Killer Innovations with Phil McKinney
An award-winning podcast and nationally syndicated radio show that looks at the innovations that are changing our lives and how their innovators used creativity and design to take their raw idea and create game-changing products or services. Phil McKinney, retired CTO of HP and the creator, and host of Killer Innovations 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".

At times the leaps forward in technology are evident.  Then there are times when incremental steps slowly rise towards something momentous just yonder.  Bob O’Donnell is a top Silicon Valley analyst, USA Today columnist, and contributor to leading media outlets.  He returns to our show to give his take on this year’s CES.  As Bob O’Donnell surveys CES 2019, he sees tech on the cusp of innovation.

Old School

In a word, this year’s CES was packed.  From gadgets to automobiles to robotics and more, consumer electronics has morphed.  Although the range has grown, this year’s biggest strides came in CES old school mainstays.  Announcements from PC and TV makers rose above the buzz of the crowd. These were largely incremental, but nonetheless notable.  

Previews in past years gave way to the real deal.  LG’s rollable TV hits the market this year. Apple gained attention following a waning CES presence in recent years.  Partnering with the big TV players, Apple makes HomeKit, iTunes, and AirPlay 2 available on Samsung, LG, Vizio, and Sony TVs.  

Another big trend as Bob O’Donnell surveys CES 2019 is gaming.  In the gaming realm, Nvidia, Intel, and AMD took center stage with their respective innovations. On the cusp of innovation, glimpses of game streaming showed promise.  This cloud-based gaming will allow flexibility and opportunity. It’s an advantage for the hard-core gamer and novice alike. Gamers will be able to pick up or continue gaming on a range of devices.  

See the Difference?

The 8K push was evident at CES.  Vendors are offering 8K in varying forms.  Is there a noticeable difference between 4K and 8K?  The jury’s out with consumers split 50/50. Some companies have made their 8K products discrete.  Sony’s 8K TVs are much larger than the 4K. But with zero content available at the moment, Bob wonders if 8K deserves the notice?  It’s on the cusp of innovation. In my view, change is right around the corner. Japan is readying for the 2020 Olympics, which will be broadcast in 8K.  CableLabs member J:COM is on track for the Olympics 8K roll out. The big question remains: will that 8K TV fit in the living room?

Self-Drive Slowdown

The forecasts of two years ago overshot autonomous vehicle progress.  The pullback comes as issues have arisen.  The technology is not ready.  Public perception is not ready.  Real issues of safety are coupled with consumer fear and lack of trust.  Even terms can be a problem. Bob views the term ‘autopilot’ in cars misleading.  For now, the focus has shifted to assisted driving versus autonomous. Even in that area, auto assist functions become disengaged 60 – 80 percent of the time.  There’s some distance to go before autonomous becomes viable. Makers need time to get it right.  




Not Competing, Complementing

This year 5G is everywhere.  Overhype is an issue.  Bob is wary of some claims.  There is confusion over what 5G really is.  As Bob points out, looking back at how 4G enabled Uber and other services, people now are more aware.  Hence, the hype.

With the introduction of the cable industry 10G, some clarity is needed.  The G in 10G actually means gigabit.  It is not in competition with the 5G (fifth generation) cellular network tech.  10G will actually complement 5G in the future. For now, 10G program is live and rolling out.  In 80% of U.S. homes, 1 gigabit broadband internet will be available to 80% of U.S. homes. It’s a platform to build innovations on.

Oversellers Beware

The hints at what’s down the road may be exciting, but at the same time misleading.  There’s risk when companies promise more from products than products deliver or will deliver in the near future.  Overselling risks losing consumers’ trust and taxing patience. Exaggerating taints the industry and consumer perception.  Much of what we’ve seen at CES 2019 is incremental. But it’s better to make good on solid claims than take grand leaps and fall flat.

Thanks to Bob O’Donnell for sharing his insights.  

If you would like to track what Bob is writing about or working on, visit http://www.technalysisresearch.com/.  You may also view his column on USA Today or see him on Bloomberg TV.



