Tue, 17 October 2017
When it comes to looking and selecting the right ideas to get behind, we all suffer from biases and blind spots. When you look at the success rate for venture capitalists, the only expect to have one hit out 10. So, why do we repeatedly find ourselves backing the wrong ideas and what can we do about it?
While some if not many companies will fail, there are a corresponding set of great ideas that will never see the light of day. Why is that? Because those entrepreneurs can't get the support to turn their idea in to that next killer innovation.
Stop Backing The Wrong Ideas
This weeks guest, Ross Baird, shares what he calls the "innovation blind spot". This blind spot is based on three areas:
During the show, Ross shares how to counteract these innovation blind spots and why we need to stop backing the wrong ideas if we are to impact the important issues facing our society.
About Ross Baird:
Ross Baird is the founder of Village Capital, a firm that finds and invests in entrepreneurs solving the most important problems in society.Since founding Village Capital in 2009, Ross has supported hundreds of entrepreneurs in over 50 countries. Ross has spent his entire career on the founding team of start-up enterprises or investing in startups.
He also serves on the faculty of the University of Virginia, where he teaches entrepreneurship and impact investing.
[callout]Listen below to this weeks show on how to address your innovation blind spot so that you can back the best ideas.[/callout]
Mon, 9 October 2017
In a recent discussion with some colleagues, we get to discussing the current state of the US and global economy. Why has the economic recovery been so slow which has caused the middle class income to stagnate? In my opinion, its because the companies and jobs we are creating are not delivering high value products or services. What we need is innovation driven entrepreneurship.
The State Of The Current Economy
Entrepreneurship and the start-ups they create are the engine that drives economic growth and jobs. In 2016, 99.7% of all firms in the US were small businesses (private sector companies with less than 500 employees). These same small businesses create 33.6% of known export value and employ 48% of private sector employees. In addition, 60% of all new jobs are created by small businesses.
That's a lot of impact on the economy. So what is going on? When you dig underneath the numbers, the reveal some shocking issues.
While 60% of all jobs today are created by small businesses, back in 2001 that number was 69.8%. At the same time, the average median income has been effectively flat since 1998 when you account for inflation.
So we are see a slowing of start-ups creating new jobs and the jobs they are creating has caused the median household income to stagnate.
Innovation Driven Entrepreneurship
We need more than just more start-ups who create low paying jobs. We need businesses that brings innovations to market that deliver such high value that customers are willing to pay a margin premium.
This is what I'm calling innovation driven entrepreneurship or some may call it innovation driven start-ups.
These start-ups don't have to follow in the model of Silicon Valley and be focused on technology. Innovations can cover a wide range of areas. I recently came across a very innovative idea for a new approach to a bicycle that I think could open that market to new customers who are not ridding today.
Another example is innovating education and how we prepare students with STEM skills that will prepare them to compete in the emerging creative economy. Check out what Zaniac is doing.
What I'm not talking about is an entrepreneur copying some existing business or franchising a business for their local community. These are all good and play a role in the economy. But these small businesses are typically not going to drive a disruptive product or service that will return a margin premium.
How Do You Start An Innovation Driven Start-up?
We've covered on this show a number of ways to think about discovering ideas and then executing to turn those ideas into a killer innovation. When it comes to innovation driven entrepreneurship, think about in two parts:
Innovation: Find a problem, ideate a solution (product, service, business model, etc), test it with others then adjust and repeat the process.
Entrepreneurship: Find and focus on a customer who needs your innovation, serve that customer, find another customer and then repeat until you achieve scale.
While this sounds simple, it is incredibly hard. You will face disappointment and setbacks while also experiencing the thrill when a customer says they love your innovation and actually pays for it.
How Can I Help You With Your Start-Up?
I want to help you take your idea and create a business that turns your idea into an innovation. Given the sheer number of people, I can't do this 1:1. So I've joined a community that hangs out in a private Slack area full of innovators and entrepreneurs. There is where you can find the expertise you need while also sharing you expertise with others.
Check out The Innovators Community to learn how you can be part of the community.
