Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Tony Fadell - former Head of iPod Division - Reveals Keys for Constant Innovation

FEI 2017 is on track to SELL OUT

When you think about serial innovation, what do you think of? Is it a company, or maybe a specific individual?

Tony Fadell, former SVP of the iPod Division at Apple and Founder & Former CEO of Nest, knows a little bit about constant innovation. His experience at both Apple and Nest have given him the insight into the importance of setting constraints, ignoring the experts and embracing self-doubt in serially innovative companies.

Hear directly from Tony and gain the insight needed for constant innovation, to fuel the creation of future value in your organization, at FEI: Front End of Innovation this May.

In addition to Tony, take a look at this impressive list of innovators you’ll join at FEI 2017:

Abbott Nutrition
Altria Group
American Arbitration Association
American Student Assistance
Applied Invention LLC
Autoneum Management AG
Bayer Healthcare
Bedford Industries/ElastiTag
Benchmark Senior Living
Boston Beer Company
Cambia Health Solutions
Cambridge Design
Campbell Soup Company
Capital One
C-Fresh, A Div of Campbell's
Chamberlain Group Inc
Church & Dwight
CIGNA Healthcare
Consumer Insights
Continuum Innovation
CVS Health
Dart Container
Delta Dental of Washington
Eli Lilly & Co
Enbridge Inc
Energizer Personal Care
Entel SA
Ernst & Young
 ExxonMobil Global Services
Federal Reserve Bank of Boston
Fidelity Investments
General Mills
IDEO Cambridge
Ingersoll Rand
Innovation Beehive
Innovation Leader
Innovator's DNA LLC
Innovia Technology
JM Smucker Company
Jonson & Johnson
Kimberly Clark Corporation
Land O’Lakes Inc
Liberty Mutual
Lincoln Financial Group
Maddock Douglas
Manitowoc Company
Milwaukee Tool
MIT Center for Tech Innovation, MIT
Nature's Bounty Inc
NetSpend Corporation
New Avon
New Jersey Devils
NYU Stern
Orlando Magic Innovation Lab
Partners HealthCare Conn Health
PRIDE Industries
Procter & Gamble
QualQuant Signals
Rapid Learning Cycles Institute
Ready Pac Foods Inc
Reliance Industries Limited
Sanofi Pasteur
Sherwin Williams
Simmons Foods
Smucker Natural Foods LLC
State Farm Insurance
STERIS Corporation
Stevens Institute
Sun Products
The Coca-Cola Company
The Garage Group
The Soulfull Project, PBC
Theory House
Thomson Reuters Labs
Thrivent Financial
Tom's of Maine
Tools of Innovators
Transamerica Life & Protection
US Cellular
VF Corporation
VSP Global
Washington Dental Service
Westfield Insurance
X-Rite Pantone

Don’t miss out!

Use exclusive Blog discount code FEI17BL for $100 off the current rate. Buy your tickets here: https://goo.gl/nKbdQB

We hope to see you in Boston this spring!

The FEI Team


Monday, February 27, 2017

Ideas Are Cheap – Real Innovation Comes from Flawless Execution

In our Front End of Innovation interview series, we caught up with Mark Jones, VP of Design Thinking and Strategy, United Healthcare. His design background and experience in qualitative & quantitative research methodologies allow him to uncover user issues, convert them into design strategy, and create service experiences that serve customers’ needs, & inspire long-term loyalty.

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

Jones: Ideas are cheap---any group of smart people can come up with some ideas that look good on the surface. But few of those ideas bear fruit. Real innovation comes from a disciplined process of understanding a real market need, designing a robust solution for that need and executing flawlessly.

How does design thinking improve innovation?

Jones: Innovation projects that employ design thinking come up with solutions that have a better chance of making it to market successfully, since they are developed with holistic thinking that considers desirability, feasibility and viability simultaneously. Design thinking also encourages iterative development, which helps work out the kinks before a company has to commit large how to allocate their investment, getting the best ideas to market.

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

Jones: New technologies don’t appear out of nowhere—they are generally around for quite a while before they become mainstream. I like to scan the world and look for places where emerging technologies are being used in new ways. They are likely to be in very different industries or contexts than your own business, but they are still relevant. Many of these products or services are unlikely to scale since they are so early in the market, but you can talk to people who are trying them out, see what they value in them and use that insight as a springboard to apply them to your own business.

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

Jones: Championing from leadership and the culture of an organization are critical factors for successful innovation. Innovation projects need to have a different approach than the core existing business. Teams need permission to fail, time to dedicate themselves to an innovation effort, funding and time to get things to market with uncertain timelines for a return on the investment. Top executives should expect that initial launches and pilots need to be adjusted before they can be scaled. These are not the ways that the existing parts of the business are run—nor should they be.

