Innovation Essentials - Mindset

Mindset may the most overlooked strategic issue in business today. Getting yourself and your people into the right frame of mind is becoming a crucial determinant of competitiveness, thanks to two huge business trends. The first trend: For decades organizations have been growing flatter, with fewer layers of management and increasingly dispersed decision making. It’s a strategy that has reduced costs while making organizations more nimble and responsive to customer needs and market shifts. This deliberate move away from centralized control has weakened the power of the few in favor of the many, so that issues can be best addressed by those closest to the problem. The second trend: We’re now in the midst of a similar move to democratize the generation of new ideas, inside organizations and even extending outside. It’s driven by the need for innovation and the realization that to be effective, innovation must tap into many … Continue reading

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The Television of Tomorrow

Earlier this year an AdAge study gave grist to my intuition that TV will continue to be unstoppable in our lifetime. TV is the only medium touched by the Web that isn’t crushed by it – it rolls it in, integrating technology and absorbing and colonizing new media as it’s introduced. As a device, a format and a host (of news/sport/drama/entertainment, gaming, social media, web, advertising), TV is here to stay. Even as television and the Internet merge, what we have always known as television will continue as a vital cultural, political and entertainment medium. Whether you’re watching television on a TV or pc or tablet or mobile, whether live or downloaded, it’ll still be television. YouTube streamed 8.5 billion videos in January alone. Is this television? You betcha! The distinctions are in fact immaterial, and the language needs to shift. We call it sisomo – sight, sound and motion … Continue reading

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What is the Power of Appreciation?

I have been an innovation consultant since 1986 and have worked with hundreds of organizations in more than 15 industries. The products and services of my clients have all been different — as have their acronyms, mission statements, and cafeteria food. But they all have one thing in common — and that is a pronounced tendency to undervalue the power of appreciation. Sure, they give out gold watches and Employee of the Month awards, but the simple act of acknowledging and appreciating each other on a daily basis is in woeful short supply. The reasons are many. Too many managers have come to believe that the expression of appreciation will be counterproductive, leading to a self-satisfied workforce — a workforce that will be entitled and unmotivated. The perceived lack of time is another reason. Most people’s plates are so full these days that the time and attention it takes to … Continue reading

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R&D - Managing R is Different than D

It seems very obvious, but in daily corporate life it does not always happen: Research should be managed differently than Development. Although it is normal to mention Research & Development together, they are clearly quite different in nature. Sure, in the end they are part of the same innovation funnel, but their objectives and characteristics are very different. Research normally has as its objective exploration, while development has as its objective the exploitation of technology. And different objectives require different: Human Resources Financial and Risk management Funding Responsibility Location First of all, you will need people with different skills and different mindsets. Whereas in Research you will need researchers, in development you will need project managers and staff with business acumen to be able to commercialize the innovation (all very obvious, right?). When it comes to risk, please forget the calculation of ROI and EBITDA on ideas in preliminary stages. … Continue reading

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Relationship between Value and Price

We’re all familiar with the term “you get what you pay for”—but does it really factor into buyers’ perceptions of value today? There’s a really interesting story that comes from the Stanford Entrepreneurship Center where Christine Benninger, president of the Humane Society Silicon Valley, talks about how she leveraged the axiom “you get what you pay for” to successfully solve a major problem with regards to the chapter’s unacceptable return rates of previously adopted dogs and cats. For many years, the Humane Society had charged an adoption rate of $25 for cats and $40 for dogs. At those relatively low prices, the adoption business was brisk, but the problem of cats and dogs being returned to the shelter was overwhelming the staff and facilities. At the same time, the California Veterinary Medical Association conducted a study that looked at what types of animals get returned to shelters, and an offshoot … Continue reading

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The leaders of successful small companies understand how important it is to have the right people in the right position. When resources are slim, the ability of everyone to do their job well matters tremendously. One or two weak links can spell the difference between success and failure. So it will come as no surprise when I say that people matter more than ideas when it comes to making innovation of all types happen. You should take a moment to think about that because many innovation initiatives fail miserably because their leaders don’t understand this simple fact. In fact, it is actually more important to have grade-A people than it is to have a slew of grade-A ideas. Why? Because grade-A people can take a grade-B idea—or perhaps even a grade-C idea—and turn it into a successful reality. Grade-B people, on the other hand, will struggle with even truly great … Continue reading

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Paradox of Innovation and Intellectual Property

Being involved in Open Innovation (OI), one of the most cited stumbling blocks is, yes, lawyers – Intellectual Property (IP) attorneys specifically.  To most business and R&D folks, IP counsel are viewed as deal killers.  So I was anxious to hear Kelly McDow, Associate General Counsel for P&G’s Connect+Develop, speak at the 3rd Open Innovation Summit at BW’s Center for Innovation & Growth*.  Kelly started out as a chemist, giving her a unique non-traditional-lawyer perspective of invention and innovation.   Her experience exemplifies what is needed in a good Open Innovation IP attorney – the ability to understand and see many sides. Kelly posed two questions to the audience: How can IP attorneys help foster an OI mindset? How can you help both sides’ IP attorneys get there? Great questions that turned the tables from just usually ‘blaming’ the IP folks for ‘not getting it’ to how do you help them get there.  We usually view … Continue reading

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