Innovation Excellence Weekly - Issue 26
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Innovation Excellence Weekly - Issue 26

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We are proud to announce our twenty-sixth Innovation Excellence Weekly for Slideshare. Inside you'll find ten of the best innovation-related articles from the past week on Innovation Excellence - the ...

We are proud to announce our twenty-sixth Innovation Excellence Weekly for Slideshare. Inside you'll find ten of the best innovation-related articles from the past week on Innovation Excellence - the world's most popular innovation web site and home to 5,000+ innovation-related articles.

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  • Hi guys of Innovation Excellence!
    It is a great job that you are doing.
    Could I suggest that you use a bigger font in the weekly report?
    Right now the font is quite little. In my case this is relevant to be able to see the publication in a 7i eReader&7i tablet in full page, whereas there is a lot of wasted space between linesm which means that there is space enough.
    I hope you consider this suggestion.
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    Innovation Excellence Weekly - Issue 26 Innovation Excellence Weekly - Issue 26 Document Transcript

    • March 29, 2013
    • Issue 26 – March 29, 2013 1. Five Free Nine Innovation Roles Gifts.........................................………….. Braden Kelley 2. How to Build an Innovation Culture ……………………………………..…….…. Greg Satell 3. Avoiding Innovation Debt …………………….…………………...……..…..……… Peter Bell 4. 9 Innovation Concepts& Methodologies to Embrace or Rethink ....... Stefan Lindegaard 5. Who is Your Creative Community? .………………………...…….……… Dimis Michaelides 6. The Innovation Chicken & Egg Problem …………………....………………. Jeffrey Phillips 7. A New Form of Crowdsourcing - Problemsourcing ……….……..............…. Yannig Roth 8. Inspiring Creativity in Others ……………………………………..…….. Jeffrey Baumgartner 9. Venture Café at the Cambridge Innovation Center ……………..…….….. Johnny Hankins 10. Tech is Destroying the Line between Manufacturing & Services ……….… Saul Kaplan 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: paper people blue from Bigstock
    • Five Free Nine Innovation Roles GiftsPosted on March 27, 2013 by Braden KelleyAre you innovative or not?Do you possess innovator’s DNA?What about an innovation personality?I cringe every time I see a new article trying to basically say that some people are innovative andothers are not, or than certain individuals are more innovative than others.Hogwash I say!It’s just not true. I’m a firm believer that it’s not personalities that matter so much when it comes toinnovation, it’s the roles that we play in making innovation happen (or not) and as a resultindividuals must bring their innovation strengths together into a well-balanced, complete team inorder to achieve innovation success.One of the most toxic innovation myths is the idea, or the myth, of the lone innovator. The truth is that if you point to any supposed loneinnovator, from Thomas Edison to Steve Jobs to Alexander Graham Bell, all of these people had whole teams of people working behind thecurtain on the innovations that are popularly ascribed to them. It may be easier for our human brains to elevate individuals to the role ofinnovation heroes, but the fact is that innovation is a team sport.Invention and creativity can be solo activities, but innovation is collaborative by its very nature. Because innovation success requirescollaboration, it is more beneficial for organizations to take a roles-based approach to innovation than a personality or skill-centric approach toinnovation. With this in mind I created the Nine Innovation Roles to be part of my popular book Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire – publishedby John Wiley & Sons.The following is an excerpt from my book:“Too often we treat people as commodities that are interchangeable and maintain the same characteristics and aptitudes. Of course, we knowthat people are not interchangeable, yet we continually pretend that they are anyway — to make life simpler for our reptile brain to comprehend.Deep down we know that people have different passions, skills, and potential, but even when it comes to innovation, we expect everybody tohave good ideas.I’m of the opinion that all people are creative, in their own way. That is not to say that all people are creative in the sense that every singleperson is good at creating lots of really great ideas, nor do they have to be. I believe instead that everyone has a dominant innovation role atwhich they excel, and that when properly identified and channeled, the organization stands to maximize its innovation capacity. I believe that all
    • people excel at one of nine innovation roles, and that when organizations put the right people in the right innovation roles, that your innovation speed and capacity will increase.” Now for the big news. The news I’m so excited to share with you today. I’m proud to announce today that I’m setting the Nine Innovation Roles free, and I’ll provide you with all of the tools that you need to conduct a Nine Innovation Roles workshop or team meeting inside your organization to enhance the success of your innovation teams – for FREE. Some people think I’m crazy to help people not hire me, but because of my collaborative and people-centric approach to innovation I would like to give everyone five free gifts:1. The Nine Innovation Roles themselves2. Downloadable Nine Innovation Roles presentation for team meetings or workshops3. Downloadable Nine Innovation Roles Worksheet for gathering data on team makeup4. Downloadable Nine Innovation Roles card deck design that I use with Fortune 500 clients5. Nine Innovation Roles video for use in team meetings or workshops Free Gift #1 – The Nine Innovation Roles themselves Below you will find definitions of each of The Nine Innovation Roles. One of the most common questions is ‘Can I be more than one role?’. The answer is that typically we all may feel that we tend more towards 1-3 roles, but it would be hard for someone to excel at more than this. It is also possible for people to fill different roles at different parts of the innovation lifecycle, or to be called upon to fill a role that may not be one of their strengths. While it is not ideal to have someone fill a role that it is not their strength, it is often better than a team not having all of the roles filled. The most successful innovation teams will of course both have all of the roles performed by team members, but also by team members for whom that role is one of their natural strengths.
    • 1. RevolutionaryThe Revolutionary is the person who is always eager to change things, to shake them up, and to share his or heropinion. These people tend to have a lot of great ideas and are not shy about sharing them. They are likely tocontribute 80 to 90 percent of your ideas in open scenarios.2. ConscriptThe Conscript has a lot of great ideas but doesn’t willingly share them, either because such people don’t knowanyone is looking for ideas, don’t know how to express their ideas, prefer to keep their head down and execute,or all three.3. ConnectorThe Connector does just that. These people hear a Conscript say something interesting and put him togetherwith a Revolutionary; The Connector listens to the Artist and knows exactly where to find the Troubleshooter thathis idea needs.4. ArtistThe Artist doesn’t always come up with great ideas, but artists are really good at making them better.5. Customer ChampionThe Customer Champion may live on the edge of the organization. Not only does he have constant contact withthe customer, but he also understands their needs, is familiar with their actions and behaviors, and is as close asyou can get to interviewing a real customer about a nascent idea.6. TroubleshooterEvery great idea has at least one or two major roadblocks to overcome before the idea is ready to be judged orbefore its magic can be made. This is where the Troubleshooter comes in. Troubleshooters love tough problemsand often have the deep knowledge or expertise to help solve them.
