Innovation Articles

By Jeffrey Phillips

Why Innovators should Focus on Product Deconstriction


When we bought a new mattress for our son we asked the company that delivered the new one what would happen to the old mattress. Goes into the landfill, they said. And I thought, what a terrible outcome. So much of the mattress could be reused - the cotton batting, the inner springs, some of the foam siding. But the cost of deconstructing a mattress, which wasn't designed to be easily taken apart, makes it difficult to get a lot of reuse from the components.

Exploring and Exploiting for Innovation


In so many ways it often feels like innovation is both wholly new, and ancient at the same time. Tools that we use to innovate aren't new, in fact many are very old, but put to appropriate use they help us create miraculous new things. Too often we distrust old tools or methods, thinking that newer tools or methods are more current, more viable, but fail to realize that some things are simply grounded in truth, no matter hold old they are.

You Cannot Survive doing More of the Same


Today, the pace of change is accelerating and it is faster than ever. Perhaps not in how we humans evolve - but definitely in terms of how businesses and technologies evolve. In the not so distant past, businesses prided themselves and their products on being "build to last". Today, we need to think more about "built to change", more agile, more nimble and more creative than in the past.

What Your Language Says About Your Innovtion


If you want big ideas, you need to encourage them, yes, but also talk about them in ways that open up dialog, thinking and idea generation to a much larger dimension. While language, word choice and conversation may not seem to have all that much impact on idea generation and innovation, in reality these are the building blocks of a corporate culture. As a colleague of mine is fond of saying: we need to switch from "I'll believe it when I see it" to "I'll see it when I believe it".

Starting the Innovation Fire


I've been thinking, long and hard, about the correct analogy to describe a lot of corporate innovation efforts. I'm sorry to say that the best analogy I can come up with is a campfire. Let's map what's going on in corporate settings to the ingredients for a campfire, to understand what's underway, what's working and what's missing in corporate innovation.

Shared Innovation Language Accelerates Innovation


Language and common definitions are critical to any interaction. When each party has their own definitions of innovation and rather narrow definitions at that, little can be accomplished and many opportunities are left by the wayside. Stopping to create a shared definition, expanding the range of opportunities and options, means we can explore more together.

Understanding the Future Leads to Better Innovation


Even if you aren't interested in innovation, but merely want to remain competitive and keep pace with your industry and your competitors, understanding trends and predicting the potential direction of your industry and customer base is vital. It's the minimum to simply keep up with your market. Good innovators will be looking for clues to find the big shifts that they can take advantage of.

Context Matters in Successful Innovation


I think we often over complicate the work of innovation, because we believe it cannot be simple and straightforward. After all, how can an activity that can disrupt an industry, create compelling new products or services and reap significant riches be simple? To drive all of this change, certainly innovation must be difficult and complex, right?

You Don't Lack Time to Innovate. You Lack Allocation and Purpose.


But what if everyone in your company had to account for their time, and what if everyone had a specific time allocation for innovation? That might differ depending on the individual, their experience and interest in innovation of course, but what if at the end of each year you could look across your team and see how much time an individual spent building innovation skills and contributing to innovation projects. Wouldn't that be valuable as a manager?

Is Innovation Unreasonable?


We cannot reject reason when we innovate, in fact we must rely on insight, intelligence, research and reason when we innovate. That's because the only way to encourage people to commit to new ideas is to demonstrate new insights, new needs or new experiences, which are all based on research, insights into unsolved problems or challenges or new technologies. This all appeals to reason - why would I choose an uncertain unknown over a predictable certainty? Only if the unknown is promising, compelling and valuable.

What Accelerates Innovation


Universities, businesses and even cities and regions are talking about innovation and the need to create accelerators or innovation enablers. I'm glad that everyone is excited about innovation, and that they want to provide the means to help it flourish and help it move more quickly. But the thing is, like most late arrivals, they've got the wrong end of the stick as the Brits like to say.

Seamless Experience - Innovation's Holy Grail


When people talk about innovation they talk too expansively and without good definitions. Innovation always reverts to whatever Apple did recently, whatever cool new technology or product someone produced. We need to move beyond talking about innovation to actually doing more of it, and when we do it we need to do it with purpose and intent. But beyond that we need to move beyond this narrow definition of innovation - a new product or service - to a much more expansive definition of innovation possibilities.

