Thursday, June 30, 2016

The 6 Principles of Strategic Portfolio Management: Aligned Decision Forum

By: Don Creswell, Co-founder & Vice President, SmartOrg Inc.

The credibility of a company, both internally and externally rests largely on the abilities of its decision makers to make sound, strategic decisions that will benefit everyone from the corner office to the mail room and stretching out to its clients, vendors and customers. The big question: Do decision makers embody the values and mission of the company?

A company’s C-suite executives’ ability to make decisions that impact its profitability, efficiency and long-term goals determines their success in their roles as decision makers. Decision making for companies can be an arduous task unless a process is in place that organizes the data that is gathered and structure is put in place to control how the date is used to arrive at informed decisions. An aligned decision forum provides an environment that drives decision-making at all levels of business and is key to providing a foundation for analysis and business planning.

Without the structure of an effective forum by which to make joint portfolio decisions, players can find themselves in conflict with other players over competing ideas, or be driven by the desire to advance their own agendas. Multiple players that may not be the right people for the project at hand – from different backgrounds – may bring conflicting processes to the table, making it unclear how to proceed, confusing matters, creating an environment where decision makers are talking past each other. Rather than arriving at decisions that are well thought out or based on hard data, decisions are made based on gut feelings, or worse, on anecdotal information. An aligned decision forum brings things out into the open, including acknowledgment of the uncertainty that surrounds planning for the future.

When decision processes are aligned, players work together under one umbrella process to analyze data, deliberate, resolve conflicts and take actions based on cooperative discussion, rather than being distracted by individual agendas or competition. It also brings the right people to the table for efrfective communication and decision making.

Players have the opportunity to objectively analyze the top-down aspirations of their company within the existing economy and market climate. They can leverage those aspirations against the bottom-up reality of the company’s product, the competitiveness and financial status. Within an aligned decision environment, players are able to strategize and prioritize based on data, available information and informed judgment. Quality decision are made using meaningful and relevant information that is summarized at the appropriate level of detail for the decision at hand.

A portfolio manager is challenged to set funding priorities, allocate resources among segments, balance innovation and incremental projects, meet corporate finance goals and assure a steady stream of successful projects. By working through the process, the group can address the important questions about where the company wants to go; what are the goals; what is needed to accomplish them; what resources, funding, technology are needed; what already exists in the company’s portfolio and what should be retained, modified or shut down?

An aligned decision environment provides the setting and structure to bring people and information together, resulting in better, faster and cheaper decision that benefit everyone.

This is the second in a series of blogs on The Six Principles of Strategic Portfolio Management. Subsequent blogs address each of the six principles in detail. For further information about SPM processes and decision-support software, visit www.smartorg.com or contact info@smartorg.com

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Start Accomplishing More with the Product Development and Management Association

By: Charlie Noble, PhD and Chair of the Product Development and Management Association

When you’re passionate about something life changing all you want to do is share your excitement, right?

I have been involved with the Product Development and Management Association (PDMA) for over seven years. As an active member across several different task forces and volunteer positions within the organization, I am proud and honored to hold the PDMA Chair position. During my tenure as a member, I have had the opportunity to experience PDMA through its variety of programs and interact with diverse community of members. But there is one key reason why I continue to stay involved. PDMA offers what no other organization can - it is a unique home for practitioners and academics alike to connect on the latest theories, empirical findings and see in practice how companies are implementing their product development and management programs. When these different areas of the profession join together, extraordinary bonds and transformative knowledge is born that only benefits the industry as a whole.

As a product development and management professional, you know that the field of innovation is critical to economic development. So, why not apply that same drive of innovation to your professional development and start accomplishing more? More connections, more knowledge, more idea sharing, and even more business growth for your organization. 

My experience with PDMA allows me to do all of the above and more. The PDMA community has guided me through my career and provides the resources I need to accomplish new goals and professional achievements. In addition, I am fortunate enough to build connections with others in the industry that I have relied on as a resource when it comes to identifying solutions for day-to-day challenges.  

Becoming a member not only moves your career forward, but it empowers you to create new, innovative strategies for growth – all while driving profitability for your organization.

