We are proud to announce our twenty-first 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.
Issue 21 – February 22, 2013 1. What I Like about Making Maps: Visual Super Powers Required............. Scott Williams 2. Jimi Hendrix for Innovators ……..……………………………………...…. Dimis Michaelides 3. 15 Education Technologies To Check Out in 2013 ……………..…...……… Julie Deneen 4. Will China 2.0 Out-Innovate Your Company? ............................................ Rowan Gibson 5. 10 Reasons Companies Fail at Business Model Innovation .…………….… Saul Kaplan 6. Why Managers Fear Innovation …………………………..…………………. Gijs van Wulfen 7. True Leadership is Indeed Social ………………………………….... Deborah Mills-Scofield 8. Dell - Take the Money and Run - Innovation Trumps Execution …….….. Adam Hartung 9. Sustainable Innovation - Inspiration from a 7 Year Old ……………..... Robert F Brands 10. Too Much Innovation – Can a Company Over Innovate? ….……...… Stefan Lindegaard 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: Treasure Map
What I Like about Making Maps: Visual Super Powers areRequiredPosted on February 17, 2013 by Scott Williams NOBETTER TIME TO CLAIM OUR SUPER POWERSEver since I can remember I have loved the world of comic books, action figures, super heroes and… especially the lore about the superpowersthey possess. I think map-making is one of the most important superpowers to have in today’s complex world. Complexity threatens tooverwhelm and crowd out clarity in every organization I know. At Maga Design we’ve been making maps for the past decade to help the peoplein organizations see and define their futures. Like my favorite super hero, Wolverine, maps have a powerful healing factor to overcome anyorganizational toxin. Here’s why: to make a map for an organization work it needs to be made collectively – with the leadership, thestakeholder, and the organization’s customers. For starters, that means people get on the same page, literally.We call visual information mapping a “lite” methodology because it records what is and what is to be, visually, in a picture, at a glance, allowingany audience to overcome Death by PowerPoint with a single jump, or in this case a single page. What busy person doesn’t want that? Wehave found that single page maps of complex scenarios like installing a new IT platform, or launching a new product, or explaining howmissions get formed at National Geographic can be very useful learning tools and a lot of fun for those involved to create.
MAPS ARE US When you think about it, maps are lodged in our DNA– lost or found we turn to them when we want to figure out the way forward. Neuroscientists tell us that our brains have the innate capacity to quickly recognize and comprehend shapes (Biederman, 2009). Whether it’s rivers, highways and points of interest – or visions, strategies and key references – our maps help innovators share big messages consistently by using visuals in compelling ways to connect with diverse audiences.WHAT WE’VE LEARNED BY MAKING MAPSBy making hundreds of maps, our firm, Maga Design, has evolved into what I see as a visual systems integrators’ of others’ strategies,innovation pipelines, communications campaigns and IT architectures. Here’s what we’ve learned in the process that we think may be helpful toyou on your innovation journey. Maps are tactile Maps are persistent Maps lead to outcomesDrawing big ideas and turning them into shapes is a key step – which is why we use illustrators
Map-making is Inherently a Collaborative, Risk-reducing, Problem Solving ProcessMore importantly, we see the level of stress, anxiety and fear decrease, and be replaced by alignment, excitement and a sense of “where in ittogether and here’s where we’re going.” That is of course, what a map is for. Most of the client environments we work in deal with high levels ofconcern, or even risk. Change stresses people out. People always want to know the ‘why, what and how’ the change will affect them. Mapsserve two powerful functions here: they acknowledge the human need for context, to see the big picture, and they help explain what’s new andwhat’s next.The kinds of bets innovators have to place on the future are particularly stressful.The visual collaboration mapmaking requires (i.e. making pictures about the world together) reduces stress, releases creative energyand…serves as a de-conflictor.Mapping conversations is the first step to creating a Maga Map – some are linear, some aren’t. But by getting them on paper we always providea way to envision what’s next.Map-making Enables Teams to Envision the FutureOne of the by products of our work with teams over the years is discovering that the process is as important as the product. We’ve seen teamafter team step up to embrace the noble challenge of mapping their own destiny when we get in a room and begin to draw what’s next together.We call those graphically facilitated sessions and they are the best way we know to begin any project.
As Map-making Explores and Reduces Complexity, it Creates Visual ClarityIn trying to explain itself to itself and its customers, every organization we know has power point fatigue but not too many easy alternatives. Ourmaps tell stories, and stories help people understand, remember and take action. Because there’s only so much information you can put on onepage, finding metaphors that fit and contain your core message is a superpower. Deciding how to use the remaining real estate, analyzing thekey messages and their hierarchies is an important next step. The end product is a visual map that makes it easier.How do you describe a new to the world software offering? Here’s how we helped Vivisimo put theirs on one page.The Maps that Teams Deliver are Visual Calls to ActionToday, every company lives and dies on the strength of their ideas. What we’ve seen is that these one page communications, aka, maps – spurnew interactions because they are the equivalent of internal cause marketing that makes ideas visible for the organization. W hen we do this forour clients we feel a little bit like a VCR or media player for client’s thought leadership or most closely held vision. We help them bring it to life.I keep our Maga strategy map in front of me daily. Every single one of our employees has it too. It helped set the table and set the frame ofmind for our company. It was our thought leadership and our vision and we took the time to put it down on paper.
