Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Tools That Can Make You a Better Innovator

Tremendous insight and I STRONGLY urge you to read the article.

As part of the 2013 Global Innovation 1000 study, Booz & Company surveyed executives at more than 350 companies around the world to learn more about the digital tools that are transforming innovation. Our results show that at the development phase, productivity tools have reached maturity—most are widely used and effective. In other phases, particularly the front end of the innovation process, companies are experimenting with new marketing and customer insight tools that have game-changing potential.
Customer immersion labs, rapid prototyping, social media dashboards—these are just a few of the digital tools that your company may be using, or considering using, to improve its innovation performance. And I do mean “just a few.” In fact, a broad array of tools are available to you across the innovation life cycle, from collecting customer insights to generating ideas to designing new products, and, finally, to tracking products’ success after launch. A new interactive graphic from s+b enables you to explore this landscape.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Innovation Imperative: Change Everything
Online Education as an Agent of Transformation

Very, very important concept to always keep in front of your businesses: look for the potential system/company that could potentially disrupt while you try to disrupt yourself. Read the full article for other great examples.

…online education is a disruptive innovation — one that introduces more convenient and affordable products or services that over time transform sectors. Yet many bricks-and-mortar colleges are making the same mistake (made by many other companies), they offer online courses but are not changing the existing model. They are not saving students time and money, the essential steps to disruption. And though their approach makes sense in the short term, it leaves them vulnerable as students gravitate toward less expensive colleges. 
For-profit universities latched on early to online learning, rough as it was in the 1990s. The target, as with all disruptive innovations, was customers who wouldn’t otherwise consume their product — in this case, working adults for whom traditional higher education was inconvenient… 
…Still, the theory predicts that online education, existing consumers will ultimately adopt the disruption, and a host of struggling colleges and universities — the bottom 25 percent of every tier, we predict — will disappear or merge in the next 10 to 15 years… 
….. The lessons from any number of industries teach us that those that truly innovate — fundamentally transforming the model, instead of just incorporating the technology into established methods of operation ¬ — will have the final say. So it’s no wonder that observers of this phenomenon ask if online learning portends the end of the residential collegiate experience — the opportunity for students to live, socialize and learn together…. 
…. As concepts and skills are taught more effectively online, it’s unlikely that face-to-face interaction will cease to matter. Instead, students will be able to arrange for such experiences when it suits the job they need to get done. Given the reality that we all have different learning needs at different times, that’s a far more student-centered experience. It may not benefit some colleges but should create more options for all students

Friday, November 15, 2013

How to Sidestep the Excellence Trap
Rita Gunther McGrath, author of The End of Competitive Advantage: How to Keep Your Strategy Moving as Fast as Your Business, introduces a passage about when—and when not—to demand excellence from Tipping Sacred Cows: Kick the Bad Work Habits That Masquerade as Virtues, by Jake Breede

This article builds off our last post on the importance of not always striving for excellence perfection.

An excerpt from chapter 5 of Tipping Sacred Cows:
Kick the Bad Work Habits That Masquerade as Virtues

Ella ran a team responsible for marketing a drug for a large pharmaceutical company. Ella held herself and her team to the same high standards. She choreographed product launch events with the same relentless attention to detail that had driven her academic success. After earning a PhD in biology from Stanford and an MBA at Harvard, Ella had a long track record of striving for high standards. So Ella was shocked when her boss took her aside to tell her she was in danger of receiving a poor annual review. For the first few seconds of the conversation, all she could hear was the sound of her own heartbeat thumping in her chest. She replayed all of the sacrifices she had made for her job, and she was outraged. What else did he want from her? 
“Ella, I think you thrive on intensity,” her boss said. “But things aren’t just intense on your team. They’re tense.” 
As her pulse finally slowed, Ella realized that the one professional value she treasured most—excellence—had backfired. In school and in the early part of her career, Ella’s obsession with producing the best work had always paid off. But something was broken now. Armed with this insight, Ella applied her well-developed “excellence muscle” to the new task of creating a more supportive culture and making it safer for her team to ask for help. She started to listen more to her team and less to the relentless voice inside her head demanding that every action be perfect. Ella didn’t need to lower her standards—she needed to raise her game.

