March 15, 2013
Issue 24 – March 15, 2013    1.        The Music of Business.................................................................
The Music of BusinessPosted on March 10, 2013 by Peter CookInnovation Excellence’s Executive Editor Julie Anixter caught u...
How to improvise, think creatively, and how to convert that creativity and improvisation into innovativeproducts and servi...
Will you give us some specific lessons from bands?Wanna Be Starting Something? - Michael JacksonMichael had a great hit wi...
Chain Reaction – Diana RossSuccessful innovation often requires the combination of several different talents: Inventors, w...
Hiring Creative EmployeesPosted on March 11, 2013 by Jeffrey Baumgartner                                                  ...
Aside from work experience, look for evidence of diversity and unusual points in education, hobbies and elsewhere. A marke...
Of course, hiring rebels should also give you pause for thought. Hiring highly creative people will almost certainly resul...
There Are No Best PracticesPosted on March 9, 2013 by Mike Shipulski                                                      ...
Three Friends vs. Three Enemies of InnovationPosted on March 8, 2013 by Paul SloaneFor most organizations innovation is a ...
1. Busyness.People are often so busy working on the day job that they do not have time for innovation. People are working ...
Heat-seeking InnovationPosted on March 10, 2013 by Paul HobcraftSo for a little bit of fun I took a look at some of the co...
All sources of energy (our people) emit the potential for innovation activity. The more you ‘emit’ you achieve growing pro...
We need seeker typesWe call these innovation scouts. These are the source for detecting new innovation, targets to zoom in...
We all like to take the most direct path to the intercept, to deliver innovation. Newer missiles are smarter and use the g...
Anyone Can Innovate, But Not Everyone CanPosted on March 12, 2013 by Jorge BarbaYes, anyone can. But not everyone can. Her...
create new capability, such as innovation, you need to stop doing other things. You need to shed some skin. You need to lo...
Build a Stronger Innovation Culture by Embracing FailurePosted on March 12, 2013 by Stefan LindegaardThe fast pace of chan...
• Major firm failure (Enron going out of business)• Start-up failure ( going out of business)• Product failure (Ne...
• Organizations fail to anticipate changes that impact the platforms needed to bring their products and services to market...
Reward learning behaviors: If you only reward outcomes (successes), then you do not improve your corporate innovation capa...
Innovation ComfortPosted on March 9, 2013 by Jeffrey PhillipsI think Newton left out a law when he devised his three laws ...
The shock and awe strategy works to kick-start a complacent organization and engage it short term and periodically, if the...
Leveraging Organizational SkepticsPosted on March 10, 2013 by Stephan Liozu                                               ...
You might think that organizational skeptics should be better off outside the                                             ...
Innovation is Business at its BestPosted on March 11, 2013 by Chris Trimble                                               ...
It was a reminder to me that innovation is business at its best. It is through innovation that we solve unsolved problems,...
Are you an innovation practitioner, academic, or enthusiast?Innovation Excellence is the online home of the global innovat...
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Innovation Excellence Weekly - Issue 24


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

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Innovation Excellence Weekly - Issue 24

  1. 1. March 15, 2013
  2. 2. Issue 24 – March 15, 2013 1. The Music of Business....................................................................................... Peter Cook 2. Hiring Creative Employees ……..………………………….....……...…. Jeffrey Baumgartner 3. There Are No Best Practices ……………………….……….……..…...……… Mike Shipulski 4. Three Friends vs. Three Enemies of Innovation ............................................ Paul Sloane 5. Heat-Seeking Innovation .………………………………………….……….….… Paul Hobcraft 6. Anyone Can Innovate, But Not Everyone Can ………………….....…………. Jorge Barba 7. Build a Stronger Innovation Culture by Embracing Failure ………..... Stefan Lindegaard 8. Innovation Comfort ……………………………………………………….….….. Jeffrey Phillips 9. Leveraging Organizational Skeptics …………………….………………........ Stephan Liozu 10. Innovation is Business at its Best ….………………………….………..…...… Chris Trimble 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: Woman Listening to Music from Bigstock
  3. 3. The Music of BusinessPosted on March 10, 2013 by Peter CookInnovation Excellence’s Executive Editor Julie Anixter caught up with Peter Cook about his newest book, The Music of Business.Peter, I remember the Sunday Times article by Adrian Furnham about your last book Sex, Leadership and Rock ’n’ Roll. Adrian wrote aboutyour work and what makes the ‘music metaphor’ so compelling in general, but also specifically to business management. Please tell ouraudience about your latest project…Why did you write this book?“The Music of Business” came from my career, which seems to rotate (accidentally) in 18 year cycles. I spent 18 years in PharmaceuticalResearch and Development at the Wellcome Foundation (now GSK), to bring novel life-saving drugs to market and fixing factories around theworld; 18 years working for Business Schools on MBA programmes, and 18 years running my own business.For me, The Music of Business is an unusual combination of deep industrial experience, supported by formal learning about business andmanagement, and less formal lessons from the school of hard rock. It brings together my three passions of Science, Business and Music and Iwas compelled to write it. I’m pleased to say that others agree that it has been worthwhile, having got an endorsement from Harvey Goldsmith,the man behind Live Aid, Live 8 and just about every significant music event in the world. I’m waiting on another from Seth Godin, now that hehas completed his UK tour. It does not get much better than that.What can innovators specifically learn from musicians?