[callout]Listen below to this weeks show on how innovation driven entrepreneurship can drive the economy.[/callout]
Tue, 3 October 2017
Over the years, I noticed that I seem to get a similar set of questions from the participants at my talks, workshops, and innovation boot camps. What this tells me is that there are a set of common questions about innovation that are on everyone's mind.
Here are the 9 common questions on innovation that I get.
How do I define innovation?
Innovation is when an idea becomes real to the point where someone is willing to exchange value to get it. Ideas are easy. Turning them into something that has impact is really hard.
What is a killer innovation?
Some people over the years have criticized and attacked my use of the word "killer". When I started the show back in 2005, the word "killer" was used to describe things like "killer apps" which is translated to -- "best app".
My definition of killer innovations is an innovation that is a significant and highly profitable departure from current offerings or practices that would be difficult to duplicate.
So ... incremental innovation is of no value?
NO. There are multiple types of innovations and incremental is just as important as the others. An incremental innovation is when you build on top of an existing innovation with something new and unique.
Incremental innovations are highly valuable since most organizations depend on these incremental innovations to pay the rent while the next disruptive innovation is being worked on.
Why is innovation so difficult?
Its not just about the idea. There are a lot of pieces that must come together to turn an idea into a game changing -- killer innovation. And most of these things you are not in control of.
What are some of the things you cannot control?
One thing critical to innovation success that you cannot control is timing. You may have the best idea but if the market is not ready, technology is not ready, government regulations are not ready -- you're stuck.
Remember that Steve Jobs and Apple did NOT invent the smart phone. Depending on who you talk to, it was either Nokia and/or Palm. Steve and Apple just got the timing right.
[shareable]The difference between a good and a great idea is rarely the idea. It's the timing.[/shareable]
What are some of the things you CAN control?
Your team. Innovation is a team sport. Who you hire -- who you allow to be on your team -- will be the most important decision you make.
I look for passion and culture fit. I can teach skills. I cannot teach/inject passion. And if you're a jerk, then there is no room on my team for you.
What is one of the biggest mistakes more organizations make when it comes to innovation?
Creating a culture where "failure" is not allowed. Innovation is all about failure. If you aren't failing, you aren't innovating.
Best in class teams and organizations have a 90% failure rate. If your's is lower, then you are not stretching. You are making the safe bets.
If you're failure rate is above 90%, then take a look at how you are selecting and managing your idea funnel.
How can organizations get over their fear of failure?
By celebrating failure when they occur versus hiding them. In a previous role, I actually put in place a bonus system that would reward failure. You need to send the message that a willingness to take risks and try is just as important as the successes.
WARNING: If an organization has a history of punishing failure such as firing or demoting people whose project didn't succeed, then changing the culture will be incredibly HARD if not impossible.
What is another mistake most organizations make?
Most senior leader lack patience. Innovation is HARD and as a result, its hard to predict when a breakthrough will occur.
No matter how good you think you are at predicting and managing projects, when it comes to innovation -- it takes long than you think. Get used to it.
Bonus question: Who are the best people to be innovators? Who should I hire?
EVERYONE! Everyone is an innovator. It doesn't matter the role, function, education, background or skills. Innovation is a skill that you can learn, practice and become proficient at.
Now -- some will be better at it than others but that is because they work at it. They practice it. They exercise their creative muscle everyday. Do you?
If not, then don't set back and complain because someone else is "more creative" because of some special gift. Your ability to innovate is in your control.
To exercise your creativity muscle, check out this speech on creative thinking.
[callout]Listen below to this weeks show on the 9 Common Questions on Innovation[/callout]
Tue, 26 September 2017
Technology megatrends, or what some call long range technology roadmaps, are an important input into your strategic thinking as you build your innovation pipeline. I've been researching, tracking and presenting on technology megatrends for the last 30 years of my career.
During a live show broadcast on Facebook, a member of the audience asked about what technology trends would have major impact on businesses. Rather than just giving a quick off hand answer, I took on objective of giving you insight into the technology megatrends that I'm tracking. The megatrends will have significant impact on society, governments, businesses industries and career.