    • 7. Judge The Judge is really good at determining what can be made profitably and what will be successful in the marketplace. 8. Magic Maker The Magic Makers take an idea and make it real. These are the people who can picture how something is going to be made and line up the right resources to make it happen. 9. Evangelist The Evangelists know how to educate people on what the idea is and help them understand it. Evangelists are great people to help build support for an idea internally, and also to help educate customers on its value..Free Gift #2 – Downloadable Nine Innovation Roles presentation for team meetings or workshops(Please Note: I’m sharing this for internal use only, service providers will need to procure a license/certification to use it for commercialpurposes)This presentation is designed to introduce The Nine Innovation Roles framework to your team meeting or internal workshop audience. Inaddition to sharing definitions of each of The Nine Innovation Roles in a presentation suitable for projection, I’m happy to provide a series ofquestions that you can use to guide group interaction – ideally with the Nine Innovation Roles cards (Free Gift #4).This presentation is most effective when combined with The Nine Innovation Roles cards (Free Gift #4) and some sort of inspirational messageprior to going through it to get people in the mindset that innovation is everyone’s job and that everyone can contribute to the overall innovationefforts of the organization. A subset of some the messages I use in my collaborative innovation workshops is contained in the video below(Free Gift #5).Watch or Download the Nine Innovation Roles Presentation
    • Free Gift #3 – Downloadable Nine Innovation Roles Worksheet for gathering data on team makeupYou can use this worksheet to have your team evaluate themselves and just gather the self-evaluations to see which roles are represented andwhich are missing (usual the most important piece of data), or alternatively to have everyone evaluate every other team member as well toprovide a kind of 360-degree type feedback to each individual (i.e. You think you’re a Revolutionary but everyone else thinks you’re an Artist).Download the simple Nine Innovation Roles worksheet.Free Gift #4 – Downloadable Nine Innovation Roles card deck design that I use with Fortune 500 clientsTo make my Nine Innovation Roles framework accessible to as many people as possible inside organizations all around the world to exploreand improve innovation team dynamics and success, I am happy to announce that I have now made the print-ready files for the cards availablehere for FREE download – http://sdrv.ms/YXFP47 – and you can either work with the vendor I use – adMagic – or work with a local printer inyour part of the world.I’ve made the card design available so that people without a budget to bring me in to conduct a keynote combined with a workshop to make themost of the framework can still benefit by getting the cards printed and using them together with the downloadable Nine Innovation Rolespresentation (Free Gift #2) and/or the Nine Innovation Roles video (Free Gift #5).
    • Free Gift #5 – Nine Innovation Roles video for use in team meetings or workshops(Please Note: I’m sharing this for internal use only, service providers will need to procure a license/certification to use it for commercialpurposes)This video is designed to help you introduce The Nine Innovation Roles framework to your team meeting or internal workshop audience. Inaddition to sharing definitions of each of The Nine Innovation Roles suitable for projection, it also provides a series of questions that you canuse to guide group interaction – ideally with the Nine Innovation Roles cards (Free Gift #4).This video is most effective when combined with The Nine Innovation Roles cards (Free Gift #4) along with your own personal messages andexamples to get people into the mindset that innovation is everyone’s job and that everyone can contribute to the overall innovation efforts ofthe organization. I’ve included a subset of some the messages I use in my collaborative innovation workshops.Watch the Nine Innovation Roles Workshop VideoConclusionAs you can see, creating and maintaining a healthy innovation portfolio requires that you develop the organizational capability of identifyingwhat role each individual is best at playing in your organization. It should be obvious that a failure to involve and leverage all nine roles alongthe idea generation, idea evaluation, and idea commercialization path will lead to sub-optimal results. To be truly successful, you must be ableto bring in the right roles at the right times to make your promising ideas stronger on your way to making them successful. Most organizationsfocus too much energy on generating the ideas and not enough on developing their ideas or their people. And of course people, not ideas, arethe key to successful innovation.I’m extremely proud that these tools will enable you to strengthen your collaborative innovation efforts and explore The Nine Innovation Rolesfor free and on your own.Collaborate to innovate! Braden Kelley is a popular innovation speaker, embeds innovation across the organization with innovation training, and builds B2B pull marketing strategies that drive increased revenue, visibility and inbound sales leads. He is currently advising an early-stage fashion startup making jewelry for your hair and is the author of Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire from John Wiley & Sons. He tweets from @innovate.
    • How to Build an Innovative CulturePosted on March 24, 2013 by Greg SatellEvery manager would like to be Steve Jobs, but very few ever even come close.Many seek out advice, read case studies and go to workshops to help guide them.Yet still, very few companies are able to innovate effectively. Why is that?Surely there is no lack of desire. Ask any top executive and he will tell you thatinnovation is a top priority. It’s not a lack of commitment either. Businesses investbillions in R&D every year, yet all to little avail.One big reason is a the lack of innovative culture, especially at successfuloperational firms. Competing for the future is different than competing for thepresent. If you try to innovate the same way you operate, you probably won’t getvery far. To break the cycle, you’ll need to build a culture that promotes innovationas well as operational excellence.Embrace the Audacity of YouthUnfortunately, innovation is often confused with strategy, so it’s not surprising that it’s often approached the same way. High level meetingswith senior executives are convened, big decisions are taken, announcements are made and vast resources are deployed.The problem is that decisions made that way will reflect the skills and experience gained in the past which, while possibly still effective atpresent, often isn’t relevant to the future. What you get, in other words, is an attempt to advance past paradigms instead of a seriouscommitment to creating new ones.The truth is that breakthrough innovations are more often the product of the audacity of youth than the wisdom of experience. Newton,Einstein, and Watson and Crick all made their major contributions as the foolish young men we forget, not the mature men of science that wehave come to revere.So the first step toward creating an innovative culture is recognizing that senior management is often unable to drive it. We can monitor it,enable it, promote it and ultimately decide when and how it gets deployed, but most of us are ill equipped to create it (and I include myself inthat number).
