10 Reasons Why Innovation Suggestion Schemes and Idea Boxes Fail

When people ask for my advice on how to improve their innovation programs, one thing I usually suggest is to do away with their organization’s suggestion schemes and tear down the idea boxes. Why? Because it’s too tempting to substitute these methods in place of real innovation that adds customer and organizational value. And they can do more harm than good, in my opinion. Here are 10 reasons suggestion schemes and idea boxes fail: Wrong Motivation. In many cases, suggestion schemes are made for disgruntled employees who need a way to vent. The result is a very narrow set of ideas from only a small percentage of the population. Lack of Training. Suggestion schemes assume that employees know how to generate innovative ideas on their own. In most companies, employees are not provided with the proper training (tools and methods) to understand how to generate valuable ideas. Incremental Innovation. Without … Continue reading

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Innovation Paradox - Liberated by Constraints

I’ve been captivated by Roger von Oech’s post about innovation and its relationship to paradox. It seems that almost any factor of innovation can be considered a paradox. Last time I wrote about the paradox of slowing down to speed up. This time I’d like to consider being liberated by constraints. Generally speaking, most teams believe that constraints limit their thinking, and their ability to be creative. What’s interesting is that most people who “do” creativity for a living crave constraints. Without constraints, every task starts from a blank sheet of paper, a very long and broad sheet of paper, with no clear starting point. David Ogilvy is quoted as having thanked his clients for a “tight brief” – not underwear, but a clearly defined and tightly controlled set of criteria to achieve. Innovation teams often believe that working without constraints is the best way to …

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Television: Part 1 - We're All Screenagers

Television is the ultimate connector. I’ve been saying this for a long time. The reason TV is so engaging is because it uses sight, sound and motion to deliver the three keys to a person’s heart – mystery, sensuality and intimacy. Every year the last few decades, trend pieces start popping up in magazines predicting “The death of television,” yet here we are, more than 60 years into the TV era and it’s stronger than ever. That resilience is exactly the focus of the special report The Economist ran on the state of TV earlier this month. In 16 pages and about six different articles they manage to point out the power TV still holds over the world (over 4 hours a day on average, everywhere), where the medium is headed (the Internet and yes, 3D); and why television is just about the only medium touched by the web that … Continue reading

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Innovation and the Value of Brainstorming

You’ll occasionally see an article or blog post questioning the value of brainstorming as a tool to generate and improve the quality of innovative ideas. One criticism usually stems from the “poor” efficiency of brainstorming, since many ideas are generated which never get developed. This misconception is fostered by “rules” shared at the start of most brainstorming exercises stating “every idea is a good idea.” This guideline creates a false expectation that every idea shared in the brainstorming session is ultimately good or even implementable. More accurately, this rule sets up a period of divergent thinking. That’s when strong facilitators ensure a focus on generating the maximum number of ideas with minimal explanation and judging. Ultimately though, judgment isn’t thrown out in brainstorming or innovation processes. It’s only suspended during a good divergent thinking session. The switch has to then be made to convergent thinking where ideas most certainly need … Continue reading

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Think Feel - Coke

“Can the experience of an emotion persist once the memory for what induced the emotion has been forgotten?” That’s the question posed – and tentatively answered – by scientists at the University of Iowa as published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They studied a select group of patients with severe amnesia using emotional film clips to investigate whether or not their emotions would persist beyond the memory of the clips they watched. Sure enough, the emotions lasted longer than the memories. Both positive (happiness) and negative (sadness) emotions were tested, and both yielded similar results. The authors said, “These findings provide direct evidence that a feeling of emotion can endure beyond the conscious recollection for the events that initially triggered the emotion.” The implications for marketers are significant. Many brands focus their efforts on the rational side of the equation, trying to convince people why they should … Continue reading

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Making the Leap to Disruptive Innovation

Does your organization struggle to innovate on a consistent basis? If so, you may want to get your customers involved. Innovative companies have always intuitively understood the importance of customer feedback. But now there’s evidence that strongly suggests that direct customer involvement in the new product development process can make a real difference in your ability to innovate. In a recent study published in the Journal of Product Innovation Management, researchers measured the benefits of user involvement in the product innovation process for future mobile phone services. The study rated three distinct user groups – ordinary users (customers), advanced users (technology and/or computer trained users) and professional product developers (from a leading European telephone company) – to determine their ability to generate ideas for innovative products. Each group was measured in four areas: originality (newness of an idea), value (extent to which an idea solved a perceived problem), realization (ease … Continue reading

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What Comes After Reverse Innovation?

In a previous post I have argued that evolution from globalization to reverse innovation as outlined by Vijay Govindarajan is driven not only by the revenue gap between mature and emerging markets but also by the rise of simplicity, a powerful undercurrent that pushes simplicity to emerge as something that is not just cheaper but also more reliable, more effective, more authentic, more beautiful, in short: desirable. What does this tell us about what comes after reverse innovation? Putting in a chart the 4 phases of the evolution so far, the answer becomes clear. The next phase of this evolution is coming full circle and designing for simplicity in mature markets for mature markets. Successful innovation is based on closely observing and empathizing with customers/users. Simplicity designed in emerging markets for developed markets (reverse innovation) is on the rise because it addresses an unmet need for simplicity, but it will … Continue reading

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