[button href="https://philmckinney.lpages.co/bonus-technology-megatrends/" primary="true" centered="true" newwindow="true"]Download the Technology Megatrends Slides[/button]
Background on Technology Megatrends
How do you get from technology to innovation? When I think about technology, I look specifically at exponential technologies such as Moore's Law. I think what capabilities it will bring 2, 3 even 5 generations in the future. This in turns starts to inspire exponential ideas. These are the ideas that are disruptive to industries and economies. The final step is to translate these exponential ideas and turn them in to exponential innovations.
So -- for me, it all begins with looking at technology that could be transformative.
Major Technology Megatrends
Catalyst & Building Block Technologies: These are technologies that are combined with others to create resulting innovations. For example, high density batteries in the future and their role in innovating transportation.
Perceptive Technologies: Technoligies that acquire input from the world and transform it into a useful purpose. This include machine learning (taking large amounts of data and looking for pasterns) and macro robots that learn by observing.
Immersive Media: How will we receive and consume media in the future? These technologies cover the range from flexible displays to smart vision contact lenses.
Augmented Communications: The ability to enhance and improve our ability to communication and collaborate can transform society and relationships. For example, the transition from immersive telepresence to holographic volumetric displays will allow true seamless collaboration across distances.
Experience Continuum: Enhanced experiences from technologies are just around the corner. Imagine virtual travel where you can experience people, places and things you never thought possible. How will that impact the empathy of others when you can see and experience people from around the world in their environment.
Long Better Lives: I can make one prediction that I'm 100% positive I will get right. We are all getting older. Technology can play a critical role that will allow us to age gracefully and make the near future a better place. One technology that I'm particularly interested in is genome-matched treatment that would allow Dr's to create cures for a specific person based on their genetic code.
Sensor-Driven World: Sensors will allow these other technologies to become smarter about the environment around us. This in turn will enhance our ability to take advantage of the technology megatrends we've been talking about.
[button href="https://philmckinney.lpages.co/bonus-technology-megatrends/" primary="true" centered="true" newwindow="true"]Download the Technology Megatrends Slides[/button]
Continue the conversation by joining The Innovators Community over on Slack. This is a private community of innovators from a wide range of industries who come together on Slack to share and discuss creativity and innovation.
[callout]Listen below to this weeks show and see what Technology Megatrends could impact you! [/callout]
Tue, 19 September 2017
Over the last few decades, the importance of design has been growing in the context of how to create disruptive game-changing innovations. Human centered design (HCD) is the way that innovators integrate design with a clear view of customer in to the process of creating an innovation that has impact. Be careful as bad design can doom innovation to the trash heap.
What is human centered design?
[shareable]Human-centered design (HCD) is a design and management framework that develops solutions to problems by involving the human perspective. Human involvement typically takes place in observing the problem within context, brainstorming, conceptualizing, developing, and implementing the solution.[/shareable]
Many guests on the show have shared their inspirations when it comes innovation and design. This week is no different. Our guest, Gordon Stannis, shared how a 9 month cross country bike ride sabbatical armed him with a sense of fearless curiosity. By meeting and talking with a wide range of people from different backgrounds, Gordon became equipped to represent them and needs when designing products and services.
He took that experience and perspective to leading design positions at Herman Miller, BMW Group and Prince / Johnson Controls. Even with that experience, he recognized the need to do more. It just wasn't about design but an integrated discipline of design plus technology.
Gordon and a partner (who was technical) made the decision to create a company that was both design and technical with some unusual characteristics. There are no departments so no silo's could get established. To reinforce this, every six months Gordon re-shuffles where people set. This creates a constant sense of making of new connections across the organization.
Advice On Human Centered Design (HCD) And Innovation
What are the three pieces of advice Gordon gave for organizations who are thinking about embracing human centered design?
Develop a common language: Teams should create a process and language of human centered design and then train everyone in your organization to understand and use it. This will allow anyone to then run with it on their own.
Visualize: Vizio, PowerPoint and project charts are not tools of visualizing the solution. Organizations need to embrace the process of creating 3D highly visualized forms of the ideas and put them up for everyone to see. Not on some some small whiteboard. Take up the entire wall 10 feet high. Immerse yourself and the team in the visual representation of the innovation.
