P38 Inspired by Noble Purpose

  • This podcast goes in a very different direction than most podcasts you have heard to so far. With innovation we sometimes get tied up in the details of specific processes and insights. For example, we dive deep into the four elements of quantum idea generation and the three elements of Merwyn Technology. Today were going take a big step back and take a look at the broader change going on in the world.
  • In the interest of best practices, the guide I’ve chosen for this bigger picture look is Jean Houston, PhD. Jean is a giant in her field. She’s been co-director of the Foundation for Mind Research. She is the author of multiple very popular books like The Possible Human, A Mythic Life, and A Passion for the Possible. Today’s podcast is drawn from her very popular book title Jump Time, Shaping Your Future in a World of Radical Change.
  • In this podcast I’m also going to take the somewhat unusual step of using multiple quotes from this book since she is an eloquent and insightful writer.
  • So let’s start with understanding what she means by jump time. She says, “with the present move toward planetization and with the entire spectrum of historical social development at hand, I believe that the world is set for the radical transformation that I call Jump Time.” She adds, “Ours is an era of quantum change, the most radical deconstruction and reconstruction the world has seen.” In addition, she says, ” ….. virtually every known institution and way of being is currently in a state of deconstruction and break down.”
  • Put simply, from a historical perspective the rate and depth of change is at a historical high. There are numerous other books by very, very respected authors also making this point. I may include in future podcast some of their perspectives. This is difficult to see when you’re in any particular point of time. But when you study this deeply, as I have, you come away deeply convinced that the rate of fundamental change is at a historical high and that rate of change is accelerating.
  • This point certainly has cultural and spiritual importance, but my goal in this podcast is to also relate this change to innovation.
  • You will find me using the word spiritual in this podcast which you might think is unusual for a business or innovation podcast. This should not be the case. The last megatrends book from several years ago indicated that the megatrend of megatrends was spirituality. For most people this can be different from religious. My goal here is not to advocate for any spiritual or religious way of thinking. Rather, from a bigger picture perspective, I am suggesting that our culture is increasingly connecting with strong spiritual values like compassion, service, and noble purpose.
  • I’m going to share her various perspectives on the dimensions of the quantum change we are currently living in. At the end of this podcast, I will make some direct suggestions about how this can impact your innovation efforts.
  • One of the major perspectives that is reinforced from both a scientific, specifically quantum physics, and spiritual, especially Buddhism and Hinduism, perspective is that everything in the world is interconnected and part of a bigger whole.
  • Quantum physicist David Bohm was a close associate of Albert Einstein. David talked about the implicate order as a grand energy frequency that contained in essence all other dimensions and knowledge. All quantum physicists agree that the world we see is electromagnetic energy where everything and everyone is connected. Anthropologist Joseph Brown noted, “unlike the conceptual categories of Western culture, American Indian traditions do not fragment experience into mutually exclusive dichotomies, but tend rather to stress modes of interrelatedness across categories of meaning, never losing sight of an ultimate wholeness.” Both the Buddhist and Hindu wisdom traditions and metaphysical systems speak of a primary ground of being where all patterns and potentials exist through interconnectedness.
  • So what is the importance of all this interconnectedness? Jean Houston notes, ” When our local self comes into resonance with what Native Americans call “all my relations” and Buddhists call “all sentient beings,” we act in ways that are consonant with both our highest purpose and the world’s destiny. This enlarged perception brings us into phase with the evolutionary way that is propelling us in the universe forward. We escape the sense that our choices are limited or that life is without meaning or purpose, and our sense of the future opens.”
  • There are many points worth emphasizing here. First, when we recognize that we are all interconnected, we tend to shift from acting with selfish purpose to acting with noble purpose. Noble purpose is when we care about not just others, but the entire world around us in all of its aspects. Second, we recognize that this shift is a powerful evolutionary trend that is the thread through much of the emerging quantum change. Third, we wake up to the realization that our life has powerful meaning and purpose and that we are no longer as limited in our choices as we may have thought.
  • Acclaimed economist David Korten, The Post Corporate World.
    • These determined pioneers are creating new political parties and movements, strengthening their communities, deepening their spiritual practice, discovering the joyous liberation of voluntary simplicity, building networks of locally rooted businesses, certifying socially and environmentally responsible products, restoring forests and watersheds, promoting public transportation and defining urban growth boundaries, serving as peacemakers between hostile groups, advancing organic agriculture, practicing holistic health, directing their investments to socially responsible businesses, organizing recycling campaigns, and demanding that trade agreements protect the rights of people and the environment.”
  • Jean Houston in her book A Passion for the Possible, says ” The Essential Self knows the possible paths our life may take and wants to help us choose the best ones. It knows how to turn imagination into reality and to make the life we live fulfilling and creative. After all, it knows why we are here and what we yet can do; where we can go and why we need to go there.”
  • So, how do we relate and apply these insights to our innovation programs?
  • First, there needs to be the recognition that innovation does not happen in a small bubble of a specific product category. Customers live in our broader culture and are aware of and participate in that broader culture to varying degrees. By living in a world experiencing historically high rates of change, we as innovators first and foremost need to be aware of this bigger picture perspective.
  • Second, the dimensions of the current quantum change need to be factored into possible innovative solutions. I previously mentioned that some of the major dimensions of the current change our compassion, service to others, and noble purpose. Compassion is when empathy moves into action to relieve the suffering of others. Noble purpose is when we guide our actions with a sense of responsibility not only to other humans but for our entire planet. This sense of responsibility triggers actions to help others and the planet.
  • Third, I want to share an actual innovation session story from my experience. We were running a session on a consumer product. We were exploring various dimensions of leaps forward in product efficacy, convenience, and packaging. We had made spectacular progress on these dimensions. Sensing that the client’s purpose had already been delivered, I designed some idea generating exercises around noble purpose. I described noble purpose as eloquently as I’m capable of from many of the multiple perspectives discussed earlier in this podcast. When the groups began the next creative exercise, I saw a dramatic leap in energy and engagement in the groups even though we were in the concluding phase of the session where I would normally expect energy to trend down. The group took all of the ideas from earlier in the sessions as stimulus and embarked on creating noble purpose solutions. All of a sudden we were concerned about more than profits and more concerned about doing the right thing for all humans and the planet. The results were inspiring! The ideas were presented with energy and passion. People were excited and proud. The ideas were some of the biggest ideas I had ever seen come out of a group.
  • I have barely touched on the dimensions of quantum change that are currently going on. I have been a deep and dedicated student of this topic for decades. There is much to be learned. What you learn can genuinely create transformational products and change. It’s about getting beyond relatively small efficacy changes, which even though they create meaningful competitive advantages, are still relatively small ideas compared to what is really possible.
  • In closing, if you find these podcasts both enjoyable and helpful, please be sure to get the android or Apple apps so that you get 100% of the episodes that you can listen to on demand at your convenience.

