Friday, March 28, 2003

Business 2.0 - Magazine Article - Why It's Time to Take a Risk Well it doesn't come much clearer than this. Echoing thoughts that Imaginatik Research has long been preaching Business 2.0 are right on the money with this article - which looks at why the need for Innovation is stronger now than ever before.

Companies have used the recession as an excuse to cut back to the bare bones - commonly known as "retrenchment" - the act of cutting "corporate fat", increasing efficiency, and generally becoming as lean and mean as possible. However, retrenchment isn't a competitive method - it doesn't give you you a competitive advantage - unless, as Business 2.0 points out - "you're taking costs out a lot faster than your competitors are and doing so in ways that don't imperil long-term success. In other words, retrenchment can buy you time, but it can't buy you a future."

What will however, is the courage and strength to try new things, to go beyond your company's and market's current capabilities, to create new customer needs and demands, in other words - to innovate.

And there really is no better time to do so either - with labour and materials all going at fire-sale prices nowadays. It really is a case nowadays of "He who dares wins". A fun and well written article with some good examples stuck in there - very worthwhile the time to read this.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

HBS Working Knowledge: Leadership: When Bad Ideas Won't Die - The University of Paris' Isabelle Royer tackles the problem of why some companies insist on implementing ideas that everyone deep down knows won't work. She pegs the problem to the triumph of belief and faith in an idea over logic and reason. One of the main instigators of the belief and faith is the project sponsor - and I suppose the suggestion of having what would essentially be a corporate "devil's advocate" is an interesting one. Of course, my personal thoughts would be that the idea should've been killed off before it even became a project. Leading companies use various collaborative techniques to ensure that as many different perspectives as possible are exposed to the idea. Th effect being that ideas that turn into concepts and then projects have been fully thought out with minimal room for failure, whilst bad ideas are found and killed off at an early stage before any emotional attachment is made to it. In any case - this is an interesting article - and the case studies alone make it worth while reading.

Monday, March 17, 2003 Innovation stressed for business success Gartner Group's Michael Gubbins announced the result of Gartner's annual EXP study which interviewed 600 CIOs and found that despite budgetary pressures, companies are seeing the ability to bring fresh ideas to market faster than competitors as increasingly important.

Amusingly "some 55 per cent believe that it would be impossible to transform the majority of their processes or systems to a real-time model within a decade." - Which to me simply suggests that they haven't started looking properly yet as the tools and processes definately exist and are in use by leading edge companies.
HBS Working Knowledge: Entrepreneurship: Six Keys to Building New Markets by Unleashing Disruptive Innovation Clayton Christensen and his co-authors take a look at how to create new-growth businesses that last after the initial innovation spurt has passed. He comes up with 6 "lessons":
1) Disruptive Innovations Spur Growth
2) Disruptive businesses either create new markets or take the low end of an established market
3) Disruptive Opportunities require a seperate business-planning process
4) Don't try to change your customers—help them.
5) Integrate across whatever is not good enough
6) Be patient for growth but impatient for profitability.

Although the article pushes his book "The Innovator's Dilemma" a fair bit - this is still an interesting read for those of you dealing with emerging markets/businesses.

Friday, March 07, 2003

ORIGINAL RESEARCH: Building Ideas Through Collaboration

It is rare that a single original idea becomes the master plan for a successful new product or service. Raw ideas need to be developed, expanded upon, analyzed, and tested in order to extract high quality, implementable concepts. Idea building takes place most effectively through collaboration between individuals, even though the original concepts may have been created by a single person. Indeed, research conducted by Dr. Winston Brill of Winston J. Brill & Associates has found that the majority of ideas that lead to successful product introductions were initiated through individuals working primarily by themselves: 43% of ideas occurred while the person was alone, 18% during informal discussions with several people, and just 2% through scheduled group meetings. However initiation only refers to the initial spark of invention, rather than the development of the workable concept.

Imaginatik Research has investigated the use of collaboration features, such as Comments and Peer Reviews, within our formal Idea Management application, Idea Central. Based on research on over 35,000 ideas from a variety of clients, we have found that the rate of collaboration - the volume and quality of insights and comments shared by participants - depends on a number of factors including the nature of the event, the degree of promotion of the collaboration feature through internal marketing, and the attitude of the individual participants.

There seem to be two distinct levels of collaboration in an event: highly collaborative and zero collaboration. In a government agency, over 56% of the ideas received comments from participants, a high level of collaboration. A professional services firm found that they collected few original ideas, but the majority of the contributions overall were comments containing market insight and shared experience. Conversely we found that marketing events in a food and beverage company generated few responses, and events often yielded less than 10 comments per event, in spite of generating an average of 200 ideas per topic.

In some cases, there are strong business reasons for preventing idea sharing, particularly with invention disclosure. When that happens, the company is better off limiting the number of development participants in order to reduce the potential trail of co-inventors should the idea lead to patentable intellectual property.

One aspect of collaboration that seems to be important is the mixture of participants' personalities. Some people are better at refining the ideas of others, rather than generating original ideas. For example, the C.A.R.E. Profile, developed by Allen Fahden and Srinivasan Namakkal, is a method of describing people's natural tendencies in terms of Creators, Advancers, Refiners and Executors and this helps us appreciate the different approaches to Idea Management in general.

Idea building is an important part of the Idea Management process and our research has led to the introduction of a number of new features in Idea Central that are intended to increase the rate of effective collaboration, such as 'IdeaMinder' to alert contributors of new comments, and the 'Send A Link' alert to highlight interesting ideas and comments. As part of our ongoing research commitment we are tracking the actual use of such features to see how collaboration works in practice.

If you have any ideas, feedback, or concepts you would like to share, please contact

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

KM Magazine - Volume 6, Issue 5 - Your Say: KM in research and development - As predicted, Knowledge Management practitioners are looking to Innovation more and more as a method to restore credibility (and budgets) to the discipline. This editorial by Simon Lelic of KM Magazine talks to several leading lights in the KM & Innovation field including Entovation's Debra Amidon, Convera's Graham Charlesworth, Unilever's Sam Marshall (who incidentally also has his own excellent blog called "Intellectual Capital Punishment"), Victor Newman of Pfizer and Arup's Tony Sheehan. Worth the read