  4. 4. How to improvise, think creatively, and how to convert that creativity and improvisation into innovativeproducts and services that an audience or customer wants, needs and is prepared to buy over andover again.In Creativity we look at examples of great improvisers such as Deep Purple, Joe Pass, US creativityspecialist Michael Michalko and virtuoso jazz-fusion guitarist Scott McGill, drawing parallel businesslessons out in each case. We also compare the creative style of Hendrix versus Clapton. We look atthe importance of creativity principles and techniques via articles from The Beatles with parallellessons from Proctor and Gamble, HSBC and others. Punk rock offers a metaphor for disruptiveinnovation and we explore punk creativity via chapters on marketing and spontaneous thinking.Under Innovation we address questions of individual personality via the examples of Marc Bolan,Steve Jobs and Richard Strange, the godfather of punk. We also examine principles of business innovation, using the examples of The VelvetUnderground and Andy Warhol, Prince, Lady Gaga, Dyson, Innocent Drinks and more. Finally we explore the impact of the built andpsychological environment on innovation using Stax Records and the experience of my hard rock friend Bernie Tormé, guitarist to OzzyOsbourne and Ian Gillan.There are other sections in the book on Strategy and Change, which are things which all innovators need.What do you hope people will do differently as a result?A few people have actually offered me examples of what they are doing differently as a result of my work. One Telecom’s company developedproducts worth 12 product ideas each worth a minimum of £100 M turnover annually as a result of an innovation summit event. Pfizerdeveloped four innovative ideas that would extend the life of a product and therefore head off the competition at the pass. Here’s a couple ofdirect quotes that summarise reactions I’ve received from business people.“Amongst my highlights, I love that “The Darkness are Queen without disco” and that this relates to the fact that “Companies can learn parallellessons by adopting a mindset that looks to the future whilst respecting cultural signifiers of the past.” Clever and conscience pricking stuff. Welldone.” - Stephen Bourne, Johnson and Johnson“The Music of Business is a really enjoyable read. Great insights in how to approach 21st century business challenges, using lessons from theworld of rock music. It’s funny and thought provoking whilst absolutely hammering home the messages of strategy, collaboration, and projectexecution.” – Alex Watson, Lloyds Register“This book is a great tool for people in business” – Harvey Goldsmith CBE
  5. 5. Will you give us some specific lessons from bands?Wanna Be Starting Something? - Michael JacksonMichael had a great hit with ‘Wanna be starting something?’. It’s unlikely that we would have been as successful if he had called the song‘Wanna be stopping something?’. Yet stopping the momentum of a failing project once in full flow is much harder than starting a new enterpriseor innovation project. The wise leader stops a project before it has failed and regroups.I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For - U2Business needs constant learning and reconnaissance in a complex and changing world. If you stop looking and learning, just like Kodak, youmay disappear from view.Like a Virgin – MadonnaTo succeed in business innovation, treat each day like it’s the first time. Business decline can come from comfort. Keep yourself alive.I Can’t Control Myself – The TroggsCreativity at work without precise execution and discipline rarely leads to innovation.Loving the Alien – David BowieOpposites don’t attract at work even if they do in the home and in bed. Whether we like it or not, it’s easier to surround ourselves with agreeablepeople at work. Unfortunately agreeable people don’t ask each other terrifying questions, don’t generally have a diverse skill set and don’t dareto venture into unknown territories. Wise leaders welcome intellectual conflict by ensuring that there is a rich mixture of people, mixed up indifferent permutations from time to time.Minority – Green DayGreen Day made a mistake when they claimed they wanted to be the minority. When introducing innovations, a minority called the ‘innovators’first adopts the idea, but they only represent 2.5% of the market. Successful marketers often target so-called ‘early adopters’ – about 13.5% ofthe market. These people are better networked and influence the ‘early majority’ – 34% of the market. Minorities matter at the outset of newproduct diffusion, but make sure you reach the other groups for overall success.
  6. 6. Chain Reaction – Diana RossSuccessful innovation often requires the combination of several different talents: Inventors, who often produce ideas without concern for theirpractical value; Innovators, who develop ideas such that they have sustainable commercial value; Champions, who bring resources to help theproduct / service idea succeed. Smart people ensure that these types are represented at the right stage of an innovative project. The innovationchain reaction is then achieved.Should we be playing/listening to more music at work?Absolutely. The inspiration must fit in with the perspiration if creativity is to turn into innovation excellence though!How can we get hold of The Music of Business?It’s on, and worldwide, signed copies via The Music of Business webpage, and the book is available as a Kindledownload. It will be accompanied by free iPhone and Android apps as well, covering daily business tips through the medium of music.image credit:; Peter Cook is a business academic, author, consultant and musician. He leads Human Dynamics and The Academy of Rock, and provides Keynote speaking, Organisational Development and Business Coaching. You can follow him on twitter @Academyofrock. Peter is Rock ‘n’ Roll Innovation Editor at Innovation Excellence.
  7. 7. Hiring Creative EmployeesPosted on March 11, 2013 by Jeffrey Baumgartner Are you looking to hire creative employees at your company? If so, allow me to propose some characteristics you can advertise for and look for in order to find true creative thinkers. However, I also have a warning for you. But first, a little background. I’ve been reading and hearing a lot about how companies are looking to hire creative employees. But, the job advertising I see does not reflect that. Most knowledge workers are expected to follow a rather narrow career path defined by the position they seek. Typically, that will involve a degree in a relevant field, ideally an advanced degree and similar work experience. The individual fulfilling the job description is likely to be competent. But there is no guarantee that she will be particularly creative. Moreover, her background will be sosimilar to that of people already working in the division that she will be unlikely to bring much diversity of thought to the division. Diversity ofthought help in collaborative creativity. The more diversity you have in a group, the more raw material you have for creative ideas.If you want to find and hire exceptionally creative people, you need to find people with diversity in their backgrounds. This is not only a sign ofcreativity, but it also indicates a potential employee with more diversity of experience, knowledge and thought than the person who has followeda clearly defined career path.Diversity and International ExperienceThe most important thing you should look for is international living experience. Not international travel, but living and working (or studying)experience. Research1 has demonstrated that living overseas boosts permanently an individual’s creativity. Indeed, it is to the best of myknowledge, the only proven way to boost permanently creativity. So, look for foreigners living in your country as well as nationals who havelived and worked overseas. Presumably, though it has not been tested, multiple international stints and living in very different cultures furtherenhance creativity.Second best characteristic to international experience is diversity of experience. Rather than look for people who have followed a very narrowcareer path, look for people who have had more varied experience. Look for people who have done work significantly different to that of theposition you are seeking to fulfil. If you want an IT manager, someone who has spent two years selling furniture or a year teaching skiing inaddition to some IT experience is likely to be more creative than someone who has only had IT experience. Moreover, she will bring diversity ofthought to the IT department — and that boosts collaborative creativity.
