6 Strategies for Staying Ahead of Customer Needs

I was talking with BlogTalkRadio maven Tachelle Daniels last week day about what innovative strategies help you stay in front of customers. The topic is intriguing and will be the basis for an upcoming BlogTalkRadio show with Tachelle. Trying to address how you stay in front of customer needs sent me back into my recent past for these six strategies which contribute toward achieving a compelling, innovative marketplace edge: Listening to Customers in New Places and Buying Stages with Social Media – Social media provides unprecedented access into customer thinking. Two examples: Use social media monitoring to see where and how customers talk about your brand. Listen for challenges to help solve, issues with your own and competitive offerings, and customer-developed innovative adaptations. Make it easy for customers to share perspectives through social media-based contests, incenting them to share ideas, register complaints, and react to new ideas. Talk with Lead … Continue reading

Posted in Headlines, Psychology, Strategy, marketing | 3 Comments
Innovation across Gaps

J&J, Whirlpool and Manitowoc by Andrea Meyer Point: Innovators can use various tactics to evaluate (Manitowoc), protect (J&J), bridge (Whirlpool), and ferry (J&J) innovations across inevitable organizational gaps. Story: Innovation in large organizations often faces obstacles due to the natural divisions within the firm. Gaps can occur between risk-taking vs. risk-avoiding groups, diverse business units, and functional silos. Open innovation adds a fourth type of division: that between the investor/buyer of an innovation and the inventor/seller of an innovation. Presenters at the 2nd Annual Open Innovation Summit discussed these four different types of gaps and some methods for carrying innovation across the gap. Johnson & Johnson highlighted the first gap, which occurs between groups involved in long-term innovation versus those responsible for short-term operations. On one hand, the near-term viability of a firm depends on minimizing risk and costs while consistently delivering value to the customer. On the …

Posted in Innovation, Open Innovation | 3 Comments
People Before Profits is Wrong

How’s that for a headline? No, you didn’t read it incorrectly. Companies should not put people before profits. Before you get upset, bear with me for a moment. I got thinking about this on a recent business trip on which I took five flights in three days, all of which were mostly full. While I hate a middle seat as much as anyone, I was glad the airlines appeared to be making money. I admit it—as a passenger, I’ve occasionally wondered if legroom and customer service are the only things the airlines have been trimming back, hoping they haven’t been cutting corners in the maintenance department as well. Full planes, for all of their discomfort, at least suggest the money is there to do proper maintenance. So yes, in my minor epiphany I realized that I actually want the airlines to make money. And you probably do too, if you … Continue reading

Posted in Leadership, Management, Strategy | 2 Comments
Voting Open - Top 40 Innovation Bloggers

Voting for the Top 40 Innovation Bloggers is now closed and the contest winners have been announced. The ten leading vote recipients so far are (in alphabetical order) – Boris Pluskowski, Idris Mootee, James Todhunter, Jeffrey Phillips, Mike Brown, Mike Myatt, Mitch Ditkoff, Rich Bendis, Robert F Brands, and Rocco Tarasi. To see the list of nominees and to vote, please go here. People who vote (or who nominated someone) will be entered into the prize drawings for a range of great prizes (more than $10,000 worth), including: 2 signed advance copies of Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire by Braden Kelley (get it before its October launch date) – priceless 1 ticket to the World Business Forum (October 5-6, 2010 in New York City) – $2,500 value 1 ticket to the Future Trends 2010 conference (October 18-20, 2010 in Miami) – $2,500 value Signed copy of The Power of Pull by … Continue reading

Posted in Blogging Innovation | 2 Comments
Can Excellence Be Scaled?

It’s often our nature to want to be the best at everything. If we can do many things well, we should be able to see profits. “Diversify, diversify, diversify”. Yet for whatever reason, sprawling out into multiple markets doesn’t necessarily mean success. It’s only being the best at one thing and refining it daily that wins in the long run. Chipotle has centered around the the simple premise that they were going to serve a very limited menu, without extra things like plates, appetizers, or deserts. Just burritos, tacos and salads with all the same (limited) ingredients. Experts believed that the limited selection would turn customers away. Oops. Ever seen Instapaper? This simple application does one thing: saves online pages for later viewing. Even the site’s design is dead simple. Yet people love it because it only does one thing exceptionally well. Lots of Mediocre Successful companies figure out that … Continue reading

Posted in Leadership, Management, Strategy | 2 Comments
Green Jeans Drive Innovation

Environmental stability, aka, Green, is just starting. Most are still in reluctant compliance mode, hoping beyond hope that this newest of corporate initiatives dies on the vine, that it’s just another corporate initiative. Wrong. Very wrong. It’s the way we’re going to grow our business; it’s the way we’re going to make money. It’s time to open our minds, grab Green by the throat, and shake it. Green is here to stay, and Green will demand we change our thinking, will make us see our problems differently, will require we dismantle our intellectual inertia, will require innovation. Pretend you’re a manufacturer of jeans, the blue ones, the ones that feel so good when you put them on, the ones you’d like to wear to work if you could. (Maybe that’s just me.) Year-on-year your innovation efforts focus on adding pockets then removing them, adding holes then removing them, zippers here … Continue reading

Posted in Headlines, Innovation, Strategy | 1 Comment
Archer's Guide to Innovation

Successfully doing something that has never been done before (innovating) is sort of like shooting an arrow at a target while blindfolded. You know where you want to go but until you draw back on the bow string and launch, you can’t be certain where the arrow will land. You get psyched. Relax your shoulders. Dry your hands on your pant legs. Take one last look at the target. Secure the blindfold. Grip the handle and pull back on the bow string. Take a deep breath. And release! Whoosh…. Fump! Pulling off your blinders, reveals… ??? You missed. The arrow only made it about 70% of the distance. Failure. Bummer. When we put a new idea into action through successful implementation, we declare it an innovation. A success. If we miss the target, we call it a failure. Success or failure. On or off. No or yes. We’re pretty black-and-white … Continue reading

Posted in Innovation, Leadership, Management, Strategy | 1 Comment