Monday, August 27, 2012

Apple Case Muddies the Future of Innovations
Published: August 26, 2012

The recent patent decision favoring Apple’s patent position vs. Samsung raised significant discussion on whether current patent laws stimulate innovation or. limits it. The following article touches on both sides of the argument. My personal belief is that the complaint of the industry against Apple results more from Apple’s incredible innovation from technology to business to patents that resulted in a historically strong market position. They changed the market and protected every aspect of the change. Samsung, the court said, tried to copy their system vs. innovating around it. I would love to hear your thoughts.

Apple’s victory on Friday in a patent lawsuit against Samsung could, if upheld, give its rivals a kick in the pants to create more original products.

Whether consumers respond by buying the more distinctive devices is another question entirely.
Consider the case of Windows Phone, Microsoft’s operating system for smartphones, which looks almost nothing like the Apple software for iPhones and iPads. Reviewers have praised Windows Phone for its fresh, distinctive design, with bold typography and a tile system for using phone functions.
But the phones, including the Lumia 900 from Nokia, have not sold well.
Microsoft’s product has not gained traction for a number of possible reasons, among them the big lead its rivals had in the marketplace and the relatively weak distribution of its main partner, Nokia…..
… People across the technology industry have expressed concerns about the future of innovation after a nine-person jury ruled in Apple’s favor last week in Federal District Court in San Jose, Calif. The jury said Samsung smartphone and tablet products violated a series of Apple patents protecting a number of designs and functions — including the rectangular shape and rounded edges of the iPhone and the pinch-to-zoom gesture that magnifies an image on Apple devices…. 
… For Apple and executives at other companies in Silicon Valley that emphasize distinctive design, the verdict was a welcome validation of the effort they put into making and protecting technologies that create original user experiences. “It’s good for intellectual property, and good for firms that invest in design,” said Chip Lutton Jr., vice president and general counsel of Nest, maker of a smart thermostat…. 
… But he said the decision could also create a “minefield” for product designers, in which they are constantly second-guessing whether functions will step on someone else’s patents. Mr. Flora is concerned, for example, that Apple’s patent on the pinch-to-zoom function covers a gesture that now is so common that touch screen products without it would be like cars with square or triangular steering wheels…. 
… But Mr. Kindel also was concerned about the possibility of the mobile device market becoming increasingly complex. Software developers already have a complicated mix of mobile devices to make apps for, and the pressure on manufacturers to design devices differently could make it even harder. Consumers could be confused over which phones have which apps and functions. It may grow harder to persuade phone users to switch to another system, another roadblock to competition.

Friday, August 24, 2012

What is your innovation selection strategy?
By Paul Sloane

In our MDG framework, we strongly advise clients to develop a set of Decision Criteria that aligns the decision team on what is important and telegraphs to whole company what will be the driving force for resourcing new initiatives. The Decision Criteria sets the conversation across the company. I thought the flowing is an interesting mix of criteria:

1. Does it meet our corporate vision and business strategy? This is a good generic criterion but it can be too broad to give you much help in choosing a specific product to invest in.
2. Can we master the technology? If there is a new technology or system that you can harness then you can look for a technology-led innovation
3. Does it meet a customer need? This is probably the best known and most effective way to select new product developments
4. Can we make money quickly? Also known as the low-hanging fruit approach. We look at adjacent products or markets where we believe that we can make money by developing or acquiring a product. This tends to be incremental and tactical rather than strategic and is sometimes harder to accomplish than it first appears
5. Does it take us into the Blue Ocean? You draw value curves for your offering and those of your competitors.  Often the curves are remarkably similar. Then you ask whether you can differentiate your proposition by bringing out a product that offers dramatically more or less in some of the feature areas
6. Does it go where the brand leads?  A brand is a promise. So ask how can your brand promise can be developed and fulfilled

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Weakness of Positive Thinking
When an upbeat management style becomes excessive, it wards off reality and asks for trouble.
Author: David Collinson (Lancaster University Management School)

This builds on a thesis in our Market Driven Growth process where the underlying psychological dynamics of group interactions –Conformation Bias and Cognitive Dissonance --can lead to the phenomenon of “Escalation of Commitment” where negative data is ignored and the team just pushes forward with their original hypothesis often with disastrous results. . Overzealous “Prozac Leadership” just intensifies these phenomenon.

There is such a thing as too much positive leadership, according to this paper, which finds that a blind allegiance to organizational optimism lies at the heart of many of the financial miscalculations that drove the Great Recession. Countering the widely held view that positive thinking by leaders invariably challenges and inspires subordinates, the author coins the term “Prozac leadership” to describe how optimism tends to resemble a well-intended but addictive drug: It promotes artificial happiness and discourages critical reflection, leaving companies ill equipped to deal with setbacks. 
Drawing on an analysis of nearly 200 studies of leadership, positive thinking, and organizational dynamics, the author acknowledges that the ability of supervisors to be persuasive is a key skill, and that optimism is one of the most effective communication methods. In fact, leaders’ positive narratives and vision can be transformational, improving innovation and teamwork, especially when employees are part of the strategic dialogue and trust their bosses. 
But several recent studies have critiqued the positive thinking movement, highlighting the negative personal and organizational effects that can result from “excessive optimism,” “irrational exuberance,” “gambling against the odds,” and the “tyranny of positive thinking.” In short, Prozac leaders can wind up believing their own narrative that everything is going well. As a consequence, they ask fewer and fewer questions and become deaf to feedback that is “off message,” leaving them, and their companies, dangerously insulated from economic and social realities.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Brand Transformation on the Internet
To Aaron Shapiro, CEO of the digital agency Huge, online marketing means creating immersive environments where people go to get their problems solved.

This is a fascinating interview that I strongly suggest you read in full. Whether you are a B to C or B to B company, the importance of your digital face to your customers is growing exponentially.

What kind of online marketing strategy makes the most of digital media?..... companies don’t thrive by selling products or services anymore. They thrive by creating immersive experiences where people go to get their problems solved or their aspirations realized…
… If you think about the history of brands since World War II, most of them were fundamentally built through storytelling. A 30-second ad would blast out a narrative for a passive audience. But on the Web, consumers are not a captive audience, so marketers need a very different approach.
People are interested in utility. When users go online
(B to C or B to B), in particular, they are very task-oriented. …….To be sure, they want to feel good about what they buy, and they’re still looking for a connection. But they will only respond to a marketing message they think is relevant. They’re not a passive audience that will buy something after seeing a story….
… Users are people who interact with your company in the digital space — on your website, by e-mail, or on Facebook or Twitter. Customers are a subset of them. You could be a user of Amazon and never buy a product; you would just go to its site to read reviews, apply for a job, or publish a book. When companies focus on fulfilling the needs of this broader group of users, they are much more successful than if they just serve customers….
… S+B question: For a typical consumer packaged goods company, is this true? Don’t the majority of customers go to the store, pick up a bottle of cola or bleach, and never become website users at all?
SHAPIRO: There is certainly a large segment of that type of customer; TV is not going away. But the percentage is declining over time. In 2011, according to Forrester Research, 50 percent of all consumer sales involved an Internet experience. The big change is the number of people who use digital as their primary point of reference for making decisions and learning about brands. They research a product online before they buy it, or buy it online directly. There is no such thing as an offline business anymore.