Five Minutes to New Ideas

Are some customers not good for business?  Could a customer’s extensive use of your product or service actually cost you?  Listen to Five Minutes to New Ideas to hear creative solutions to customer challenges.

 



Direct download: On_the_Cusp_of_Innovation_Bob_ODonnell_Surveys_CES_2019_S14_Ep47.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

Cars that walk.  TVs that roll up.  From rising stars to tech titans, the atmosphere at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2019 has been high energy.  To consider what’s fueling that energy, I talk to the host of CES, Consumer Technology Association (CTA).  Joining us in the Mobile Studio is Rachel Horn, CTA Communications Director. She shares the CES 2019 tech trends, a few of her favorites, and why CES is so amazing.

 

CES Breaking Records

With 180 million plus attendees and 155 countries represented, CES is the largest tech and business event in the world.  It covers 2.9 million square feet of exhibitor space in Las Vegas. CES 2019 is breaking records. More than just bigger, this year’s CES unlocks new opportunities.  For the first time, medical professionals obtained continuing medical education credit for attending CES. This allows medical professionals to observe and learn about the latest medical tech and tech trends first hand.  Eureka Park, with reasonable exhibit rates, makes CES accessible for startups, entrepreneurs, and small businesses.  It boasts 1,200 exhibitors. From simple products that make life easier to larger than life exhibits that give an awe-inspiring glimpse into the future, CES 2019 delivers something for everyone.

Big Impressions

Looking outside the window of the Mobile Studio is the two-story Google complex.  It’s akin to an amusement park ride and with people queued up to get in. The rollercoaster ride takes people through the Google story.  The stakes are high for attention-grabbing at CES.  The Bell Nexus Air Taxi display was phenomenal.  During a private tour, this look at future transport awed a group of CEOs and me.  As TV display tech leaps further ahead each year, the display manufacturers dominate the floor.  The LG 4K rollable TV was exciting to see. With all the spectacle, it’s a stiff competition to stand out.  CES raises the bar. But not everything has to be big to shine. Some of the more interesting trends were seen on a smaller scale at Eureka Park.

CES 2019 Tech Trends

AI and 5G were the pervasive tech trends.  Across the board, products are sensory, connected, collecting data, analyzing, and customizing the consumer experience.  From health to lifestyle, AI is making things simpler, personalized, safer. Among noteworthy trends was digital health, especially wearables.  Silicon Valley Tech Analyst Tim Bajarin was on the trail of digital health devices.  He was impressed with a watch that can take blood pressure readings.  There are devices to continuously measure blood glucose and manage pain without medication.  These tech advances can truly transform our lives, giving people greater control over their health and wellness.  A number of products addressed aging in place. Some tech products on display included smart beds, fall detection products, remote monitors.  These impactful innovations have taken a front row. The competition among companies in the area of medical devices has propelled some further ahead.  Such is the case with Starkey, the hearing aid company, which incorporates AI into its latest product.

Little Things That Make a Difference

While the big technologies draw the crowds, the little things that make life easier are equally impressive.  Rachel noticed the Neutrogena MaskID, which uses mobile phone tech to analyze skin and create a customized face mask. Another innovation on Rachel’s must-have list is the Ring Mouse (EasySMX Ring Mouse by Padrone).  The Ring Mouse fits on the fingertip, is Bluetooth enabled, and pairs with a phone or laptop. Tactigon Skin is an interesting one hand controller device that has a number of uses. Technologies such as these that simplify life and make us more productive will transform the way we do things.

Taking Care of Business

Many international businesses consider CES the launch platform.  It’s also the place to meet with investors, retailers, partners.  The average CES attendee schedules 33 meetings.  

Not only does the CTA host CES, but it holds a number of events throughout the year.  If you’d like to know more about CTA, visit https://www.cta.tech/.  

If you weren’t able to visit CES this year, catch keynote videos, panel videos, and other highlights at https://www.ces.tech/.  You can also keep up to date on the latest with CES on Twitter or Instagram.  

