Issue 35 – May 31, 2013
Language is Killing Our Ability to Innovate ................................................... Lyden Foust
Entrepreneurs Define Risk Differently …….………….………….... Deborah Mills-Scofield
It’s Time to Engage with Employee Engagement ……..........………..…… Holly G Green
modelH – Health Model Co-Creation Forum (part 4)……………..……...…...... Kevin Riley
Eight Innovation Drivers for our Innovating Future .…………...…...……… Paul Hobcraft
Acceleration is King …………….……..…………………..…….…………..…. Mike Shipulski
8 Step Process Perfects New Product Development ………………...…. Robert F Brands
10 Lessons from Tribeca’s Disruptive Innovation Awards …………...…….. Julie Anixter
Innovation Lessons from the Rise of Tesla Motors ………………….…...….. Tim Kastelle
Innovation: Lost in Translation ………………………………..…...…..…..…. Jeffrey Phillips
Your hosts, Braden Kelley, Julie Anixter and Rowan Gibson, are innovation writers, speakers and
strategic advisors to many of the world’s leading companies.
“Our mission is to help you achieve innovation excellence inside your own organization by making
innovation resources, answers, and best practices accessible for the greater good.”
Cover Image credit: johntalks.wordpress.com
Language Is Killing Our Ability to Innovate
Posted on May 26, 2013 by Lyden Foust
There are many inventions whose origins we simply cannot trace. One glaringly obvious, yet equally elusive innovation is
that of the spoken word. Before we had language, we made sense of the world through pictures, sounds, and smells.
Humans estimated time by looking at the position of the sun, and gained a sense of direction by looking at landmarks. We
can get a pretty good glimpse at what was going on in people’s lives by looking at pictures etched into cave walls.
The use of images to make sense of the world is perhaps our most primitive form of intelligence.
Eventually we developed the capacity for language as a form of communication. This made our brains highly flexible and
intelligent. Through crisp communication the human race became more efficient. We were able to organize quickly with
minimal friction. Somewhere along the line however, a problem began to develop. Since words were such an effective
medium for communication, we started relying heavily on them. In the process, we began to lose connection with the
The problem with grammar is that it locks us into certain ways of thinking about things. In other words, if there are no
words for certain concepts, we tend not to think about them. This means a key component of successful innovation is our
ability to think beyond the constraints of language.
There is even current research being done at Yale University that shows that language affects people’s inclination to
save money because of the way in which the communicate present and past tense, making the future seem closer or
Be Able to Switch Between Visual & Verbal Communication
Language is a wonderful tool, but is often too tight and constricting when communicating a concept that cannot yet be
captured in words. Sometimes it is better to tap into the multi-layered forms of visual intelligence in our brain.
Those who are truly creative have developed the ability to think beyond language. There are a swath of inventors and
entrepreneurs that swear by the process of visualizing problems. The picture of the periodic table came to chemist Dmitri
Mendeleev in a dream, and Richard Branson is known for leaving trash cans full of napkin sketches. Albert Einstein once
wrote “The words of language as they are written or spoken, do not seem to play any role in my mechanism of thought.”
As technology improves, and problems get continually more abstract, a new design-centric approach to problem solving is
emerging. The use of images, diagrams, and models can help reveal patterns of thinking and new directions you can take
that would be hard to imagine exclusively in words.
Human working memory is limited. We can only keep in mind several pieces of information at the same time. However,
humans have a remarkable ability to remember pictures. An experiment decades ago shows that people can remember
more than 2,000 pictures with at least 90% accuracy in recognition tests.
This is not really that surprising. Before the invention of language, the ability to remember various aspects of one’s
environment was vital for survival. Our capacity for remembering pictorial material is well developed and superior to verbal
recognition. So why are we still presenting Powerpoints with loads of text & numbers?
Put it to work
The hand brain connection is something deeply wired within us. When attempting to sketch an idea, we must observe it
closely, gaining a feel through our fingers on how to bring it to life.
When you are trying to solve a hard problem, think beyond words. Here are a few prompts for things you could visualize.
Is there a way you could depict all the stakeholders in a process, what are their needs? What do your next three months
look like? Three years? Thirty years? Could you create a mental map of your to do list? What are all the possible
outcomes of a negotiation, could it be a mix? What does your supply chain look like? Have you tried mind mapping a
presentation or a meeting?
Revert to your most primal form of intelligence, visualize the problem, and watch the solution illuminate before your eyes.
Image note: I have included the mind map I used to write this essay.
Lyden Foust is a Research & Innovation Associate at The SEEK Company. A student practitioner of design strategy, Lyden
is fueled by relentless sense of curiosity, and a desire to improve lives through innovation. His scrappy attitude has driven
him to found and expand a successful business before graduating college & to curate the first TEDxXavierUniversity.
Entrepreneurs Define Risk Differently
Posted on May 25, 2013 by Deborah Mills-Scofield
Most people think entrepreneurs are willing to take on more risk than
the average person. I’ve often wondered if that’s really true. After
almost three decades of working with large corporations and
entrepreneurs, I’ve developed a theory.
Now, this theory hasn’t been vetted with controlled experiments and
testing. It is based solely on experiential and intuitive data drawn
from my life experiences. For instance, I have 12 years of working
with entrepreneurs as an early-stage venture capitalist; 19 years working for a large corporation (Bell Labs & AT&T) and
consulting to their multi-national, multi-billion dollar customers; 10 years of mentoring entrepreneurs; and created a carveout start-up within AT&T.
Here’s my theory: most entrepreneurs aren’t more risk-o-philic than anyone else — they just define
For some I’ve known, the risk of losing autonomy and control of one’s “destiny” was far riskier than losing “guaranteed”
income and benefits. Working for someone else’s company, reporting to a boss, and living under rules they weren’t sure
made sense were a lot riskier than creating their own business. The risk of not pursuing their passion, of not making a
meaningful and significant impact on the world around them, feels much riskier than starting their own venture.
