Killer Innovations
The award winning Killer Innovations™ Podcast and nationally syndicated talk radio show (on +30 radio stations) is hosted by Phil McKinney, an award winning innovator of technologies and products used by hundreds of millions of consumers and businesses worldwide. The podcast is Phil's way to "pay-it-forward" by sharing his experience and expertise in innovation so that individuals and organizations can achieve success in the innovation/creative economy. About the Host: Phil retired as the CTO at Hewlett-Packard where he led the product/R&D for the $40B PC, Mobile, Display/TV and Workstation business. He is currently the President and CEO for CableLabs, the non-profit R&D and innovation lab for the global cable industry. Phil shares his rule-breaking approach to innovation and creativity in his book "Beyond The Obvious" and via the podcast. He has been credited with forming and leading multiple teams that FastCompany and BusinessWeek list as one of the “50 Most Innovative”. His recognition includes Vanity Fair naming him the “The Innovation Guru”, MSNBC and Fox Business calling him "The Gadget Guy" and the San Jose Mercury News dubbing him the "chief seer". For more information on Phil visit his blog at philmckinney.com.

On today’s show, instead of hosting a guest, I am the guest.  Erich Viedge interviews me for his podcast, The Skeptical Executive.  Erich brings innovation to unique industries.  He’s also an early listener of Killer Innovations. Erich has some good questions to ask me. We touch on a range of thoughts and issues around innovation and creativity.

Is Innovation for Everyone?

Are there industries or businesses where there’s no role for innovation?  Many companies claim innovation as a value. Erich’s local carpet cleaner has ads claiming “innovation”.  Erich’s skeptical. My belief is that there’s always room to innovate.  That carpet cleaner may not revolutionize the cleaning process.  But he could innovate the customer experience. That may set the cleaner apart from the competition.   If you’re not innovating, you’re standing still. If you’re standing still, someone’s going to go right past you.  In any industry, there’s opportunity to look at the business, the customers, the operations differently. All are ripe areas for innovation.

Hidden Benefits

What are the hidden benefits of innovation done right?

When I was CTO at HP, our market share in PC laptops was low and we were losing money.  It was my job to turn it around. The prevailing thought at the time was there wasn’t much to innovate in laptops.  My team proved that wrong. We researched and found the customers’ spoken and unspoken needs. The result: our market share jumped to number one.  The hidden benefits were several. It boosted employee morale. The innovations energized the engineers with the chance to do something different. Shareholders benefited.  The profits gave HP flexibility to invest in new product lines.

Even commoditized products like laptops can use innovation.  When you meet customers’ needs and wants, they will pay a margin premium.  A margin premium gives you flexibility to adapt your business, to be the leader in the marketplace.  It’s that breathing room that becomes critical in these highly competitive times.

The Right Consultant

What should a CEO do when ready for innovation?  How does that CEO find the right innovation consultant?  Here are some questions to consider in vetting a prospective consultant.

  1. Does the consultant have experience leading innovation?
    • Experience in the trenches dealing with organizational change?
    • Done it, lived it, been successful at it?
  2. What is the consultant’s philosophy on a business’s culture?
    • In his/her view, what kind of culture fosters innovation?
    • Does that view align with the CEO’s?
    • Does the consultant address major issues such as
      • Fear of failure,
      • Corporate antibodies,
      • How authority is handled,
      • How decisions are made.
  3. What is the consultant’s innovation process?
    • Does he/she expect the organization to adapt to his/her process, or
    • Will the consultant create and adapt processes to fit the organization?

Sometimes the culture of a business needs to change before innovation can happen.  Erich’s experience with the mining industry demonstrates how challenging changing the culture can be.  For one mining client, it took two years for the culture to change before innovation processes could begin.

Habits for Innovation Success

Creativity is essential for innovation.  It’s like a muscle that needs to be exercised.  My habit for building creativity is to spend 30 minutes Monday through Friday ideating. This is my time to brainstorm creative solutions to problem areas for the various roles I hold.  On Saturday, I rank these ideas and prepare the best for teams working the problem space. For momentum in my ideation session, I start with some inspiration (music or a brainteaser) and set a quota for ideas.  I keep going until I meet the idea quota.

