Monday, March 26, 2007

Pharma Innovation Comes from Ideas

If you've ever wondered how a global pharmaceutical company manages ideas, check out a new report from Gartner that explains how software, events and deep expertise all combine to power a world-class innovation program. This profile of Pfizer – an Idea Central client -- includes several operations that have longstanding experience with Imaginatik tools.

Sorry to say, the report isn't available for public purchase. But Gartner clients can access it by using the code G00146286.

Carol Rozwell wrote the report, which was released in late February. She’s a vice president at Gartner and leader of its Research Community on Innovation. She focuses on the Life Sciences sector (pharmaceutical, biotech and medical products companies) and examining the impact of technology and standards on business models, processes and channel relationships.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Time is on my side. Or is it?

A virtual 'thank you' to Intranet Benchmarking Forum blog for an electro-shout out on the reasons for idea events with time limits. The power of closing time is a motivator -- in bars, schools, offices . . . . Think of how the upcoming vacation creates a frenzy. When people see time slipping by, they react. Some panic, others sharpen their focus and perform at peak efficiency. There's nothing quite like a deadline to spur action.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Can management handle innovation?

In the Financial Times, Richard Straub asks reasonable questions about how executives learn to manage the new realities of innovation and collaboration -- unruly processes that often involve people outside your organization. Is management ready to change itself and try a new approach? We've heard about the end of military-style "Command and Control" management in favor of more nimble and decentralized methods. What makes your top executives outperform the competition? Do they "get it" about new tech and new approaches?

Are you learning from the Web? Or is it learning from you? Mike Wesch, an anthropology professor at Kansas State University, tackles the intriguing issues of Web 2.0 using a great 'music video'. Check theYouTube video and call it distance learning. It is must-see education for top executives. So, put down the Blackberry for five minutes and let us know what you think. Then share this with your manager and explain what it means.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Here's a good idea: Be persistent

Installment 2 of the CNBC series "The Business of Innovation" aired on Sunday with a few suggestions that approach daily usefulness -- be creative, be patient, and find where service/product gaps are.

Because this is American TV, the focus is on personalities and superstar CEOs who champion innovation. So it may leave the impression that the CEO or innovation leader is behind the success. There have been mentions of client-centric or open innovation programs but some of the IBM commercials are more compelling than the program itself -- especially one spot detailing Project Checkmate, a response to possible bird flu outbreaks by national governments, emergency responders and other agencies worldwide. That message is clear -- you need knowledge and preparation to be ready for opportunities/crises. And you need a group of people with complementary skills who can bring deliver in a combined effort.

I hope you'll tune in to the Imaginatik Research newsletter, where this month we'll look at the shelf-life of ideas and the need to build on them over time. Very few breakthroughs happen on the first attempt, and the greatest impact often comes from incorporating different inputs (financial, marketing, business model) that are reinforcing. Even Frankenstein had to go through some ugly beta versions before he hit the big-time in Hollywood. . . .

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

When will they learn?
Innovation without value creation is just wheel-spinning...

Forrester Research recently announced a new survey that looked at innovation from a macro level - this is an excerpt from InformationWeek :

"Investing in knowledge -- a term that in this context encompasses funding for research and development, higher education, and software -- is seen as a way to create national wealth, enhance geopolitical power, solve social problems, and bolster national pride.

Developed nations spend an average of $1,270 per capita yearly to improve knowledge yet fail to achieve the desired benefits, according to Forrester's study.

The U.S. spent almost $300 billion in public and private money on R&D in 2003, about half of all R&D spending by the 30 member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). America can claim 35% of all patents filed in Europe, Japan, and at home. But such spending doesn't create jobs or boost the number of goods and services produced by a country -- also known as the gross domestic product (GDP)"

Why is it taking countries so long to realize the best practices of innovation learned long ago -- often through hard failures -- at top companies worldwide? Unless there are goals or a clear focus on creating value, there's no reason to start innovating. Have we learned nothing from the failures of the Knowledge Management era?

Knowledge intensive initiatives that don't focus on targeted and directed creation of actual benefits and value will waste the time, money and goodwill of workers, partners, customers or taxpayers. This applies equally for companies seeking bottom line dollar value or governments seeking socio-economic benefits.

From a corporate standpoint, companies too often set out fluffy so-called "innovation" projects purely to check a box on the next annual report. These 'keep up with the Joneses' attempts have no aims, no metrics, no focus on solving a particular issue, and worst of all, no plan to impact the bottom line.

These "lazy innovators" are shocking only in that the executives leading the charge must have (again) fallen victim to unscrupulous consultants, vendors, and yes-men who are too scared or inexperienced to point out obvious flaws. Too often, the only objective is increasing employee participation, or hunt through a tub of random ideas that might contain one tiny golden nugget.

"Innovation" has tons of definitions but I have yet to see one from any credible source that doesn't involve "creating value" as a key factor. Leading innovators -- Whirlpool, Coca-Cola, Pfizer, and Google -- recognize this vital point. Without a clear value objective, what follows is failure, finger-pointing and a laundry list of other problems including:

-Loss of respect from senior staff who only see a frivolous cost center to be cut at the next downturn.
-Indifference and scorn from employees, suppliers, customers, and participants whose time and good intentions got wasted. Plus the frustration and disappointment when no action results from their intellectual input.
-Anger from shareholders who see money wasted on initiatives that could deliver great value -- and often do create benefits at other organizations -- but are child's play for a team that knows how the game is played.

For governments, the message is the same - just replace the word "taxpayer" for various stakeholders. The wrong-headed belief that more money will solve the woes at universities and other research facilities has meant years of throwing money at problems that don't respond. Maybe there's a golden nugget there in an overlooked patent application . . . .More likely, it's another expensive misadventure from people who haven't learned their lessons.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

A TV Series on Innovation?

One sign that the innovation buzz may have reached its apex is the number of companies declaring themselves "innovative." Another is the five-part weekly TV series "The Business of Innovation" that premiered Sunday in the U.S. on the cable network, CNBC.

The first installment was largely a discussion scrum with experts debating various definitions of innovation and then differing on methods for achieving success. Profiles of companies and CEOs ranged from the expected 'let's be like Google' to a warmed-over recap of why influential top executives may turn out to be evil (Bernie Ebbers, Dennis Kozlowski) even when they're transforming a company. Anyone find the show useful?

Monday, March 05, 2007

We're Back!

Firstly - apologies for the long silence on the blogsphere - with Imaginatik finally hitting the big time and going public on December 15 2006 (LSE:IMTK.L) I'm afraid the workload and excitement got to us all! However- all things are now back on track - and we welcome a ton of new changes for Imaginatik Research and the Corporate Innovation Blog. Most changes will become apparent to you in the coming months (a new dedicated website, new look and feel, new content, new tools at your disposal, etc) - but first and foremost of these is the brand new "tsar" for Imaginatik Research, Editor David Wallace - who will be a great addition to the regular editorial staff of myself, Matt Chapman, and Mark Turrell. David comes from a rich background in journalism (including NY Times and Wired magazine) and was one of the first journalists to consider and write on the impact of innovation on the corporate environment. Needless to say, we're all very excited to have his contributions going forward! We hope that you are too and I look forward to continuing our mutual goals of advancing the boundaries of corporate innovation through 2007 and beyond!