Maga’s 2011 Strategy Placemat MapMaps are persistent reference tools – they outlive the flavor of the day – they’re designed to last. Maps invite interaction and movement in manydifferent ways. Around a table, across a desk, up on wall or computer screen, maps generate a reason to discuss and re-frame organizationalcommunications as visual communications.When we work, wherever we work, people pull us aside to tell us that “they really are visual learners.” Of course they’re right, they, and all of usARE visual! It’s our birthright as human beings to want to draw, to want to collaborate, to want to see our futures. What I like most about mapsis the adventure of making them. If you want to learn more please contact Jensen@magadesign.comimage credit: magadesign.com Scott Williams, is the founder and CEO of Maga Design based in Washington, DC. A pioneer in the use of visual information mapping by organizations for use in wide ranging business challenges, he’s led the development of Maga Design’s proprietary process to creating physical and digital representations of collective strategic thinking: Maga Maps™. Scott combines 15 years of Navy technical and business innovation experience with commercial marketing andbrand strategy acumen. He’s worked with clients including the Air Force, Disney, National Geographic, the US Navy, Pepsico, and QinetiQ. Thecompany has been named to the INC 5000 two years running.
Jimi Hendrix for InnovatorsPosted on February 17, 2013 by Dimis Michaelides A vision for innovative leaders: Imagine you’re a business leader with a vision, intent on driving innovation in your organization. You’re also a fan of Jimi Hendrix and love the kind of visions he had: Purple haze all in my brain Lately things just don’t seem the same Actin’ funny, but I don’t know why ‘Scuse me while I kiss the skyImagine you’re a business leader with a vision, intent on driving innovation in your organization. You’re also a fan of Jimi Hendrix and love thekind of visions he had.Here’s what your consultants and management textbooks might tell you to do:FIRST make a decision on your organization’s innovation strategy. There are after all different types of innovation: breakthrough innovation(creating an entirely new business), business model innovation (profound differentiation in an existing business), continuous improvement(doing lots of things better all the time), product innovation, service innovation, process innovation, customer driven innovation. And so on.What is YOUR innovation all about?SECOND make a decision on your organization’s desired balance between operational efficiency and innovation. What proportion of yourresources (people time and money) goes towards doing what we do today well vs imagining how to do things differently or doing new things?.THIRD figure out what systems you need deliver the above strategy within your above resource balance. How are you going to innovate?Jimi Hendrix wouldn’t agree though. Too much rational thinking, not much people power.
So how about you?Create some purple haze, encourage them to act funny and aim high so they can kiss the sky. In other words appreciate that ALL your peopleare creative. Recognize that they represent a massive innovation potential that begs to be deployed. Help them develop their creativity,individually and in teams. Create a culture that will allow them to create freely, at any time and in any way they like. Trust that they will do theright thing.How about blending the textbook approach with Jimi Hendrix? Good luck!Have a good trip! YeahPurple haze all in my eyesDon’t know if it’s day or nightYou’ve got me blowin, blowin my mindIs it tomorrow or just the end of time?- Jimi Hendriximage credit: karencivil.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.
15 Education Technologies To Check Out in 2013Posted on February 19, 2013 by Julie DeNeenWhat latest gadgets and gizmos are going to change your classroom in2013?It’s hard to know exactly what will catch on and what won’t, but thefollowing list showcases some of the emerging new technologies,software, and platforms available. With their innovation and practicality,many of these are poised to enter the classroom and change the waystudents and teachers learn permanently.1. FlashnotesRemember the days of doodling on the side of your spiral notebookwhile you tried to take copious notes from your boring biology teacher? Would you be more motivated if you knew that your notes would notonly give you an edge on the exam, but could also earn you a bit of cash?Flashnotes allows students to upload their lecture notes and sell them to other students who need more help or resources. The rating systemallows the best note takers to get more business and the general pool of knowledge expands as students continue to share their work with oneanother.2. LoreThe new startup is using a Facebook type platform- riding the wave of what works- and tailoring it for education. This social network allowsprofessors and students to communicate, follow one another, and discuss class work and lectures.In addition to the social aspect, it allows for document uploads, calendar sharing, and a grade book option. So why is this better thanFacebook? Simply put, social networks aren’t always the best place to develop academic networks. Students can follow their professors andinteract with them without worrying about that compromising photo from a crazy weekend party.3. Study BlueImagine your smartphone as your primary source for study materials. This company has created an app that allows students to organize theircoursework, store notes and flashcards, and share their materials with other students.Click to see the video
Study Blue’s main attraction is that it is mobile. Whether standing in line for coffee, riding the train, or waiting at the dentist, a student can easilyaccess their class work and prepare for an exam. The social aspect also helps students find other people studying similar subjects, capitalizingon a different set of notes and study guides.4. LEAP MotionImagine the ability to sign your name on a digital document using only your finger and the air. That is technology behind LEAP Motion, acompany intent on giving people a more natural way to interact with the computer.Click to see the videoLEAP has developed a piece of hardware that allows anyone to write, draw, zoom, play, and interact with their computer screen using a finger,fingers, or entire hand. By moving your hand over the device, the mouse follows your movements.This is a huge improvement from the days of the stylus and pad- even with the fine motor control- it was difficult to make drawings lookauthentic. LEAP is set to do that.5. PapertabPapertab won’t be ready to use in 2013, but I think it’s interesting enough to include it in this list. Paper, afterall, is HUGE part of the school life.6. ChromebooksDespite the rising popularity of tablets, Google’s Chromebook may snatch the competition in the lower grade school classrooms. The laptopshave a few distinct advantages over the apple iPad:- They are less expensive- One-button-push easy setup- Easy to control settings and restrictions- Offers the traditional keyboard for fast typing and note taking- Hardware fixes are easier and less costly7. CellyTeachers are continually fighting against the ever-growing list of distractions that a smart phone offers to bored or shy students in the back ofthe room. But Celly is a text-messaging network that allows anyone to create a network anywhere- at a rally, event, in the classroom, or on afield trip using smartphones.
