Friday, June 28, 2013

The multi disciplinary approach for Innovation

I think we’ve all learned our college majors do not predetermine our life’s work.  I remember shopping for film schools with my oldest.  She called the first week of school to tell us she switched to pursuing nutrition.  After graduation she went back to be a nurse.  You never know.

So many feel a college education in humanities is a waste, with today’s emphasis on data and numbers and the like.  When you think about crowd sourcing; bringing many people from diverse backgrounds together, the advantages are certainly discovered from diversity.  Everyone looks at a problem differently.

Our experiences, and our memories, contribute to who we are, how we see the world, how we think through problems and what we bring to the table.  The front end of innovation is influenced by its participants and the quality of the participants clearly influences the outcome of our innovation efforts.

There are many approaches to the front end of innovation.  I talk to Chief Innovation Officers from big companies all day, every day.   I’ve seen all these different approaches:

  • Departments generate ideas and the winner, selected by the department head, gets put into a pool.  The next step is usually a spreadsheet bandied about amongst managers.  They rank them and some arbiter selects the best ones.
  • Electronic suggestion boxes are made available to the populace of an organization.  Employees submit ideas as they occur.  Someone is tasked with sorting through the ideas and cull the winners.  This almost always produces two kinds of ideas:  Incremental innovation (how to do things a bit better) and ideas no one is interested in but the ideators.
  • Crowdsourcing via 30 day challenges where ideas are submitted and others vote and comment. The winner goes into production and the winning inventor gets a prize.  This can yield a hold back by clever people until the last day of the campaign so no one “steals” their idea.  Not conducive to collaboration.
  • Early stage front end teams (usually multiple teams) researching new technology and markets.  They foster and shepherd good ideas until they’re presentable to an arbiter (boss).  This works best when there is a business person and a scientist/technical person.  Sort of a mini multi-disciplinary crowdsource. 
  • Periodic brainstorming sessions.  This can work.  But obviously would benefit from an ongoing effort instead of a single event.  Sometimes the winning idea is from the HPPITR (Highest Paid Person In The Room).  If the boss picks it, who has the guts to argue?  Or worse the founder’s kid.

The benefits of diversity pay off because we all tend to get narrow in our thinking.  If I’m a hammer everything looks like a nail.  Same thing holds true for chemists, computer technologists, buyers, marketing people etc.  We frame the world and our ideas from our own perspective.  Breakthrough innovation is much more likely to pop up when a variety of disciplines (and other demographic diversity) bring fresh thinking to the discussion.

This diversity extends to multiple disciplines, genders, age groups, geography and every other demographic you can think of.

So the question you have to ask yourself is:  Who’s on my team to help us come up with new ideas?

Notes:  The social life of memory, Harvard Business Review, Daniel Schacter, 6/2013

Ron Shulkin blogs researches and writes about enterprise technology focused on social media, innovation, voice of the customer, marketing automation and enterprise feedback management.  You can learn more about Ron at his biography web You can follow him Twitter. You can follow his blogs at this Facebook group.  You can connect with Ron on LinkedInRon 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 .  Ron manages The Idea Management Group on LinkedIn (JoinHere).

Motorola, Lockheed Martin, Colgate Talk Strategy through Structure

Strive for repeatability. Practice flexibility. That was the message from author Chris Trimble's 2012 BEI: Back End of Innovation keynote.

While everyone strives for a repeatable innovation system, nothing lasts forever - nor should it. You need the idea AND the inspired leader to go beyond that. You need a special team and a special strategy. Join us at the 3rd annual BEI: Back End of Innovation as we explore the intersection of strategy and structure.

Keynote Spotlight:
Execution in Unexplored Territory
  • Vijay Govindarajan, Co-Author, Reverse Innovation and How Stella Saved the Farm, Professor of International Business, Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College
Widely regarded as one of the world's leading experts on strategy and innovation, Govindarajan illustrates ten rules to help organizations overcome top challenges, and shows how firms must rewire their "organizational DNA" across four main areas: staffing, structure, systems and culture, in order for a promising new venture to succeed. He also spells out the critical role senior executives must play in managing the inevitable tensions He will also reveal where firms go wrong on their journey from idea to execution - and outlines exactly what it takes to build a breakthrough business while sustaining excellence in an existing one.

Joining Vijay at the event is an impressive line-up of speakers dedicated to executing innovation, including: 
  • Maria B. Thompson, Director of Strategy & Innovation, Motorola Solutions, Inc.
  • Lawrence Lee, Senior Director of Strategy, Xerox PARC
  • Kenneth Klimpel, Worldwide Director, Strategic Innovation and Technical Alliances, Colgate-Palmolive
  • Daniela Mielke, VP, Head of Global Strategy, PayPal
  • Celeste Corrado, New Venture Strategy & Innovation Lead, New Ventures, Lockheed Martin

And more. Download the brochure for the full speaker list and session descriptions:

Execution takes time. Just taking initiative alone will not get innovation to work. BEI makes innovation happen. Join us in November as we put innovation to work in real-time, for real results.