For them, risk isn’t as defined by losing tangibles (e.g., income, benefits, “stuff”) as it is by losing intangibles: fulfilling a
passion that won’t let go, defining their own sense of purpose, sating their own curiosity, looking themselves in the mirror.
The difference here is between risking outputs and outcomes. Outputs (such as products, profits, etc) are necessary
and good, but they have their most profound effect when driving significant, palpable outcomes — like reducing chronic
pain, creating a prosthetic leg for an Olympic runner, or inventing an app that eliminates a time-consuming task. Most of
the entrepreneurs I’ve worked with would gladly risk a few outputs for an outcome they believe in.
For many entrepreneurs, another critical risk worth taking is making themselves vulnerable in order achieve the outcomes
they envision. As John Hagel has said, the risk of embarrassment, ridicule, skepticism, perhaps even humiliation is
much less than the risk of not putting oneself out there to try. Anthony Tjan astutely summarized it this way: “The
willingness to be vulnerable isn’t driven by the desire for exposure, but by the possibility of what that exposure might lead
to — be it a meaningful role, the possibility to affect change, and, of course, greater financial gain.”
I’ve seen, heard, and felt so many entrepreneurs’ intense passion and purpose for the outcomes they want to create. It is
what defines who they are and why they’re here. I know that risk-reward equation. While food, shelter, education, and
health matter a lot, I need to see outcomes when I look my children, husband, friends and clients in the eye, not just
outputs. If I don’t see a positive, wonderful impact on their lives and the lives they are responsible for and encounter, then
my life was just a series of outputs — maybe even large ones — but not outcomes; and I will have failed tragically.
While this is a theory ripe for a more scientific validation, I’m pretty confident it will prove out, at least in some great part.
The risk of not pursuing that passion, of not fulfilling that purpose, of having lived a life of stuff without also living a life of
significance, is the greatest risk of all.
image credit: etftrends.com
Are Entrpreneurs Really More Comfortable with Risk? was originally published in Harvard Business Review
Deb, founder of Mills-Scofield LLC, is an innovator, entrepreneur and non-traditional strategist with 20 years experience in
industries ranging from the Internet to Manufacturing with multinationals to start ups. She is also a partner at Glengary LLC,
a Venture Capital Firm.
It’s Time to Engage with Employee Engagement
Posted on May 24, 2013 by Holly G Green
Time for me to get up on the soapbox again.
I recently came across a survey conducted by SilkRoad, a “leading
provider of cloud-based, social talent management solutions.” In other
words, they do the human resources thing.
Their survey polled nearly 800 HR professionals on a number of issues
related to engaging and energizing employees for business success. As
someone who constantly stresses the importance of developing an
engaged and inspired workforce, I would like to say that I found the
results pleasantly surprising. Unfortunately, I can’t.
According to the survey, 54% said their company did not have an explicit employee engagement program. Thirty-eight
percent said they did have such programs. The remaining 7% did not know. Many of the 54% reported having some
informal employee engagement efforts in their companies. Nevertheless, the results indicate that, for the majority of
companies, senior management has still not made employee engagement a strategic priority.
People – wake up and smell the coffee!
Employee engagement is not some “soft” topic that you discuss once a year in a management seminar and then dismiss
entirely until the seminar rolls around again. It’s an essential component for developing strategically agile organizations
that can survive and thrive in today’s hyper-paced markets. These days, everyone has access to the same information
and technologies. The difference is having an engaged and committed workforce that can put them to good use and turn
market laggers into market leaders.
What happens when you don’t have an engaged workforce? Again, no surprises from the survey:
Low morale – 67%
Unmotivated employees – 66%
Employees who feel unappreciated – 64%
Inability to retain employees – 48%
Other reported impacts included increased absenteeism and poor relationships between employees and customers – not
exactly the kind of workforce that’s going to give you an edge when competing in crowded markets.
And guess what? Money does not work well as a tool of engagement!
According to the HR professionals in the survey, the two least effective employee engagement tools were diversified
compensation options (5%) and good pension and retirement plans (4%). Salary and good benefits came in slightly ahead
of these two categories. But they still lagged far behind other engagement mechanisms.
What does work?
The top two ways to foster employee engagement were trust in management (56%) and career development (52%).
These were followed by stimulating work environment, recognition and rewards, flexible work options (i.e., work from
home), learning opportunities, and career advancement.
Getting employees engaged isn’t rocket science. So why doesn’t it happen in more organizations? I see two primary
One, we’re all running so fast just to keep up that taking the time to focus on employee engagement seems like it will slow
us down rather than help reach the destination. Two, despite countless studies showing the value of employee
engagement, we still have all kinds of thought bubbles that get in the way. For example:
We don’t have time for employee engagement.
I’m not good at that touchy-feely stuff.
We don’t need people to feel engaged; we just need them to do their jobs.
Employees should motivate themselves.
In today’s economy people should be grateful just to have a job.
As for the part about employee engagement slowing us down, nothing could be farther from the truth.
Granted, it takes time to develop and implement recognition programs, provide learning opportunities, and create a culture
of accountability. But if we don’t do these things, we end up with unmotivated employees who care more about collecting
a paycheck than doing things right. When we don’t do things right the first time, we get to do them again and again (if our
markets let us). Meanwhile, competitors who get it right the first time are leaving us in the dust.
One final key point from the survey – employee engagement can’t be approached as a quick fix or “flavor of the month”
management fad. Rather, it needs to become an integral part of the company’s values and operating processes. To quote
from the Silkroad survey report:
“Engagement is a strategy that should ripple through the organization – leadership should not regard it as a checklist item.
Companies must begin to think strategically and plan deliberately for engagement.”
I’m a big believer in making decisions based on data rather than thought bubbles. And the data shows it again and again
– employee engagement has a measurable impact on the bottom line. Isn’t it about time we started paying attention?