  8. 8. Aside from work experience, look for evidence of diversity and unusual points in education, hobbies and elsewhere. A marketing manager whohas a degree in philosophy followed up by an MBA will probably be more creative than the marketing manager who has a businessadministration degree and an MBA. She will certainly bring new perspectives to the marketing department.HumourHaving an original sense of humour — that is, being able to make jokes or be funny on your own, rather than repeating well known jokes — isan indicator of creativity. Humour is about seeing things in unusual ways that are unexpected. To be able to to do that requires creativity. Thisdoes not mean every creative person has a sense of humour. Many do not. But anyone with an original sense of humour is almost certainlyvery creative.Having a sense of humour will probably not be apparent in an applicant’s CV and most people believe they have a sense of humour. But if theapplicant keeps a blog, is active on Twitter or participates publicly in other social media where she demonstrates an original sense of humour,she is probably more creative than most.RebelliousnessHighly creative people tend to be rebellious. They think differently to averagely creative people, they tend to do things in unconventional waysand they are not afraid to provoke others, including senior management. This is not usually because they choose to be rebellious. Rather,highly creative people think differently and make decisions differently than do averagely creative people. Often, highly creative people are blindto the relevant conventions. They are likely to believe their ideas are better than more conventional ideas.This means that if you really want to hire highly creative people, you should be looking for evidence of rebelliousness. However, thischaracteristic is unlikely to be mentioned in the prospect’s CV for obvious reasons. It is a characteristic you will need to identify throughinterviews and perhaps by looking at the prospective employee’s profile on social media. Unfortunately, rebelliousness does not necessarilyindicate a creative person. Some people are rebellious for other reasons. So, hiring a rebellious person does not guarantee she will make acreative contribution to your company. Rather, it should be considered along with other characteristics I have described here.
  9. 9. Of course, hiring rebels should also give you pause for thought. Hiring highly creative people will almost certainly result in hiring rebels, peoplewho will not easily conform to your company’s social culture; people who may be critical of their managers and the way you do things in yourcompany; people who believe they know better than you and your managers. Sometimes, the rebels will be wrong. Other times they will beright. But you need to ask yourself: do you really want creative employees so badly you are willing to accept the consequences of having anumber of highly creative rebels in your organisation.Because, make no mistake, rebels or not, highly creative people are by definition different to the average person. They think differently. Theydo not conform. They may be rebels. They will certainly become frustrated and leave if you ignore their creative ideas and stick to safer, lesscreative ideas that are also less risky.DifferentThat pretty much sums up highly creative people: they are different. They will have different backgrounds to averagely creative people — andthat background may very well include international living and working experience. They will behave differently to averagely creative people andthey will offer different results: creative results. If you keep this in mind, it will not be hard to find and hire creative people. The challenge will bechallenging them sufficiently to keep them!References 1) William W. Maddux and Adam D. Galinsky (2009) “Cultural Borders and Mental Barriers: The Relationship Between Living Abroad and Creativity”; Journal of Personality and Social Psychology; Vol 96, No 5, pp 1047- 1061). See here as PDF. Jeffrey Baumgartner is the author of the book, The Way of the Innovation Master; the author/editor of Report 103, a popular newsletter on creativity and innovation in business. He is currently developing and running workshops around the world on Anticonventional Thinking, a radical new approach to achieving goals through creativity — and an alternative to brainstorming.
  10. 10. There Are No Best PracticesPosted on March 9, 2013 by Mike Shipulski That’s a best practice. Look, there’s another one. We need a best practice. What’s the best practice? Let’s standardize on the best practice. Arrrgh. Enough, already, with best practices. There are no best practices, only actions that have worked for others in other situations. Yet we feverishly seek them out, apply them out of context, and expect they’ll solve a problem unrelated to their heritage. To me, the right practices are today’s practices. They’re the base camp from which to start a journey toward new ones.To create the next evolution of today’s practices, for new practices to emerge, a destination must be defined. This destination is dictated byproblems with what we do today. Ultimately, at the highest level, problems with our practices are spawned by gaps, shortfalls, or problems inmeeting company objectives. Define the shortfall – 15% increase in profits – and emergent practices naturally diffuse to the surface.There are two choices: choose someone else’s best practices and twist, prune, and bend them to fit, or define the incremental functionalityyou’d like to create and lay out the activities (practices) to make it happen. Either way, the key is starting with the problem.The important part – the right practices, the new activities, the novel work, whatever you call it, emerges from the need.It’s a problem hierarchy, a problem flow-down. The company starts by declaring a problem – profits must increase by 15% – and the drill-downoccurs until a set of new action (new behaviors, new processes, new activities) is defined that solves the low level problems. And when the lowlevel problems are solved, the benefits avalanche to satisfy the declared problem – profits increased by 15%.It’s all about clarity — clearly define the starting point, clearly define the destination, and express the gaps in a single page, picture-basedproblem statements. With this type of problem definition, you can put your hand over your mouth, with the other hand point to the picture, andeveryone understands it the same way. No words, just understanding.And once everyone understands things clearly, the right next steps (new practices) emerge. Mike Shipulski brings together people, culture, and tools to change engineering behavior. He writes daily on Twitter as @MikeShipulski and weekly on his blog Shipulski On Design.