Teachers that have used this in their classrooms have noted that those who normally never speak up…do. It forces students to write theirthoughts clearly and concisely. Rather than fighting the tide against texting, instructors are using it for academic purposes.8. Flipped ClassroomWhile not a technology per se, this teaching model is using technology to change the way instructors teach. Rather than spending the classtime lecturing the students, the lectures are delivered to the student’s in video format for them to watch at home (or in study hall).Then, the classroom time is set aside for 1 on 1 help, discussion, and interaction based on the lecture homework. With nearly every studentcarrying a mobile device or laptop, this model may give students and teachers more time to work on areas of difficulty rather than simplestraight lecture. For too long, instructors have seen that precious class time go to waste while a teacher scribbles on a blackboard and has theirback to the students.9. Snagit, Jing, CamtasiaThese screen capture video software programs are making it easy for instructors to give online tutorials. TechSmith offers a host of differentproducts from a free screen capture to professional quality videos.Imagine a tech-ed teacher trying to explain how to download an app. He/she can record narration while capturing the screen shots as he/shedemonstrates the action. This feature can also be used for teachers who are correcting a paper or demonstrating a math problem.
10. LessonCastTeachers need help and support with their lesson plans just as much as students need help with studying for exams. LessonCast allowsteachers to submit a 2-minute lesson plan strategy, idea, or resource using video, documents, Powerpoint, etc. and share it with otherinstructors.The free-based software is just another way to offer networking opportunities and a general pool of knowledge that globally impacts educationin a positive way. Teachers Paying Teachers is a similar network that allows educators to sell their lesson plans to other instructors.11. Kid BlogDesigned specifically for younger students; Kid Blog provides a safe opportunity for children to start up their own blog connected to theclassroom.Teachers can help students design a blog around a science project, a history lesson, or an entire year’s worth of school progress. The studentsget the benefit of other students and parents commenting on their work- a great motivation for hesitant writers. Kid Blog makes it easy to keepthe child and content secure from the dangers of the Internet.12. Glogster EDUGone are the days of laboring over a diorama made from a shoebox or wrestling with markers on a poster board. When it is report time,students can use Glogster to creatively display their research.Glogster allows students to collage pictures, text, video, and custom graphics to create a visually appealing presentation for their latest project.The Glogs are easy to make and share!13. Donors Choose
Funding websites are popping up all over the Internet. People who are frustrated with the bureaucracy of grant writing decide to strike out ontheir own and build a project from the ground up. With Donors Choose, you can pitch your idea for your classroom.Teachers create projects they hope to accomplish with their students. Much like Kickstarter, individuals can fund or back any project theychoose. Then they share it across social media and if a teacher has created the project pitch well, it gets the attention and money it needs.14. Live BindersThose handy three ring binders are now digital. Using the same idea as pinning and bookmarking, the binder allows educators to collect andorganize resources for lesson plans.The Live Binder can also work for students who are amassing resources for a big project. You can also browse other binders and share yourown.15. KnewtonThis new technology company aims at personalizing content for optimal learning. The platform monitors the student’s activity and uses theinformation to give the student the best personalized resources based on their level of performance.The technology also boasts integration among different disciplines creating a more comprehensive set of resources that interact with oneanother. Knewton grows more intuitive the more the student uses the software. It can follow a student through their entire education career.previously posted on informED Julie DeNeen has her bachelor’s degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of New Haven. She spent several years implementing new technologies to help students and teachers in the classroom. She also taught workshops to teachers about the importance of digital student management software, designed to keep students, parents, and teachers connected to thelearning process. @jdeneen4 and Google+.