Call to action: Commit to taking one action today that will encourage employee engagement.
Holly is the CEO of THE HUMAN FACTOR, Inc. (www.TheHumanFactor.biz) and is a highly sought after and acclaimed
speaker, business consultant, and author. Her unique approach to creating strategic agility, helping others go slow to go fast,
will change your thinking.
modelH – Health Model Co-Creation Forum (part 4)
Posted on May 28, 2013 by Kevin Riley
After reading my 3 earlier posts, I hope we have you convinced that this is a
worthwhile effort and that you should join us. By joining the forum – you join
the movement to create a better healthcare system.
The solutions for transforming healthcare will come from harnessing diverse
ideas from across the ecosystem of healthcare stakeholders. We are inviting
individuals inside and outside of the healthcare industry to join us on one
platform to ignite conversations and build solutions for new business models
within US healthcare.
That means you – yes, you are invited!
When you sign up you will join other passionate healthcare and innovation professionals to create meaningful change in
the US healthcare industry. You will also cultivate new professional relationships, elevate your personal brands and
identities, and receive direct attribution in my forthcoming book as permanent proof of the important co-creative role you
Please know this is not a marketing scam – we are sincere in our work and care deeply about our goals. Our end result
will be a book published in 2014 that you will get to share in the credits for creating.
How to Participate in modelH
Well, first you have to register on the modelH site. We suggest you read up on the whole project here first http://bit.ly/modelHForum.
After that, there will be three Phases to the modelH project, which will last through at least March of 2014.
The three Phases are:
1. CoCreate a healthcare business model generator, called modelH. We will draw from the work of Alexander
Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur in their book, “Business Model Generation: A Handbook For Visionaries, Game
Changers, and Challengers” to create a new framework for developing health model innovation throughout the remainder
of the project. Building the modelH engine is the most critical part of the project, and we’ll be devoting at least half of our
time – 4-5 months – on this module.
2. Generate and evaluate ideas through the modelH engine. Next, we’ll gather your inspiration, insights, and research to
develop ideas that can be tested in the modelH engine. These ideas will address our three main areas of concern for
healthcare: creating positive consumption experiences, improving the care delivery mechanism, and aligning payments
and incentives. If we’ve built modelH correctly, we will be able to produce innovative business models that reflect a new
direction for US healthcare. We expect to spend 2-3 months on this module of the project.
3. Validate the health model innovation solutions. The final step is to review our modelH solutions to ensure they are
fair, reasonable, and feasible. Once validated, Kevin Riley will be compiling the work into a visual playbook to be
published later in 2014. We expect to spend 1-2 months on this module.
This project is a labor of love for all of us and the modelH team is fronting the cost to put all of this together. Our reward is
the same as your reward: pride in creating a new path forward for US healthcare. It’s an opportunity to do something
meaningful that has the potential to effect change on a system that is in dire need of change and to positively impact the
lives of millions of Americans. We’ll also provide attribution to all contributors in the book as proof of the important role you
Keep in mind that this is an experimental project, and we expect some bumps along the way. If you encounter troubles,
inconsistencies, or simply need clarity on how it all works, kindly let us know so we can improve the process. Also, we will
have a firm “no jerks” policy in place within the modelH forum. We want disruptive thinkers, not disruptive individuals. If
you are serious about making something that will help all of us create the healthcare system we so desperately need,
please join in with a heart and mind for that task. If not, please sit this one out.
So, step up to the plate an get involved.
Click here to join (the big red button on the side!) - http://bit.ly/modelHForum
Follow us online at: https://twitter.com/ModelHForum
And you can read more about this project in my linked posts: modelH
(part 1) | modelH (part 2) |
modelH (part 3) |
to your health!
image credti: fs-ireland.com
Kevin Riley is an entrepreneur, healthcare executive, and business model innovator who works with start-ups and
legacy companies alike, across the healthcare industry. Kevin founded and was CEO of a national health care retail
company, has played leadership roles for national retail health start-ups, and served as the first Chief Innovation Officer
of a major insurance plan. In 2006 he started Kevin Riley & Associates Health Model Innovation to help companies with
the convergence of health care and the consumer.
Eight Innovation Drivers for our Innovating Future
Posted on May 24, 2013 by Paul Hobcraft
In two short posts I have extracted a couple of strands of thought
from a fairly detailed report, examining innovation’s future. Hopefully
both strands of thought about innovation’s future might provide us
some pauses in our thinking. Of where innovation might be heading
and the consequences and implications for what this might mean for
each of us. This is the second post.
The future has many questions to resolve
There are many future paths we can take through innovation to seek out growth, to create
future wealth. Many of the forces we are seeing today are those that will shape the long-term
future of innovation. Yet there is going to be increasing tensions different than the ones we
are discussing today
There are increasing questions of the saturation points of our current approaches to
consumption, of the present difficulties we have in tackling pressing societal issues. Managing
within so many numerous societal challenges can have either a negative or positive effect on
how we value innovation. Do we want innovation to generate worthwhile innovation that truly
is beneficial to society or does it stay caught up in commercial purpose alone. Can innovation
present for us all, fresh opportunities to seize?
A Foresight Project on Innovation
A report, undertaken between 2009 and 2112 and covering 144 pages, has been co-ordinating
views on innovation and its possible future direction. This was funded by the EU FP7 on a
foresight project on the future of innovation (INFU). It can be explored under the web page
Are these the influential drivers of our future evolution within innovation?
So what are the drivers that will emerge as the most decisive influences on the future
evolution of the innovation process?
Of course this future landscape will be shaped by individuals, society, organizations, the
eventual economics, and by policy but these final eight drivers for innovation seem to be
emerging according to the findings within the report.
The report regards these eight drivers as the ‘nodes of change’
It seems widely expected that citizens will play a greater role both in governing and
implementing innovation activities. How will the new type of “deliberative innovation” be
governed, what will be the outcomes?
