Stacking the Deck in Favor of Innovation, Part 1

1 of Interview with Dave Siegel, co-author of Innovation: Myths and Mythstakes, Marketing to the New SuperConsumer
By Vern Burkhardt
"It's a scientifically proven fact that the more you are laughing, the greater the quantity and quality of your ideas. For the good of your customers, your own jobs, the shareholders, and each other, have a good time. Think, joke, and be merry for today we ideate!"

Vern Burkhardt (VB): You are the President of LaunchForce. Would you talk about the services your company offers?

photo of Dave SiegelDave Siegel: LaunchForce is an insight and innovations consultancy. We help companies uncover deep insights because, as we say, a really good innovation is propelled by a great insight. If you don't have a great insight, it's a product or idea without a home. LaunchForce helps companies develop and uncover insights applicable to consumers or business-to-business relationships, and then helps develop the solution to those insights. It could be a new product, service, or business model--whatever fits the company best.

We do this for a lot of the top consumer package goods companies. We're quite heavily involved with food marketers, because that's where a lot of innovation takes place. We work with companies like ConAgra, Kellogg's, Nestles, Heinz, Kraft, MacDonald's, Wendy's, and Kraft. We also work with health and beauty aid companies, services such as banks and insurance companies, and also retailers.

We're currently doing some innovation work with Build-a-Bear Workshops, a fairly large retail chain that helps kids bond with their parents while making teddy bears. We are coming up with quite a few innovations that will improve their same store sales.

VB: You say on your website "we infuse imagination into everything that we do." Would you talk about that?

Dave Siegel: Yes, Einstein had a lot of good quotes, but the one we most love is "imagination is more important than knowledge", and truly it is. New ideas come from your imagination. Knowledge is a good understanding of what is today, but not what could be.

Companies that rely purely on knowledge will say, "Let's do some research, let's see what's going on." Which means all the companies are looking at exactly the same thing and will probably come up with similar or even exactly the same innovations. When we do new product work or when we go into a lot of companies, often we'll see the same ideas that others have worked on. It's amazing! Especially from one food company to another. We'll think, "Oh, there's that same idea again" – they're all looking at the same data. However, if you apply imagination, everyone becomes a bit unique. They ask, "Where can we go from here?" "Why?" "Why not?" "What if?" That's where innovation can happen.

On the knowledge side, when I was at Y&R Ad Agency a long time ago, I did a lot of kids' marketing. This is a true story. We were looking at a category a company was trying assess as critical or not for kids. Our own people, who were pretty up on current research, said, "No, this is never going to work because kids aren't asking for these types of products." "Nobody is marketing to kids in this area, so don't bother." Of course, the obvious and better question is not "What is out there?" because it focuses on what already is, but rather on "Why shouldn't this be for kids?" That category turned out to be yogurt, and it's now a huge kids category because Dannon came out with "Sprinklins" and General Mills came out with "Go-gurt".

A lot is due to one's imagination. You might see something in a different country and think, "Why is that not available or done back home?" You'll see something in a different category and say, "Why doesn't the category I'm working on do the same thing?" That's where you use your imagination, and where the big opportunities are.

VB: "Knowledge is plentiful in the marketplace, but marrying knowledge and insights with vivid imagination is the only real way to deliver truly game-changing and timely innovation." Does this statement on your website imply that vivid imagination is often lacking in businesses?

Dave Siegel: Oh, yes. Unfortunately, our colleges encourage that too. There's so much dependence on facts. They actually inhibit imagination.

If you do product development correctly, it's very successful. The problem is that if you believe a very large percentage of new products fail you tend to do a ton of research – sometimes too much. So much research that you take all the imagination out of both the process and the product. Using this process will eliminate much of the risk, but the results will look like everybody else's. In the standard research approach the product is described and consumers are asked, "Would you buy this product?" I can tell you that the more different a product is from what's currently in the marketplace the more reluctant people are to indicate they'd buy it. And the more similar it is to something they already buy, the more likely they'll say, "Yes, I'd buy it." For example, I like pudding, and this is a different flavor of pudding, so I'll buy it. The danger is it's not something new and innovative. A new flavor isn't something new compared to what's already available so it won't have a tipping point effect.

