Building an Idea Factory

One of the reasons why most BIG IDEAS go nowhere is because the idea originators do not have a team of collaborators on board to help develop and execute their ideas. In the absence of collaborators, the idea originators either try to do everything themselves (not a good idea) or spend so much time trying to enroll people on the fly that the idea loses momentum and eventually evaporates. Simply put, it’s easy to conceive. It’s harder to deliver the baby. But what if each of us who comes up with a potentially game-changing idea already had a team of collaborators in place — people who were poised and ready to respond with enthusiasm, skill, and clarity? This is not a new idea. There are examples in many other domains: Swat Teams, Firefighters, and Emergency Rooms, just to name a few. These are people who are there when you need … Continue reading

Posted in Creativity, Innovation, Management, Strategy | 9 Comments
Are happy employees productive employees?

It is a common fallacy among managers that they want their staff to be happy because happy people are more productive. This may be true, but it is only part of the story. Of course, as a manager, you do not want your people to feel unhappy about coming to work. People who are miserable at work will most likely be unproductive and sooner or later they will leave. But that does not mean that your number one objective should be to make them happy. Let’s look at the happiness issue. What if people like to work in your organization because it is comfortable, easy work and a friendly environment where they can chat with their friends, drink a cup of coffee and browse the internet? Under these circumstances they would be contented and glad to come in to work but what are they motivated to achieve there? Instead of … Continue reading

Posted in Leadership, Management, Psychology | 3 Comments
Innovation is not Pixie Dust

John Lennon’s classic Beatles song “All you need is love” breaks down all the world’s problems into one simple solution: Love. There’s nothing you can know that isn’t known. Nothing you can see that isn’t shown. Nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be. It’s easy. All you need is love, all you need is love If you listen to today’s leaders, innovation has replaced the Beatles’ love as the one simple solution that will solve all of today’s most pressing challenges. Need to find a solution to the global economic crisis? It’s simple, innovation. Unhappy with the heated political dialog that prevents civil discourse between the two parties? Not to worry…innovation is here to the rescue. And finally, not willing to make the hard choices required to solve this country’s budget crisis? Now you don’t have to…all you need is innovation. I’m kidding of course. But … Continue reading

Posted in Innovation | 3 Comments
Small Companies Need to Look Before They Leap

When it comes to Open Innovation by Stefan Lindegaard One of the perilous aspects of open innovation for small companies is the inequity that can come from being in a relationship with a larger company. As the “little guy” it is all too easy to be used and abused by a bigger partner. I’ve written before about the essential element of trust that is needed to make these relationships work so that they’re a win/win for both parties. When considering open innovation opportunities, small companies should take a step that I fear too many skip: doing their homework to learn as much as possible about the corporation they are about to join forces with, particularly with regards to that organization’s history of dealing with smaller companies. This may be particularly apt to happen if a small company is approached by a larger one instead of the other way around. It … Continue reading

Posted in Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Open Innovation | 1 Comment
Conversations About Africa

Over the last year there have been important conversations about Africa. In June a report by the McKinsey Global Institute Lions on the Move painted an exciting and compelling picture of Africa’s economic prospects. By the numbers: Africa’s collective GDP in 2008 of $1.6 trillion was roughly equal to Brazil’s or Russia’s. By 2020 that’s projected to increase to $2.6 trillion. Combined consumer spending in Africa in the same year was $860 billion, and is expected to grow to $1.4 trillion in 2020. 316 million new mobile phone subscribers have signed up in Africa since 2000. 20 African companies have revenues of at least $3 billion. African has 60% of the world’s total amount of uncultivated, arable land. 128 million African households will have discretionary income in 2020. Importantly, McKinsey’s report indicates that Africa’s growth is not purely driven by a boom in the prices countries can get for their … Continue reading

Posted in Finance | 2 Comments
What Support is Crucial for Innovation?

I was glancing through my Twitter feeds looking at all the good ideas that flow through the many people I follow. One in particular caught my eye, which was about How to Lead a Business Revolution. Having grown up a fan of Thomas Jefferson and many of the other “founding fathers” who had the vision, and the guts, to challenge the status quo, I’m always interested in what helps a revolution succeed. And make no mistake, innovation in many firms is a revolution. Thomas Stewart, in the article linked above, notes that a senior GE executive told him that you need three constituents on your side to lead an effective revolution: the broadcast stations, the schools and the police. In less radical terms more suited for innovation, we can create analogies for these groups. For innovation to succeed, you need excellent communication, new and extensive …

Posted in Innovation, Management, Psychology, collaboration | 3 Comments
Protecting university inventions from whom?

A few months ago, Bernie Knight, General Counsel of the USPTO, stated that in order to ensure optimal ROI on tax-payer-funded university research, the Patent Office would likely come out in support of giving universities stronger ownership rights. Continue reading

Posted in Government, education | 2 Comments