Saturday, February 28, 2015

This Week In Innovation: 2/23/15 - 2/27/15

Innovation Starts in The Belly of The Beast: Innovation chooses you

Business Model Innovation: Three examples, including Uber

Why Data Trumps All When Plotting Your Growth Strategy via Entrepreneur

Why You Must Innovate, or Watch Your Business Die: Continued innovation is absolutely key to success

Anticipating A Surge in Social Media Usage During This Year: Businesses are focusing on co-creation of content and this will increase the overall amount created

The Innovation Game: The "Red Box" method

Real Innovation: Not having ideas, but solving problems

20 Ways to Boost Your Entrepreneurial Creativity 

Our Universities Are Not Teaching Innovation: Are colleges destroying innovation?

Why Innovation Must Go Beyond Disruption

About the Author:

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

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Frugal Innovation Pioneers in Europe: Renault, Siemens, Pearson, & Unilever

Navi Radjou, co-author of the best seller “Jugaad Innovation” and winner of the 2013 Thinkers50 Innovation Award, discusses the concept of frugal innovation in the video below, being pioneered by thousands of ingenious entrepreneurs in emerging markets like India, China, Africa, and Brazil to innovate cost-effectively and sustainably under severe resource constraints, after his FEI EMEA talk on Frugal Innovation: Creating Greater Value in an Age of Austerity.

Frugal innovation is now making inroads in Europe, with visionary European firms such as Renault, Siemens, Pearson, and Unilever using this new approach to streamline lean innovation. Navi shares the best practices of the European pioneers of frugal innovation and how you can apply this disruptive new business paradigm in your own organization to accelerate growth and deliver greater value to customers and other stakeholders using limited resources.

Emerging markets are a hotbed for this kind of innovation, where the use of financial and natural resources and time is being minimized while maximizing the value. But also in Europe companies are being forced to innovate faster, better and cheaper, as poverty is still very prevelant. This requires more open, flexible and cost-effective innovation models.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Do you have a specific reason to Innovate?

One of the main misconceptions about mobilizing innovation is to try to engage everyone with the same strategy and approaches.

Managing innovation is making choices and dealing with constant trade-offs about different issues, particularly the ones related to people. The ultimate goal should be to make innovation a collective responsibility of the entire organization.

However organizations cannot afford to have a single policy for keeping continuous motivation and engagement among all people. They should draft a plan to encourage that at least key people actively contribute for the innovation program and become long-term supporters.

One of the most important keys for fueling forward the innovation engine is the outcomes.

Innovation leaders should be able to show and clarify the areas that are going to be addressed by the innovation program and the type of benefits that the organisations and individuals will get in the short term, medium and long term.

Along with that it is critical to  express clear aspirations for innovation. Everybody knows that innovation is a requirement for remain competitive.

But sometimes what is missing is the specific reason to innovate. Is it just because of the fierce and increasing competition or is there a strong need to differentiate the existing product portfolio by launching a new line of products?

About the Author

Rui Patricio is the Co-founder and CEO of CONTINUE TO GROW. He is passionate about helping organisations implement innovation cutting edge programs that enable the deployment of differentiation and value added strategies. With more than 20 years experience in management and technology, Rui is a project coordinator, an active speaker, author, lecture and workshop leader on different topics of innovation and procurement.

CONTINUE TO GROW is a firm with a strong focus and background in innovation management. CONTINUE TO GROW supports organizations in their roadmap for change, providing critical support services and products to boost the innovation effort. CONTINUE TO GROW solutions combines software applications with comprehensive services and tools that encourage key users to contribute and become long-term supporters.

CONTINUE TO GROW approach stimulates an organizational culture that supports innovation by motivating knowledge sharing in a more engaging way; using the power of an “expert crowd” to gather qualified contributions and promoting more intimacy and collaboration with key stakeholders. See our corporate video: 

Editor's Note:

We invite you to join Rui, during his learning lab workshop on INNOVATION GAMES: GOING BEYOND THE TRADITIONAL CREATIVITY AND ANALYTICAL TOOLS at FEI EMEA 2015 in Vienna.

Innovation Games and its rapidly increasing applications are not anymore unknown concepts to innovation driven organizations. The idea of using game approaches to innovation applies to a wide range of services/products and industry/sectors. Either referred to software applications or other online and offline board games, all its elements are powerful means for fostering workplace social intelligence and innovation practices.