 

Five Minutes to New Ideas

Do you really know who your customers are and how they use your product?  As HP CTO, I was taken by surprise when the local bakery tailored the HP TouchSmart for use as an order kiosk.  Are there more uses for your product than you imagined? How can your customer help you discover the potential? Five Minutes to New Ideas explores customers’ creative hacks and what that means for you.

Direct download: CES_2019_Tech_Trends_that_Amaze_and_Simplify_S14_Ep46.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

 

Keeping networks connected, secure, and visible is easier thanks to one startup.  Here at the Consumer Electronics Show, David Erickson joins me. David is Co-Founder of Forward Networks.  His company is innovating network operations. Their products transform how businesses manage networks.

Gaming to Innovating Network Operations

David’s interest in networking began as a kid playing video games.  He was always trying to optimize that connection.  That interest led him to Silicon Valley and Stanford.  As a post-grad at Stanford, David focused on software defined networking (SDN).  After completing Ph.D. work, David and three fellow Ph. Ds founded Forward Networks.  They saw new opportunity. Innovation on the operations side of networking was scarce.  Co-founder Peyman Kazemian developed unique technology. Forward Networks applies that technology to network operations.  Their software maximizes network connection, security and analysis. Based in Palo Alto, Forward Networks has been developing network solutions for five years.  Their clients include a growing number of mid to large size businesses.

Grains of Sand

With the volumes of data traversing networks, innovating network operations has been a challenge.  Others have tried to develop similar technology without success. One company refused to believe Forward Networks’ product could do what they claimed.  That company had been trying for 15 years. Forward Networks solutions do the work no human can do.  Tracking network traffic flow going in five octillion directions, it’s impossible for people to see it all.  Like grains of sand or known stars in the universe, a massive volume of data requires a smart solution. Forward Networks technology explores and proves network properties to ensure they’re secure and connected.

Solving Core Problems and Beyond

The advantages Forward Networks solutions offer customers:

  • Opens layers of visibility  
  • Creates a digital twin of the network
  • Verification: proves correctness of connections and security

They have focused on user interface making ease of use a priority.  Their products require minimal upkeep and maintenance.


A new area Forward Networks is moving into is cloud systems.  This latest development will give a “holistic picture” of “hybrid environments.”  At the heart of it, David says their software solves the core problems.

Lessons Learned

The founders of Forward Networks had a trial run in the startup process.  Out of Stanford, they started a company that created SDN training. That was “the startup before the startup.”  It gave them the experience to understand the process.

Key things David learned along the way:

Innovating network operations, Forward Networks meets a demand in an overlooked area that’s ever-expanding.

To track what Forward Networks is doing, visit https://www.forwardnetworks.com/.  For the latest, check out their blog (upper right of website) and Twitter.

 

 Five Minutes to New Ideas

Can old assets equal new value?  It can take a fight for survival to bring out bold moves.  Such is the case with magazine publishers. The internet has forced magazines innovate.  Five Minutes to New Ideas explores what some magazines are doing to keep ahead.  Could your business borrow from these unique approaches?

 

Thanks for listening to the show today.  On March 5, we’ll kick off Season 15 of Killer Innovations.  Long time listeners, do you have an anecdote or story to share about the show?  Any thoughts on going forward in Season 15? I’d love to hear from you. Drop me a note.

Direct download: Innovating_Network_Operations_Connected_Secure_Visible_S14_Ep45.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

 

The work of innovation culminates in execution.  But getting there is a journey with hurdles to overcome.  You need innovation confidence to face corporate antibodies, deal with setbacks, and keep innovating.  Today’s show focuses on how to build innovation confidence.  Innovation confidence will help get your ideas off the ground and on track.