We understand that over your career your needs will change and PDMA’s resources expand across all development stages. PDMA will grow with you and beside you.

Do yourself a favor; give your role as a product development or product manager a boost. Join this global community of people just like you: open-minded individuals from some of the world’s leading brands who have been where you are today. It’s an investment that pays for itself and will provide immediate benefits to you and your organization.

Need more incentive? Save $30 off membership when you use the code FEIBlog by July 1, 2016. http://www.pdma.org/fei


Charlie Noble, PhD is the Chair of the Product Development and Management Association. He currently holds the position of Proffitt’s Professor of Marketing and Director of the Marketing PhD Program at The University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

How Will the Future of Food Impact Your Business?

Explore the Future of Food at Foresight & Trends


Technology, Wellbeing and Environmental Change are revolutionizing food consumption and manufacturing across the globe. The effects of this movement are far reaching, impacting industries across the board, from CPG to Healthcare to Automotive to Retail.

How will the future of food impact your business?  The opportunities are limitless.  The Future of Food Summit will provide a platform for industries to join together and discuss the impact these changes will have on their business and their consumers. 

View the Foresight & Trends Agenda: http://bit.ly/293ns9p

Check out these can't miss sessions:

·         Changes In Our Industry: Food Trends & Disruptors Panel
Lara Migliasi, Hyatt Hotels, among others, discusses what the future holds for their industry and consumers.
·         Millennial Tastes: A Food Landscape Comparison of Millennials and Gen-Xers
David Schliecker, Food Network, looks at Millennial’s relationship with food and how their dinning, cooking habits and inspirations differ from those of their Gen-X predecessors.
·         Entrepreneurship & the Future of Food
Manoj Fenelon, Former PepsiCo, hosts a number of entrepreneurs who are doing their part to re-imagine food production, consumption and culture.
The future of food is just one of the trends we explore at Foresight & Trends.  Also delve into technology, heath & wellness, the future consumer, family & home, and the future of work. Discover how to activate these trends and implement processes, skills, and tools into your business. 

Visit the website for more information: http://bit.ly/293ns9p

Use code FOOD16BL for $100 off. Buy your tickets: http://bit.ly/293ns9p

See you in Miami!

Cheers,
The Foresight & Trends Team
@future_trends
#FTConf

Frontendofinnovationblog.iirusa.com

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A Close Encounter of the Third Kind: How to Triangulate the Perfect Team

By: Ciaran Nagle, Global Marketing Manager, OND LLC

Your friend calls you and says, 'Hey Buddy, there's a great new movie out. It's rated over 9/10 on IMDB. Want some free tickets?'

You're thrilled. But there's a catch.

'Oh, I forgot to tell you,' your friend says. 'You can only watch a third of the movie. And it might be the first third or the second or the last, we won't know till we get there. Still interested?'
Your excitement is dropping faster than a barometer before a rain cloud. It's not much of an evening out.


Yet many businesses still persist in paying large sums of money for a 'one-third view' of their own staff. Almost all psychometric tools are a single instrument. It's like trying to triangulate a position with only one point of reference. It's a nonsense. An oxymoron. A fantasy.

Method Teaming© looks at Behaviors, (both natural and adapted), Motivators, and Cognitive Structures (not how intelligent you are, but how your mind channels the intelligence you have).  These are three distinctive reference points that combine to pinpoint an individual's natural strengths and talents. Armed with this knowledge, both the individual and their bosses can make sure the right career moves are made in the future. An end to 'I hate my job' and the beginning of 'I can't wait to get to work'.

But there's another advantage to Method Teaming's holistic view. It has been proven over more than ten years and over many thousands of assessments to be 99.7% accurate. It's a finished product not a work in progress. And it will carry on being accurate as long as humans are made the way they are now.

If you're still interested in a close encounter with the top-rated film, you could turn to your calculator. That will tell you that if you go to the movie theater with your friend seven times you have a nearly 9 in 10 chance of seeing all three thirds, though not in the right order. Fractions have become even less interesting than they were in school.

