Wednesday, March 31, 2004

San Francisco Chronicle - March 29 2004 - "Innovate - Or get used to a lower standard of living" An interesting article here by Burton Richter and Jerry Jasinowski talks about the way the US is falling behind the continuing race for global economic leadership - and blame a large part of that on the weakening of the US's ability to innovate - shown, in part, by the declining number of scientific discoveries, the increasing number of US patents being filed by foreigners - who incidentally also dominate modern scientific literature, and the decreasing number of Americans pursuing science-based careers.

The authors believe that with the decline in the number of American-originating inventions and the shrinking of the US manufacturing base via outsourcing and other reasons; that the manufacturing innovation process will eventually shift to other countries - leading in turn to a decline in the US standard of living.

To overcome all this, the US - and US companies specifically - need to strive to maintain their position as the most innovative nation in the world. To do so, the authors list these 4 steps:

1) All Industries - not just those based in science - must maintain healthy invetments in applied R&D.

2) Companies also need to invest more in training to develop the skills of their workforce

3) The Fed. needs to maintain a healthy diversity in its long term research portfolio

and 4) Policy makers need to examine all aspects of global cost competition to find out how they are achieved

Friday, March 26, 2004

HR - Testing Times - The Innovation Potential Indicator I think we're getting to the point where new psychometric tests are being churned out almost as quckly as Cosmo comes up with self-help surveys. However, that's not to say that there isn't value in looking at the theory behind some of these.

The Innovation Potential Indicator was developed by Professor Fiona Patterson and aims to identify those individuals in your organisation who will most contribute to the implementation and business success of ideas and innovation initiatives in your company.

The main dimensions she's decided to measure this with are:

- Motivation to change - their intrinsic motivation to seek out and adopt change

- Challenging Behaviour - How comfortable are they to challenging other viewpoints?

- Adaptation - Problem solving behaviour - Use existing/Invent new?

- Consistency of Work Style - structured / flexible work environment preference?

And the ideal innovation agent profile? Someone who scores high on "Motivation to Change" and "Challenging Behaviour", and scores low on "Adaptation" amd "Consistency of Work Style". In other words, non-conforming, intellectual curiosity, seek original solutions and flexible in their work styles.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

ORIGINAL RESEARCH The Secret of Good Ideas

What is the secret to getting lots of high quality ideas with Idea Management? Is there any magic formula to guess in advance how many good ideas you will get, and what those ideas will look like?

Imaginatik Research has some good news, and some bad news. The bad news first: it is almost impossible to predict how many good ideas you will get, and what those ideas will be like. There is no way to know, for example, whether the brainstorm session you attend next week will yield no useful ideas at all... or the next Post-It Note.

The good news is that the odds are on the side of the angels. Research has shown that the Idea Management process, supported by appropriate software, yields 2.5 excellent ideas per 100 ideas collected to a 95% degree of confidence. This means that from a given sample of 100 ideas, 2.5 will prove themselves to be truly novel, unique, useful and implementable. Moreover, the event-based approach yields 10x more ideas overall compared to simple ongoing programs, and 30x more high impact ideas than ongoing programs.

To translate these figures into real life, Mott's Inc., a consumer goods company with 1,700 employees (and a client of Imaginatik), has used Idea Central since December 2001 to collect ideas and insight on a range of topics, from brand naming to process improvement. During this time they have run 30 time-limited events, typically lasting 4 weeks each, and one always-open event, "What's On Your Mind". The ongoing event has collected over 400 ideas, and the time-based events average 200 ideas each. With over 6,000 ideas in total, they estimate they have collected well over 100 excellent ideas that have been consumer tested or implemented in the business, including some product ideas that will be launched in 2003.

To understand the secret of the approach, we have uncovered the five key reasons for success:

1) Purpose - the yield of high quality ideas is significantly higher with a clear business purpose and a supportive business sponsor. The most successful Idea Management projects have a senior manager who is directly responsible for that particular idea gathering initiative, and for taking the best ideas forward to implementation or further development. Best practice is to state the goals as clearly as you can, without narrowing down the scope too much, and to try not to be too wordy as people skim read.

2) Timeliness - the difference between a great idea and a so-so idea is often time-based. There is often a narrow window of opportunity for an idea to be considered, which explains why many ongoing systems struggle with the random nature of suggestions.

3) Diversity - the pool of contributors needs to be broad, usually broader than you intuitively think. It is impossible to get great ideas by asking the same people the same questions over, and over again.

4) Perspective Change - the very best ideas come through individuals looking at things in a different way, such as visiting a supermarket and watching kids buy chocolate, instead of analyzing focus group reports and sales data.

5) Collaborative Development - the majority of ideas received in a formal Idea Management program tend to be seed ideas, containing a kernel of a good idea but requiring additional development. A collaborative environment, where people can comment and build on ideas, significantly increases the overall yield of high impact ideas. A new study by Imaginatik Research is comparing the difference between collaborative and non-collaborative systems, and the initial results show that the number of seed ideas goes down, but the overall number of excellent ideas goes up.

With these elements in place, companies can look forward to a high yield of top quality ideas that make a real difference in the business.

Thursday, March 11, 2004 - Google founders keep 'top 100' list of new ideas a short article written by a Reuters staff agent talks about the "Google Top 100" - an internal list of the company's top ideas for development kept by the founders to keep innovation at the top of the firm's mindset. Employees are then encouraged to spend 20% of their time working on whatever they think is the best to do

Sunday, March 07, 2004

The Innovator's Advantage: Using Innovation and Technology to Improve Business Performance (Accenture)A recent study finds that innovators make better use of information technology (IT) – not necessarily spending more, but understanding what it can do for them, and taking advantage of its capabilities. Among the results: 64% of systems installed by innovators had been successful in meeting their objectives versus 28 percent of systems installed by less innovative companies.
77% of innovators “widely consider IT” when developing new business strategies (versus just over 40 percent of non-innovators).
More than twice as many innovators see IT as a source of competitive advantage than non-innovators (63 percent versus 27 percent).
The full report can be downloaded as a PDF.