Saturday, January 31, 2015

This Week In Innovation: 1/26/15 - 1/30/15

3 Ways Companies Maximize Their Innovation and Stay Relevant

Does Your Company Have An Innovative Culture? An innovation culture is more important than an individuals' skills

Chinese Innovation: The Haier model and how it is used

Imprinting Innovation Into Company Culture: Agility and flexibility are crucial

Does Age Really Matter? Not for startups via Tech Crunch

Innovation Thrives If Investors Aren't Companies' Only Concern:  Shifting the orientation of directors to focus on other things as well as investors

Becoming a "Smart City," How Montreal wants to innovate and become the first city with free public WiFi

Shaping a Sustainable Business: 10 trends that will help you succeed

Digital Disruption: Is it still disruptive? Is it time to refocus your business?

About the Author:

Ryan Polachi is a contributing writer concentrating his focus on Marketing, Finance and Innovation. He can be reached at

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The key for innovation in emerging markets

We've all heard it before - Emerging Markets are where things are moving, it's where your company's next big growth will really happen, etc etc. 

What is it we need to understand about Emerging Markets to succeed? 

How are our consumers / users there different from those of the developed markets? 

Getting the User Experience right for the consumers of Emerging Markets is the ultimate key in the success or failure of our products and companies. If we ignore these users then we lose the potential for our next 10 million customer growth spurt.

Think Hard About Emerging Markets

Dr. Lidia Oshylansky, User Experience Research Lead, Emerging Markets at Google reminds us of the importance of the emerging markets, which everybody in the audience is aware of. 62.6% of the worldwide population lives in those markets.

But who to address? Several factors she considers when answering this question, e.g., age of population, income, percentage of population online and using a phone, literacy rate and quality of electrical supply.

You need to be aware that those markets aren't W.E.I.R.D. (meaning western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic)! Less years in school create a different mindset. There is lots of old technology around. The people crave innovation, but maybe aren't able to afford it.

The success key for innovation in emerging markets seem to be able to innovate for limited resources, a younger audience and in a very cost-effective way.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

This Week In Innovation: 1/19/15 - 1/23/15

Hyundai Is Setting A Blistering Pace For Innovation: The automaker posted the biggest gains in number of patents related to innovation

Are Groceries Ready For Disruption? Jerry Seinfeld breaks down whats wrong with the supermarket experience

5 Ways Small Companies Can Out-Innovate Big Corporations

Predicting Future Trends: Adding Science to The Art of Prediction via AdAge

10 Must-Read Quotes From Today's Marketing Experts

Making the Most of Virtual Collaboration: Moving past the old model where only one persona can talk or contribute at once

Data Scientist: Humans Today, Software Tomorrow

4 Steps to Choosing Marketing-Automation Software That Actually Works

Winter X Games Using Innovation and Drones to Get New Footage

Jumpstarting Innovation: Strategies to keep innovating your business for optimal effectiveness

About the Author:

Ryan Polachi is a contributing writer concentrating his focus on Marketing, Finance and Innovation. He can be reached at

Monday, January 19, 2015

Looking Back on FEI 2014: The Human Element of Innovation

(Author's Intro: With the coming of the New Year, it's time to get excited for FEI 2015, The Front End of Innovation! Every year brings new insights and discoveries, but it's also helpful to reflect over time in the tradition of slow innovation. As I look back on FEI 2014, I realized that the conference revealed one of the most important elements of innovation: the human element!)

At its core, innovation is very much the human endeavor. It is a reflection of our attempt to actualize the best of our potential and to make the most of this spinning bit of rock. It comes as no surprise, then, that one of the major messages of FEI2014 is that companies need to focus on the human element of innovation.
Download the FEI 2014 Executive Summary highlighting how business are struggling to harness innovation, the unexpected other major themes covered.

Pay Attention to All of the People

David Jensen talked about the importance of interacting with a wide range of stakeholders to get good perspective on what needs innovating, which includes thinking outside the firm. But, as Tom Graznow and Andrea Klemm pointed out, it's likewise important to pay attention to the innovators within the company to make sure they have what they need to be agile and creative, which includes support at all levels of the organization. In that way, an innovation team can have a small-company feel with big-company support.