Will China 2.0 Out-Innovate Your Company?Posted on February 17, 2013 by Rowan Gibson After thirty years as a “workshop for the world”, China is steadily and resolutely moving up the value chain. And this transition – from low-cost manufacturing to world-class innovation, design and marketing – will change the rules of competition everywhere on earth, including inside China. So take a good look at your company’s strategic priorities for 2013 and ask yourself if this question is on the list: “Are we gearing up for China 2.0?”On a recent trip to Beijing, I was struck by how radically the focus of everyday business conversations has changed. And this has nothing to dowith the global recession, which temporarily took some of the wind out of China’s sails. It has much more to do with the realization that China isentering a new and quite different era in its economic development, and that companies (both local and foreign) will have to act quickly anddecisively if they are going to carve out a place in it.Until now, there were certain words that seemed to dominate all business conversations in China. Obviously, one of them was “growth”, whichis understandable considering that China’s economy has doubled in size three times over in just the last thirty years! Another dominant wordwas “cost”, as in low-cost, cheap, cheapest – which is a concept no nation has mastered quite like the Chinese. And still another was “export”,since China’s white-hot growth has been driven primarily by exploding overseas demand.But now the game – and the conversation – is changing. There’s a new set of words and phrases that I’m hearing more often in businesscircles in China. Like “world-class”, “high performance”, “global”, “better” and “best”. Company leaders – whether they are from local Chinesefirms or foreign multinationals – are talking a lot less these days about “manufacturing in China” (been there, done that) and a lot more about“marketing, design and innovation in China” (you ain’t seen nothing yet!). This shift in rhetoric has incredible implications for the shape of futurecompetition, both globally and in China’s own massive home market.However, you might argue that China still has a long way to go before the rhetoric becomes reality. And you’d be right. Take innovation, forexample. In the Global Innovation Index, China has been slipping down the ranks for the past three years, from number 27 in 2009 to number34 in 2012, putting it right behind countries like Latvia, Hungary, Malaysia and Qatar. To put this in context, some of China’s regional neighborsare at the very top end of the scale: Singapore is usually ranked in the top three, Hong Kong in the top ten, (ahead of the United States). Thetypical view is that China excels at producing huge volumes of low-cost products, while other countries in the region, including Japan and SouthKorea, are better at innovation and high-tech goods.
It definitely won’t stay that way. Consider some data that support this conclusion. For a start, China is now the world’s most prolific filer ofinternational patents. The number of patent applications from Chinese companies has increased ten-fold over the last decade, and the annualgrowth rate is currently over 30 per cent.In his brilliantly researched book China Inc., journalist Ted Fishman says, “China has yet to introduce the kind of world-changing technology orconsumer products that are the hallmark of advanced economies. But it will.” And he continues, “The genius that has so far poured into creatinggreat factories will soon be evident in great products and great brands that will offer the world unsurpassed quality and refinement.”That process is well underway. It’s notable that in 1995 there were just three Chinese companies on the Fortune 500 list. By 2000, it was ten.By 2005, the number had jumped to eighteen, and in 2008 – a mere three years later – it had leapt to 35. In 2011 China boasted 61 companieson the list, and last year, 2012, it grew to 73!Companies all over China are rising to the challenge of becoming high-performance business players, many on a global scale. Huawei, forexample, is already giving Cisco a run for its money in the networking business. In 2007 the company reported annual revenues of $16 billion.Today it’s over $35 billion. And 66 percent of those revenues are generated outside China. Another Chinese champion, Haier Group, is alreadythe number one major appliance manufacturer in the world, with global revenues in 2011 of over $23 billion. Sales outside China are rising byabout 10% year-on-year, and the company has grabbed a significant share of the U.S. market by focusing on neglected product niches likecompact refrigerators and electric wine cellars. Haier has already surpassed rival Whirlpool as the world’s top refrigerator producer in terms ofsales.Gong Li, chairman of Accenture in Greater China, has a catchy way of describing the challenge of moving up the value chain. He calls it“Jumping Over The Dragon Gate”, which refers to an old Chinese legend in which carps had to swim against the current and jump over a tallgate to transform themselves into dragons. As more and more Chinese companies close the performance gap with their global counterparts, Libelieves they will be able to “make the jump”. And Anil Gupta, co-author of the excellent book Getting China and India Right, absolutelyagrees. He warns that China will produce “fearsome global competitors at a speed that the world has not seen before”. So what exactly is yourown organization doing about the rise of China 2.0? And, for that matter, what are you doing about it in your personal career? Isn’t it time youstarted learning Mandarin?image credit: news.xinhuanet.com 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.
