Innovation Excellence Weekly - Issue 3


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We are proud to announce our third Innovation Excellence Weekly for Issuu. 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 nearly 5,000 innovation-related articles.

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Innovation Excellence Weekly - Issue 3

  1. 1. October 19, 2012
  2. 2. Issue 3 – October 19, 2012 1. Please, No Innovation ……………………………………...….……...………… Jeffrey Phillips 2. Even You Can Innovate to Grow – Learn from Skanska ……...………….. Adam Hartung 3. Breaking with the Past ………………..………………………….………….…. Rowan Gibson 4. Game-Changing Innovation, Xerox, and True Collaboration ……..……… Braden Kelley 5. Four Lessons from the Best Bosses I Ever Had ………..…..……. Deborah Mills-Scofield 6. Innovation Big & Small ………...………………….….…………………………… Tim Kastelle 7. Rapid Innovation Breakthrough ……………………………..……..……………. Nicolas Bry 8. Move from Open Innovation to “True” Open Innovation …..…….…...……. Frank Mattes 9. Identification is the Core of Innovation ……………………………..….…….. Paul Hobcraft 10. Navigating an Ocean of Big Data ………………………..…….…………..….. Melba Kurman 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: open door from Bigstock
  3. 3. Please, No InnovationPosted on October 12, 2012 by Jeffrey Phillips I was thinking about innovation over the weekend when I asked myself “what’s the one thing that no senior executive is likely to say about innovation?” Every executive is likely to talk about innovation, to describe what his or her firm is doing. They are likely to talk about plans for innovation, as clients demand new products and services. What I don’t think you are likely to hear is executives telling their employees not to innovate, or executives talking to the press or shareholders about a lack of innovation. Can you image a CEO who came out and said to his team “Please, no more innovation”? Sometimes, to understand what’s going on it takes an extreme or almost inverted perspective to shine a light into the darkness. Certainly, few CEOs would last long if they downplayed the importance of innovation.Innovation is seen as an important differentiator, and something every executive should support and embrace as a means to growth. Innovationis as American as apple pie and motherhood, and has become almost as overused and as saccharin. So we aren’t likely to hear denunciationsof innovation, or executives verbally downplaying its importance. Innovation, or at least the appearance of innovation, is exceptionallyimportant.But what we don’t often hear about is the actual work of innovation, the investments made, the people trained, the mistakes made, thesuccesses that create new segments. Innovation, like dieting or getting into better physical shape, is something we all know we SHOULD do,but is also something that is easy to put off to another day. If talking about physical fitness contributed to weight loss we’d all be exceptionallythin. Unfortunately, staying in shape and physically fit requires more than talking – it requires a consistent commitment and focus on specificgoals. Likewise, innovation requires a constant commitment that is intended to deliver specific outcomes. No one innovates for innovation’ssake – they innovate to create a new product or service, to create new revenues and profits, to differentiate from another competitor, to stakeout a completely different market sector. Since we know that few if any CEOs will reject innovation, and innovation isn’t widespread and fullycompetent in many organizations, what can we do to build and sustain innovation as a consistent competency?Build a planMost innovation is undertaken as a reaction to some competitive threat or market shift. This means most innovation is REACTIONARY ratherthan the result of an intentional plan. When we react we tend to invest just enough to get a product just good enough to compete in themarket. So many of our “innovations” are reactions to competitors with the goal of responding with a product that’s just good enough tocompete. Rather, we should plan for innovation proactively. This would force our internal teams to think about innovation more broadly,account for innovation in annual planning and most importantly funding exercises. Further, a plan demonstrates vision and strategy. One of
  4. 4. the most common questions we hear when working with innovation teams is: how does innovation fit with our strategy? That’s not a questionyou should ask a consultant, but one your executives should be able to answer easily.Establish goalsWithout a goal any outcome can be declared a success. Far too many firms areexpected to innovate but without any clear goals or measurements. This is akin to aweight loss program with no clear outcomes or end state metrics.Many clients ask us about the “best” goals for innovation. My response is that the 3Mgoal for innovation, which they define as 20% of revenues resulting from products lessthan 3 years old, is a good one. Defining a revenue target for new, innovative productsrequires that a firm innovate and keep innovating. In fact I’d like to see an initial targetand then each year inch that target up a bit more. Once 20% becomes a fairly “easy”target to hit, let’s move it up to 25%.Appoint a SponsorIn many programs that help people lose weight or quit bad habits, the program insists on a “sponsor” who is an honest broker for the persontrying to change habits. The sponsor is meant to call the person to account – to ensure they are doing the things that will help them achievetheir goals. Likewise, innovation needs an honest broker or a sponsor. This could be a senior executive who constantly reviews innovationactivities and compares to targets. He or she can assess whether or not the firm is living up to its commitments, and encourage the firm to domore. After all, we are talking about changing the habit of efficiency into the habit of innovation.Find a coach; Get encouragementWhether you are trying to lose weight or trying to quit a bad habit, you need resources to accomplish your mission. Those resources may befriends and relatives who give you great advice, or a sponsor or a charitable organization to provide support or encouragement. Changingattitudes and behaviors requires a constant reinforcement of goals and rewards for short term small successes. Innovation needs a coach andplenty of encouragement. If it were easy, every firm would be doing it proficiently. Evidence suggests that few firms do innovation well, andmost don’t understand how to get started or how to maintain the momentum.
  5. 5. Stick with the programIn any change program you will encounter obstacles. Some of these may be your own cravings. For me, nothing beats mint chocolate chip icecream as a dessert. But if I want to lose weight or at the least maintain the weight I have I have to stick with my exercise program and mydiet. Deviating from the program can and will have adverse affects. Innovation faces the same dilemma. You can’t jump into and out of aninnovation program. There are simply too many factors reinforcing the status quo that will make it very difficult to swap into and out of aninnovation program. The risk factors, inertia and resistance to change will become barriers to innovation. If you plan to become innovative,plan to stick to the program, come rain or shine.Examine the CommitmentsFew CEOs or senior executives are likely to describe innovation as unimportant or unnecessary. But the real assessment of their focus andcommitment should be an investigation into the points I’ve made here. Are the commitments in line with the communication? Does yourorganization understand the breadth and depth of the change necessary to incorporate innovation as a consistent discipline?It is more dangerous to start innovation without resources and without a clear purpose than not to start at all. Given the inertia and resistance,your team will get few chances to get innovation right before the organization becomes cynical and disillusioned about innovation. Mostcorporate cultures are very good at sniffing out what initiatives will have deep executive commitment, funding and support, and which aretalking points that won’t be supported. If you say you want innovation, be sure to provide the commitments necessary to sustain it.image credit: glassdoorDon’t miss an article (4,800+) – Subscribe to our RSS feed and join our Innovation Excellence group! Jeffrey Phillips is a senior leader at OVO Innovation. OVO works with large distributed organizations to build innovation teams, processes and capabilities. Jeffrey is the author of “Make us more Innovative”, and
  6. 6. Even You Can Innovate to Grow – Learn from SkanskaPosted on October 11, 2012 by Adam HartungI like writing about tech companies, such as Apple and Facebook, becausethey show how fast you can apply innovation and grow – whether it istechnology, business process or new best practices. But many peoplearen’t in the tech industry, and think innovation applies a lot less to them.Whoa there cowboy, innovation is important to you too!Few industries are as mired in outdated practices and slow to adopttechnology than construction. Whether times are good, or not, contractorsand tradespeople generally do things the way they’ve been done fordecades. Even customers like to see bids where the practices aretraditional and time-worn, often eschewing innovations simply because theylike the status quo.Skanska, a $19B construction firm headquarted in Stockholm, Sweden with $6B of U.S. revenue managed from the New York regional HQrefused to accept this. When Bill Flemming, President of the Building Group recognized that construction industry productivity had notimproved for 40 years, he reckoned that perhaps the weak market wasn’t going to get better if he just waited for the economy to improve. Hewas sure that field-based ideas could allow Skanska to be better than competitors, and open new revenue sources.Skanska USA CEO Mike McNally agreed instantly. In 2009 he brought together his management team to see if they would buy into investingin innovation. He met the usual objections  We’re too busy  I have too much on my plate  Business is already too difficult, I don’t need something new  Customers aren’t asking for it, they want lower prices  Who’s going to pay for it? My budget is already too thin!But, he also recognized that nobody said “this is crazy.” Everyone knew there were good things happening in the organization, but the learningwasn’t being replicated across projects to create any leverage. Ideas were too often tried once, then dropped, or not really tried inearnest. Mike and Bill intuitively believed innovation would be a game changer. As he discussed implementing innovation with his team hecame to saying “If Apple can do this, we can too!”