    • Be The Dumbest Guy In the RoomInnovation is frequently a product of synthesis across domains. Quite often, breakthrough solutions in one field are achieved by borrowingwisdom from another. Experts often hit a wall, because they are blinded by past successes. Old solutions are often poorly suited to newproblems.In his recent book, The Idea Factory , Jon Gertner explains how Bell Labs designed their buildings so that people with varied expertise wouldbe forced to interact. Jonah Lehrer describes much the same at Pixar in Imagine , his (somewhat tarnished, but still worthwhile) book aboutcreativity. The highly innovative Santa Fe Institute is specifically set up for cross-disciplinary study.The problem is that if you manage innovation, you end working with people who know a lot about things you don’t. Therefore, you have to getcomfortable being the dumbest guy in the room. It’s frustrating and takes some getting used to. Nevertheless, it’s absolutely essential tobreaking new ground.So feel free to be the dumbest guy in the room. After all, if you already had an answer, it wouldn’t be an innovation. Better to feel silly in theoffice than in the market.Promote Sustainable FailureAs I’ve written before, the truth about innovation is that it’s a messy business. It rarely springs forth fully formed, but rather comes to us in acrappy disguise. It usually doesn’t work very well at first, existing customers are often skeptical about it and rarely delivers immediate ROIbenefits.Many innovations ultimately fail. Failure is part and parcel of innovation. That’s why venture capital funds expect most of their investments tofounder. The trick is to fail cheaply and not to penalize those involved with a failed project. If you can do that, you can make failure issustainable and stumble your way to success.Here’s the thing though. Failing cheaply requires minimal involvement by senior management and highly paid consultants. Once they’reinvolved, failure becomes expensive. Vast resources (and egos) become invested and projects begin to take a life of their own. When they gounder, they can take the whole enterprise with them.The Ultimate QuestionA lot of people think they have an innovative culture, but very few are actually able to innovate. So how do you know? What can you do toensure that you are building a culture that promotes innovation rather than one that smothers it? I believe many of the answers can beuncovered by asking yourself one simple question:If someone came to you with a breakthrough innovation, how would they sell it?
    • Wal-Mart and Sears. Netflix and Blockbuster. Nucor and US Steel. In each case, the market leader had a chance to invest or partner with theupstart that eventually disrupted them. They simply weren’t buying.So ask yourself, how would you avoid the same fate? If Sam Walton came to you with a new retail concept, or Reed Hastings with a new wayto rent videos, how would they get through the front door? Who would they talk to? How would they be received? What if the next greatentrepreneur already works for you? Would she fare any better?At its core, building an innovative culture means instilling the spirit of the future into the practicalities of the present.image credit: motherearthnews.com Greg Satell is an internationally recognized authority on Digital Strategy and Innovation. He consults and speaks in the areas of digital innovation, innovation management, digital marketing and publishing, as well as offshore web and app development. His blog is Digital Tonto and you can follow him on Twitter.
    • Avoiding Innovation DebtPosted on March 23, 2013 by Peter BellBy now, most people have heard of Technical Debt; the cost of messy code that grows overtime, like interest on an overdue loan. For the last couple of years I’ve been talking at NoFluff Just Stuff conferences about the concept of “Innovation Debt”. I’ve been planning toblog about this for a while. Thanks to Aaron Frost for persuading me to finally write up thepost.Innovation debt is the cost that companies incur when they don’t invest in their developers. Ithappens when the team is too busy putting out fires and finishing up features to keep up todate with advances in languages, frameworks, libraries, tools and processes. Just astechnical debt can kill a code base by turning a green field project into a big ball of mud,innovation debt can kill an engineering team – moving them from a cutting edge crew to agroup that’s barely competent to maintain a legacy app. In this post I’ll summarize some of the potential cost of innovation debt and some of thesimple steps you can take to ensure your development team doesn’t incur an unsustainable amount.The Costs of Innovation Debt  You’ll lose your best developers – If, over a period of months, you don’t create any slack for your development team, they’re not going to have the time to learn anything new. The best developers are going to see this and leave. The worst are going to hang around because they don’t really care that much about learning and might be worried that they couldn’t get a better job elsewhere. Because of this, over the course of a year or two, the average quality of your dev team is going to drop. And because great developers are mainly attracted by the chance to work with other great developers, if you’re not careful this alone will create a death spiral where the quality of your team keeps edging downwards until no great developer would consider joining the team.  Recruiting will get harder – With top developers leaving and with a lack of “shiny” things to play with, it’s going to become increasingly hard to hire great new developers for your team.  Productivity won’t improve – Many new technologies are designed specifically to make developers more productive. If your team aren’t learning any of the new technologies, they won’t be bringing the productivity gains to your business.  Your software will get stale – Over time, users expectations increase. Whether it’s integrating OAuth into enterprise software to authorize via LinkedIn, using a responsive/mobile first design for your web applications or delivering a mobile application for your users, unless your team is experimenting with new technologies, they won’t have the skills you need to keep your software competitive with the rest of the industry.While innovation debt is incurred incrementally, teams will sometimes hit a wall with a particular project where the cost of the innovation debtcan potentially cause a project to fail. I remember a “bet the company” project I was involved with a number of years ago. The dev team hadn’t
    • had time to learn new technologies for a number of years and the new project required them to learn a new version control system, buildsystem, test framework, project management tool, and web application development framework. Any one of those changes might have beenmanageable, but unsurprisingly with so many new technologies to learn, the project took much longer than expected and nearly put thecompany out of business.Avoiding Innovation DebtLots of companies talk about a “culture of learning”. There are plenty of ways of actually creating one. Some ideas include:  Lunch and learns – Ask one team member every month to take a morning and hack on something interesting (maybe a new javascript library or to try out a new version control system) and ask them to give a presentation to the rest of the team (or write a blog post if they don’t like to present). It’ll give everyone a chance to hack on something new every few months and will create a sense of shared learning within the team.  Conferences – Make sure all developers hit one local conference a year and ideally send them to at least one conference a year that’s out of town. It’s a great way to learn about new technologies, but it’s an even better way to build a network with other developers who might be able to help with technical issues in the future.  Hackathons – Take a couple of days once or twice a year to allow your teams to hack on passion projects that support the company’s goals. Encourage them to create mockups using new technologies so they can get some hands on experience with technologies that might become important to the company over time.  Continuous consulting – Most teams I’ve met would be well served by putting aside 3-5% of their annual budget aside for ongoing consulting. Bring in a consultant for a few days once a quarter to help your dev team to learn something new on a regular basis.  Pair programming – Pairing can be a great way to increase the sharing of knowledge within your dev team, but you do still need to invest in other activities to make sure your team are still learning from external sources and have new ideas to share.  Allow failure – The goal of trying a new technology is not to use the technology. It’s to learn whether the technology might be worth using. If you never try a technology that ends up not being worth using for your projects, you’re probably not trying new technologies aggressively enough.