P37 Understand the Consumption Chain And Unlock Big Ideas

  • I have people ask me where they should look for new ideas, especially big ideas that can create a competitive advantage. This podcast is going to take an interesting approach to answering that question. To be clear, it’s not the only answer but it is a very good one.
  • This podcast is based on A Harvard Business Review article titled Discovering New Points of Differentiation. Since this is a podcast of innovation best practices, this is a pretty good source for finding best practice ideas.
  • The objective of this whole approach is to differentiate yourself from competition in a way that is important to customers and that your competitors do not have. Most companies in attempting to do this focus primarily on their products and services. How well do they deliver their key benefit? What is the value equation for the price they charge? What are the strengths and weaknesses of competitors? These are all good questions and deserving of close examination.
  • The approach the authors take in this article is to map the consumption chain. The consumption chain starts with your customers becoming aware of your product and goes all the way through to the point that they have totally used the product and/or discard what’s left over. By closely examining the details of this chain, you almost always will find ways that you can differentiate yourself versus your competitors and have that differentiation be strong enough to be a competitive advantage.
  • I’m now going to rather quickly walk through the many possible steps in a consumption chain. Not all of these steps apply to all products. The details of each step will certainly vary dramatically between consumer products and B2B products, for example. Even within a category, there can be significantly different answers to the questions you want to examine as you map your consumption chain.
  • Let’s get started. First, how do people become aware of their need for your product or service? Does a problem intermittently pop-up in their life that needs a solution? Do they use your product routinely every day and they notice they are running out of the product? In some cases the answer to this question can result in an innovative way of leveraging this moment.
  • Next, how do consumers find your product? In today’s world, consumers often have multiple options – local store, online, and mega chain, for example. You want to know how they find your product and what steps they go through in finding your product. For example, in today’s digital world they might enter a search term into Google. You want to know what those search terms are so that you can have a Google ad words advertising pop-up on their page.
  • How do consumers make their final selections? Okay, they found your product and they probably found competitive products also. Just imagine yourself needing toothpaste and standing in a store in front of more than 50 tooth paste options. The answer to this question in many cases is that various groups of consumers have different number one important considerations in making their selection. For some people price may be more important. For other people loyalty or confidence over a long period of time in a product performance may be most important. Another group of people might really prefer the scent of your particular product.
  • How do customers order and purchase your product or service? Again, the answer to this question will vary significantly by type of product. Cash and/or credit card? Purchase order? Coupons? The list goes on and on.
  • How is your product or service delivered? As short as a couple of decades ago, it was usually delivered by your personal car that went to a store to buy the product and deliver it to the home. To be clear, that’s still a very popular option. But with the advent of companies like Amazon and almost every manufacturer having an online store, the world and answers to this question have become far more complex.
  • What happens when your product or service is delivered? If it’s a consumer product, where does it go in the home? Is the person who uses product different than the one who purchases it? For example, parents often make a toy purchase decision but their children are the ones that use it. Parents might make food purchases, but different family members use different products.
  • How is your product installed? This does not necessarily apply to many consumer products, but it certainly applies to many products sold at Home Depot. In the case of products sold at Home Depot, what do people need to install the product – directions, tools, etc.
  • How is your product or service paid for? Again, the answer this question varies dramatically by the type of product. For products purchased in a grocery store it’s either cash or credit card or debit card. For B2B products, there is probably an invoice and payment terms. What if you could gain a competitive advantage in the ease of paying for your product or service?
  • How is your product moved around? For example, Pepsi gained a short-term advantage when they recognized the use of their product in some important consumption occasions was better facilitated by plastic bottles than glass bottles.
  • What is the customer really using your product for? This is one of those questions that can produce some very surprising answers. Yes, they use it for the intended and most popular use, but it may also be used in very different occasions by different people. There can be some valuable insights gained here.
  • What do customers need help with when they use your product? It’s not only what they need help with but how they get help. For example, do you want to deal with tech support from Apple or Dell? Based on my experience, Apple by a landslide! Engaging in both quantitative and qualitative research to answer this question can produce many promising ideas. For example, it can be as simple as the problem opening one of those clear clamshell packages – is there simpler packaging that gives you a win for convenience? What consumers need help with may also reveal opportunities to improve your product and to improve the on package directions about how to use the product. Nothing is more frustrating with a product that is not easy to use and getting answers about how to use it is even more difficult.
  • What about returns or exchanges? Remember, these are usually to some degree unhappy customers. How you handle returns and exchanges can make them more unhappy or make them a loyal customer. I am always impressed with the ease of returning a product with Amazon. I know that if I make the wrong purchase choice for any reason, returning it is not a hassle.
  • How is your product repaired or serviced? Clearly this doesn’t apply to a many consumer products like toothpaste. But anybody in the appliance, automobile, and tool businesses knows that this is an important question to answer. When it comes to computer tech support, I have no misgivings when I call Apple for help. On the other hand, in my personal experience, if I have a problem with my ADT security system, I dread making the call because of the difficulties I usually encounter.
  • What happens when your product is disposed of or no longer used? For many consumer products, it’s easy to answer this question – it goes into the trashcan. For more complex products ranging from computers to industrial equipment, this becomes much more important and challenging. Are there opportunities to create a competitive advantage at this end of the consumption chain?
  • That’s the end of their suggested questions. Now that you have these questions what do you do?
  • First, I suggest that this is a potentially productive line of questioning and that the answers you develop could have potential. To better understand the potential I suggest the following steps.
  • Select the questions that are most important and relevant to your business. The selection can be based on knowledge about how important an area is to consumers, your lack of competitive disadvantages, and consumer dissatisfaction.
  • Having made the selection, go deep to understand consumer behaviors and attitudes. When you go deep you will groups of consumer behaviors and attitudes. You want to understand how important each group is – for example, how much they purchase relative to an average purchaser. There are some relatively fast and inexpensive forms of research that can help you understand this.
  • Explore potential alternatives to the way you’re currently doing something. The first level of alternatives is different approaches your competitors are using. The second level of alternatives is other approaches used by people in your broader industry. For example, in the home improvement industry there may be certain practices for manufacturers of power drills and you can learn from other people in the home improvement industry like other kinds of tools, plumbing supplies, electrical devices, and other related types of products.
  • Lastly, you want to explore alternatives in the broader world. For example, if it is how people pay for a product look at all the alternatives in all categories and from a global perspective. Technology in this area is rapidly changing. Forms of payment like bitcon are also emerging.
  • At this point, you have a tremendous amount of stimulus. As a suggested next step, put together a quantum idea generating session. Organize the stimulus you have into a form that can be easily and provocatively shared. Search for the appropriate diversity you need in the session both internally and externally to the company. Understand the left and right brain makeup of your group and prepare to have fun by reducing fear.
  • I know that I’ve covered an awful lot in a short period of time. You can dive deeper into the subject by reading the article I mentioned at the beginning of the podcast. There are so many variations by type of product and industry and geography that by necessity the podcast has needed to be from an overview perspective. There is a lot in this podcast that can help you sell more and make more.

