Author Archives: Jeffrey Phillips

Innovation Paradox - Slowing Down to Speed Up

I was watching my Twitter stream recently and saw that Roger von Oech had noted that a lot of creativity and innovation is based on paradoxes. You can see his original post here, and also note especially the comments to his post where people added other “paradoxes”. I thought this take was interesting, especially in light of the IBM Institute for Business Value Survey that has just been published. You know it has to be interesting when the title is Capitalizing on Complexity. In that survey the IBM authors note that the pace of change is increasing ever more rapidly, and the complexity most businesses face is also growing. The authors suggest that good leaders should embrace the pace of change and the growing complexity by considering three factors in their business: creative leadership, customer intimacy and operational excellence (my words, not necessarily theirs). In …

Posted in Innovation | 2 Comments
Fastest Follower Usually the Innovation Winner

In our innovation circles, we like to celebrate the pioneers. They are the folks that establish the trail and go where no one has gone before. We highlight their advancements and hold up their accomplishments. But what often goes unsaid or unnoticed is that many pioneers die right on the cusp of success. Who are the ultimate winners? The Fastest Followers ™. Does this mean we as innovators should abandon the concept of “Blue Oceans” and wait for others to move? Absolutely not – but it should inform our strategies. Let’s think about one exemplar of innovation – Google, and one pioneer that made the search space possible – Yahoo. I can remember when Yahoo was the big news. Yahoo was going to take over the internet and Google was an interesting sideshow. What Yahoo did was establish that there were OPPORTUNITIES …

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Innovation Leadership Requirements - Creativity

I found it interesting yesterday to see that IBM’s Institute for Business Value, a think tank and research organization, has surveyed CEOs of major corporations to try to understand the key characteristics that leaders will need in the near future. I guess I should be more specific – I didn’t think it was interesting that they asked 1500 CEOs about the important attributes and skills necessary for future leaders to possess. I found it interesting that the number one skill they recommended was “creativity”. This is interesting on so many levels. Mention creativity in most corporate environments and eyes roll so dramatically you’ll be concerned that someone could actually lose one. An eye that is. Creativity isn’t just scoffed at in most organizations – it isn’t even considered a topic of polite conversation. There are few if any classes on creativity, and very few people …

Posted in Creativity, Innovation, Leadership, Leadership & Infrastructure, Management | 4 Comments
Innovation Failure Points - Idea Generation

As strange as it may seem, one of the most innocuous and simple activities within an innovation process is also one of the most common failure points. Idea generation, a task that any child can do effectively, is a daunting task for many firms, and a common innovation failure point, for a number of reasons. This post is part of a continuing series of posts on innovation failure points across the innovation process. Previously we’ve examined a “weak link” at the start, when linking to strategy, and when gathering insights from customers and prospects. Today, we look at the strangest failure point of all – the one task everyone should do well. The first reason is cynicism. Too many people approach an idea generation session with a tremendous amount of cynicism. Most of them don’t expect the meeting to be conducted well, don’t expect their …

Posted in Creativity, Innovation | 5 Comments
Innovation Failure Points - Inside-Out Innovation

In a continuing series of posts I am examining a number of consistent innovation failure points, under the thinking that learning from failure is much more instructive than learning from success, since often success is situational, while repeated failures can be instructive. In the first two posts, we reviewed failing by starting poorly, and failing by neglecting to closely link innovation to strategy. What I’m interested in is identifying the “weak links” in the innovation process and examining why innovation fails most consistently at these particular points. Today we’ll consider the weak link of what I like to call “inside out” innovation. This is the presumption that we know what our customers need, and that happens to look a lot like our existing products or services. Too many firms “innovate” with very little information or insight about the market, their customers, or customers’ need or wants. …

Posted in Innovation, Psychology | 4 Comments
Innovation Failure Points - Disconnected from Strategy

As I noted in my previous post, I think it can be more instructive to learn from failure than from success. Too often a success is situational, and the conditions for that success aren’t necessarily repeatable. But we can also see many consistent failures, which I know can be addressed. Today we’ll look at the second weak link in an innovation chain, the confusion around innovation and strategy. All too often, executives are interested in innovation but have strong reservations because innovation is likely to explore areas where the business does not have specific strengths or will make recommendations that cannibalize existing products or services. None of this activity is necessarily wrong, just creates some uncomfortable discussions when it comes time to invest. This, compounded with the fact that often corporate goals, strategies and strategic intent are murky at best or simply poorly communicated, means that …

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Innovation Failure Points - Strangled in the Crib

I am going to start a multi-part post today thinking about innovation’s failure points. Too often all we hear about are the innovation successes, yet if the statistics are right, there are far more “failures” than successes. I believe it is more interesting and more informative to consider the failures rather than the successes, in that every failure is instructive, while most successes are situational. So, rather than looking at a successful result and assuming the process was valid, let’s consider innovation as a series of interconnected links, and find the likely failure points for innovation in that chain. As we look at weak links in the innovation chain our first stop is at the beginning. While we all claim to want more innovation, all too frequently innovation is strangled in the crib. As innovation consultants, we receive calls on a regular basis to talk to prospective clients …

Posted in Innovation, Strategy | 2 Comments