  7. 7. Even though this wasn’t a Sweden (or headquarters) based project, Mike decided to create a dedicated innovation group, with its own leaderand an initial budget of $500K – about .5% of the Building Group total overhead.The team started with a Director of innovation, plus a staff of 2. They were given the white space to find field based ideas that would work, andpush them. Then build a process for identifying field innovations, testing them, investing and implementing. From the outset they envisaged a“grant” program where HQ would provide field-based teams with money to test, develop and create roll-out processes for innovations.Key to success was finding the right first project. And quickly the team knew they had one in one of their initial field projects called DigitalResource Center, which could be used at all construction sites. This low-cost, rugged PC-based product allowed sub-contractors around thesite to view plans and all documentation relevant for their part of the project without having to make frequent trips back to the centralconstruction trailer.This saved a lot of time for them, and for Skanska, helping keep the project moving quickly with less time wasted talking. And at a fewthousand dollars per station, the payback was literally measured in days. Other projects were quick to adopt this “no-brainer.” And soonSkanska was not only seeing faster project completion, but subcontractors willing to bake in better performance on their bids knowing theywould be able to track work and identify key information on these field-based rugged PCs.As Skanska’s Innovation Group started making grants for additional projects they set up a process for receiving, reviewing and makinggrants. They decided to have a Skansa project leader on each grant, with local Skansa support. But also each grant would team with a localuniversity which would use student and faculty to help with planning, development, implementation and generate return-on-investment analysisto demonstrate the innovation’s efficacy. This allowed Skansa to bring in outside expertise for better project development and implementation,while also managing cost effectively.With less than 2 years of Innovation Group effort, Skanska has now invested $1.5M in field-based projects. The focus has been on low-costproductivity improvements, rather than high-cost, big bets. Changing the game in construction is a process of winning through lots ofinnovations that prove themselves to customers and suppliers rather than trying to change a skeptical group overnight. Payback has beenalmost immediate for each grant, with ROI literally in the hundreds of percent.
  8. 8. You likely never heard of Skanska, despite its size. And that’s because its in the business of building bridges, subway stations and othermassive projects that we see, but know little about. They are in an industry known for its lack of innovation, and brute-force approach to gettingthings done.But the leadership team at Skanska is proving that anyone can apply innovation for high rates of return. They:1. Understood that industry trends were soft, and they needed to change if they wanted to thrive.2. Recognized that the best ideas for innovation would not come from customers, but rather from scanning the horizon for new ideas and thenfiguring out how to implement themselves.3. Weren’t afraid to try doing something new. Even if the customer wasn’t asking for it.4. Created a dedicated team (and it didn’t have to be large) operating in white space, focused on identifying innovations, reviewing them,funding them and bringing in outside resources to help the projects succeed.In addition to growing its traditional business, Skanska is now something of a tech company. It sells its Digital Resource stations, makingmoney directly off its innovation. And its iSite Monitor for monitoring environmental conditions on sensitive products, and pushing results toSkanska project leaders as well as clients in real time with an app on their iPhones, is also now a commercial product.So, what are you waiting on? You’ll never grow, or make returns, like Apple if you don’t start innovating. Take some lessons from Skanska andyou just might be a lot more successful.image credit: business graph image from bigstockDon’t miss a post (4,800+) – Subscribe to our RSS feed and join our Innovation Excellence group! 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.
  9. 9. Breaking with the PastPosted on October 13, 2012 by Rowan GibsonFor most companies, there comes a moment when the only way to continue growing is,paradoxically, to divest things – to get rid of traditional parts of the business where growth hasstagnated and to get into new, more innovative businesses that have the potential to grow faster.In practice, this rarely happens. When most managers are put in charge of an existing business,they tend to feel as though they have inherited an important legacy – one which should be guardedand treasured, and then passed on to the next generation. But the question is, Will they remainchained to that legacy, or are they prepared to leave it behind and move on to someplace new?That’s why a company like Virgin is interesting. Richard Branson doesn’t seem to have a sentimental attachment to anything. The moment heconcludes that one of his businesses will not be profitable – if it doesn’t seem to have the potential to create wealth and value – he closes itdown or sells it off. He basically just gets rid of it and makes it go away.Branson is not bothered about nostalgia. Admittedly, he may have some affection for his airline, because it’s a big and highl y visible flagship forthe company that flies the brand around the world (without this icon, Virgin would probably be a ragtag group of companies without much of aglobal image). But fundamentally Branson’s goal is to create wealth using all kinds of business opportunities – not to just to take his currentbusiness and make it bigger.Most managers are not like that. The temptation is always to think about the company in terms of a set of businesses they needs to benurtured, year after year, where the goal is to make the whole thing bigger and bigger. But, at some point, that can no longer be done. As GaryHamel points out in Leading the Revolution, there is a “law of large numbers” that affects companies of the $30-50 billion size – they usually hita wall at some point because there’s just a natural limit to how fast you can grow the market value of a company that size.The ultimate goal, therefore, is not to get bigger and bigger but to find things that create more and more value. This is something that must be handled very subtly. It doesn’t mean that the minute some business starts to under-perform, you have to get rid of it. Instead, you need to go in and say, “What are the chances for innovation here? What haven’t we done so far?” In other words, before you decide to get to rid of something, you have to ask yourself if it could be reinvented in some way. But by the time you get to the $30 billion, $40 billion or $50 billion size, you need to be thinking about what to throw out, because sometimes you can only move forward if youbreak the legacy chain. And it is better to do that voluntarily than to wait until somebody forces you to do it.
  10. 10. Contrast Kodak with Fujifilm. Both firms realised in the 1980s that the future of photography was digital. But only Fujifilm was truly willing, asLee Iacocca once put it at Chrysler, to kill its own product before the competitors did it. While Kodak clung to its core business like a sinkingTitanic, seemingly afflicted with complete and utter denial, Fujufilm cleverly diversified away from film into new products and new businesses –nanotechnology, cosmetics, chemicals, industrial materials, medical-imaging. Everyone knows how the story ends.At a given point, you simply have to be willing to move on from where you are to where you need to be. As 3M and DSM did many years ago,by deciding to ditch their mining businesses and get into chemicals. Or as IBM did, when they took the decision to divest themselves of all thePCs, laptops, and printers, and focus instead on software and services. Or as GE and P&G have done repeatedly, by selling off a lot of under-performing assets and getting out of low-growth businesses. Or as Nokia did in the early 90s, when they said goodbye to their long history ofmaking tires, rubber boots, paper and a whole bunch of other stuff and moved agressively into mobile phones. In a world of hyper-acceleratingchange, hyper-competition, rapid commoditization and unprecedented customer power, every firm needs to go through Joseph Schumpeter’s“perennial gale of creative destruction”, whether it likes it or not.This, of course, is very easy to say but very difficult to do. If, like Kodak, you have been in a particular business for over 100 years, thetendency is to say, “No, no, we couldn’t even consider doing saying goodbye to that. These are our roots – our heritage. It’s how our foundersstarted the company. We’ll always be in these businesses.” But today we increasingly need the courage to say, “Look. These pieces of ourcompany are holding us back. We’ve got to get rid of them if we want to make it to the future.”At most big companies this doesn’t happen anywhere near enough. Instead of moving on to create new, high-growth sources of profit, theirnostalgia keeps them chained to the low-growth businesses of the past. This puts a serious inhibition on their power to innovate at the deepestlevel and therefore on their capacity for strategic renewal.Don’t miss an article (4,750+) – Subscribe to our RSS feed and join our Innovation Excellence group! Rowan Gibson is widely recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on enterprise innovation. He is co-author of the bestseller Innovation to the Core and a much in-demand public speaker around the globe. On Twitter he is @RowanGibson.