People Need to Be Patient

Full of wisdom and insight as usual, Michelle James gave a standing-room-only workshop in which we learned that it is perfectly fine not to know what the outcome will be, and that the best ideas are often several iterations out. But, we need to let go of our anxiety and need for certainty if we are going to let our top ideas shine, and this workshop had a lot of good first steps in that process, if only by showing what happens when we can let go and be brilliant.

Similarly, Scott Millward suggested taking a long-term approach to building talent in a company: "A short-term, outcome focus creates a talent dilemma..." And, the talent is crucial to the success of the company. While Drucker's wisdom suggests that "culture eats strategy for breakfast," Millward points out that "Talent can change what's on the menu!" As such, strategy and talent need time to play in the sandbox together.

Advocate, advocate, advocate

In Heidi Hattendorf's talk, one of the most important points was the fact that companies need to give recognition to their ideators, and to be an advocate by voting with both dollars and the provision of talented people to join an innovation team. Colin Nelson did a deep dive into the nature of innovation advocacy, and reflected upon the specific behaviors that make up a culture of innovation. In addition, it becomes important to make innovation part of the job, which Marla Hetzel and Jennifer Draklellis discussed in detail. Critically, taking the steps to make innovation part of the job description not only provides a means for accountability, it also gives management a framework for supporting the creative endeavors of employees.

We Innovate What We Are

The human side of innovation reflects the chaos and uncertainty of being alive. It is illuminated by dreams of the future, and powered by the drive towards self-actualization. From those lofty endeavors, however, there needs to be a way to concretize the process of changing the world, and that is what gets discussed at the Front End of Innovation every year. In 2014, we learned to respect and honor the fact that innovating is human, and the specific steps we can take to make human innovation work.

Revisit the Front End of Innovation 2014 event.

What innovations will come in 2015?


Orin C. Davis is a positive psychology researcher and organizational consultant who focuses on enabling people to do and be their best.  His consulting work focuses on maximizing human capital and making workplaces great places to work, and his research focuses on self-actualization, flow, creativity, hypnosis, and mentoring. In addition to being the principal investigator of the Quality of Life Laboratory and the Chief Science Officer of Self Spark, Dr. Davis is an adjunct professor of psychology at Baruch College and a lecturer in Critical and Creative Thinking at UMass Boston. A list of his blog posts can be found here. (@DrOrinDavis)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Why the future is a cesspool of emerging ideas

The Future isn’t characterized by steady expected development, so digging a new hole instead of just digging deeper in the old one might be a beneficial approach.

Magnus Lindkvist, a Trendspotter, Futurologist, and Author of “Everything We Know is wrong,” based in Z├╝rich who weaves together engaging narratives built on equal parts data and intuition, strongly recommends experimentation for innovation in companies.

INGENUITY: The New Innovation Currency

At the 8th annual Front End of Innovation EMEA in Munich, Germany, Magnus offered these action points in his keynote on The Attack of the Unexpected: Where the Future Begins, explaining that the most important parts of life and business are not planned, they're serendipitous accidents.

The future is not a cute narrative but a cesspool of emerging ideas.

The question is how to navigate this turbulent pool and find the kind of ideas on which companies, entrepreneurs and, indeed, life itself thrives.

The future begins with silly ideas!

But even if you’re failing, you could get valuable insights out of this. Magnus calls this failure recycling, meaning studying failures instead of being merely success-focused. To truly get an innovation through, you need patience and persistence. (Just consider the development of Twitter.)

Don't be afraid to explore the outliers, the stupid, the ugly,  or the silly, whatever provokes you. Sometimes innovation is dirty work.

In this exclusive interview video, just released by FEI, produced by our partners at FireFish FireFilms, he offers more action points and ideas on innovation and navigating the unexpected.

Talk to us about how to #MobilizeInnovation! SEND US YOUR IDEAS, BEST PRACTICES & BIGGEST HARDSHIPS »

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

125 Disruptive Trends to Track in 2015

At the beginning of every year, every one loves to speculate on the next game changing trend that's undetected and coming at us out of left field. Here are my favorite two that I eagerly consume.