  11. 11. Three Friends vs. Three Enemies of InnovationPosted on March 8, 2013 by Paul SloaneFor most organizations innovation is a struggle. The natural thing to do isto stay in the current state. The CEO preaches the need for innovation butpeople further down know that it involves risk, time, effort, cost, disruptionand potential failure. In this contest innovation has some powerful friendsand some dangerous enemies.Let’s start with three of its most important friends, the VCC.1. Vision.The most powerful friend of innovation is a shared vision of a better future.The leader and his or her team have to effectively communicate a commongoal that people buy into. The vision has to be believable, aspirational, worthwhile and demanding. People in the organization must have faithin the vision and see that it involves a change that is worth making. Furthermore the staff must see that they have an important role to play inachieving the vision. They have to agree that the journey is worth undertaking, despite the uncertainties and hardships, and that the destinationcan be reached. Jack Welch of GE was a great believer in the power of vision and the need for the leadership team to constantly expound itsbenefits and importance.2. Curiosity.The second friend is a culture of curiosity and challenge. Everyone should be encouraged to look for better ways to do things. We need anendless curiosity about why people buy or do not buy our products, about why we do things the way we do, about how we can make everysystem and service and method better. We need a culture where anyone anywhere can challenge the existing way of doing things in aconstructive manner knowing that their ideas will be listened to. We should be inquisitive about how they solve our kinds of problems in differentorganizations, cultures and countries. There is always a better way to do everything we do and curiosity can help lead us there.3. Courage.It is fine to have a great vision and a fruitful supply of creative ideas but nothing happens without the courage to act. There is always a long listof reasons why action should not be taken. We need to assess the options, consider the risks and then reach for our third friend, courage, totake the key decisions to move forward. Courageous leaders take calculated risks as they move the business forward. Not every bet succeedsso they must be brave enough to admit they made the wrong decisions on occasions.So much for the friends, now for the enemies. These can be harder to spot because they are quiet and unassuming. But do not be fooled.They can stop any innovation initiative in its tracks.
  12. 12. 1. Busyness.People are often so busy working on the day job that they do not have time for innovation. People are working hard. They are meeting theirshort-term objectives and do not want distractions. They do not assign space in their schedule for exploration, brainstorms, looking outside theorganization or experimentation. The most innovative companies meet this challenge head on by allocating time for innovation. 3M have afamous provision allowing any engineer or scientist to spend 15% of his or her time on any investigation they fancy. Google and Genentech gofurther – every employee can spend one day a week researching any business issue that they consider of interest.2. Bureaucracy.Many organizations have convoluted approval processes requiring multiple sign-offs for any significant change. Initiatives get mired withregulations and compliance requirements that slow things down to a crawl. Of course some checks and balances are needed but they need tobe appropriate for the level of change and risk involved. Many procedures are too heavy duty. Shell overcame this problem in its Gamechangerprogram by allowing engineers to get sign-off on innovations from a panel of their peers rather than having to go to several higher levels.3. Complacency.In his seminal book, Leading Change, John Kotter identifies complacency as the number one reason why change projects fail. Complacency isa particularly dangerous foe if the organization is successful. It undermines the need for change. We are doing well right now so why do weneed to rock the boat? What is the best way to fight contentment with the status quo? By communicating the urgent necessity for change andthe importance of the vision. Fighting complacency is one of the leader’s key tasks.Busyness, Bureaucracy and Complacency (BBC) are the silent but deadly enemies of innovation. They must be confronted and vanquished ifthe organization wants to become more agile and competitive. If we want more innovation we need to support its friends and fight its enemies.image credit: fly fight image from bigstock Paul Sloane writes, speaks and leads workshops on creativity, innovation and leadership. He is the author of The Innovative Leader and editor of A Guide to Open Innovation and Crowdsourcing, both published by Kogan-Page.
  13. 13. Heat-seeking InnovationPosted on March 10, 2013 by Paul HobcraftSo for a little bit of fun I took a look at some of the comparisons betweenheat seeking missiles and applied those to heat-seeking innovation. Ok, Iknow a little “left field” but it became interesting, so stay with me for a fewmoments of wanderings.Stretching your thinking around heat-seeking innovationSo, I’m stretching our thinking, ignoring much within the design of heatseeking missiles but looking at some of the commonalities that aresurprisingly around us in different ways when we need to build into our innovation capability, building for future innovation, to respond too in farmore smarter ways. Can you see these commonalities?Heat-seeking innovation relies on piecing together considerable data, rapidly absorbing the individual values to ‘react’ to the unfamiliar andcontinue to manage the constant and familiar.The parallels with heat-seeking missilesWith so many new business models occurring, they are out to destroy what is already in place and part of the incumbent CEO’s role is to avoidthis fate, or be the one to bring the new business model to fruition. They need to ‘seek out’ more and ‘invest in risk’ far more.As the name implies heat-seeking missiles home in on the hot areas of a target, the parallel is that our innovation needs to do the same job.Home in and do the job, disrupt (destroy) the existing, reduce its value or position and gain the advantage through new business models,products and services.Heat seeker innovation requires us all to get a whole lot smarterWe need to get a whole lot smarter with our innovation efforts, we need to build innovation systems that are “smarter” in discriminating targetsand resisting the jamming effects, internally and externally often deployed to try and influence and alter their mission. We need to use the heatmap to focus in and cut out this ‘background’ clutter. We need to stay the innovation course.What do we need in heat-seeking innovation?Firstly we need innovation combustion.It is the amount of innovation heat, the energy feeding into the system, to quote from one article on heat seeking missiles: “the energy is in theform of a crystal lattice of vibrations that vibrate along the chain”. The more heat one omits you achieve a continuous band that raises the(innovation) temperature and increases the thrust and combustion.