  11. 11. Game-Changing Innovation, Xerox, and True CollaborationPosted on October 15, 2012 by Innovation ExcellenceInterview – Paul Austin and Denise Fletcher – Xerox and ACS (a Xerox company)I had the opportunity to interview Denise Fletcher, Vice President Innovation,Healthcare Payer & Insurance of ACS (A Xerox company) and Paul Austin, PhD,Principle Researcher for Xerox Innovation group last year, about open innovationparticipation, strategies, and barriers to innovation success.Here is the text from the interview:1. Do you feel that companies need an innovation strategy? If so, wheredoes open innovation fit in?Innovation is one of the only remaining differentiators – virtually everything else in the supply chain can be outsourced – so innovation is vital togrowth. Open innovation fits in as a thoughtful part of the overall strategy; no one has all the answers or perfect understanding of customers, soopen innovation must contribute solutions to customer needs while not eliminating all differentiation. For example, large software systems oftenneed to incorporate competitive features; open innovation can help sustain the baseline customer expectations while letting the developmentteam focus on the next generation of the features that make you special and distinct. In some cases you can permit innovation in a box, likeapp development for the iPhone, but innovators will be frustrated by the boundaries.2. Why is it important for organizations to consider participating in open innovation or why did your organization begin its openinnovation effort?We certainly have no monopoly on good ideas – often others can make our ideas better, and we can do the same for them. Often, others alsohave a different perspective on our customers’ needs, or understand future customers’ needs that we haven’t even considered yet – they canhelp us avoid product myopia. Invention is not innovation – innovation also requires understanding needs and meeting them. This is why ourethnographers are so vital to our research. We’ve admired alphaWorks since its inception.3. What should an organization be aware of if they decide to pursue open innovation?This is a big culture shift if you are used to a closed system. You’ll have to do some serious and honest introspection to figure out what yourreal, differentiating value add is. Then you can start to open the rest. Open innovation will impact your legal, marketing, sales, engineering,manufacturing, and management, all in a big way.
  12. 12. 4. Which companies do you look to as leaders in open innovation?Certainly IBM. Sun, especially prior to Oracle. Google, particularly chrome and android. Practice Fusion. Facebook. Tesco. Apple to a boundeddegree. (I’m an engineer at heart, so I apologize to those with great innovations in business that I’m ignorant of.)5. What is the most important culture change for organizations to make in order to support innovation?The World is Flat. Anyone can have a great idea – the challenge is in pursuing enough of them fast enough to make a difference. And the bestidea does not always win. Don’t forget that there are many thousand dormant open source projects lying around in cyberspace. Agility is good,and hard, and tiring, and energizing.6. What are some of the biggest barriers to innovation that you’ve seen in organizations?This is easy – my old nemesis NIH (not invented here). Systems that are already bloated with features. Legal – particularly when we wantindemnity around products in our supply chains. Visibility and accountability, all the way through to our customers.
  13. 13. 7. What skills do you believe that managers need to acquire to succeed in an innovation-led organization?Ethnography! To understand your customers’ needs, both explicit and subtly observed, that you can form solutions that really work for them.The second is an intuitive skill to be able to take discreet ideas as they are being formed and visualize how they can connect across industriesand businesses. You must be able to see the possibilities and be willing to test those hypothesis.8. If you were to change one thing about our educational system to better prepare students to contribute in the innovation work forceof tomorrow, what would it be?Tough question! We need science, math, engineering, and programming skills, of course. But we also need respect for others ideas, peopleobservational skills, and ability to find gratification in making things better for others. This speaks to a broad education; I didn’t appreciate thebreath of requirements I experienced in college until I worked with others that were too focused. The senior projects in my high schools havehad a positive effect; students must select a problem, a mentor, work on an activity to help solve it, and report on the results. I’m sure it’s a lotof work to organize, but it pulls together skills and learning for the students in an important way.Don’t miss an article (4,800+) – Subscribe to our RSS feed and join our Innovation Excellence group! Braden Kelley is a popular innovation speaker, embeds innovation across the organization with innovation training, and builds B2B pull marketing strategies that drive increased revenue, visibility and inbound sales leads. He is currently advising an early-stage fashion startup making jewelry for your hair and is the author of Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire from John Wiley & Sons. He tweets from @innovate.
  14. 14. Four Lessons from the Best Bosses I Ever HadPosted on October 12, 2012 by Deborah Mills-ScofieldMy first boss at Bell Labs had a habit of yelling. While he was an equal-opportunity yeller,when he shouted at me in my first department meeting, I got up, told him when he wanted totalk, not yell, I’d be in my office and walked out. I was 20 years old, just out of undergrad, andsitting among a group of aghast Ph.D.’s . Perhaps this was not the best initial career move. Butabout 30 minutes later, he walked into my office and apologized. He never yelled at me again(though he did keep yelling at the rest of the team), and became one of three manager-mentorsthat shaped my career at Bell Labs and AT&T — and taught me to manage others and myself.I’ll share one story from each boss and the lesson I learned from each.That first boss, the reformed yeller, provided multiple opportunities for visibility up to thepresident of Bell Labs, coaching me all the way. He went out on a limb to make me the firstperson promoted to Member of Technical Staff (MTS) without a Ph.D. or M.S., and under theage of 25. He gave me the freedom to design my own role and the autonomy to accomplish my goals, only “interfering” to remove obstaclesand create more visibility. When I was going to quit to move to Ohio and marry my husband, who had left Basic Research at Bell Labs to teachPhysics at Oberlin College, he pulled strings with HR and his counterpart at AT&T for our project (and my next boss) so I wouldn’t quit. Thesetwo men arranged my transfer to my new boss’s organization, moved me to Oberlin, Ohio and flew me back and forth for nine years…just so Iwouldn’t quit.Lesson: Let Your People Go. When you find great talent, do what you need to in order to encourage and support them. Treat them justly anddo what’s right for them and the organization over what’s right for you personally. Give them opportunities to excel and succeed and air cover ifthey fail. Be willing to take “personal” risks for the right employee.I knew my second boss already, having worked with him for a year or so with mutual respect and admiration. He fully supported mytelecommuting, since it “proved” our project in action, and funded a home office with every device imaginable for 1988, including a laptop andcell phone. I commuted weekly to New Jersey and monthly to Europe and Asia. I designed my own job with my own set of outputs andoutcomes — he provided the resources to make it happen. He taught me how to succeed at corporate politics without compromising myintegrity and championed my work up the executive ladder. He orchestrated a “loan” of me to the president’s office for a special project that wasa significant career opportunity. And, when the project was done, he helped me choose from my available options: stay in the executive suite,go with the business I’d helped start as a result of the project, or return to my organization. I did not want to stay with the executives — therewere no role models for me in the C-suite (which they interpreted as no women and I clarified as no humans). I wanted to go back to my bossand his wonderfully addictive leadership style, but he pushed me to join the management team running the new business.
  15. 15. Lesson: Light the Fire and Clear the Path. Guide your people’s passion and get out of the way: the autonomy and freedom I was given tocreate and do my job exponentially increased my passion, excitement and success. My manager-mentors made sure my passions aligned withorganizational direction, gave me some high-level boundaries, resources, and introductions to make it happen. They removed obstacles,showed me how to handle challenges, provided opportunities, and took the blame while giving me the credit.The new business’s management team consisted of many Labroids (Bell Labs folks), and my next boss also believed in autonomy, outcomesover outputs, customer-centricity, and developing his people. The experiences, opportunities, successes, failures, and learnings during that“start-up” time were amazing and we had a lot of fun creating a separate culture. While working for him, I had my first child. In addition to thevery generous maternity leave benefits, his support and communication with the rest of the team in New Jersey made it possible for me to workfrom home, without travel, and still have significant impact on the business. For him, the fact I wasn’t in New Jersey meant I had a politicallyunbiased perspective on the business’s needs. He’d handle the politics; I’d handle getting the work done with my team. Unfortunately, AT&Twas changing dramatically, and not positively. We all started leaving. But to this day, my friendship with my former boss remains strong.Lesson: Remember, They’re Human. Many companies treat their employees as employees — nicely and kindly, even generously — but notas humans. My manager-mentors made it clear that I mattered not just for what I could do, but also for who I was. It wasn’t just about thegenerous maternity leave or the work-from-home flexibility, although I was grateful for both. Boss #2, for instance, required that I take twoconsecutive weeks of vacation to fully relax. My assistant took care of everything and virtually banned me from checking email, even though wewould still do the New York Times crossword puzzle every day — an important ritual for us no matter where I was in the world. While I had“official” vacation days, no one ever kept tabs on them unless the number to be carried over was too large. It was important to all my bossesthat I learn from their successes, mistakes and not share their regrets.