Trend safaris are another great way to spark creativity.  I take these safaris with teams or individuals to places far and near looking for trends and weak signals.

Think you’re not creative?  Think again.  We all are born creative.  Unfortunately, we are untaught this creativity along the way.  Looking to reignite that creativity? Check out more Killer Innovations shows or read about creativity at philmckinney.com.

Thank you, Erich, for a great interview.

Direct download: No_Limits_to_Innovation_and_Creativity_S14_Ep21.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 6:49am PDT

 

From my shows on this year’s CES, you’ll know I’m leery of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the many companies touting it.  On the flip side, I have also featured some interesting ventures into AI.  When I heard that Box was delving into AI, I had to learn more.  In this show, hear how Box’s content management innovation increases the value of content stored.

 

Can Awesome Get Better?

Box offers cloud content and file sharing for businesses large and small.  This company has a solid reputation and millions of users. I have used Box since the inception of my Killer Innovations show.  Through Box, I also worked with my editor, publisher, and fact checkers on my book, Beyond the Obvious.  Before that, my team at HP used Box.  I’m definitely a fan. But how can AI be applied to content sitting in a cloud?  Today Jeetu Patel, Box Chief Product Officer, shares how AI is changing the value of content in Box.  This company is developing smarter ways to manage their customers’ critical asset – their content.

 

The Megatrend Tailwind

Jeetu watches the megatrends.  He’s seen three megatrends impacting our world.  Two, the cloud and the mobile revolution – have had profound effects on how we all do business.  Jeetu sees AI as the tailwind powering the next wave of innovation. Riding this wave, Box goes beyond merely a repository of content.  Through content management innovation, Box brings value to the content their customers entrust them with. Machine learning organizes and tags the content.  In a complex world, things just got simpler. Content residing in Box becomes worth more inside the Box platform than outside it.






Help!  I Can’t Find …

Box’s customer content is doubling every 12 – 14 months.  The exponential growth of content is overwhelming. It can make finding any particular bit of data time consuming.  With this customer problem in mind, Box has introduced AI machine learning to their platform. Box Skills, launched last year, uses sophisticated tagging mechanisms to label, classify and transcribe content.  This content management innovation enables quick, precise retrieval of objects and text within content files.  Machine learning integrated into Box offers facial and voice recognition, topic deduction and sentiment analysis.  Not only does this increase efficiency, but also use cases.

 

Connecting the Content

Box Skills has made content search easier.  But Box Graph enhances content, making connections.  This content management innovation recognizes relationships in content and among users.  With this intelligence, Box Graph makes recommendations in such areas as security, compliance and workflow.  

 

At Stake in the AI Revolution

Applying AI can revolutionize the way we do things.  There are certain tasks that machines can do better at scale.  As AI gains traction, Jeetu believes the tech industry bears responsibility for helping transition society.  The disruption AI may cause will affect lives and jobs.  The industry must consider how to retrain and prepare people for this revolution.

 

Sustaining Innovation

How does Box continue to innovate and build its customer base from small businesses to Fortune 500s?  Jeetu gives two secrets to Box’s success.

  1. Keep team’s small – 8 to 10 people
  2. Scarcity is your friend.  Limit resources to focus the team on the task.

 

Interested in learning more about Box and its content management innovation?  Go to box.com.  

If you’re in the Bay area August 29 & 30, come to BoxWorks an annual event hosted by Box.

 

 

Five Minutes to New Ideas

Seeing the value in something considered worthless can make all the difference.  To make game changing innovations, you have to deconstruct your assumptions about what has value and what doesn’t.  I did this as an executive at the telecom Telligent in 1997. My discovery allowed us to stand out in a crowd of competitors.  Listen to Five Minutes to New Ideas.  I hope it inspires you to come up with your own game changer.

 

 

We’re getting ready to head out on travel in the Mobile Studio.  We're looking for innovators in non-obvious industries and non-obvious locations.  Fin Gourmet Foods in Paducah, Kentucky kicked off this theme.  If you have a company or location doing really interesting innovation, drop me a note.  We’d love to see if we can come by with the Mobile Studio and do a broadcast.  Between now and the end of the year, we’ll be focusing east of the Mississippi.  After the first of the new year, we’ll be focusing west of the Mississippi.

