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Innovation Excellence Weekly - Issue 10


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We are proud to announce our tenth 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

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Innovation Excellence Weekly - Issue 10

  1. 1. December 7, 2012
  2. 2. Issue 10 – December 7, 2012 1. Elite Access: Design Insight & Foresight.................................………….. Donna Sturgess 2. Who is Your Innovation Czar? ………………………….…………….…….…. Rowan Gibson 3. Innovation – Activity, Tool, or Competence? …………………...…..……… Jeffrey Phillips 4. Idea Stormers .........................……………………………………….....………..…. Peter Cook 5. 5 Signs You’re Not as Smart As You Think .……………………..……………… Mike Myatt 6. 6Ps of Radical Innovation for Large Companies – #6 PEOPLE ..……. Kevin McFarthing 7. Innovation is Action. Get Up, Get Out, Go be an Entrepreneur. ……….... Dean DeBiase 8. The Best Strategic Thinkers – 5 Sure Characteristics …………….……...….. Mike Brown 9. Brainstorming versus Braincalming ……………….………………….…….….. Mitch Ditkoff 10. Focus Entrepreneurship Policy on Scale-Up, Not Start-Up …………..… Daniel Isenberg 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: Wikimedia
  3. 3. Elite Access: Design Insight & ForesightPosted on December 2, 2012 by Donna SturgessThought leaders in the design community are raising the bar and sharing their unfiltered views and behind-the scene stories around problems,opportunities and challenges that businesses face today as they stretch and grow their brands. These elite perspectives are now availablethrough a new Designer Showcase to connect innovators and brand leaders to the best design thinking around the world.The Showcase also represents another growing need that manybusinesses have which is to get beneath the buzzwords and create awhole new level of dialogue to make designers and their thinkingmore accessible to internal teams — marketers, engineers,researchers, and the rest of the organization. Seeing this need acrosstheir customers, Avery Dennison Materials Group has taken a step tosupport a more transparent and open design conversation by hostingthis Designer Showcase. If you aren’t aware, Avery Dennison is a 75plus- year -old global manufacturer of packaging materials that cover,coat, protect, label and enhance brand packaging.
  4. 4. Whether you are a champion or novice of great design on your business, the power of design is something every innovator must understandand leverage. Translating a brand’s essence into great form, function, expression and communication has a significant financial payoff becauseit can drive differentiation in a category as well as deepen the customer’s emotional connection with a brand. The new Designer Showcase is available at your fingertips. Whether you are looking for advice on the latest packaging materials or seeking creative stimulation from others on topics like sustainability and shelf appeal, you will find it on the Designer Showcase. The Showcase curates conversation with top-flight designers and design students to produce insight, offer perspective and generally chew the fat about design. The Showcase is the first of its kind to link design, innovation, packaging and materials together in one vertical resource. This initiative is a collaboration between the design community and Avery Dennison to integrate high-qualitythinking around materials and design. According to Judy Abelman of Avery Dennison, “The Designer Showcase is a way for us to learn fromdesigners about their needs for innovative packaging materials and to work together to better serve our customers who want to create excitingnew products and experiences.”The inaugural issue of the Designer Showcase features Debbie Millman of Sterling Brands talking about her favorite packaging and her petpeeves. Each issue will feature a new designer and their unique points of view. As you navigate around the site you will find global perspectivesas seen on the street through the eyes of design students and resources available to connect to technical resources or information you maydesire on packaging and materials.Shortening the information pathways from raw materials through design and innovation is a route for innovators to create new products with thelatest materials and access to the technical know-how to produce them within your production requirements. The Showcase is a spectacularresource to put all that your team needs in one place to drive remarkable thinking and innovation. Spread the word!Check out the video -’t miss an article (5,000+) – Subscribe to our RSS feed and join our Innovation Excellence group! Donna Sturgess is the President and Co-founder of Buyology Inc and former Global Head of Innovation for GlaxoSmithKline. Her latest book is Eyeballs Out: How To Step Into Another World, Discover New Ideas, and Make Your Business Thrive. Follow on Twitter: @donnasturgess
  5. 5. Who is Your Innovation Czar?Posted on December 1, 2012 by Rowan GibsonWhere should innovation reside?It never ceases to amaze me. I’m meeting with the executive committee of amajor global company. I’ve just asked if innovation is one of their top strategicpriorities. Their unanimous answer is “yes”. I then ask about their individualresponsibilities. “Which one of you is the CFO?” “Who is head of HR?” “Where’sthe CIO?” One by one their hands go up. Yet when I ask to see their globaldirector of innovation, nobody raises a hand. Everyone just looks at me with ablank expression. So, sure, this company understands the innovation imperative.But nobody in its leadership team is directly responsible – or accountable – formaking innovation happen across the organization. And they don’t even seem tobe aware of the paradox.Consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton made an astute observation after interviewing thousands of senior executives about corporate innovation.Their conclusion was this: ‘Of all the core functions of most companies, innovation may be managed with the least consistency and discipline.’Some of course would argue that this makes sense. That innovation is, by definition, a creative process – a mysterious mix of happenstance,individual brilliance, and the occasional bolt of lightning. How could it possibly be managed? Business guru Tom Peters appears to share thisview. Tom announced not so long ago that “‘Innovation process’ is an oxymoronic phrase, believed only by morons with ox-like brains.”I’d rather side with Peter Drucker, who wrote – already back in the 1980s – about “the systematic practice of innovation”, and arguedmasterfully that innovation is a discipline that can and should be managed just like any other corporate function. What worries me is that, today,over two decades later, organizations still assign responsible people to every other core function of a company except innovation. And thenthey wonder why they just can’t seem to make innovation happen in a profitable and sustainable way. Ask yourself: how many innovation managers do we currently have in our own organization? Perhaps your immediate reaction is to point to a department like R&D or New Product Development. The executives running those departments are innovation managers, aren’t they? And what about the people in charge of other innovation units like incubators, new venture divisions, or Skunk Works? Surely these are innovation managers, you might reason. And, at some level, you would be right. But confining innovation to these traditional structures is usually counter-productive.Putting innovation out on the periphery reinforces several erroneous and persistent views. One is that innovation is something that happens atthe margins, not in the core business. Another is that innovation is the responsibility of a small cadre of experts, not something that shouldinvolve everyone else at the company – and even people on the outside. Still another is that innovation is mostly about new products and