  14. 14. All sources of energy (our people) emit the potential for innovation activity. The more you ‘emit’ you achieve growing propulsion in newinnovative energy so the more you vibrate (with innovation) the higher the intensity. You need to build the innovation engine that allows theenergy source to propagate (our people and their ideas and actions) and champion its value and source of future growth.Controlling the burnPropulsion needs a controlled burn time. To get a better speed, to move organizations forward faster levels of heat-seeking innovation, there isa need to have a combination of proximity and impact infusing. Here the CEO needs to lay down all the “guidance systems”, provide thepositioning of targets and issues the necessary commands (the innovation strategy aligned to corporate goals) to achieve the desired flightpath. Getting close to our customers, our markets and having available core capabilities to deliver desired results does need a certaincloseness and determination to infuse the parts.There also needs to be in place optical filters which I gather for heat-seeking missiles are made up of absorption filters that have widebandwidth (scanning and assessments) and interference filters that design down to extremely narrow bandwidths (clear innovation focus) andboth require good transmittance (communications) and reflecting unwanted energy (a design of a common language and intent) instead ofabsorbing it.Reject what is not relevant to getting the heat seeking innovation away (good governance and project management). In other words stopunnecessary interference which comes from our own reflection (dogma’s and mindsets) and laser in on what secures your future. Push throughthe “flak.”What we need to set up targeted directional information to accelerate this impact infusingSo we need to ensure the following to be put into place for optimising our heat-seeking innovation (missiles) to become operative and delivertheir full impact.
  15. 15. We need seeker typesWe call these innovation scouts. These are the source for detecting new innovation, targets to zoom in on, seek out their heat and these targetsallow up to home in on to defeat with countermeasures, provide the information to avoid, possible seek and destroy as threats, or rapidly learnfrom as these take evasive actions to improve our own innovation efforts.We need scanning patterns and modulationAs we build our own capabilities in innovation it is the space in front of us becomes the one to scan for new targets (core, adjacent or newspaces). We need to amplify the signals (weak signals offer tomorrows innovation). The more we ‘do’ innovation, increase its frequency, thebetter we become at hitting the right targets more accurately.Cooling effectHeat-seeking missiles need to lock into increasing lower level signals and often the heat being omitted by much within the system canoverpower the weak signal. We sometimes need to cool our systems to lock into these targets (portfolio pruning), especially over longer timeframes and horizons (the three horizons of innovation)TrackingHeat seeking missiles have their seekers mounted on a gimbal. This allows the sensor to be pointed at the target while the missile might not be.Like missiles innovation cannot always be pointed at the target, we need to explore other trajectory paths, but at a given time we lock into thetarget (innovation value chain) and begin to control the direction innovation points in its execution and delivery. The interesting point is thegimballed seeker needs to be able to track the target independently (stay true to course) until you make that decision to lock in and fully align inthe final execution.Hitting the target
  16. 16. We all like to take the most direct path to the intercept, to deliver innovation. Newer missiles are smarter and use the gimballed seekercombined with what is known as a proportional guidance in order to avoid oscillation (our fear and doubts) and stay locked into the best, mostefficient intercept path.So maybe there is sufficient with heat-seeking missiles but in our approach to innovation I would argue we need to develop up a greater ‘designcapacity’ for heat-seeking innovation so we can zero in on all that threatens us. We take design to a greater height, take out what is currentlyknown and leave us with the blue sky and the dawning of a new age, simply flying into the “unfamiliar and unknowns”. Hang on………Just a minute why have some guys in white coats just arrived at my door?OK, I’m returning to my innovation real world but this had some heat-omitting fun (for me). I need to watch for others to home in and commenton this. Time for some evasive action and drop below the visible spectrum where heat is generated, and stop emitting useless radiation and allthis background clutter to return to the serious job on hand, building our organizations capabilities and capacities for our business innovationneeds.Although I have to admit- I do like the idea of “heat-seeking innovation”. Now let’s take the medication I’m being offered by these guys. Such acalming effect on me- lift off.image credit: Paul Hobcraft runs Agility Innovation, an advisory business that stimulates sound innovation practice, researches topics that relate to innovation for the future, as well as aligning innovation to organizations core capabilities.
  17. 17. Anyone Can Innovate, But Not Everyone CanPosted on March 12, 2013 by Jorge BarbaYes, anyone can. But not everyone can. Here’s why…It is very simple. First of all, to innovate, you need skill combined with will. Theskills needed are very straight forward, to begin you need to identify a problem,understand it and then have access to people and information that can help yousolve the problem.And, that is just the beginning…Anyone can identify problems, but not everyone has the patience and will to digdeeper, and keep going. And, not many cultivate an idea network whichconstantly feeds them ideas and insights, therefore not everyone has access todiverse knowledge sources to help them see beyond the obvious. Which is critical.Also, just because you’re creative doesn’t mean anything. I know, and work with, creative people who have no discipline (there are exceptions).The ones who live in their dreams need a helping hand in making things happen. This is where will comes in. And, with will comes guts anddaring.This is where the bottleneck is. So you see, it isn’t as simple as asking everyone for ideas and them letting them roll with whatever is on theirmind. Unless the culture exists, set by the leader, don’t expect anyone to take risks and experiment.So what is a company to do?You have two options:1. Walk the talk. Easier said than done, but if you are an un-innovative traditional company (which most are), then you must provide yourpeople with innovation skills. Heck, if you are the leader of the organization, set the example and get the skills with them. Be the example.2. Get out of zombie mode. If you’re a company that started with an innovation, but has lost track, you need to go back to your roots. Mostlikely, business-as-usual has set in and your organization needs a reset to shake it out of zombie mode. Ask yourself: What is our reason forexisting? Why do our customers value us? What difference are we making? If we started today, would we do it differently?If we view value creation as critical, which you should, then innovation is the only way to achieve it. And, if you’ve been in zombie modedelivering more of the same, you need to do a 360′. The path to transformation is not for the faint of heart, it is a critical.Warning signs are right in front of youCompanies, for the most part, treat new capabilities as nothing more than add-ons to the current structure. This is a warning sign, because to
  18. 18. create new capability, such as innovation, you need to stop doing other things. You need to shed some skin. You need to lose some weight ifyou will.The difference between new ventures and incumbents, is how they approach value creation. To the incumbent, value creation means gettingmore pay-off out of what they already have. To the new venture, it means either doing things better or differently than what currently exists. Ofcourse, this path is not without its challenges.The point: Anyone can innovate if they are willing to change their ways, but not everyone can because change isn’t a priority. It is somethingthat happens, and most are more than comfortable waiting until they have to. Those with guts are bound for glory. Take the first step, shedsome skin to make way for new capabilities. That is how you start the transformation.image credit: business people image from bigstock Jorge Barba is an Innovation Insurgent and is the Creative Strategist at Blu Maya, a San Diego based Digital Marketing Firm that helps organizations build their online business with strategy development for new products and services. He’s also the author of the innovation blog Game Changer. And lastly, you can follow him on Twitter @jorgebarba.