P36 Let Lead Users Helped Bring You to the Big Ideas

  • This podcast is another very clear best practice that can help virtually any company with its innovation needs. As with every podcast, insights in this podcast are ones that you can immediately use to help you sell more and make.
  • Today’s podcast is drawn from an excellent article in the Harvard Business Review titled Creating Breakthroughs at 3M. In the 80s and 90s and even the early 2000’s 3M was viewed as one of the most innovative companies in America. They have an innovative culture and leading-edge processes. Even with this great reputation, they pioneered an innovative approach that uses what they call lead users.
  • They define lead users as “companies, organizations, or individuals that are well ahead of market trends. Their needs are so far beyond those of the average user that lead users create innovations on their own that may later contribute to commercially attractive breakthroughs. The lead user process transforms the job of inventing breakthroughs into a systematic task of identifying lead users and learning from them.
  • 3M with the help of some external experts developed two major lead user findings.
  • First, researchers found that many commercially important products were first developed by innovative users/customers who, in some cases, actually prototyped and tested a solution. Second, they found that these users/customers were often innovative in their own right and had needs that went well beyond the average user. To meet these greater needs, they internally developed innovative add-ons, new associated products, or additional processes to be sure their needs were met.
  • The article’s authors identify four phases related to a lead user project. The process typically involves a cross disciplinary team – that is, people from various functions within the company like marketing and technical departments. These teams typically involve 4 to 6 people with one of the members serving as the project leader. Each phase typically takes 4 to 6 weeks and about 4 to 6 months for the entire project, although needs and circumstances can change the schedule significantly. You should not view this as a fixed given.
  • They call phase 1 laying the foundation. This is a learning phase and using the learning to make some key decisions. They learn about which markets for users they want to target. They become aware of the types of innovations and level of innovation that management is already looking for from their team or business unit. All of this learning concludes with a recommendation to the key stakeholders and/or managers responsible for the team’s results. It is critical at this phase that the team and management are fully aligned before moving on to the second phase.
  • The second phase is also primarily a learning phase. The primary learning focuses on trends – what’s growing/declining, what’s getting better/worse, and what’s emerging/fading. To do this phase successfully requires going outside the company. They can use external consultants and industry databases. They are most interested in things like emerging technologies and leading-edge software. Sources for this include new patent filings and talking to key industry leaders. At the end of this learning phase, the most important insights are identified – usually no more than three to five. While these may change over time, they mark an important beginning point for what direction the team wants to go in.
  • In phase 3 they identify lead users. There are many ways to do this and the ways vary by type of product and industry. Here are just a couple of methods used to identify lead users. First, the sales organization that calls on customers – this is especially true for B2B businesses – knows which ones have the greatest and most complex needs. They may actually have seen modified versions of their product being used to meet these unique needs. This can often be a good beginning point for having some customer conversations. Second, companies can use telephone interviews with both customers and consultants in the industry. They are searching for information about customers who fit the lead user profile of unique needs that they solved through internal innovation.
  • Phase 4 the writers called developing the breakthroughs. The team begins this phase by conducting a creative session/workshop with a mix of lead users and in-house marketing and technical people combined with the lead user team itself. Such sessions can last several days. Typically they work in small groups of 2 to 4 people. The goal is to develop concepts of interesting and even high potential new products. In most cases, the ideas and solutions coming from lead users are starting points for bigger solutions. By combining the capabilities and expertise of the lead users with the company’s internal capabilities and expertise, bigger, more efficient, higher value solutions often are the result. Phase 4 concludes with a recommendation to the team’s management. Next steps can involve a number of possibilities – concept research, quantitative research to estimate your one sales, rapid prototyping, and an agreed to stage gate process to name a few of the possible next steps.
  • Here are a few of my observations regarding this process.
  • First, this process is very consistent with many elements of quantum idea generation. The lead user process leverages external expertise with internal experts – a core principle in the diversity element of quantum idea generation. Lead user solutions often provide great stimulus for idea generation. Again, this is a critical component to quantum idea generation’s ability to generate at least 12 X more ideas than brainstorming.
  • Second, in my business management and innovation responsibilities at companies like Procter & Gamble and Gallo, we identified another group that provided rich learning. We called this group heavy users, usually because they bought the product far more frequently and used it in greater quantity. They often did this because their needs were different than the average user and learning about these needs could be very beneficial. Because they had a much higher level of engagement with the product they could also communicate their likes/dislikes and ways that they thought the product could be better. This was a group that you wanted to visit them in their homes where they actually use the product. It provided very rich learning in many cases.
  • The major insight in this podcast is that there are groups of your current customers/consumers who can provide you very beneficial learning. This learning can often jumpstart your innovation program. The chances for success tend to be above average because they start and well grounded consumer experience.
  • You will need to decide which groups are most important to your business. The key point is that every business has groups of users that provide well above average learning.
  • There’s an important caveat in this process. In my experience, when you ask users, even lead users and heavy users, how a product can be made better their ideas are often fairly modest and close in. Nonetheless, they can mark an important beginning point that can fuel your innovation program.
  • As always, I think you’ll find these insights can immediately help your innovation program. These insights can lead to the breakthroughs that help you to sell more and make more.

P36 Old Inspires New.

  • This podcast covers a perspective on innovation that I’ve not fully appreciated. It is how old ideas can inspire really big new ideas. This is drawn from a Harvard Business Review article titled Building an Innovation Factory.
  • To achieve this they suggest a strategy the authors call knowledge brokering. The system for sustaining innovation is the knowledge brokering cycle and the authors discuss its four parts.”
  • They describe a knowledge brokering cycle that includes four steps.
  • The first step is capturing good ideas. They describe good innovators as people who are constantly looking for new and great ideas for any product anywhere in the world. In this sense, they are idea scavengers..
  • They keep a constant lookout for technologies, products, business practices and business models. These existing or old ideas become a bank of stimulus. There is a systematic process for capturing and organizing these ideas. This is one of the differences between a more informal process which often gets lost when a person leaves the company or moves to a new assignment.
  • This is more than just a collection process. The knowledge brokers as they call them actually play with possibilities with the ideas that they collect. Often they collect them in physical form, which deepens the understanding and exploration of possibilities.
  • From my perspective this is an interesting process. The authors refer to external innovation companies like IDEO as being practitioners of this process. You may recall in an earlier podcast I talked about my experience with IDEO. In touring their facilities I had the opportunity to see parts of their knowledge brokering system.
  • I find this an interesting form of stimulus. Most forms of stimulus that I’ve used focuses on cutting-edge, new developments of various kinds. I can see how combining this with older and successful ideas in other businesses can expand the power of stimulus. Having said that, it does require a systematic, ongoing process for this collection to have integrity and value.
  • The second step they call keeping ideas alive. In this step the knowledge brokers do not just keep ideas to themselves. They find ways to have others in the company or organization to have the opportunity to become aware of and play with these older and more successful ideas. It varies significantly by company and type of business, but functions that could benefit from this include sales, marketing, and research and development.
  • IDEO has significant quantities of what one person refers to as the “science of accumulating junk.” This junk is often brought into brainstorming sessions where its value continuously surprises people. One of their engineers at one point had 23 battery-powered toy cars and robots, 13 plastic hotel keys, a flashlight that goes on when the handle is squeezed, and industrial pump, 11 prototypes of a portable computer, 14 prototypes of a computer docking station and other forms of junk. The same company shares its junk and what they call “tech boxes” where they share over 400 different materials and products among their six locations.
  • The third step is imagining new uses for old ideas. This is where innovation kicks in. It is often a process of exploring how existing/old ideas can be solutions when they are translated to new contexts. Sometimes the solutions can be stunningly simple. There is the story of the Edison inventors. While they were developing the light bulb their experimental light bulbs kept falling out of their fixtures. You may recall at this time that kerosene lamps were the primary light source. One technician seeing the threaded cap on a kerosene bottle wondered whether that would help to hold light bulbs in their sockets. This directly led to the threaded base to the light bulb fitting into the threaded light bulb socket. This is a very simple example of an old solution working in a new context.
  • Again at IDEO they are set up with design groups working on specific kinds of projects. It is an open space plan. People from other design groups are expected to come into other spaces where they can see projects at various stages of development. This provides the opportunity for solutions that work in on entirely different types of products and contexts.
  • The fourth step is called putting promising concepts to the test. Customer/consumer testing is the best and proven method for determining commercial potential.
  • As the authors state so well, “a good idea for a new product or business practice isn’t worth much by itself. It needs to be turned into something that can be tested and, if successful, integrated into the rest of what a company does, makes, or sells.”
  • I have touched on testing in other podcasts. In future podcasts I will dive deeper into both qualitative and quantitative research. You will recall in a previous podcast I talked about how new products only have a 25% chance of success. One of the things that can be done to increase the chances for success is to conduct high-quality informative research to guide critical decision-making.
  • People in the innovation business recognize that there is value in sharing a written description of a potential idea with the right customers or consumers. Valuable inputs can be gained regarding the overall interest and the appropriateness of the language used to talk about the idea.
  • Having said that, the value of research jumps up dramatically when a prototype is shared with customers or consumers. It now goes beyond just words to a physical form. Functionality can be observed and evaluated. You can also gain valuable feedback on other factors like size and effectiveness. This is why the best innovation companies quickly move to a prototype.
  • There are various forms of prototypes ranging from a complete and actual replica of an idea to what is called a looks like prototype. With this type of prototype there is no actual functionality that can be evaluated since it merely a picture translated into a non-functioning form. Having said that respondents provide far more valuable feedback than when it is only words.
  • To be clear, research does have value in evaluating potential new products. But as I tell clients and associates, research is never to be confused with the “voice of God.” All research no matter how well done has strengths and weaknesses. As I said earlier, I will dive deeper into these in a later podcast. Suffice it to say at this time that research is best used as one of the factors considered in making a decision. It is more of a guide than a director to the right decision.
  • So what have we learned from this that can help you in your business? This podcast is focused on older or existing ideas as stimulus for producing new, innovative ideas. From my perspective, old ideas are another kind of stimulus. We talked about the power of stimulus many times.
  • This podcast also talks about sharing older ideas with a diverse group of people. Again, from quantum idea generation we know how the power of stimulus with a diverse group of people can be a very powerful way of producing breakthrough ideas. This podcast focus on knowledge brokers as another way of doing that.
  • The bottom line for me is I’m not sure if I would have a systematic process of collecting, retaining, and sharing older or existing ideas. For me, when the need presented itself I would readily dive into an exploration in this area. Solutions that are working in one kind of business can often translate to or be adapted to innovative new products in an entirely different business. For me, this would be part of the stimulus creation process. To be clear, in this stimulus collection I would also include futuristic examples – for example, patent applications.
  • In this podcast we reaffirm the power of stimulus and diversity in creating breakthrough innovative ideas. Each version of stimulus and diversity needs to be tailored to the unique conditions in each business. This is the nugget of knowledge that I think can help everyone listening to this podcast to be more innovative as they strive to sell more and make more.

