Monday, March 27, 2017

How Powerful Women are Changing the Face of Innovation Leadership

Women are NOT Robots

That's the story that Pepsi's design strategist Erica Eden will be speaking on at FEI 2017. She'll be joined by an all-star roster of female innovators covering everything from internal disruption, to scaling up excellence, to the journey into connected devices.

FEI: Front End of Innovation brings YOU into the full innovation process - from ideation through to commercialization - to provide you with the inspiration and innovation approaches you need to become an effective innovation leader. Download the 2017 program:

In honor of Women's History Month, the FEI team is happy to share a spotlight on these women driving innovation forward at FEI 2017:

·         A 130 Year Old Startup? Reinventing an Iconic Brand: Helene Rutledge, Chief Innovation Officer, New Avon
·         Disrupt or Be Disrupted: Linda Bernardi, Former CIO for IoT, Cloud, Cognitive, IBM
·         The Distributed Innovation Economy: Lauren van Heerden, Chief Innovation Officer, Brookstone
·         Confessions of a former CIO: Denise Fletcher, former Chief Innovation Officer, Payer & Pharma, Xerox
·         Internal Disruption: Anne Marie Kilgallon, Vice President, Innovation, AARP
·         Scaling Up Excellence: Evelyn Huang, VP of Design Thinking and Strategy, Capital One
·         Help Us Beat Cancer Sooner: Zoe Regent, Head of Innovation,
·         Achieving Real Impact - and Communicating It: Mona Vernon, Vice President, Thomson Reuters Labs
·         Inspiring Innovation from a Deeper Level: Diana Gabbard & Theresa Acheson, Director of Consumer Insights, US Cellular
·         Unleashing Innovation through Corporate Activism: Celine Schillnger, Head, Quality Innovation & Engagement, Sanofi Pasteur
·         Betterment, The Future of Retail & Maslow: Lindsay Angelo, Head of Strategy & Innovation, Lululemon
·         The Journey into Connected Appliances and the IoT: Rachael Schwartz, General Manager, Keurig Connect, Senior Director, Innovation, Keurig Green Mountain
·         The Hershey Advanced Technology Lab: Lina Yang, Futurist, Director, Advanced Technology Lab, The Hershey Company
·         Igniting Sprint: Practical Hacks Corporates Must Adopt: Laura Bissmeyer, Director of Global Source to Pay Operations, Corning
·         Sprinting in the Face of Uncertainty: Kristen Aune, Director of Strategy & Innovation, General Mills
·         Creating Highly Effective Innovation Leaders: Karen Tilsta, Co-Founder, Florida Hospital Innovation Lab, Co-Founder, Orlando Magic Innovation Lab
Read our latest interview with powerful woman Karen Tilstra, PhD and co-founder & inventor at Florida Hospital Innovation Lab (FHIL):

Ready to Join this List of Women Innovators? Use our blog discount code FEI17BL for $100 off. Book Your FEI Ticket:  

We hope to see you in Boston!

The FEI Team

P.S. Don’t forget to subscribe to our insights newsletter Destination Innovation: Destination Innovation is our monthly newsletter featuring our best innovation content for the month. Each month, take a few moments to sip your morning coffee while you read a thoughtful article on a new trend, watch an interview with an influential innovation leader, or an in-depth talk by a top changemaker. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Words Can Be Cheap!