  19. 19. Build a Stronger Innovation Culture by Embracing FailurePosted on March 12, 2013 by Stefan LindegaardThe fast pace of change, business and thus innovation requires severalchanges in the innovation processes as well as in the innovation culturein today’s organizations.One key element is that they must embrace and foster a culture ofexperimentation in which failure is acceptable as long as the intentionswere relevant and if the learning of the failure was captured so that youdon’t go on repeating the same failures over and over again.This is not the case today because most companies have “low tolerancefor failure culture”. This leaves no room for experimentation and without much of a surprise the punching back for this is the top leadership.Before I get into why top leadership takes the blame for this and what can be done about it, I want to share some thoughts on the definition offailure in the context of innovation. Like most words, it can mean different things to different people. It can also be defined differently from oneorganization to the next.Paul Sloane, an internationally known author and speaker on innovation and leadership, points out, it’s important to “distinguish between thetwo types of failure – honorable failure is where an honest attempt at something new or different has been tried unsuccessfully and incompetentfailure where people fail for lack of effort or competence in standard operations.”Jamie Notter put it this way in a blog post: “A mistake is when you do something wrong, even though you knew the right way to do it. Failureis when you are trying something new, and you don’t know ahead of time how to make it successful. “Certainly, our topic here is not incompetent failure or mistakes. If your organization suffers from repeated bouts of incompetent failure and/ormistakes, your company almost certainly has bigger problems that I am prepared to address. But how else can we define failure?Tim Kastelle, who co-writes the Innovation for Growth blog says, “Mistakes are things you do even though you know better. Experiments aretests designed to expand your knowledge. The big difference is that you learn from experiments (or at least you should).”I completely agree; to innovate, we have to learn and we do that through experimentation, some of which are destined to fail. But it’s not thefailure that drives innovation, but rather the learning. Hence, my term “smartfailing” as I have written about in previous posts.Kastelle also offers up this hierarchy of failure:• System failure (the collapse of communism)• System component failure (stock market crashes)
  20. 20. • Major firm failure (Enron going out of business)• Start-up failure ( going out of business)• Product failure (New Coke tanking)• Idea failure (Apple Navigator prototyped but never launched)For our purposes here, we are primarily talking about the last three categories on the hierarchy, although, certainly, if a company continuouslyexperiences product and idea failure, they put themselves at risk of eventually moving up the hierarchy to suffer a major firm failure.Business model failure is another level we might consider adding to the hierarchy because a lot of innovation revolves around finding a newway to do business and, certainly, lots of failure occurs there, too. This is different than start-up failure because often start-ups are following oldbusiness models that have succeeded elsewhere.Another point to make about this Kastell’s suggested hierarchy is that the failure to stop ideas or projects early on can lead to bigger failureslater in the process. To use one of Kastelle’s examples, the executives at Coca-Cola ignored warning signs that arose in focus groups as theytested New Coke that should have alerted them to the considerable backlash they would face if they messed with the formula for Coke.Yet they went ahead with an expensive product launch that quickly resulted in a complete humiliation for the company when it had to pull themuch hyped new product off the market in less than three months. Examples like this, where companies should have shut down a project farsooner than they did, litter the innovation landscape. There is little doubt that part of the problem here is an unwillingness by people at variouslevels and at various stages along the way to admit they might be on the wrong track, i.e., the track to failure.Here is another way to look at failure. I believe failure in organizations most often happen on two levels: the failure to anticipate and the failureto execute. I would also argue that failure to anticipate happens on three levels:• Organizations fail to anticipate changes in the market
  21. 21. • Organizations fail to anticipate changes that impact the platforms needed to bring their products and services to market. This includes thefailure to build proper ecosystems.• Organizations fail to anticipate changes that will have an impact on their organizational setup and the culture.My focus on this is very much about change; it is important to notice that the fast pace of change we experience today actually seems tohappen much faster outside organizations than inside. It takes time for organizations to adapt to changes and this creates pockets ofopportunities that can be lost or won.At last, I can also mention that another key element of failure for organizations is related to execution. Not so much of a surprise.Top Executives Are at Fault Based on my recent survey on why corporate innovation fails, Paul Hobcraft identified the top ten causes ofinnovation failure and this points straight to the top of the of organization.Here you get the top six causes as mentioned in Paul’s post:1) unrealistic expectations from top management regarding resources and the time really required in achieving innovation2) the lack of resources allocated in budget, people, infrastructure and3) far too much focus on products and technology and ignoring the other options within innovation, such as service, business model, platformcollaborations etc.4) that people or teams operate in silo’s instead of broader collaborative approaches,5) the wrong personnel are in place to make innovation happen and6) that classic of classics, a poorly defined innovation strategy and the goals to achieve this.I fully agree with Paul that each of these are top management failures and the key reason is that the executives simply do not understandinnovation well enough to lead these efforts in the best possible way. This is unfortunate as this means that there are no quick fixes to thisproblem.Nevertheless, here you get some of my suggestions on what we can do about this:Better overview, new processes: Corporate innovation teams must identify the key reasons for failure in their organizations and then theymust develop a learning process on how to address this. This process can be inspired by other failure/learning processes in the company(perhaps in production) or if the team already has a process in place in which they learn from their successes.Be open about failures: There is not much surprise here. You need to talk more about failures and how to learn from them if you want tochange an innovation culture for the better.