P34 The Art of Innovation at IDEO – Part One.

  • Today we take a look at innovation at IDEO, one of America’s most successful and well-known innovation companies. The insights in the podcast come from one of its founders, Tom Kelley, in his book The Art of Innovation.
  • There are many excellent insights from this book that can help you in your business. Today I’m going to focus on two areas of insights from his book.
  • First, we take a look at the five basic steps of their innovation methodology. In one way or another these five steps can help you in your innovation programs. Second, we take a look at their deep insights on brainstorming – yes brainstorming. When we get to this section of the podcast I will share some perspective that goes well above and beyond what Tom shares in his book.
  • As background, my company Innovate2Grow Experts was hired by a client to develop a major breakthrough product. We knew that that breakthrough product would involve highly innovative packaging and systems. After talking to several external innovation companies, we chose to work with IDEO. I led this project for the client. This involved every week or every other week meetings at their Palo Alto offices with their team and our team. As a result of this intensive experience, I developed a personal understanding of how they approach innovation and, in my opinion, their strengths and challenges.
  • Let’s start with the five basic steps of their innovation methodology. These steps certainly have some application to a client company – a company like yours. But there are also some differences. They are an external company that takes on a client project at some point downstream from when the original idea or strategy was developed for an innovative product or service. The client has already determined by the time they arrive at IDEO that there is a very good foundation for their direction and there is a range of possibilities that appear to have meaningful and even significant potential. After the client has reached this point, they are then ready to knock on the door of IDEO and companies like it to get their proposals.
  • The first of their five steps is to understand the market, the client, the technology, and the perceived constraints on the problem. In my experience with the project we worked on, they did a very good job of searching worldwide for examples that had varying degrees of relevance to the project we were working on. Viewing these examples immediately triggered additional thoughts, which led to additional exploration. Most of this exploration featured visuals which are very powerful stimulus for new ideas. They also work to understand the client – their business and innovation strategy, the basis for the need, why they believe there is a possibility, the direction they want IDEO to help with, and the always present budgetary parameters. They probably spend most of their time trying to understand the clients perceived constraints and challenges regarding the direction they are interested in pursuing. IDEO’s perspectives from having worked on so many major projects and seen so many perceived constraints can be exceptionally valuable in expanding the client company’s perception of what is possible and not possible. This can make the first step a powerful leap forward in the very beginning of the project.
  • The second of their five steps is observing real people in real life situations to find out what makes them tick on the product category. You will recall from the Kari McNamara podcasts that she did a very good job of getting down to the nitty-gritty of what a product is with customers and in one case with manufacturing. This is not just reading research reports. This is going out into the real world and talking with real people often in their homes. In our project, we went into people’s homes and saw everything from the preparation of the product to where ingredients were stored to equipment they used to the care and personalization they went through. In the course of this you learn things like what confuses consumers, what they like and what they hate, and what needs don’t seem to be addressed by current products and services.
  • The third of their five steps is visualizing new to the world concepts and the customers who use them. There are several ways that this can be done. One of the more popular ones is to visualize success from a consumer perspective. For example, visualizing the consumer having their problem fixed and what that would look like and feel like. Wha t is life like with the new product you are going to invent? This process is a well accepted method for focusing a group so they can clearly understand what success looks like.
  • The fourth of their five steps is to evaluate and refine prototypes in a series of quick iterations. While this varies for various products and services, this is a well accepted innovation best practice. You want to get to prototypes, even very rough looks like prototypes, as quickly as you can and then dive into customer learning and feedback. In later podcasts, will talk more about the prototyping process, but for now remember two things – rapid prototype versions and using looks like prototypes if you need to.
  • The fifth step is to implement a new concept or product for commercialization. They can be a tremendous amount of work involved here including things like selection of the right materials and manufacturing process.
  • Each of these five steps includes basic principles and insights that you can use in your innovation program. Focus on the principles and the insights and adapt them to your business need without losing the critical learning that comes in each step.
  • Let’s move now to the second topic which is brainstorming. Tom identifies what he calls the seven secrets of better brainstorming. As you know from previous podcasts, quantum idea generation is a process that generates at least 12 X more ideas than brainstorming. When I was working on my project with IDEO, I took Tom to dinner to explain how quantum idea generation was so, so much better than his brainstorming. I even invited him to a demonstration of in one of the steps of our actual project idea generation. Suffice it to say that he was most comfortable in the existing box he operated in.
  • I’m not going to go into all seven of his secrets. I will focus on some that I think have good application anytime you need to generate new ideas.
  • The first of these is to develop a carefully crafted statement of what the problem is that you want to solve. It can be a question. You want to make it what he calls “edgy” instead of being fuzzy. They found that the best statements focus outward on a specific customer need or service enhancement rather than focusing inward on some organizational goal.
  • A second one is a warning that a brain storming session to not the best time for the critique or debate ideas. This is consistent with what we talked about in quantum idea generation. There will be a time to evaluate ideas, but the actual brainstorming session is not the best time to do that.
  • The third one is that they like to have the facilitator write down ideas as they emerge in a brainstorming session. They are written on a visible medium of some sort – flipchart, giant posters for the walls, butcher shop paper on tables, etc. This is generally a good idea since it serves as stimulus for people during the process. One idea can remind them of another version of it or they can jump to an entirely new idea.
  • A fourth one is that they like a warm-up practice. They actually did some qualitative testing of three different ways of doing this. In one group people did some background reading and listened to an expert lecture. Another group spent half an hour at a local toy store looking for and purchasing some interesting products to serve as visual stimulation. A third group had no preparation. Not surprising to me, the top performing group was the one that went to the toy store. It’s not surprising to me because it provided the richest form of stimulus. You will recall in quantum idea generation that stimulus alone can double or triple the number of ideas you get from brainstorming alone. While stimulus is done differently within quantum idea generation, the principle of stimulus is what you want to remember
  • The fourth one is to create visuals of ideas as you create them. In my work with companies we’ve brought graphic designers into a creative session when we believe product form and/or product packaging could be an integral part of a breakthrough new product. In other sessions, I have brought about 100 magazines into an idea generating session. After initial ideas have been developed, I asked people to work in groups of two and the search the magazines for visuals that they can cut out and paste onto a board. This creates a story about their idea and the potential customers that can often be very provocative and developing additional ideas in the group.
  • In this podcast I’ve only covered a small part of Tom’s book on The Art Of Innovation. I’ve covered the five steps of their innovation process which either in its exact form or an adapted form can help you greatly with your internal innovation program. I’ve also covered some key points they make to support brainstorming that I think also are relevant to the quantum idea generating process we discussed earlier.
  • Bottom line, you have some well proven insights and processes you can immediately start using in your innovation program so that you can sell more and make more.
  • In future podcasts I will draw more relevant and helpful insights from this book. There’s a lot more benefit to be had!

P33 What It Takes for a Startup to Succeed According to Bill Gross.