Understand the hierarchy of innovation: There is a hierarchy of innovation that organizations needs to understand and reward individuals and teams for achieving. These are:
About Gordon Stannis
Gordon Stannis is the Director of Design and Strategy at Twisthink. One of Gordon’s greatest accomplishments is Co-Creating Twisthink based on the belief that there was a better way to create and deliver value to clients battling against the relentless wave action of commoditization.
Gordon holds a large number of Utility Patents and International Design Awards in transportation, consumer electronics, durable goods, medical, furniture and more.
[callout]Listen below to this weeks show and be inspired to take advantage of human centered design (HCD).[/callout]
Tue, 12 September 2017
When it comes to sourcing innovation, most focus on trying to come up with a clever technical or business hook. Over years of experience of both innovation success and failures, I've uncovered three areas of focus for sourcing innovation that will have significant impact.
Before jumping into the three areas of focus, there is a basic skill that is required. That is the ability to create questions that will cause you to look at these three areas differently.
Power of Questions
I believe that a good question is one that causes people to really think before they answer it, and one that reveals answers that had previously eluded them.
Our ability to ask and answer question is uniquely human. According to primatologists, the great apes can understand and answer simple questions. However, unlike humans, a great ape has never proven that it can ask questions.
Learning how to use the power of questions to think differently is a skill that everyone has -- even if it’s not your automatic instinct. I believe that anyone can develop and harness this power through the use of provocative questioning and discovery.
Secret #1 - People
The key to many innovation successes is to dig deep and understand the customer/user of your innovation. I'm not a fan of using third party definitions of customer segments. If you are going source innovation that are different from everyone else, you need to have unique insights of your target customers. These insights will allow you to uncover their unspoken needs and wants.
See the slides below for common and not so common ways others look at customer segments.
Take a look at the customer segments I talked about in the show.
Secret #2 - Time
Time is valuable. You can't save it. You can't store it. You can't but more of it. Its perishable. Innovations that understand and find unique ways to make time even more valuable to customers can find themselves in a unique and defensible position.
See the slides below for unique ways to think and innovate time.
Secret #3 - Money
Rather than think like other innovators when they think of money (e.g. this idea will make me rich), focus on how to deliver value to your customer. If you innovate ways for them to make more, save more, get more items for less, protect money, etc -- you will separate yourself from most of your competition.
Bonus Secret: Pitching Your Idea
Once I've discovered an idea that I believe in, then I need to find a way to show and tell others what I'm thinking. One of the most impactful ways in through vision videos. Vision video's use strategic storytelling to place the person in the middle of the story and create empathy for the impact of your idea. Done right -- they will attract others who will want to invest time and in money to realize your vision.
Now you know my secrets to better sourcing of innovation. The key is to look beyond the obvious and align your innovations to people, time and money.
[callout]Listen to this weeks show and learn my 3 secrets to sourcing innovation.
We've also included below the slides that Phil shared during the live broadcast.[/callout]
For help and guidance in sourcing innovation for your organizations, check out The Innovators Network.
Tue, 5 September 2017
Some of the smartest, most creative people I know spend time doing nothing but thinking. For example Einstein was often criticized for his day dreaming. His form of day dreaming was to run his thought experiments. Experiments carried out completely within his imagination.
Our society doesn't embrace or allow for day dreaming. Most organizations view this as being lazy and unproductive. Companies are focused are measuring things like hours worked, project deliverables and improved productivity.
Henry Ford and Day Dreaming
There is a famous Henry Ford story where an efficiency expert he had hired complained about a man who sat at his desk with his feet up. The expert's point was the obvious lack of productivity and output from this person. Ford said that that specific person came up with an idea that saved him millions by setting at his desk and just thinking. Ford added that he was paying that man to come up with the next great idea.
When I look at people whose ideas have changed the world, day dreaming combined with "reflective thinking" was a common trait.
Is it a coincidence or is there something to this?
