HR's Strategic Role in Packaging

Historically, Human Resources (HR) has not played a very strategic role in innovation. This needs to change. HR needs to support the culture change to enable innovation; and the upcoming generation isn’t going to settle for an ‘administrative-only’ role. Innovation is primarily a social thing. Really. While processes are important, ideas come from interactions between and among humans. At the 2nd Open Innovation Summit and at the BIF-6 conference this came through loud and clear. The most fundamental asset a company has is its humans. So, wouldn’t you think the organization assigned to maximize (20th century business = manage) that resource is critical to a company’s success? Companies are good at managing tangible, concrete, known assets, and they try to manage humans the same way. Business schools, corporate training etc. don’t do well teaching us how to ‘manage’ or ‘measure’ social assets – to …

Posted in Innovation, Management, Psychology | 2 Comments
Are Entrepreneurs Born or Made?

Entrepreneurship is now a pretty big deal. Business schools all over the world have courses in this area and some even make it their major focus of teaching and research. Governments are also interested in entrepreneurs and routinely ask themselves how they can develop a more entrepreneurial national culture. Many years ago, an economist called Schumpeter recognized that risk taking and trying new technologies and business ideas was essential for economic growth. However, the current fascination with entrepreneurs would have even surprised Schumpeter. I mainly spend my time working on innovation and strategy but over the years I’ve seen the rise of the entrepreneurship field and kept notes on some ideas that I have found interesting. One of these is the issue of nature versus nurture. In other words, is there an inherent psychological bias that makes an entrepreneur or is it something that can be learned and developed? This … Continue reading

Posted in Entrepreneurship, Psychology | 1 Comment
Take a Direct Line to your Customer

In the early 1980s, if you wanted to take out motor insurance in the UK then you went to a high street insurance broker who took down all your details on various forms and sent them off to insurance companies to get quotes. The insurance broker insisted that it took all his skill and experience to eventually get you a good policy. Then Peter Wood came along and took a different view. He bypassed the insurance brokers altogether. His company, Direct Line, used computer databases with up-to-date information and banks of telephone operators to quote competitive prices immediately over the phone. It rewrote the rules of the industry and Direct Line grew into the largest UK motor insurance company. What Peter Wood did was to take telephone and database technologies – neither of which were particularly new at the time – and apply them …

Posted in Innovation | 1 Comment
Who's Really Innovative?

Here’s a real treat: Gary Hamel’s Who’s Really Innovative? article recently published on (in?) the Wall Street Journal blog. Once again, the lucid, straight shooting, and refreshing Hamel, hits a home run — taking on the phenomenon of annual “most innovative companies” lists. Hamel makes some very useful distinctions between the four different kinds of innovative companies: Tyros, Nobel Laureates, Artistes, and Cyborgs. Lots to learn here, including: “If you want a measure of just how difficult it is to stay innovative, consider this: Two-thirds of the businesses on Fast Company’s 2009 list of the 50 most innovative companies didn’t make into the 2010 edition. When it comes to innovation, few companies stand on the winner’s podium for long.” The paradox? By the time you finish reading Hamel’s article, at least three more publications will come out with yet another list of the most innovative companies of 2010. Don’t miss … Continue reading

Posted in Innovation, Top 10 | 1 Comment
Making Money From Free

Coinstar has figured it out. Has your business? by Ric Merrifield I have been following Coinstar for a really long time, in large part because the founder went to my high school (as did Bill Gates and TVs Batman Adam West for what it’s worth). If you don’t know Coinstar, their model is pretty straightforward (Coinstar now also owns the video rental company Redbox by the way). You take all of your coins into a participating store, dump them all into a Coinstar machine and you get a voucher for the cash value (less a percentage fee they keep). Pretty good model for the participating stores, not just because they have people with money burning a hole in their pocket that are in their store, but also because the store can use the machine as it’s source of coin replacements so they don’t have to have the Brink’s truck stop … Continue reading

Posted in Strategy, marketing | 1 Comment
10 Steps to Successful Brainstorming

Circa 1957 by Paul Williams I found these great brainstorming tips in the June 1957 issue of The Rotarian magazine via Google Books. The original article was entitled: “Got A Problem? Brainstorm It!” by Lyman Judson. It is no surprise that what we read about in 1957 is what practice today. As Judson’s article points out – even though brainstorming dates back to Plato, much of what they did in 1957 and what we do today is based on work by Alex Osborn. “Brainstorming is a good descriptive word. “Having a brainstorm” means having a brilliant idea. Although the basic technique of brainstorming by groups has been in use at least since the days of Plato, it is generally conceded that Alex F. Osborn, who contributed his name as well as his creative genius to the famous advertising firm of Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn, has been chiefly instrumental in … Continue reading

Posted in Creativity, Innovation, Processes & Tools | 5 Comments
Managing Failure

Failure is inevitable for most new ventures. It’s inevitable because the high risks involved for most new ventures make success difficult to achieve; if it wasn’t risky, then someone would have successfully launched the venture years earlier. But how we react to failure is one of the keys to success for the next venture. In their classic study of entrepreneurism titled The Entrepreneurial Mindset, authors Rita Gunther McGrath and Ian MacMillan have identified three important practices that entrepreneurial leaders employ when confronted with failure: constructive postmortems, recouping and spotting entrapment. Constructive Postmortems No one should be rewarded for making bad decisions, and so entrepreneurial leaders of successful programs do not forgive foolish failure. On the other hand, projects in which the team has consistently made good decisions but that failed as a result of circumstances beyond their control deserve recognition and reward. Entrepreneurial leaders who are successful at promoting deep … Continue reading

Posted in Management | 2 Comments