Method Teaming is exactly what it says on the label. It gives you mission-perfect teams, 
methodically. All the members will complement each other's natural talents and be 100% fit for purpose. You'll triangulate a fully-formed team made from complete views of the individuals' Intellects. No fractions need apply.

Ciaran was introduced to Method Teaming, OND's ground-breaking science for effective business team formation four years ago. Realizing that his marketing skills, honed at GE over 10 years, could help OND break out of their narrow client set (HPE, Big Four Consultancies) into the wider corporate world he was excited to become their world marketing head. He is based in London and can be reached at ciaran.nagle@methodteaming.com



Thursday, June 23, 2016

Rewarding, Recognizing and Recruiting to Drive Innovation Development

In our latest InnoView webinar, Shannon Lucas, Director of Innovation, Vodafone Global Enterprise and Anthony Ferrier, CEO, Culturevate will discuss approaches to rewarding, recognizing and recruiting employees around innovative behaviors, with a goal of increasing the flow of new ideas and driving a broader culture of innovation.

As companies increasingly look to drive innovative and intrapreneurially behavior with their employees, they are freshly examining ways to reward, recognize and even recruit around these efforts. Both Shannon and Anthony have deep levels of insight to this area of growing importance to innovation and HR leaders. Join us for another engaging, topical and thought provoking session.

Save your seat for Thursday, June 23rd at 12:00 PM EST: http://bit.ly/1UEgoPB

About the Presenters:

Shannon Lucas, Director of Innovation, Vodafone Global Enterprise
As Director of Innovation at Vodafone Global Enterprise, Shannon Lucas focuses on empowering global Fortune 500 businesses to stay agile, competitive and sustainable. One of the world’s largest telecoms companies, Vodafone provides telecommunications services in over 80 countries.
Lucas is passionate about developing ecosystems which trigger collaborative innovation between multiple stakeholders and has presented her game--‐changing vision at TedX. Shannon is continually refining customer engagement models, tools, and processes to support a culture of change. She helps enterprise customers explore how mobile and ICT solutions enable new business models, tap into consumer insights and streamline operations. She manages a matrixed team of Innovation Champions, the intrapreneurs from across the business, to accelerate the pace of innovation throughout Vodafone.

Anthony Ferrier, CEO of Culturevate
Anthony is the CEO of Culturevate, providing industry-leading innovation training and ongoing support for corporate intrapreneurs and employees. Culturevate provides innovation training (developed in association with some of the world’s leading universities); a SAAS-based Library of innovation-focused materials, tools and templates; along with consulting focused on engaging employees around innovation. Anthony is a widely read author, speaker and advisor to a wide range of Fortune 500 organizations. He previously led The BNY Mellon innovation program and has a Master of Commerce (University of Sydney) and Bachelor of Economics (University of Newcastle).

Register today: http://bit.ly/1UEgoPB

Also, don’t miss Shannon’s presentation “Gamifying the Intrapreneur Experience” at The Corporate Intrapreneur Summit on Friday, September 9th at 9:00 AM.

The 2016 Corporate Intrapreneur Summit, produced in partnership with Culturevate, offers a unique opportunity to share top-notch industry experience, shared visions, and best practices on how intrapreneurs can innovation scale and deliver growth. The Summit offers a unique opportunity to leverage the experience of Innovation leaders, Intrapreneurs, L&D / HR professionals and learning institutions. Designed for Executives, Leaders and Program Managers challenged with creating new business value and responding to competitive threats, the Corporate Intrapreneur Summit offers a curriculum based approach, with a mix of presentations, panels and group working sessions.

For more information about the conference or to register, click here: http://bit.ly/25O76Ms

We hope you’ll join us!

Cheers,

Informa and Culturevate 

Monday, June 20, 2016

People are Great Advocates for Change & Great Change Obstructers

By: Christina Gerakiteys, CEO/Creative Director, Ideation at Work 

I have writer’s cramp! Thirty-two pages of written notes, 74 photos, 12 speakers, countless Tweets, and Instagram and Facebook posts. That’s how Day One of the Front End Innovation Conference looks like in numbers for me.

But numbers don’t quite catch the energy in the room, nor the discourse that took place.  Numbers don’t show you the intensity and delight as thinking was challenged and eureka moments experienced.