Why is business model innovation a powerful way to breakthrough?

Jones: There are just so many more ways that a service can create value in the marketplace, particularly when one considers a stakeholder landscape that is complex and involves multiple parties. Being limited by a conventional fee for service model narrows the potential market significantly, so we need to expand thinking to consider alternate revenue streams. It’s more complex, and hard to pull off well, but it is essential in today’s environment.

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

Jones: Key is to have a clear understanding of the role of the people participating in an open innovation effort. What are the terms of engagement? For example, what happens with the ideas that come from open innovation? Are there clear guidelines regarding IP? Who is running the initiative?  Lack of clarity on any of these issues creates risk for all of the players.

Join Mark at his FEI session, “Understanding the End User: Driving Innovation Through Empathy” on May 9th at 11:30 am. FEI takes you through the entire innovation process. Learn more: https://goo.gl/6ipcsB

Use your exclusive blog discount code FEI17BL for $100 off. Buy tickets: https://goo.gl/6ipcsB

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Leadership Development - The Reptilian Error We've Been Making for Years

We've been carrying out massive career mutilation for decades in the way we develop leaders. The cost in wrecked lives and marriages is high enough. But it's the lost productivity that the bean counters will focus on.

Here's the received wisdom: you've got a bright young manager who appears to have 'moves' in them. Upward moves, that is. They're talented and hard-working and they should be able to progress upward through the organization's ranks. Maybe be a C level one day.

You decide to promote them to a more senior role. But it's a role that needs, let's say, some political awareness which so far they haven't shown. There are some highly ambitious execs on the next level up and your protégé will have to be canny. So in order to prepare them, you put them on a short management course to teach them about consensual decision-making, negotiation skills and the like. A sort of 5-day MBA.

Over the next year you watch the result and it's not pretty. Your next Bill Gates is very good at detail and process. But they fail at every turn to win support from same-level managers in sales, marketing and other divisions. He or she has the negotiating skills of a timber wolf and just as many friends. The wheels are coming off a once-promising career.
  • Did you promote them too soon?
  • Did you promote them for the wrong reason?
  • Did they deceive you that they were better than they were?

Your sense of responsibility for their fall is admirable.  But here's where you - and we - have been crazy all these years. I've bolded and centered it because it's vital you get this:

You didn't discover your mentoree's natural talents before pushing them up the ladder.

In their case, their natural talent for networking and political maneuvering was non-existent. Putting them on that particular management course was like trying to turn an engineer into a dancer by giving him some ballet shoes. Some people just don't dance. You pushed them up the wrong career ladder and, for them, it turned into a snake.

How to develop talented leaders - naturally.

First, here's what not to do.

Don't try to turn a hamburger into an omelette. Your colleague can't become someone they're not, just because a job opening requires it. And don't try to intuit or guess your colleague's hidden talents. That's like trusting a pine cone to tell you the weather. Fine if you lived in a stone hut but not in an era of satellite forecasting.

Second, here's what to do. It's your way to a managerial home run (Or a 5-over century if you're British or Australian).

Find out your colleague's natural strengths and talents and encourage them to build their career around these. Method Teaming is a science that understands this stuff. It can literally map someone's talent and display it on a single sheet. It's the satellite forecasting to your intuition's pine cone. (If you still trust your intuition more than science, remember that 80% of us hate our jobs [Deloitte]. Your intuitive vision just might be perfect but the rest of us can't find our own reflection in a hall of mirrors, let alone someone else's.)

Don't you owe it to your colleague(s) to use the best scientific tools to help them on in their career?
It's up to you.

But if you want to get a good night's sleep, you won't do it by pushing people onto snakes instead of ladders. Just think of what the bean counters will have to say about all that lost productivity.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

6 Lessons in Innovation and Entrepreneurship from Matilda The Musical

I confess that I am a musical tragic and took my daughter to see Matilda The Musical last Saturday.  I found myself relating the story to my work in innovation and entrepreneurship.

In 2000, struggling to make a living from theatre and music, and fascinated by the work of Roald Dahl, Tim Minchen wrote to Dahl’s manager asking for the rights to Matilda to write ‘the musical’ for an amateur theatre company. He was asked to send a sample of his score so Dahl’s team could consider his request. Stunned he actually received a response; Minchen deleted the email but thankfully not the idea. Fast-forward to 2008 and he wrote the songs for Matilda in a seven-week period.