  • This podcast shares insights from Bill Gross about what it takes for a start up to succeed today’s world. So who is Bill Gross? He is a very successful finance manager who has learned about why companies succeed and fail in order to make his finance company successful. He is also been an entrepreneur, actually a serial entrepreneur, with many notable successes and of course some failures. Businesses like Citysearch and go to.com.
  • In this podcast, he shares his thoughts on why companies like space X, uber and airbnb succeed while others fail. He identifies five factors that he sees driving success and identifies the one of those five factors that is the most important influencer of success. But start by looking at the five factors.
  • The first of the five factors is “the idea.”
    • Consistent with what we learned from Merwyn technology about what it takes to be successful, he points to some critical questions you need to ask in evaluating how strong the ideas.
    • Is a truly new or just a variation on something that already exists? New always tends to get people’s attention, so it’s a starting point for engaging potential customers. But if you’re only new and not truly uniquely new and beneficial in meeting customer needs, chances for longer-term success are not very high.
    • It’s very clear that with a startup there is an initial idea that evolves over time. The evolution of the idea can be a tricky process. Sometimes you can lose sight of the inspiration or original insight, which can be a costly loss. Nonetheless, an idea must and will evolve so there is no one original idea but rather an ever evolving idea that drive success.
  • The second of the five factors is the team and execution.
    • In this podcast I’ve not spent much time on this topic. I will spend more time in future podcasts, since it is very important.
    • There are several aspects of what it takes to have excellent teamwork. First, there are the factors that contribute to a high performing team. These involve organizational, process, and interpersonal elements. Second, a team needs a clear vision, strategy, and definition of success. Third, teams need resources, both core and ancillary resources. Fourth, teams need organizational and management support. And I could add to this less which I will do in a future podcast.
  • The third of the five factors is the business model.
    • The business model is all about how are you going to make money.
    • This is not as simple as it sounds – it’s not just about how you price it. Depending upon the business that you’re in there can make many ways of making money. For example, some software companies sell their clients full rights to use of the software and then they largely disappear. Other software companies, enable clients to bring in the software at a relatively attractive price and then sign long-term service contracts. In the first case, the business model makes money from selling rights to the software and in the second case they make money primarily through servicing the software.
    • While it’s not just about price, for many products it is about price. It is the difficult challenge of figuring out your value equation. The value equation is the benefit you provide and the price people have to pay for it. If you’re providing a very important customer benefit and you are the only one that can provide this benefit, then you are in a position to charge premium pricing. If on the other hand, you essentially have the same or similar basket of customer benefits, it’s very difficult to understand how you could succeed with premium pricing, although it is something that occasionally works.
  • The fourth of the five factors is funding.
    • Almost no successful startup makes it all the way to the marketplace with the only source of funding being from the founder.
    • As a result, startups need rounds of funding to take a step-by-step approach in getting to the marketplace. Each round of funding is dependent upon the enterprise making promising progress in manifesting the idea and business model. Investors are also interested in the continuing viability of the idea, especially as the marketplace changes and if a major competitor enters with a similar initiative.
  • The fifth factor is timing.
    • In many ways, this is the most challenging of the factors. There clearly have been ideas that were very promising but launched too early – that is, before customers were ready for them.
    • There also ideas that launched too late. Enterprise hope to be a fast follower, maybe with some additional customer benefits, only to find that the initial company grabbed consumer attention and loyalty.
    • An example of this is tablets. Despite what you may think, the iPad was not the first tablet. In fact, in many ways it was not Apple’s first tablet. At a later date we can get into why the iPad was successful when earlier ones were not and even later ones were not successful.
  • What is the relative importance of each of these factors? Bill’s analysis suggested the following ranking of importance.
    • The fifth most important factor was funding. In truth, there are plenty of examples of companies that succeeded without getting the ideal amount of funding.
    • The fourth most important factor was the business model. Remember, the business model is how you’re going to make money. Facebook and twitter launched without a true business model or should I say revenue model. That came later in their existence.
    • The third most important factor is the idea. This is especially true for the initial idea. As I mentioned, the initial idea changes over time – in fact, it needs to change over time. It needs to reflect what you learn from qualitative and quantitative research. It needs to reflect what you learn about competitors as you go along in the development process. Net, the idea that you launch with is significantly different than the one that came up in the first idea generating session.
    • The second most important factor is the team and execution. In all of my work I have seen many, many good and even great ideas. When the ideas were brought back from an idea generating station to the broader company, they often experienced a rapid death or a slow and dysfunctional death. There are many reasons for this including company culture, lack of internal team expertise, and ever changing management support and funding.
    • The most important factor is timing. He shares the Airbnb success example. Many people use their business model before. They launched the company when the recession hit and a lot of people were looking for additional sources of income. As a result, people were willing to rent out rooms or entire homes and apartments. Space X launched in the face of the Columbia disaster.
      • The timing being the most important factor, it can also be a very frustrating factor. As noted in the two examples, as an entrepreneur and inventor you often have little or no control over the macro factors influencing your success.
      • The importance of this factor does suggest that you identify a set of actual or potential macro conditions that could impact your success. Having identified them you want to then track them so that you are at least aware of what is going on in the macro world.
    • I think that Bill was made a good contribution to understanding what it takes to be successful. His five factors are not new. Other people have identified other factors some of which are not listed here. For example, Jim Collins has written a series of books on this topic including good to great.
    • I think his most valuable contribution is the relative importance of these factors. Having said that, I can easily see how the relative importance of these factors could vary by industry and type of product.
    • I hope this helps you understand the factors driving a startup’s success. At the end of the day, it’s never easy, but you increase your chances for success if you have an awareness of the critical factors driving the success.

P32 The Curse of Being an Expert.

  • Before getting into the specifics of today’s podcast, I want to say hello to all of you who are listening to this podcast somewhere in New England. I grew up in Ipswich, Massachusetts and briefly attended Boston University school of Law. As I record this in the summer of 2015, the Red Sox are buried in last place with little prospect of becoming better this year – and they finished in last place last year.
  • The subject of today’s podcast is not one you will find in any innovation books, podcasts or articles that I’ve ever read or heard. Despite this fact, there is a curse of being an expert that works powerfully to inhibit innovation, especially when the need is very important and urgent.
  • Let’s make sure we’re starting in the same place by understanding the meaning of the word expert. When used as a noun, the dictionary defines expert as “a person who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge or skill in a particular area.” When used as an adjective the definition is “having or involving authoritative knowledge.”
  • When you ask someone if they are an expert, they will answer depending upon their level of humility. Those who are egocentric will quickly acknowledge that they are an expert in one or more particular subjects. Those who have a higher level of humility might not describe themselves as experts but acknowledged that the no quite a bit about a particular subject.
  • So how does someone considering themselves to be an expert or believing that they know a lot about a particular subject impact innovation results?
  • Since I have been facilitating creative sessions for many years, I have seen the negative impact of someone considering themselves to be an expert. Most often I see the impact when one person suggests an innovative idea and the other expert person immediately jumps in to provide their point of view. In expressing their point of view a often expressed that they are experts. Their expressions often criticize the idea or suggest it has a very low chance of being successful. This is often because the suggested innovative idea is outside the box of their expertise.
  • There are a few factors to be aware of here.
    • If asked, experts would tell you they are well-intentioned. They want others to benefit from their expertise. But looked at another way, they want to be right and to control the direction of innovation. Unfortunately, other people in a creative session might defer to the stated expertise. When this happens, all VA or goes out of the creative balloon.
    • Experts do not know what they do not know. They can be threatened by what they don’t know because it could undermine their position as an expert. It becomes about protecting their ego and image. Most experts are loath to say “I don’t know” or “I have never heard of that before.”
    • Experts can create to dysfunctional behavior in groups. Others can see the kind of behavior I have described as arrogance, controlling, and disrespectful. On the other hand, experts can view their fellow group members as naïve and poorly informed.
  • But briefly take a closer look at what being an expert in expertise is all about. There are at least two perspectives.
    • The first perspective is how much a person knows compared to other people in their field, like marketing, sales, research, product development and many more. Indeed a person who considers themselves to be an expert may have considerable more knowledge and experience than many or most of their peers and colleagues in a particular field. So the first perspective is a benchmark of how much knowledge and experience the person has compared to peers and colleagues.
    • The second perspective is how much a person knows about all that is known in a particular field. For example, let’s consider someone who considers themselves to be an expert in customer research. Peers and colleagues might readily acknowledge this person to have greater knowledge and experience than they do, maybe even by a wide margin. But when you compare how much knowledge and experience the same person has compared to everything that can be known and experienced in the field of consumer research, they might have a very low percentage of total knowledge and experience.
  • Let me illustrate this point by using myself as an example.
    • Many people consider me to be an expert in marketing. There is a basis for people believing this. I worked at Procter & Gamble for 16 years in sales and marketing and the company was voted marketing company of the century by its peers in the year 2000. I was vice president of marketing at the Gallo Winery for 10 years. As a professor at Arizona State University in the school of management I taught upper-level marketing courses. Because of all this, for many years I did consider myself to be an expert. This consideration was from the first perspective only – my level of knowledge and experience compared to other people both in marketing and more generally in business.
    • Then one day, for some reason, I decided to search Amazon for how many books on marketing they had. They have well over 500,000 books on marketing. I perused many of the titles and found that they were covering topics that in many cases I knew little or nothing about. I then did some Google searches on marketing topics. Again, I discovered a vast world of marketing knowledge and experience that went way beyond my personal knowledge and experience. I came away from this process deeply impressed by how much I did not know.
    • Let me try and put some order of magnitude numbers on this to make it a little bit clearer. First, from the perspective of my marketing expertise compared to peers and colleagues, in any particular situation I probably had 50% – 75% more expertise, that is knowledge and experience than these peers and colleagues. Second, from the perspective of how much I knew about marketing compared to all that there was to be known about marketing knowledge and experience, I probably had 5% – 10% knowledge of everything that was to be known about marketing. The difference between 50% – 75% and 5% – 10% is dramatic.
    • I repeated this process in a few other areas of my life where I thought I had a pretty good level of expertise. At the conclusion of this process, I came away deeply, deeply impressed by my ignorance. I realized that there was a sort of curse to be an expert. That curse was arrogance that limited openness to new thinking and diminished innovation possibilities.
    • Instead of feeling diminished in any way, I felt exhilarated. I’m a reasonably good learner. I now had a major opportunity to enjoy the thrill of learning new things and finding ways to productively and beneficially use my new knowledge and experience in my life. I quickly became a learning junkie, which I continue to this day.
  • For those of you that have listened to previous podcasts on quantum idea generation, you are aware of the power of diversity. I also made a very strong point about bringing diverse expertise into a creative session. So yes, I love experts and I love to have them part of the creative session.
  • Here are a couple of thoughts for your consideration about how to manage a creative session that includes significant levels of expertise.
    • Respect as a two-way street: in the early stages of a creative session have people talk about themselves and expectations for the session. As a facilitator, look for opportunities to celebrate the accomplishment of experts, especially when you have multiple experts in the same or similar field. You want people to know that there are multiple experts, not only one or two. The street also goes the other way. For people in the session who do not have the same or even significant levels of knowledge and experience in a field, you want to celebrate them also. You celebrate the possibility of fresh thinking – people who see things in their more essential state of being, who see things in simpler terms where experts might only see the more complicated view. Net, you want to celebrate expertise and, if you will, lack of expertise. In our creative sessions we always look to include both of these dimensions.
    • Help people understand why out-of-the-box thinking is so important and yet so difficult. It is natural for people to create new ideas that will fit into their box of knowledge and experience. On this point, history is very clear – the really big ideas exist outside the box. To get these ideas, experts need to let go of preconceptions that say the future is going to be very similar to the past and present, which is where they are comfortable inside the box. Making this point starts giving experts the permission to entertain new possibilities. During the course of the session when you reward these new possibilities with praise, the creative juices continue to flow. At the end of the day, you can harvest a good number of out-of-the-box ideas with high potential for success.
  • As I mentioned at the start of this subject, you will not find many if any other people in the field of innovation mentioning the curse of being an expert. Yet, it is a very real factor you need to address if you’re creative sessions are going to get the truly big ideas. I hope this has helped you to see this dynamic and how you might manage it in your own creative sessions.