10 Reasons Companies Fail at Business Model InnovationPosted on February 16, 2013 by Saul KaplanCompanies fail at business model innovation because they’re so busypedalling the bicycle of current business models they leave no time orresource to design new ones.Most companies focus innovation efforts on new products and on drivingefficiencies into current models. These are important activities, but notsufficient in the 21st century when business models don’t last as long andface disruption. This means business model innovation is the new strategicimperative. In this post I outline the top 10 reasons why businesses fail toinnovate.CEOs don’t really want a new business modelThe most obvious reason companies fail at business model innovation is because CEOs don’t want to explore new business models. They arecontent with the current one and want everyone in the organisation focused on how to improve its performance. The clearest indication is whenany discussion about emerging business models is viewed and treated solely as a competitive threat.Business model innovation will be the next CEO’s problemLet the next guy or gal handle it. There may be a disruptive business model on the horizon but we can beat it back, pass laws to slow it downand treat it as a niche player. Sound familiar? Today’s leaders have never had to transform their business model. Tomorrow’s leaders will.Disruptive technology is everywhere and trying to outlast it is a risky strategy. Leaving the challenge to the next CEO is not a good idea.Product is king. Nothing else mattersThe lines are blurring between product and service business models. Take the iPod. Apple didn’t bring the first MP3 player to the market. Yet,the company changed the way we experienced music by delivering on a value proposition that bundled product (iPod) and service (iTunes).Industrial era thinking forces a false choice between product or service focus. A proud product heritage can get in the way.Information technology is only about keeping the trains moving and lowering costs“I’m from IT and I am here to help you … ” Many companies fail because IT resources are disproportionately allocated to support legacysystems. Deploying new capabilities takes a back seat. The prevalence of enterprise systems is a barrier to business model innovation. Achange anywhere within the organisation affects every function, making it difficult to develop new capabilities, let alone an entirely new
business model. Enterprise systems increase the efficiency of the current business model but can be a straightjacket-constraining businessmodel innovation.Cannibalisation is off the tableIt’s hard enough being at war with competition, so why compete internally? When executives look at new business models they see themthrough the lens of the current business model and view them as competition. Organisations fail at business model innovation because theyblindly take cannibalisation off the table, even if a new business model may have significant upside potential.Nowhere near enough connecting with unusual suspectsSenior executives need to get out into the market more. When they do get out they tend to meet with the usual suspects. How can leadersexpect to learn anything new if they don’t mingle with unusual suspects, people with different perspectives and experiences? Leaders spendtoo much time inside echo chambers within their own companies and industries. Business model innovation is more about next practices thanbest practices.
Line executives hold your pay cardWho wants to volunteer to work on an exciting project to explore new business models? It’s a temporary assignment and then you will return toyour functional home within the organisation. And, by the way, your performance and salary review will still be conducted by your current boss.Don’t worry, because your regular job will still be waiting when you return. How excited is anyone likely to be to work on a new disruptivebusiness model if their career is in the hands of a boss who is vested in the current one?Great idea, what’s the ROI?Financial metrics to assess alternative projects reflect the cost structure and required returns to sustain and grow today’s model. New businessmodels are likely to have very different economics and must be assessed in that context. Most new business models will be dismissed out ofhand if judged by the economics and constrained by the ROI requirements of the current model. Organisations fail at business modelinnovation because they apply the wrong financial lens in assessing the attractiveness and feasibility of new business models.They shoot business model innovators, don’t they?Organisations fail at business model innovation because they shoot their renegades. If they don’t shoot them they wear them down until theyleave. Business model innovators go against the corporate grain. They see entirely new ways to create, deliver and capture value.Organisations must learn to celebrate and support people within the organization who are willing to challenge the status quo, to bring totallydifferent perspectives on delivering value to the table and are willing to take experimental risks to explore new models.You want to experiment in the real world, are you crazy?Organisations fail at business model innovation because ideas never make it from the whiteboard into the real world. It’s easy to doodle a newbusiness model concept on a whiteboard. It’s hard to know with any certainty if a new business model concept is viable in the market withouttesting it in the real world. Leaders will have to overcome their resistance to exploring new business models even those that may be disruptiveto the current one. It’s time to stop admiring the problems and to start exploring business model innovation as the new strategic imperative forall leaders who want to stay relevant in a changing world.This post originally appeared on the Guardian Media Network site here.image credit: failure analysis image from bigstock 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.
Why Managers Fear InnovationPosted on February 18, 2013 by Gijs van Wulfen Innovation is a paradox for management. On the one hand you are well aware that you have to take new roads before you reach the end of the present dead end street. On the other hand it is risky. It takes a lot of time. And it takes a lot of resources. Research shows that only one out of seven innovation projects is successful. So saying yes to innovation is a step into the unknown. It creates fear of failure, which causes fear to innovate. It’s like sailing to the South Pole like Shackleton, where the surrounding ice can stop you any moment.Management is under pressure in the business of today. And as an innovator you want them to shift money and resources to the business oftomorrow. On average it takes 18 – 36 months to develop a new concept, which often will only be profitable 2-3 years after introduction. So a lotof managers wait until not innovating is not an option anymore. We all are humans.As innovator you can fight this risk adverse culture, as a kind of modern Don Quixote fighting windmills. Or you can accept it. Only when youaccepted it, you can deal with it. Managing innovation has everything to do with managing expectations and reducing risks. I can give you fivetips that might get you more support for innovative ideas.1. Dogs bark at what they don’t know. So beware of this. Make clear in advance what kind of innovations they can expect (evolutionaryimprovements or revolutionary new to the world ideas).2. Make clear “what’s in it for us”. So present your innovative ideas with a concrete case for new business showing estimates of sales andprofit potential.