  16. 16. What else did I learn from three incredible manager-mentors? While there were many lessons, this has stood out for me over the past 30years: Trust trumps everything. And everything flows from trust — learning, credibility, accountability, a sense of purpose and a mission thatmakes “work” bigger than oneself.Yes, I’ve been extremely blessed and my circumstances were, and unfortunately still are, atypical. But they don’t have to be. As you look atyour organization, at your people, at your culture, please think about how you can apply just one of these lessons, perhaps even just one part ofone lesson. The benefits last decades.This article originally appeared in HBRimage credit: belllabs.comDon’t miss a post (4,800+) – Subscribe to our RSS feed and join our Innovation Excellence group! 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.
  17. 17. Innovation Big & SmallPosted on October 15, 2012 by Tim KastelleCan big companies innovate?Of course they can. Even though that question has been getting asked a lotrecently, it’s not really a very interesting one. It actually goes back at least toSchumpeter, who thought about the issue throughout most of his career. Hefamously changed his mind on the question of big versus small, mainly because theprocess of innovation changed during that forty year period.A much more interesting and useful question is: what can my organisation do to bemore innovative? The point is that innovation is not deterministic – you’re not doomed if you’re big, and you’re not automatically innovative ifyou’re small. The critical issue to figure out how innovation fits with your strategy and then what skills and processes you need to innovate inyour particular context.Size becomes important when you think about context – the way that you innovate will be different if you are big than it will be if you are small.No matter what the context, innovation is a process – it’s the process of idea management. I’ve pictured it something like this:However, in the excellent report on public sector innovation in Australia, Empowering Change (downloadable here), led by Alex Roberts, theyhad a slightly different version of this model. It was adapted from a report on public sector innovation from Deloitte, and theirs looks like this:
  18. 18. I made the fourth circle red, because that is the one that I’ve always had some trouble getting my head around. But some of my recentdiscussions have given me some insights into this. The report describes Sustaining Ideas as “keeping the innovative initiative going andintegrating it, which includes monitoring and adapting where necessary.”This ends up being one of the key areas where innovation is different for big and small organisations. If you are a startup, you don’t need toworry too much about sustaining innovation initiatives. If you fail to do this, you go out of business. Simple enough.But if you’re big, you have plenty of other things to worry about. You have quarterly objectives to meet. You have other processes you need tomake more efficient. And so on. Not so simple. So if you’re big, and you’re trying to innovate, a lot of effort needs to go into this part of theidea management process.
  19. 19. This came through in my discussions with Stacy Coughlin and Kristina Bobrowski about the Xiameter business model innovation that DowCorning implemented. Describing the same case, Jeffrey Phillips says:“The hard work, they said, wasn’t in setting up the new distribution system or attracting customers.The hard part in changing the model wasn’t in the external efforts, but in the internal workings ofDow Corning.”“It turns out Newton was right. Objects at rest tend to stay at rest. In fact, they come to prefer toremain at rest and actively resist movement and change. It’s not our customers or our markets thatwill resist innovation. In fact they often want and need new products and services. No, the biggestenemy of innovation is us – the compendium of existing expectations, processes, knowledge andexperience.”So while big firms can indeed innovate, this means that they need to manage the process differently – there’s no one-size-fits-all solution –sorry! If you’re big, what are some of the things that you should do? Here are some ideas:  Increase your innovation speed. If you’re going to innovate like the small, agile organisations, then you need to act more agile yourself. Here’s Phillips again, in a different post on the importance of velocity in innovation:“If these assumptions are true, then VELOCITY, as defined as speed in a specific direction, becomesvery important for a firm’s ability to grow and compete. Relying on long product life cycles is not anoption. Customers will demand new products, new features at an ever increasing rate. Firms can’tsimply “dump” older technologies and products into “developing” markets because those market toounderstand the product/feature acceleration and reject older products.”Phillips recommends innovating your product development process, making innovation a core part of your strategy, and building executivesupport for this vision as the three critical steps to achieve this.  Open up! Think about the five steps in the innovation process model. What are big firms good at? They are great at getting things to market – that’s how they’re big. So they have idea diffusion covered pretty well. But this is often a huge problem for smaller organisations. They might have brilliant ideas, that have been executed very well, but they can’t get anyone to pay attention to them. How do they get around this? Collaborate.That’s the point that Ralph Ohr raised in his recent post, and Scott Anthony makes a similar point:“WSJ: Are you saying startups are no longer capable of innovation?Anthony: I don’t want to go so far as to say startups are pointless. But today, the second a startuphas had a taste of success, the race is on, because anyone can copy them.WSJ: What’s in store for these smaller companies then?
  20. 20. Anthony: They have to recognize their success can’t be predicated on the stupidity or slowness ofbig companies. It might be time to start thinking about partnering with a big company instead ofjust being pirates.”  Get to know your customers deeply. Often, big firms resist innovation because they think that they know best. But one of the things that they can do with their extra resources is invest more in learning what their customers really need. And you don’t do this through follow the customer home – as Soren Kaplan explains:“Intuit’s innovation success is tied to a value for finding and savoring customer surprises–unexpected insights about customer needs, problems, and desired experiences that can’t beanticipated or pre-defined. That’s why the company does customer “follow-me-homes,” whereeveryone from CEO Brad Smith to engineers and marketers immerse themselves in the customer’snatural environment to see how things are working (or not) in the real world.”This is actually one of the techniques of ethnography, something that PARC has been investing in over the past few years. Ellen Isaacs fromPARC talks about how this works:“With ethnography, you’re more interested in what people do than what they say (usually twodifferent things), and you’re more likely to come out of it with answers to questions you didn’t knowto ask. At its best, ethnography uncovers “aha!” insights that transform thinking. But since nobodyknows know what they’ll learn, there’s no guarantee — and that makes people nervous.”The issue isn’t big versus small. And size doesn’t determine whether or not you can innovate.The question to address is: what’s best for us? And the key point is that the answer will probably be different if you’re big.image credit: big and small image from bigstockDon’t miss an article (4,800+) – Subscribe to our RSS feed and join our Innovation Excellence group! Tim Kastelle is a Lecturer in Innovation Management in the University of Queensland Business School. He blogs about innovation at the Innovation Leadership Network.
  21. 21. Rapid Innovation BreakthroughPosted on October 16, 2012 by Nicolas BryAddressing organizational and design challengesWe often separate innovation management into organization and process:  Structural change and organizational undertaking cover corporate governance aspects like “The Ambidextruous Organization” (Charles A. O’Reilly), “Organizational DNA for Strategic Innovation” (Vijay Govindarajan), “Open Innovation” (Henry Chesbrough);  Innovation process and design approach unfold methodologies to create meaningful products such as ‘design thinking’ (David Kelley), ‘user-led design’ (Eric Von Hippel), ‘shortening new product development’ (Smith and Reinersten), ‘rugby approach’ (Ikujiro Nonaka), ‘continuous innovation management, innovation culture’ (Gary Hamel), ‘innovator’s dilemna & solution’ (Clayton Christensen), ideation and problem solving approach.I was recently debating about Rapid Innovation with Professor Christophe Midler, Research Director at the Polytechnique ManagementResearch Center, and Innovation Management Chair Professor at Ecole Polytechnique.He told me this sharp statement which struck me: “The strength of the Rapid Innovation model is that it addresses both innovation disciplines,organization and design process. Actually, the properties of what you design are further enabling organizational undertaking for innovation:designed thing changes the organization of innovation.”When modular design changes the organizationWell, let me to take a moment to translate this intense summary.Rapid Innovation is a kind of “New Corporate Garage” as named by Scott D. Anthony: it starts with organizational impact, by creatingautonomous creative units or innovation teams. It crafts an organizational model based on:  setting-up an agile and autonomous innovation entity;  designing within a framework involving “creative tension”, an exciting environment mixing stimulating and stretched goals with a proven expertise in innovation discipline;  aligning with innovation group strategy, across a shared portfolio and permanent connections, in order to facilitate adoption of the innovation output by the core business.In the course of seeking adoption and engagement from the core corporation, we came to refining our innovation process and shapedmodular design, an “innovation by component” approach.