P31 Creativity Lessons Learned From the Most Creative People.

  • Welcome to the Proven, Practical, Profitable Innovation podcast! I am Richard and I thank you very much for taking time out of your busy day to listen to this podcast.
  • In this podcast I’m going to share with you some of the lessons that Fast Company magazine learned as it put together its issue on the 100 most creative people. I have selected several lessons to share with you – especially lessons that I believe can immediately help you be more creative.
  • Please be sure to listen to the end of this podcast where I give you an exciting preview of future podcasts.
  • If after listening to this podcast you feel a need for more help, please contact me directly—my email is richard@i2ge.com. You can also go to my website—i2ge.com– where you can explore many innovation topics, especially check out the DIY Innovation Training on the menu bar. We customize all the training programs to our clients’ unique needs and circumstances.
  • In a previous podcast, I focused on the Fast Company issue on innovation. In that podcast, I shared some of the lessons the magazine learned from its issue on the most innovative people in America today. As I mentioned previously, I’m sharing with you some lessons they learned about the most creative people. It is my hope that these lessons will spark some new thinking for you about how you can turbo boost your personal creativity. Let’s take a deeper look at these lessons are creativity.
  • Creativity does not discriminate: of the 100 most creative people they honored, 53 were women and 43 were people of color. As you know from my podcasts on quantum idea generation, I make the point that all of us can be equally creative. In those podcasts, I showed how left and right brain people are equally creative although they go about creating ideas in very, very different ways.
    • So how do you make use of this lesson? Remember the power of diversity in quantum idea generation. We saw how diverse backgrounds, experiences, and skills dramatically increase idea generation. As you prepare to use creativity to solve your problems or to optimize opportunities, strongly consider assembling a very diverse group of people engaged with the need.
  • Creativity defies expectations: when the Ebola crisis exploded into our awareness, many of us were struck by the fact that science did not seem to have a magic pill or procedure to defend us. Then we learned that a professor at Arizona State University, Charles Arntzen, had a very encouraging potential solution. As background, he is viewed as the godfather of research referred to as “pharming.” This is a field of research where scientists engineer plants to produce specialized vaccines and other drugs. He developed a drug called ZMapp which is an injectable synthetic serum produced from genetically engineered antibodies grown in tobacco plants. In developing this, he very creatively engineered viruses that attacked the plants which led to the plants producing millions of anti-bodies which were purified and formulated for injection. Given the urgency of the crisis, the drug was given to healthcare workers in Liberia even though it had not been approved for human use. Used in these emergency situations a number of patients showed rapid improvement. The promise of this drug is now leading to clinical trials. The main point I am making about “creativity defies expectations” is that we can often get solutions or very promising solutions like this one from very unexpected sources. This did not come from big research companies or pharmaceutical giants.
    • So how can you use this lesson in your business? Recognize that creative insights and inspiration can come from many sources, some of which are unexpected and even out of the mainstream. When you’re looking for creative solutions, always include some nontraditional backgrounds and perspectives. You will not be disappointed.
  • Creativity is improvisational: we know from comedy clubs and comedians that creativity fuels comedy. There was no better example of this than the bright shining light of Robin Williams. The producers of the animated hit Aladdin in which Robin Williams did voiceover commented how the script was put aside and Robin did his thing. The result was some of the funniest scenes ever in an animated movie – or for that matter any other kind of movie.
    • So how do you use this lesson in your business? Recognize that you do not always need to use organized and structured group processes to generate big ideas. I am a big believer in going with the flow. If you are together with other people who spontaneously start creating creative solutions, engage the opportunity right then and there. Remember the principles of quantum idea generation. Be the person who introduces informal and spontaneous stimulus into the organic conversation. Be a person who builds on the ideas of others. Ride the flow as far as you can. When it ends, find a way to capture the ideas, inspirations, and challenges.
  • Aggravation is inspiration: being unhappy, even deeply aggravated by a product is often the stimulus that leads to breakthrough creativity. Aggravation produces a strong desire to eliminate the source of aggravation and replace it with a very positive experience. This tension between the negative of today and the envisioning positives of tomorrow often unlocks high levels of creativity. In my work, I have often pointed to a statement that inspires me – “there must be a better way.” This launches me into a search for that better way. I no longer accept the unacceptable.
    • So how do you make use of this lesson in your business? Some people like to complain. Some people like to complain and then do something about the source of the complaint. If there is an aggravating, stubborn challenge that has so far resisted fixes, harness the negative power provided by aggravation and connect it to the positive power of “what if we finally find a breakthrough creative solution that turns this negative for our customers into a huge positive?” As I mentioned, the power of “there must be a better way” perks up the curiosity and gets the creative juices flowing.
  • Creativity turns bad into good: in a similar way that aggravation inspires creative solutions, bad situations can often trigger powerful creative solutions. For example, the International Fund for Animal Welfare has long faced the challenge of endangered animals being killed by poachers. Finding the perpetrators was almost mission impossible. By unleashing creativity, they saw how drones could greatly expand their ability to find and identify poachers. In combination with other technologies, this bad situation is being made a lot better.
    • So how can you use this lesson in your business? Answer is pretty similar to the previous one. The difference in this case can be the degree of seriousness and importance. Aggravation can be an annoyance. Something bad can be threatening to a business. Something bad can create a compelling and urgent need for a creative solution. The opportunity to “right a wrong” can often be a powerful creative stimulus. Be careful not to be intimidated or stymied by something bad. Be bold. Be courageous.
  • Creativity happens in 3-D: this lesson is both literal and figurative. It’s literal because companies like Pratt and Whitney are designing the next generation of jet engines with 3-D printers. Harnessing creativity to 3-D capability can accelerate creative solutions since they take a more complete form much faster. It’s figurative because creativity needs the benefit of broader perspectives to develop a fuller, higher potential idea. We live in a complex world and creativity needs to harness complexity, not be stymied by it.
    • So how do you use this lesson in your business? Creative solutions in a complex world require exceptional diversity. For example, when inventing a new product, you can often get powerful creative inspiration from sales, marketing, product development, supply chain, finance, suppliers, and external experts. You may need all of these perspectives and maybe a few more if you are to successfully create big idea solutions.
  • Creativity is ambidextrous: the designer of Google’s new headquarters spoke specifically about engaging both left and right brain perspectives in creating the successful design. Right brain provided some inspiration while left brain creativity provided logic and problem solving.
    • So what can you do with this lesson? This is just another reminder that everyone can be creative. Do not let preconceived notions about creativity that are often myths limit your ability to develop needed creative solutions. Recognize as we did in quantum idea generation that people are equally creative but they go about developing ideas in very different ways. Be prepared to build the creative environment where everyone can experience their own personal optimal creativity.
  • This podcast reaffirms everything we’ve known about creativity so far. In many ways creativity and innovation go hand-in-hand. These lessons are good reminders of the various ways we can harness creativity to develop the big ideas business needs. As I’ve stated in previous podcasts, creativity is often thought to be something that marketing or product development primarily use. This is not really the case. If you’re in human relations you need creativity. If you’re in finance, you need creativity – just not too much creativity! If you’re in manufacturing or the supply chain, you need creativity and innovation.
  • If you would like to see the key written points from this podcast, you can find them in my blog – i2ge.com/blog.
  • If you would like to contact me, please email me at richard@i2ge.com.
  • If you would like to create far more robust innovation capabilities within your business, I have a complete portfolio of training programs that we tailor to your unique needs. If you would like to learn more, go to the Innovate2Grow Experts website – i2Ge.com and click on DIY Innovation Training.
  • One of my six books is Proven Practical Innovation That Delivers Results. This very low-cost book is available at Amazon in paperback and has a Kindle book. Is truly packed with lots of practical help.
  • A preview of the next podcast. WHAT?
  • Thank you very much for your time and I look forward to reconnecting with you soon. Please have a great day.