 

  • Find out about my book, Beyond the Obvious, at beyondtheobvious.com.  Get a copy through Amazon or wherever you get your books.
  • Pay it forward.  When I wanted to repay my mentor for his investment in my career, he told me to pay it forward.  Help me pay it forward. Give us a rating where you get your podcast. Help spread the word. Tell others about the show.  
  • Be part of the conversation between the shows.  I hang out at The Innovators Community on Slack.  This private community of vetted innovators helps each other succeed.

 

The Killer Innovations podcast is produced by The Innovators Network.



Direct download: Catching_the_AI_Wave-_Content_Management_Innovation_S14_Ep20.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 6:23am PDT

Keywords:  innovation; fuel efficiency innovation

 

Competing for Fuel Efficiency Innovation

There’s been an explosion of innovation competitions in recent years.  They highlight the fact that innovation can come from non-obvious sources.   These competitions bring together smart people – usually industry outsiders - to tackle a problem.   The annual Shell Eco-marathon Americas took place this year in Sonoma, California.  In today’s show I welcome three members of the Duke Electric Vehicles team from Duke University.  They share their experience of competing for fuel efficiency innovation.

 

The Shell Eco-marathon Americas draws teams of high school and college students from North, Central, and South America.  The challenge is to create the most fuel-efficient car. The Duke Electric Vehicles team took first place in three categories.  On the track, they won awards in hydrogen fuel cell and electric prototypes. Off track, they won in technical innovation. Shomik Verma, Gerry Chen, and Patrick Grady give a glimpse of the competition and their road to victory.

 

The Race is On

The team starts in August and works on the car throughout the school year.  Amid academic studies and other obligations, students devote evenings and weekends to making the car.  They spend the first semester designing. The second semester, they build and test the car. The Duke Electric Vehicle team built a small, oblong 50-pound car in which the driver has to lie flat.  The car gets an estimated 12,000 miles per gallon. The secret to their fuel efficiency innovation: a super capacitor in the hydrogen powertrain. Now that the team has tasted victory, they are not stopping.  This summer they are working on beating the Guinness World Record for the most fuel-efficient car.

 

Learning Innovation Hands-On

Students don’t often get to bridge the theoretical to the practical in school.  The competition offers the chance to put the classroom theory into practice.  At the competition, there was a unique level of cooperation among the teams – from borrowing tools to asking advice.  The focus on one problem, fuel efficiency, maximized the potential for innovative solutions. The team members sharpened essential skills of innovation - problem-solving, creativity and collaboration.  

 

Lessons Learned

  • Have determination and perseverance.
    • Shomik learned determination and to persevere through unexpected difficulties.  In his words, “It was really important for us to rely on team members and rely on the fact that we knew we did good work.”
  • Use a methodical, organized approach.
    • Gerry learned the importance of a methodical approach, being organized, and breaking things down into subcomponents.
  • Go back to basic theory for the solutions.
    • This was Patrick’s fourth year on the team and second as team president.  He learned many lessons through the years working on efficiency vehicles. One of the biggest was how to go back to basic theory.







Wishing the Duke Electric Vehicles team the best in breaking the Guinness World Record and beyond.

Want to keep track of the Duke Electric Vehicles Team?  Visit the Duke Electric Vehicles  Facebook page.  Or check out their website: duke-ev.org.

 

Five Minutes to New Ideas

Could your business benefit from creating a standardized offering of a custom product?  Back in 1985, there was no such thing as a standard PC. You owned a specific brand and had access to programs written specifically for that make.  Each company was attempting to create lock-in for their third-party software developers. Working for a startup in Silicon Valley, my colleague and I faced a dilemma.  What PC should we tailor our typing instruction program to? We came up with a creative solution. Listen to Five Minutes to New Ideas.  Hear how going in the opposite direction of the crowd can pay off.