Some years ago now I read Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes. One of the themes that stood out for me was that of Perception. How we perceive things is really coloured by the sum of our life’s experiences. Our experiences are the sum of our connections, relationships and actions.
LEAN Management was the topic for discussion during a session Ideation ran last week. I thought “great concept but why give it such a negative name”. LEAN to me has connotations of job cuts, budget cuts, doing more with less and so on and so forth. In its true form, all LEAN means is getting rid of the waste, and that usually refers to wasteful practices. There is definitley no harm in that!
In an ideal world though I would call it something like LEAP – Learn Easier Alternate Practices. DEAP would be better – Develop Easier Alternate Practices but it doesn’t conjure up the same light images as the word LEAP. Am I making any sense at all? Can you see the leprechaun taking off?
When I google LEAN Management and see the fluff written by way of definition of the practice, you have to wonder how the principles of LEAN ever took off. Except that it started not as LEAN but as the Toyota Production System. And that’s my point. The term grew out of an action.
Most of the terms we use, or even overuse to the point of cliche, came from somewhere. Creativity has existed through time immemorial. But if you look for a definition of creativity, you get everything from the occurrence of a new novel, to a special class of problem solving. Truth is you need creativity in every facet of a business. To come up with a new concept you require creativity, to produce a new product you require creativity, to market a product you require creativity, to commercialise a new product you need to do it creatively. We act Creatively all the time…
Innovation has yet to become a part of the business culture in most companies and organisations and yet the word is already almost cliche. It is thrown around with much abandon and some individuals and organisations even hide behind it. There is an article worth reading You Call That Innovation? Companies say they love to Innovate but the term has begun to lose it’s meaning. It’s in the Wall Street Journal and written by Leslie Kwoh. Google it (a name that has become an action and has it’s own definition – like Band-Aid or Apple).
I also like the term Disruptive Innovation.
Disruptive innovation can be defined as an improvement or advancement that enhances a service or a product in a manner that has never been expected by the market. – Jonathon Pitts
But isn’t that what any Innovation is? I get the emphasis is on enhancement here, but isn't any useful change Innovation – whether it be space travel or the use of tweezers and a hammer to remove a broken key from a door. In someone’s perception both acts were essential, both innovative.
Words are words. In business these days you need your actions to be as loud if not louder than your words. Rhetoric can buy you short term. Action buys you respect and long term survival. Ideas are great but flutter into the ether unless followed by action.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Twenty-Seven Percent: Measuring Human Emotion

We live in a time when cars are driving themselves, drones are dusting crops and food is being printed. Yup, the future has arrived and it is an shaking the ground below the feet of many leaders in “experienced” industries. We are modernizing everything and it isn’t an aesthetic thing, it is a real change to how brands interact with people in space and time.

The marketing, brand and design communities are equally susceptible to the shakedown. Let’s look at a recent invention (1980s) in marketing: frequent flier programs. Invented by American Airlines through the creation of a new currency, points. We, as passengers, earned them for our loyalty as they became a macro indicator of loyalty that showed up as a liability on the balance sheet of many brands. Marketers and loyalty agencies reinvented this idea to focus more on smushy, hard to understand “rewards” and less on a currency. The results allowed marketers to be more micro and measurable but perhaps less effective on a macro scale. But, at least fewer brand managers faced the CFO’s angry face when a massive liability showed up on the books.

The current state of loyalty programs is facing the soul rattling impact of blockchain. This backbone behind our new currency bitcoin and many other currencies is articulated here in an HBR article by Dan, Jessica and Alex. They are all practitioners in the field of engagement, loyalty and programs designed to quantify loyalty.

So, as a nod to our book, The Physics of Brand, let’s run this through a thought experiment. What if all loyalty currencies were on a centralized exchange where people could buy points with cash or exchange loyalty points like we do traditional currencies?  

Here’s the potential quake if an open marketplace develops with the security of a blockchain backbone. In today’s market, brand owners set the value of their points (currency) and like China, they’re sometimes inflated or deflated depending on the state of the loyalty program, brand position or other market dynamics. An open market would be less susceptible to manipulation but more open to large shifts in point value.

Now, we the people, in a blockchain system would get a lot more power to set the value through market supply and demand. Theoretically, someone could find enough airline points cheap enough to undercut the prices in certain markets. Theoretically, someone who changes jobs gets off the road may cash in on a freighter load of points. Theoretically, a brand owner could see a massive use of points and a rebalancing of this liability on their financials. Whatever the case, rebalancing of a dysfunctional marketplace (loyalty programs manipulated by brand owners) would certainly have an impact.

You might say this is a macro measurement of emotional engagement in an open market system. The brands with high emotional engagement will win and those who have tried to buy fake engagement will likely lose.

Let’s get that party started.