Suppose I came up with the first pudding that energized you when you ate it, or was the first pudding that made you feel younger. When asked some people would likely reply, "I don't know, it might be dangerous. It might have chemicals in it," indicating they would be reluctant to try it. In their minds they can't link this product to others. In this type of research everything is stacked against imagination. The focus becomes: "What is a tiny step better than what we already have? Let's avoid risk; we don't want to fail." Let's face it. Even in the corporate world, if you want to get promoted, you don't want to fail.

VB: The Great Tween Buying Machine: Capturing Your Share of the Multi-Billion-Dollar Tween Market was published in 2004. If you were updating this publication today for a second edition, would you have any additional insights to include given technological and other changes that have occurred since you wrote the book? Or were they included in Marketing to the New SuperConsumer-Mom & Kid, published in 2005?

Dave Siegel: The whole world has been changing unbelievably rapidly, especially kids who are the "tryers" of everything. The Internet has changed the lives of kids considerably. From an innovation standpoint, kids are not afraid to try anything and adapt to things easily. They change quickly and dramatically, thanks to the Internet.

They love communication and keeping in touch with their friends. They love power and control. In The Great Tween Buying Machine, we say the primary drivers are power, freedom, fun, and belonging. Just think what the Internet enables. Kids have the power to get any information or talk to anybody they want on the Internet. They have absolute freedom to discover what they want. Being connected, playing games, and so much more, is fun. Belonging is a key driver. On the Internet kids have more friends, or at least buddies, than you could ever have imagined 10 years ago.

The Internet has significantly impacted schools. Kids know they have to search the Internet for answers, and they can find almost anything they want. Teachers in elementary schools, at least in the U.S., are teaching their students that, if they're searching online for information, they need to make sure the source is reliable and the information is accurate. This questioning and challenging has become one of their sophisticated skills. You can't just make a statement to a child over the age of 8 or 9, and have them believe it. They are really sharp. They want to know why, and they will go to the Internet to find out.

Kids have changed dramatically. The Internet has changed their attitudes toward marketing and advertising. Kids are extremely astute when it comes to marketing, because they have to be.

The biggest change of all for kids is their parents. We talked about that in the next book we wrote, Marketing to the New SuperConsumer-Mom & Kid. Today many moms are different because they are smart, savvy, and cool. Kids have changed because moms have changed. They're much more active as consumers. You can't go into a store where there's a mom and child and not see them work as a team. The moms ask the kids, "Which one do you want? What product do you want? What should we buy today? Should we use this product?" That seldom happened even 5 or 10 years ago. Then there was much more of a nag factor. Kids asked and asked, and moms usually said, "No." Now the mom is doing the nagging! I really should update that book. God, I'm tired of writing!

VB: Are there any other books planned?

Dave Siegel: Yeah, but I'd rather not say. I've got one in the back of my mind I've been dying to write. It would be about the mistakes I've made in my life – I've made a ton of them – that hopefully other people could learn from!

VB: In Innovation: Myths and Mythstakes you say, " …in most companies the deck is stacked against encouragement of innovation, especially disruptive innovation – the kind that leads to major changes within the business or marketplace." What are some of the things that can be done to address this situation within companies and within the cultures of countries?

Dave Siegel: The cultures in countries have a significant impact on the willingness of people to innovate. I speak all around the world, and my impression is, compared to many other countries, Americans are more likely to take more risks. Perhaps because our grandparents and great grandparents were pioneers, who knows, but in many other areas, such as Asia, it's like the kiss of death if you make a mistake or fail. The whole culture is risk-avoidant, which inhibits innovation.

Right now Singapore is trying to install in its colleges a course that will encourage their own people to take more risks. I think the same thing is happening in China and Japan, and no doubt in many other countries as well.

We spoke earlier about the risk factor in companies. There are people who are afraid to take risks because they fear losing their jobs, and this thinking can permeate a company all the way up to the CEO's. You don't want to be wrong, so you do what's safe. To change that culture, I don't know – hit them on the head? It really has to start at the top. You have to have a CEO or high level executive saying, "We want you to take risks, and we will reward you if you take risks." It's hard but that's what has to be done. Make the reward big enough so the risk is worth taking.