Lesson number one is never kill an idea, just park it. You never know when you might resurrect it. And lesson number two, in Branson’s words, “Next time opportunity knocks, just say yes".

Matilda faces the incorrigible Miss Trunchbull to realise her dreams.  Miss Trunchbull instills fear and commands, “You have to stay inside the circle”. In business, we know it is the lack of empowerment and unwavering rules that inhibit creativity and stifle innovation. Lesson number three, don’t choke the people around you by locking them in physically or metaphorically. Encourage experimentation and new experiences.

Lesson four is to ‘keep it real’. Matilda boldly claims, “Just because you think that life’s not fair it doesn’t mean that you just have to grin and bare it”. We are each responsible for our actions. Clients, employees, and business owners are thankfully demanding authenticity. Be respectful, be considerate and certainly don’t stand by when you know something is “not right”.

With the celebration of Women’s International Entrepreneurship day an annual event, my ‘inner voice’ cheered each time Matilda emphasised, “I’m a girl”. Lesson five, it is inspiring to see so much support and recognition for women as they take on entrepreneurial roles and step into the innovation space, particular in tech, engineering and medicine.

Finally lesson six, you get what you pay for. At $150 a ticket we had an amazing experience. If you are going to invest in yourself, don’t short sheet your business and cut corners. If it’s worth doing, do it believing you cannot fail.

A final word from the star of the show, “Sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty”. Let’s face it, is there an entrepreneur who has never challenged or broken rules?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

FEI 2017 Chief Innovation Officer Forum Just Announced - IBM, Intuit, AARP, Avon, Xerox, Clorox & More

In theory, innovation should be everyone’s job, but when push comes to shove, successful organizations realize that innovation direction, leadership and accountability must have a direct seat at the executive table.

FEI 2017 brings together a unique, cross-industry mix of 15+ Chief Innovation Officers to share stories from the trenches at leading innovation organization. At the all-new Chief Innovation Officer Forum, you’ll hear current and former CIOs discuss the role of today’s Chief Innovation Officer, how they create systematic innovation programs linked to growth improvements and the ideal structure for innovation teams of the future. https://goo.gl/YpDv0a

Chief Innovation Officer Forum Program Highlights:

·         IBM on How Culture, Innovation and Technology are Critical Elements for Enterprise Innovation Success
·         Inuit reveals the Key to Corporate Longevity… Disrupting Yourself
·         ACT shares how to Design for Sustainable Innovation
·         AARP explores the Relationship between the CIO and Innovation Team
·         AVON on Leveraging Innovation Business Models to Reinvent an Iconic Brand
·         Plus more from CIOs at Transamerica, New Jersey Devils, Xerox, Dell, Clorox, USAA and Brookstone!

View the full Chief Innovation Officer Forum agenda here: https://goo.gl/YpDv0a

Use exclusive LinkedIn discount code FEI17BL for $100 off the current rate. Buy tickets: https://goo.gl/ljTu7i

We hope to see you in Boston this spring!

The FEI Team


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Modern Bicycle – The Progress of Innovation

By: Jamie Singer

The bicycle has a near perfect design. 

Interestingly this hasn’t always been the case though.  Although progress has been slow, the bikes we recognise today found their origin in the early 15th Century - the designs we know today are far from what the original pioneers were riding.  Fortunately, construction has been streamlined and the weight reduced in order to meet the functional demands of modern athletes.

 The first revolution was to ditch the ridiculously large front wheel and equally ridiculous small back wheel.  Since then the technological evolution of the bicycle has been more notable for its sluggishness rather than a stellar trajectory of advancement.

Indeed, the loudest voices debating technological advancements were often Cycling Luddites saying ‘No’.  No to new frame materials, no to new braking systems, no to new ways to change gears.  The drive train has stubbornly remained cogs and chains, gears persist with mechanical cables.

But there have been pioneers. 

In 1989 Greg LeMonds bolt on aero-bars revolutionised time trialling, designed by former US national ski team coach - Boone Lennon, they allowed LeMond to adopt a wind cheating aerodynamic position that famously snatched the Tour de France from Laurent Fignon by an 8 second hairs breadth.

Chris Boardman’s Mike Burrows designed, Formula 1 inspired, Lotus engineered, wind tunnel perfected, carbon fibre monocoque frame that carried Boardman to Olympic Gold in 1992 (before British Cycling systematically hoovered up Olympic track gold for fun) was banned by the UCI.  In 1993 Hour Record legend Graeme Obree’s “Old Faithful” with its “Superman” riding position was so revolutionary that the UCI promptly banned it too. 