Innovation Evolution


I've developed a five step evolution for innovation in most organizations. With tongue firmly planted in cheek I'll relate these evolutionary steps to famous Hollywood productions. Perhaps you'll recognize your organization in one of these phases.

Innovation is About Finding and Discovering


The recurring theme of failing to innovate in a corporate setting has more to do with the failure to find things and discover things. I'd like to address what you need to find and discover, because if we can name the barriers or challenges, we may be able to eliminate them and accelerate innovation.

Turning the Innovation Tables


If AAPR and UNC can get 100 people to show up for pizza and soda for several hours of their own time to work on solving a problem, why can't businesses do a better job sponsoring innovation and tapping into the wealth of ideas and energy of their own people?

Innovators Will Win with Seamless Experiences


Innovators often create technologies or products, which have interesting capabilities or features, but rarely do they think through the actual use of the products and understand how they fit in with other products, services, infrastructure, channels and data that exist in a customer's life. These new products are often interesting but not "seamless" - customers encounter challenges when attempting to use these new solutions in their everyday settings.

Signal versus Noise


Many executives have concluded that innovation is important and must become a cornerstone of their business strategies. However, they have little understanding of how innovation works. To them, innovation must seem like magic pixie dust: sprinkle it around, encourage it and new innovative products will spring to life. So, they take to the lecterns and advocate for innovation, but don't change deliverables or goals or investments. So people hear about innovation but don't see the requisite change in risk attitudes or investments, so they become conflicted. In this case, innovation is NOISE introduced to a consistent SIGNAL that is business as usual.

Innovation Confidence Course


Young marines are put through an arduous obstacle course to prepare them for obstacles they may encounter in warfare, but the purpose of the course is to build confidence and teamwork. In the same way, corporate innovators should expect their ideas to compete for time, attention and resources - a corporate obstacle course - but they need to know how to guide ideas through this course effectively.

Innovation Ain't What it Used to Be


As a new technology matures and people become familiar with its uses, and the technology is simplified and becomes part of a solution, more and more people adopt the technology. Any student of history can tell you this, and we believe it is a natural order - almost a requirement.

No Idea is an Island


This post is meant to point out the reasons behind a rather uncomfortable fact: even good ideas often fail in the marketplace. This skips right over the outright failure of bad ideas and bad products, of which there are legion. But why do good ideas and products seem to have such a high failure rate?

Innovation: Management versus Enablement


We managers and executives, trained in the school of efficiency and with our MBAs in tow believe we can "manage" anything. In to some degree that is correct. We can manage and improve things that are well defined and understood. But the risk we run when we talk about managing innovation, is that we become entranced with the idea of "managing" and not with the idea of "innovation".

Making Innovation Less Difficult and Less Expensive


Too many people in the innovation arena are apt to talk about ideas, which are relatively easy to get, but fail to consider the effort involved to move from an idea stage to an innovation stage. I've often compared this to the amount of force it takes to get a rocket into orbit. You can have thousands of rockets, of all sizes, launching all the time. But until and unless one of them has the requisite amount of thrust necessary to get it into orbit, they will all crash. There's no half way. There's no "almost" in orbital science. You either got into orbit or you crashed and burned. The same is true with innovation.

Can You Teach People to Innovate?


Innovators aren't born but they are shaped, more by experience than by training. Of course we can provide some training in any tool or technique, and try to enlarge the way people think when they encounter an innovation exercise. But the best way to make an innovator is to give them an intractable problem and remove the constraining barriers. Encourage them to think differently and come up with novel ideas.

Innovation Without Change


I've been puzzling this over the last few weeks, trying to wrap my head around the importance of innovation generally and the lack of real innovation delivery specifically. What I mean is that everyone knows that innovation is vital to growth and future success, but very few new innovations are created. The vast majority of innovation effort and outcome is expended on me-too, so what incremental innovations that don't really change the user or the market.

Destructive and Constructive Innovation


Innovation will always create disruption in existing conventions, economies and industries. This means that it will also destroy EXISTING jobs. It does not mean, however, that innovation is constantly destroying the net number of jobs. This is what the media tells you, and it is wrong. What does happen is that the type of job changes.