As we move further into the 21st century, life is all about the people. In reality we have been innovating since time immemorial. What has changed is the speed of change and the resources we use to instigate that change.

People are at the same time great advocates for change and great change obstructers. According to Soon Yu, Global VP Innovation at VF Corp, innovations may fail because of the “…walls people put up. Walls of fear, apathy and disbelief”. 

Today we heard from several speakers about the importance of big vision, and how this was crucial in imagining what was possible. And of course vision is useless without the proper support and execution.

Many stories were told throughout the sessions. None more powerful for me than those told by Alexa Clay and Antonio Fernandez.

Alexa Clay is the author of The Misfit Economy.  The Misfits are those intrapreneurs in large organizations, who ask questions, and push boundaries and limits. Truth be know, entrepreneurs are often considered Misfits as well. Traditionally, at school, we were the ones most likely to be diagnosed with ADD, be in the music group, the debating team, the school council, the netball team and the school theatre, all at the same time. Alternately we were banished to the corridor every other lesson.  Or if you’re me – a nice mix of both.

Misfits traditionally Hustle, Hack, Copy, Provocate and Pivot. So do the Mafia and most Bikie gangs. According to Alexa’s research, and Antonio Fernandez, there are skills required by top criminal bosses, transferable directly into the business world, including leadership, negotiation, hustle, pushing boundaries and knowing when to change tactics.

Vijay Govindarajan, or VJ for short, Best Selling Author and 50 Thinkers Winner, believes there are only three things we need to truly master: managing the present; selectively forgetting the past; and creating the future.  And he advises the Future is NOW. We should be creating it NOW. And while this is all common sense, it’s certainly not common practice.  So clients be warned! That 80:20 rule we’ve been speaking about, where 20% of your time should be spent moving the business forward just became a non-negotiable.

So think big, dream big and think outside that proverbial box.  And make no mistake, Creativity and Innovation need the constraints of the box. If there are no constraints or boundaries, we simply don’t know what we should be rebelling against.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The 6 Principles of Strategic Portfolio Management

By: Don Creswell, Co-founder & Vice President, SmartOrg Inc.

During the past 20 years, companies have greatly process and systems for managing the “operational” aspects of project/portfolio management (PPM) – budgeting, project management, resource planning, StageGate and phase gate processes.

Strategic portfolio management, while practiced for many years by leading companies in pharmaceuticals, oil and gas and aerospace, is only now emerging as the next step in the maturity of PPM.

How does Strategic Portfolio Management (SPM) differ from Project/Portfolio Management (PPM) and why does it matter?

Early adopters of strategic portfolio management characterized the difference between “strategic” and “operational” as “doing the right projects” vs. “doing the project right.” They recognized that large amounts of money were wasted on project/product failures (80% of more of new products fail according to numerous studies).

Many companies have found that while operational processes and tools have improved results, they fall short when addressing decisions around selecting the best projects in which to invest and how best to allocate capital and other resources to optimize the value of project and product portfolios.
To optimize decision that drive top-line and bottom-line value, companies need to consider three distinct areas: economic, resources and process. The Venn diagram show how these areas relate to value creation.

Economic – Decisions in this area underpin strategy and relate wo what; selecting the most promising projects in which to invest, allocating resources, and developing a balanced risk vs. reward portfolio.

Resources -  Decisions in this area are fundamental to “making it happen” and revolve around who: achieving StageGate goals, allocating and managing human resources, budgeting and dsy-do-day project management.

Process – Processes and decision-support software in this area support how: the project/portfolio management process from ideation and concepts to commercial launch.

Each of the areas within the Venn diagram involves different decisions, decision makers, processes and tools. The challenge: bring everything together to avoid sub-optimization of any one area to the detriment of the whole. 


In this series, we will focus on the Economic area, which sets the foundation for creating exceptional value through strategic portfolio management. Through research and consulting experience with dozens of companies in a wide variety of industries, we have identified dix principles that are basic to value creation.

