Innovation Challenge - When should a product die?

All companies – whether they make cars, electronics, software, etc. – know that there is only so much new life that they can breathe into their existing products by introducing new improved versions. Ultimately any product will reach the end of its life, and a brand new one will have to be launched in its stead. The critical question is: when? Assuming the product life-cycle follows the typical S curve, nobody in their right mind would wait until the product has started to actually decline and lose market share, to trigger a replacement. Yet, it can be difficult to recognize that the end is nigh, that a new improved version will not revive the product, and that a brand new one is necessary. What are the signs that companies can read to recognize that the end is nigh and that it is time to make the clear-cut decision to design, … Continue reading

Posted in Management, Product Innovation, Strategy, marketing | 1 Comment
Six Characteristics of Highly Effective Change Leaders

How do you cultivate a culture of learning, adapting, and leading in your organization? In today’s rapidly changing business environment, quickly identifying new opportunities and taking action to capture them is no longer the private domain of industry leaders—it is a matter of survival for every business and for every employee. Continue reading

Posted in Headlines, Leadership, Management | 11 Comments
The Efficient Use of Ideas

Every significant “leap forward” in the span of human consciousness has coincided with a significant change in the efficient use of a significant resource. For example – the transition from nomadic life to farming. This transition came about because people learned to till the ground and grow food that was dependable and sustaining. The fact that people could stay in one place and have a consistent food source meant that they could take on other tasks. The more efficiently they used the soil, the more crops they could grow, and the more time available for other activities. Other “leaps” forward include the efficient use of labor (thanks Frederick Taylor) and the efficient use of capital, which has eventually brought us to the problems with financial engineering that we’ve encountered recently. All Taylor cared about was understanding how to get the most, best, productivity out of …

Posted in Creativity, Headlines, Innovation, Leadership, Management, Strategy | 1 Comment
Don't Blame the IP Lawyer

I attended the 2nd Open Innovation Summit in Chicago last week. It was a really good event with many interesting presentations. In the pre-conference workshop, and in the main conference, the subject of obstacles to Open Innovation (OI) came up frequently. In many cases, the devil of the piece was the in-house lawyer. One presenter described herself as a “recovering lawyer”. OK, it was said in jest, but it did start me thinking about how lawyers are regarded in innovation projects. It seems as if the stereotype people have in mind is the risk-averse, backside-covering, couldn’t-care-less-about-innovation ostrich with their head in the sand. Yet when I asked several senior industry people, prominent in OI, whether their legal processes helped or hindered OI, the response was the opposite. All of them said they had great lawyers on the team, who really bought into innovation and …

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Why Consensus Kills Team Building

I read an interesting post recently by Dan Rockwell (@LeadershipFreak) entitled “Six ways to make teams work” and found myself in complete agreement with Dan on five out of the six points. Where Dan lost me was on point #4 – Teams Decide by Consensus. In recent months I have observed a decent amount of politically correct discourse on the topic of team building and equality. The gist of the argument seems to be that for teams to be productive, employees have to feel “empowered” by having an equal voice. I can sum-up my feeling on this in one word…ridiculous. To be blunt, the concept of equality in the workplace has only made team building more difficult as employees seem to have a sense of undeserved entitlement with regard to their roles and responsibilities. And as odd as it may sound, one of the greatest impediments to building productive teams … Continue reading

Posted in Leadership, Management, Strategy, culture | 3 Comments
Innovating in Times of Austerity

In these times of austerity we need to focus on the innovation dimensions that matter to us. For some, this will still be all about the big breakthroughs, particularly those in the Consumer Goods industry. For everyone, we need to focus on other key areas and balance our innovation initiatives on: Operational & Process Efficiency Resource/Asset Utilization Network & Supply Chain Performance Pricing & Sales Models Launching New Products/Services Invisible Innovation Look at the list above – what are some of your key priorities in the next 6-12 months? Some companies see innovation as a luxury, not as an achievable driving force that permeates their culture. Innovation is a business imperative – and the companies that treat it as such have been able to weather these times of austerity. Consequently, I have observed the marketplace priorities change as companies shift their innovation efforts to more internal and invisible (at least … Continue reading

Posted in Innovation, Management, Strategy | 1 Comment
Essential Skills for 21st Century Survival (Part 1)

Pattern Recognition by Venessa Miemis Over the past few months, we’ve been discussing the various skills needed for effectively operating in a world characterized by information and accelerating change, and I’ve been assembling these ideas into a framework for a new thought architecture. This post will be the first in a 12 part series, and draws its influences from the fields of Futures Studies, Complexity Science, Systems Theory, Cybernetics, Social Network Analysis, Knowledge Management, common sense, and exploration into my own thinking. All of the skills I’ll be covering are already in practice in our brains – it’s just a matter of becoming more aware of them so we can sharpen them. I imagine them all happening concurrently and all reinforcing each other, creating constant feedback loops that raise consciousness and build intelligence. Though I’ll be identifying 12 areas, they’re mostly components of each other, so we’ll see how we … Continue reading

Posted in Headlines, Innovation, Management, Psychology | 5 Comments