Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Notes on Innovation Convergence Conference 2003 - Corante BlogThe Corante blog, maintained by Renee Hopkins, covers the September 2003 Convergence conference, including a description of Mark Turrell's keynote on the Financial Impact of Innovation, known as the IOI.

Friday, December 19, 2003

A Tech Analyst's View of Innovation - "Innovation Management Is Real, But It's Not an Application"AMR Research recently weighed in on the debate about how IT can help drive innovation. As can be expected, they have taken a hard-nosed, skeptics view on innovation: "... most people subscribe to one of two beliefs: Innovation is a black box... or Innovation can be scientifically delivered". The real focus of the article is not on innovation, but an area AMR has termed the Product Development and Introduction (NPDI) process. The article goes on to describe the areas of the NPDI process that IT can support, such as capturing ideas in a coordinated structure (using a tool such as Idea Central).

The mistake in this article, if there is one, is to think about innovation solely as new product introduction. This one-sided view of innovation would exclude innovative companies like Dell who have historically not innovated around product, but around business model and customer experience.

Still the article highlights several interesting areas - and we think it will be the first of many 'IT and Innovation' articles.

Friday, December 12, 2003

SellingPower.com - The Value of Ideas author Michael Michalko has some interesting suggestions in this short article for those of you looking for ever more creative ways to reward employees for submitting ideas - although this article focusses on getting small quantities of ideas from salespeople - and thus some of these ideas stray far from the instrinsic/extrinsic balance necessary to get quantity, quality, and collaboration (remember - cash rewards breed competition not collaboration - and collaborative ideas are 75-80% more likely to be top ideas) - there are some very good ones in here too. For example:

- Design your own "Thank You For Your Suggestion" cards. Have them printed and distributed to your more frequent contributors. Ask the CEO to sign each card with a personal message. Stock up on instant lottery cards and include one or two in each card to show your appreciation.

- Offer "a penny for your thoughts." Buy a gumball machine and place it in your office filled with colored gumballs. For every suggestion (or every five or ten suggestions) award the contributor a penny to use in the gumball machine. Award a cash prize according to the color of the gumball that comes out ($2 for green, $5 for yellow, $25 for red, etc.). - Although this is cash based - the numbers are small and trivial enough not to have too deep an effect of collaboration - especially if you also allow everyone who worked on that idea a go ad the gumball machine too.

worth a quick glance

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Innovation Tools - How to make an impact as an innovation champion Innovation and Triz expert Jack Hipple writes this short, but excellent article based on his extensive study of failed innovation programs. He lists 6 suggestions for those Corporate Innovation Champions who want to succeed where others have failed:

1) Recognize that your social style (Myers-Briggs assessment) is most likely to be "N" (intuitive) vs. The "S" (sensing) which characterizes over 80% of corporate management

2) Recognize that your problem solving style (Kirton KAI score) is likely to be much more unstructured and not obvious to those around you, especially those in corporate management.

3) Be flexible in evaluating possibilities and options and help those around you do this as well.

4) Use both inside-out and outside-in thinking and help those around you see the value in both.

5) Look outside for technology, not only within universities and start-up companies, but also within parallel universes of technology which may be facing the same kind of general problems but are not direct competitors.

6) Use state of the art tools for problem solving and communication.

Definitely an article to read for innovation champions everywhere.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

HBS Working Knowledge... Sometimes success begins at failure
In this article, Henry Chesbrough discusses how apparent failures in inventions and new product development, have become astonishing successes. The history of Innovation is full of examples like Viagra. "It is time that companies anticipate the need to manage false negatives in their innovation processes and respond accordingly." The measures proposed by this article to cope with false negatives are:

- Review cancelled projects
- Expose projects to outsiders
- Seek external licenses
- Spin technologies off
- Seek external VC partners

I would add another measure which I think is very relevant:
- Channel diverse insight from the corporate social network to identify non evident applications for products and innovations.

Corporations can substantially improve their capacity to identify these opportunities when people across different functions contribute with their insight from different perspectives. Often, powerful concepts are discarded before they even get a chance of becoming a project. Leveraging the diversity of ideas and perceptions in the corporation, through open participation mechanisms as Idea Management, should be one of the first measures to consider.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Boston Globe Online - November 30 2003 - Out-of-the-box, out of style: Globe correspondent Robert Johnson wrote this interesting article that looks at the demise of creative out of the box ideas in preference for safe secure, and less risky ideas that have predominated the economic downturn. A couple of choice quotes from this article:

''Everybody in business is looking for a brilliant idea, but in a lot of strategy sessions it's easier for people to sound smart when they're shooting something down than adding ideas on how to make it work,'' said Linda Kaplan Thaler, co-owner of a New York advertising agency and author of the best-selling book ''Bang: Getting Your Message Heard in a Noisy World.''"


"Consider what passes for major out-of-the-box thinking by academia and major media. Clayton Christensen is being hailed by Newsweek magazine as the ''Master of Innovation.'' But his ideas are of the relatively modest ''Build a Better Mousetrap'' variety, such as fostering an improved refrigerator storage bag, rather than anything that would create a whole new aisle of products at the supermarket."