    • Another approach that I’ve found very successful is to use new technologies that have the capacity to improve your core business but to testthem on low risk projects. If you think that your core matching algorithm might work better in Clojure but don’t want to bet your entire companyon a technology you’ve never deployed, rebuild your email delivery system or write a bug tracker in the language. Then once you have in-houseexperience with developing and running it in production, you can decide whether or not to rewrite a more critical part of your infrastructure usingthe technology.Innovation debt is a real risk for any company that needs to hire and retain a software development team. Of course, there will always be timeswhere you can’t justify the time to learn new technologies for a month or two, but realize that what you are doing in those periods is accruinginnovation debt. Have a plan for paying down the debt in the following quarter and follow it, otherwise you’re likely to become an increasinglyless attractive place to work with technology that is getting further and further behind that employed by your competition. Peter Bell is an evangelist/hacker at hackNY, trainer for Github and co-founder of CTO school. He presents regularly at conferences like DLD Conf, QCon, Ruby Nation, UberConf, and the No Fluff Just Stuff enterprise Java tour. He’s been published in IEEE software, Dr Dobbs and Information Week and is writing a book on managing software development for Pearson publishing. He tweets at @PeterBell and blogs at http://blog.pbell.com.
    • 9 Innovation Concepts & Methodologies to Embrace, Consideror RethinkPosted on March 23, 2013 by Stefan LindegaardFor decades, the key challenges on innovation management in largecompanies have evolved around four elements; strategy, structure/approach,culture and people. This has been a constant, but the innovation conceptsand methodologies keep changing and they continue to impact how we dealwith the key challenges.Here I give you my views on the concepts that I think corporate innovationteams need to embrace or consider (they are fairly new) and those that youneed to rethink (they have been around for a while and some adjustmentsare needed).COMPANIES SHOULD EMBRACE…Business model innovation:According to Wikipedia, business model innovation refers to the creation, or reinvention, of a business itself. Whereas innovation is moretypically seen in the form of a new product or service offering, a business model innovation results in an entirely different type of company thatcompetes not only on the value proposition of its offerings, but aligns its profit formula, resources and processes to enhance that valueproposition, capture new market segments and alienate competitors.The focus on business model innovation really took off with a book by Alex Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur. Business Model Generation: AHandbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers is an easy to approach guide that explains the most common business modelpatterns and inspires you on how you can apply them in your innovation process.I often say that companies need to have a more holistic approach to innovation that goes beyond products and technologies. Well, that is whatbusiness model innovation is all about.The new corporate garage:Big companies will become more competitive than ever and in this HBR blog post, Scott Anthony, states that three trends are behind thisshift:“Three trends are behind this shift. First, the increasing ease and decreasing cost of innovation mean that start-ups now face the same short-term pressures that have constrained innovation at large companies; as soon as a young company gets a whiff of success, it has to raceagainst dozens of copycats. Second, large companies, taking a page from start-up strategy, are embracing open innovation and less
    • hierarchical management and are integrating entrepreneurial behaviors with their existing capabilities. And third, although innovation hashistorically been product- and service-oriented, it increasingly involves creating business models that tap big companies’ unique strengths.”Scott Anthony is one of the leading innovation minds and I think he is spot on with this. Big companies are about to kick small company buttwhen it comes to innovation.Open innovation:Many people ask what open innovation is. I suggest that you view open innovation as a philosophy or a mindset that you should embrace withinyour organization. In a more practical definition, open innovation is about bridging internal and external resources and act on thoseopportunities. The value proposition (better innovation to market faster) this gives companies that get it right is simply too good to miss out on.I also like this quote from Henry Chesbrough; “Open innovation is a paradigm that assumes that firms can and should use external ideas aswell as internal ideas, and internal and external paths to market, as the firms look to advance their technology”Open innovation is often viewed as an umbrella term that also includes crowdsourcing, user-driven innovation and co-creation. In order to avoidtoo much confusion on semantics, I suggest that we focus on what really matters here; bring external resources into your innovation process.COMPANIES SHOULD CONSIDER…The lean startup methodology:Eric Ries, the key thought leader on the lean startup methodology, states that this is a movement that is transforming how new products arebuilt and launched. His initial focus was start-ups, but he is definitely right in also pursuing this for big companies.Some of the key ideas behind the methodology are: fail fast – fail cheap, “Can we build a sustainable business around this set of products andservices?” and develop a minimum viable product to begin the process of learning as quickly as possible.
    • Social media for innovation efforts:Yes, this is one of my favorite personal topics, but it is also something that is picking up interest among clients, in blogs/media and atconferences. The intersection of social media tools and (open) innovation is still at the very early stages, but it will become increasinglyimportant as open innovation takes hold. One reason is that the future winners of innovation know how to make communities (virtual andphysical) work and a social media will be a key driver for this.You can read more on this in my latest book: Social Media for Corporate Innovators and Entrepreneurs: Add Power to Your InnovationEffortsReverse innovation:Reverse innovation is an interesting concept / book that helps us understand what it means to develop in emerging markets first, instead ofscaling down rich world products, to unlock a world of business opportunity.Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble based their concept on these three key elements:1. You must innovate, not simply export, if you want to capture the mammoth growth opportunities in the developing world.2. The stakes in emerging economies are global, not local. Passing up an opportunity in the developing world today may invite formidable newcompetition in your home markets tomorrow.3. Legacy multinationals must rethink their dominant organizational logic if they are to win in an era of reverse innovation.COMPANIES SHOULD RETHINK…Disruptive innovation:Clayton Christensen was one of the first innovation thought leaders that really came across to a bigger business audience. His ideas andconcepts on disruptive innovation are still relevant. However, I wonder how the increasingly speed of change and globalization impact this. Is itgetting easier to pursue radical or disruptive innovation? I don’t think so, but on the other hand I think it has become more difficult to defend anexisting business against disruptive innovation.I think this is an interesting paradox that goes back to the ideas of the new garage by Scott Anthony and I continue to ask myself this question:What if big companies could become better at disrupting themselves?Crossing the chasm:This is a classic by Geoffrey Moore. He does a very good job of describing the five main segments of the technology adoption lifecycle of:innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards.
    • I still think these ideas are valid, but again, how is the speed of change and the higher focus on business model and open innovation movementimpacting this?Blue ocean strategy:Hmm, what happened to the idea of creating blue oceans of opportunities where you do not have any competitors? The idea soundsintriguing, but I wonder why I never meet any companies that actually used – and succeeded – with this methodology. Their community is stillactive so maybe I just miss out on some good stuff here.There are of course many other concepts, methodologies and approaches for driving innovation in big companies, but I had to make somechoices. Let me know what you think of this and please feel free to argue why others should be on this list.image credit: hand pushing image from bigstock Stefan Lindegaard is an author, speaker and strategic advisor who focus on the topics of open innovation, social media and intrapreneurship.