Innovation and Maturity


How do we get a better understanding of who is merely talking about innovation, and who is actually practicing it? Beyond that, is there a way to determine who is merely sustaining a veneer of innovation, and which firms are driving innovation into the core of their business? Can we create a barometer of innovation capability and engagement? I think the answer is "yes", based on evidence we can observe and measure.

Innovation Requires Hands, Heads, Hearts


Innovators and analysts have apparently decided that trying to convince organizations to simply become more innovative is too difficult. Innovation distracts from highly efficient day to day operations. Therefore we innovators, and other management thinkers, create a new way to think about introducing innovation, acknowledging the importance of efficient operating models while emphasizing the importance of innovation.

Preserving and/or Disrupting


I'm reading a lot about "disruptive" innovation from firms that I think have a lot to protect and preserve. When I read that, I become fairly suspicious, because I'm not sure it's possible to simultaneously protect what is "important" and disrupt at the same time, unless the disruption is taking place in a market or business adjacent to or distant from whatever the corporation is trying to protect. Can you simultaneously protect and disrupt the same product, segment or market? I think the answer is "no". So what are all of these corporations disrupting?

The Most Common Innovation Project Failures


The question is: what keeps businesses from innovating effectively? The answer that I think most leadership teams want is: good ideas. After all, it's easier to explain away the lack of innovation if you can say that most teams lack good ideas. But a lack of good ideas is almost never the appropriate response to the question. Most companies teem with reasonably good ideas, and in some cases great ideas. No, the reasons that corporate innovation fails are many and varied, almost as differentiated as the number of industries and business models and management styles that are in evidence.

Innovation Decreases with Knowledge


Did the headline of the post grab your attention? Did you think I was going to assert that dumb people are better innovators? Nothing of the sort. However, I think I can positively assert that bringing all of your knowledge to bear on a problem that needs innovation is often exactly the opposite of what you should do. Here's why.

Innovation: We'll Know It when We See It


Those of you who can remember old U.S. Supreme Court rulings will recognize the title. A Supreme Court justice, on ruling about pornography and when and where it could be published, recognized that in order to rule on its commercial availability, the court would have to define what pornography was. The justice was rumored to have said that he couldn't define it, but he knew it when he saw it. Unfortunately many corporations use the same approach to innovation. They expect great results, but don't know how to define what they want. In the absence of a destination, any road you take will get you where you are going.

Innovation is a Cultural Phenomenon


There's really no easy way to say this, so I'll come right out with it. It's your culture that's holding you back when you try to innovate, but no one wants to admit that. Most consultants and executives want to focus on interesting innovation tools, or idea management software, or creative design concepts, because these are flashy and new, and distract attention from the real challenge at hand. Which is your culture. If culture "eats strategy for breakfast", what do you think it eats for lunch and dinner? Crazy innovation activities mostly.

Innovation is the One Thing you can't Delegate


Peter Drucker made the claim that the modern corporation has two real purposes: marketing and innovation. Everything else, he said, are costs. If Drucker was right, what does that say about most executives, who are busy managing costs? In effect Drucker is saying that they are ignoring the two most important functions of a business.

Innovate Your Processes Before Innovating Your Products


In order to innovate successfully, a company must innovate and update its existing internal processes before trying to innovate products and services. Companies worry about the investment and time associated with developing a new product, concerned that customers won't accept or adopt a new product.

Universities Get an "F" for Innovation


On one hand the American university and collegiate system is perhaps one of the finest in the world, drawing students from many countries and cranking out many exceptional graduates. On the other hand, I'll assert, it is failing our students and our economy miserably, because the educational system is rote, designed for a production age when we are clearly in an informational and innovation age, does not encourage risk taking or experimentation, and is far too comfortable and complacent, far too unwilling to change.

Innovation Needs Time, Talend and Temperment


We are all making innovation far too complicated, and we need to stop dressing up the activity with lots of talking points and stop working ourselves and our management into a tizzy about commitments and investments. Of course all of these are important. But what we should be asking, in much the same way the "lean startup" folks are asking about bare essentials and "minimum viable products", is: what is the minimum investment it takes to make my (team, product group, line of business, company) more innovative? I'm going to argue that it's simply three "T"s: time, talent and temperament.