Now, let’s talk about the micro version, or the measurement of human emotional engagement in each individual. Your body is communicating how you feel by outputting heat, heart beats and electrical energy. You’d be highly aware of this fact if you’ve experienced the “liar” side of a lie detector test. Now here’s some interesting news: your iWatch is collecting some of that data today. Yes, your watch is getting to know you emotionally, perhaps better than your new lover. Though to be honest, Apple doesn’t seem to know what to do with your data yet. Your lover hopefully knows what to do with your data.

The horizon is short and even the brains at Capsule and Cupitor are developing a research methodology to better understand human emotion and correlate its contribution to brand value. So, someday soon Apple will know you better than the “love of your life” and while it may scare you, it may also make you a better person. It might tell you to work out more. It might tell you to eat better. It may also tell you the “love of your life” doesn’t really mean that much to you and you should wake up and reach out to the person you keep stalking on Facebook. Just kidding.

The wave of human advancement is starting to crest and what you perceive to be a darkened sky is actually a wave of knowledge shadowing your eyes. Once we’re surfing this wave, it will be an amazing adventure. We look forward to some amazing conversations at FEI as the innovation, research and design communities can either resist the wave or surf it to a better place.

Founder, Capsule Design

Monday, March 20, 2017

Must See Innovation Talks from KNect365’s Spring 2017 Events

From former gang leaders, to cyborg anthropologists, to biomimicry experts- KNect365’s Must See Talks will challenge you to look at problems in a whole new way and become an ignitor of change for your organization.

“Designing Calm Technology” - Amber Case, Cyborg Anthropologist and Author of Calm Technology: Designing for the Next Generation of Devices
April 4-6, 2017
Miami, FL
Use code FUSE17BL for $100 off.
Buy tickets to see Amber:

“The Consumer Influence – and Impact – of Virtual Reality” – Jeremy Bailenson, Founding Director of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford University
TMRE in Focus
May 1-3, 2017
Chicago, IL
Use code FOCUS17BL for $100 off.
Buy tickets to see Jeremy:

“Leadership Lessons from the Street: Commonalities Between Hacking the Culture of Criminal Organization and Fortune 500 Companies” – Antonio Fernandez, Former Leader at the Largest Hispanic Street Gang in the U.S.
FEI: Front End of Innovation
May 8-11, 2017
Boston, MA
Use code FEI17BL for $100 off.
Buy tickets to see Antonio:

“Biomimicry Innovation Projects: A New Paradigm in Sustainable Design” – Michael Pawlyn, Architect and Director at Exploration-Architecture
FEI Europe
June 13-15, 2017
London, England
Use code FEIEU17BL for $100 off.
Buy tickets to see Michael:

“Underdogs, Misfits & the Art of Battling Giants” – Malcom Gladwell, Best-Selling Author of Outliers, The Tipping Point and David & Goliath
TMRE: The Market Research Event
October 22-25, 2017
Orlando, FL
Use code TMRE17BL for $100 off.
Buy tickets to see Malcom:

We hope to see you this spring!


The KNect 365 Event Team

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

If Rules Aren't Meant To Be Broken Surely We Can Bend Them A Little

Some time ago I listened to Bill Gates talk about philanthropy, education and innovation  on Radio National and remember being delighted by the announcer's closing statement, "To draw more people into thinking big and outside the square, we must change how we teach". That means teaching everyone from school children to the elderly that it's OK to MAKE MISTAKES and it's OK TAKE A CHANCE. In case you are wondering, my keyboard isn't stuck on caps lock and yes I am shouting. Of course, the best risk takers are the ones who have nothing to lose... I have never really met a rule. Rules control behaviour. Not that I'm an advocate for unruly and socially unacceptable behaviour either. I simply (some would say naively) believe that if we all came from a place of respect and kindness  we wouldn't need a formal set of rules. 

A few years ago we went with several other families on a camping holiday for a long weekend. This holiday location was full of signs that started with DON'T!

Don't Run
Don't Ride Bikes
Don't Disturb Other Guests
Don't Leave Your Rubbish...

You get the picture? We were on the lookout for the "Don't Have Fun" sign. As you could perhaps imagine, there were several comments made about the Nazi like strict operations of the park. We couldn't contain our laughter when the Park Supervisor appeared on a small moped with a helmet like Schultz used to wear in Hogan's Heroes. There are a couple of entrepreneurs with colourful "Oops I think I accidentally on purpose broke the rules" stories that I admire and have one of those "oh I wish that had been me" 
moments over. 