    • Who is your Creative Community? Why innovators need toknow!Posted on March 22, 2013 by Dimis MichaelidesRealize the innovation potential of your peopleIn an organization innovation needs supporters. Who might they be?Is it your Board of Directors? Is your Board a group of people open to change, who recognizethe importance balancing the future and the present and who will support risk-taking with openeyes? Or is it a bunch of old fogies (or young fogies) intent on squeezing maximum profit nowand ready to blame you for everything when you do not deliver next quarter?Is it your C-suite? Does your top team drive innovation and change with its mind and heart, withclarity in its targets, openness of spirit and focus on innovative actions? Or are your seniormanagers content with preserving the systems and culture that worked so well in the pastwithout rocking the boat?Is it your middle management? Are your managers developing into leaders by managingchange that comes from outside and from above and indeed by initiating change themselves?Or are they a conservative constituency, suspicious of new thinking and action, protective of the organization chart and their own silos andunwilling to empower their own people?Is it your R & D Department? Do you have a broad minded set of people generating imaginative new products and services in collaboration withyour clients, suppliers and their colleagues? Or do you have a narrow minded clique who will always reject whatever is “not invented here”?Is it your Marketing Department? Are your marketers strategists who are constantly seeking new ways of relating to your clients and constantlyseeking new clients? Or are they pompous asses who are convinced that only they have a right to be called “creative” and who spend all theirtime writing briefs to publicity agencies?Is it your IT Department? Are your information technologists at the cutting edge, constantly seeking to be ahead of your competition in closecollaboration with their users? Or are they boring programming geeks writing code blissfully unaware of the world out there?Could it be everybody in your company? Are all your people irrespective of rank enthusiastically bringing forward new ideas in their own areasand in others and do all people accept, digest and process these ideas and rally for the implementation of the best ones? Or are they simplycontent if they just do their jobs?Am I asking too many questions? I suggest all these questions are important because discovering your creative community is important.Innovation in organizations is not a solo act and driving innovation in a dynamic way is key to any leadership role. Ideally, mobilizing everyone’s
    • creativity and making it thrive alongside an order of strategies and systems that promote innovation is what all organizations should be doing.The power of a mass movement is generally more potent than that of an elite. If they cannot get the masses on their side, innovative leadersmay have to consider which of the above constituencies (or other constituencies) are the most likely proponents and which are the most likelyinhibitors to innovation. And how to deal with them too.Your creative community is after all your best ally in your innovation quest.image credit: usa.helpministriesinternational.com Dimis Michaelides, Managing Director at Performa Consulting, is global business consultant and keynote speaker on The Art of Innovation. His book, The Art of Innovation: Integrating Creativity in Organizations, was published in 2007.
    • The Innovation Chicken & Egg ProblemPosted on March 26, 2013 by Jeffrey Phillips Here’s a question that has befuddled even the best innovation thinkers, and has led to countless articles, white papers, surveys and other analysis: which is more important to innovation success, leadership or culture? Does an engaged leadership engage an organization and direct its energy toward innovation, or does a sustained culture engage the organization regardless of the will of the leadership toward more innovation? It is a classic chicken and egg question, and one that my clients and our consultants at OVO deal with constantly. The fact is that both are vital, and both are predominant depending on the organization. But the fact is that culture doesn’t ring you up one day and ask you to drop by to provide advice about innovation. Typically its the leaders of anorganization that do that. So it’s far easier to place emphasis on leaders and leadership as the key innovation driver, since we can single out asmall team of executives and point the finger of blame at them.That’s what Hayden Shaughnessy and Scott Anthony just did in a recent Forbes article. I was alerted to the article by my good friend PaulHobcraft, who has also had much to say in this vein. Anthony suggests in his interview with Shaughnessy that the “One Innovation Rule thatMatters Most” is that leadership is vital. Anthony goes on to say that:“Any company that thinks it has an innovation problem in fact has a leadershipproblem.”All well and good, and in may ways this is true. In fact I wrote about this very topic recently, making the argument that poor prioritization, poorvision and little funding by executive teams lead to a lack of innovation. My article was based on a recent innovation survey by McKinsey, sothe assertions are backed by survey data.The other side of the coinHowever, claiming that an innovation problem is always and everywhere a leadership problem seems a bit too narrow to me. In my work I’vefound many executives who are exceptionally focused on innovation, who are willing and able to fund innovation and set clear priorities, butthey face a significant hurdle called corporate culture. You see, no matter how much a small senior team of executives works to influence aculture, that change happens incrementally and slowly if at all. A leader who is not focused on innovation doesn’t necessarily distract a culturethat is engaged with innovation (see 3M as an example), and far too often we are caught up making examples of charismatic leaders (seeSteve Jobs as an example) that we use to make the case that leadership is what matters alone.
    • When you see the phrase “Culture eats strategy for breakfast” on a regular basis you begin to grasp the subtle and intangible power ofcorporate culture. The unfortunate aspect of corporate culture is that senior executives don’t have nearly as much impact as they’d like to think.Culture is somewhat immune to leadership edicts, since the culture is long established, and recognizes that leaders are temporary. Whenleaders are in their roles on average less than five years, the culture will patiently wait out the leadership. What changes culture is a burningplatform.Large and established cultures will change, and they will change swiftly when threatened. Too often executives create plans and strategies thatkeep the culture relatively comfortable and safely ensconced in its existing image of itself. A burning platform – an immediate threat to thebusiness, a sudden shift in consumer demand, a new law or regulation which changes the playing field – is often what will force a culture tochange. And note that the culture is something that every employee contributes to. Their expectations, attitudes, behaviors and actions inaggregate make up the culture, so every employee contributes to the shape, size and attitude of the culture.Don’t leaders establish culture?You’ll be thinking right about now that my arguments are interesting but ultimately futile. Don’t leaders set culture, or at least influence it? Forthe most part, most leaders don’t understand the true power of corporate culture and fail to understand how to change it dramatically. Theirattempts to change the culture only shift thinking and behavior temporarily, since executives fail to stay engaged with cultural change over theirtenure. The real leadership necessary for innovation to take root is both a clear strategy, well articulated and funded, as well as consistentlyengaged leaders who work to slowly shift the culture to a new way of thinking, incorporating innovation as a consistent part of the everydayactivities, rather than an occasional moonshot.Leaders don’t want to spend a lot of time on culture change, because they realize the work necessary to dramatically change a culture and theyfeel they don’t have the time or energy. While they may demand innovation activities, they won’t ultimately succeed at “making the firm moreinnovative” until the culture changes as well.