3. Make the feasibility clear. Can we make it? What will it cost?4. Make clear there’s a market out there. Lead users and co-creation business-to-business partners are perfect advocates to prove there’s apotential market.5. Let top managers join your innovation journey. In this way they can get new insights themselves. You can invite them on a structuredinnovation expedition called FORTH. Download the innovation expedition map here.It all starts with accepting that it is normal that your top managers fear innovation. So think outside the box and present inside the box. Beinnovative and act conservative.image credit: fearful expression image from bigstock Gijs van Wulfen leads ideation processes and is the founder of the FORTH innovation method. He is the author of Creating Innovative Products & Services, published by Gower.
True Leadership IS Indeed SocialPosted on February 16, 2013 by Deborah Mills-Scofield Every once in a while, you are privileged to witness the embodiment of what has become a buzzword, Servant Leadership – someone who is innately wired as a servant leader – authentic, genuine and sincere. I’m privileged to have met a few of these people in my career – in fact, five “someones” recently at a warm, welcoming, generous visit to Enterasys’s headquarters in Andover, MA. Two of the five, Vala Afshar and Brad Martin, have just written a 2012 & 2013’s Must Read book, The Pursuit of Social Business Excellence. To understand the power of this book, I need to tell you a story…of how I met them. Last spring, I started noticing Vala’s insightful, kind, wise, and very human tweets. I reached out and he invited me to visit him on my way up to Maine this past September. I arrived and was greeted like a queen! To my incredible surprise, because Vala remembered our tweets about lobster, Brian Townsend, Director of Global Services and Ops, had prepared a feast of lobster tails with a risotto andan unimaginable dessert. How did Vala remember that I loved lobster? Because that’s how Vala, and Brad, and the rest of the team, are wired(no pun intended) – to be social, to care, to make sure others matter.Brad and Vala don’t preach about why businesses must be social – they live it, everyday. Theirs is a real, living, breathing, continuousnarrative about how a mid-market company refocused their culture to delight their customers by respecting and trusting their employees tofocus on providing meaningful outcomes for their customers. They detail the why, how, when, and what in transforming the culture andflattening the organization. Vala and Brad share the culture’s benefits to their top line, bottom line and most importantly, human line. If you’veread Steve Denning’s book, The Leader’s Guide to Radical Management, you’d think he was writing about Enterasys – and he was!
When you read this book, as you should, don’t start making excuses as to why it doesn’t “really” apply to. You’d be lying to yourself and closingthe door to creating an excellent company. The pursuit of social business excellence applies to any company making any thing that touchesany one in any form, not just technology companies. The fundamental building block of Enterasys’ success is not technology – they make thatloud and clear – it’s people. Technology can make being a social business easier, but it can’t make it happen. People do.Please read The Pursuit of Social Business Excellence. Think about how you can adapt some of these ideas for your own organization. Itmay seem scary – you may lose the perception of the control you never really had; you may realize you’ve made some bad hires andconstrained some great ones; your customers may see behind the curtain. Yet, overcome the fears, because the rewards are so great, on somany levels.image credit:charlespinot.com Deb, founder of Mills-Scofield LLC, is an innovator, entrepreneur and non-traditional strategist with 20 years experience in industries ranging from the Internet to Manufacturing with multinationals to start ups. She is also a partner at Glengary LLC, a Venture Capital Firm.
Dell – Take the Money and Run! Innovation Trumps ExecutionPosted on February 15, 2013 by Adam Hartung Michael Dell has put together a hedge fund, one of his largest suppliers and some debt money to take his company, Dell, Inc. private. There are large investors threatening to sue, claiming the price isn’t high enough. While they are wrangling, small investors should consider this privatization manna from heaven, take the new, higher price and run to invest elsewhere – thankful you’re getting more than the company is worth. In the 1990s everybody thought Dell was an incredible company. With literally no innovation a young fellow built an enormously large, profitable company using other people’s money, and technology. Delljumped into the PC business as it was born. Suppliers were making the important bits, and looking for “partners” to build boxes. Dell realized hecould let other people invest in microprocessor, memory, disk drive, operating system and application software development. All he had to dowas put the pieces together.Dell was the rare example of a company that was built on nothing more than execution. By marketing hard, selling hard, buying smart andbuilding cheap Dell could produce a product for which demand was skyrocketing. Every year brought out new advancements from suppliersDell could package up and sell as the latest, greatest model. All Dell had to do was stay focused on its “core” PC market, avoid distractions,and win at execution. Heck, everyone was going to make money building and selling PCs. How much you made boiled down to how hard youworked. It wasn’t about strategy or innovation – just execution.Dell’s business worked for one simple reason. Everybody wanted PCs. More than one. And everybody wanted bigger, more powerful PCs asthey came available. Market demand exploded as the PC became part of everything companies, and people, do. As long as demand wasgrowing, Dell was growing. And with clever execution – primarily focused on speed (sell, build, deliver, get the cash before the supplier has tobe paid) – Dell became a multi-billion dollar company, and its founder a billionaire with no college degree, and no claim to being a technologygenius.But, the market shifted. As this column has pointed out many times, demand for PCs went flat – never to return to previous growth rates.Users have moved to mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, while corporate IT is transitioning from PC servers to cloud services.iPad sales now nearly match all of Dell’s sales. Dell might well be the world’s best PC maker, but when people don’t want PCs that doesn’tmatter any more.