"Brian Solis, Author of What's the Future of Business, The End of Business as Usual and Engage!, Principal at Altimeter Group, explores some of the biggest technology trends and possible twists on the horizon for 2015 and 2016. The 25 topics cover cyber security, mobile payments, drones, bitcoin, social media, digital, omnichannel, attribution, cx, music, movies, Hollywood" and more.

Meanwhile the folks over at JWT, put their annual spotlight on The Future 100; "Womenomic Luxury, Cognitive Technology, New Wave Boomer Beauty—just a few items from their Future 100 list of what’s next in the year ahead. It’s a wide-ranging compilation that reflects developments surfacing across sectors including technology, retail, food and beverage, travel, sustainability and luxury. The list also includes new types of goods or businesses, new behaviors and ideas with the potential to ladder up to bigger trends."

It's a bit hard to read because of the tiny font, but more legible full screen.

JWT: The Future 100 from JWTIntelligence


Formerly a senior copyeditor at Thomson Reuters, a research editor at AOL,  and a senior web publicist at Hachette Book Group, Valerie M. Russo Evans is editor at large of,,, the, and blogs at She is the innovation lead and senior social media strategist for the Marketing and Business Strategy Division of the Institute for International Research, an Informa LLC., and her poetry was published in Regrets Only on sale at the MOMA Gift Shop. Her background is in Anthropology and English Literature. You can reach her at or @Literanista.

Monday, January 12, 2015

How to scout for new ideas and innovative ventures

There are a lot of new business ideas and ventures out there to invest in. But how do you find the best ones? At the 8th Annual Front End of Innovation EMEA, in Munich, Germany, Dr. Joost Waeterloos, EU Technology Scouting Leader at Dow Chemical, told the audience about how they handle the scouting for innovative ventures.

Finding the needle in the haystack

How Dow Chemical Scouts

He was straightforward about their approach of cancelling ideas and sorting ventures very fast in the process to save money. In any given month , they look at about 40 ideas from which only 4-5 come through. To a great part he uses his gut feeling to identify good ideas, but the key and tricky part is to funnel the ideas that work and will create value.

Getting ideas in to the funnel is not difficult, but proving them financially and crossing them into the business is the tricky part. As the cultural aspect is important in corporate scouting it is always done by natives. They look in universities, labs, start-ups and research institutes and then analyze all the surrounding factors.

How 3M Scouts

Thomas Andrae, Director at 3M New Ventures, EMEA, stresses the importance of connecting with the best, right thinking people, too. He gives as examples of his network MIT, ETH Zurich, but also the Monocle and Alpine Review. When it comes to identifying trends, he recommends being in the right places as Berlin, Palo Alto and Tel Aviv.

How to scout for innovative ventures? Go to the hot spots. Analyze all of the surrounding context and connect with the best, right-thinking people. 

Talk to us about how to #MobilizeInnovation! SEND US YOUR IDEAS, BEST PRACTICES & BIGGEST HARDSHIPS.

Editor's Note:

Balancing the entrepreneurial innovator's spirit with a renewed focus on the discipline of systematic innovation is what FEI EMEA is all about. Our esteemed speakers bring topics like innovation culture, process, and people to life with focus, power, and relentless passion.

This was excerpted from the FEI EMEA 2014 Executive Summary, which is currently available on the Front End of Innovation website, just sign up to download. We encourage you to find value in these compilations, these action points will continue to provide value, drive innovation and create real life business impact on both you and your leaderships’ health and future success

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


Boston or Bust, here we come!