    • Which comes first?Which comes first then? Leadership or culture? Well, since the culture is a monolith made up of the expectations and behaviors of the entirecompany, few organizations can start there. Leaders engage experts and consultants to help improve innovation performance, and manyhonest innovation experts will frankly tell the leaders that while leaders can impact innovation activities, they can’t impact innovationengagement and sustainment without a focus on the culture. It’s easy to run innovation projects, which will be successful in the short run, butwhich ultimately don’t change the culture in the long run, and as soon as the leadership changes and priorities change, the culture reassertsitself and innovation is banished. Unless there is a string of leaders who are committed to innovation, or a significant burning platform forces anorganization to change, or a charismatic leader drags his company kicking and screaming into a new paradigm, its the culture that matters.And before you suggest that Jobs demonstrates that leaders matter, know this: Apple was probably a quarter or two from bankruptcy when hetook over. Jobs was a charismatic leader, yes, with a big vision, who rekindled the original culture at Apple, but he also had a significant burningplatform. Apple had to change, and to its credit it has remained an innovator. Time will tell whether that attitude has permeated the entireculture.image credit: pretty one 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.
    • A New Form of Crowdsourcing for Innovation:ProblemsourcingPosted on March 27, 2013 by Yannig RothAn increasing number of companies use crowdsourcing today, tasking the crowd tocome up with creative solutions to their corporate problems. But this open, company-initiated approach has drawbacks, like the uncertainty of crowd response, thetemporary nature of the relationship or the identity clash that can arise when there is apoor fit with the identity or culture of the organization. Researchers from New Zealandhave come up with an interesting twist to the crowdsourcing model: instead of having acompany asking the crowd for solutions, they had a government-owned R&Dorganization asking the crowd for problems (“What is Your Problem?“). Here are some learnings.When you ask a crowd for solutions, you benefit from a variety of things: access to a wide knowledge pool, generation of market or consumerinsights, fast and cost-effective problem-solving capabilities, buzz around your brand… The academic literature and popular press has coveredthe topic extensively (and you probably know it, too). However, you have du juggle with some issues: potential project delays, possibly few andpoor responses, the sporadic nature of the call for entries… Crowdsourcing might be good to solve problems and stimulate creativity, butseldmomly does it allow you to engage in deep interactions with crowd members (also see this article on co-creation and crowdsourcingbeing complementary).Crowdsourcing can be more time- and effort-intensive and the solution may not “stick” within thefirm because it was not in- ternally generated (Davenport et al., 2013)In a recent article, researchers from Victoria Business School in Wellington, New Zealand, suggest a solution. Instead of asking solutions,let organizations ask for problems. “We look at how an R&D organization in New Zealand developed a variant of crowdsourcing processes thataddresses some of the dilemmas identified above,” they explain in their paper, “we have termed this approach problem-oriented crowdsourcing,or “problemsourcing.” The example described in their article is the What’s Your Problem News Zealand? challenge, which was organizedby the government-owned R&D organization Industrial Research Limited (IRL), recently rebranded as Callaghan Innovation.
    • The "Call For Problems" on IRLs March/April 2009 issueIn 2009, IRL launched the “What’s Your Problem New Zealand?” competition by putting out an open invitation to all New Zealand firms todescribe their challenging R&D problems that would advance their business. IRL offered the winning firm $1 million worth of R&D services atits facilities. The competition involved two stages (in the first stage, applicants submitted a two-page proposal and completed a questionnaire; inthe second stage, the 10 finalists consulted with IRL experts to determine a possible path to solving their problem) and attracted over 100applicants. Paint manufacturer Resene’s “problem” was determined as that most likely to benefit from the application of IRL expertise and wasannounced as the competition winner. Employees of Resene Paints, a family-owned business with a strong commitment on producing environmentally friendly paintsResene proposed to develop a paint made of 80% sustainable ingredients, but the firm had been unable to find such a product on the market.The existing improvements in paint sustainability were small tweaks of current technology, but Resene wanted to challenge the fundamental
    • dependence on petrochemicals and hoped to make a superior paint for around 4/5 the price of competing sustainable paints. Yet, Resenelacked the necessary resources to develop it on its own, and therefore entered IRL problemsourcing competition.We had a clear idea of what we wanted. More than anything, we knew where the gap in the marketwas (Danusia Wypych, Resene’s technical manager)By January 2010, Resene announced that, with the help of IRL, the team had discovered the ingredient required to produce its environmentallyfriendly paint. By mid-2012, a novel binding ingredient had been developed and a patent application had been submitted. The marketperformance of the newly developped product has yet to be proven, but the researchers from Victoria Business School in Wellington saw theexperience as an innovation: “Whatever the eventuality for IRL and Resene, we believe that this case represents an interesting neworganizational manifestation of local open innovation, which is a variant of crowdsourcing for corporate R&D,” they conclude in their paper.What did the government organization IRL get out of this experiment? I asked Shaun Coffey, Chief Executive at IRL at the moment of theproblemsourcing initiative (“Shaun’s major legacy at IRL is a more creative science system and people with a keen focus in putting science towork in industry,” said the press release that announced him leaving IRL, which is clearly in line with the creative problemsourcing approach).Here are his enlightened answers:How did the “problemsourcing” idea come about?The idea for “IRLs What’s your Problem New Zealand?” originated as a project devised and developed by a cross-functional group of staff whowere participating in the companies Leadership Development Program. Each cohort completing the course was given a different corporateproblem or opportunity to consider and to come up with project ideas to address the problem. The “problem” giving to the groups in thisparticular cohort was how to better make potential client/customer companies more aware of the capabilities and services that IRL had to offer.What did IRL and, to a different extent, New Zealand, get out of this initiative?