Which is why Dell’s sales, and profits, began to fall several years ago. And eventhough Michael Dell returned to run the company 6 years ago, the downwarddirection did not change. At its “core” Dell has no ability to innovate, or create newproducts. It is like HTC – merely a company that sells and assembles, with all of its“focus” on cost/price. That’s why Samsung became the leader in Androidsmartphones and tablets, and why Dell never launched a Chrome tablet. Lackingany innovation capability, Dell relied on its suppliers to tell it what to build. And itssuppliers, notably Microsoft and Intel, entirely missed the shift to mobile. LeavingDell long on execution skills, but with nowhere to apply them.Market watchers knew this. That’s why Dell’s stock took a long ride from its lofty value on the rapids of growth to the recent distinctly low valueas it slipped into the whirlpool of failure.Now Dell has a trumped up story that it needs to go public in order to convert itself from a PC maker into an IT services company sellingcloud and mobile capabilities to small and mid-sized businesses. But Dell doesn’t need to go private to do this, which alone makes the storyring hollow. It’s going private because doing so allows Michael Dell to recapitalize the company with mountains of debt, then use internal cashto buy out his stock before the company completely fails wiping out a big chunk of his remaining fortune.If you think adding debt to Dell will save it from the market shift, just look at how well that strategy worked for fixing Tribune Corporation. ASam Zell led LBO took over the company claiming he had plans for a new future, as advertisers shifted away from newspapers. Bankruptcycame soon enough, employee pensions were wiped out, massive layoffs undertaken and 4 years of legal fighting followed to see if there wasany plan that would keep the company afloat. Debt never fixes a failing company, and Dell knows that. Dell has no answer to changing marketdemand away from PCs.Now the buzzards are circling. HP has been caught in a rush to destruction ever since CEO Fiorina decided to buy Compaq and gut the HPR&D in an effort to follow Dell’s wild revenue ride. Only massive cost cutting by the following CEO Hurd kept HP alive, wiping out any remnantsof innovation. Now HP has a dismal future. But it hopes that as the PC market shrinks the elimination of one competitor, Dell, will give newestCEO Whitman more time to somehow find something HP can do besides follow Dell into bankruptcy court.Watching as its execution-oriented ecosystem manufacturers are struggling, supplier Microsoft is pulling out its wallet to try and extend thetimeline. Plundering its $85B war chest, Microsoft keeps adding features, with acquisitions such as Skype, that consume cash while offering noreturns – or even strong reasons for people to stop the transition to tablets.Additionally it keeps putting up money for companies that it hopes will build end-user products on its software, such as its $500M investment inBarnes & Noble‘s Nook and now putting $2B into Dell. $85B is a lot of money, but how much more will Microsoft have to spend to keep HPalive – or money losing Acer – or Lenovo? A billion here, a billion there and pretty soon it adds up to a lot of money! Not counting losses in its
own entertainmnet and on-line divisions. The transition to mobile devices is permanent and Microsoft has arrived at the game incredibly late –and with products that simply cannot obtain better than mixed reviews.The lesson to learn is that management, and investors, take a big risk when they focus on execution. Without innovation, organizations becomereliant on vendors who may, or may not, stay ahead of market transitions. When an organization fails to be an innovator, someone who createsits own game changers, and instead tries to succeed by being the best at execution eventually market shifts will kill it. It is not a question of if,but when.Being the world’s best PC maker is no better than being the world’s best maker of white bread (Hostess) or the world’s best maker ofphotographic film (Kodak) or the world’s best 5 and dime retailer (Woolworth’s) or the world’s best manufacturer of bicycles (Schwinn) or coldrolled steel (Bethlehem Steel.) Being able to execute – even execute really, really well – is not a long-term viable strategy. Eventually,innovation will create market shifts that will kill you.image credit: focus Adam Hartung, author of Create Marketplace Disruption, is a Faculty and Board member of the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, Managing Partner of Spark Partners, and writes for Forbes and the Journal for Innovation Science.