 

 

We’re getting ready to head out on travel in the Mobile Studio.  We're looking for innovators in non-obvious industries and non-obvious locations.  Fin Gourmet Foods in Paducah, Kentucky kicked off this theme.  If you have a company or location doing really interesting innovation, drop me a note.  We’d love to see if we can come by with the Mobile Studio and do a broadcast.  Between now and the end of the year, we’ll be focusing east of the Mississippi.  After the first of the new year, we’ll be focusing west of the Mississippi.

 

  • Find out about my book, Beyond the Obvious, at beyondtheobvious.com.  Get a copy through Amazon or wherever you get your books.
  • Pay it forward.  When I wanted to repay my mentor for his investment in my career, he told me to pay it forward.  Help me pay it forward. Give us a rating where you get your podcast. Help spread the word. Tell others about the show.  
  • Be part of the conversation between the shows.  I hang out at The Innovators Community on Slack.  This private community of vetted innovators helps each other succeed.

 

The Killer Innovations podcast is produced by The Innovators Network.

Direct download: Competing_for_Fuel_Efficiency_Innovation_S14_Ep19.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 5:04am PDT

Great ideas come and go, but what makes an idea into something bigger?  How do you develop your idea into a product that will attract venture capitalists and scale your business?  Is the idea sustainable beyond one or two seasons of growth? Can the idea bloom into a niche market and then cross pollinate?    Patrick Henry, QuestFusion founder and CEO, shares his framework for cultivating ideation that reaps success.  He calls it smart ideation.

Steps to Smart Ideation

Smart ideation is a five-step process for entrepreneurs and business owners building a growth company.  The process focuses on business factors rather than simply developing the product.  Patrick’s book, Plan, Commit, Win: 90 Days to Creating a Fundable Startup, lays out the framework for smart ideation.

The steps are as follows:

  1.  Customer Problem Solution Test

This test answers three questions:

  • Is it a big and important problem for the customer?
  • Is the customer desperate to solve the problem?
  • Is my solution superior to alternatives?
  1.  Sustainable Competitive Advantage Test

Once you answer yes to the questions in #1…

  • How do you sustain business growth over time?
  • What is your innovation roadmap for the next five to ten years?
  • Can your core technology penetrate adjacent product market segments?
  • Can you build layers of competitive advantage?
  1.  The Intersection Test

Facing the challenges to scale your business, you need an intersection of

  • Passion
  • Domain expertise – specialized product and market knowledge
  • A big customer problem
  • A team who can execute
  1.  The Market Size and Growth Test

Applies to businesses funded by venture capital

  • Success or failure hinges on this
  • Must determine growth opportunity in your target market
  • Penetrate a defensible niche, then conquer adjacent markets
  • Have a big long-term vision to scale your business
  • VCs looking for upwards of $100 million in annual revenue
  1.  The Idea Refinement Test

Three ways to refine your idea.  

  • Through intimate customer engagement
  • Through a technical and business advisory board that will provide unbiased feedback
  • Through teaching customers willing to provide feedback early on in exchange for some exclusive benefit

 

Qualities of a Successful Ideator

Along with the smart ideation process, consider what makes a successful ideator.  Patrick sees the successful ideator as one with a unique perspective and perpetual curiosity.  They are the tinkerers, gadget users, early adopters who come up with new ways of doing things.  These people are disciplined, hardworking, and passionate.

 

Are you ready to scale your business, to bring it to the next level?  For more information on smart ideation, go to QuestFusion.com.  For a detailed guide to smart ideation, go to smartideation.com.

Find Patrick on Twitter: @questfusion, Facebook: @questfusion, and Instagram: @plancommitwin.

Five Minutes to New Ideas

How do you address customer complaints?  Are they an annoyance to dismiss and be done with?  Don’t make the mistake major companies have made minimizing or ignoring complaints.  It may come back to haunt you. Be proactive in addressing customer issues. Listen to this week’s Five Minutes to New Ideas for insight on this important topic.

I’m getting ready to head out in the Mobile Studio in search of interesting innovators.  I’ll be east of the Mississippi this Fall and west of the Mississippi the first of 2019. If you know somebody who would be a great guest on the show, drop me a note at killerinnovations.com.