Successful Innovators are "True Believers"


After my "don't rock the boat" post a few days ago, I was asked by a few folks a very interesting question. Which was: what does it take to be a good innovator in a corporation? Note that I placed some scope or constraints on the question. After all, it's fairly easy to be an innovator in a small company or as an entrepreneur. In fact you need to rock the boat in small companies or startups or you will struggle to differentiate and grow. But what about large companies? What does it take to be a successful innovator in a large corporation? Either a culture that welcomes and encourages innovation or a true believer mentality.

Making Innovation a Valuable Habit


Aristotle noted something about his fellow humans. He said that "you are what you repeatedly do". He recognized that the more we do certain things, the more we followed certain norms, the more they influenced who we are and how we look at the world. This is interesting in itself, but troubling from an innovation standpoint. Because if we are what we repeatedly do, we'll never innovate. If we are what we repeatedly do, we're all efficiency managers, not innovators. That could explain a lot about the barriers innovation faces in large corporations.

Innovators are Pattern Breakers


Most corporations believe that their customers' needs begin and end within the manner in which the corporations or the industry have defined their solutions. As long as a new product or service can be delivered within those definitions agreed by the industry, then innovation is easier for the corporations to pursue. But when a need or demand arises that falls outside of, or just adjacent to, the way an industry or corporation defines its solutions, everything falls apart. Increasingly, innovation will be at the intersection of markets and industries, and corporations need to become far more flexible in how they define the market, the boundaries of their service offerings.

There's More Innovation Opportunity Than You Think


... how we define an opportunity may lead us to ignore a valuable market opportunity, but changing how the market or segment is served may open what appears to be a closed or highly competitive market.

Innovation Through Subtraction


What's interesting about AirBnB, and another major industry disrupter, Uber, is the fact that they are offering a competitive service to consumers in a long established industry - hoteling for AirBnb and cab or car service for Uber. And both have practiced innovation through subtraction.

Innovation: Snake oil, placebo or wonder drug?


Innovation has become for many people a magic elixir, capable of solving a whole host of problems. Declining revenues? Innovation! Falling market share? Innovation! As if we don't need to worry about the underlying reasons for business challenges, only focus on innovation as a cure-all for everything. I purposely titled this blog post snake oil, placebo or wonder drug, because there's a necessary and ongoing debate about what innovation is.

Innovating the Department of Defense


I listened with great interest to the recent announcement by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's announcement of the new passion for innovation within the US Department of Defense.

There are few organizations that have relied so heavily on research and development, new technologies and innovation as the United States military.

The Innovation Clock


Time is of the essence, and using the precious time effectively matters to coaches. But the vast majority of us live on corporate time, not sports time. We don't compete in televised events on the weekends, but instead compete every day, every minute to drive more revenue and more profit for our employers. Time is just as precious in this setting as it is in the sports world, and how we use the time allotted to us each day matters. More important, I think, is how we decide to divide the time we have, and how we strategically determine what to do with those allotments.

Innovation Should Change Your Perspective


I've long wondered why innovation is considered a transactional activity rather than a engaging philosophy or "way of life". Too many people view innovation as something to do only in emergencies, when a competitor steals a march and wins new customers or introduces a new product.

Good Innovators Get the Big Picture and the Minutiae


Pity the poor innovator, especially those in large corporations. They are constantly whip-sawed between competing narratives and perspectives. In one moment, executives are complaining that no one stops to look at the big picture, to bring them new ideas that are "game changers". In another, subsequent moment, the same innovators are slammed by people who want them to "get their heads out of the clouds" and create something immediately useful. Good innovators are constantly buffeted by these two competing storylines.

Train, Apply, Repeat


So the question of the day is: can innovation be learned, or "taught"? The underlying assumption is that innovation is inherent, a creative spark that one is either born with or cannot hope to possess. The rationalist in all of us considers this unusual and unfair. Certainly everyone can "learn" to innovate, no?

Innovation Choices


Innovation, in all of its facets and complexities, is really about making choices. What we do so casually each day of our lives becomes significantly more difficult in the context of innovation. What is innovation if not an intertwined series of choices?

The Innovation Bandwidth Constraint


I've come to the conclusion that many businesses are at a critical inflection point in regards to the innovation they can conduct. What's interesting is how closely the constraints align to larger economic issues. I'm talking here about the necessary level of staffing in order to get things done. What's I've referred to in the title as "bandwidth".