Mention code BEI13LINK & Save 15% off the standard rate. Register today:

The BEI Team
Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Winners of the Future Ideas European Innovation Master Thesis Competition

Future Ideas gathered 234 theses from 25 European countries, which were evaluated by over 40 jury members from companies and the academic world all over Europe. The Future Ideas' mission is to accelerate the craftsmanship of innovation. Future Ideas brings together innovation professionals during entertaining and innovative events, organizing competitions in the field of innovation and creating innovation valorization tools like research reports, start-up databases and connecting you to innovation peers.

The Future Ideas award ceremony took place at Dialogues Incubator on June 21st. We are extremely happy to announce the awarded top innovators!

The twelve category winners were announced on Friday June 7th and invited to go to Amsterdam for the finale event held last week on June 21st. It was an amazing journey

The Future Ideas 2013 Grand Finale was closed with an award ceremony, during which the top three finalists were announced and received their awards – Golden, Silver and Bronze Winner of the Future Ideas European Innovation Master Thesis Competition:

First Prize 3500 EUR:
Design Driven Innovation: Vincent Olislagers

Phantom Physicalizations: Reinterpreting dreams through physical representation

It is hard to imagine a world without technological progress, though innovation is pragmatic and utalitarian by nature. Most consumer electronics and household appliances are merely used to perform functional or recreative domestic activities. These devices intent to make our lives easier or more pleasant. But what if these objects could go beyond their functional affordances and become extensions of our identities?

In a way the subjectivity of dreams can be seen as a reflection of our personality. While most people dream, nobody dreams the same thing. Furthermore dreams mean a variety of things to different people. This thesis work examines what dreams mean historically, psychologically and creatively, and how they may be reinterpreted through technological means. An indepth literature study and user studies is used to develop and test a prototype that allows the user to taste their dreams and reflect on them in a novel way. From a phenomenological perspective this opens up new modes of experience as over time new subjective patterns and trends can be noticed in the fragrance and flavour of the resulting coffee.

The prototype records various vital signs during sleep and blends unique blends of coffee based on how the users body reacts during sleep.

Second Prize 1000 EUR: 
Innovation Techniques: Martin Atassi and Karun Haschemi 

Innomization - a new innovation approach 

This master thesis addresses the product innovation process of companies. Based on an intelligent combination of innovative core methods, a new approach for an innovation process arises. The described and evaluated Innomization model consolidates different methods to a new innovation procedure. The included elements are focusing on customer behavior, customer needs and customization of products. The evaluated research question of the master thesis focuses on the improvement of a classical product development process to a dynamical one by integrating customers and their customer data. 

Studying the relevant literature in combination with a quantitative and qualitative research approach about the core elements of innovation in general shows, that a need for a different innovation approach is extensive. The master thesis further reveals that an integration of such an approach occurs a shift in the mindset of the employees and a change of the company culture as well. Based on the findings and consecutive integration in the model, the Innomization approach is extended, furthermore a prospect for an in-house integration as well as an entrepreneurial venture concludes this master thesis.

Third Prize 500 EUR:
Public Domain Innovation: Jorick Beijer

Los Angeles: The Metropolis and Five Stages of Modernity

The study exploits modernity's history in the formation of the city Los Angeles. It renders a possible future of modernity, positioned in the realm of optimistic utopia. The thesis argues that meaningful places in the city build on older urban ecologies. And that although our time-space configuration might evolve radically, there remains a human need to be rooted in authentic urban space. 

In the urban region where the ‘armature’ has been the celebration of expansion for decades, this is also the momentum for inverting the way we treat infrastructure. The thesis renders the concept of a concentrated, inwards oriented armature. An urban armature that reveals an ecology of various ecologies. Forecasting a different future, radically provoking reality. Intopia: intense, interpersonal, interconnected. The designed monorail takes up a possible stroke of intensification in Downtown LA, a better connection and greater microenvironments. 

It introduces two new paces, that of the Skytrain where the user takes a rapid monorail and that of the skywalk - a place for walking, biking or rollerblading. Ten stations are the heart of intensification areas, chosen at strategic locations around vacancy, cultural hotspots and existing infrastructure. The intensification areas introduce a radically new concept in Downtown LA, namely that of the pedestrian area within the block.