A great example is Procter & Gamble. Look what Alan George ("AG") Lafley has done for that company. Before A.G. Lafley was CEO the company was "good old Procter and Gamble". It didn't do much innovation. It bought a lot of companies, and maybe that was taking a bit of a risk. But the risk is generally known when you buy a company because you know what the company is doing, and you know its sales.

A.G. Lafley came to Procter and Gamble with a different message – from now on x% of our sales is going to come from new products. He set an aggressive goal. As outlined in his book, Game Changer, he told his R&D people that he wanted the company to get more ideas from outsiders than insiders. He set aggressive goals that forced them to take risks and open doors. That approach has helped P & G considerably. For example, it led to Swiffer and Cascade action packs, to name only two.

VB: I think Lafley set a target of at least 50%.

Dave Siegel: If you set an aggressive target it will force people to be innovative. Having been a Brand Manager, I know that if my goal is to grow by 5% it's a piece of cake. It's a price increase. I could do that in my sleep. Even 10% could be realized from a price increase, or a flavor or color change.

Make my objective a 20% or 30% growth target, and I've got to think of something really different and innovative. I've got to take some risks to get there. It takes a CEO to set such a goal.

VB: And in today's economic climate that is even more difficult, isn't it?

Dave Siegel: Yes, every penny is important. It's the old saying, "You can't worry about tomorrow if you die today," and innovation requires money and time today for something that might get you something tomorrow. Over the last year, we have seen companies drastically cut innovation budgets though some are already restoring some of their innovation efforts because they realized, once they got the company stabilized and a bit profitable, that now it is time to try to recapture some growth.

In tough times, the first thing to go is marketing. Marketing, as a general expense, is something that is very difficult to quantify as to what business it brings in. When you reduce marketing, and especially innovation, because it's a cost and you think it will help the bottom line in the short term you are making a mistake by mortgaging your future.

VB: It's a short-term strategy that could end up causing the death of the company.

Dave Siegel: Sure, but that's our economy in the U.S. Stockholders want short-term returns on their companies' stocks, and they want high growth rates. Their perspective is don't talk to us about the future, talk to us about now. This dictates what the CEO has to do which, in turn, dictates what the company has to do.

It all comes down to needing to transition to a culture that is willing to think of the long-term rather than only the short-term. That's not easy to do especially given the current economic challenges businesses are facing. I think Canada, our next door neighbor with what we might think would be a similar culture, is a lot more long-term oriented than are most Americans.

VB: You say, "To successfully innovate, two skills must be present: knowledge and imagination." Would you talk about this?

Dave Siegel: I think Drucker was the first to say you need both knowledge and imagination – the left and the right brain. Imagination is wonderful and can tell you what can be, but you still need some basic knowledge.

Is your idea at all possible? For example, I would love to be able to come up with a product that stops people from aging. I think everybody in the world would buy it. But can it be done?

Too much knowledge and no imagination mean you are not going to get any innovation. Too much imagination and no knowledge, and you will waste a lot of money. When we are doing brain-gaming during innovation projects we try to include both left-brain and right-brain dominant people. We do exercises that stimulate both sides of the brain, because that is critical.

VB: What is a "mythstake?"

Dave Siegel: It is an attempt to have fun and draw attention!

The way we explain a "mythstake" is it's something true but it's misapplied. It's true that you have to keep your consumer in mind when you are doing innovation. The consumer is very important. But it's a mistake if you take them at face value. Keeping a consumer in mind is not asking them their opinion. That is a "mythstake." Consumers can't tell you what they want and expect. We see a lot of companies making that mythstake.

When people are working on an innovation and are uncertain about something they will often say, "Let's ask the consumer." My advice is don't ask them. You can observe them. You can do some exercises to gain insights. You could give them situations to respond to, but usually they can't tell you what's going on or why they do things. I think most studies show that about 90% of what we do is subconscious or impulsive. Yet, we ask people specifically, "Why did you do this?" And "What would you do here?"