1.       Aligned Decision Forum: Include the right people at the right levels at the right time.
2.       Value-Creation Focus: Focus decisions on creating value at each development stage.
3.       Credible, Comparable Evaluations: Employ clear, transparent evaluation frameworks.
4.       Embrace Uncertainty and Dynamics: Explicitly identify the impact of uncertainty on key decision variables and track changes throughout development.
5.       Inclusive, Collaborative Process:  Involve key stakeholders from ideation to commercialization.
6.       Clear Communication and Learning:  Assess, track, inform and continuously improve.

This is the first in a series of blogs on The Six Principles of Strategic Portfolio Management. Subsequent blogs will address each of the six principles in detail. For further information about SPM processes and decision-support software, visit www.smartorg.com or contact info@smartorg.com



Monday, June 13, 2016

Explore the trends changing how we work and live

Do You Have a Fear of Missing Out?

There is an influx of trends that are constantly competing for our attention. What if you miss a trend or follow the wrong one? What will be the impact on your business? Don’t worry, you are not alone!

Your colleagues are also working to understand how to remain relevant and keep up with the future that is in play. Foresight and Trends will not only show you what’s coming next but more importantly help you evaluate exactly what actions you should take to ensure your organization has a competitive advantage.

Explore the trends changing how we work and live:

·         Family & Home: The Future of Family: From Understanding to Action - Michael Mitchell & Kristen Johnson, Lowes
·         Future of Work:  Play Your Way to Self-Actualization - Lindsay Angelo, lululemon
·         Activating Trends: Process, Skills, & Tools: Mastering Disruption for Creative Innovation -
Robin Albin, Estée Lauder
·         The Future of Food:  Millennial Tastes: A Food Landscape, David Schliecker, Food Network
·         The Future Consumer:  The New Premium - Mike Milley, BMW Group Designworks
·         Health & Well-being:  Redefining the Future of Health - Claudia Lieshout, Philips Design

Download the Full Agenda: http://bit.ly/1sBYo24

Join us at the Foresight & Trends Conference this September to ensure that you do not miss out on uncovering how to use trends to inform strategic innovation. Invest today to secure your businesses future.

Use exclusive blog code FT16BL for $100 off. Don’t miss out, buy your ticket today: http://bit.ly/1sBYo24
See you in Miami!
Cheers,
The Foresight & Trends Team
@future_trends
Frontendofinnovationblog.iirusa.com



Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Innovation Interview: Pinterest on Why Every Idea Needs Execution

In our Innovation interview series, each week we talk to thought leaders, inspirers, and innovators in the industry to pick their brains about the state of innovation, trends, and what’s in store for the future. This week we caught up with Brian Singer, design manager and brand creative at Pinterest.


Check out our interview with Brian below:

Why does inspiration need execution when it comes to innovation?

Singer: Everything needs execution, or it’s just another idea. While there are plenty of good ones, and even more bad ones, an idea is simply that, an idea. Put a man on the moon. Reinvent how people shop on their phones. Without doing the actual work (which is 99% of the effort), what’s an idea worth? 

Why are large organizations under fire these days to be more agile and opportunistic in their approach to innovation?

Singer: The rate at which new products and technologies are adopted has been accelerating over the last 100 years. According to (possibly true) internet statistics, it took the Telephone 75 years to reach 50M users. Radio was 38 years. TV, 13 years. The Internet, 4 years. Facebook took 3.5 years to reach 50M users. Angrybirds took just 35 days. The increase in competition, coupled with the rate of adoption results in a sizable risk of having your lunch eaten. This puts tremendous pressure on companies to continue to innovate (not something larger organizations are known for). 

Why is customer-centered innovation so important now more than ever?

Singer: Experience wins. Not every time, I mean, look at Comcast. But, it’s clearly a strategic advantage and has become an expectation from customers. For larger companies that haven’t focused here, it’s provided an opportunity for their competitors. Smaller start-ups have this built into their DNA, and use it as a way to take market share from category leaders. 

How can a company create a culture of innovation?