  6. 6. technologies, not about breakthroughs in cost structures, processes, services, customer experiences, management systems, competitivestrategies, and business models.Instead of trying to manage innovation by forcing it to reside in a disconnected silo or enclave, where it neither involves nor infects the rest ofthe organization, companies should be trying to embed innovation as an ‘all-the-time, everywhere’ capability that permeates the entire firm.To make innovation a pervasive and corporate-wide capability, the responsibility for innovation needs to be broadened beyond conventionalstructures and spread throughout a company’s businesses and functions. This is exactly what happened to quality in the 1970s and 1980swhen it ceased to be the exclusive responsibility of a specific department, and instead, became distributed to every corner of the company.What is required today is a similarly systemic infrastructure for innovation that starts at the corporate level and infiltrates every part of theorganization chart. An infrastructure that makes managers accountable at all levels for driving, facilitating, and embedding the innovationprocess into every nook and cranny of the culture.Let’s go back to the executive committee meeting. When I ask which of theleaders is globally responsible for innovation – in all its forms – I expect theCEO to say, “That’s me.” Building a deep, self-sustaining enterprisecapability for innovation is something so vital to the destiny of the firm that itabsolutely has to be spearheaded by the CEO. We see this happening rightnow in several of the world’s biggest and best-known companies, whereinnovation is being driven directly from the top. Steve Jobs at Apple, JeffImmelt at GE, Sam Palmisano at IBM, and Alan Lafley at P&G are just afew examples. These leaders have clearly taken on the role of ChiefInnovation Officer at their respective firms.What I’d next like to see is another hand being raised – this time the COO.I’d like that executive to tell me that he or she has been appointed as thechief architect of innovation embedment at the firm – responsible for making innovation happen from an operational perspective, just as the
  7. 7. company succeeded in making quality happen. And I’d like him or her to proudly hold up an organization chart that shows me the company’sinnovation infrastructure. I want to see a global vice president of innovation – an ‘Innovation Czar’- someone who reports directly to the CEO asthe firm’s leading innovation practitioner. I want to see an innovation council, made up of the company’s top business unit leaders, thatmanages innovation embedment and new growth activities across the organization.Beyond that, I want to see regional vice presidents of innovation, who work with the respective regional heads in a visible and senior position. Inaddition, there should be ‘Innovation Boards’ – in the regions as well as in the business units – comprised of senior leaders who manage andadvance the innovation process at the local level. And the firm should also have hundreds of part-time ‘Innovation Mentors’, along with dozensof full-time ‘Innovation Consultants’, who have been intensely trained to coach and support would-be innovators, helping them push their ideasforward, and who work closely with the company’s divisions to stoke the fires of innovation by actively monitoring and managing the pipelineprocess.Sound like a daydream? Not to me. I’ve actually seen innovation infrastructures similar to this one in more companies than you might think. Sowhen I ask you how many innovation managers you have in your own organization, this is the kind of innovation management I’m talking about.Take a good look around your firm. Who exactly is in charge of managing innovation as a core corporate function? Does your firm have an‘Innovation Czar’? If not, isn’t it time your top leadership team appointed one?Don’t miss an article (5,000+) – Subscribe to our RSS feed and join our Innovation Excellence group! Rowan Gibson is widely recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on enterprise innovation. He is co-author of the bestseller Innovation to the Core and a much in-demand public speaker around the globe. On Twitter he is @RowanGibson
  8. 8. Innovation – Activity, Tool or Competence?Posted on December 1, 2012 by Jeffrey PhillipsThere is significant, and often damaging, dissonance about what innovation“is” and how it can be deployed effectively. Innovation is something everybusiness wants, but most aren’t quite sure how to plan or implementinnovation effectively. Innovation exemplars like Apple seem to be able tospin out exciting new products and services on a consistent basis, withminimal effort and maximum gain. Yet for many organizations, confusionreigns. Is innovation an occasional activity? Is it simply a set of tools? Is it amindset or something that should be embedded in the corporate culture?Can it be harnessed effectively? Every management team is grappling withthese questions. The answers will determine how successful your firm is in the long run.Innovation is, unfortunately, a buzzword, meaning that the user defines the word in his or her own context, and often the hearer defines theword in a different context. We’ve been told that innovation created the success at Apple, and that innovation is also responsible for many“failures”. We’ve been told there are many innovation tools and techniques – Voice of the Customer, ethnography, idea generation. We’ve beenintroduced to innovation management, software to capture and distribute ideas. Open innovation is now in vogue, as a way to gather ideas fromcustomers and partners. I often imagine that the land rush to settle Oklahoma looked a lot like what innovation does in the business worldtoday. Everyone rushing to stake a claim, with little in common.So, let’s answer the titular questions. Yes, innovation is an activity. Any business unit or product group can engage in innovation to create anew product, new service or new business model. Occasional innovation is the most frequently practiced, and one of the most difficult, becausewhen innovation is attempted, it is often in response to a significant new need or gap in offerings. This means that the firm is attempting newtechniques (innovation) in the face of significant threats. What do we typically revert to when something precious to us is threatened? Certaintyand trusted tools. Trying to innovate occasionally in the face of significant risk or change is akin to placing a novice on the back of a buckingbronco. The ride will be short, painful and the rider is likely to be trampled in the end.Innovation is a tool, or, more distinctly, a set of tools, each of which can provide tremendous value when used appropriately. I was recentlytalking to a potential client who described their “front end” as consisting of “voice of the customer”. While “voice of the customer” can be auseful tool for customer insights, it is simply one possible tool for customer insight. Further, the “front end” encompasses much more discoveryand insight than voice of the customer. Using only one tool or technique is like describing a room while looking through a keyhole. Using onlyone tool or technique is probably more dangerous than beneficial. Innovation is a collection of tools and techniques. When applied correctly andin the appropriate order, they can create incredible insights. Used poorly or ineffectively, they are no better than guesswork.Eventually, many organizations discover than innovation should be a core competence. This requires, of course, careful definitions andstrategic alignment at the highest reaches of the organization, and a defined set of innovation tools structured in a manner to provide valuable