During this session, two examples of innovation management games will be introduced and explained: "The Innovation Stickers Card Collection" and "The Path for Growth: an Innovation Journey." From these two examples you will get inspiration and gain a better understanding of how these games could benefit your organization.

Innovation management games could trigger people's curiosity about innovation; promote more fun and engagement; increase the willingness to take the risks and promote openness to new ideas and technologies. Finally it will be highlighted how you can implement this type of approach in your organization and provided a checklist to support decision-making.

We hope to you there.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Most innovation is the result of a collaborative effort by a diverse group

Harvard Business School’s Linda Hill, author of “Collective Genius,” a 2013 Thinkers50 honoree and one of the women in innovation we celebrated last year, with her team conducted extensive research and concluded there are pronounced differences between the qualities associated with traditional business leadership and those required to sustain a culture of innovation. “The most effective leaders will lead from behind,” said Hill.

Front End of Innovation 2014

It’s a matter of harnessing people’s collective genius, because most innovation is the result of a collaborative effort by a diverse group.” Hill says that, ideally, innovation should not be the exclusive purview of an individual or the domain of a skunkworks or dedicated function; it should be the shared responsibility of everyone in the company.

Breakthroughs happen when ‘ordinary’ people make extraordinary contributions,” Hill notes.

“A leader drives innovation by making it safe and possible for people to innovate,” she added, noting that organizations are complex social systems that by their nature often suppress or at least inhibit the trust and freedom needed for innovation to thrive.

To drive innovation, according to Hill, leaders must foster three key organizational competencies: 
1. Creative abrasion (the ability to generate ideas through discourse and debate)
2. Creative agility (the ability to test and refine ideas rapidly)
3. Creative resolution (the ability to make decisions in an integrative way)

It’s also worth noting that Hill’s research also confirmed what Operation Smile’s Dr. Magee had said the day prior at the Front End of Innovation 2014: People crave meaning and purpose in their work lives. “People want to be associated with organizations that serve as positive forces in the world,” Hill said.*

*Excerpted from the 14-page FEI 2014 Executive Summary, now available here.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

This Week In Innovation: 2/16/15 - 2/20/15

How Large Companies Can Leverage Startups to Innovate: 6 Steps from engaging to evolving

Adobe Is Kickstarting Innovation From Its Employees: Adobe is giving away a tool called Kickbox that helps employees develop new ideas

How The Larry Pages of The World Get Their Big Ideas: Simple... play with Legos

Mobile Ecommerce Trends to Promote Future SMB Growth: Consumers are now making more and more transactions via smartphones and tablets

The 3 Blueprints For Business Innovation

What is The Next Big Sector to Face Disruption? Financial Services

Why Strategies Get Stuck: 61% of organizational studies under-perform due to lack of execution 

Leadership Traits to Win in Business Today: 4 qualities that are essential for CEOs

IoT's Mortal Enemy Is The Product Owner: Exploring financial realization and strategic partnering influence the mortal enemy of the IoT

4 Ideas On Preparing For Unknown Future Business Trends

About the Author:

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

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

"Innovation is like happiness - you don't get there by pursuing it" - @ErikaIlves

Meet Erika Ilves, Founder of  road:infinity and Transplanetary, Chief Strategy Officer at Shackleton Energy. Her "mission is space settlement. She splits time between two ventures that fuel the space frontier in two different ways - one literally, by putting refueling depots in orbit (Shackleton Energy) and another figuratively, by making space easier to invest in (Transplanetary)."

Here's what she told us about Innovation:

Tell us what you believe the biggest misconception is about mobilizing innovation?

E: Innovation is like happiness - you don't get there by pursuing it. If you are focusing on "mobilizing innovation," you've already missed the bus. [Tweet this]

Innovation is what happens when you are obsessed with 
solving a problem better, faster, cheaper (e.g., how can we create a circular resource economy with zero waste? how can we take all the health monitoring gadgets and make them invisible? how can we take all our sensors & big data algorithms and make our homes run in a super-optimized mode and anticipate our needs?) or
expanding the realm of what's possible (e.g., how can we build what we need from atoms up? how can we create new life forms with properties we need? how can we build machines that can think? how can we grow our meat in the lab? how can we grow human organs from scratch?). 

So take on a near-impossible challenge. The rest will flow from there.

What is/has been the most important key for fueling forward the innovation engine from your experience?

E: Constraints! An architect friend of mine once told me that he did his most creative design work when he was faced with a set of rigid constraints from his clients. His nightmare client was the one who came with a plot of land and no idea what she wanted. 