 

  • Find out about my book, Beyond the Obvious, at beyondtheobvious.com.  Get a copy through Amazon or wherever you get your books.
  • Pay it forward.  When I wanted to repay my mentor for his investment in my career, he told me to pay it forward.  Help me pay it forward. Give us a rating where you get your podcast. Help spread the word. Tell others about the show.  
  • Be part of the conversation between the shows.  I hang out at The Innovators Community on Slack.  This private community of vetted innovators helps each other succeed.

 

The Killer Innovations podcast is produced by The Innovators Network.

Direct download: Smart_Ideation_to_Scale_Your_Business_S14_Ep18.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 6:02am PDT

Did you ever set a goal or New Year’s resolution only to abandon it?  Do find your life lacks purpose? Do you doubt your ability to accomplish amazing things?  Today’s show features Tal Gur, blogger, author, motivational speaker.  Tal’s goal, or one of many, is to inspire you to set goals and achieve them.

 

The Start of a Life Journey

Some people may do one or two extraordinary things in their lifetime.  Maybe it’s traveling to a far-away country, running a marathon, or mastering a foreign language.  Tal Gur has done at least one hundred and counting. From learning to speak Spanish to becoming an international public speaker, Tal set out to live the dream.  Abandoning the 9 to 5 job, he established a source of passive income and went on a journey. It was a journey of self- discovery and facing challenges head on. Each year he set a major life goal and accomplished it.  After ten years, he penned his experience in the book, The Art of Fully Living: 1 Man. 10 Years. 100 Goals.

 

It may sound like for Tal goal setting and achievement come easy.  Not so. He faced self-doubt and hurdles. After all, who would expect a smoker to do a triathlon?  Tal felt doubt about this daring goal, especially since he was a smoker.  He found ways to overcome the challenges.   And he did, indeed, do a triathlon.

 

Tal considers a goal as the container.  Your personal growth as you work towards the goal is what’s most important in setting and achieving goals.  

 

Goal Setting Strategies

Tal’s book lays out steps to setting and achieving goals.  He shares some of these with us.

  • Make the goal specific.  When the goal is clear, it is more achievable.
  • Immersion.  By immersing yourself, you learn more lessons and extract more wisdom out of the journey.  When you immerse yourself in achieving a major goal, set smaller, milestone goals.  It creates momentum for the major goal.  
  • Put happiness before goals.  Don’t expect achieving your goal will bring happiness.  Find inner happiness independent of your goals.

 

Tal discovered some truths to help in goal setting and your life journey.

  • A crisis or challenge can lead to a great calling.
  • Start from the inside out.  Don’t focus on the mechanics, the how-to.  If you have the right mind-set and source from the inside, the goal will be easier to reach.
  • Develop and use intuition.  The more you practice using intuition, the better you get.  For more on intuition, Tal recommends the book Thinking Fast Slow by Daniel Kahneman.
  • Redefine failure.  Not achieving your goal is not failure.  Failure is not trying.

Interested in tracking Tal and his adventures.  Visit his blog: Fullylived.com

Need help in setting and reaching your life goals.  Get his book, The Art of Fully Living: 1 Man. 10 Years. 100 Goals., in paperback, audio or Kindle on Amazon.

 

Five Minutes to New Ideas

What input, if reduced, would allow you to cut the price for your product or service by 25%.  To get ahead of the competition, you need to make game changing moves. A bold move like big savings could place you in the leader of the pack position.  One car manufacturer with rock bottom prices may soon take U.S. manufacturers by surprise.  Are there gaps in your product offering for a competitor to sneak a game changer into the marketplace?  Could you make a sidestep in your product development to prevent this? For insight, listen to Five Minutes to New Ideas.    

 

 

  • Find out about my book, Beyond the Obvious, at beyondtheobvious.com.  Get a copy through Amazon or wherever you get your books.
  • Pay it forward.  When I wanted to repay my mentor for his investment in my career, he told me to pay it forward.  Help me pay it forward. Give us a rating where you get your podcast. Help spread the word. Tell others about the show.  
  • Be part of the conversation between the shows.  I hang out at The Innovators Community on Slack.  This private community of vetted innovators helps each other succeed.

 

 

The Killer Innovations podcast is produced by The Innovators Network.

Direct download: Goals_and_the_Journey_to_Fully_Living_S14_Ep17.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 4:58am PDT