  22. 22. Reward learning behaviors: If you only reward outcomes (successes), then you do not improve your corporate innovation capabilities bymuch. You will also need to find ways to reward behaviors including the ability to detect early failure and deal with this (correct it or kill it). Weneed to remind ourselves that learning behaviors are the true drivers of a culture of innovation.Educate up and down on innovation: It is the responsibility for corporate innovation teams to educate and train the organization oninnovation. They also need to educate upwards (the executives) which is often neglected since it is difficult for many to point out to theirexecutives that they have shortcomings that need to be addressed. But they need to ask themselves an important question here: Who else willdo this? As I said, there are no quick fixes to these issues, but I hope these thoughts will help organizations get started on improving theirinnovation processes and culture by becoming better at learning from failure.Your input is much appreciated.image credit: mixed hands image from bigstock Stefan Lindegaard is an author, speaker and strategic advisor who focus on the topics of open innovation, social media and intrapreneurship.
  23. 23. Innovation ComfortPosted on March 9, 2013 by Jeffrey PhillipsI think Newton left out a law when he devised his three laws of nature. Youknow the laws I’m speaking of – objects at rest tend to stay at rest. Everyforced is opposed by an equal and opposite force. And so on.But one important one that he missed is what we’ll call the Phillips corollary– objects (and corporations, and people) tend to seek their specific level ofdesired comfort and then resist any change that threatens their comfort.This is true in life as it is in business. But it’s impact is probably felt mostkeenly in innovation settings.ComfortThink about it. From your earliest days people have been concerned about your comfort. As a young child your parents did everything theycould to make you comfortable. When you visit family and friends they want to make you comfortable with the accomodations. When youencountered problematic or difficult decisions, it is common to ask – Are you comfortable with this? Because discomfort signals a problem, andif people believe a problem exists then they cannot regain their expected level of comfort. And we’ll move heaven and earth to regain comfort ifat all possible.Innovation threatens comfortNow let’s turn our attention to something sure to create some dissonance in the comfort arena – innovation. By its very nature innovationshould create some discomfort. Innovation introduces change, which is likely to move many people from their comfortable positions or perches,and it introduces risk and uncertainty. Innovation changes the natural order, and forces people to consider their strategic goals and options in amanner in which they are unaccustomed to doing. Once an organization has reached its level of comfort, innovation can be a difficult andfrankly dangerous force. Increasingly, however, many organizations have no choice. No matter how comfortable they area in their processes,products and markets, they have to innovate to grow and thrive, which means they must sacrifice comfort. The interesting concept is that manyfirms believe they will simply shift from one level and position of comfort pre-innovation to another position of comfort post-innovation, likeelectrons moving in orbit around a nucleus. They can’t wait until things are as they used to be. But it doesn’t work that way.DiscomfortWe’ve introduced the idea that for many firms innovation causes change and discomfort. There are really only two options, both of whichrequire change. Either the senior team needs to force discomfort onto a complacent and comfortable organization, to shock it into realizing theneed for innovation and to shake off its inertia, or the organization must grow comfortable with the concept of innovation.
  24. 24. The shock and awe strategy works to kick-start a complacent organization and engage it short term and periodically, if the executive team cancreate enough of a burning platform. But at the end of the exercise, the firm will revert back to its desired level of comfort and complacency,having done just enough innovation to survive, but not sustaining innovation to thrive. This is why many innovation activities aren’t seen assuccessful – they don’t have a long lasting impact. The organization simply reverts to the way things were, as much as possible, enduring thediscomfort of innovation for the short run.The other option, the one that requires more investment in skills and a sustained focus, is simply to create an organization that is comfortablewith innovation. If we can create an organization that is comfortable with change, and risk, and uncertainty, if we can create a culture thatthrives on innovation and sustains it, then innovation isn’t uncomfortable, it is expected. And when it is expected, it can be more easilyrepeated. In this case innovation isn’t viewed as a short term intrusion but a long term commitment to growth and change.Organizational level of comfort and complacencyWhat’s your organization’s desired level of comfort and complacency? If you have an organization and culture that strives to maintain itscomfort and avoids change, innovation is exceptionally difficult without a significant event or “burning platform” and the organization will revertto that context as quickly as possible after the innovation activity. To sustain innovation over the long term, you must create a culture whererisk, uncertainty and change are embraced as part of the expectation and the “comfort” level. This requires changes to attitudes, compensation,skills and processes. In other words, comfort is a cultural phenomenon, and can only be changed through sudden shifts that cause disruptionsor through longer term consistent investments. The good news is that you get to choose how you react.Will you have to force and prod your organization out of its comfort zone each time innovation is deemed necessary? In other words, willinnovation remain an uncomfortable activity that requires a burning platform? Or, will you build the attitudes, skills and awareness to build anew level of comfort that includes sustained innovation?image credit: business relax image from bigstock Jeffrey Phillips is a senior leader at OVO Innovation. OVO works with large distributed organizations to build innovation teams, processes and capabilities. Jeffrey is the author of Relentless Innovation and the blog Innovate on Purpose.