 


P30 A Unique Look Into Why Apple is So Successful

  • Welcome to the Proven, Practical, Profitable Innovation podcast! I am Richard and I thank you very much for taking time out of your busy day to listen to this podcast.
  • My goal is to make sure you get a high return on your time investment listening to this podcast. I want you to immediately be able to use the information in this podcast to help you sell more and make more.
  • I am a very big Apple fan –iMac’s, Mac Air’s, iPad, iPod, and iPhones. Prior to that I was a big Dell fan but having to work with Microsoft’s operating system and all of its ongoing problems became just too much. As an Apple fan of what they do and how they do it, I recently read the best interview with Tim Cook that I have ever seen. It reveals some key insights about why and how the company is so successful at innovation. This interview, which appeared in Fast Company magazine, is the major source of key points in this podcast.
  • Please be sure to listen to the end of this podcast where I give you an exciting preview of future podcasts.
  • If after listening to this podcast you feel a need for more help, please contact me directly—my email is richard@i2ge.com. You can also go to my website—i2ge.com– where you can explore many innovation topics, especially check out the DIY Innovation Training on the menu bar. We customize all the training programs to our clients’ unique needs and circumstances.
  • Tim Cook interview.
    • Tim Cook on what made Steve Jobs so successful.
      • “Steve felt that most people live in a small box. They think they can’t influence or change things a lot. I think he would probably call that a limited life. And more than anybody I’ve ever met, Steve never accepted that. He got each of us to reject that philosophy. If you can do that then you can if you embrace that the things that you can do are limitless, you can put your ding in the universe. You can change the world. That was the huge arc of his life, the common thread. That’s what drove him to have big ideas. Through his actions, way more than preaching, he embedded this non-acceptance of the status quo into the company. Several of the things are the consequence of that philosophy, starting with a maniacal focus to make the best products in the world. And in order to build the best products, you have to own the primary technologies. Steve felt that if Apple could do that – make great products and great tools for people – they in turn would do great things. He felt strongly that this would be his contribution to the world at large. We still very much believe that. That’s still the core of this company.”
      • Interestingly, as we are recruiting people for an innovation project, we ask them to take a multidimensional assessment. One of the dimensions we measure is how comfortable a person is with change – do they only like taking small steps at a time or are they comfortable taking a leap forward. If people are not comfortable taking a leap forward, we find it very difficult to make them a part of the project. While there are various levels of innovation ranging from small improvements to an existing thing to inventing an entirely new thing, most innovation efforts benefit from people who are willing to include taking major leaps forward in their innovation explorations – changes that make something dramatically better for customers and the company.
    • Apple’s decision-making checklist.
      • Tim Cook says, “when Apple looks at what categories to enter, we ask these kinds of questions: what are the primary technologies behind this? What do we bring? Can we make a significant contribution to society with this? If we can’t, and if we can’t own the key technologies, we don’t do it. The philosophy comes directly from him (Steve Jobs) and it still very much permeates the place. I hope that it always will.”
      • Direct. Real-world validation. Several times in my innovation career, I’ve been frustrated by clients who essentially think that successful innovation is a me to product with their mega, better brand name on the product. In my opinion, they are delusional. Customers are too smart to be fooled by a me too product with a known brand name at a higher price – higher priced because of the known brand name. You want to think about innovation the way Apple does.
    • The importance of company culture.
      • Interviewer’s question: as the human scale of the company grows, as the generations churn and new people come in, how does the culture get transferred to new employees? Is there something that needs to be systematized?
      • Tim Cook: I don’t think of it as systematizing, but there are a number of things that we do, starting with employee orientation. Actually, it starts before that, in interviews. You’re trying to pick people that fit into the culture of the company. You want a very diverse group with very diverse life experiences looking at every problem. But you also want people to buy into the philosophy, not just buy in, but to deeply believe in it…… Then there’s Apple U, which takes things that happened in the past and dissects them in a way that helps people understand how decisions were made, why they were made, how successes occurred, and how failures occurred. All these things help. Ultimately, though, it’s on the company leadership to set the tone. Not only the CEO, but the leaders across the company. If you select them so carefully that they then hire the right people, it’s a nice self-fulfilling prophecy.
      • For the regular listeners to this podcast you know that I have several times mentioned the critical importance and power of company culture in all aspects of the business enterprise, but especially innovation. It is that hidden code of values and beliefs that drive behaviors – what’s right, what’s wrong, what’s good, what’s bad. Apple recognizes the power of their culture and what they need to do to keep it vibrant and relevant. You’ve also heard me many times in these podcasts talk about the importance of diversity if you want to be successful at innovation. In this interview you hear Tim Cook talking about “you want a very diverse group with very diverse life experiences looking at every problem.” If everyone has the same experiences and thinks about things the same way then the box that you live in gets very small and developing out-of-the-box thinking becomes very challenging.
    • Ongoing close.
      • Here’s how I think the information in today’s podcast can help you.
        • First, Henry Ford, the inventor of the Model T, once said, “if you think you can’t do something you are right and if you think you can do something, you are right.” Steve Jobs thought he could change the world and he was right. Take a look at what you think is possible. If you don’t think you can change the world or at least fundamentally change your business, then you have at least one hand tied behind your back when it comes to innovation. Find a way to expand your vision of the possible and probable.
        • Second, consider having a rigorous checklist like the one Apple has when it decides to enter or not enter a new business. You need some strong fundamental principles to guide decision-making. So many businesses do not have these fundamental principles and decision-making is based on whims of the moment and brainstorms of the senior leader. This approach has very low chances for success, while Apple’s approach has very high chances for success.
        • Third, take a hard look at your company culture. What seems to be working? What seems to be holding you back? What are the key values and beliefs as they relate to innovation? While changing company culture is an arduous long-term undertaking, you can be successful seeing the innovation limiting values and beliefs and consciously overcoming them on a case-by-case basis.
      • If you would like to see the key written points from this podcast, you can find them in my blog – i2ge.com/blog.
      • If you would like to contact me, please email me at richard@i2ge.com.
      • If you would like to create far more robust innovation capabilities within your business, I have a complete portfolio of training programs that we tailor to your unique needs. If you would like to learn more, go to the Innovate2Grow Experts website – i2Ge.com and click on DIY Innovation Training.
      • One of my six books is Proven Practical Innovation That Delivers Results. This very low-cost book is available at Amazon in paperback and has a Kindle book. Is truly packed with lots of practical help.
      • Importantly, if you found this podcast helpful, please consider helping us with a five-star rating for these podcast. Thank you in advance for your support.
    • A preview of some future podcasts.
      • Upcoming podcast focus on specific case studies and powerful innovation insights that are relevant to almost any business and business need.
        • PAUSE
      • PAUSE
    • Thank you very much for your time and I look forward to reconnecting with you soon. Please have a great day.