Innovation Starts with a Need


Many people are confused as to what provides the initial "spark" for innovation, what creates energy and passion to conduct innovation work. The answer is simple: a need.

Unrealistic Expectations and the Failure of Innovation


Innovation has happened, it is happening, and it will happen, as long as there are problems to solve or needs to be addressed and a market that is willing to reward the inventor or innovator for their troubles. Almost all of the advancement in human history is due to innovation - in agriculture, in societies, in medicine, in technology and in education. Rather than doubt the power of innovation, review human history and see the impact of innovation across centuries.

Powerful Innovation Relies on Weak Signals and Forces


For a long time I've wondered if we don't pay far too much attention to the obvious aspects of innovation - brainstorming, ideas, trends, etc - and pay far too little attention to the connective activities and culture that moves ideas through an integrated workflow. It's easy to focus on and celebrate activities and definitive results.

If You Give an Innovator an Idea, He'll Want to Launch It


From my experience, it seems that everyone thinks about innovation, but they think about it in very discrete, disconnected ways. R&D folks think about innovation as creating a new polymer. Marketing folks think about innovation as changing a marketing channel or delivering a new product. Finance folks think about innovation as driving new revenue or perhaps modifying a business model. What very few people think about are the knock-on effects, consequences and series of events that are required to unfold when you innovate.

You Are What You Innovate


In many philosophical circles, the mantra behind much of the belief system is that you are what you (think, eat, do, believe). In dietary circles, you are what you eat. Is it also the case that you "are what you innovate" or is it often the other way round? I think in many cases we actually "innovate what we already are".

The Critical Missing component for Innovation is...


As innovators, we should be detectives, asking ourselves, what critical components for innovation success does this client lack? I've listed a few critical components for innovation success below. If you are starting an innovation project, make sure they exist and are fully supported. If you've "failed" at an innovation activity, perhaps this is a good "post mortem" to find out what went wrong.

Innovation is a Leadership Skill


After years of Right Sizing, Six Sigma, Lean, BPR and other management fads dedicated to improving processes, eliminating waste and improving efficiency, it can be a real struggle to try to introduce innovation. The operating models, what I called "business as usual" resists change, uncertainty, variance and risk.

Six Components for Successful Innovation Capacity


I'm always a little cautious about any post that dares to state a definitive number of tasks or components for successful completion of any task. Therefore, it's with some trepidation that I'm going out on a limb to talk about what I think are six critical components for sustained innovation capacity. Note that I am saying six critical, not "the only six critical" because while I'm certain these are important, there are probably others that are just as important.

But, since most organizations don't have these critical capabilities in place, why worry about two or three others until the most important functions are in place.

The Problems Measuring Innovation


There are tasks we want to do that are reasonable to do and are practical to do. There are activities we want to do that are sensible but difficult to accomplish. Measuring innovation, which sounds important and reasonable, often falls in the second category. It sounds reasonable and important to measure innovation, but is often very difficult to do well. Sort of like measuring sand with a ruler, we may have the wrong tools, or the tools may not exist, or, quite possibly, there are some things we simply don't know how to measure. As Einstein said, not every thing that counts is countable, and not everything that can be counted counts. Let's look at some of the challenges in measuring innovation.

Why Innovators Need a Word other than Failure


...we risk creating what I'll call the Failure Fetish, the belief that we MUST fail in order to succeed in the future. Further, we risk creating a High Church of Failure, demanding that individuals and companies risk far too much and learn far too little. Today's story featured a serial entrepreneur with a PhD in vision sciences who has had two entrepreneurial efforts end prematurely. She is a 40 something mom with teenagers, a lot of debt and is considering mortgaging her house to try again. Entrepreneurs and innovators need to be single minded and risk averse, but they also need a rational outlook and a life!

An Innovator's Resolutions


We come once again to the end of a year, in which we look back and ponder the successes, near misses and absolute failures of the year just ended. As the calendar ticks over into a new year we are also confronted with the promise of an unspoiled new year, simply waiting with expectation for all the possibilities to unfold. As people who are both world wise and yet full of promise, we stand on the threshold of a new year recognizing that the failures and baggage from the year just ended could hold us back, trip us up in a moment of triumph, so we agree to shed all of the problems, issues, hangups, bad habits and phobias from the year just ended, to enter a new year fresh and full of promise. We agree to release ourselves from the mistakes and forgive ourselves for the "failures", and to learn from the mistakes but not be governed or cowed by them.