 

Gifted or Skilled

Innovation is not a special gift bestowed on a select few.  Innovation is a set of skills and abilities. You can learn, practice, and perfect them.  This has been my goal in doing this show for 14 plus years. I want to help you perfect your innovation skills and abilities. What is innovation confidence?  It is self-assurance arising from one’s innovation abilities.  Building innovation confidence is a process. It takes time and practical experience.   Learn the skills and use them in a practical setting.  This will build innovation confidence.

 

Start Building

To begin building innovation confidence, you need to take stock.  Determine your innovation strengths and weaknesses.

Innovation Strengths:

Identify your innovation core strengths.  Highlight those strengths in your daily work.  Find opportunities to leverage them. Others will recognize you as innovative.  This will build your innovation confidence. Are there limited opportunities to highlight your strengths in your current role?  Volunteer for another team. Seek out a job that allows you to exercise your strengths daily.

Innovation Weaknesses:

Find the weaknesses in your innovation skill sets.  Then, improve them.

Some ways to improve weak areas and build innovation confidence:

  • Take every opportunity to learn.
    • A good start - listening to this show.
    • Innovation conferences and YouTube videos are great ways to learn.
  • Find a community.
  • Learn by doing.
    • Gain practical experience.
    • Volunteer for a project in your weak area.

 

Do Something Scary

To build innovation confidence, I challenge you to do this exercise.  Try one thing that scares you every day. Getting out of your comfort zone helps tackle the fears holding you back from succeeding in innovation.  Fear is False Evidence that Appears Real. With fear, we tend to exaggerate the negative impact of trying something new or different.  

This may come as a surprise.  I am an introvert. As CTO at HP, I stepped out of my comfort zone to understand customers.  I would observe potential HP customers at Best Buy. If a customer looked at HP products, but purchased a competitor’s, I would approach.  After handing out my business card, I would ask a few questions. Terrified as I was initially, I found people were nice and willing to give feedback.

What in the innovation skill sets scares you?  Try it every day. Get over that fear and build innovation confidence.

 

The Critic

Another step to innovation confidence - silence the inner critic.  False evidence is that negative self-talk. We tend to be more negative about ourselves than others are.  Do you struggle with this? Your inner critic is likely overactive and inaccurate. This ties into my recent TEDx Talk.  If you haven’t listened to it, check out my TEDx talk. I cover impostor syndrome. You can find it on YouTube or Philmckinney.com.

So, silence the inner critic to build innovation confidence.

 

Track the Kudos

Keep track of your successes.  I use a Moleskine notebook to do this.  It’s a handy way to track things. When confidence dips, you’ll have a reminder of your innovation successes.  

Save emails from your boss and others which congratulate your success.  Save thank you letters and letters of praise. This can help build innovation confidence.  It can be useful when starting a new job.

 

The More You Sweat, the Less You Bleed

Train like you mean it.  To paraphrase a military expression, the more you sweat, the less you bleed.  That is to say, work hard now to prevent setbacks later. To become proficient at a skill, it takes about 10,000 hours.  That’s working 8 hours a day for 4.7 years. There are ways to condense that training. Tim Ferriss has his method. The Navy SEALS have an intense training that replicates real-life scenarios.  

For innovation, experience-based training is optimal.  Major universities offer executive certificate programs.  These are intense, concentrated, focused programs. Two to three times a year, I teach the Innovation Bootcamp, an intense four-day course, made up of 14 – 16-hour days. Students go through the FIRE (Focus, Ideation, Ranking, Execution) process.  The result is a quality output. In some cases, the output is an innovation that gains support and funding.   

There are other programs to accelerate learning.  Make sure the program delivers a realistic innovation experience.  It’s under intense pressure, that you learn.

Another way to accelerate learning - learning from those who’ve experienced it.  The Innovators Community offers a place to interact with people who know the innovation ropes.

 

Balance the Confidence

As you build innovation confidence, don’t tip the balance in the wrong direction.  That is, temper your confidence.  Understand the risks and have a plan B should things not go as expected.  Have the confidence to accept a project you’ve never done, but have a recovery plan if it doesn’t work out.  And don’t let confidence lead to arrogance. Nobody wants to work with an arrogant person. So, build innovation confidence, but maintain a balance.






