Author Archives: Jeffrey Phillips

Vision and Passion for Innovation Success

As a consultant who works in the innovation space, I’ve seen lots of innovation initiatives. Some were successful in spite of themselves, and some were failures even when all the “right” people were involved. Some rely overmuch on technology, and some succeed using paper and pencil. Some have plenty of training and process, some purely adhoc. But the common denominators of all successful innovation projects are two factors: vision and passion. Let’s explore each of them briefly. When I say vision, I am using the word to represent several characteristics or components. To me, vision is understanding the need to create something new, and understanding the emerging opportunities and/or challenges that a team should address. Vision is also about being able to communicate those facts to others and get them to see the same opportunities as you do. Often we see innovation …

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Innovation Paradox - Liberated by Constraints

I’ve been captivated by Roger von Oech’s post about innovation and its relationship to paradox. It seems that almost any factor of innovation can be considered a paradox. Last time I wrote about the paradox of slowing down to speed up. This time I’d like to consider being liberated by constraints. Generally speaking, most teams believe that constraints limit their thinking, and their ability to be creative. What’s interesting is that most people who “do” creativity for a living crave constraints. Without constraints, every task starts from a blank sheet of paper, a very long and broad sheet of paper, with no clear starting point. David Ogilvy is quoted as having thanked his clients for a “tight brief” – not underwear, but a clearly defined and tightly controlled set of criteria to achieve. Innovation teams often believe that working without constraints is the best way to …

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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 …

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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 …

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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