Sustainable Innovation – Inspiration from a 7-year-oldPosted on February 16, 2013 by Robert F Brands Vision leads to the mission, from which is developed the strategy. Inject vibrant ideas, and stir in some climate and culture, process, and technology. The result: Sustainable Innovation About those vibrant ideas, where do they come from? You can wait for that “divine spark,” or you can make it happen. Often the hardest part of generating new innovative ideas is knowing where and how to begin looking for them. In the earliest days of our childhood, we spent a great amount of time creating and thinking up new ideas. We were continually building, imagining, and creating things; pillow forts, Legobuildings, kitchen snacks, and whatever else we could dream up using household supplies.Somewhere along the way, our idea machine got a little rusty or maybe constraint by knowledge and believes. We forgot how to create like kidswithout boundaries. We entered the workforce where creativity and ideation are often kept in check. “It seems to be more common inside mostworkplaces for the work environment to undermine creativity, to kill it, rather than to stimulate it and keep it alive,” says Harvard BusinessSchool’s Teresa Amabile, co-author of “The Progress Principle.”The first imperative of Roberts Rules of Innovation is INSPIRE. The leader of your innovation team has to inspire, lead, and drive the process.For inspiration to take place, the leader has to be regularly and personally involved so that everyone is on the same page. Along with vibrantideas, setting a culture of innovation is a key ingredient in sustainable innovation. Develop it step-by-step by building consensus, reinforcingideas, underscoring the need for accountability, and asking the right questions.There are five key steps to achieve the culture that inspires and creates intra-organizational cohesion. Lead By Example Over communicate, under promise Two-way traffic Silo demolition Pick the right championsIt doesn’t hurt to take a few notes on generating ideas from a 7 year old either.Pratya was assigned the task of coming up with the 8th wonder of the world in school. She recorded her thought process on her blog, TigerMonkey Forest with the help of her father.She began with her mission: Come up with the 8th wonder of the world.
Her first step was logic modification: Following a straight line of logic, generate ideas that build on what is already known.Palace Rainbow Palace Castle Made of glassThen she added the Jump: Generating ideas that combine different elements in new ways. Rather than thinking in a lateral fashion of “whatcomes next,” think “what could be”.A floating city in the skyShe then brought in additional data and insight to solve a problem.Sky + Asteroids that killed dinosaurs + Great Wall of ChinaThe result: Innovation, The great shield of earth!Standard idea-generation techniques concentrate on combining or adapting existing ideas. This can certainly generate results, but sometimesyou need to jump out of the box. Pratya chose think differently and consider new perspectives. While the great shield of earth will most likelynever be become the 8th wonder of the world, I think you would agree that we could all benefit from seeing the world from a child’s perspectivenow and again. As adults we’re so busy taking life so seriously we don’t give enough thought to tapping into our inner child. Go buy someLego’s.*To read more about the 5 key steps to workplace inspiration and ideation see “Robert’s Rules of Innovation” A 10-Step Program forCorporate Survival.”image credit: brickartist.com Robert Brands is the founder of InnovationCoach.com, and the author of “Robert’s Rules of Innovation: A 10-Step Program for Corporate Survival,” with Martin Kleinman – published Spring 2010 by Wiley (www.robertsrulesofinnovation.com).
Too Much Innovation? Can a Company Over-Innovate?Posted on February 15, 2013 by Stefan Lindegaard Is it possible for a company to over-innovate? I was asked this question recently by Tom Jantzen. The simple answer is “Yes”. Companies can over-innovate although I would say that under-innovate is the more likely problem at most companies. When companies over-innovate, I think we need to look at both internal and external issues. Internal issues have a lot to do with the thickness of the idea and innovation pipeline within your company. You might have a very strong idea generation process (the front end of innovation), but this does not matter much if you not capable of taking these ideas through the internal system towards the market. Execution is just as important as ideation.Another internal issue could be whether your executives have the vision to see the full potential in the many ideas or whether they have theguts to move forward with them.External issues are very much about the market and the industry in which the company operate. Are they even ready for your new innovation?You should of course still try to bring the innovation to your current markets even though the industry struggles with it at first. Overcoming suchinitial resistance can help create strong positions, but you should not be naïve and blindsided either. Today, the timing of innovation is muchmore important than ever and it could very well be that you are too early with your innovation and then it does not really matter how hard youkeep pushing it. Then, it is better to stay low with the particular innovation and stay ready to execute once the market is ready.
If you get no traction at all in the current markets, an over-innovating company in a conservative industry should try to turn this into a positivething by looking at new opportunities in new markets. This could very well be within adjacencies of the current market or industry.Since innovation today happens with partners, we have to link the internal and external issues. It might be that your internal innovation pipelineis fat enough to accommodate all the innovation your company wants to bring to market, but your external innovation partners might not be asprepared as you are. This should not stop you, but it might slow you down. Here you have to put in an extra effort to bring your current partnersup to speed if you decide to stick with them. If not, then you need to find new partners.I don’t assume many people will disagree that companies can over-innovate, but perhaps you have some different perspectives on why thishappens and what companies should do in such cases.image credit: overflow image from bigstock Stefan Lindegaard is an author, speaker and strategic advisor who focus on the topics of open innovation, social media and intrapreneurship.
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