We remember them because they are relatively isolated innovations, often initially laughed at then outlawed before (becoming the future that we all must have).  All of them have one thing in common, they are innovations imagined by outsiders to cycling.  None more so than the early Mountain Bike pioneers of Marin County, California in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Whilst road bike technology and innovation has been held back by UCI regulations and the purists, the same can’t be said of mountain biking which being true to its revolutionary origins never stands still.  Suspension, disc brakes, wheel size, even handlebar width are experimented and innovated. 

Ironically from the young upstart much of the current innovation in road cycling is mountain bike inspired.  What is driving this growing tidal wave of change?  What's changed?  In the UK, Wiggins, Pendleton, Hoy have made Lycra acceptable and inspired a nationwide leisure pursuit that whilst cheaper than a mid-life crisis sports car, has created a lucrative market that is fuelling technological advancement.

Since 1996, the UCI’s post Lugano Charter has heavily influenced and arguably restricted bike frame design, the open double triangle rule that sounded the death knell for the monocoque frame; but more profitable cycling manufacturers means a subtle shift in the balance of power.  It’s no  coincidence that the UCI has decided (or been pressurized into) dropping its infamous 3:1 rule. 

We’re on the cusp of exciting times, as engineers ‘forget the UCI’ and push the boundaries of materials, geometries and CAD we can expect to see more bikes like the scintillating Cervélo P5X or the crazy Diamondback Andean, with its superbike style fairings and aerofoils, just more radical. 
That’s just on the outside.  Whilst bikes have been slow to evolve, the bolt-ons like bike computers, power meters and apps have raced ahead.  The next generation of bikes will incorporate these technologies within their wind cheating graphene frames.  Stop Press: Bikes like the SpeedX Unicorn and the Argon 18 Smart Bike already are.

About the Author: He loves to ride his Cube Stereo Hybrid 120 and in his spare time blogs at http://www.biketorpedo.co.uk/ where he reviews the latest cycling gear.  You can reach him at Facebook or Twitter. 

Image credits:

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Celebrate Valentine’s Day with $200 Off an Innovation Conference You Love!

Dear Innovation Community,

Roses are red…
Violets are blue…
It’s Valentine’s Day…
So here’s $200 off a conference just for you!

As valued readers of our blog, in true Valentine’s Day fashion, we want to share the love! So please take your pick of our 2017 conference lineup and take $100 off using the blog discount code, plus an additional $100 just for Valentine’s Day:

1)      FUSE Miami
The Best in Branding and Design share their vision for the future, reveal the challenges you must be prepared to face and provide you with strategies needed to succeed in this new reality.
April 4-6, 2017
Miami, FL
Use code FUSE17BL for an additional $100 off
Buy tickets: https://goo.gl/tYh6L0

2)      FEI: Front End of Innovation
Let’s get beyond the idea. FEI takes you through the entire innovation process- from ideation through to execution. Get the tips you need for creating fast, agile & opportunistic innovation teams to turn a great idea into a market winning product.
May 8-11,2017
Boston, MA
Use code FEI17BL for an additional $100 off
Buy tickets: https://goo.gl/1xSQXw

3)      FEI: Front End of Innovation Europe
Transformative Innovation: Stay relevant in rapidly changing times. Go to market faster, anticipate customer needs, and enable breakthrough thinking across your organization. FEI Europe covers the full innovation spectrum: ideation, trends, culture, leadership, and strategy.
June 13-15, 2017
London, England
Use code FEIEU17BL for an additional $100 off
Buy tickets: https://goo.gl/2Mp0fV


The KNect365 Marketing, Insights & Innovation Team

Monday, February 13, 2017

Innovation Starts with Why

What difference can you make? How can you make life easier for others? When was the last time you took a stand against something you believed was not acceptable? How does your business serve your clients? When was the last time you created useful change within your business or organisation? 

It is widely accepted and scientifically proven that we actually feel good when we do good. And there are so many moments in the day when we can selfishly make ourselves feel good through acts of kindness towards others. 

But what does this have to do with business? Or Innovation? Well, a lot really! Finally, we are realising that the whistle blower may not be the troublemaker but rather the hero that finally speaks out against inequity or unethical behaviour. We are recognising the benefits of empowerment and self-regulation in a workplace. We are seeing more examples of businesses where a KPI isn’t measured by a dollar amount but by acts of generosity and kindness. 

And, as Simon Sinek puts it, it all Starts With Why. This movement has pushed the traditional vision statement to new limits. Businesses such as Zappos, Apple, Atlassian and Google are clear on their raison d’etre. Zappos exists to deliver the best customer service, Apple to challenge the status quo and Google to organise the world’s information. 