Innovation Camps where people gather for specific innovation tasks of certain duration are
becoming increasingly popular. Many experts see a high potential for such camps as key
enablers of creative solutions both in a business and civil society environment. Often the idea
is linked to the open source society where a number of products and services are developed in
close interaction among users source society where a number of products and services are
developed in close interaction among users
Social innovation is becoming more recognised as highly relevant for developing innovative
solutions addressing societal challenges. New modes of innovation are required to align social
and technological innovation activities. Participatory experimentation will play a key role but
what are the right instruments and levels required for successful solutions?
A number of new techniques such as semantic web analysis allow for automatizing parts of the
innovation process from idea generation via design and testing. What are the implications for
economy and society?
Innovation is becoming mandatory for more and more people in companies and other types of
organisations. How can we avoid “innovation overload” and “innovation divide”? What does it
mean to live in an environment that is constantly innovating?
Open Innovation City
Cities are increasingly expected to play a major role as innovation drivers. In particular
systemic sustainability innovations may best be implemented on a city level. What are
adequate mechanisms for cities to reap the benefits of this potential?
Global Innovation Chain Integration
Innovation is expected to become globally dispersed. But what will be the mechanisms to
integrate all the distributed and diverse elements and to match ideas and solutions with
problems and needs?
The establishment of innovation patterns that are fully consistent with a circular flow of
resources was unanimously assessed as top priority in the INFU experts’ dialogue. However,
many challenges are associated with this vision. How can novelties emerge out of used
products, what kind of consumer types are associated with the pattern?
My final thoughts
Of course there are many future directions innovation can take. Today innovation is clearly
“top of mind” to seek out growth, to create future wealth, with many of the forces we are
seeing today as those that will shape the long-term future of innovation.
The whole question of consumption, conspicuous or otherwise, can each have negative effects
on generating worthwhile innovation that is truly beneficial to society. There are many
unintended and undesirable consequences that get largely brushed aside today in our
Often good transforming innovation gets sacrificed on the positive hype surrounding
innovation for its profit motive. Are we going to see increasing ambivalence, more of these
mixed emotions as surely much of our current innovation remains misdirected and purely
Will the pace of innovation slow down or continue to speed up? Who and what will decide
image credit: autoweek.com
Paul Hobcraft runs Agility Innovation, an advisory business that stimulates sound innovation practice, researches topics that
relate to innovation for the future, as well as aligning innovation to organizations core capabilities.
Acceleration Is King
Posted on May 25, 2013 by Mike Shipulski
Everything is about speed – speed through process
reengineering, waste elimination, standardization,
modularity, design reuse. All valid, but not all that
powerful. Real speed comes from avoiding rapid
progress in the wrong direction, from avoiding a blistering
pace on the wrong stuff. Real speed comes from saying
no to the work that creates drag in order to say yes to
work that accelerates.
It’s healthy to have time limits and due dates, finite
resources, and budgets. These constraints are helpful
because they force a cutoff decision: what work will get
done and what won’t. And thankfully, all businesses have
them – take them away and eliminate all hope of
profitability and sustainability. But from a speed
perspective, sometime we look at them in a backward way.
Yes, that work would change the game, but we don’t have time. That argument is a little misleading. Truth is, there’s
the same amount of time as last year – a week is still a week, and there are still 52 of them in a year. It’s not about time;
it’s about the work done during that time. With a backwards view, the constraint calls attention to work won’t get done, but
the constraint is really about work that will get done. If the work that doesn’t make the cut is less magical than the work
that does, the constraint creates a speed problem – too slow on the game-changing work. The speed problem is realized
when the new kid on the block makes magic and you don’t. If the constraint helps say yes to magic and no to lesser work,
there’s no speed problem.
Yes, we could reinvent the industry, but we don’t have resources. No, we have resources. But the constraint isn’t
really about resources, it’s about the work. And not any old work, the constraint is about the work that will get done. (Not
the work that won’t.) If the constraint causes us to stuff our fingers in the holes in the dyke at the expense of eliminating it
altogether, the constraint caused a speed problem. It’s a problem because while we’re plugging holes, an eager
competitor will dismantle the need for the dyke. Speed problem.
Sure, we’d leapfrog the competition, but we don’t have the budget. No, we have a budget. But, like the other
constraints, the budgetary one is also about the work that will get done. If the constraint prioritizes same-as-last-time over
crazy, it creates a speed problem. New competitors who don’t have to protect the old guard products will work on crazy
and bring it to market. And that’s a problem because you’ll have more of what you’ve always had and they’ll have crazy.
Yes, in all cases, choose the bigger bet. Choose crazy over sane, magical over mundane, and irregular over regular. And
choose that way because it’s faster. And here’s why faster is king: The number of countries with a well educated work
force is growing; there’s an ever increasing number of micro companies who can afford to bet on disruptive technologies;
and the internet has shown the world how their lives could be and created several billion people who will use their parental
fortitude to do whatever it takes to make life better for their kids. (And there’s no stronger force on earth.) And it all sums
to an incredible amount of emotional energy relentlessly pushing the pace.
The world isn’t just getting faster, it’s accelerating – yes, next month will be faster than this month, but that’s not the real
trick with acceleration. With acceleration the faster things get, the faster they get faster. Is there really any question how to
use your constraints?
Mike Shipulski brings together people, culture, and tools to change engineering behavior. He writes daily on Twitter as
@MikeShipulski and weekly on his blog Shipulski On Design.
8 Step Process Perfects New Product Development
Posted on May 27, 2013 by Robert F Brands
Every entrepreneur knows that productivity is one of the key ingredients for
successful product development. One of the two key processes in Robert’s
Rules of Innovation is the NEW PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT PROCESS. A
formalized, NPD process – also referred to and best practice: the Stage
Gate® Process – is a must, from simple to sophisticated.