Why Corporate Innovation is so Difficult


The benefit that entrepreneurs have over corporate innovators is that they must support and sustain only one idea. An entrepreneur should have one really good idea or invention and place all of his or her effort behind that idea. A corporate innovator should similarly place all of his or her effort behind an idea, but must confront the fact that there are hundreds of other existing products and services demanding attention and investment, as well as dozens of other potential ideas or avenues to pursue. This prioritization and resource allocation issue is one of the reasons that corporate innovation is so much more difficult that mere invention or becoming an entrepreneur.

Why Innovators are Like Austronauts


If you think about astronauts, you might recall the famous book, later turned into a movie. That book was The Right Stuff. It celebrated the early astronauts, most of whom were "fly boys", test pilots. These guys seemed to have less fear, more interest in testing the limits, and were volunteers. These characteristics are also vital for innovation. When you are likely to disrupt existing processes and practices, you need to have a much higher risk tolerance, and you should be a volunteer.

Innovate Out of Your Comfort Zone


I notice a pattern emerging this week. A consistent set of blogs that examine what executives and managers get backward about innovation. It's interesting, actually. As a consultant who is regularly planning and leading innovation projects, it can be a bit disconcerting to see how often well-meaning teams get things almost exactly wrong.

Many managers are too willing to innovate that which they understand and are familiar with, and ignore what is new, unusual or uncertain. Further, many firms innovate around internal capabilities or technologies rather than based on customer expectations or needs. What this leads to is a constant "doubling down" on existing capabilities, features or technologies, rather than an introduction of new capabilities or features.

Why Innovation Must Become Business as Usual


We've got to find a way to reduce corporate resistance to innovation, and remove or eliminate the inertia that many corporations retain. While successful companies may feel secure with existing products and market share, that security is a myth. Much of what the resistance and inertia is based on is on protecting a customer base and market share that is under constant attack. Taking a reactive mindset and resisting change is counterproductive. Good innovators already understand this and take the fight to the market through proactive innovation. Good innovators don't hunker down, defend share and resist innovation. On the contrary they attack adjacent markets and rework their products to keep competitors off guard and uncertain.

Is Innovation Generational?


I've been thinking a lot about the reasons why innovation seems so important and pervasive, and equally so poorly implemented. Everywhere I go, executives are talking about the need for more innovation. Elected officials at the federal and state level praise innovation. CEOs and senior executives extoll the importance of innovation. Entrepreneurs talk about innovation as the lifeblood of their businesses. Yet for all the talk about innovation, there's a huge gap between what gets talked about and what gets done.

Separating Entrepreneurs from Corporate Innovators


It's probably a distinction without a significant difference, but I try to distinguish very carefully between entrepreneurs, inventors and corporate innovators. While there are some significant overlaps in goals, purpose and intent, there are also some very significant differences which I'd like to explore.

Can You Spare an Innovation Dime?


Because of efficiency and effectiveness, and their cohorts in crime, Lean, Six Sigma, downsizing, outsourcing and right sizing, most organizations run today on the bleeding edge of staffing efficiency. This means that the bottom line in most corporations looks good, and the top line is often stagnant. Firms have placed so much emphasis on efficiency and cost cutting that there's little time, focus or resource to think about growth.

The Value of Innovation and Quality Training


Even people with deep experience need to refresh their skills. As we say in innovation circles, it's a journey not a destination. That is, even people who have years of experience can learn something new to apply if they are willing to open up their minds. Developing skills and extending or refining skills and knowledge is vital, especially as we are increasingly in a knowledge based economy. Training is vital - in quality or in innovation, but the depth and type of training in these fields rapidly diverge.

Is Innovation a Job Creator?


For many years, I've heard economists and politicians expound the benefits of innovation as a source of new jobs. It goes without saying anymore that innovation is lumped in with economic development, entrepreneurship and job creation. One big happy family. But does innovation create more jobs? Is innovation a reliable economic development platform?

The Logical Limits of Product Innovation


Innovation isn't stalled because we've run out of ideas or out of steam. There's a deeper issue at stake. Innovation appears stalled in many industries because the product or service has reached its point of diminishing marginal returns for innovation. In other words, for many products and services, the next big innovation will be a significant disruption. You can tell when this is true by watching what is being "innovated" - the base product, or other ancillary features.