  25. 25. Leveraging Organizational SkepticsPosted on March 10, 2013 by Stephan Liozu Change is hard. Literature on change reports that over 70% of projects fail due to the inability of people and organizations to change. Change is even harder when it is transformational in nature and requires a change in culture and DNA. Our experience with organizational transformations in the area of innovation reveals that organizational skeptics typically are the ones resisting change the most and spreading their views on the rest of the organization. It is common to hear comments like these: “This will never work. We have tried it before and failed.” “We have never been successful at this in the past”“We are already very innovative. There is no need to change.”“We do not have an innovation problem”.“Our culture is different. We do things differently around here.”Every organization faces skeptical people. There are generally several reasons that explain a chronic skepticism in people:1) Skepticism born from fear and uncertainty: breakdowns in rationality and limitations of the human mind to grasp and handle uncertainty canmanifest themselves by strong resistance to change. This is what famous behavioral scientist Herbert Simon called the limitations of the“rational man”.2) Skepticism as a result of organizational change fatigue: Change is either constant or punctuated in nature. Either way, it is hard and candrain organizational resources. The concept of fatigue is critical to pay attention to in order to change at the right pace so that the organizationalactors can absorb change. It is all about making it stick!3) Skepticism as a result of stress and multi-tasking: There is so much multi-tasting that organizational actors can do. The emergence ofmultiple projects and initiatives create skepticism and reactions such as “here is the project du jour”. Multi-tasking contributes to the lack offocus and can create a perception that not much is getting accomplished.4) Skepticism as a result of accumulated expertise: Some people like to play devils advocates and challenge common wisdom. Some do thisbecause of the tremendous amount of expertise accumulated over years of work. They perceive their expertise as a pass to becomebottlenecks, challenge everything, and volunteer insights.5) Skepticism as a mindset: Some people are born skeptics. They see the glass half-empty and there might be very little you can do to changethat!
  26. 26. You might think that organizational skeptics should be better off outside the organization. We conjecture that having a few skeptics in the organization is a good way to keep the pulse on the organization, to get different views on transformational projects and also to provide a voice that is generally not heard very often. These people can bring rich and valuable insights on the innovation processes and initiatives that are about to be deployed by injecting a sense of realism, common sense and pragmatism.So, if you are embarking on an innovation cultural transformation, leverage your skeptics as follow:1) Identify progressive and positive skeptics inside your organization. Start establishing a relationship with them and engage them in regularconversations.2) Listen to them carefully as they might become the pulse of the organization with regards to your innovation strategies or your changeinitiatives. Do this early on during the discovery and design phase.3) Sort through what is skepticism versus relevant devil’s advocate views. It important to get to know them and to be able to differentiatebetween whining and useful feedback!4) Invest time to bring them along and get their buy-in with proposed changes and innovation initiatives.5) Coach them to leverage their participation in bringing the rest of the organization along. Once they are on board and the organization seesthat while knowing their level of chronic skepticism, you might accelerate overall buy-in.Organizational transformations require the skills and expertise of the best in your organization. Organizational skeptics can also play a criticalrole in innovation transformations.image credit: Stephan Liozu, PhD is the Founder of Value Innoruption Advisors and specializes in disruptive approaches in innovation and value management. He holds a PhD in Management at Case Western Reserve University and can be reached at Katie Richardson is a Game Changing Coach at Ennova Inc and specializes in game changing behaviors using The Shared Clarity System™. She can be reached at
  27. 27. Innovation is Business at its BestPosted on March 11, 2013 by Chris Trimble More than ten years ago, when I was just getting started in innovation research, I had the opportunity to interview Ray Stata, then the chairman of Analog Devices, a Massachusetts-based semiconductor company. Mr. Stata left more than one lasting impression. I was there to study the company’s venture to commercialize modern-day crash sensors, devices that look like ordinary computer chips but contain a microscopic moving part that detects a crash. It took years for the company to figure out how to reliably manufacture these devices — longer than anyone had anticipated.And, when I interviewed Mr. Stata, the company had yet to fully recover the tens of millions of dollars it had invested in the venture.Nonetheless, there was no mistaking Mr. Stata’s pride in his company’s work. The investment may not have paid off yet, but Analog Deviceswould eventually recoup the investment, he believed. Further, there were many other potential applications for the technology, beyond crashsensors, that could stimulate further growth. (Indeed, the same devices are now the motion sensors inside certain video game consoles like theNintendo Wii.)But Mr. Stata’s satisfaction was not fundamentally rooted in any return-on-investment calculation. Though earning money was certainly a driver,the core ambition was far simpler than that. It was to improve the world. After all: Crash sensors save lives.
  28. 28. It was a reminder to me that innovation is business at its best. It is through innovation that we solve unsolved problems, create jobs, and raiseliving standards. As Mr. Stata himself put it in a graduation address at MIT, “As MIT graduates we are all innovators and entrepreneurs at heart.We search for opportunities to do things better, to make things happen, and to change the world.”It’s part of what has kept me fully engaged in studying innovation for nearly 13 years now. Innovation matters most. Everything else just keepsthe trains running on time.Mr. Stata said something else to me that was equally memorable. He said “The limits to innovation have nothing to do with creativity, andnothing to do with technology. They have everything to do with management capability.”I believe he was spot on, but I’ll leave further thought about it for a future blog.image credit: Chris Trimble is an expert on making innovation happen in large organizations. He is a frequent speaker on the topic — keynote, roundtable discussions, and executive education programs. Chris is on the faculty at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth and at The Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science. He has written four books: How Stella Saved the Farm; Reverse Innovation; The Other Side of Innovation; and 10 Rules for Strategic Innovators – from idea to execution.
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