  22. 22. “Designing with, rather than designing for” is the mantra of Innovation by Component. A component unfolds the idea of combining breakthroughinnovation and bold exploration, with the leverage of letting others get ownership of your innovation in their activity, and build value on top ofyour platform.Concretely a component is a functional module, that can be embedded in multiple services through an API, delivering relevant data to them,and giving birth to unexpected derived consumer-facing services : “one stone, multiple birds!”Rapid Innovation unwraps plans for organization and process. Moreover, the module we design, and its properties, changes other’s unitsorganization. By empowering them with building blocks, it puts them in capacity to develop their services, to “hack our innovation” or start a“project fork” (taking a copy of software module and developing independent code on it, creating a distinct piece of software). Component distribution
  23. 23. Modular design enables partner organization to innovate, like the way you pass the ball creates an opportunity to score a try.Tangible benefitsThis mix creates a real impact, and brings tangible benefits in term of speed, agility, and distribution:  Time to Market and Flexibility. Applications and components are decoupled: while product manager focuses on application and user interface, innovation team can focus on the component, enjoying meaningful autonomy, and allowing the team to speed up, when needed.  Parallel Implementations. The component can become a hub easily and receive simultaneous connections from different applications.  Crossfunctional Enhancement. The needs of the different applications are mutualized in order to enrich the component functions: it’s a virtuous circle of innovation, the progress of any member is benefitting to all.  Cooperation. Concentrating on conception of components avoids mixing genres. It guarantees to the product manager full control on the user interface of his application. In such conditions, the possibility of dialogue is stronger and enables spontaneous exchanges.Setting-up a portfolio of components enables infinite possibilities of modules combination and assemblage. Consumer-facing applications canbenefit from a continuum of improvements, strengthening customer relationship and loyalty.Modular design is like the “radical incrementalism, leading at last to disruption” as Armand Hatchuel puts it in the case of Tefal. “None of theindividual innovations involves a fundamental change, but the succession of the small steps built the important change observed in retrospect”.
  24. 24. Radical IncrementalismCreative components are raising an API ecosystem: whereas APIs often address to external third-parties, we launched an internal ecosystemof APIs to accelerate innovation.API ‘Design Thinking’Designing a successful component becomes then a major issue. Excellency in code writing must be complemented by strategic innovationskills, and proceed on the route of ‘design thinking’: designing an API as a truely accomplished innovation component is a cultural achievement.Here modular design is not a split of a complex system in multiple modules, it is not either the exposure of internal assets through infrastructureAPIs like Amazon managed successfully: it’s a bottom-up design, an organic innovation embedded in “a future object already modularized” asChristophe Midler noticed.  Meaning: A clear meaning, “a reason why”: whether it results from identifying market trends, or from observing users, one must forge his conviction, establishing willingness to take risk, and shaping the focus of the API. API is not such a sexy word that it drives someobe to get up in the morning: we need an enticing vision! Meaningful innovations also meet with social imaginaries. They fit in the power of ‘sameness’ described by @brada: “you don’t read rental car manuals because all cars work basically the same way!”.  Target: your service gets better when you can project who your customers will be, and listen to them once the service is alive. “Focus on user, not yourself; your developers can’t read your mind!” underline @brada and @kcwalina. Having in mind the end-user, we have to imagine for our developer’s community the best methods and formats (“go for plurality”), assess data relevance and their vizualisation, differentiate the access (‘closed API’, ‘partner API’ , ‘open API’ ), and measure usage.  Evolutivity: API design goes the prototype-test-iterate loop. Unexpected demands may arise, coming from other areas : API must be evolutive enough to travel across borders. Start focusing your development endeavor and prepare to extend, or in @brada words “Do as little as possible now (but no less) to ensure room for extensibility in the future!”
  25. 25.  Scalability: no one is immune to succes: the more customers your innovation seduces, the more workload will support your servers. In this domain, Google and Faceook are totally impressive, being able to add millions of users without any interruption of service.  Innovation Ecosystem: your component was initially targeting a handful of services: growing your innovation business requires a holistic approach. ‘Crossing the chasm’ involves systematic marketing and a customer relationship state-of-mind. Providing online explicit documentation (“don’t force consumer to be archeologist of your innovation (@brada)”), staging the API with a “killer demonstration-app”, making an appropriate exposure, streamlining subscription process, helping others to design (“Make your API hard to misuse, explicit error message suggest parameters values” suggests @piwik), and monitoring users return loop are required tasks.Desirability, openess, originality are the features of a successful component.Making your creative module a smooth living operating system, and shaping a portfolio of combinable components lead to perpetualinnovation: APIs, by delivering data, facilitate knowledge sharing, and can create endless chain reactions for innovation. While scalinginnovation in the 20th meant manufacturing, in the 21th, scaling innovation relies on information network connections.Credits:,,, flickrhivemind.netDon’t miss an article (4,800+) – Subscribe to our RSS feed and join our Innovation Excellence group! Nicolas is a senior VP at Orange Innovation Group. Forward thinker, he created international digital BU, with a focus on interactive, social and smart TV. He graduated from Supélec and HEC Business School, completing a thesis on “Rapid Innovation” which he implemented successfully at Orange through “component innovation” path. He blogs at and tweets @nicobry
  26. 26. Move from Open Innovation to “True” Open InnovationPosted on October 10, 2012 by Frank MattesIn the 10 years since Henry Chesbrough published his groundbreaking book on OpenInnovation, a lot has happened. Almost any firm claims to do Open Innovation. However, ifyou look closely, most of the firms do not do true Open Innovation – they are merelyrunning a multitude of open approaches to innovation.This article explains the fundamental differences between “Open Innovation” and trueOpen Innovation, provides data where firms are standing on their journey to true OpenInnovation and gives some hints on what your firm should do in order to take the next step.We are living in a world where Marshall McLuhan and Alvin Toffler said we’d be. Digital technology and the globalization of knowledge havechanged everything. The world is an electronic village in which small groups have the power to disrupt the status quo, technological expertise isdistributed globally and can be found using Web tools and response times are approaching zero.This of course changes also the way in which firms innovate. 10 years ago, Henry Chesbrough studied several leading firms and found a “newimperative for creating and profiting from technology”. Now, as we all know, new insights about the nature of the world (in particular the onementioned above) and new management concepts aren’t picked up everywhere instantly. Like successful innovations, they are picked up inwaves. First come the pioneers, then the Early Adopters and the majority and finally the Late Followers. Consequently, one finds that somefirms have aligned their innovation management with Chesbrough’s new imperative faster and with more rigor than others.Today, with more than 730 million hits on Google for the term Open Innovation, almost any firm claims that they are “doing Open Innovation”.True, every firm takes up innovation impulses from its customers or its suppliers, cooperates with research institutes or develops its newproducts and services jointly with other partners. However, there is a fine line between “Open Innovation” and true Open Innovation. This mightat first view look like a fine, subtle difference. But depending on how you look at it, it has far-reaching implications for how your firm innovates.This article firstly wants to work out the three fundamental differences between “Open Innovation” and true Open Innovation, secondly providedata on the level of true openness and thirdly give you some thoughts on how your firm could move to true Open Innovation.Fundamental difference number one: EmbeddingToday no firm innovates in a completely closed mode. In the last 10 years, quite a number of firms also tried and tested new open approachesto innovation that are enabled by a globally networked infrastructure. They:  posted their requests for technological expertise on Open Innovation marketplaces such as NineSigma, InnoCentive or,  ran global campaigns for attracting business and technological ideas around megatrends such as “green business” or “smart grids”,  conducted consumer crowdsourcing contests on platforms such as Atizo and/or  ran consumer crowdsourcing campaigns on their own.