 

 

Five Minutes to New Ideas

Could offering an unfinished product give an advantage?  Could it become a selling point? Consider the clever strategy of Build-A-Bear.  They win by minimizing the stock in briefly popular products and charging a premium for customers to assemble their own bear.  Listen to Five Minutes to New Ideas to discover unique ways to delight your customers.

 

 

Killer Innovations is entering its 15th season on March 5.  It is a testimony to endurance and perseverance.  Killer Innovations is the longest continuously produced podcast. My mission, to pay it forward, has been the driving force.  The past 14 years are devoted to those who have had a profound influence on my career. Guests, guest host Kym McNicholas, and I have shared experiences, lessons learned, and what has inspired us.  This show exists to give listeners insights to succeed on the innovation journey. My sincere thanks to the guests, the sponsors, and you, the listeners.

Direct download: How_to_Build_Innovation_Confidence_S14_Ep44.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

As 2018 comes to a close, it’s time to reflect on an amazing year.  We’ve listened to innovators from around the world. We’ve found non-obvious innovation in unexpected places.  It’s been a year of new experiences, like talking at TEDx Boulder.  Excerpts from four of this year’s shows reveal the aim of Killer Innovations.  Motivating, inspiring, innovating. I hope these shows have given perspective and impetus.

Motivating: Push Back Impostor Syndrome

My struggle with Impostor Syndrome came to a halt in a surprising way.  The source of fear feeding my Impostor Syndrome became front page news. I discovered that nobody believed the lie I told myself.  Impostor Syndrome was the focus of my TEDxBoulder talk.  I shared the TEDx experience in Episode 39, Season 14.  My strong desire was in motivating others to push back on Impostor Syndrome.

Inspiring the Skeptical Executive

In a reverse move, Erich Viedge interviewed me.  Erich hosts The Skeptical Executive podcast.  In Episode 21, Season 14, Erich Viedge asked incisive questions.  We discussed creating an innovation culture.  I presented my habits for developing creativity.  The potential for innovation in any area exists. The key is inspiring it to happen.

Innovating Tradition: The Flat Wine Bottle

I posted an article on The Innovators Community.  A discussion ensued.  The topic was the flat wine bottle.  Santiago Navarro, founder of Garçon Wines, contacted me.  He wanted to fill in the details about his innovation.  Episode 38 of Season 14 was an engaging interview.  The show gave insight on how to innovate a product steeped in tradition.  Balance aesthetics and experience with the functional. Innovating the wine bottle has gained award winning reception.

[shareable cite="Santiago Navarro, Garçon Wines Founder"]If you believe in something strong enough, don’t give up.[/shareable]

 

Innovating the Non-Obvious

The year started with non-obvious innovations in non-obvious places.  Paducah, Asian Carp, and gourmet food don’t seem to have anything in common.  Fin Gourmet Foods proved this assumption wrong. Episode 45 of Season 13 is the interview with the founders of Fin Gourmet Foods.  Taking a problem in Midwest waterways and making it an in-demand gourmet food is impressive.  Hard work, perseverance, and faith have kept Fin Gourmet Foods going and growing.  Hats off to Fin Gourmet Foods.  They’re transforming an invasive fish into a gourmet item in a small Midwestern town.

One Great Year Leads to Another

2018 has been a year for motivating, inspiring, innovating.  One year, but many people sharing their stories on the innovation journey. Thank you, 2018 guests, for sharing your experiences on Killer Innovations.  

Listeners, thank you for taking time each week to listen to the show.  I am ready for another great year. Stayed tuned in the New Year for the Consumer Electronics Show interviews and what innovations will lead the way for 2019.  

If you haven’t yet, join and keep the discussion going at The Innovators Community.  It’s a free online community for innovators, designers, and creative people like you.  Join before the end of the year for 25% off products at Innovation.Tools, including The Killer Questions card deck.