Using research is important. Using it incorrectly is a "mythstake."

VB: Is it also because people often act and react at an emotional level, whereas when you ask them, you are asking them at an intellectual level which appeals to their rational thinking processes?

Dave Siegel: Absolutely, and that is one of the biggest "mythstakes" about research. Research is conducted by "more knowledgeable people", either on the consumer side or on the research side. They are highly knowledgeable, and usually left-brained, so they look for information that satisfies their need for specific knowledge or facts. But people don't act that way.

When I was buying car a number of years ago I spent a considerable amount of time researching all cars. When I test drove a BMW I was asked by the dealer to complete a survey that asked a range of questions about my expectations. For example, the kind of driving experience, type and level of comfort, feel of the steering wheel, and the type of rear view mirrors I wanted. They were convinced I was going to buy a BMW 525 because my answers all fit that model. But I subsequently bought an Audi.

Why did I buy the Audi? Even though what I said in the survey indicated a BMW, when I sat in the BMW it felt wrong. An Audi wasn't even on my list of makes of vehicle to consider! We were passing an Audi dealership, my wife spotted a car that looked really cool, and said, "Let's stop and take a look." We stopped, saw an Audi in the showroom we liked, sat in it, fell in love with it, and bought it. I don't think any research report would have predicted this.

Somebody watching might have concluded that there is another way people respond when looking to buy a new car, and that we can't predict their choice by asking them to identify their likes and dislikes in a process separate from seeing their emotional reaction to the experience of looking at and sitting in the cars. Even if you ask me today I probably still don't know why I bought the Audi, other than it looked and felt good. Would I have bought a Chevrolet at the time – no. But I could have bought a Volvo, BMW, or Mercedes and yet I didn't.

VB: You discuss 27 myths or "misconceptions" about innovation, which hamper innovation and lead to costly mistakes. Which of these myths did you find most interesting to research and write about?

cover of Innovation Myths and MythstakesDave Siegel: Two immediately come to mind. The most fun myth is "The Consumer is King." Marketing is based on the consumer – fulfill consumer wants and needs. The way to find out the wants and needs of consumers is not through traditional research because it will only tell you "what is." The big "ah-ha" is that you have to go about it in an imaginative way. We call it the visionary world. You have to look where things aren't, and ask "Why?" or "Why not?" For example, we have a great product idea, a kicker idea for a major pet food company, that's coming out early next year. We got the idea by going to a store in Soho, New York. It had nothing to do with pet food. We just saw the product and thought, "What if a certain type of pet food did this?" and we then said, "Why not?"

The other myth that offers significant insights is "A Great Idea Speaks for Itself." Often people will spend a lot of time doing research and development to get a product or service ready, and then turn it over to an ad agency or package design shop. The ads may showcase nothing that was uncovered during product research so their message may not hit the mark. And the package may have nothing to do with the main idea, features and claims about the innovation. As good agencies know you've got to break through, you've got to catch consumers' attention, and most purchasing is emotional. But unless you capture the main idea behind the product why did you do all the work during its development?

BASES will tell you that the number two reason why products fail after they pass BASES tests and new product testing is that the communication to the consumer fell apart. Companies have asked us why really disruptive innovations test so poorly with consumers during research. It's because it is being communicated in the wrong way. You can't be dealing with something really disruptive and different, and use the same old wording for concept statements that you would use for everything else. It's got to be different. (Vern's note: "BASES" stands for Booz Allen Sales Estimating System, which enables a sales forecast for a new product prior to being launched into the marketplace.)

And don't forget the back end of the innovation. Don't forget to figure out how to communicate about it – what's the big idea behind it, or what it offers the consumer? So many times I'll look at a product and marvel that they've forgotten this basic point. My wife just got an example of this today. A utility flyer came in the mail talking about a great new billing plan the firm has. While she was looking at it she said, "This is great. It tells me everything about the billing plan, but I don't know why I should switch to it." That's the question that needs to be answered. Where's the benefit? If the flyer had explained why the billing plan was a good reason for changing our utility provider we probably would have said, "Let's do it", because we are always looking to save money. Their error was poor communication.