Future Ideas will continue to strive to bring together creative and inspiring people who want to collaborate to develop ideas for the future. Amongst others, an entrepreneurship track for graduates will be set up and preparations will be made to start the next thesis competition soon. With the help of all enthusiasts, Future Ideas wants to become bigger and better in the future. Visit to learn more.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Opportunity may burst forth or be hidden in each of Six Sources

Exclusive First Read. Every week through October 2013, we will post a short excerpt from our Summer Innovation Book Club Pick: Killing Ideas - You can kill an idea, you can't kill an opportunity By NewEdge CEO, Dr. Pam Henderson

The Six Sources of Opportunity include our technologies, brand expression, business models, organizations, market, and environment.

The market is the collective of our customers, distribution, and retailers. Complex and constantly evolving, it is a continual Source of new opportunity. 

From the emergence of a middle class in developing countries to the aging of populations in developed countries, shifts in buying power change what people want across almost every product category.

Technology is the backbone of what we sell. Spurred by our inventive spirit, it is a catalyst of opportunity. Technology broadly refers to what we make and the know-how behind it. It is the food in the package, the goo in the bottle, the packaging materials, the shelf it sits on, and the infrastructure of the store in which it is purchased.

Our organization is the who and how of the value we create. While markets drive what we produce, within our own walls we are the masters of how we produce. Cost reduction and process improvement often add to the bottom line more reliably than new products. Opportunity expands further when the people of opportunity meet.

Our business model defines how we make money. It encompasses our basic business structure from for-profit to not-for-profit, public to private, etc. 

Expression is how we communicate who we are to the world—it’s our brand, positioning, messaging, tone of voice, and design aesthetic. Through it we create emotional engagement far beyond that of any of the other Six Sources, resulting
in extreme loyalty and revenue. 

Our environment is all around us. It includes the forces of governments, regulations, education, the economy, culture, and the media as well as individual influencers such as opinion leaders, celebrities, activists, and bloggers. The influences of one to many and many to one cascades across each of the other Sources creating a multitude of tipping points. - Killing Ideas, Ch 3, Big Sources

- See our Summer Innovation Book Club Pick: Killing ideas. Participate in the Author Q&A here.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Common Misconceptions in Strategic Innovation Initiatives

Initiatives to cultivate innovation are rapidly proliferating. From my regular dialogue with Marketing and R & D executives of science/technology-based organizations, I notice many initiatives are built on at least one of these underlying assumptions.

1. Innovation can be Outsourced
2. Ideation = Innovation
3. Technological Novelty = Innovation

Per se, these assumptions are perfectly good starting points – the mistake is to believe that’s all you have to focus on. A lot of thought and care needs to be put into the application and follow through of these assumptions to achieve sustainable results.

(1) Innovation Can Be Outsourced
Many corporations have been funding collaborations with academia and startups in the hope of giving birth to their next killer product. Typically, the corporate sponsor funds certain research activities, the outputs of which are then imported back for development into a commercial product. There are numerous success stories.

But there are at least as many deals that do not deliver. A typical pitfall is the adoption of an arms-length relationship – the sponsor provides funding and the partner conducts research, with little day-to-day interaction and a high risk of both sides getting mis-aligned over time. In other cases, the sponsor does the opposite, imposing its processes/SOPs on how the partner operates. Neither approach is conducive to the cross-stimulation and integration of complementary skills and perspectives which generates the best innovations.

Experienced sponsors (i) use their in-house capabilities to regularly provide what their partner lacks or to enhance what they do, and (ii) assign (as their primary partner interfaces) individuals with collaborative behaviors and openness to different ways of thinking.

(2) Ideation = Innovation
Many initiatives include a “suggestions box”, where anyone can suggest ideas, often with a reward if the idea eventually becomes a project. But good ideas alone are not enough. A typical pitfall is a screening process which is too much driven by NPVs and revenue forecasts, filtering out many ideas for new markets whose upsides cannot be easily quantified.

More importantly, rarely does a single idea translate directly into a product. Typically, several related (or even contrasting) ideas are considered, refined and synthesized by a cross-functional team before a viable concept is articulated. And this concept needs further exploration in successive iterations of test-fail-adapt until the product specification is finalized.

In fact, most organizations have more than enough good ideas, whereas many could get better at shaping them into viable concepts and eventually products. There are many different approaches that can be used for this product shaping process, ranging from (i) systematic identification, analysis and testing of assumptions, to (ii) exploratory co-development projects with marquee customers, to (iii) open architecture approaches such as crowdsourcing.

(3) Technological Novelty = Innovation
Technological inventions do not always translate into commercial successes. Yet in many corporate R&D organizations, the culture of publications and patents is deeply embedded. Of course, technological breakthroughs are necessary enablers for many successful products, but there are just as many successful products assembled from existing technologies. What matters is addressing customer pain points and improving the customer experience in a significantly better way.