  9. 9. outcomes. It requires people who understand the importance of innovation and who don’t face obstacles and threats when they attempt toinnovate. When we look in envy at 3M or Apple or Google, we often look past the investments that led to innovate success, and seek to pointout the tools, or techniques, or individual leaders, that seem to create the success. It’s all of that, and none of that. The success of any capableinnovator ultimately resides in the understanding that innovation requires continual focus, an engaged culture, people who understand and useinnovation tools and insights successfully. In other words, the best innovators understand that innovation is an activity, a set of tools, but mostimportantly, a competence.You can achieve that competence through strategic alignment within your business. Paul Hobcraft and I have defined an innovation workmatapproach to help senior leaders align their goals and build innovation frameworks to sustain innovation as a core competency.image credit: blocks image from bigstockDon’t miss a post (5,000+) – Subscribe to our RSS feed and join our Innovation Excellence group! 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 “Make us more Innovative”, and
  10. 10. Idea StormersPosted on December 1, 2012 by Peter CookI have recently come into contact with Bryan Mattimore, a fellow creativity and innovationauthor based in the US. Bryan has just released a new book called Idea Stormers, How toLead and Inspire Creative Breakthroughs ( I interviewed Bryan on someimportant questions facing business leaders.Tell me about your work in corporate creativity and innovation?My company, Growth Engine, works primarily on new product development assignments forpackage-goods companies; but we have worked in a wide variety of other industries andassignments as well. For instance, we recently helped a large U.S. bank generate and launchseveral services they feel have the potential to “re-invent banking.” We also helped GoodMorning America create new programming ideas; and have just taken on a project for aFortune 100 company to create and market new health care products in developing countriesaround the world.Our two points of difference in our innovation work are that: 1) we use customized/state-of-the art ideation techniques – many of which we haveinvented ourselves – to address specific creative challenges, and 2) we use consumers and customers at every stage of the new productdevelopment process to help generate, develop and validate new ideas.You mention disruptive innovation in the book. Everyone is talking about that. Give me some examples of how to be disruptivewithout being dysfunctional?When Clayton Christensen coined the term “disruptive innovation” he was thinking, of course, about how companies can disrupt – or bedisrupted by – new innovations in their industry. Many companies say they want to disrupt an industry or category – and create somethingentirely new because it’s sexy and the profit margins, at least initially, are so good. But when push comes to shove, most companies don’t reallywant to create disruptive innovations. Why? Because creating something disruptive to a category, can also disrupt their own organization. It’shard work, fraught with difficult challenges and dead ends, and expensive. It often involves having to create new brands, new manufacturingprocesses, hiring differently-skilled workers, and/or pioneering new distribution systems. Ironically, the easiest part of creating a disruptive ideamay be coming up with the idea itself.Contrast this with creating a “less-than-disruptive” innovation… which will be easier to make and market, but which may be very difficult toconceive of the original, “Big Idea.” Case in point was when Kraft asked us to help them invent a new OREO; and not just a flavor or seasonalvariety… a truly new/original OREO idea. This is not an easy. For one, the OREO cookie has been around for 100 years, and so it’s hard to finda truly original idea. There are also some very important brand equities that act as “creative constraints.” Is an OREO an OREO if it doesn’t
  11. 11. have some sort of cream filling? Probably not! So, it should be acknowledged that it often takes a great deal of imagination and creativity togenerate a truly original idea, even if it’s “only” for a non-disruptive one!What is your take on the relationship between techniques for ideation and just facilitating new conversations?Ideating breakthrough new ideas, when done right, is a strategically-directed activity with well-defined parameters and success criteria. We callit “focused ideation.” If you think this is oxymoronic, you are of course, correct. I spend a great deal of time trying to resolve an essentialparadox: inventing focused ideation techniques that will help inspire new ideas that are at once strategically aligned AND non-obvious.What can and should leaders do to create the conditions for an innovative enterprise?We created a phrase to capture how we think about this: “You don’t innovate by changing the culture you change the culture by innovating.”What this means is that, paradoxical as it might sound, if a leader really wants to create a creative culture, the last thing that leader shouldfocus on is “creating that culture.” Rather, he or she should identify a few divisions, groups, and/or teams; devote the resources (talent, funding)and political protection/support to help them innovate; and get them to work innovating. An innovative enterprise (and a creative culture) shouldbe thought of as an an effect, not a cause of well… actually being innovative.I like the idea that you can create internal culture change by using the innovation imperative – much better than endless hand wring,HR surveys and focus groups by the way. There are times when its necessary to focus internally, but an external need is often amuch better ‘burning platform’.What one thing in your experience should companies STOP doing in order to be more innovative?Stop talking and start doing. Forget the slogans. Forget the mentions by the CEO in the annual report how important innovation will be to thecompany’s future. Forget “creativity rooms.” And forget suggestion boxes. (Sorry, that’s more than one!)I’m OK with that. My pet hate is creativity rooms, as if it can and should all be contained in there.