In my own experience, too, the best innovations are born out of severe constraints. At the most fundamental level, we are obviously constrained by the laws of physics. But then we layer other constraints on top - how big is the market potential? how many minds can we throw at the problem? how much funding can we allocate? how much time do we have to solve the problem? 

The solution space needs to be constrained carefully. 

In most cases, there is a Goldilocks zone where the constraints are just right to lead to something wonderful. One rule of thumb for narrowing in on the Goldilocks zone is to listen to what your R&D or product development team asks for and then make it a notch or two harder.

Personally, I spend most of my time these days in space, outside the Goldilocks innovation zone, in a place where markets don't yet exist and meaningful amounts of funding are not yet available. 

Here, the first innovation job is to find a way to get people to see what's not there, create a market before you can serve it. That keeps my engine going! 

Editor's Note: 

Next month at FEI EMEA 2015 in Vienna, Austria, Erika will present a talk on How to Make a Dent in the Universe.

The presentation is based on in-depth interviews with founders of companies that embark on missions of cosmic proportions (e.g. create a multi-planetary civilization, make food without agriculture, create inter-planetary resource economy) and yet manage to create a self-sustaining or even profitable stepping-stones on the way to their mission.

They've been called "supermen," "visionaries," "crazy ones." They don't set out to innovate, win or disrupt. They set out to change the trajectory of the ongoing human project. And in the process, they end up innovating, creating new industries and raising eye brows. The talk explores why they do it, how they do it and whether you could do what they do.

We hope to see you there!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Four Questions to Kick Off Your Incremental Innovation Project

questions product innovation

Customer Needs and Innovation Goals

Customer needs should be made the starting point for any product or service innovation. Failing to do so may result in an offer that will be unsuccessful in the marketplace. Studies have shown that the majority of innovations are commercial failures, and the US Patent Office estimates that more than 90% of all patents have no commercial value (including, presumably, the breathing system for use during hotel fires shown in the image.)

Different types of innovation require different types of information about customer needs, and different techniques for interviewing customers have been developed accordingly. For example, a company that is looking for radical or disruptive innovations needs to learn about customer goals. Product improvements are guided by the Kano model, which has its own specific questioning technique for eliciting customer satifaction with product attributes.

Incremental innovation is concerned with existing products. The goal may be to make improvements, create new variants or introduce complementary offers. In order to determine fruitful areas for developing ideas there are four core questions, the answers to which can be used as a guideline for an ideation workshop. These four questions can be easily remembered with the acronym RATE.

The Four RATE Questions

  • Reasons. For what reasons did the customer buy our product in the past? For what reasons did we lose a sale? Are the reasons given rational/economic or emotional/political?
  • Attributes. In the opinion of the customer, which attributes or functions must our product possess? Which would be nice to have? Which belong to the don't-care category? (This is the what the Kano model is used for.)
  • Tasks. What tasks are our customers trying to perform using this product? What are they trying to achieve and how do they describe success? (This is what job statements and outcome statements are designed to do.)
  • Evaluation. What criteria do our customers use to make their purchase decision? What is their relative importance? How did our product (and the competitors' products) perform according to these criteria?


Accurate answers to these questions can greatly contribute to understanding customers and thus give pointers for incremental innovation goals, such as:
  • Increase the performance of a certain function.
  • Correct a low score with respect to a particular evaluation criterion.
  • Add a missing attribute.
  • Improve the product's ability to perform a given task.
  • Introduce complementary offers to cover additional aspects of the customers' tasks.
  • Enhance a specific advantage compared to the competition.
  • Compensate for a specific disadvantage compared to the competition.

* Image source:

About the Author

Graham Horton is a professor at Magdeburg University in Germany and co-founder of the innovation consultancy Zephram.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

This Week In Innovation: 2/9/15 - 2/13/15

Was 2014 The Year Innovation Jumped Shark? An innovative year that may have become a parody of itself

Social Customer Care Is The Future: Driving Social Interaction

5 Emerging Trends in the Digital Shift

The Future of Work Isn't Just A Millennial Thing: Many things millennials want are not exclusive to them

Social Open Innovation: 3 Communications Tips

Are You Leaving Billions on The Table? How innovation is necessary to remain relevant

What Your Office Could Look Like in 2035: It may look more like your living room

How A Netflix Tech Innovation Can Unleash Creativity in Your Business: Solving a common problem by Following Netflix's lead

Innovation Crowdsourcing: 10 Tech ideas started via Kickstarter

About the Author:

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

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