Sara Blakely is the founding CEO of Spanx, a hosiery brand.She launched the brand from her home and it's now worth over $1Billion. The story goes that Nieman Marcus, a US department store, agreed to stock Spanx (well the buyers did) and try the range out with its customers. They tucked the product up the back of the store, keeping the big names in the prominent point of sale positions. Sara Blakely took herself off to Target and visited the hardware section where she purchased a quantity of metal shelving. Somehow this metal shelving found itself at Nieman Marcus, near the front of the registers. Miraculously, the shelves were soon occupied by Spanx hosiery. The only reason  the "ghost who installs shelves and stocks them with Spanx" was identified, was because Sara Blakely was caught on CCTV.

Walt Disney was told not to make a hero out of a mouse because women would be frightened! He was told never to mix animated characters with actors. He was told people would never sit through an animated feature film. Walt Disney was always told what not to do. And he did it anyway. 

Jack Dorsey (Twitter), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) and Steve Jobs (Apple) were all risk takers and they all broke Rules. They challenged the status quo and jumped (at times leapt) outside the square.

Happy crawling, hopping, jumping, leaping...

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Twenty-Seven Percent: Living up to it

The idea that people can live without seventy-three percent of the brands in their lives makes you wonder if those brands don’t really care? What in their business model, practices or culture makes for a situation where people don’t care if they exist? We could blame the people in the study, perhaps they polled a generally uncaring gaggle of individuals?

Well, the best explanation is modeled in your best relationships. Is there mutual interest in the relationship? This sounds rational and worthy of measurement. But, if we push this into the realm of emotion, the question of love comes up. Is there a mutual bond, emotional or social, between the person and the brand? Do you love your customers? How do you expect them to love you if you don’t love in return?

Human relationships are messy, managing a brand (or managing anything by definition) needs more rational than emotional inside a corporate environment. It's much harder to “manage” something that is, by its nature, messy. How do you love a population of people versus one person? How does a brand “show their love” for the people who love them? At first glance, this looks like a simple answer.

Design everything with the human being in mind.

In previous posts we make a case for how to address the 73% elephant in the room. Without a relationship between brands and people humanizing your brand was our place to start, living up to it is the next piece in the conversation.

“Living up to it” starts by getting to know the person, not as consumer, user, shopper, segment or any other single dimension. This doesn’t mean you have to spend money on a research plan that will deliver a state of “all knowing.” It means you’re in a perpetual state of curiosity, learning more each day, week, month, quarter and year about the people who love you.

Okay, you’re sitting in cubicle reading this and wondering, “who is this jackhammer?” Or, better yet, “let’s see this jackhammer spend a day or two in my world trying to build a brand inside a sales driven culture.” Well, first off, I look nothing like a jackhammer and second, I’m there for you. Let’s start with Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why.”

Sales driven culture is great, if the sales are focused on getting the proper amount of margin for your offering. Selling a solution was the answer in the nineties, selling a relationship and articulating the “why” is the equivalent today. A sales driven culture spiraling down to the lowest possible margin is likely missing a few pieces. The modern buyer of anything will benefit from knowing the “why” for your brand. Even if you don’t provide it, your audiences are making one up in their heads and the default is, ‘they’re doing this to make money, the sale, the transaction, or my wallet.”

So, if making money is your “why” and your only “why” then keep doing what you’re doing and the default answer will be unspoken. But, if you’re “why” is anything more than making the next sale, it should be crafted, edited and articulated. No matter if you’re selling widgets, airplanes or tomato paste, this matters. If you insert the “why” into a sales driven culture (both in words and visuals) it’s like adding jet fuel to a high performance engine. And it is the first step toward humanizing your brand.

If you’re looking for an example of this idea coming to life, turn to the KIND brand and read Daniel Lubetsky’s book, “Do the KIND Thing.” It exemplifies the idea of a “why” but not in a manner too big for the brand. Inspiring people to be more kind is a noble cause, but also broken down to bite-sized with “kind moments” from one person to another. Dan isn’t a global hero, saving the planet from tyranny, he is leading a KINDness movement. He isn’t saving lives, but certainly doing his part to make life better.   