The New Product Development process is often referred to as The StageGate innovation process, developed by Dr. Robert G. Cooper as a result of
comprehensive research on reasons why products succeed and why they fail.
When teams collaborate in developing new innovations, having the following eight ingredients mixed into your team’s new
product developmental repertoire will ensure that it’s overall marketability will happen relatively quick, and accurately –
making everyone productive across the board.
Step 1: Generating
Utilizing basic internal and external SWOT analyses, as well as current marketing trends, one can distance themselves
from the competition by generating ideologies which take affordability, ROI, and widespread distribution costs into
Lean, mean and scalable are the key points to keep in mind. During the NPD process, keep the system nimble and use
flexible discretion over which activities are executed. You may want to develop multiple versions of your road map scaled
to suit different types and risk levels of projects.
Step 2: Screening The Idea
Wichita, possessing more aviation industry than most other states, is seeing many new innovations stop with Step 2 –
screening. Do you go/no go? Set specific criteria for ideas that should be continued or dropped. Stick to the agreed upon
criteria so poor projects can be sent back to the idea-hopper early on.
Because product development costs are being cut in areas like Wichita, “prescreening product ideas,” means taking
your Top 3 competitors’ new innovations into account, how much market share they’re chomping up, what benefits end
consumers could expect etc. An interesting industry fact: Aviation industrialists will often compare growth with metals
markets; therefore, when Boeing is idle, never assume that all airplanes are grounded, per se.
Step 3: Testing The Concept
As Gaurav Akrani has said, “Concept testing is done after idea screening.” And it is important to note, it is different from
Aside from patent research, design due diligence, and other legalities involved with new product development; knowing
where the marketing messages will work best is often the biggest part of testing the concept. Does the consumer
understand, need, or want the product or service?
Step 4: Business Analytics
During the New Product Development process, build a system of metrics to monitor progress. Include input metrics, such
as average time in each stage, as well as output metrics that measure the value of launched products, percentage of new
product sales and other figures that provide valuable feedback. It is important for an organization to be in agreement for
these criteria and metrics.
Even if an idea doesn’t turn into product, keep it in the hopper because it can prove to be a valuable asset for future
products and a basis for learning and growth.
Step 5: Beta / Marketability Tests
Arranging private tests groups, launching beta versions, and then forming test panels after the product or products have
been tested will provide you with valuable information allowing last minute improvements and tweaks. Not to mention
helping to generate a small amount of buzz. WordPress is becoming synonymous with beta testing, and it’s effective;
Thousands of programmers contribute code, millions test it, and finally even more download the completed end-product.
Step 6: Technicalities + Product Development
Provided the technical aspects can be perfected without alterations to post-beta products, heading towards a smooth step
7 is imminent. According to Akrani, in this step, “The production department will make plans to produce the product. The
marketing department will make plans to distribute the product. The finance department will provide the finance for
introducing the new product”.
As an example; In manufacturing, the process before sending technical specs to machinery involves printing MSDS
sheets, a requirement for retaining an ISO 9001 certification (the organizational structure, procedures, processes and
resources needed to implement quality management.)
In internet jargon, honing the technicalities after beta testing involves final database preparations, estimation of server
resources, and planning automated logistics. Be sure to have your technicalities in line when moving forward.
Step 7: Commercialize
At this stage, your new product developments have gone mainstream, consumers are purchasing your good or service,
and technical support is consistently monitoring progress. Keeping your distribution pipelines loaded with products is an
integral part of this process too, as one prefers not to give physical (or perpetual) shelf space to competition. Refreshing
advertisements during this stage will keep your product’s name firmly supplanted into the minds of those in the
contemplation stages of purchase.
Step 8: Post Launch Review and Perfect Pricing
Review the NPD process efficiency and look for continues improvements. Most new products are introduced with
introductory pricing, in which final prices are nailed down after consumers have ‘gotten in’. In this final stage, you’ll gauge
overall value relevant to COGS (cost of goods sold), making sure internal costs aren’t overshadowing new product profits.
You continuously differentiate consumer needs as your products age, forecast profits and improve delivery process
whether physical, or digital, products are being perpetuated.
Remember: The Process Is Loose
The entire new product development process is an ever evolving testing platform where errors will be made, designs will
get trashed, and loss could be recorded. Having your entire team working in tight synchronicity will ensure the successful
launch of goods or services, even if reinventing your own wheel. Productivity during product development can be
achieved if, and only if, goals are clearly defined along the way and each process has contingencies clearly outlined on
For more tips and guidelines on developing the right implementation strategy, see Robert’s Rules of Innovation: A 10-Step
Program for Corporate Survival.
For more information, and another version of the 8-step process, go to http://kalyan-city.blogspot.com/2012/02/stagesprocess-steps-of-new-product.html
Stage-Gate® is a registered TM of Stage gate International, Inc.
image credit: agbeat.com
Robert Brands is the founder of InnovationCoach.com, and the author of “Robert’s Rules of Innovation: A 10-Step
Program for Corporate Survival,” with Martin Kleinman – published Spring 2010 by Wiley
Occupy Disruption: 10 Lessons from Tribeca’s Disruptive
Posted on May 22, 2013 by Julie Anixter
In 2010 the Tribeca Film Festival (TFF) disrupted itself and its laser focus on film by adding an awards ceremony, the Disruptive
Innovation Awards. Co-Founder Craig Hatkoff decided it was the right moment to honor the work of the father and
popularizer, or one might say liberator, of disruptive innovation, Clayton Christensen, who he’d met through Tribeca
Enterprises’ COO and President Jon Patricof, a former student of Christensen’s. Hatkoff and Christensen co-founded and
have cast the Awards as a public stage, a platform that Hatkoff declares is “dedicated to exploring the ever-increasing gap
between the rate of technological change and the bumpier, slower-moving cultural adoption and diffusion.” The best part
of this year’s awards was the mix, the collective breadth of imagination. On this year’s stage advances in technology and
human invention from the worlds of Business, Social Good,
Civics, Government, the Arts and Hollywood show up in a wildly
diverse tableau of people who probably would not normally be
hanging out: Twyla Tharp, Glenn Beck, Quirky founder Ben
Kaufman, Aaron Peckham, the Creator of Urban Dictionary,
Hamadi Ulukaya, the CEO of Chobani Yogurt, Jose Antonio
Vargas, founder of Define American, and Korean YouTube
phenom Psy. Hmmm.