VB: Products are market tested through use of concept statements in the BASES process, but what is actually delivered may not necessarily be what was communicated when the idea was tested.

Dave Siegel: That happens so often. A lot of innovations are tested in the concept statement format, which is a picture with lots of copy. The people involved in the test likely take a minute or so to read and understand the statement, but when the product is introduced into the marketplace the marketing people have maybe a 15 second TV spot into which they have to squeeze this information, capture attention, and generate a break through purchasing decision. Because the package for the product is limited in size it can include only a limited amount of information, so that communication is usually very different from the concept statement as well.

We advise our clients to recognize this potential big gap and make sure the core message from their concept statement is included in the marketing of the product. Make sure they understand what must be communicated – what attracted people to the key points in the concept statement.

VB: You say, "You can't begin to succeed until you are not afraid to fail." Is the fear of taking risks an even greater challenge to innovation in today's uncertain economic times? How might businesses address this issue?

Dave Siegel: One of my first jobs in marketing was at Procter and Gamble. It's a great company, but when I was there if you came up with an idea, unless it was done before, your boss would say, "How do you know it's going to work?" Well, you didn't, so they'd say, "Then we don't want to do it. You've got to know it's going to work!" But if you know it's going to work, then it's been done before. And if its been done before its NOT new! It was a vicious cycle.

The big thing in business is avoidance of risk. People will give lip service and say, "We take risks". Most companies are afraid of risk. Let's go back to one of our myths, which is that 80% of new products fail. It's a myth, but in marketing courses you are taught that 80% of new products fail. That's what I learned in the 70's when I was taking my Master's Degree. Many still think the 80% failure rate is the reality in business.

There are studies by the Product Development and Management Association, and probably many other manufacturing associations, showing that about 65% of new products are successful. And that success rate increases if you do product development right – it becomes more like 90%. The perception is skewed because a lot of tiny companies are just throwing new products into the marketplace and failing.

VB: You say, "If you ever want a good barometer of your company's lack of innovative thinking, the continuation of major investments in R&D during slow-growth markets may be as good an indicator as any." Why is that the case?

Dave Siegel: One is reminded of the old argument in marketing – when times are bad you should be spending more on R&D. If you are not focused on being innovative, you're worried more about today than tomorrow. If you're cutting your R&D spending in a slow-growth market, you don't understand how important innovation is for future success.

There is another side related to the fallacies of R&D spending. Spending isn't necessarily indicative of strong innovation in a company. You could spend a ton of money and do innovation poorly, like General Motors. GM outspent everybody in R&D, but look where they are – bankrupt. On the other hand, Toyota and some of the other automobile competitors spent a lot less on innovation and product development, but did it better. They weren't as siloed, were more in touch with what the consumer wanted, and had a better innovation process. They were much more innovative in everything, from their business model on how to make a car to how quickly the cars could be made. Throughout the whole process they were just much more innovative.

So money isn't the only thing that will tell you if a company is or is not innovative. It's also how fast a company can change it's operations and retool, and what is their goal. If their goal is to be innovative and change quickly, it's a better environment.

General Motors could invest as much R&D as they wanted, but their strategy was probably about how to get the most out of their capital equipment. They were driven by how to use their existing assembly lines more rather than by coming up with break through innovations.

VB: Is history a good predictor of a company's innovativeness?

Dave Siegel: A new CEO with a new direction can have a big impact. Again Procter & Gamble is a good example. A.G. Lafley probably experienced a lot of negative pressure and push back when he told his company's R&D people, "Now you've got to look externally and collaborate with others." That meant the R&D managers couldn't hire more of their own people. Employees would have felt their jobs were in jeopardy. This move toward open innovation was a big change for the company.

VB: The key is the vision for innovation within a company?

Dave Siegel: Yes, the past isn't necessarily a predictor of the future, and neither is spending. You certainly have to spend something in R&D, or buy someone else's R&D, but what's most important is vision and an innovation culture.

