Innovating for the Likely Future

When we work with our clients to create interesting new ideas, we always first start with trend spotting and scenario planning. Many will argue initially that this seems unnecessary – it’s easy to identify challenges or problems that need to be solved today. Why spend the time looking five to seven years out at a minimum? There are several viable answers for this question. Let’s start with the undeniable facts and work our way to the suppositions. Product Development Cycles The first issue to consider is how long it takes to get a new product to market. In many firms we work with, this can vary from 18 months to 36 months. So even if you are really good at spotting a near term problem or opportunity and are fairly good at bringing the new product to market, your solution will hit the market not today, not tomorrow, …

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The Magic of Great Products

We all know intuitively when we are using a truly great product. There is just something about the experience that leaves a lasting impression. And, while it may be hard to say exactly what that special “something” is, you inherently know when it’s there. So what are these attributes of very best products? The Very Best Products are Tolerant All day – every day – we are making mistakes, involved in accidents and cutting corners. Incorrect key strokes, parts installed backwards, dropped items, false starts, skipped steps and re-dos are rampant. With minimum hassle, the very best products tolerate, survive and recover from these mistakes and abuse. We deeply appreciate when the products we buy are robust and discreetly watch out for us without getting in the way. The Very Best Products Play Well with Others Interfaces matter. Great products are sensitive to the way they interface with accessories, other … Continue reading

Posted in Design, Headlines, Product Innovation, Psychology, Strategy | 3 Comments
Innovation Perspectives - Managerial Innovation Critical to the Core

This is the third of several ‘Innovation Perspectives’ articles we will publish this week from multiple authors to get different perspectives on ‘Should companies treat innovation management as a core competence? And if so, how?’. Here is the next perspective in the series: by Steve Todd Gary Hamel, in his book The Future of Management, provides a framework for changing a command-and-control culture to an environment of empowered innovation. His bottom line is that corporations need to innovate, but not only in the “new product” sense. They must innovate in their methods of managing employees! This means that corporations must manage their innovators using methods and processes that have not yet been created. Hamel outlines four types of corporate innovation areas that merit consideration: Operational Innovation: this type of innovation, “which is about how the work of transforming inputs into outputs actually gets done “(taken from CuriousCat), rarely leads to … Continue reading

Posted in Build Capability, Innovation Perspectives, Management | 2 Comments
What All Great Leaders Have In Common

All great leaders have one thing in common: They read voraciously. Did you know that the average American only reads one book a year? Worse than this is the fact that 60% of average Americans only get through the first chapter. Contrast this with the fact that CEOs of Fortune 500 companies read an average of four to five books a month. Even more impressive is that some of the most successful leaders throughout history were known to read one book every single day. Bottom line… If you’re a leader and not an avid reader, you’re wrong. In today’s post I’ll share my thoughts on the value of reading. If the statistics in the opening paragraph didn’t convince you of the power of reading, here are a few more telling observations for your consideration – according to our surveys at N2growth, a very large common denominator shared by executives who … Continue reading

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Top 5 Countries for Open Innovation

Innovation requires a global perspective, which is a key reason for all the travel I do in order to meet with innovation leaders around the world. Recently I was in Sao Paulo, Brazil and being there I began wondering which countries do well on open innovation. Brazil is not on this list yet but I am quite sure their time will come. There is just too much potential in this land of opportunity. So which countries do well on open innovation? This is my quick snap shot. United States – No surprise here. This is where it happens. We have the companies, intermediaries/service providers, top academics and all the best conferences. There are simply too many to mention here. The Netherlands – Philips built a campus that stimulates open innovation long ago and their focus on open innovation is shared by other companies such as AkzoNobel, DSM and Unilever. The … Continue reading

Posted in Entrepreneurship, Government, Headlines, Open Innovation, collaboration | 3 Comments
Innovating Business Models

One area with tremendous economic potential is to create a new business model. Of all the parts of a business to develop, a business model is probably the most complicated area to create. A new business model is also the area which may create the most significant economic gain of all. Some obvious business model innovations include firms like eBay and Amazon. Google certainly created a new business model. Ryanair has a unique aviation business model in Europe where they charge the airport to be serviced rather than the typical model of the airport charging all the fees. Ryanair has been so successful they may actually take over Lufthansa in the near future. Think also about FedEx and Dell Computers. Too often a new business model is thought of simply as a different pricing model, but business models encompass much more than simply price. They …

Posted in Business Models, Headlines, Innovation, Strategy | 2 Comments
Innovation Perspectives - Building Core Competence

Leveraging Your Constraints This is the second of several ‘Innovation Perspectives’ articles we will publish this week from multiple authors to get different perspectives on ‘Should companies treat innovation management as a core competence? And if so, how?’. Here is the next perspective in the series: by Mike Dalton Most companies reinvest (aka spend) anywhere between 30 and 50% of their net income in R&D. However, even with that level of spending, most CEO’s are dissatisfied with the return on that investment. Getting more out of that investment requires a core competence in managing new product innovation. Easier said than done, but knowing where the leverage points are can dramatically speed improvement. Here’s how the five focusing steps of Theory of Constraints can help in this process. 1. Identify your innovation bottleneck and its constraints. To increase new product profits and time to market, you need to identify the bottlenecks … Continue reading

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