Of course, the ceremony is non-traditional. The winners get silver
sledge- hammers (to be able to better break things with.) There are
NO long, or even short, thank you-to-my-people speeches – which
could be a nod to the high-octane shoulders of Webby Awards
Founder and film pioneer Tiffany Schlain (whose mandate for 7
word acceptance speeches at the Webbys was just that – a
In their place are ‘one question-one answer moments,’
delivered by emcee Perri Peltz who clearly enjoys the
knock-down drag-out pacing that replicates the rhythm of
creative collaboration, as does the parade of these thinkerdoer-inventors. Like most things delicious, it just leaves you
wanting more. Because all of these people, from Norma
Kamali to the twin set of identical twins, the Agrawals AND
the McClays who have taken on the ‘monthly shame’
problem for global girls through Thinx: Change Your
Underwear, just have that disruptive ju-ju that makes you
want to learn more. As you might imagine from a ceremony that shares its origins with the only De Niro inspired downtown
film festival, it’s got a visceral narrative…complete with so many great one-liners that I lost track. Maybe Mamet wrote it?
Imagine a Goodfella’s script crossed with an Umair Haque tweet
and you get the existential bent.
Yes there’s much to love about the Tribeca Disruptive Innovation
Awards. But curate we must. So here are the 10 things about the
event and the shift towards DISRUPTION it signifies that have,
unshakably, stayed with me:
1. That it exists. This two-hour fishbowl of world-class disruptors exists as a landmark on the nav bar of today’s culture.
The Tribeca Film Festival proper was an act of creative defiance. It’s fitting that this satellite comes from Downtown and is
both a testament to TFF Founder Craig Hatkoff’s humanity, and passion for world changers. ‘Innovation is a buzzword?
Oh yeah? Come over here and say that!’
2. Disruption has an icon – a silver hammer and it’s ready to smash
more conventions. You can’t see Focus Forward’s You Don’t Know Jack
about 13 year old Jack Andraka and his family’s squabbles about his
ambition to cure pancreatic cancer, (“get your own lab!” yells his mother)
and the 199 rejections he got before finding a scientist who would give him
a chance without getting choked up, and wanting to smash the 199
scientists who said no. For those old enough or hip enough to recall, a
certain Maxwell had a hammer too.
3. That it recognizes that disruption has no boundaries – and
stands up and points an intentional finger in your face with ‘you
talking to me’ recognition that innovation can disrupt cities
(Manchester, England), the lives of girls – “weeks of (menstrual)
shame that keep young girls around the world missing up to 25% of
their schooling (Thinx,) immigration (Define American,) the way
we talk (The Urban Dictionary), the way we manufacturer
(Quirky,) consume books (Audible,) media (Vine, Uber, Kenzo
Digital) and entertainment (Psy,Twyla Tharp,) alike. Disruptive innovation, like oxygen, exists to disrupt and refresh
every part of life that is not accurately or efficiently serving people’s needs. And that’s why people are called to do it. They
cannot stand the status quo.
4. Or geographical limits – Harlem Village Academies, again
Manchester, England’s new ventures, the African Robotics
Network, Brooklyn Bowl, the www.whatever it’s called now.
5. And disruption relies on committed collaborations:Where
else will you find Beth Comstock (GE) hanging out withMorgan
Spurlock (Supersize Me) because GE produced his film, You
Don’t Know Jack, along with a tens of others at Forward Focus
films. Now there’s a woman that knows how to live.
6. And ageless and timeless: Norma Kamali, Twyla Tharp, Harlem Village Academy’s ‘most threatening educator’
Deborah Kenny and Sir Howard Bernstein, the executive who’s led the reinvention of Manchester, England (from the
home to the industrial revolution, into banking, new media, biotech, incubator for low carbon enterprise)…these are not
overnight sensations. They are the unstoppables — career innovators who disrupt because they must. And then there are
the kids with like impulses: the McClay and Agrawal twins, Elise Andrews (I f—ing Love Science/Science is Awesome)
and Ben Kaufman (Quirky founder) who seemingly have been doing this all along. Ben’s mom should have accepted the
award for him because, according to Ben
she raised him in her Queens’ factory.
Perhaps a labor law violation allowed this
kid to get manufacturing in his DNA.
Perhaps we need a take your-kid-to-yourfactory day in his honor?
7. And surprising: Wait. That’s Glenn
Beck. And he’s telling stories about Walt
Disney and Orson Welles and rehab and
robots and his views on a new kind of
media company, one where he cannot be
fired. You could feel the more than palpable admiration in the audience for that business model.
8. And economically satisfying: Who knew ‘the man’ behind
Chobani Yogurt, CEO Hamadi Ulukaya, expects the
economic impact of their newest factory in Idaho to bring ‘$1.3
billion for the state and 300 new jobs” while being he says, ‘a
door to better eating.’ Yogurt can be disrupted. Anything can
be disrupted, and that IS the message of these awards. Can.
Will Be. Is.
9. And restlessly seeking new domains of life to
consume, disrupt and spit out transformed: In accepting
his Christensen Award, Clayton Christensen offered three wishes for three arenas ‘badly in need of disruption.’ Never
one to dumb it down, he called upon the planet, starting with the US, to disrupt, in this order: terrorism, parenting and
religion. Because, according to him, we are losing that
which makes us strong. Security begins at home, with us.
