Finding the Next Big Idea

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This talk track was first given in 2006 on how to find new options, ideas within your firm to figure out how to win. It was done to a more beginner audience on how to think of themselves as innovators and to have some basic tools to start.

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Finding the Next Big Idea

  1. 1. Innovation Strategies: Finding the Big Idea WITI July 10, 2006
  2. 2. About Nilofer • Started at Apple – As admin. Worked thru undergrad – Had 23 managers in 7 years • VP Sales & Marketing, GoLive (bought by Adobe) • Chief of Staff, Americas, Autodesk • Started Rubicon in ‘99 as sole proprietor ©2006 Rubicon Consulting, Inc. | Proprietary & Confidential
  3. 3. About Rubicon • High-Tech Consulting – Business & Marketing Strategies, since 1999 – Market Definition, GTM Design, Revenue Optimization ©2006 Rubicon Consulting, Inc. | Proprietary & Confidential
  4. 4. Innovation Is Critical • Economic growth is based on continuous innovation • Some big wins from just by out-thinking, out- creating • Ideas and developing something “strategic” is critical – To our careers – To our companies – To our communities ©2006 Rubicon Consulting, Inc. | Proprietary & Confidential
  5. 5. The Idea • Specific thought which arises in the mind • The capacity to generate ideas is associated with the capacity for reason, reflection, and perspective • Ideas are linked to concepts • An idea can arise on anything ©2006 Rubicon Consulting, Inc. | Proprietary & Confidential
  6. 6. Innovation The process of making • changes to something established by introducing something new A new idea, method or device • Successful exploitation of new • ideas Change that creates a new • dimension of performance ©2006 Rubicon Consulting, Inc. | Proprietary & Confidential
  7. 7. Is Innovation Available to All of Us? • Some think YES • Some think NO Let’s take a look at some “great” innovators ©2006 Rubicon Consulting, Inc. | Proprietary & Confidential
  8. 8. Some Case Studies & Lessons ©2006 Rubicon Consulting, Inc. | Proprietary & Confidential
  9. 9. “Borrowed” Idea from Different Industry • Wrote a paper as an undergraduate. Got a C. • Applied idea from telecommunications and banking industries to transportation -- Using a central clearinghouse Fred Smith, CEO with a hub and spoke system of dissemination. • “Even we didn’t know what we were creating.” ©2006 Rubicon Consulting, Inc. | Proprietary & Confidential
  10. 10. Solved a Daily Problem • Needed a bookmark during choir practice that wouldn’t fall out, wouldn’t mark page. • “No one understood what I was talking about.” • Formal research showed a potential of $750,000 TAM Art Fry, Inventor ©2006 Rubicon Consulting, Inc. | Proprietary & Confidential
  11. 11. Designed the Opposite of the Industry • Entire industry facing price pressures; price wars were constant. • No one believed you could make money on hardware. • “So I just figured out how to do the opposite thing that would work in that context.” • “No one believed in me.” ©2006 Rubicon Consulting, Inc. | Proprietary & Confidential
  12. 12. “Simplified” Existing Product • Originally invented in 1963. • Shown at conference in San Francisco in 1968. • “Reinvented” 20 years later by a company who recognized its value to ease of use. ©2006 Rubicon Consulting, Inc. | Proprietary & Confidential
  13. 13. Innovation Sometimes Comes from Simply Doing What You Do Best • Learned Russian while children were born prematurely • I had “social skills so I threw parties and introduced people” • “After doing some parties, I got asked to coordinate a campaign, and I did. I liked it.” ©2006 Rubicon Consulting, Inc. | Proprietary & Confidential
  14. 14. Sometimes Innovation is “Just” Refinement • A wooden platform of two skis was around since the 1920s. • I had no idea it would become popular. • “I found a shortcoming in the current solution, and a market interest.” • “If the original product is a hassle for people, they’ll fork over money for the better solution” ©2006 Rubicon Consulting, Inc. | Proprietary & Confidential
  15. 15. And Sometimes It’s About Performance • Born in 1948 in Minnesota in a town of ~1,000 people • First woman brought in from outside to head major high-tech firm • Took company from single product company of 20 years to multi- segment, multi-product company ©2006 Rubicon Consulting, Inc. | Proprietary & Confidential
  16. 16. Some Lessons • Not always about the out of the box idea • Options: – Build on existing concept – Do more elegant solution – Serve the new demand – Serve existing customers with more ©2006 Rubicon Consulting, Inc. | Proprietary & Confidential