  27. 27. These activities – and a number of others (see an in-depth article from innovation-3′s Frank Mattes here) are open approaches to innovation.But if you look closer, in many firms these kinds of activities are not fully embedded in the firm’s innovation management approach.Strategically embedded Open InnovationTrue Open Innovation is embedded into the innovation strategy. The question is not “To be open or not be open”, to paraphrase WilliamShakespeare, for two reasons: Firstly, as stated above, any firm is already innovating openly to a lesser or a larger extent and secondly trueOpen Innovation is a deliberate choice.A true open innovation strategy  starts with taking external impulses to translate megatrends into roadmaps and R&D pipelines,  takes a hard and unbiased look at current and future core competences and asks: “On a global scale, given that most of the smart people are not working for us: What exactly should we focus on?”,  thoroughly analyzes technologies, business fields and processes to pinpoint where exactly innovations should be done in a closed mode and where it should be done openly,  clarifies, after all fields for open innovation have been defined, which open approach to innovation (see above) are the most suitable ones and, most of all,  is not a one-time effort but a continuous process that is repeated at least once per year.Organizationally embedded Open InnovationIn many firms, open approaches to innovation are driven by a group of open, entrepreneurial people. These people have a desire to work withthe best and most brilliant and to pull in a lot of external ideas in order to have a multitude of options to choose from. But in most of the firms,openness is not woven into the organizational fabric of the whole firm.A firm that does true Open Innovation builds on carefully balanced central and decentral organizational structures to make sure that opennessin innovation is fully embedded. Typically, the roles of a “Open Innovation center” include:  Interconnect existing networks inside the firm  Management of externally facing innovation portals  External Marketing of Open Innovation to win the best co-innovators  Search for cross-divisional “Game Changers”  Lead the internal Community Of ExcellenceThis center ties in with the decentral innovation units that are responsible for running the relevant innovation agenda and identify (open)innovation White Spaces.
  28. 28. Culturally embedded Open InnovationAt the end of the day, innovation is a people business and so is Open Innovation. Yet, in many firms an open mindset is not pervasive and canbe found only in some isolated Business Units.True Open Innovation starts with an open mindset and an opportunity-based mindset. True Open Innovation is part of the corporate culture andpresent in all formal and informal cultural traits, e.g. in the metrics that are applied to measure superior performance, in the leadership style, intalent development processes and in the communication style.Fundamental difference number two: ProactivityA Member of the Board of one of my clients recently commented tauntingly on the Open Innovation activities at one of his Business Units: “Tothem, Open Innovation is like Christmas. It’s a welcome, once-per-year exception to the day-to-day innovation business.” While this statementmay be a little bit exaggerated it reflects in some respect the way in which Open Innovation is seen in many firms.Quite a number of firms turn to open approaches to innovation when answers to technological challenges can’t be found inside the firm or in thecircle of trusted innovation partners or when they want to have a big heap of new consumer insights once per year to have some food forinnovation thought.
  29. 29. There is nothing wrong with this way of seeing openness in innovation. True Open Innovation however has a proactive mindset. This proactivemindset manifests in the planning processes. Firms that conduct “Open Innovation” plan their roadmaps and R&D projects, allocate budgetsand when R&D projects run into difficulties they turn to Open Innovation.On the other hand, firms that are doing true Open Innovation start the planning process with an opportunity-based thinking. The key question is,“How much can we leverage our existing innovation manpower?” In the planning process, this wide option space is then explored and thenturned into roadmaps and R&D projects. As an effect, the innovation volume that can be moved through the funnel is larger than if one seesopenness in innovation only as a sort of last resort respectively a once-per-year exercise.Fundamental difference number three: The rigor in pursuing openness“The usual suspects” is not just the title of a successful Hollywood movie from 1995, it is also how many firms look at the global base ofpotential co-innovators. Quite often, openness in innovation is done within a relatively stable set of trusted external innovation partners.There is nothing wrong with this way of seeing openness in innovation. But no matter how large your firm is more than 99% of the relevantsmart people do not work for it.Consequently, true Open Innovation has the ambition to extend the firm’s innovation ecosystem as far as it makes sense. True OpenInnovation has the hunt for finding new potential innovation partners in its DNA. To achieve this, the firm communicates proactively itsinnovation wants and needs (after these have been defined in the strategic context, see above), uses its innovation partners as hubs forattracting even more innovation partners and communicates actively in all relevant channels success stories that demonstrate why it is the bestdestination for all relevant companies that might be interested in a win/win collaborative innovation.
  30. 30. The data behindIn late 2011, Forrester conducted an open innovation study with 229 Open Innovation stakeholders via a web-based survey and via thirteen in-depth phone interviews with senior Open Innovation executives. A wide variety of industries were represented, including the public sector andgovernment, with no single industry accounting for more than 12% of the total sample. By design, the survey was targeted at largeorganizations. Survey respondents included director/manager roles (69%) and executive/department head/VP roles (31%). Geographically, thestudy focused on the US (58% of participants), Germany (23%) and the UK (19%).Forrester was interested in understanding how these Open Innovation stakeholders define Open Innovation, how and why they are investing inOpen Innovation, how they measure success and how they drive the move from “Open Innovation” to true Open Innovation.With such a broad scope it is not surveying that the study produced a number of interesting insights. One of these is supporting the thesis thatactually Enterprise 2.0 and Open Innovation are becoming one:  Almost two thirds of the firms see “social collaboration initiatives” as part of Open Innovation  Even more interesting is that with a rate of agreement at around 60% firms are saying that they not only invest in Open Innovation “to solve business challenges that we can’t solve internally” but also “to foster more collaboration internally”.To assess where firms are standing on their journey from “Open Innovation” to true Open Innovation, Forrester used an Open Innovationmaturity model with four stages:  Stage I: Experimentation. This stage is characterized by initiatives driven by single Business Units, by a project-based resource allocation and by pilot runs with selected new open approaches to innovation. According to Forrester, 60% of firms are in this stage.  Stage II: Commitment. The second stage is achieved, when there is a CxO support for Open Innovation, formal resources are reserved for Open Innovation, the first steps towards organizational embedding are taken and preliminary cost-benefit analyses are done. Forrester estimates that 30% of firms are in this stage.  Stage III: Sustainable state. This stage is characterized by a CxO mandate for Open Innovation, significant formal resources allocated to Open Innovation, solid cost-benefit analyses in place and continuous use of new open approaches to innovation. According to Forrester, 9% of firms have achieved this stage.
  31. 31.  Stage IV: Full integration. Forrester and the experts of the innovation-3 network characterize the final stage of Open Innovation maturity by the traits of stage III plus cultural embedding of Open Innovation, well-defined and well-managed innovation networks, seamless integration of Enterprise 2.0 and Open Innovation and Shareholder Value justification of the investment in Open Innovation. According to Forrester, maximal 1% of the firms are in this stage.What your firm should doNow, if you agree with the theses presented in this article, what should you do?According to the statistics, your firm is most likely in the Experimentation or the Commitment phase. If this is the case, your firm should  Carefully decide which new open approaches to innovation add value,  Start embedding Open Innovation into the innovation strategy process  Design or refine the organizational embedding  Define or refine the approaches to measure the impact of openness in innovationDoing so would help your firm in moving from “Open Innovation” to true Open Innovation and put it in a top spot for innovation leadership.image credit: apartmentguide.comDon’t miss an article (4,800+) – Subscribe to our RSS feed and join our Innovation Excellence group! Frank has 15+ years of consulting experience in innovation management. He worked for The Boston Consulting Group and for specialized consulting companies. Frank founded and manages the innovation catalyst innovation-3. innovation-3′s mission is to help leading firms to win in the third generation of innovation management, which will be shaped by Open Collaborative Innovation and Social Networks.