According to Gallup Strategic Consulting reports, engaged employees are more productive, more customer-focused and less likely to leave the organisation. And the best way to ensure employee engagement is to have everyone aspiring to the same vision – the same corporate ‘Why’. 

We also know that in order for a company or business to be truly innovative, the support needs to come from the top down, employees need to feel empowered, and time and resources need to be allocated. Your team need to feel valued, respect and they need to be challenged.

Every day brings a new opportunity to tilt the world a little closer to love and to humanity, equality and equity, and peace and kindness. Especially in business. Leave your mark on today and show you colleagues, friends and family how much you care.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Four Pharma Business & Life Sciences Strategies to Put You Ahead of Competitors

In a bit of a pharma identity crisis? You’re not alone.

The competitive landscape for big businesses, including pharmaceutical and life-science companies, around the world is changing rapidly. And with the growth of the digital era, allowing companies to reach new targets, in real time, those shifts are likely to accelerate. It’s no surprise that company executives are exploring ways to be innovative and apply new strategies to better understand market trends and meet demands --- positioning them as thought-leaders and ahead of the competition.

This exclusive whitepaper highlights four strategic identities, each with their own capabilities, to help pharma and life science companies stay ahead of their competitors.

Who are they?

1)Breakthrough Science Developers
2) Disease Outcome Enabler
3) Commercial Value Optimizers
4) Disciplined Portfolio Managers

Learn which of these four identities will deliver the most value for your business. Download the exclusive whitepaper.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Innovation Interview: Transforming Ideas into Winning Market Strategies

Innovation Interview: Transforming Ideas into Winning Market Strategies

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 Peter Murane, Founder & CEO, Brandjuice, to discuss the keys to transforming ideas into winning market strategies.

What is the key to transforming ideas into market winning strategies?
Murane: Only move your best ideas forward. The ones that excite consumers and customers. The ones that are deeply rooted in unmet marketplace needs and category trends. The ones that are connected to your company's competencies and that will build both revenue and margin. 

How does design thinking improve innovation?

Murane: We live in the experience economy so thinking deeply about how the lives of potential customers ​would be enhanced through innovation must be job one. With innovation, we can't adopt the mindset of "I'm here to sell you things" but rather "I'm here in service to you." That service mindset requires deep listening and observation to feed a thoughtful and inspired design thinking process built around both possibility and problem-solving. 

Why are customers key driving factors in the market success or failure of new products and services?
Murane: Customers have strategic objectives too. But manufacturers often don't include them in the innovation process until it's time to "sell". That's a mistake. Your best customers want to be involved. They want you to help them grow their categories versus being treated as "gate keepers" to the consumer. ​We encourage co-creation of innovation strategy and concepts with select customers. 

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

Murane: The most successful innovators embrace new technologies and are always hunting for connections. This requires an ongoing commitment to exploring adjacent categories, to building "farm systems" of technology partnerships rooted in idea sharing and open innovation principles. And it requires getting out of the office to simply explore through methods like BrandJuice Passport Days.

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

Murane: Innovation strategy has to be aligned all the way to the top of the organization and back down so that it can efficient and successful. This means innovators and innovation teams must have executive sign off on an Innovation Charter. This is an agreement that defines fundamentals of innovation success including, size of prize, definitions of risk appetite, capital investment parameters, ​role of acquisitions, brands of focus, categories of interest and, most importantly, a definition of time frame. Too many innovation teams are whipped around by changing strategy driven by financial success. They may be innovating too close-in or too far out to meet the strategic objectives of the company. 

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

Murane: Companies cannot stop new business models from entering the market. In fact, of the biggest problems established companies face is being slow to see and then adjust to new models and new forms of competition. Think of Marriott facing Airbnb. Or Dannon and Yoplait taking years to respond to the Greek Yogurt trend led by Chobani.

Software technologies like Brand VO2 can help companies identify shifts in the market. ​Monitoring word-of-mouth conversations is definitely a starting point. More sophisticated companies invest in innovation structures that allow them to partner their way into new business models or even have adjacent business created with the express purpose of doing business differently than the mothership. 

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

Murane: Innovations can be de-risked by investing in transactional learning experiments where key assumptions are validated using early-stage commerce tests. 90% of innovations are flawed in some way -- in that assumptions prove to be incorrect. That doesn't have to mean an innovation is doomed to failure however. In fact, identifying flawed assumptions in a pre-commercialization phase provides a tremendous advantage to a company's innovation portfolio and investment ROI. BrandJuice invented a transactional learning model called Wallet Testing to support this kind of success based on rapid adaptation based on how consumers are voting with their wallets. Who doesn't want less risk and more success.

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