10. That it (disruption as a discipline) is not perfect. And, it’s
just begun. If seeing is believing, then being relentlessly
entertained while seeing is even better, because a movement that
requires courage gets plused up when people are moved. I just
have one beef with the whole thing: It’s a shame, a terrible shame to
limit the examples of these honorees and the catalytic power of their
accomplishments to a small audience. To keep the downtown
theme going…if you remember the name Petula Clark you’ll
remember her singing “when you’re alone and life is making you lonely you can always go – D-O-W-N-T-O-W-N.” Hult
professor Ron Jonash states unequivocally that innovators are lonely, and indeed, we are. And it’s not just those secure
enough to say ‘let’s create something better.’ It’s a lonely planet,
filled with missed opportunities and connections to do better. For
everyone. So Craig Hatkoff, thank you for bringing all these fantastic
disruptors to our attention. Now, how do we share them writ large in
all the other tiny corners of the world? How do we get their wisdom,
guts and inventiveness out to balance the stuff that needs no name?
I think you have some fellows who might make a good start. YOLO!*
*You only live once — the most popular term in the Urban Dictionary, according to founder Aaron Peckham.
This is the first in a series of articles about the disruptors celebrated in these awards. Stay tuned.
All photos by Andrew Federman courtesy of TDIA
Julie Anixter is a principle at Think Remarkable and the executive editor and co-founder of Innovation Excellence. The
co-author of three books, she’s working on a fourth on courage and innovation. She worked with Tom Peters for five
years on bringing big ideas to big audiences. Now she works with the US Military, Healthcare, Manufacturing and other
high test innovation cultures that make a difference.
Innovation Lessons from the Rise of Tesla Motors
Posted on May 23, 2013 by Tim Kastelle
How to make gradual change look like a big jump:
One of the big privileges in my job is that I get to travel a fair bit. As part of this, I’ve been coming to Palo Alto about once
a year for the past five years. This is interesting because that is infrequent enough that the changes that look gradual to
those that live here look like jumps to me when I’m here so irregularly.
The big jump I’ve noticed on this current trip is that electric cars are finally taking off.
On previous trips, I saw lots of Tesla cars – all in showrooms. This trip, they’re on the road:
And it’s not just Teslas. The place I usually stay has had reserved parking spaces for electric cars since 2009. Previously,
I haven’t seen any cars in them. On this trip, they’re taken, and they’re using the charging stations:
Observing the Lead Users
Jean-Louis Gassée wrote a really interesting post on Tesla this week. In it, he talks about how Palo Alto has always
been a leading indicator of where green vehicles are heading:
“Walking Palo Alto’s leafy streets in the early 2000?s, I witnessed the rise of the Prius. Rather than grafting “green”
organs onto a Camry or a disinterred Tercel, Toyota’s engineers had designed a hybrid from the tires up…and they gave
the car a distinctive, sui generis look. It was a stroke of genius, and it tickled us green. What better way to flaunt our
concern for the environment while showing off our discerning tech taste than to be spotted behind the wheel of a Prius? (I
write “us” without irony: I owned a Gen I and a Gen II Prius, and drive a Prius V in France.) Palo Alto was Prius City years
before the rest of the world caught on. (Prius is now the third best-selling car worldwide; more than a million were sold in
The Prius case is interesting, because when they first came out, the response was very similar to what we’re hearing
about Tesla now. The car was too expensive, it was elitist, it would only sell to radical greenies, and so on. And now it’s
the third best-selling car in the world.
I don’t know if Tesla will ever get to that point, but it is definitely moving electric cars along the innovation diffusion curve.
Innovation Diffusion Lessons from Tesla
This diagram shows how innovation diffusion usually works. New ideas spread along an S-Curve – the solid line in the
diagram – or if they fail they follow the curve marked B. But when there’s a lot of hype around an idea, we expect it to
follow the curve marked A. Incumbents that think they have a lot of time to respond expect the new idea to follow the
curve marked C.
But new ideas that succeed don’t follow any of these curves – the follow the S Curve.
We can see why by looking at Tesla and the other electric cars that are just starting to take off. Here are some of the
New ideas spread much more slowly than we expect. The first electric car was made back in the 19th century,
before there was a dominant design for cars. GM introduced the EV1 in 1996 – seventeen years ago. That made
everyone expect electric vehicles to take off – it’s where the hype really started. But new ideas spread slowly –
the time value for X is always longer than we expect it to be.
Disruptions start in niches. When the Prius came out, it was relatively expensive. Gassée’s recounting is pretty
accurate – it first took hold with people that were willing to pay a bit more to show off their greenness. But it
eventually spread from that niche. He thinks that Tesla will do the same:
“The numbers point to a future where Tesla can leave its niche and become a leading manufacturer in a too-often
stodgy automotive industry. And, of course, we Silicon Valley geeks take great pleasure in a car that updates it
software over the air, like a smartphone; that has a 17” touchscreen; and that’s designed and built right here (the
Tesla factory is across the Bay in the NUMMI plant that was previously occupied by Toyota and GM).”
It takes time to work out the business model. One of the reasons that the value for X is longer than we expect
is that it takes time to learn how to make the new idea work. A big part of this is building a good business model
around it. Farhad Manjoo compares Tesla to Apple, and he explains how their business model is evolving:
“But even though its prices were competitive, Apple was able to keep its profits high, thanks to amazing
manufacturing efficiencies. Now Tesla seems to be following the same path. At $70,000 the Model S, its family
sedan, is still a very expensive car, but it’s far cheaper than the $109,000 Roadster that Tesla launched in 2009.