It’s an act of KINDness to show your interest in the hard work of others. Thank you for taking the time to read this post and share it with friends and colleagues.

Founder, Capsule Design

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Innovation Interview: Experience Empathy to Innovate

In our Innovation Interview series, each month 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 Karen Tilstra, PhD, co-founder & inventor at Florida Hospital Innovation Lab (FHIL).

Tilstra is the co-founder of the award-winning FHIL, which has been called one the Florida Hospital’s most transformational initiatives. One year after launching FHIL Karen became the consulting founder of the Orlando Magic's Innovation Lab; and co-designer of the nation's first under graduate degree in Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship offered at Rollins College located in Winter Park Florida. Her most recent project is founding the San Diego State University’s Design Thinking Innovation Lab. 

What is the key to transforming ideas into market winning strategies?

Tilstra: GETTING EMPATHY. Getting out there and discovering what really is needed, not just want you this is needed. Seeing with Fresh eyes - GO AND EXPERIENCE WHAT YOUR CUSTOMER OR END-USER IS EXPERIENCING.  That way you will get NEW insights from both spoken and unspoken needs.

How does design thinking improve innovation? 

Tilstra: Design Thinking puts us in a position to co-discover the truth. to learn what really is needed. Design Thinking keeps us from thinking and operating from patterns of the past and old ways of thinking. When we use deign thinking we can stop producing results we don’t want or never intended - Design Thinking puts us in the position to lead and create from the emerging future.

Why are customers key driving factors in the market success or failure of new products and services?

Tilstra: I believe when we really understand what our customers NEED, not just what we think they need, we discover solution that are relevant and sustainable. Too many products and services are created around old ways of thinking that are not relevant today. Customers don’t always know what they need but they know it when they see it. That’s why designers, leaders and front line professional MUST to seek to experience what customers’ experiences. New products fail because they don’t meet a need.

We can prevent these failures if we stay connected to our customers and then create solutions in an iterative way. That way customers can interact with new products and solutions as they are developed. Feedback can be used to make products that meet needs. So - in short if we get customer empathy and they allow customers to interact with products and services as they are developed in an iterative way - the feedback loops are very authentic. the truth is apparent. but this takes more time and some leaders, companies or developers often don’t want to invest the time. BUT TIME SPENT IN CO-DISCOVER is never wasted!

How can innovators learn how to work alongside the technologies that will shape their product/service/experience innovations of the future?

Tilstra: Trial and error. By trying it. Having their bosses and leaders give them time and space to try out new tech options. etc. Patient… rapid prototyping and trusting the journey. Having an encouraging and patient boss who understand that their will be fails and money might be lost at first…but keep at it and each iteration become more clear and successful - if the feedback loops are kept open and dynamic.

How does leadership, teams, and the environment help empower and accelerate innovation?

Tilstra: Living the example. By creating safe spaces that are designed for collaboration. Having top leaders invite and reward collaboration and creativity thinking   Then leaders must create/build spaces and processes for collaboration - especially for those systems that are siloed or locked in hierarchy. It takes time - employees that have grown accustomed to stiff, hiarachial, systems will have to be encouraged to collaborate. Employees might not believe leaders or bosses who move in this direction - they must be shown this is a new way and given time and resources to learn how to collaborate. Also be rewarded for their collaboration and creative thinking.

Why is business model innovation a powerful way to breakthrough? How can companies stop conventional business models from impeding innovation?

Tilstra: Because it is human. Every business is run ultimately by humans - so once we accept that - we begin to understand that business model innovaiton is iterative, trial and error that leads to power and effective collaborations. It’s the truly natural human way to operate - we just forget it because we get blinded by greed, power, knowledge etc.  If we all committed to working in open collaborative ways we’d all be better.

How can open innovation leaders de-risk external collaborations and usher in more efficient pathways into their organization?