  32. 32. Identification is the Core of InnovationPosted on October 11, 2012 by Paul HobcraftThere are so many aspects to get right in innovation. These can be ensuring the culture,climate and environment for innovation are working well, it could mean setting upprocesses, well-designed procedures and structures, it can be providing innovationgovernance. Each part has a vital part to play in being combined for innovation, so it canfunction but these are not the core. Our identification with innovation is that core.The core lies in the scope and definitions, the context that innovation is set and theidentification with these. How often do organizations fail because they rushed intoinnovation, along those classic lines of: “let’s experiment and learn as we go” as theirmentality. We fail because we don’t take the necessary time to examine the significant differences in innovation terminology, in the differentways or types of innovation, in gaining from ‘evidence based’ research and experimentation. What we expect to see from our day-to-day workseems not to apply to our innovation selection criteria. We experiment indiscriminately, poking a stick around the opportunity haystack lookingfor that elusive ‘golden’ needle.Random selection and discarding practicesOrganizations have been randomly selecting, then discarding practices constantly, in a never-ending search of more of other organizations bestpractices, without understanding what these truly entail, or what this truly requires in commitment. No wonder innovation continues to receive abad ‘rap’ when you often have the innovation blind, leading the blind. There are so many facets within innovation that need a much deeper,extensive understanding that is so often lacking. We love to collect or synthesise and then quickly dismiss what doesn’t work, dispensing withsome valuable utility on the way, as we move onto the next ‘complete’ package. Then the cycle repeats itself, perhaps not immediately but in itsquiet eroding way that throws innovation even more into question and doubt.Lost identities, lost opportunitiesWe have lost our identification, yet this one word strikes at the core of innovation as the essential to have. Everything we do should have anoverly binding context to it. If we don’t place innovation within its appropriate framework we fail to contextualize our activities, the intended fit,which offers the real relationship we need. We need to fit our work to the strategic goals. If this is simply missing then innovation is likelymisfiring, or not hitting the targets because it is scatter-gun in approach and its interpretation.Innovation cries out for an integrated innovation framework.Offering an integrated innovation framework is the place where we can gain the necessary identification. It is central to what we should bedoing; it establishes the boundaries within which innovation should take place. This is the one essential place for leadership engagement. If
  33. 33. innovation is never placed in its context, then how do we expect the results often asked for by the CEO? Innovation is adrift, it is actuallyunsupported, and we don’t achieve that precious identification.If we don’t have provided that innovation framework, we leap into innovation, often in good faith, as asked, so we become often hyper-active aswe all find our own ways forward. Eventually we stumble along and finally work out our own language and understanding of what innovationmeans, different to even the persons sitting at the next desk. Just take a look at all the different definitions of innovation you will find, just in onelarge organization alone. This lack of a clear context is so harmful we add further unnecessary complexity and over time frustrate theorganization and confuse the majority.People disconnect because they lack what is needed to connect! They continue to work hard, often very hard, but sometimes never trulyunderstanding how their tasks and roles contribute to the strategic direction. We need to make sure each person makes their specificconnections to an integrated approach for themselves. To achieve these connections you need a shared understanding, a common frameworkand a common language, to reduce the mental traps and misunderstandings of what innovation is individually meaning. We need everyone totry to get onto the same page.Educating formulates the understandingEducating, informing, clarifying constantly simply helps formulate understanding and aids execution. We need to find ways to communicate acommon language, a common way to frame the needs expected from innovation. That needs to come from the top of organizations and thenbuilt up by a growing contribution from all as they become engaged. If you can achieve this, you can move to a growing consensus but thistakes time. You can eventually achieve a common identity that begins to move ‘mountains’ through collective achievement, that is bothdistinctive and unique to your organization. A uniqueness that can never be copied, perhaps just admired or envied.CEO’s that are seen to be successful achieve connections, what is often called that emotional connection through describing the context,setting the values and vision driven criteria and by often pushing the organization towards ‘impossible goals’. It is amazing how this bringsalignment as long as it is consistent, constant in its messages and widely shared and understood. Then the leadership makes it their businessto position individuals and the decisions over what, where, when and how in the context of this, to allow them to make their decisions, asindividuals and within their teams. Innovation activity becomes ‘orchestrated’ not micro-managed.
  34. 34. The value of the middle makes for the new connectors we need.Middle managers tasks should be increasingly become more those of connectors and facilitators, not the guardians and gatekeepers for thedecision makers. Their work should include the encouragement that everyone is engaged in innovation work, for each person to constantly goback and check against this integrated innovation framework to work out their place to relate to this and become aligned. The middle managercarries through connection and identification.Through this new work they achieve this ‘shared understanding’ or set about correcting any areas of concern through their own dialogues withsenior managers of where any shifts have taken place or seem in conflict with the understanding. This is identification again, for it lies at thecore of innovation. Making sure everyone has a ‘sight-line’ and identification into this innovation framework so they stay well-connected.Communication and relationships becomes the key.Today we are living in a world of knowledge-intensive innovationTo build distinctive competences for sustaining those often elusive competitive advantages, is very much context specific. We need to providelearning events as competence is actually firmly embedded in the specific context in which it is created. If an organization lacks that context ofinnovation then how can it acquire the appropriate knowledge to give it any advantage? If the CEO and his leadership team can’t articulate thecontext, then they can’t expect winning at the innovation game. It is not their people failing to deliver innovation, it is them, as leaders, failing todeliver this integrated innovation framework where context sits and identification is gained to seek out knowledge-specifics needed.Until the CEO identifies with his core role in innovation, the organization remains rudderless. If he can’t supply what is expected, then it is morethan likely the corporate strategy will be ignored, as it has not been placed in its appropriate context. It fails because it is not communicate inways that can be understood, it lacks personal identification.Without the appropriate identification of the opportunities seen for growth not communicated then how can the right innovation be applied?Innovation stays disconnected to strategy. It is arbitrary based on interpretation and choice designated down the organization hoping it aligns.Context set in a clear framework for innovation changes that. It gives innovation a real chance to contribute.Boundaries and FreedomHow we harness our innovation activity does not need the advocating of tighter controls, it needs articulating the potential and releasing peopleby underpinning how that will be managed through innovations organization. Ideally this can come through having a clear governance structureand providing the right environment that is needed, so as to allow others to do the work that needs to get done and see how they contribute inmeaningful ways. Management’s dictates or rules should not stand in the way, they should be swept aside. What should be put in that criticalspace is a common set of agreed organization definitions, a real clarity made up of what connects and why and then ensuring the resources aremade available to achieve the innovation ‘called for’. This calls for a focused yet adaptive and flexible leadership, that constantly looks toengage and provides the clarity necessary within a corporate innovation framework that can cascade down the organization. Leaders need to
  35. 35. actively ensure through clear designation that everything is in place for all the appropriate conversations, and is equally ready and listening tothe new ‘pulse’ of innovation, they are generating from this new intensity of focus.Identification becomes the core to innovationEventually with enough of this leadership engagement, constantly being articulated and framed for the challenges identified, there emerges acommon consensus and organizational language around innovation and its intent. It connects and gains both organization and personalidentification and this ‘identification’ sits at the core of innovation.We get closer to achieving a consistent, more vibrant innovation as it becomes more routine and embedded, for it becomes increasingly linkedto everyone’s goals, a certain oneness and because of this, it is sustaining. We identify as we understand what our contribution will be, then theleadership has done its primary job, its aligned innovation purpose to the goals, by laying out the parameters to achieve this.image credit: 365voice.comDon’t miss an article (4,800+) – Subscribe to our RSS feed or join us on LinkedIn or Facebook. 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.
  36. 36. Navigating an Ocean of Big DataPosted on October 15, 2012 by Melba KurmanIt’s good to be back blogging! I’ve been buried for the past month finishing a book I’mco-authoring on 3D printing (called Fabricated — it’s due out in February because ittakes the publisher 3 months(!) to format an ebook). Also in production, an SBIRcommercialization plan for a tech startup (data analytics software) in Boston. I can’t sayenough good things about the SBIR program and the process of applying for Round Iand Round II funds. But more about that later.For the Commercialization plan, I’ve been doing research on Big Data. Big data is thenew natural resource. Here’s some interesting facts:  The amount of new data created in the past twelve months alone would fill up 57 billion Apple iPads (according to IDC)  Each year, the amount of data generated, worldwide, will increase 40%  The human mind isn’t equipped to handle more than about seven pieces of information at once (this was calculated by researcher George Miller in a 1956 article in Psychological Review)By now most, nearly everyone has heard of “Big Data.” Yet, there’s no real formal definition, no benchmark. Instead, Big Data is a concept, asituation where the size of digital information is beyond the capacity of today’s software tools to readily capture, store and analyze. Whatconstitutes Big Data means different things to different people and different industries, obviously.A useful way to think about a data situation is to consider the 3 V’s: volume, velocity and variety. In terms of structure, datasets arecategorized into two broad categories: structured (databases, tablular data) and unstructured (unformed datasets from sensors or digitalmedia).Market research firm, TDWI (“Big Data Analytics,” 4th Quarter, 2011) surveyed 325 professionals in several industries. Ironically, most of thepeople in organizations who “own” the company’s data are the people in the IT department that manage the technology, not the people settingstrategy. Only 21% of the respondents said that their individual department was the primary owner of their data.There are several reasons for this. Current data analytics tools aren’t easy for non-quants to use. Today’s tools are geared to make sense ofstructured data pulled from a database. Frequently, available data tools are custom-built and their use and configuration (creating reports) isoverseen by people who manage the database.There is a vast unaddressed market for analytical tools that can make sense of unstructured data. Sensor data, massive digital files, GPSdata will continue to grow in volume, velocity and variety. In fact, I predict that the value and volume, probably velocity also of unstructureddata will soon surpass that of structured data. Yet, aside from sophisticated facial recognition software or primitive tools to manage digitalmedia, massive reams of unstructured data remain buried out of our analytical reach.