This week, the company announced that in the first quarter of 2013, it earned its first-ever corporate profit. It sold
5,000 cars in Q1, and its list of orders is growing by 20,000 per year. Part of the reason Tesla has turned
profitable, Musk explained in a shareholder letter, is by making its production processes more efficient. Among
other things, the company reduced the amount of time it takes to build a car by 40 percent. Over the long run,
Musk aims to keep lowering the price of its cars—he’s hoping to release a $30,000 car in the next three or four
years—while keeping the company’s gross profit margin at 25 percent, which is very high for the car industry.”
Slow diffusion makes it easy to mock new ideas. All of this comes together to show how it is pretty easy to
mock a new idea – the first stage of responding to a disruptive innovation, followed by aggression, bargaining
and getting smashed like a but.
Steven Johnson made the Apple-Tesla comparison first, and this quote from him pulls all of these issues
“The question is whether Tesla is the Apple of 1985 or the Apple of 2005. Tesla critics tend to see it as the
former: a luxury car maker for people who have the spare change to experiment with ultimately impractical electric
cars. The Roadster and the Model S, in this scenario, are the automotive equivalent of the original Macintosh: an
expensive experiment that will never capture a mass audience. The believers see Tesla as closer to Apple right
before the launch of the iPhone: a company about to help propel (and profit from) a massive sea change in
consumer behavior.In large part, those two alternatives ultimately come down to a single, crucial question: how
close are we to the obsolescence point for combustion engines? Most scenarios assume that we are not very
near indeed. Warren Buffett apparently thinks all cars on the road will be electric by 2030, but most analysts
assume it will take us that long just to get to 50% EV penetration. But what if Buffet is correct, and the EV tipping
point is right in front of us? What if Buffet is underestimating the rate of change?”
I think Buffett is right. It looks to me like we’re starting to hit the tipping point. The analysts are assuming that
electric vehicles are going to follow curve C. But students of innovation know that they will follow the SCurve.Time to get ready for your electric car. And I guess we can start planning for flying cars next – maybe
that’s how I’ll do my traveling in the future!
Tim Kastelle is a Lecturer in Innovation Management in the University of Queensland Business School. He blogs about
innovation at the Innovation Leadership Network
Innovation: Lost in Translation
Posted on May 22, 2013 by Jeffrey Phillips
I was thinking today, between flights, about the kabuki dance
that innovation often becomes. What I mean is that many CEOs
and executives talk about innovation and the benefits of
innovation. They describe how innovation will help their firms
grow and become more profitable, and create differentiated
products or enter new markets. All of these suppositions are
true. Innovation can help a firm accomplish these goals. But only
if the people tasked with innovation have the skills, capabilities,
resources and political cover to do innovation.
So, in an era when CEOs and senior executives consistently
extol innovation, yet fail to adequately follow up or invest in innovation, what are we to believe? Are executives guilty of
“innowashing”, talking about innovation without committing resources to drive up the stock price? Or are they guilty of
cynicism, simply trying to appear innovative without investments? Or, do they believe that every utterance is immediately
implemented within the organization? Or, perhaps, do they lack understanding about what it takes to convert innovation
demands into productive outcomes?
First, the basics. Executives don’t need more innovation, any more than the rest of the company does. What the
executives and their companies need are more growth, more differentiation, more profits, new products and entry into new
markets. Innovation is simply a set of tools and capabilities that can help achieve those goals. But innovation is only a set
of tools and capabilities, it is not a sentient capability residing in your organization simply waiting for the executive
So, what’s the problem in translation?
Executives want innovation, but they need near term profitability, so their most consistent emphasis is on efficiency and
near term profits. But, once that fact is acknowledged, we have to ask they next question – why is the demand for
innovation lost in translation throughout the organization?
I for one don’t believe many executives are cynical or innowashing their companies. I believe many executives are deeply
(and rightly) concerned about their innovation capabilities. So if we eliminate the few executives who are talking up
innovation merely for marketing’s sake, that means that executives are either detached from the reality of translating
demands into corporate actions, or don’t understand how woefully unprepared their organizations are when attempting
innovation. Or, perhaps both.
When executives request innovation from their organizations, they are sending signals that innovation should be
prioritized – but at the cost of what other activities or capabilities? Every organization today runs on the bitter edge of
capabilities and available resources. When a firm focuses on innovation, what work should it put aside?What happens if it
“takes its eye” off the ball, and misses its revenue or profitability numbers in a quarter? Unless executives detail specific
actions and resources for innovation outcomes, little innovation work will occur, because senior and mid-level managers
are overly focused on meeting short term goals. No new objective that the executives demand, without constant follow-up
and clear decisions about investments, will get off the ground.
Lack of skills
Most organizations today have deep skills and exceptionally capable people who have been consistently trained in the
existing processes and methods. The organization to some degree is at the peak of its capability and knowledge – about
existing processes. This means that the executives take for granted that the knowledge and capability for innovation is as
strong in the organization as the capabilities and skills for business as usual. It’s often shocking to discover how little
capability there is in an organization for innovation, since many people have never attempted it in a corporate setting. Yes,
there are a range of tools scattered here and there, and a handful of people who have been to facilitation or brainstorming
classes, but that doesn’t make a consistent, coherent capability. Executives are always surprised by how much skill
building and capability development is necessary to innovate effectively.
Translation and Skill Development
These two factors indicate that innovation is tightly tied to capability development, communication, change management
and culture. Until the concept of innovation is firmly established and constantly communicated and resourced, it will be
hard for firms to innovate consistently. And, until the skills and capabilities are developed, and the culture is shifted to be
more accomodating to innovation, little innovation will get done. Innovation is not a project, but a corporate capability that
spans factors like communication, culture, process and governance. Until organizations understand that, the kabuki dance
will continue, and the innovation demand will be lost in translation.
image credit: people talking image from bigstock
Jeffrey Phillips is a senior leader at OVO Innovation. OVO works with large distributed organizations to build innovation teams,
processes and capabilities. Jeffrey is the author of Relentless Innovation and the blog Innovate on Purpose.
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