Singer: That’s the billion dollar question, isn’t it? And I doubt there’s a one size fits all answer. I’d say it requires three things. First, the right people. As I said before, an idea is just an idea. You need creative people that can turn a sketch into a prototype, who can design and build products, processes and experiences. Second, is the ability to work quickly with some autonomy. Enabling a team to solve a problem and pressure test their idea without too much bureaucracy and middle managers slowing things down is critical. Finally, you need the ability to fail. I know, I know, the big thing is to fail faster, harder and so on. The truth is, failing sucks, and while companies might say they encourage failure, it’s often lip service. 

As part of a rigorous design process, failure is built in. There are 10 ideas, after pressure testing, it’s clear that 5 won’t work. The other 5 are developed, and during development, 2 more are eliminated due to technical limitations. The final three are put in front of customers, where there’s a clear winner. Turns out there was another team working on the same problem, and their winner beats yours. That’s a win for the company, but can demotivate employees. If the investment of time and resources is right (as lightweight as possible to get to confident decisions) people get used to the process, to failure, and can jump back in to solve the next problem.  

Why is intrapreneurship key to innovation?

Singer: Having worked both outside, and inside of companies, I think it’s clear that employees tend to have a better lay of the land. Being so close to the business, and the problems it faces, puts employees in a unique position to find solutions to those problems. This only works when they’re enabled to do so, and if there isn’t a culture of innovation, then, well, it’s probably best to hire outside agencies, consultants, etc. (for folks that do this on the regular, it might be worth considering if your company has the right people and culture to survive). 

How can large organizations keep the pace & creativity of startups?

Singer: Can they? They hope they can, but I truly wonder if it’s possible. Remove as much of the overhead from innovation teams as possible, and let them run. (of course, there need to be clear goals or problem statements to solve). I made that up. I really don’t know the answer, and if I did, I’d write a book and become a consultant. 

Want to hear more on innovation? Attend FEI Europe October 5-7 in Berlin, Germany.
FEI is a global event brand that has become the annual meeting place of the most seasoned innovators across the globe. Established in 2003 in the US and 2007 in Europe, the FEI event has sustained a rich history of success with corporate innovators, entrepreneurs, academics and thought leaders with events in cities across Europe, including Munich, Vienna, Amsterdam, Berlin, Copenhagen, Zurich and Monte Carlo.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Front End of Innovation Europe 2016 Program Just Released

Transformation Through Innovation

We are thrilled to announce the release of the 2016 Front End of Innovation Europe conference agenda, and want to personally invite you to the 10th annual event, taking place 5-7 October at the Hotel Palace in Berlin, Germany.

The pressure to stay relevant in today’s rapidly changing times has never been greater. FEI Europe is your resource to help you go to market faster, anticipate customer needs, and enable breakthrough thinking across your organization.

FEI Europe
October 5-7, 2016
Hotel Palace
Berlin, Germany

View the 2016 agenda: http://bit.ly/1TT1L0M

Front End of Innovation Europe covers the full innovation spectrum: ideation, trends, culture, leadership, and strategy. Hear stories of success and failure from leading innovators from across the globe.  Dive deep into the hottest topics in innovation:

·         Future Trends in Innovation
·         Strategy and Execution
·         Culture and Leadership

At FEI Europe the multilayered agenda allows you to focus on areas that will have the greatest impact on your team's success. Don’t settle for a “once size fits all” program when you can tailor your experience to maximize investment and start applying what you learned as soon as you return to the office.

Visit the website: http://bit.ly/1TT1L0M

Use exclusive LinkedIn code FEIEU16BL for $100 off the current rate. Buy tickets: http://bit.ly/1TT1L0M  

We hope to see you in Berlin this fall!

Cheers,
The FEI Europe Team
@fei_innovation
#FEIEurope


Thursday, June 2, 2016

Create Products that People Need and Want


If you want to create products and sell them to people, well—to be blunt—nobody’s cares. The mass-market engine that drove this mode of production and type of selling has expired.

According to AcuPoll more than 95-percent of new products fail each year. This harrowing statistic should sound an alarm, one that says the way we approach the conceptualization and launch of new products does not work.

In reality, the world doesn’t need new stuff just because it is new. New for the sake of having something new to sell, is the most short-sighted, non-strategic, and unthinking mode of behavior for a company.