  37. 37. Where is all this data — structured and unstructured — coming from? Well, everywhere. Mobile phones, internet clicks. An estimated 60% ofthe world’s population has a cell phone that’s constantly streaming data back to its network provider.Each time you pay for something at the grocery store, you just contributed to the world’s store of Big Data. Cars and machines have tinysensors built into them which collect a steady stream of raw unstructured data (unstructured data means it’s not captured in a nice tidy table orspreadsheet — it’s simply reams of numbers or text). The medical profession racks up massive data files in the form of medical images or real-time video feeds generated during a surgery.In daily life, most of us experience Big Data analysis in action when we’re buying something. Retailers are among the top industries eagerlycollecting and trying to gain insight from customer data. Grocery stores lure customers with discount store cards, but I personally don’t likemaking it easy for my grocery store to track my purchases. That’s why I don’t have a store savings card.In the past, I would innocently sign up for a store card and then a few weeks later would start getting coupons in the mail for some product thatapparently fit in with my buying patterns. Retailers call this the “Next Best Offer.” Speaking of untapped markets, there are good opportunitiesfor an analytical tool that would help retailers improve the precision of their NBOs by analyzing point-of-sale (POS) data and making goodsuggestions (including setting the right price) on the spot.The faster and more precisely a retailer can offer a customer targeted NBOs,” the more goods that retailer will sell (at least in theory).Sometimes retailers’ efforts can be amusing. For example, I like old movies — the singing and dancing kind from the 1930s and 1940s. I can’tprove this, but after we bought a Roku and I started happily watching old musicals on streaming Netflix, I started getting flyers in the mail sellingme a particular retirement homes or Golden Vacations. I’m still a few years away from that phase of life. But… I suppose that guessing aperson’s age based on the movies they like is not a completely unreasonable way to target a particular market.I quit Facebook for the same reason I don’t get store cards or give Google my cell phone number (although it asks me on a nearly dailybasis). In the long run, though, I suspect my efforts to limit my presence on the Big Data Grid are futile. Eventually I may just give in and let“Them” collect all the data they want. A friend of mine likes to give random middle initials to companies to see which one sold her out when theflyers, robot-calls and emails start coming.
  38. 38. Retailers are active users of data analytics. But in terms of volume and velocity, the financial services industry handles the most data peremployee. Wall Street firms on average, wrestle with the (nearly real-time) data byproducts of half a trillion stock trades a month. However, ifyou calculate industry data load by total data (not by employee), according to estimates from McKinsey,(1) discrete manufacturing is numberone. Government is second and communications/media third.Manufacturing companies do a lot of quantitative, data-intensive R&D. Managing a supply chain and inventory kicks up a lot of data. The oneadvantage that manufacturing firms have is that much of the manufacturing process has been automated for several decades now. However,the industry’s existing software was built for a previous era, when data flowed more slowly and was mostly simple numbers or letters.The next most data-intensive industry is our government. The government collects tax data, tracks passports, residential tax assessments,marriage certificates and so on. On the one hand, having our government collect and make sense of all this data could be a good thing (if allthis data is used to create intelligent policy). On the other hand, it could be a threat to civil liberties if the government abused its power toclosely monitor and track innocent citizens.After the manufacturing and government industries are the communications and media industries which deal with enormous pools of digitalmedia data. These data stores are unstructured and massive. Digital information in this format can’t be captured in tidy rows and columns. Itdoesn’t correlate to alphanumeric codes or characters. Instead, media data oversees the generation of sound waves and visual information.One my first jobs was in a company’s Media Archive. In those creaky old days, most of the media we were given was on CDs or DVDs (and afew on VHS — yikes). Our job in the Media Archive was to upload those massive files into an image storage database and then log theiridentifying information into a sort of library catalog. Even back then our data storage systems were staggering under the weight of those CDsand DVDs and we were logging in just a few each week.My co-workers and I would click “upload” and then sit frozen, praying for the system not to crash. Periodically you would hear somebody howlin frustration. This meant a computer had buckled in mid-upload and its hapless user would have to start the whole process over. I knowcomputing power and the quality of compression algorithms has improved, but I can’t image how organizations are managing to keep track ofall the digital media they’re creating.The world needs analytical tools that can make sense of unstructured data. Another open market is for analytical tools that canprovide meaningful insight into data in real time.Traditional spreadsheets can’t do real time analysis. Nor can custom-built reports that connect to a legacy enterprise database. Old-schoolstatic legacy analytics tools can only provide so much insight at a time. They can’t iterate results fast enough in situations where data flows inlike a firehose.The promise for real-time analysis lies in the new generation of analytical tools, software built on research in artificial intelligence and machinelearning. Most low-cost data tools today offer numerical models using a “best fit” approach using linear regression. We’re so used to thelimitation of today’s tools that it seems like fantasy to imagine a world where it’s possible to quickly and intelligently react to in-flowing data.
  39. 39. Sure, it’s possible to load data quickly into an Oracle or SAP database. But then what? True, if you have the computing power and bandwidthand mathematical/programming ability (which most of us don’t), you could probably create a 3D model of a hypothetical situation in a digitalenvironment. However, even a sophisticated simulation tool can only go so far.If people could extract insight from data very quickly, this would change the way we live and work. Medical data could be instantly analyzedcould save lives or to tailor a Personalized Medicine regimen for people. People working in dangerous conditions could monitor theirenvironment and react the instant a threat appears. Medical devices would react in response to changes in a person’s vitalsigns. Manufacturers could quickly fabricate custom products in response to real-time data streams. Engineers could quickly calculate the bestway to distribute power resources when a massive snowstorm knocks out the power in DC, or a drought in the mid-west causes people there tocrank up their air conditioning.Someday, there will be powerful low-cost tools that can quickly crunch through all types of datasets. These tools will provide useful insight andwill be easy for regular people to use. Increasingly, the raw data is available. We’re just yet able to quickly make sense of it.(1) (“Big data: The next frontier for innovation, competition, and productivity,” McKinsey Report, June, 2011).image credit: siliconrepublic.comDon’t miss an article (4,800+) – Subscribe to our RSS feed or Innovation Excellence Weekly newsletter (sample). Melba Kurman writes and speaks about innovative tech transfer from university research labs to the commercial marketplace. Melba is the president of Triple Helix Innovation, a consulting firm dedicated to improving innovation partnerships between companies and universities.
  40. 40. Are you an innovation practitioner, academic, or enthusiast?Innovation Excellence is the online home of the global innovation community, building upon a rapidly-growing network with thousands ofmembers from over 175 countries – thought leaders, executives, practitioners, consultants, vendors, and academia representing all sectors andindustries. Our mission is to broadly enhance innovation by providing a forum for connection and conversation across this community –assembling an ever-growing arsenal of resources, best practices and proven answers for achieving innovation excellence.Come join the community at you looking to connect with the global innovation community?Innovation Excellence is THE opportunity to make a direct connection with the global innovation community.Our members:  attend innovation conferences  buy innovation software and apps  hire innovation consultants  book innovation leadership courses  order innovation books  engage innovation speakers and training  require other innovation servicesWhere else can you engage with over 100,000 unique monthly visitors frommore than 175 countries who have a passionate interest in your innovationofferings for as little as $100 per week?For more information on advertising please email us or visit: