the firms within to compete against each other's sustaining improvements. Sustaining innovations may be either "discontinuous" (i.e. "transformational" or "revolutionary") or "continuous" (i.e. "evolutionary").

The term "disruptive technology" has been widely used as a synonym of "disruptive innovation", but the latter is now preferred, because market disruption has been found to be a function usually not of technology itself but rather of its changing application. Sustaining innovations are typically innovations in technology, whereas disruptive innovations change entire markets. via Wikipedia.org
Personal Technology Infographic
Source: FrugalDad

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