Finding Lead Users for Innovation

Just when it seems Google has gone and jumped the innovation shark, the smart guys at Google demonstrate that they are still in the innovation game. I’ve just learned about Google Slam, and I’m here to tell you it’s probably one of the smartest innovation moves I’ve seen online in several years, if Google is doing with it what I think they are doing. The title of the post refers to “Lead Users”, so let’s provide a basic definition for that before we unpack Google Slam. Lead Users are people who are solving a problem or addressing a new market using products and services that are already available, but they are extending those products and/or services in ways that haven’t been “approved” or considered by the firm producing the product or service. Think Make Magazine, or the folks who hack the Wii remotes to do interesting new things. …

Posted in Headlines, Innovation, Strategy, marketing | 2 Comments
Leading Change - Executing Plans and Processes

In my last few posts, I’ve been sharing tips for effectively leading organizational change. I’ve already talked about envisioning the future and results and building a culture that enables change. Today I’ll share thoughts on executing plans and processes. According to my Olin Business School executive education program professor, Dr. Lee Konczak, executing change involves: 1. Establishing plans Part of establishing plans includes keeping up with the organizational goals you set while envisioning the future. To help your employees achieve their goals, Inc.com suggests breaking them down into easily digestible bites for your employees. Francisco Dao, founder and president of The Killer Pitch, told Inc.com, “increasing sales 24 percent a year is a pretty big number. But increasing sales two percent each month seems totally doable.” Additionally, Inc.com said to “break down specific actions to be taken by specific people, assigning someone in each department involved to be accountable – … Continue reading

Posted in Leadership, Leadership & Infrastructure, Management | 1 Comment
Innovation Strategies for a Recession

As the world dips into what is now being described as the worst recession since the 1930s, many businesses are revisiting their innovation strategies. Some, sadly, have decided to drop innovation activities all together. This strategy will only work — and to a limited extent at that — if their competitors adopt the same strategy. On the other hand if a company stops innovating while one or more of their competitors continue to do so, it’s clear who will come out of this recession more successful. The most obvious innovation strategy for hard times is a classic one: cutting costs. Indeed, we (as an idea management service provider) have seen a growth in business this year from companies investing in cost cutting innovation. After all, innovation is not exclusively about sexy new products and services. It’s also about operational and logistical efficiency. But there are other approaches that should be … Continue reading

Posted in Headlines, Innovation, Strategy | 3 Comments
26 Keys to Success in Social Media (or Dating)

There’s a slide in my standard social media strategy presentation showing a young couple looking lovingly at one another. Okay, actually only the girl is looking lovingly. The boy’s face looks as if he’s brimming with ulterior motives! The image is there to remind organizations considering social media that their strategies can’t resemble the teenage boy’s apparent dating strategy if they expect to build strong, lasting relationships. The striking similarities between dating’s early stages and the first phases of implementing a successful social media strategy are a convenient way to gauge whether your organization’s social media strategy is likely be appropriate and successful. With several Brainzooming presentations on social media strategy coming up, I wanted to share the specifics behind the slide’s message in more detail. Here are 26 pieces of dating advice as valuable in trying to form a personal relationship as they are in creating successful social media-based … Continue reading

Posted in Headlines, Psychology, Social Media, collaboration | 6 Comments
Fraud and Innovation

The Societal Cost of Business Gone Bad by Robert F. Brands with Jeff Zbar Bernard Madoff’s and Scott Rothstein’s Ponzi schemes. Medicaid / Medicare scams. School board officials who sell their votes for cash. Mortgage fraud, foreclosure “robo-signers” and short-sales wrought with misdeeds. From Wall Street to Main Street to Washington – and the headline news, very smart, innovative people are gaining prominence nationwide for fraud. Investment scandals, Ponzi schemes and rip-offs in all forms seem epidemic. They capture our attention. We express outrage. We demand retribution. Then we move on – until the next event, when our attention will be captured anew. We’ll express outrage, demand retribution…and move on. Every day, someone is screwing somebody else. It’s a vicious cycle. Fraud is defined as the deliberate misrepresentation which causes another to suffer damages, and the U.S. is ranked in the Top 20 in corruption worldwide. It has to end … Continue reading

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Are You Focused on Winning Like the NFL?

We’re halfway through the NFL season, and I have to say that from a fan standpoint, I’ve had better years. I root for the Cowboys, Broncos, Chargers and Falcons, although not necessarily in that order. So far only one of my teams (Falcons) enjoys a winning record, while the others have all dipped well below the .500 mark. After their usual slow start, the Chargers look like they may have started to turn things around. But barring an absolute miracle, the Broncos and Cowboys will surely end up watching the playoffs from the comfort of their living rooms. I love watching pro football because it’s a fast-moving sport played by exceptional athletes. But I also love the many parallels between the game and the world of business. The NFL holds many valuable lessons for today’s business leaders, in particular its relentless focus on winning, regardless of a team’s won-lost record. … Continue reading

Posted in Leadership, Management, Strategy | 1 Comment
Building Balanced Teams

It can be very obvious when looking at dating or married couples that opposites attract. We see strengths in others that we do not possess ourselves and it oftentimes brings people together. Yet it can be these very differences that cause the conflict, misunderstanding, and frustration which cause couples to break apart. The fact that people of opposite natures do attract one another is important to consider when building teams of people in the work environment. We have probably all been on dysfunctional teams as well as fantastic teams. Why is it that some teams work great together, while the same set of people configured on different teams will struggle? In a business setting, people often prefer to hire others and build teams of people that are like themselves. The more people think alike and behave alike, the better they seem to get along. This is …

Posted in Headlines, Management, People & Skills | 3 Comments