    • The benefits of “IRLs What’s your Problem New Zealand?” have been seen in many areas. Of course, there was the winning project itself thatwas very successful from a commercial and a scientific perspective.There were many other outcomes. For IRL some these included (in no particular order): (a) the winning project has resulted in new businessand now opportunities for the company involved, and the development of new capabilities within IRL; (b) from all of the entrants, IRL was ableto accumulate a large amount of information about industry needs, and opportunities for future work; (c) the impact on morale and productivitywas positive, it build confidence right across the company about our ability to work with industry, and made recruitment easier (IRL was seen asan exciting place to work); (d) the contract pipeline grew measurably as a result of the new relationships developed; (e) a vastly raised publicprofile for IRL, a measurable increase in awareness of the organization and its work; (f) IRL was able to develop deeper and strongerpartnerships with private companies.For New Zealand, some of the benefits included: (a) a recognition that there was a large unmet demand for R&D in industry (b) a recognitionthat insufficient resources were been devoted to innovation in the manufacturing and services sectors ; (c) many individual companies identifiedand pursued innovation possibilities that they had not work on previously; (d) a better understanding of R&D and innovation developed. e. manyother research institutes and universities reported positive spin-offs from the project, and new partnerships between research organizations andprivate companies. f. the information gathered during the submission and analysis phase was a key part of successful proposals put by IRL tothe national government to create and advance technology institute with almost double the existing resources been devoted to manufacturing.Do you think the problemsourcing approach will be pursued at national and/or international scale?“IRLs What’s your Problem New Zealand?” was run on a national scale, and the model could be run at that scale, on a regional scale, on anindustry sector scale, or at a global scale. Other national projects have been spawned in NZ as a result – such as a project to enlist the generalpublic in identifying national science challenges.The problemsourcing is an original approach in the field of innovation. It requires an interested audience of applicants, with an openmindset for innovative thinking. Problemsourcing was a win/win for IRL and Resene, and it addressed many of the drawbacks of traditionalcrowdsourcing. But the research article also underlines that “A potential drawback of the competition format was that the losing finalists weredisappointed,” which is the case in most competitions! “We hope to find ways to get all of the 10 finalists’ ideas into proper business cases andthen funded in one way or another,” said IRL science group leader Richard Furneaux. We would be glad to hear about it!References: Davenport, S., Cummings, S., Daellenbach, U., & Campbell, C. (2013). Problemsourcing : Local Open Innovation for R & DOrganizations. Technology Innovation Management Review, (March 2013), 14–20. image credit: eYeka.com Yannig Roth graduated in marketing and is currently Research Fellow at eYeka and PhD student at University Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne in Paris (France). His main research interests are creative crowdsourcing and community co-creation. Yannig regularly blogs at http://yannigroth.wordpress.com
    • Inspiring Creativity in OthersPosted on March 25, 2013 by Jeffrey Baumgartner If you want to push others – such as colleagues, team members, children, students, sweethearts or friends – to be more creative, there are a few simple things you can do. Ask Questions The best thing you can do is ask lots of questions. In particular, ask open- ended questions (questions which require more than a “yes” or “no” answer). Answering questions makes people think, particularly if they believe you are genuinely interested in their answers. Hence you also need to acknowledge answers.“Why” and “Why do you think…” questions are particularly powerful and this is doubly true if the question relates to a problem for which you areseeking creative ideas. “Why do you think sales of our electronic toilet paper dispenser are so poor?” “Why do you think people do not separatetheir rubbish in this neighbourhood?” Such questions force people to use their imaginations in order to understand a problem, sometimes fromthe perspective of other people. This is great for creative thinking.Be ProvocativeI like provoking people. Not offending them – that doesn’t provoke. It simply offends. But provoking people forces them to questionassumptions, question the status quo and consider alternatives. For instance, if you are talking with a group of general practitioners, you mightsay, “I believe technology is reaching the point where, in a few years, robots and computers will be able to perform most routine medical work.”With bankers, you might suggest, “once mobile telephone payment systems become standardised, it will surely make cash, debit cards andcredit cards obsolete.” To a group of patriotic Americans, you could say, “Belgium makes better beer. Pity when we bought Budweiser, wedidn’t improve the taste of the beer!”Of course you have to be careful here. There is sometimes a very fine line between provoking a group of people and offending them. Arguingthat God does not exist to a group of fundamental Christians will only spark defensiveness and strong emotions rather than thoughtful debate.You would do better, with such a group, to question the meaning behind one of Jesus’s parables. Likewise, criticising a nationality, particularly ifyou are not a part of that nationality, generally offends. If an American tells a group of French executives that the French are lazy, the chancesare that the executives will simply stop listening. But if a French executive says the same thing, it would likely encourage debate on whether ornot it is true and if so, why. The French do love to intellectualise.Positive Reinforcement
    • If you are too critical of other people, particularly people who see you as some kind of authority (pupils to a teacher, children to a parent,subordinates to a boss), then those people change their behaviour towards you. They plan their actions to avoid criticism. This usually results incautious and secretive behaviour. People do not want to take risks that might be criticised or share thinking that might be rebuked. However,being cautious with your thinking is is effectively keeping your creativity to yourself. On the other hand, if you regularly compliment people andgive positive reinforcement, then the same people start acting to receive praise. This is more likely to encourage trying new things and sharingideas for encouragement.This does not mean that you should never criticise or that you should always praise, even when nothing praiseworthy has been done. Rather,do criticise when it is warranted. That will make your compliments more valued. More importantly, formulate criticism into something morepositive such as a suggestion. For instance, instead of telling your child, “you’ve left all the lights on upstairs. You know that wastes electricity!”Tell her, “please remember to turn the lights off when you come downstairs, that way we use less electricity and you know that is better for theenvironment.” Instead of telling a subordinate, “that PowerPoint presentation is not at all convincing. Try again” say, “That’s a good start, but weneed something really convincing to win the sale. Could you try to make it more compelling?” Can you feel the difference?Challenge PeopleWhen you do need to criticise, or positively reinforce people, sometimes adding a challenge can push people to think about solving problemswith new ideas – which is essentially what creativity is about. To a child, “You’ve lost your bus pass three times this month. What can we do toprevent this from happening in the future?”There is more on this theme, albeit in a business context, in my article on the 3Cs.InspireInspiration fuels creativity like few other things. Sometimes you can inspire people through your own actions. But, you need to find otherinspirations too. Introduce children to the books and authors who inspired you. Take them to art museums, theatre and other cultural places.But do not just take them. Many younger children will be bored in an art museum. So, talk about the paintings. Even with very young children,this is important. For instance, you might ask a very young child what she sees in a painting or how she thinks the sculpture feels.
    • With employees, you can also take them to cultural events or, better still, give them tickets and let them go themselves or with family. Sharearticles that have inspired you and suggest good books. When someone on your team has done something incredible, share it so that everyonecan be inspired.Be Delighted with CreativityWhen someone shares an idea with you, be delighted with it, even if you have doubts about the veracity of the idea. Be delighted even withsmall ideas. Be delighted with creative thinking. You can always review and improve the actual idea before implementing it. But if you aredelighted by creativity, then people will be delighted to be creative with you. Jeffrey Baumgartner is the author of the book, The Way of the Innovation Master; the author/editor of Report 103, a popular newsletter on creativity and innovation in business. He is currently developing and running workshops around the world on Anticonventional Thinking, a radical new approach to achieving goals through creativity — and an alternative to brainstorming.