[shareable cite="Fiona Kerr, University of Adelaide"]Daydreaming (with reflective thinking) allows the mind to wander. The outcome is consistently more productive when dealing with complex problems or coming up with creative solutions and ideas.[/shareable]
Day Dreaming Experiment
To either prove or disprove the hypothesis that day dreaming improves creativity, I'm proposing an experiment. This experiment was inspired by Zat Rana.
I commit (and invite you to do it yourself) to two hours per week for two months of focused day dreaming. What does that mean?
I will be using my Moleskine notebook to record my thoughts and ideas to see if I can notice an improvement in my personal creativity.
How To Get Started Day Dreaming?
One way to spark your day dreaming is to simply ask yourself a set of questions. Here are few to start with (again, inspired by Zat Rana)
Be Part Of The Experiment
If you are part of The Community, I will setup a Slack channel for this experiment so that we can discuss, share and track the results. If you are not part of The Innovators Community, you should check it out. Its a community of innovators and creatives from around the world who share, challenge and grow as innovators.
I will also share my results in a future show.
[callout]Listen to this weeks show on how day dreaming can be the spark to boost your creativity.
Note: We apologize for the background clicks and pops in this weeks show. [/callout]
Direct download: Day_Dreaming_2_Hours_To_Boost_Your_Creativity_S13_Ep27.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 1:02pm PDT
Wed, 30 August 2017
When I was a software engineer, one area of importance was the design and testing of user interfaces. The work was frustrating because you had to decipher what the user was "thinking" to understand how they would use your software. Over the years, the research has taken on the challenges of human computer interaction with next generation technology.
Our guest today, Dr. Chris Harrison from Carnegie Mellow University, is the Assistant Professor of Human Computer Interaction at Carnegie Mellon University. While this is his work today, his Master's research thesis was in understanding if a persons activities (timeline) could be used to better organize documents. This idea of improving human computer interaction around documents led to his PhD research that focused on next generation technology around touch.
Human Computer Interaction
In addition to his own research area, he also oversees the Future Interfaces Group (FIG) as CMU. The mission and purpose of FIG is:
[shareable cite="Future Interfaces Group at CMU" text="... foster powerful and delightful interactions between humans and computers."]To create new sensing and interface technologies that foster powerful and delightful interactions between humans and computers. These efforts often lie in emerging use modalities, such as wearable computing, touch interaction and gestural interfaces.[/shareable]
This work goes beyond the technology of touch to also include the psychology and human response to find better ways to allow next generation technology to be a tool that is easier to use and benefit from.
Next Generation Technology: Electrick
Electrik is focused on bringing touch to volume and shapes not achievable with today's technology. By using a "poor conducting" paint, this solution allows you to easily enable touch interfaces and interactions on all kinds of surfaces such as car steering wheels, table tops, toys, etc.
One immediate application for this new technology is in the area of "fast prototyping". You can now create a 3D printer prototype, apply Electrick and create the interaction experience of the prototype .. all with hours or days rather than months.
Next Generation Technology: Infobulb (light bulb 2.0)
Chris also shared his work on bringing touch interaction to any surface without the need for special treatment. His vision is to create the next generation light bulb, what he is calling infobulb. It deliver information in addition to light. The surface that the lift falls on creating a new kind of human computer interaction. The surface becomes touch enabled. To learn more, check out Chris's intervew over at TechRepublic.
[callout]Listen to the interview below for the full backstory on these next generation technologies and innovations ...[/callout]
About Chris Harrison:
Chris Harrison is an Assistant Professor of Human-Computer Interaction at Carnegie Mellon University. He broadly investigates novel sensing technologies and interaction techniques, especially those that empower people to interact with small devices in big ways. He has been named:
Last year, his lab won a Fast Company Innovation by Design Award for their work on EM-Sense. Chris has also been awarded fellowships by the Packard Foundation, Google, Qualcomm and Microsoft Research.
Direct download: Next_Generation_Technology_Human_Computer_Interaction_S13_Ep26.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 6:03am PDT
Tue, 22 August 2017
As humans, we have some unique abilities. We are self-aware, we exhibit critical thinking and we have the ability to be creative and innovate. Will that always be the case? Some think that artificial intelligence (AI) will someday take over creativity and innovation.