  12. 12. How can people find out more about what you can do for them?Reading my new book: Idea Stormers, How to Lead and Inspire Creative Breakthroughs (Wiley Jossey-Bass) will tell them a lot. They’ll see,from the range of creative challenges I include in the book, the creative techniques and innovation processes used to address thesechallenges, and the successes that resulted, how wide our creative/problem-solving range can be.If someone has a specific question or creative challenge, they can e-mail me at:, or call me in the US: 203-857-4494.image credit:’t miss an article (5,000+) – Subscribe to our RSS feed or Innovation Excellence Weekly newsletter (sample). Peter Cook is Rock’nRoll Innovation Editor at Innovation Excellence. He leads Human Dynamics and The Academy of Rock, and provides Keynote speaking, Organisation Development and Business Coaching. You can follow him on twitter @Academyofrock and contact him for a copy of his book Punk Rock Business.
  13. 13. 5 Signs You’re Not As Smart As You ThinkPosted on December 3, 2012 by Mike MyattMy question is this: Is your intellect an asset or liability? All one has todo is watch a very bright person defend their position to understandwhat I’m driving at with today’s post. Observing intelligent peoplelecture, spin, posture, position, cajole, argue, rationalize, or justify theirbeliefs in order to “get the win” is often times entertaining, but it canalso be exceedingly frustrating.I’ve come across more than a few self-proclaimed “intelligent” peoplewho believe their intellectual acuity is far superior to the discernment oftheir peers and co-workers. Not only are these intellectual giantsusually wrong, but sadly, by the time they awaken to a state of reality itis already too late. In the text that follows, I’ll share the keys to leveraging your intellectual assets as opposed to having your intelligence serveas a barrier to your success…While leadership intelligence doesn’t have to be an oxymoron, it certainly can be. When a person begins to believe their own smoke, they haveplaced themselves on a very slippery slope. I believe there is truth in the statement “a person can be too smart for their own good.” How manytimes have you witnessed a very bright person fail to solve a problem a younger, less experienced, and perhaps even a less intelligent personsolved with seemingly little effort? While raw intelligence is a valuable commodity, in-and-of-itself, and to the exclusion of other traits andcharacteristics, the sole reliance on IQ can be a barrier to professional growth and maturity.Is your intellect standing in the way of your success? Are you so enamored with how smart you are you can’t get anything done? Consider this;is it more important to be right, or to achieve the right outcome? I tend to respect those who can lead others to the proper outcome as opposedto those who excoriate others just to prove they’re right. If your certitude overshadows your wisdom, you may want to dial it back a notch…By nature of what I do for a living I tend to work with very bright people. It has been my observation hyper-intelligent people can tend to thinkthemselves into trouble and out of opportunities with great ease. Whenever I find myself discussing issues of intellect, ego, leadership, etc., I’malways reminded of the cartoon which reads: “Rule number one: the boss is always right. Rule number two: when in doubt refer to rule numberone.” If you find yourself rationalizing or justifying positions based solely upon intellectual reasoning without regard to culture, practical realities,timing, or other contextual considerations, you may be too smart for your own good. Just as a lack of belief in gravity won’t prevent you fromfalling, simply believing a particular opinion or theory to be fact doesn’t mean it is.Often times the problem with intelligent people lies simply in the fact they have come to enjoy being right. Bright people can quickly findthemselves in the position of confusing ego with intellect, and can sometimes defend ideas to the death rather than admit they’re wrong. Smartleaders fear being wrong more than being proven wrong. Winning an argument isn’t particularly difficult, but it may come at a very expensive
  14. 14. price. This confusion of ego and intellect often stems from successfully arguing wrong positions over time such that they’ve built their personaaround being right, and will therefore defend their perfect record of invented righteousness to the death. Smart people often fall into the trap ofpreferring to be right even if it’s based in delusion.So how do you know when you’ve crossed over to the dark-side and can’t tellthe difference between fact and fiction? The following 5 items will help youdiscern whether or not you are using your intellect properly, or whether you’vejust simply bought-off on your own propaganda:1. Consistent Conflict: Do you find yourself in a perpetual state of debate? Doyou find yourself thinking “why am I the only one who gets it?” Is it moreimportant for you to be right than to arrive at the correct resolution to an issue,problem or opportunity? Are you known as a bitter, pessimistic or negativeperson? If any of these issues describe situations that hit too close to home then you may want to take a step back and do some self-evaluation.2. Lack Professional Growth: I’ve often said it’s impossible for stagnant leaders to sustain growing organizations. If you prefer to rest on yourlaurels rather than continullay stretch your mind you’re in for a rude awakening. Warning: Leaders who don’t develop themselves professionallywill be replaced by those who do.3. Exclusivity vs. Inclusivity: Do you use your intelligence to intimidate and stifle others, or to encourage, inspire and motivate others? Do youwonder why you can’t seem to retain tier one talent or why you lose key clients? If your brilliance is polarizing as opposed to engaging, thenhow smart are you really?4. True Success: If an independent third party interviewed your peers and subordinates alike, what would that feedback look like? Do otherssee you as successful, or are you merely a legend in your own mind? What I think of myself is not nearly as important as what my family,friends, clients, and co-workers think of me. If those you surround yourself with don’t hold you in high regard, then you have no reason to.