Tilstra: I’m am so not your typical business person. I believe we have too often focused on the wrong outcomes - therefore creating silos in business, answers locked away and too much competition. Some commotion is healthy but when we get totally sucked into competition we lose who we really are. We’re all in this world together struggling with the same challenge. If we could stop taking our selves too seriously and focused on what was really important in the grand scheme of things we’d see that open innovation leads to way more answers and opportunity for everyone.

Join Karen at her FEI workshop/double session, “Creating Highly Effective Innovation Leaders by Bringing Yourself into the Innovation Process” on May 10th at 2:00 pm. FEI takes you through the entire innovation process. Learn more:

Use your exclusive blog discount code FEI17BL for $100 off. Buy tickets:

Monday, March 6, 2017

Help Us Create the Best BEI 2017 Program

We want you to help us create the best BEI: Back End of Innovation Program this year! So, please fill out this short 6-question survey so that we can mold the program to fit our audience.

Take the short survey here:

We hope to see you at BEI 2017!


The BEI Team

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Twenty-Seven Percent: Humanizing Brands

The idea of a brand, which represents a corporation, individual or collection of people, is a human invention. We’ve invented these vessels of trust to be extensions  of ourselves, working for us when we’re not able to be present. The employees of P&G or 3M could never be present in every retail, industrial, commercial or household situation where their products intersect with people. Brands are, in one sense, leveraged assets of our humanity.

Some brands have forgotten, or perhaps never understood, their importance in our culture. This is starting to change.

There are many ways to interpret the twenty-seven percent, one is to consider what the number was before the study and attempt to determine trajectory. Perhaps when you saw people said they could live without seventy-three percent of the brands in their lives, your pessimistic view of the world saw this number on an upward trajectory. But, what if it’s going the other way? What if this survey was done five years ago and the number was seventy-nine percent? This provides a more optimistic view of our direction and let’s speculate on the reasons for this rise.

Brands are starting to see the importance of humanizing their brand and the rise in design thinking as an indicator. Brands are an important thread that tie our communities together through common beliefs, trust and aspiration for the best version of ourselves. People managing brands have seen the results of this line of thinking and translated it into strategies and tactics that are more human.

Example: when the rockstar Prince died, many brands expressed their sympathy in social media. Some felt promotional, while others dripped with empathy. The 3M team chose to modify their logo as a tribute to the Purple One and like many of the other brands who followed suit, received criticism for the homage.

People see 3M as a corporation and having no right or reason to express human emotion. Yet, 3M is comprised of 50,000+ employees with headquarters in Prince’s hometown. How many individuals expressed sadness by also stating when they met Prince (bragging about their brush with fame) while they crafted their sympathy message? If 3M is exploiting Prince’s death, what are these individuals doing by bolstering their social media message to get more likes, retweets and condolences themselves? The people behind the 3M brand made a decision to express human emotion from a corporation. And, they did it in an elegant, simple nod to the author of “Purple Rain” and the tear of sadness.

If a major corporation changed its logo to express sadness upon this writer’s death, it would be a proud moment.

The next example is a client of Capsule (for full disclosure) and a noteworthy example of humanizing a brand. Patagonia recently took themselves out of the largest trade show in the outdoor industry in protest against a state versus federal land ownership and the implications for protected territories ending up in a land grab. This move snowballed, and now the Outdoor Industry running the show is leaving the state of Utah. Patagonia is not a large brand by comparison to many, but they punch far above their weight class. When they do fight back, the bruises show up in the form of damaged political careers, back tracking politicians and a large economic impact to the state of Utah.

We’ve been to Patagonia many times and have the honor to work with an incredibly mission-driven team. We’ve seen what a humanized brand can do when it discovers a voice and the impact one voice can have when backed up by authentic behaviors.

Patagonia and 3M are at different stages of realizing their humanity and putting it out into the world. Yet, they are showing the same type of behavior and we commend those who humanize their brand. It helps that 27% grow, because it would be hard for someone to say they can live without 73% of the people in their lives. The more we humanize brands, the more they will be expected to live up to the idealized version of our humanity. The more brands who find their humanity, the more we have a reason to trust these brands and accept them as members of our community.

If you’re interested in learning how to humanize your brand, visit us at FUSE or reach out.

Founder, Capsule Design

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