Learning to see the Whole Elephant in Innovation


We, today, are a lot like the blind men when it comes to innovation, especially when we are focused on discovering new customer needs and expectations. In many discussions about what "customers" want, it often seems like we have a group of learned blind men who know only their particular perspective. Some speak about EXISTING customers and their needs. Some speak about POTENTIAL customers and their needs. Some speak about the firms internal CAPABILITIES and TECHNOLOGIES, as if this matters. Some talk about future SCENARIOS and TRENDS that may occur. Some talk about specific SEGMENTS of customers, ignoring others. Some will talk about what they believe to be true, not what customers have told them. In the end, many clients often have very narrow, segmented and biased interpretations of customer needs, often influenced by current market conditions and the existing capabilities of the business, rather than what they've learned by interacting with customers.

Brainstorming: Innovation's Punching Bag


I don't hold a particular brief for or against brainstorming. But we should consider it in its context. Brainstorming is a tool for generating ideas. You can choose to like and enjoy brainstorming, or you can choose to generate ideas using hundreds of other creativity and idea generation tools. But that's all SCAMPER or brainwriting or mind mapping or any of hundreds of other potential aids are - just tools. And tools used with insufficient preparation or for the wrong application or by an inexperienced user are often blamed for the outcomes.

Innovation Ignition


I read a lot about innovation, and I'm constantly amused by the articles that talk about "kick starting" innovation. If there is one activity that is resistant to forward motion based on one quick action like a kick start, it's innovation. What people who advocate "kick starting" innovation don't understand is the analogy, and the effort involved before the fact.

Managers are for Efficiency, Leaders are for Innovation


...the top down, command and control organization is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. First, it takes too long for commands to filter down through the organization, so the responsiveness of a top down command and control organization is limited, when the environment is changing rapidly. Second, the executives and leaders rotate through jobs and positions like a roulette wheel, in one slot and then on to another slot every two to three years. This lack of longevity in any role doesn't create much stability or desire for long term change. Third, most workers in large organizations have far more training and education than their forebears, and are able to make informed decisions, if they are informed of the goals of the organization.

Overcoming Resistance to Innovation


Well, there I've gone and said it. Yes, the title is about resistance to innovation. You may ask yourself, who is crazy enough to resist innovation? And the true answer is: all of us. Because while the result of innovation can be excellent new products and services, the implementation of innovation brings about the dreaded "C" word. Change. And believe me, any person, team or corporation is completely capable of resisting change. One reason innovation is difficult to do is the undeniable fact that innovation introduces change.

Why Environment Matters to Innovation


In this context, environment has several meanings. The first is obvious, the environment in which you work. Is the physical environment conducive to innovation? The second context is the intangible environment erected by your corporate culture. This creates barriers and limits to thinking, to risk and uncertainty. Does your intangible environment block innovation? The third context is an internal/external environment. How "far" does your environment reach? Do you have extensive interactions and networks with external partners, customers and prospects? The fourth context examines the fluidity of your environment. Does your organization have porous borders? Can you find a good idea or technology outside the boundaries of your organization and bring in "inside"?

Why you can't multi-task innovation


When you are trying to innovate, especially when you are trying to create new ideas that are unique or different from what your organization normally does, you cannot multi-task, you cannot dilute your engagement or awareness. You cannot attempt to concentrate on day to day, routine tasks at the same time you are trying to create interesting new insights and ideas. Your brain doesn't work this way, and you will be pulled in the direction of your expertise and competence.

Four Factors that Drive the Need for Innovation


Why Innovation is Important

The emphasis on the importance of innovative thinking in all aspects of business management has been pushed down the throats of society for some time. Why is innovation so important? What is this thing that is so often “talked about” but so vaguely defined?

Jeffrey Phillips one of the world’s leading innovation bloggers, attempts to better illustrate and simplify why there is a vital need for continuous innovation in business and technological development.

Planning for Innovation


Now is the time to begin scheduling innovation into your corporate structure. Your business will benefit if there is a regular place for innovation in your yearly plan. Believe it or not innovation needs to be planned and organized, otherwise you will find yourself jumping right in without the resources you need to go ahead with it. Best practice is setting aside time to brainstorm and collect ideas--then create an appropriate time line to implement them.