We have seen innovation come at no cost to companies. They start to look at a different business model and it changes everything. Sometimes it's as simple as a different pricing strategy.

VB: Would you talk about the "law of diminishing returns" as it applies to innovating a "perfect" product for the marketplace?

Dave Siegel: I wrote that one for my wife! She's a perfectionist.

Any company that is perfectionist pays a big price. A lot of times this perfectionist drive comes from the CEO or senior managers, because they want a product to be perfect before they introduce it into the marketplace.

The fallacy of perfection is you are guaranteeing yourself a lower return on investment. You can always make something better, but it's going to take you longer and cost you more. You are guaranteeing that your product is going to be very expensive to get to market, and you're going to have to charge a lot for it.

The key is to consider whether the consumer needs all that perfection? If they don't you are setting yourself up for failure, because someone else will come in with a less perfect, less expensive but good enough product and take the market away from you.

Is there a segment of the market that loves perfection? Sure, but it is only a small part of the market. The bigger part of the market is filling the customers' need in a manner that is affordable. That means designing a product that is affordable because it is "good enough." If your product is too perfect, you are pricing it out of their hands.

VB: It may also be a dichotomy that the more perfect you make it, at least in some areas like the electronics business, the more complex it is to use.

Dave Siegel: Excellent point! If you remember anything about new products, it's that they have to be simple to use, easy to demonstrate and people have to want them.

From a marketing standpoint, there may be a niche for customers who love complicated things and like to tinker. It is likely only a little niche market.

VB: In today's fast pace of business, it may surprise some that you say, "In nearly every case, it takes more than a generation for a major innovation to gain a significant foothold in the marketplace." Has the world changed since you made this observation?

Dave Siegel: I can't defend that anymore. I'm starting to see major innovations come to fruition faster and faster because of the Internet. People spread the word much faster and it is easier to demonstrate new product ideas faster.

It used to be true because major innovation was something completely new, not just adaptations to existing products. The early adaptors of a major innovation were the first to try out new products, and they represented only a small percentage of the market. As the innovation became more and more popular the majority of the market took over, but that was a long process. The newer the item, the longer it took to be adopted – normally more than a generation.

However, today look at how fast you can get word into the marketplace about a product, and how much you can reduce the risk. If I have an insight I'm capitalizing on with a good product, I'll message it on the Internet, and if you are interested you'll easily find everything you want to know about it online.

VB: So the world has changed.

Dave Siegel: The world has changed. It's easier to innovate now than ever before.

I think the current economic situation is going to encourage even more and faster innovation, because there are more and more people with very good brains who are out of work. If they have a little money they will try to set up their own businesses, and that's going to lead to new products.

VB: You say, "True disruptive innovations come from a future-focused vision of what can be." How does LaunchForce's process help clients "to discover dynamic, and robust areas of true insight and opportunity for brands?"

Dave Siegel: One of our myths is that brainstorming works. Brainstorming doesn't work. Every time we talk about it, people nod, because they've all been through brainstorming. With brainstorming, you come up with the same ideas all the time, and 99% of them are garbage.

Our process demands that you look in other than the traditional places. We look at three places, we call them "the three worlds of innovation."

We look at a brand's existing data, such as its features and usage, but we do so from an imaginative point of view. We look at a lot of aspects of the company and ask many questions, such as "Why?", "Why not", and "What if?"

Then we look at the needs of the consumer, and we also do this using imagination. Our methods of observing consumers are unusual. One method we have is called "Consumer Vérité" (patent pending), where we bring consumers into the innovation process. Because we are interested in their insights we look for consumers who are vocal and easy to talk to. We have many ways that we expose consumers and obtain insights. For example, if we are working on innovations related to perfume we might want to see how women get ready for a date at night, or what they do in the morning. They would be asked to videotape themselves in their homes doing their toiletries in the morning and when getting ready for a date at night, and to do this for a week or so. The videotapes may reveal unbelievably different insights than if we just asked for their opinions and impressions.

Another way we obtain consumer input is with something we call "Blink," which is based on rapid responses. A lot of times people can't tell you how they feel, but if you quickly show them images, sights, and textures or expose them to sounds, their minds put a pattern behind it. It's somewhat like the Rorschach test in psychology. It enables us to begin to see how consumers really feel towards a product or idea – it reveals insights not obtained if you just ask them for.

So, the first thing we do is look at the interior world, which is the company or the brand. Then we go to the consumer. The last part is going to the visionary world. We take a frame of reference. Sticking with the perfume example, the frame of reference may be "feeling good." So we start by asking, "What can we learn from other categories about feeling good? What if we went to health spas to see how they make people feel good? What if we went to travel companies? What if we went to bars and other entertainment places?" With a different frame of reference, all of a sudden you see things differently.

One of the things I love to do is look at how the entertainment market segments itself. It segments itself by age because of maturity: X-rated, G-rated, R-rated, PG-rated, and family. What if you took that same segmentation and applied it to different products? What if you applied it to perfumes? Or cereals – you'd have an X-rated cereal! Maybe it makes you feel a little tingly inside. Maybe it's R-rated – it makes you think of different things.

Once we've received very different insights from the interior, consumer, and visionary worlds we are able to develop further insights. We quantify these insights to see where the big opportunities are. Then instead of the traditional brainstorming technique, we do "brain-gaming" to come up with ideas that really work. We have exercises that ensure you use both the left and right side of your brain, and we have exercises that are very different. We start with a target in mind, like an insight, so we don't just come up with free association ideas that have nothing to do with the innovation objective. The objective is how do we best satisfy the insight? Using our earlier example, if there was a cereal that was X-rated what would it look like? That gives us the target. Then ideas are generated that go against the target. It is much more focused and useful than brainstorming.

We learned our brain-gaming team approach to generating ideas, using teams composed of a relatively small number of people, from the ad agency business. They can be very creative using a small team, often composed of only a writer and an art director, to develop a commercial. We learned that smaller teams are generally better for creating ideas than big teams. We might pit teams against each other to create a gaming atmosphere, because gaming brings out more competition and the feeling of a need to win creates a different type of environment. It encourages some risk-taking in the ideation process, and we've quantified the results of this approach. Our test results have been very good. One of our major clients, Kellogg's, has advised us we have an 80% success rate in generating useful ideas.

Vern's Note: The authors recommend that "while internal inventing still should play a part in corporate innovation, there should be no fear in remaining open to using outside consultants and Open Innovation to put your company in position to better develop out-of-the box, game-changing innovations both effectively and efficiently."

Next week we continue our interview with Dave Siegel, talking about the myths and "mythstakes" of innovation, the "Pledge of Innovation," and much more.

Dave Siegel's Bio:
Upon earning a Masters in Business Administration, Dave Siegel joined Procter and Gamble, and worked with the marketing team that launched the new liquid detergent product ERA. He subsequently worked for Cadbury-Schweppes and Bristol-Myers, where he launched many innovative products into the marketplace. Siegel created and managed Young & Rubicam's International kid marketing consultancy – SmallTalk. He subsequently co-founded and was President of the WonderGroup advertising agency and, after 10 years, became a Managing Partner and the President of LaunchForce, WonderGroup's Insight and Innovation Division.

Dave Siegel became one of the first consumer marketers to realize the potential of marketing to kids and has spent the past 30 years immersed in youth and family marketing, advising some of the country's top corporations in such fields as food and beverage, household cleaning products, health and beauty aids, toys, entertainment, clothing, and retailing.

Siegel is a well-quoted author and speaker. He has spoken and/or keynoted kid marketing conferences in Singapore, Australia, Brazil, Canada, England, France and the Netherlands. He is a Gold Effie winner for his work on introducing and marketing the world's most successful leisure product of the 90's – the Super Soaker.

Dave Siegel is the co-author with Tim Coffey and Mark Smith of Innovation: Myths and Mythstakes (2009), and co-author with Timothy Coffey and Gregory Livingston of Marketing to the New SuperConsumer: Mom & Kid (2005) and The Great Tween Buying Machine: Capturing Your Share of the Multi-Billion-Dollar Tween Market (2004).

Share on      
Next Interview »