  15. 15. 5. You’re Too Busy: Saying “I’m too busy for _________” is code for you don’t value whatever __________ is. Smart leaders are never toobusy to make good decisions, to invest in people, to listen, or to learn. The job of a leader is to understand the value of creating and leveragingwhite space both personally and organizationally.Bonus: You’re A Bad Listener: Stop worrying about what you’re going to say and focus on what’s being said. Don’t listen to have youropinions validated or your ego stroked, listen to be challenged and to learn something new. You’re not always right, so stop pretending youknow everything and humble yourself to others. If you desire to be listened to, then give others the courtesy of listening to them. It’s important toremember you should never be too busy to listen. Anyone can add value to your world if you’re willing to listen. How many times have youdismissed someone because of their station or title when what you should have done was listen? Wisdom doesn’t just come from peers andthose above you – it can come from anywhere at anytime, but only if you’re willing to listen. Expand your sphere of influence and learn fromthose with different perspectives and experiences – you’ll be glad you did.The bottom line is this…the gift of intellect is an asset to be thankful for, and put to good and productive use. It is not an excuse to be lazy,arrogant, mean-spirited or delusional. Don’t let your intellect stand in your way, but rather use it as an asset to develop those around you totheir full potential thereby increasing your chances for long-term success.Thoughts?Don’t miss an article (5,000+) – Subscribe to our RSS feed or join us on LinkedIn or Facebook. Mike Myatt, is a Top CEO Coach, author of “Leadership Matters…The CEO Survival Manual“, and Managing Director of N2Growth.
  16. 16. 6Ps of Radical Innovation for Large Companies – #6 PEOPLEPosted on December 4, 2012 by Kevin McFarthingHow do large companies pursue radical innovation, the kind of new productthat changes or creates a market? In my first blog I summarized the 6Ps, atemplate that I believe could help to increase the output of game-changinginnovation. Since then I’ve covered PERSPECTIVE, POTENTIAL,PROTOTYPES, PARTITION and PERSISTENCE. The last “P” is PEOPLE,and in my view the most important one.Any company can put structures, processes and investment in place tosupport innovation. These do not create competitive advantage; they aresimply qualifiers that allow you to play the innovation game. The differentiating factors derive from the people themselves and theirinventiveness, passion and drive to succeed. It is key to put the right people in the right positions and give them senior level support.As Peter Sims says, the main enemy of creativity is fear of failure. If people are unwilling or feel unable to suggest or try new things, nothing“bottom up” will happen. All the options for radical innovation will be “top down” and the rest of the people in the company will simple executewhat they are told to do, without ownership and probably without passion. So the first thing the large company needs to do is to create time,space and support for people to explore their creativity and come up with proposals for radical innovation. This is not just to create new ideas,but also to enable those that already exist to be put into a format that explores the business potential.There is a massive difference between failure and learning. If people try something new and it doesn’t work, that’s not failure, they have justlearned what doesn’t work (thank you Edison). If they consistently repeat the same failed experiment, that’s the time to start worrying. Howeverthe concept of punishment for failure is totally the wrong approach to radical innovation. Stefan Lindegaard and Hutch Carpenter came up withthe concept of “Smartfailing”, where the idea is to get to a decision point quickly and cheaply to understand which aspects of a product, orindeed the whole thing, will not work. Stefan has selected some good reading on the topic in a recent blog.Almost by definition, a radical innovation project is less likely to get to market than one that addresses a more certain incremental growthopportunity. This creates a challenge given that career progression depends primarily on what people achieve. In the context of innovation, keycareer questions are “what have you launched?” and “how much money does it make?” If a highly talented innovation professional answersthese questions with “nearly” answers because they’ve worked on tough radical innovation projects, they may struggle to make the samecareer progress in large companies as those with ready answers.This challenge is less of an issue in those industries with long product and project lifecycles, and where large parts of the company are set upto deal with radical innovation, for example in aerospace and pharmaceuticals. In sectors like consumer goods, there is often little incentive forthe brightest and best to risk the next step on the career ladder by moving into an area where they may have nothing tangible to show for it.
  17. 17. So how do you give people an incentive? The first place to start is with the right people, the ones who will be motivated and fired up by thechallenge – the intrapreneurs. Entrepreneurs drive successful startups, and the intrapreneur is the closest thing the large company can have.According to a recent blog by Lisa Quast, intrapreneurs have the following characteristics;- Knowledge of the internal and external environment;- Visionary and willing to challenge the status quo;- Diplomatic and able to lead cross-functional teams;- Able to build a professional support network;- Able to persevere, even in the face of uncertainty.I’d also add that usually they are curious and creative, and often regarded as rebels or non-conformers.It is also important to define the career path for intrapreneurs. There must be an answer to the “what’s in it for me?” question. If for some reasonthey are excluded from the “normal” ladder in their discipline, they must still see a route forward to senior positions. After all, they are usuallyvery talented and will have the ability to seriously influence the culture and direction of a company if they reach an executive position.Large companies need people with courage and drive to take real ownership of radical innovation projects. To do this, support from anexecutive sponsor and, ideally, the CEO is crucial. If it matters to the person at the top, it will automatically get support further down.What if the large company doesn’t have people with the right profile and attitude? Open Innovation can really help, but isn’t the total answer toimplementing radical innovation in the market place. It’s imperative to increase the diversity and background of people in innovation leadershippositions, as I pointed out in a recent blog – don’t recruit innovators using the mirror. This has benefits for both creativity and execution.The company and individuals involved with radical innovation also need to reassess their appetite for, and tolerance to risk. Incrementalinnovation is safer and easier (not necessarily safe and easy) and presents a different risk profile. Key to this is having the right perspective andpotential for radical innovation; changing the risk profile doesn’t make a company reckless.