Landfills and aftermarket discount stores are filled beyond capacity. 
 
Somewhere in the lust to create new value the most important factor in a successful equation was overlooked: the real people who may use your product. These humans, not objects to which you move a unit, but flesh-and-blood with the power to purchase, naturally desire a better life. If you create with them as part of your process, your success potential because much, much greater.

New products that meet a real need for real people; well, that’s something useful and novel, a product with distinction and different than the rest of the heap. Just ask Swiffer, users of Dr. Scholl’s kiosk, or any other leading brand that keeps their consumers at the heart of the innovation, product development, and marketing efforts.

The trick: find people for whom you can solve problems. Then, get to know them deeply. Hang out in their homes, at their work, go shopping with them. Understand their rituals, their motivations, their relationship to the world and things in it.

Product development can take a year or two, so make sure you are creating for how your people may be interacting with the world a few years out. Know also where the trends are pointing a few years out. Think about it in reverse. If you look back five years ago, half the people you knew didn’t have Smart Phones, most had never stayed in an AirBnb or taken an Uber to their destination. Now, they use their phones to book these services and do so much more. Trends and technology accelerate at quantum speed.

People matter to the success of your new products. Ignore them at your own risk. If you can add value to their life, you thrive.

The hardest thing for organizations to do to accomplish such growth is to realize that traditional marketing research and segmentation is outmoded. The reason: it looks at the people with whom it should be trying to cultivate a relationship as a target, a one-dimensional object, rather than a fully alive human subject with a treasure trove of stories, memories, dreams, hopes, and fears. In summary, the old method edits out the humanity.

Here’s the key point: just get out of your own head and your office and get inside the homes, routines, rituals, and hearts of your people. Honor those that buy from you or give to you, as subjects with dynamic lives and problems you can help solve.




Michael Graber is the managing partner of the Southern Growth Studio, an innovation and strategic growth firm based in Memphis, TN and the author of Going Electric. Visit www.southerngrowthstudio.com to learn more.



The Evolving American Palate: Food Industry Needs Smart Innovation to Fuel America’s Hunger

Consumers are a fickle bunch. What was once delightful is now boring. What we ate yesterday doesn’t appeal to us today. With temperamental appetites, American consumers are always eager to try the latest and greatest delight (cronuts, anyone?). Trying to keep up with these ever changing trends can be can be a costly challenge to brands in the CPG food and restaurant industries, especially to those brands who are desperately trying to recapture interest in weary product lines while developing new products that stimulate market interest. If this strikes a chord with the situation your company is in, don’t fret because there is a silver lining…


Since we know that there is such a high demand for new flavors, ingredients and products from consumers, there are endless possibilities for brand innovation. Many brands are taking existing products that are no longer selling like they once did and revitalizing them by embracing these new food trends. In fact, a few recently announced they will be introducing new premium products across several key brands that will satisfy consumers’ hunger for hot trends while serving as a testament to the brand’s commitment to innovation. 

Of course, not all brands innovate so readily. In the market research industry we often hear clients say, “I’d love to do research on new product development but my budgets were cut this year.” We know that when money gets tight, R&D is one of the first areas to get pinched, with product development put on hold as the focus shifts toward improving the profitability of core product lines. Although the economy has taught us that innovation is critical to driving long-term success and profitable growth, we also know that 80% of new products fail. Daunting? Absolutely.

So what can your company to do to get around this catch-22? The key is to invest wisely, minimizing the financial risk with innovations that appeal to your target market and prompt them to take action. Easier said than done? Not necessarily. You can increase the odds that your new product will be successful by using better research before you get too far into the process.

As a research-based consulting agency, we are often amazed by the number of brands who fail to perform their due diligence prior to a major product launch. “It’s shocking how many organizations do very little homework before diving into development,” says Doug Guion, President at acturus. “Challenging ideas, performing the necessary research, and formulating informed market predictions are critical to new product success and can help reduce the inherent risks of innovation.”


So what can your company do?  Smart research doesn’t have to drain your bank account or hinder your speed-to-market. The right research consulting partner can work with you to develop a research plan that gets you both the insights you need AND meets your timeline.

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