How to Motivate Innovators

Organizations use a variety of tools to motivate employees to participate in their innovation efforts. The most common form of motivation involves compensation via a points system. When you contribute an idea, solution, comment or vote, you get points – much like American Express Membership Rewards points – that can be used to buy a variety of items: company T-shirts, mugs, and other “exciting” things. For some reason this reminds me of the arcade games like skeeball where you would win tickets that could be exchanged for wonderful items like fake vampire fangs or rubber spiders. Some companies have taken the concept a bit further and allowed people to accumulate points that can be used in auctions. Once a month the company holds an auction for a trip to, say, Tahiti. Anyone with points can join the bidding. This encourages people to earn and save as many …

Posted in Innovation, Leadership, Management | 4 Comments
Apple Should Go After the Banks

I Want My iMoney by Idris Mootee Congrats to Nick Hughes (managing director of Signal Point Partners and LBS alum) for picking up the Social and Economic award at the Economist Innovation Awards a few weeks ago held at the Science Museum in London. Nick was recognized for his part in creating the M-Pesa venture in Kenya, a mobile money-transfer initiative – something that is long overdue in the world of banking unmet needs. M-Pesa was first launched in 2005, allow people to transfer money, pay bills and save using a mobile phone, without NO bank account. Handset to handset money transfer, you would wonder why we don’t have it here. Now it is widely adoption in different parts of Africa with over 12 million users in Kenya alone. I see this is more than a technology innovation; it is a social innovation to facilitate economic development in the developing … Continue reading

Posted in Apple, Innovation | 2 Comments
Want better customer insights for innovation?

Forget about the product when asking for feedback by Matt Heinz Most of us bias our customer feedback-gathering by making it too much about what we already do. Our customers answer and provide that feedback based on what they see and use, not based on what’s already important to them in their daily work and/or personal lives. Take a step back, and forget there’s a product for a minute. In gathering customer intelligence, you don’t want feedback on your solution. You want feedback on the problem. You want feedback and prioritization of what problems need solving. That has nothing to do with what you’re actually selling. You want to know what has enough value that they’re willing to pay for. What problem or pain is acute enough that they’ll spend time and money solving it. Different features you have currently could address different pains & …

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Changing the Innovation Culture from the Bottom Up

I hear it so often. Innovation leaders do not feel they have top executive support and thus they are not able to create the innovation initiatives and culture that their company deserves. It is unfortunately very difficult to influence top executives. One of several reasons is that you often need to go through your direct own boss, then his or her boss and perhaps even one or two steps further. There are lots of people with their own views on innovation that you need to get by before you reach the top executives. And they might not even listen if you are able to reach them… So what can you do? You could start an innovation revolution from the bottom up. Open innovation is a good case on this as you have to deal with not-invented-here issues and the lack of support from executives who do not understand the value … Continue reading

Posted in Innovation, Leadership, Leadership & Infrastructure, Management, Psychology, culture | 2 Comments
34 Awesome Quotes on Leadership

1. “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” – Peter F. Drucker 2. “If you don’t understand that you work for your mislabeled ‘subordinates,’ then you know nothing of leadership. You know only tyranny.” – Dee Hock 3. “A leader is best when people barely know he exists. When his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say ‘we did it ourselves.’” – Lao Tzu 4. “The led must not be compelled; they must be able to choose their own leader.” – Albert Einstein 5. “The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why.” – Warren Bennis 6. “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you.” – Max DePree 7. “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams … Continue reading

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Ten Tensions of Innovation

In a series of journal articles, Charles O’Reilly and Michael Tushman have talked about the importance of being an ambidextrous organization in order to succeed at innovation. To be ambidextrous, organizations have to be good at both exploration and exploitation. All this sounds a bit academic, so here it is in clearer terms (I hope!): firms that are successful at innovation are able to simultaneously come up with ideas that allow them to take advantage of what they’re really good at (exploitation) while also being able to search for novel new ideas (exploration). This is a hard balance to maintain – the two processes require quite different management skills, different processes, and different measures of success. Exploitation is usually about operational efficiency, while exploration is about experimentation and risk. These seem almost like opposites – and that’s one of the challenges of trying to manage innovation. To be really good … Continue reading

Posted in Build Capability, Innovation, Management | 5 Comments
Reach Your Customers in Innovative New Ways

In the late 19th century people living in rural America had to go into town to their local store to buy the goods they needed. The selection was poor and the items were expensive. A young railway company agent, Richard Sears, decided to try a new approach. Together with a watchmaker, Alvah Roebuck, he set up a mail order catalogue – initially offering watches and jewellery but expanding over the years to include a vast array of goods. They used the railroad and post office networks to deliver goods. The catalogues were novel, exciting and appealing to clients. Sears Roebuck became the world’s largest retailer. In 1886 David McConnel found a new way to sell cosmetics. His sales agent, Mrs P.F.E. Albee, was the first Avon Lady. Using a network of women sales agents to sell directly to women in their homes, Avon grew rapidly. By 1928 Avon had 25,000 … Continue reading

Posted in Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Sales, marketing | 2 Comments