  18. 18. In summary, people are the most important factor in driving radical innovation in large companies, particularly if the company can;- Clearly distinguish failure and learning, and promote Smartfailing;- Identify and support the intrapreneurs;- Provide a clear incentive for people to pursue radical innovation;- Recruit for diversity.Finally, as I discussed in another blog, if the large company wants to build an innovation culture, the priority should be on the right actions, noton the objective of the culture per se. If the people actions above are followed through, one day you’ll wake up and find you have an innovationculture. And you’ll be launching successful radical innovations.Good luck!image credit: business people image from bigstockDon’t miss an article (5,000+) – Subscribe to our RSS feed and join our Innovation Excellence group! Kevin McFarthing runs the Innovation Fixer consultancy, helping companies to improve the output and efficiency of their innovation, and to implement Open Innovation. He spent 17 years with Reckitt Benckiser in innovation leadership positions, and also has experience in life sciences.
  19. 19. Innovation is Action. Get Up, Get Out, Go be an Entrepreneur.Posted on December 1, 2012 by Dean DeBiaseAfter talking with hundreds of startup teams around the world, from the ones we are accelerating at 1871 inChicago to a new stealth startup in India, I have found that, sometimes the best advice is to tell them to stopmeeting so often at their favorite cafe/coffee shop, and instead, get out there and work on the actual startupidea! Waiting until everything is “just right” can be a entrepreneurial trap. In reality, is OK to shift and pivotalong the way–some of the most successful startups have. A great Sketchbook video from our friends atKauffman Foundation puts this into a simple perspective…”just go be an entrepreneur”. Enjoy!Watch video here -’t miss an article (5,000) – Subscribe to our RSS feed and join our Innovation Excellence group! A serial CEO and innovation speaker, Dean DeBiase is the Chairman and CEO of, co-founder of and Innovation Excellence, and a co-author of The Big Moo.
  20. 20. The Best Strategic Thinkers – 5 Sure CharacteristicsPosted on December 5, 2012 by Mike BrownWhen it comes to determining the best strategic thinkers to invite into strategic planning efforts, theeasy and frequent decision is rattling off a list of people based on titles and positions in anorganization or team. There’s a lot more to being a strong strategic thinker, however, than one’sorganizational position. Consider looking for these five characteristics among strategic planningparticipants. The best strategic thinkers should be:1. Open to valuable perspectives from multiple sourcesSome elements of strong strategic thinking can certainly be enhanced by seniority. Importantly though, great strategic thinking is about the rightcombination of three diverse perspectives: front-line organizational experience, broad functional knowledge, and creative energy. These threemindsets are important because each will process and develop strategic perspectives in different ways.People with front-line experience help frame and ground business issues. Those with functional knowledge of key business processesunderstand important capabilities. Creative people see and address opportunities in unconventional ways.Any of these groups, working by themselves, will create a strategic direction lacking in some essential way. Working together, there’s thepotential for game-changing moves.Some people have one of these perspectives; others have two or all three. No matter how many one has, the more open someone is toconsidering perspectives he or she doesn’t possess, the stronger their strategic thinking skills.2. Adept at incorporating both logic and emotion into their thinkingWhile there’s often an organizational premium placed on left brain thinking – the quantitative, analytical, logical processing that moves towarddefinitive answers – strong strategic thinkers need both a left brain and a right brain orientation. Right brain thinking incorporates a qualitative,connecting, and a more abstract view of market threats and opportunities.Rarely do important organizational and market changes succeed or fail solely through an analytical and logic-based business case. Hardnumbers may win the day for selling new ideas in the executive suite, but when it comes to successful implementation, emotions such as fear,hope, passion, and frustration are vital in moving people to embrace major change.If a strategic thinking team only depends on logic and does not incorporate emotion, the strategy it develops will be lacking a vital component.3. Comfortable thinking in ways extending beyond today’s reality
  21. 21. You can’t afford to have people masquerading as strategic thinkers who cannot think outside today’s reality. Solid strategic thinkers have to beable to free themselves from today to consider multiple possibilities for how your organization’s course may play out in the future.But that’s only half the story.When trying to view a current situation dramatically differently, people need to be able to think in ways that have only loose connections to whattoday actually looks like. Effective strategic planning exercises force thinking along new paths and incorporate unexpected twists and thinkingdetours. This SHOULD make people uncomfortable with their standard ways of thinking. A strong strategic thinker is fine with that. A strategicthinking wannabe won’t be able to go along for the unexpected ride. It’s vital to hone a strategic team’s openness to what may today seemimpossible or preposterous; that’s where tomorrow’s innovation will likely originate.4. Constantly questioning both the familiar and the newMany people are fine questioning what they don’t support.As a result, you have people clamoring for change who are excited to question everything about the status quo. People who are completelycomfortable with just the way things are right now suddenly discover their questioning mojos when the possibility of dramatic change rears itshead.The best strategic thinkers question yesterday, today, tomorrow, and everything in the future. Additionally, the more they explore strategicoptions, the more new questions they generate. Strategic thinking is about exploration. If it’s fruitful exploration, the best strategic thinkers areokay with the new strategic paths they uncover being laden with new questions.5. Open to not answering or resolving every strategic issueThis characteristic goes hand in hand with the previous one about constantly questioning. While successful executives are largely rewarded formoving things to successful resolution – and that’s vital for business performance – effective strategic thinkers do have to be able to moderateany tendencies to prematurely resolve strategic issues.