    • The Venture Cafe at the Cambridge Innovation CenterPosted on March 22, 2013 by Jonny Hankins Every Thursday in Cambridge Massachusetts the Venture Cafe opens its doors to the innovation and start up community, so this week I went to check it out on behalf of the Bassetti Foundation and Innovation Excellence. The Venture cafe website has a calendar section that describes the event I attended, as well as those forthcoming and past. As described, the cafe hosts tables for individual meetings with lawyers, venture capital groups and other interested parties, as well as innovation competitions and this week an invitation to a green energy hackathon.Appointments are free, the tables have a schedule and an individual can sign up to as many as they like upon arrival.There are also several meeting rooms where different actors offer advice on everything related to start up management, money raising and ahost of other issues, as well as lectures delivered by leaders in the field. Again they are free to participate in and registration is done on site.The event is not only about information though, it is also about networking. The cafe has a bar and beer and wine is served free of charge.Anyone is allowed to visit the event 3 times before they are asked to become a contributor, and it takes place every Thursday. 3 is the magicnumber because it is also the number of free drinks an individual can have each week.One particularly interesting character was that of the doctor. A wooden visiting room was set up next to the bar, staffed by invited individualsthat have experience in the start up world or related fields. The logo above the door was very telling; Advice Booth, for the betterment of goodideas. I had the pleasure of a long conversation with Lisa Sasso of Medical Development Partners, and we entered into a real dialogueabout my work and the mission and goals of responsible innovation.Another interesting table was occupied by the TiE Challenge 2013, a start up accelerator that is looking for applications for a competitionwhose 5 winners gain year long mentorship, introduction to investors, office space and cash, to name but a few.
    • A second interesting table was occupied by the 2nd Boston Cleanweb Hackathon and Data Jam Challenge Competition. This event boastsa $25,000 prize pool, and competitors are asked to create an application that addresses energy issues. The Data Jam section of thecompetition focuses on transportation energy efficiency, all takes place between 5th and 7th of April in BostonThe atmosphere was very pleasant, people were open about their work and I spoke to many innovators, entrepreneurs and funders, and I cansee that the meeting could be a great resource for anyone looking for help in setting up or maintaining a start up business. The Venture Cafe issituated within the Cambridge Innovation Center, a complex that offers office space of all types to anyone who needs it.All in all I would say that the event is a great resource for anyone interested in innovation and the fast changing world of start ups.image credit: gabc-boston.org Jonny Hankins is a researcher and writer for the Bassetti Foundation for Responsible Innovation in Milan. Trained as a sociologist at the Victoria University of Manchester UK, his interests range from innovation in the renewable energy sector, bio and medical ethics and the role of politics in innovation, to questions of ethical and moral responsibility. He lives in Boston Massachusetts where he is also a professional musician, actor and street performer.
    • Tech is Destroying the Line between Manufacturing & ServicesPosted on March 25, 2013 by Saul Kaplan In his State of the Union Address, President Obama made a big deal about manufacturing jobs as a central part of his economic vision for the country. “Our first priority is making America a magnet for new jobs in manufacturing”, he proclaimed. I support the president’s aim and passion to revive manufacturing, but to accomplish it we first have to jettison industrial era thinking. The industrial era and the 7.1 million manufacturing jobs lost in the U.S. from 1979 to 2012 aren’t coming back. We must create new 21st century manufacturing jobs that leverage whatAmerica is great at, creativity and innovation. Manufacturing will grow in the U.S. when we accelerate the use of technology to increaseproductivity, enable new business models designed for mass customization and unleash the manufacturers in all of us.To begin, we need to recognize that manufacturing isn’t an industry sector, it’s a capability with plenty of opportunity for innovation. We takeindustry sector definitions for granted. As if industries were clubs with exclusive admission criteria and secret handshakes only revealed tocompanies that agree to play by understood rules. The industrial era was defined by clearly delineated industries, making it easy to identifywhich sector every company was competing in. It was all so gentlemanly really, as if competition was governed, like boxing, by a code ofgenerally accepted Marquess of Queensberry rules. Companies were all assigned a numerical Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code(now North American Industry Classification System, or NAICS) identifying which industry sector they fit in to.Those days are over. Industries don’t work that way any more, the industrial era isn’t coming back. Is Google a manufacturer or a serviceprovider or both? Their acquisition of Motorola Mobility and U.S. production of the Nexus Q home media player suggest Google is serious aboutbuilding manufacturing capability. Is Apple a manufacturer or a service provider or both? It’s hard to tell the difference between a manufacturerand a service provider and the distinction is limiting. Today the lines are blurring. Think iPod. Apple didn’t bring the first MP3 player to themarket. It changed the way we experienced music by delivering on a value proposition that bundled product (iPod) and service (iTunes). Appledidn’t view the competition as other product manufacturers. Apple is a market maker not a share-taker.Industrial-era thinking and NAICS industry codes force companies into characterizing their business models as being either product- or service-focused. This is a false choice. Making a product doesn’t define the market a company is creating or competing in. Describing a business as amanufacturer immediately constrains business model innovation opportunities. If we want to bring back manufacturing we have to start bychanging our thinking about manufacturing.Once we realize that manufacturing is a capability we can get on with democratizing it. We can all be manufacturers. In the State of the UnionAddress President Obama announced his plan for a $1 billion investment to build a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation composed of
    • fifteen advanced manufacturing hubs. To bring manufacturing back to the U.S. we don’t need fifteen hubs, we need fifteen million makerscreating stuff.It won’t be long before everyone will have access to a 3D printer. Talk about democratized manufacturing capability. Armed with a 3D printer,individual makers can create their own digital design for any imagined object or borrow a design from anywhere around the world. By simplypressing a button makers can set a 3D printer into motion rendering the physical object with layers of plastic or other material right before theireyes. What was science fiction ten years ago is reality today. It wasn’t long ago we listened to the whir of a dot-matrix printer spitting outdocuments from our computers, now a 3D printer renders any object we can dream up the same way. With the magic of 3D printing capabilitywe are all manufacturers, constrained only by our imaginations.I agree with President Obama that our national mantra should be to make more stuff. I just think the effort should be less top-down and morebottom-up. The maker movement is already in full swing. If you want to witness it first hand just go to one of the 60 community Maker Fairesbeing held around the world in 2013. Maker Faires are all-age community gatherings of makers. They are part science fair, part county fair, andpart something entirely new. 165,000 people attended the two flagship Maker Faires in the Bay Area and New York in 2012. If you go, prepareto be blown away by an infectious passion to make things, creativity to hack and reassemble the parts and a do-it-yourself (DIY) fire in the bellythat won’t be stopped.A maker movement is already happening across the country. Imagine if instead of looking for top down solutions in a small number ofmanufacturing hubs we encouraged the bottom up maker momentum emerging in every community. Less push, more pull. We can all bemanufacturers.This post originally appeared on the Fortune site here. Saul Kaplan is the author of The Business Model Innovation Factory. He is the founder and chief catalyst of the Business Innovation Factory (BIF) in Providence, RI, and blogs regularly at It’s Saul Connected. Follow him on Twitter at @skap5.
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