May 18-20, 2015 | Seaport World Trade Center Boston, MA


Meet our keynotes:
  • Susan Cain, Best-Selling Author, Quiet: The Power of Introverts, shows us the power of The Quiet Revolutionary
  • Steve Blank, The "Father" of Lean on Dealing with Disruptive Innovation: How Big Corporations Can Think Like Lean Startups
  • Seth Godin,The Purple Cow of Marketing, shares A Disruptive Take on the World: Marketing, Innovation, & What's Next
  • Tom Kelly, Partner, IDEO, Author, The Confident Creative, demonstrates Leading with Creative Confidence
  • Salim Ismail, Partner, IDEO, Author, The Confident Creative, unveils the characteristics of Exponential Organizations
  • Dennis Hong,  Founder of UCLA Robotics Lab, on Humanoids: From Kicking a Ball to Saving Lives
  • Miki Agrawal, Author, DO COOL SH*T, founder of WILD and THNK, puts a lens on Shifting Culture and Social Norms through Media and Products
  • Dustin Garis, Former Chief Troublemaker at Coca-Cola, on igniting Human Innovation: Life's About to Get Interesting…
Visit to learn more and save $100 off your registration.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Success Can Destroy Innovation

It is pretty hard not to chuckle when reading about the many tributes to the role of failure in innovation. After all, failure is not so simple that companies can just afford to do it, and the reality is that firms are not willing to fund the possibility of failure even though they decidedly should! But, if prototyping and funding the human endeavor are so important, then why are businesses so loath to put their money into slow innovation?

One answer is that they are too focused on success, and success is one of the primary destroyers of innovation.

Why the focus on success? Businesses need to demonstrate that they are fundamentally profitable, and any indication otherwise can lead to instant panic. The days of buy-and-hold have been replaced with daytrading algorithms designed for quick profit, so even short-term losses can get shareholders edgy. But, innovation can take time and resources, and these are often drawn from a company's wherewithal to create profit in the short-term. Granted, some can understand temporary losses in the name of obvious progress, but what if there are initial failures, which happens very often in the startup and innovation worlds? Even minor failures can cost money, and when people are looking at quick profit, it's one strike and you're out! Thus, if people want to keep their investors and stockholders, they need to have a constant stream of successes. Some say that this is the point of having an innovation portfolio, but the fact remains that major innovation still requires significant risk.

The trouble with success is that no one wants to ruin it. After a company has been successful with a product or service, most of the profit goes either to paying stakeholders or to scaling the company. The main goal becomes protecting and enhancing this success, and there is no funding left over for a new major R&D endeavor. After all, who wants to spoil the company's success with failed attempts at innovation?

A second issue is that, once the company scales, it usually has to add infrastructure: policies, processes, and the like. The versatility and laissez-faire work-ethic of a startup tends not to scale well (though it should!). Companies tend to start creating policies (which are almost always written because someone was an idiot!) and inventing hierarchies to help manage such a large entity, all of which are too rigid for creative processes, prototyping, and risk-taking, which are the backbones of innovation.

Granted, there are a few large companies who are able to model innovation after success, but these are few and far-between, and most of them have (or will have!) struggled mightily with some of the challenges of being a scaled-up, successful company, and still an innovator. If and when companies get large enough, they can often create a skunkworks that has an R&D budget, but that works only if the group is able to avoid the policies and hierarchies of the main branch of the company. Otherwise, even a skunkworks will get too swamped by the rigid culture and lack of flexibility to get creative.

Right there, however, is a clue for any company that does not want success to destroy its innovative spirit. Any company of any size can have a moonshot brigade, which is basically what happens when any company has either a hackathon or "20% time" (Atlassian, for instance, does both!).

In such situations, the entire company goes skunkworks for a short period (here's how), and then goes back to the grind. Moreover, any company with any budget can be innovative, and some great, profitable ideas have come from jugaad thinking.  

The most important thing to keep in mind is that success is temporary, and the business world is strewn with the corpses of companies that did not innovate while they were successful (many got disrupted).

It's innovate or die so, if your company meets with success, start hacking!


Orin C. Davis is a positive psychology researcher and organizational consultant who focuses on enabling people to do and be their best.  His consulting work focuses on maximizing human capital and making workplaces great places to work, and his research focuses on self-actualization, flow, creativity, hypnosis, and mentoring. In addition to being the principal investigator of the Quality of Life Laboratory and the Chief Science Officer of Self Spark, Dr. Davis is an adjunct professor of psychology at Baruch College and a lecturer in Critical and Creative Thinking at UMass Boston. A list of his blog posts can be found here. (@DrOrinDavis)

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