  22. 22. Even successful strategic thinking cannot be expected to answer everything. The future is never completely certain. Especially now, it’simperative for organizations to be nimble enough to adapt to changing market conditions. That means it can be important to leave certainstrategic options open fur future consideration. An adept strategic thinking isn’t rattled by that possibility.How does your team stack up against the best strategic thinkers?Based on these five characteristics, does your strategic planning team stack up well against the best strategic thinkers? If not, it’s time to makesome adjustments to ensure you get the most effective strategic plan.And while you’re evaluating your team, it’s the right time to do a self-evaluation and ask yourself how YOU are doing as a strategic thinker. Ifyou have gaps in your own strategic thinking approach, consider adding new people to your strategic planning team to shore up where yourown skills are lacking.image credit: danieldlaine.comDon’t miss an article (5,000+) – Subscribe to our RSS feed and join our Innovation Excellence group! Mike Brown is an award-winning innovator in strategy, communications, and experience marketing. He authors the BrainzoomingTM blog, and serves as the company’s chief Catalyst. He wrote the ebook “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” and is a frequent keynote presenter.
  23. 23. Brainstorming versus BraincalmingPosted on December 2, 2012 by Mitch DitkoffIf you work in a big organization, small business, freelance, or eat cheese, there’s agood chance you’ve participated in at least a few brainstorming sessions in your life.You’ve noodled, conjured, envisioned, ideated, piggybacked, and endured overlyenthusiastic facilitators doing their facilitator thing.You may have even gotten some results. Hallelujah!But even the best run brainstorming sessions are based on a questionableassumption — that the origination of powerful, new ideas depend on the facilitatedinteraction between people.You know, the “two heads are better than one” syndrome.I’d like to propose an alternative for the moment: “two heads are better than one sometimes.”For the moment, I invite you to consider the possibility that the origination of great, new ideas doesn’t take place in the storm, but in the calmbefore the storm… or the calm after the storm… or sometimes, even in the eye of the storm itself.Every wonder why so many people get their best ideas during “down time” — the time just before they go to sleep… or just after waking… or indreams… or in the shower… or in the car on the way home from work?Those aren’t brainstorming sessions, folks. Those are braincalming sessions. Incubation time.Those are time outs for the hyperactive child genius within us who is always on the go.Methinks, in today’s over-caffeinated, late-for-a-very-important-date business world, we have become addicted to the storm.“Look busy,” is the mantra, not “look deeply.”We want high winds. We want lightning. We want proof that something is happening, even if the proof turns out to be nothing more than soundand fury.High winds do not last all morning. Sometimes the storm has to stop.That’s why some of your co-workers like to show up early at the office before anyone else has arrived. For many of us, that’s the only time wehave to think.
  24. 24. “The best thinking has been done in solitude,” said Thomas Edison. “The worst has been done in turmoil.” I’m not suggesting that you stop brainstorming (um… that’s 20% of our business). All I’m suggesting is you balance it out with some braincalming. The combination of the two can be very, very powerful. HERE’S A FEW WAYS TO GET STARTED:1. In the middle of your next brainstorming, session, restate the challenge — then ask everyone to sit, in silence, for five minutes, and write down whatever ideas come to mind. (Be ready for the inevitable joking that will immediately follow your request). Then, after five minutes are up, go “round robin” and ask everyone to state their most compelling idea.2. Ask each member of your team to think about a specific business-related challenge before they go to bed tonight and write down their ideas when they wake up. Then, gather your team together for a morning coffee and see what you’ve got.3. Conduct your next brainstorming session in total silence. Begin by having the brainstorming challenge written on a big flip chart before people enter the room. Then, after some initial schmoozing, explain the “silence ground rule” and the process: People will write their ideas on post-its or flip charts. Their co-workers, also in silence, will read what gets posted and piggyback. Nobody talks. It’s your decision, at the end of the idea generating time, if you want the debrief to be spoken — or if you want people to come back the next day for a verbal debrief. “Let us be silent, that we may hear the whispers of the gods.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson Don’t miss an article (5,000+) – Subscribe to our RSS feed and join our Innovation Excellence group! Mitch Ditkoff is the Co-Founder and President of Idea Champions and the author of “Awake at the Wheel”, as well as the very popular Heart of Innovation blog.
