Win Business from Competitors by Being a Nuisance

A Competitive Strategy Exercise by Mike Brown A tenacious competitor can seem as daunting as a summer heat wave which won’t break for anything. If that describes your competitive strategy position, it can be difficult to devise an innovative strategy to win new business from a tough competitor. There is a creative way to swat back a competitor, however, which takes its inspiration from another summer reality: mosquitoes. Just as a mosquito, despite its small size, can be a nuisance, you can do the same to a larger competitor! Start with the profile you have on your competitor which should describe the competitor and its strengths, strategic focus areas, and overall direction. Add to the competitor profile your antagonist’s “dirty little secrets,” i.e. the problems it doesn’t want customers to know about, but are familiar to you within the industry. Based on the specific intelligence in the competitor profile, start … Continue reading

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Eat More Innovation

Are you willing to crawl through the mud for innovation? by Holly G. Green Have you seen the new HBO made-for-TV movie called “Temple Grandin?” It’s a powerful story about a woman, Temple Grandin, who overcame autism to become one of the most influential figures in today’s livestock and animal husbandry industry. Not only is Temple’s story a testament to the ability of the human spirit to overcome tremendous obstacles, it teaches many principles that all business leaders would do well to embrace. When diagnosed at a very early age, doctors said Grandin would never speak. When they recommended life-long institutionalization, Grandin’s mother refused to accept that possibility, and continually pushed her daughter to develop her abilities and learn to work around her autistic limitations. With the support of her mother and several key mentors along the way, Grandin went on to graduate from college and earn a Ph.D. in … Continue reading

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Peter Drucker on Innovation

Many people struggle with trying to define innovation, or what innovation is within an organization. I’ve recently been re-reading one of the best business books I have, “The Essential Drucker. The Best of Sixty Years of Peter Drucker’s Writings on Management” which is a compendium of his writings. Drucker wrote that purposeful innovation results from analysis, systemic review and hard work and can be taught, replicated and learned. Purposeful, systemic innovation begins with the analysis of opportunities. The search must be organized and conducted on a regular basis. It seems that we may be getting hung up on “the fuzzy front end” and other views that make innovation seem really obscure. Drucker identified seven sources of opportunity that will ultimately drive innovation: The organization’s own unexpected successes and failures, and also those of the competition. Incongruities, especially those in a process, such as production, distribution, or incongruities in customer behavior. … Continue reading

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Innovation by Observation

The Rise of the Biomimetist by Yann Cramer One of IDEO’s ten faces of innovation is the anthropologist: the one who observes human behaviors and actions to discover wasted effort that could be turned into an innovation challenge. In the past decade, an eleven’s face has been quietly but steadily rising to prominence in the innovation team: the biomimetist, who observes animal and plant characteristics to discover supreme efficiency that could be turned into an innovation breakthrough. The kingfisher’s beak isn’t just a fashionable accessory that the bird has picked on the shelves of supermarket nature. It is the result of millions of years of evolution and natural selection. The biomimetist starts from the humble assumption that, even if it is not obvious at first, there may be a good reason why nature has designed animal and plants as we see them. The kingfisher’s beak turns out to be supremely … Continue reading

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Innovation Perspectives - Digging in the Jungle

This is the fifth of several ‘Innovation Perspectives’ articles we will publish this week from multiple authors to get different perspectives on ‘How should firms identify innovation opportunities and predict market potential at very early stages and in new areas (“green fields”) and ambiguous environments?’. Here is the next perspective in the series: by Mike Dalton Last month’s perspective suggested getting out of your environment and into the customer’s as one of the three steps to caffeinate your innovation. It’s fitting then that this month’s call for innovation perspectives should ask how firms can identify innovation opportunities and predict market potential at very early stages and in new areas. In this innovation perspective, I’ll brief six of the most effective practices in conducting customer visits for the purpose of identifying new and emerging opportunities in B2B markets. 1. Focus on the problems Customer visits must be focused on both finding … Continue reading

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Innovation is The Art of the Impossible

You’ve perhaps heard the saying that politics is the art of the possible. Otto von Bismarck said that over a hundred and thirty years ago. He was the chancellor of the German nation. You’d think that a guy with that much power would have been able to push almost anything through, no matter how harebrained. But he realized and accepted the limitation foisted on him by the political system. Otto was interested in what could be accomplished within the framework of his political situation, which was bounded by the bureaucracy of the government, the expectation of the people, what his treasury could fund, and a number of other constraints and barriers. What he wanted was the best possible outcome based on these constraints. Unfortunately, a lot of people who want to be innovators think this way as well. Whether you are in government, in a not-for-profit, …

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Innovation Hubs in the United States

Well it’s about time! The United States Department of Energy (DOE) announced in May that it’s launching three Energy Innovation Hubs, designed to “help advance highly promising areas of energy science and engineering from the early stage of research to the point where the technology can be handed off to the private sector.” These hubs not only demonstrate the nation’s commitment to tackling our energy and climate challenges, but they also represent an innovation endeavor not often associated with the U.S. government. Each of the three hubs will tackle a different energy challenge in a highly collaborative way that welcomes diversity of thought. They will “bring together top researchers from academia, industry and the government laboratories with expertise that spans multiple scientific and engineering disciplines under the leadership of a dynamic scientist-manager.” They differ from other DOE R&D projects that have smaller teams, more clearly defined leaders and few disciplines … Continue reading

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