 


P29 Open Innovation Is a Pathway to Worldwide Diversity

  • Welcome to the Proven, Practical, Profitable Innovation podcast! I am Richard and I thank you very much for taking time out of your busy day to listen to this podcast.
  • My goal is to make sure you get a high return on your time investment listening to this podcast. I want you to immediately be able to use the information in this podcast to help you sell more and make more.
  • Please be sure to listen to the end of this podcast where I give you an exciting preview of future podcasts.
  • As you know from these podcasts, I am a big believer in diversity as a major driver of generating more and better ideas open innovation is a relatively new development in the last decade. This podcast provides an overview of some of the key elements along with an example of one of the more successful, recent open innovation efforts.
  • If after listening to this podcast you feel a need for more help, please contact me directly—my email is richard@i2ge.com. You can also go to my website—i2ge.com– where you can explore many innovation topics, especially check out the DIY Innovation Training on the menu bar. We customize all the training programs to our clients’ unique needs and circumstances.
  • I want to reiterate how I’m defining and using the word innovation in this podcast. While many people think of innovation as new product innovation, I am using the term in a far broader sense. Innovation to me is whenever you want to make something better. For example, human relations might want to develop a better health insurance program, manufacturing might want to develop a better and more efficient manufacturing process, sales might want to develop a more persuasive sales presentation for new customers, and marketing might like to develop a better product promotion plan for the next year. Very simply, innovation is something that you do whenever you want to make something better.
  • Open innovation.
    • What is it? Open innovation augments internal innovation by bringing external thinking and ideas into the overall innovation effort. Different companies do it different ways, but at the heart of this is a structured process to invite interested external innovators to share ideas either on a specific need or, in fewer cases, an open request for any and all ideas. Open innovation can also be referred to as crowdsourcing innovation.
    • Who is doing it? Larger companies primarily pioneered this effort. Today you have companies like Procter & Gamble, Ford, Clorox, General Mills, Phillips, and Rubbermaid as a few examples of companies regularly using some version of open innovation. Increasingly, smaller businesses have begun using open innovation and I will provide you with an example in this podcast.
    • What are the advantages of open innovation? Some companies find that it helps to reduce R&D costs while improving the quantity and quality of ideas available for a particular need or opportunity. In many cases, it is a way to access research being done by more off the grid resources and to get customers directly involved in the innovation process.
    • What are the disadvantages? Most of the disadvantages revolve around maintaining the integrity and confidentiality of innovation programs and ideas. There’s a risk of revealing too much information about a company’s need and protecting the intellectual property that comes through open innovation. Some dimensions of innovation can become more complex as a company attempts to control and integrate external sources.
    • Examples of organizations that facilitate open innovation. InnoCentive at innocentive.com is a major player with clients ranging from Procter & Gamble to Eli Lilly to technology companies. Other companies also include Bright Idea and the Disney Institute.
    • Quirky: an example of a recent company that has entered the open or crowdsourcing innovation business.
      • The company started in 2009 and its biggest successes to date have been home related products like a bendable power strip and a desktop cable organizer. 20,000 retailers sell their products, including Best Buy, Walmart, and Home Depot. In 2014 their sales were almost $50 million, which is 70% higher than the previous year. While $50 million sounds like a lot to money to most of us, in the business that they are in, it is a very small company relative to the market leaders.
      • They are more than 1 million members who submit an almost never-ending flow of ideas. When Quirky engineers approve a product for the development process, they start with prototypes and when the process is successful a new product ends up in the marketplace.
      • The company shifted its strategy to form partnerships with companies like Mattel. They are looking to tap into the million plus members to see if they can define the future of play. While the strategy shift has several benefits, it also has a potential downside of making most ideas have to go through the filter of a larger corporation.
      • The big advantages of a company like Quirky are that they provide clients access to a community of innovative thinkers that the company on its own would have a very difficult time duplicating. Net, this helps to inject greater diversity into the innovation process. A note of caution – yes it is greater diversity but is the diversity the best fit for a particular client need? Are there better alternatives?
    • Ongoing close.
      • We have covered a fair amount of information about open innovation or crowdsourcing innovation. How can this help you.
        • First, when a company can gain access to a vast community of innovative thinkers, there is the potential to dramatically improve an innovation program that is solely focused on internal efforts. The challenge is making sure there is a good match between the community and the client need. For example, Quirky’s community is probably a good fit for many and even most in-home consumer products. On the other hand, Innocentive is a very good fit for companies wanting to access scientist worldwide and a large community of leading-edge technology innovators.
        • Second, the diversity that comes through the open innovation process has very limited power when compared to the diversity as it is used in quantum idea generation. The big difference is that in open innovation there is not any opportunity for collaboration within the community or when there is collaboration it is in a small, unstructured environment. Recall as diversity works in quantum idea generation that diverse inputs immediately interact in a small group of four people in a live, dynamic environment. The quantity and quality of ideas that come out of this process are much bigger than those that come out of most open innovation processes. Interestingly, there are some options that we are considering to bring ideas from an open innovation community into our more intense, collaborative process. In effect, the inputs from the open innovation community become very high-level stimulus.
        • Third, you can leverage some elements of the open innovation process within your own company. For example, you can communicate an innovation need to everyone in the company and ask them to submit ideas in an organized, rewarding, open process. This is not the old “suggestion box.” Rather, you want to have a process for active response to ideas and recognition of ideas that are the most helpful. Some companies actual turn the submission of ideas into a rewarding contest.
      • If you would like to see the key written points from this podcast, you can find them in my blog – i2ge.com/blog.
      • If you would like to contact me, please email me at richard@i2ge.com.
      • If you would like to create far more robust innovation capabilities within your business, I have a complete portfolio of training programs that we tailor to your unique needs. If you would like to learn more, go to the Innovate2Grow Experts website – i2Ge.com and click on DIY Innovation Training.
      • One of my six books is Proven Practical Innovation That Delivers Results. This very low-cost book is available at Amazon in paperback and has a Kindle book. Is truly packed with lots of practical help.
      • Importantly, if you found this podcast helpful, please consider helping us with a five-star rating for these podcast. Thank you in advance for your support.
    • A preview of some future podcasts.
      • Upcoming podcast focus on specific case studies and powerful innovation insights that are relevant to almost any business and business need.
      • The next podcast shares some very special insights into what makes Apple so successful. In the best Tim Cook interview ever, he reveals the special criteria they used to make new product decisions, what they do to maintain a vibrant and relevant innovation culture, and the single fundamental core belief that has driven 100% of Apple’s success. You will want to make sure you listen to this podcast and then immediately start thinking about how that can help your business.
    • Thank you very much for your time and I look forward to reconnecting with you soon. Please have a great day.