The Risks of User Feedback

To seek user feedback, or not to seek user feedback… that is the question. Of course, I’m not talking about getting user feedback after you launch your product – you’d be crazy not to listen to what your users are telling you then. I’m talking about getting user feedback on your idea before you build it. There is a common saying: “build what people want”. You can’t really argue with that. The hard part is figuring out what people want. It seems like a sound strategy to talk with potential customers about your product before you build it, but you must be careful how you use their feedback. Just because someone says “that’s a good idea” and “I would use that” doesn’t mean that they actually will when the time comes. Likewise, if people don’t think your idea is good, it doesn’t mean …

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Faux Goodness And EcoSploitation

“What a scam!” I thought, while drying off with the hotel towel. I reached over and read the card the hotel left in the basket among the soaps and mini-shampoo bottles. It explained how they care about our world and that by reusing my towel again and not changing the sheets everyday “together we can save the environment.” Yes, I agree. I don’t need to have a fresh towel and new sheets everyday – I don’t at home. But, please don’t start pretending that you “care” and “together we can make a difference.” (At least not about the environment). For the cost of a little marketing – a few pennies per room… the cost of the ‘we care‘ card – the hotel gets their customers to lower the electric bill, water bill, and labor costs. Brilliant! The only green they have in mind is the profitability of the hotel. If … Continue reading

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Not All Research is Meaningful

Just because something gets published doesn’t necessarily mean it has any value. In fact, misleading or wrong information that finds its way into the public domain can be quite harmful. I just finished reading a research study conducted by Harvard Business School (HBS) that is nothing short of academic hoo-hah, and is a case study with everything that’s wrong with business schools today. The HBS research is laughable, and lends credence to the old axiom “don’t believe everything you read.” While the study accurately concludes there is value in CEOs spending time with employees and directors (duh), the conclusion that there is no value in CEOs spending time externally makes me cringe. Where a CEO chooses to spend their time is without doubt an important decision. Furthermore, it would be a gross simplification to create an either/or scenario by suggesting that spending time in one arena vs another …

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Design Thinking and Growth

What’s the Connection? Why do we Need Growth? by Idris Mootee Growth is a funny word and often misunderstood just like other words such as strategy or innovation. I have heard from people from 25 year old young smart people to 45 year old seasoned executives and often they struggle with the idea of growth. Why we need to relentlessly achieve growth and what growth means? Growth is often perceived as a proactive (not defensive) strategy, as the Red Queen says in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass: “Here it takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!” We’re at a point that you can’t run faster anymore and is close to the physical limit of how fast we can run. Both organizations and even economies. We need … Continue reading

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Innovation and the Business Ecosystem

Innovation is driving change in the business ecosystem and the dynamics of this change are remarkably similar to those found in nature. Several years ago biologists studied the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park and its impact on plant growth. This may seem like an odd connection to explore since wolves don’t eat plants. However the elk that wolves prey on do. What researchers found was a significant ‘fear factor’ impact. Wherever visibility was low or escape difficult due to topography or other obstacles, plants like fast growing cottonwoods were significantly taller. This is apparently because elk – now fearing the wolves – browse less at those locations. In wide open spaces with good visibility, there was no significant difference in plant size. It’s a great illustration of how a single change (wolf reintroduction) had significant indirect effects that have literally changed the look of the whole landscape. Similar … Continue reading

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How Should We Measure Innovation?

A company in my Danish network group recently created a global innovation management department whose task it is to strengthen and systematize innovation and innovation processes in their Global Research unit as well as across the organization. The ultimate goal is to enhance and make visible the value creation that happens through targeted research and discovery activities in the enterprise as a whole. How can you set goals, which can monitor and quantify this value creation and thus boost innovation? This is a big challenge and it would be great to have a discussion that can help share insights and inspirations among the innovation community. The company asked some questions that I think work well as discussion starters: How do you assess the quality of an innovation management governance system (idea / project stage gate systems)? How do you measure innovation (i.e. the translation of something creative to something productive) … Continue reading

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Open Innovation and IP - Protecting Trade Secrets

A lot has been written about Intellectual Property (IP) and Open Innovation. It’s not surprising, because it’s one of the thorniest problems facing collaborators. In a recent blog I talked about the importance of having a flexible approach to IP policy, ensuring that you can deliver the deal that is most appropriate to the partner and opportunity under consideration. Now I’ll turn attention to a more difficult challenge – how do you protect Open Innovation collaborations where keeping the IP secret is the best way forward? First, when should you opt for a trade secret as the way forward? Many situations result in commercial potential and the opportunity to protect it using a patent. Often the patent confers narrow protection, or the ability of your competitors to easily invent around it. Even worse, sometimes the patent discloses exactly how you are solving your problems, giving …

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