  17. 17. Can You Do It Too? ©2006 Rubicon Consulting, Inc. | Proprietary & Confidential
  18. 18. Absolutely! • 5 part framework – Map It – Listen & Knit – Seek out New … Minds – Get out the Wand! – And, the Magic Marker ©2006 Rubicon Consulting, Inc. | Proprietary & Confidential
  19. 19. Step 1: Mapping it • Compare to Competitors – What do they do well / not so well ? – What do you / could you do differently • Technologies • Culture • Partnerships – Discover what you have (ease of use, ready acceptance, fraud management, underdog status, brand power, etc) that is central to who you are • To Benchmarks – Identify any and all parallel industries to see if you could combine products, services, or customer values ©2006 Rubicon Consulting, Inc. | Proprietary & Confidential
  20. 20. (Sample) SWOT Map Strengths Opportunities Weaknesses Threats ©2006 Rubicon Consulting, Inc. | Proprietary & Confidential
  21. 21. Step 2: Listen & Knit • Ask customer service what they get yelled at for • Ask sales people why they lose deals • Ask non-customers what they need • Listen to yourself learn – Check out other products – Open it, try it – What can be fixed? – What bugged you? • Make a list of all of this as they each represent “innovation opportunities.” Knit together, they become bigger opportunities. ©2006 Rubicon Consulting, Inc. | Proprietary & Confidential
  22. 22. Framework to Organize Knitting New Customer Opportunities Current Competitive Customer Pain Pressures Losses New Needs ©2006 Rubicon Consulting, Inc. | Proprietary & Confidential
  23. 23. Value of Research • Early market • Mature Market – Focus on the influencers – Look for statistically valid – Do well designed sample sizes qualitative research – Study with segmentation in – Focus not on ‘answers’ or mind price sensitivity but on – Ask questions you can act thinking, reasoning, and on insights – Don’t bias responses with – Don’t ask “knowing” the answer question structure – Ask open ended – Study over time ©2006 Rubicon Consulting, Inc. | Proprietary & Confidential
  24. 24. Step 3: Seek Out New … Minds • Find out the other good thinkers – Websites – Associations – Networks – Blogs • Be curious. Ask questions. Read. • Set up an RSS feed on topics of interest. ©2006 Rubicon Consulting, Inc. | Proprietary & Confidential
  25. 25. Step 4: Seek the Wand! • For any problem, there is a solution • For any need, there is an opportunity • Ask powerful, enabling questions – What would you do? – Is this people related? – Could we fix this with a process? – Do we need to create a new product? – Should we pursue a new customer? – Does this need a new tool? – What’s the first step? And in 3 years, we would have…? ©2006 Rubicon Consulting, Inc. | Proprietary & Confidential
  26. 26. Step 5: Plot Out Options • Develop alternative scenarios of what the future might look like – Connect all sorts of random points together • Work on scenarios with industry leaders and partners. • Connect Disparate dots ©2006 Rubicon Consulting, Inc. | Proprietary & Confidential
  27. 27. Scenarios Direction A Direction B Direction C Product Market Rate of Competitive Direction Adoption Pressures (High, (Integration, Medium, Low) stand alone, etc) Pricing Moves New Entrants Low Switching Moves Global Economy Transportation Lawsuit Costs Etc Etc Etc ©2006 Rubicon Consulting, Inc. | Proprietary & Confidential
  28. 28. Another good framework New Markets: Existing Products: Change New ©2006 Rubicon Consulting, Inc. | Proprietary & Confidential
  29. 29. A Fundamental • Innovation is about being able to develop something • It does not happen in the shower, all by itself – It requires time to research and gather ideas – It requires focus to synthesize and combine – It requires inspiration to imagine solutions • Give yourself a 5% reserve ©2006 Rubicon Consulting, Inc. | Proprietary & Confidential
  30. 30. Conclusion • Coming up with the Big idea is not the exclusive territory of Einstein, Steve Jobs or Jeff Hawkins • You have it in you • Now: – You have to do some work to research, learn. – And have courage – And believe. • And, you too, will win markets ©2006 Rubicon Consulting, Inc. | Proprietary & Confidential
  31. 31. Win Markets Trusted Advisors to high-tech firms seeking to transform their visions into strategies, strategies into plans, and plans into results. Practices: Define / Design / Defend / Optimize ©2006 Rubicon Consulting, Inc. | Proprietary & Confidential

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