Organizations that have become smarter at innovation stimulate and prioritize the use of technology (novel or existing) to drive a dramatic improvement in (i) the level of customer benefit delivered, or (ii) the cost of delivering the existing level of customer benefit. They also innovate on usage, exploiting their existing technology platforms in new customer segments, applications and industry sectors.

And platform exploitation can be combined with a clever product shaping process to generate innovations with high market value quickly. For example, Verdande Technology, a software company originally in the Energy sector, has in just 18 months, extended its technology platform into financial services and healthcare through exploratory co-development projects with marquee customers.

Want to learn more about strategic innovation? Register for BEI 2013! BEI: Back End of Innovation is a conference focused on the execution of innovation strategy. It’s where the entire innovation process comes to life-from leadership & organizational structure, to optimizing the idea portfolio, to process and strategy, to commercializing new ideas – ultimately driving bottom line profitability.  

About the Author: Robert Thong co-founded and chairs Unleash, a consultancy that helps organizations address their business challenges through their own collaborative, entrepreneurial problem-solving. He is a veteran of dozens of strategic initiatives in biomedical, healthcare, IT and professional services organizations. In addition to partnering with senior executives on Unleash’s client engagements, Robert is a highly regarded speaker, workshop leader and facilitator of leadership team offsites.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

How to get your idea noticed...and voted on.

This article is about how to optimize your chances that someone will act on your idea.  To read it, to comment on it, to vote on it.  How to get your idea noticed, read and acted upon. 

We’re not writing this down for our health.  We all want our message heard. 
1.      We all want our idea to get voted on when we post it. 
2.      We want people to comment on our idea. 
3.      We want our idea to get the attention of people on the team.   
There are some clear steps you can take to increase the chances your message will get processed.

Of course your idea has to have merit.  This blog entry is not discussing content.  But let’s at least say, you should be trying your best to come up with a good idea, to say something important.  Time is short and we’re all busy so let’s not waste people’s time.

Statistics tell us the odds of being heard are against you.  Consider that we receive 5x as much information today as we did in 1986. We consume about 100,500 words on an average day.  We’re overloaded.  Lots of people are posting ideas.

We’re consuming most of these words on line but it’s tough to get people to interact.  Up by ½ hour each year, people spend over three hours a day on social networks while TV, Radio, newspaper and magazine reading/watching is down year after year.  Your chances of getting someone to interact with your posting are low…consider that people average 36 posts per month on FB and spend 20 minutes per FB visit. 

People are spending their time on social networks more than any other medium.  They have a lot of information to choose from.  This is why it’s important to make sure your message counts.
Most of these suggestions are things you probably either know, or thought you knew.  But I think in our haste we forget how important these persuasive steps can be to help us be successful.

Be Concise
We’re humanly no better at reading this overload of information than we were 30 years ago.  When you put your message in front of your audience, they take in about 20% of the words.  Think about that.  That means you have to keep your message short.  Concise. 

Be Aware of the Medium
Don’t forget your audience may encounter your message via a variety of media.  They can look encounter your idea via :
·       on paper,
·       on their desktop computer,
·       on their laptop,
·       on their tablet,
·       on the screen in a meeting,
·       on their smart phone. 

Make sure your idea has a self adapting component.  In other words, it works in any format.

Use Color
Color increases readers’ attention spans and recall by 82%. Researchers found that color visuals increase the willingness to read by 80%.  Color gains readership by 80%. It’s 39% more memorable. Color increases comprehension by as much as 73%. And increases retention even more.  It increases sales results and brand recognition.  Are you getting this?

Use Pictures
People following directions with text and illustrations do 323% better than people following directions without illustrations.  In fact this works for in person presentations and in tests 67% of the audience were persuaded by the verbal presentation that had accompanying visuals.  Think about it…when you’re looking at a newsfeed, aren’t you more likely to click on the entry with a picture?

Brain Scans?
Adding pictures of brain scans and mentioning cognitive neuroscience make people more inclined to believe what they are reading.  It’s kind of hard to sneak it into your message, but it does fit into this story so what the heck.

We’re inundated with information.  Yet we all want OUR idea to be noticed; our thoughts to be heard.  Maximize your chances for successful communication by being Concise, by using Pictures and Pictographs.  Of course make certain you’re writing something worthy of being read.  Good luck!


Ron Shulkin blogs researches and writes about enterprise technology focused on social media, innovation, voice of the customer, marketing automation and enterprise feedback management.  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 .  Ron manages The Idea Management Group on LinkedIn (Join Here). You can follow him Twitter. You can follow his blogs at this Facebook group.  You can connect with Ron on LinkedIn.

Clicky Web Analytics