  25. 25. Focus Entrepreneurship Policy on Scale-Up, Not Start-UpPosted on December 4, 2012 by Daniel IsenbergWould you allocate more of society’s resources to giving birth to more babies or toraising children well? Now, think about enterprise creation and the challenge ofeconomic growth. Societies’ leaders need to rebalance entrepreneurship policytowards scale, not start.In recent years, we have been witnessing a significant global shift in attitudes towardsentrepreneurship in countries around the globe. This is reflected in the dramaticproliferation of start-up programs: Start-up America, Start-up Chile, Start-upRussia, Start-up Britain, Start-up Weekend, and dozens of others. “Start-up” has replaced “Silicon” as the reigning entrepreneurshipbuzzword: There is hardly a country or city that is lacking a start-up program.Unfortunately, this is being guided almost exclusively by a narrow conception of entrepreneurship as consisting primarily in the starting-up of anenterprise. Equating entrepreneurship with start-up is not wrong; it is just very incomplete. It is also problematic because of two flawed impliedmessages: The first is that the most difficult and important task of the entrepreneur is launching his or her venture. The second is a notion wemight call “the more the merrier” — i.e., the more start-ups, the more successful the program. Quantity of start implicitly trumps quality of scale.Both of these messages are doubtful. If we look at entrepreneurship in terms of extraordinary value creation and capture, which I do, then it isclear that value can be created and captured in a large variety of ways, and there is no a priori reason to think doing this from scratch via astart-up is the only or even the best way. Extraordinary value creation may involve acquiring, re-purposing, spinning off, or recombiningunderutilized or undervalued assets, or what my Stanford colleague George Foster calls “re-starts.” The Kaspersky’s, for example, foundedtheir leading anti-virus company by spinning it out from a struggling Russian institute they worked for. Over the past decade or so, search fundshave become an effective vehicle for acquiring undervalued companies to infuse with capital, management and growth. Family businesses,large corporations, R&D centers and universities — any of these can be essential in creating or freeing up assets rich with untapped potential.And yet:Extraordinary value creation cannot occur without growth, and entrepreneurial growth post start-up has numerous challenges whichcan be an order of magnitude more difficult than simply starting a venture. Growth entails developing a powerful sales and marketingmachine, building an organization by hiring and managing diverse groups of people, and knowing how to acquire strategic inputs such as theright kinds of capital and suppliers. Growth requires amazing amounts of energy and dedication, not to mention smarts. Forward-looking policy,as well as culture and the private sector, must support all these skills and resources more than it does at present.Indeed, when I dig into examples of start-up programs, ranging from Scandinavia to the Middle East to both North and South America, scale-upis the far bigger challenge: After two years and $12 million, Start-up Chile’s largest resident start-up employs three people, according to HoracioMelo, the CEO. A comprehensive set of start-up programs and policy reforms in Denmark in the early 2000s led to a dramatic increase in the
  26. 26. numbers of ventures formed, but when analyzed five years later, the vast majority had plateaued at a few employees, and fewer than 1% metthe fairly modest criteria set to be considered “growth” ventures.Chile and Denmark’s policies are not “wrong” (in fact, in Denmark this finding has provided policy makers additional impetus to strengthenefforts to crack the code of scale). The lesson is: scale-up is so much harder than start-up entrepreneurs (and policy leaders) realize. As one ofmy successful entrepreneur friends warns, “This is tough bloody s[***].” We need to turn the focus on growth-after-start: growth will notsomehow take care of itself. To return to the imperfect analogy of my lede above, anyone who has been a parent knows that the long andcomplicated job of growing a healthy, educated and moral child is vastly more challenging than giving birth. I vividly remember how our firstbirthing class spent hours on breathing and epidurals, yet I had no clue about how to change a diaper or deal with a rash let alone be a father ofteenagers! And societal resources required to formally and informally prepare parents for and support them in parenthood are immeasurablygreater than for the birth process itself.So it is just now dawning on many in business and government that when these start-up programs are successful in stimulating venture birthrather than venture scale, the tremendous challenges of growth may paradoxically become worse, not better, and can leave many stagnant orovervalued ventures that may have little real prospect of growth.We can refocus policy on scale-up in a number of ways. One is structural: stop treating venture survival as an indicator of policy success andstart looking at those that grow. It is also necessary for policy to facilitate extremely high levels of venture death and recycling in order to avoida plethora of valueless start-ups. Focus much more attention on enriching the local labor pool, an essential aspect of an effective ecosystem.Entrepreneurs I meet with from Boston to Bangalore to Barcelona who have succeeded in obtaining market traction almost universally complainabout the paucity of appropriately skilled people and managers to hire. Entrepreneurial ventures can never grow without talent, and the twobasic types of talent needed — new employers and new employees — must evolve together.Furthermore (and here is where the parenting analogy breaks down), experience and the existing data suggest that a very small number ofhigh-growth ventures may be sufficient to generate almost all of the social and economic benefits of entrepreneurship. One venture whichgrows to 100 people in five years is probably more beneficial (to entrepreneurs, shareholders, employees, and governments alike) than 50which stagnate at two. Endeavor has recently shown that just two or three unusually scaling ventures can have an utterly disproportionateimpact on dozens of successors, and impact the entrepreneurship culture in a region.Which is more important, giving birth or raising children? Obviously, birth is necessary, but it is greatly insufficient. In focusing entrepreneurshippolicy almost exclusively on start-ups we are favoring quantity of start-up at the expense of quality of scale-up.Cross posted from HBR on November 30, 2012. Image credit: Daniel Isenberg is Professor of Management Practice, Babson Global, and founding executive director of the Babson Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Project.
  27. 27. Are you an innovation practitioner, academic, or enthusiast?Innovation Excellence is the online home of the global innovation community, building upon a rapidly-growing network with thousands ofmembers from over 175 countries – thought leaders, executives, practitioners, consultants, vendors, and academia representing all sectors andindustries. Our mission is to broadly enhance innovation by providing a forum for connection and conversation across this community –assembling an ever-growing arsenal of resources, best practices and proven answers for achieving innovation excellence.Come join the community at you looking to connect with the global innovation community?Innovation Excellence is THE opportunity to make a direct connection with the global innovation community.Our members:  attend innovation conferences  buy innovation software and apps  hire innovation consultants  book innovation leadership courses  order innovation books  engage innovation speakers and training  require other innovation servicesWhere else can you engage with over 100,000 unique monthly visitors frommore than 175 countries who have a passionate interest in your innovationofferings for as little as $100 per week?For more information on advertising please email us or visit: