Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Want breakthrough innovation? Then don't listen to your customers
By Jeffrey Baumgartner

A subject we often talk about:

A lot has been written on customer-centric innovation and there is an arguable case for taking this approach. However, customer-centric innovation is fraught with risk if done poorly – such as asking your customers for ideas  – and seldom actually leads to breakthrough innovation…...
Rather, I would like to look at why it is often best to get beyond your customers if you truly want to devise and launch a breakthrough innovation. Indeed, if we look at some of the most successful innovative products and services of recent years, we find that they are not the result of customer surveys, they are not based on suggestions submitted to crowd sourcing web sites and they are not new features added to existing products (the most typical customer-centric innovation). Rather they are radical ideas that have often made it to market as the result of the vision and drive of a determined individual.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Innovators share the lessons they've learned during 2010

By Chuck Frey

There some powerful isights in this summary that I will share with you in future postings

"Ideation vs. innovation
One of the biggest lessons I have learned this year is the misconception between ideation and innovation. Many people think that ideas are what drives innovation - and they then put a lot of focus on ideation as the 'innovation process.' A very close cousin to this misconception is thinking that creativity is innovation - and hence putting a lot of energy and focus on 'being creative' as the key part of an innovation process.
In our experience a true innovation process actually begins with strategy and strategic thinking which connects to a portfolio approach that focuses research and informs the ideation process. Ideation leads to insights which then start a whole process of turning insights into innovations that require market development and sales to complete the entire cycle. Ideation and creativity are the middle of an innovation process and not the beginning or end.
- Michael Kaufman, InnovationLabs LLC
Parallels between building your muscular core and innovation
Ideation is not innovation. The “fuzzy front end” is just that.  It is easy to get excited about something “warm and fuzzy.” The “lessons learned” this year for me is the importance of process over tools to flow and grow innovation through the organizational culture. Innovation is not a “point solution” to any problem and innovation tools apart from a broader context of their purpose can lead to the “flavor of the month” syndrome for the innovation community.  Intentional, strategic, process-driven innovation is like a body workout. The muscles have to go through a range of motion they are not used to resulting in some aches that go away as the muscles are strengthened and built. The innovation process similarly takes time, and the organizational change to accomplish it can be painful before you see measurable and sustainable results and,  just like exercise,  there is typically more talk about innovation than action."
- Don Pital, Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Hotbeds of Innovation
U.S. multinationals are looking to small companies and startups for the next big ideas.

Fabulous article on different approach to R&D driven innovation in our “flattening world”
"As companies in Asia and Latin America transform themselves from low-cost manufacturers to competitive innovators, many U.S. multinational corporations are confronting a strategic dilemma: Although under pressure to stay ahead of their often-flush global rivals, these multinationals are being forced to revisit their R&D budgets — a consequence of weak sales at home, where consumers are nervous about spending.
Some companies have responded by offshoring design and engineering to drive down costs. IBM, a well-known example, has invested significantly in its presence in China and India. Others have adopted open source policies that encourage collaboration, such as Procter & Gamble Company’s “Connect + Develop” platform, which lets P&G and external product and process designers share technologies and know-how. But another option is growing more popular. Called “ecosystem investing” by some innovation executives, it refers to the increasingly complex network of suppliers and innovators supporting large companies."
In this model, well-established U.S. companies are creating strategic partnerships with startups and small companies whose technologies and skills can help the large companies expand their own capabilities. Longtime ecosystem investors such as Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and Intel are driving existing ventures toward advanced breakthroughs, and companies such as General Electric, General Motors, and Google have adopted the approach in earnest in recent years.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Larry Page's Google 3.0
The company co-founder and his star deputies are trying to root out bureaucracy and rediscover the nimble moves of youth

Very good article on discussing the challenge of a very successful company change to maintain their growth

"Every Monday afternoon at the Googleplex in Mountain View, Calif., more than a dozen of Google's (GOOG) top executives gather in the company's boardroom….The unstated goal is to save the search giant from the ossification that can paralyze large corporations. It won't be easy, because Google is a tech conglomerate, an assemblage of parts that sometimes work at cross-purposes….
….Although Google recently reported that fourth-quarter profits jumped 29 percent over the previous year, its stock rose only 13.7 percent over the past 12 months, disappointing investors and lagging the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index. Google is being outpaced by rivals such as Facebook in social networking. In 2010, Facebook served up more display ads than either Google or Yahoo! (YHOO)—and was visited by more U.S. Internet users. And Apple (AAPL) is setting the pace in mobile computing, with beloved products that use a proprietary operating system that can be closed off to Google's services if the company so chooses.
On top of all that, there are antitrust inquiries in Washington and Europe, the defection of some top Google executives for opportunities elsewhere, and perhaps the most serious rap against the company: that its loosely organized structure is growing unwieldy and counterproductive.
The creative chaos inside Google's halls—a decentralized jungle of innovation, as one prominent venture capitalist puts it—once empowered employees to make bold moves, such as creating Gmail, the search-based e-mail system. Other than Android, the culture has recently produced a string of flops, such as Google Buzz, a Twitter clone, and Google Wave, a wonky service that let people collaborate online.