“Excellence not only kills ideas, it kills energy.” –Jake Breeden, Tipping Sacred Cow

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

How to Sidestep the Excellence Trap
Rita Gunther McGrath, author of The End of Competitive Advantage:
 How to Keep Your Strategy Moving as Fast as Your Business, introduces a passage about when—and when not—to demand excellence from Tipping Sacred Cows: Kick the Bad Work Habits That Masquerade as Virtues, by Jake Breeden.

I apologize to Rita for quoting her entire statement but it is very important to have a corporate culture that embraces uncertainty and has the tools in place to manage it.

“Don’t bring me any surprises. Don’t bring me a problem without a solution.” Do these phrases sound familiar? They are manifestations of a managerial mind-set that Jake Breeden rightly calls out in his new book, Tipping Sacred Cows, as an unhealthy obsession with excellence. The demand that employees get everything right is deadly for innovation, experimentation, and discovery. When excellence is defined as living in a world of no surprises, you aren’t going to get any…until it’s too late. 
For innovation to thrive, you need a little messiness, a tolerance for intelligent failures, and a willingness to engage in trial-and-error learning. As the Lean Startup movement is proving, you’ll discover more from launching a “minimum viable product” than you will from conducting seemingly endless prelaunch analyses. When it comes to communicating your ideas, you’ll make a bigger splash with a quick, colorful story, replete with mistakes, than a thick deck of perfectly formatted PowerPoint slides. And when it comes to keeping people energized and engaged, you’ll get much better results by focusing their creativity on a few key things than by cajoling them to be excellent at thousands of small ones. Breeden’s advice for making a conscious decision about where excellence matters and where it doesn’t is extraordinarily pertinent.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Soap Opera: Amazon Moves In With P&G
E-Commerce Giant Sets Up Shop Inside Warehouses of Suppliers

This article summarizes the next major growth area perceived by Amazon and shows the critical importance of understanding and leveraging the nuances of supply chains. Innovation is far more than just product or service!

"TUNKHANNOCK, Pa.—Atop a hill at the end of a road called P&G Warehouse Way sits a warehouse stocked with Pampers diapers, Bounty paper towels and other items made byProcter & Gamble Co.  It also houses an ambitious experiment Inc.
Each day, P&G loads products onto pallets and passes them over to Amazon inside a small, fenced-off area. Amazon employees then package, label and ship the items directly to the people who ordered them.
The e-commerce giant is quietly setting up shop inside the warehouses of a number of important suppliers as it works to open up the next big frontier for Internet sales: everyday products like toilet paper, diapers and shampoo.
The under-the-tent arrangement is one Amazon's competitors don't currently enjoy, and it offers a rare glimpse at how the company is trying to stay ahead of rivals including discount chains, club stores and grocers.
Logistics have long been crucial to success in retail. Years ago, Wal-Mart Stores  set up a system that lets suppliers monitor what needs to be replenished. Amazon instead is going out to its suppliers with a program it calls Vendor Flex. By piggybacking on their warehouses and distribution networks, Amazon is able to reduce its own costs of moving and storing goods, better compete on price with Wal-Mart and club stores like Costco Wholesale Corp., and cut the time it takes to get items to doorsteps.... 
.....…More efficient distribution and changing consumer habits are unlocking the market. If online sales of consumer packaged goods could rise to the 6% share the Internet claims of retail overall, Amazon could generate an extra $10 billion in revenue selling nonfood consumer goods, up from less than $2 billion currently, estimates Mark Mahaney, an Internet stocks analyst at RBC Capital Markets in San Francisco."