In my opinion, AI will become a tool that will help improve our creativity and innovation but I doubt that it can takeover what I see as an inherit human ability to our conscious and unconscious mind to invent.
How Will Artificial Intelligence Help Our Creative Ability?
In a recent article in Venture Beat by Tim Sox titled, "How AI will advance our creative thinking", the author shares a list of ways AI will be a tool. These include:
What Will Be Artificial Intelligence Impact On Jobs?
If AI is going to eliminate some of the more mundane jobs, which jobs will be impacted and what should you do about it? In a recent article by Scott Gerber of on TNW, he shares the results of a survey from the Yound Entrepreneur Council asking them which jobs would be most impacted by artificial intelligence.
Here is the high level list - not in priority/impact order:
Check out the full description of how and why AI will impact these jobs over at TNW.
Will We See Artificial Intelligence With Imagination?
Can AI have imagination? Can it imagine the future of what might happen without being told to do so?
We've all seen the current public displays of artificial intelligence including AlphaGo which benefits from having clearly defined rules which allow outcomes to be predicted very accurately in almost every circumstance.
Or Facebook which has created a bot that could reason through dialogue before engaging in conversation in a fairly constrained environment.
The real-world is significantly more complex than this.
Mallory Locklear in Engadget wrote an article on what IBM is doing with what it calls "imagination-augmented agents - or I2As. These are neural network trained to extract any information from its environment that could be useful in making decisions later on. These agents can create, evaluate and follow through on plans.
Creativity and Innovation Overrated?
Eliot Gattegno from Techcrunch wrote a post back in May titled "Creativity is Overrated". While the title could be viewed as clickbait, then premise he makes is important.
We are seeing society fall into "creativity worship" when we see star status applied to innovators. What about the non-creatives? A company full of Steve Jobs' will not be successful. As I've said many times, innovation is a team sport. Without these other role, creatives would not be successful trying to deliver innovations on their own.
Today, roles typically not attributed to being creative in an organization (e.g. accounting/finance, HR, facilities) are the ones that could be viewed as being at risk with growing role of AI.
This change could have significant impact.
Check out this episode of show and let me know your thoughts in the comments below ..
Check out The Innovators Community. A private slack community of innovators from a wide range of industries coming together to share, learn and support each others innovation successes. Check it out at TheInnovators.Community.
Direct download: Will_Artificial_Intelligence_Take_Over_Creativity_and_Innovation_S13_Ep25.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 9:54am PDT
Tue, 15 August 2017
It’s human nature to want to make a lasting impact with the innovations we create. To do something meaningful and enduring. To create a lasting legacy that makes the world a better place. I call this innovation with purpose.
In some cases, we need help to realize a vision we have that manifests this idea of innovation with purpose.
This week at an annual event we host in Keystone, Colorado, we premiered a new vision video with the objective of inspiring others to think about what innovations they can contribute to health care needs of our aging population. How do we make the future a better place for ourselves and our family members.
The video is titled, "The Near Future: A Better Place"
So why is the cable industry interested in the needs of those looking to age in place?
This is a need that will impact all of us. Today, roughly 8.5 percent of the world’s population is aged 65 and over. By 2050, this older population will represent 16.7 percent of the world total population.
The broadband networks provided by the cable industry are what will enable innovators to invent this vision of the near future. It will take an ecosystem to address this need and the broadband network is part of the ecosystem.
At CableLabs, we are tasked as the R&D and innovation lab for the global cable industry, we are focused on innovation with purpose. In this case, that innovation with purpose is to create and inspire innovations that allow people like Jim love a long and fulfilling life the way they want to live it.
In addition to the main film, there are two additional films to provide more background.
This film is a "Director's Commentary" where I describe the background and inspiration for the film.
This film is a look a the technology behind The Near Future: A Better Place.
If you want to see all of the vision video's I've created over the years, go check out this blog post: Predicting The Future With A Vision Video
Direct download: Innovation_With_Purpose_Inspiring_The_Near_Future_S13_Ep24.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 5:59am PDT