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".

Many people believe when it comes to innovation, you’ve either got it or you don’t.  But innovation is a skill that can be learned, practiced and perfected. One area of innovation is ideation.  Generating quality ideas is key to keeping the innovation funnel full.  How do you get started in innovation if your team doesn’t have confidence in their innovation abilities?  One way is to have a disruptive ideation workshop. On today’s show, I talk about how to create a disruptive ideation workshop.  

Boot Camp Condensed

I teach my Innovation Boot Camp course two or three times a year. This is an intense four-day session that goes twelve hours a day. The objective is building the innovation confidence of the students. One common request from students is for a one-day version for their teams.  So, I reworked the content and created a one-day version called the Disruptive Ideation Workshop.  The workshop teaches a disruptive approach to generate more and better ideas using the FIRE method.  The objectives: learn the skill, apply it, and have a pipeline of ideas for the organization.  Two weeks ago, we tested the workshop. The class consisted of 25 senior leaders from a single organization (with zero background in innovation).  The results exceeded everyone’s expectations. One of the leaders in the class summed it up: “learning disruptive ideation that generated disruptive ideas.”  So, we named the workshop the “Disruptive Ideation Workshop.”

 

The Disruptive Ideation Workshop in Brief

What does disruptive ideation mean?  Disruptive means causing or tending to cause disruption; innovative or groundbreaking; unconventional, unorthodox, off-center, unusual, unfamiliar, unprecedented; pioneering, trailblazing, revolutionary, radical, advanced, newfangled, state-of-the-art.

The Disruptive Ideation workshop is built around two major objectives:

 

  1. Teach a disruptive approach to ideation.  

This will radically increase the number and quality of the ideas that a person and team can generate.

 

  1. Through the process of learning, apply it to a real-world problem facing the organization.

At the end, students have a ranked set of disruptive ideas their organization can take forward.

 

To achieve these objectives, we teach background and skills and how to apply the skills.  

 

This course has two major sections: Section 1) Foundation and Section 2) Skills and Application/Practice.  Here’s what we cover in each.

 

Section 1: Foundation

 

  1. Myths and mysteries of innovation
  2. Innovation skills (self-doubt/negative talk, imagination, seeing with fresh eyes, etc.)
  3. Innovation Anti-bodies (ego, no risk, no change, etc.)
    • Focus
    • Ideation
    • Ranking
    • Execution
  4. Innovation framework (FIRE)

 

The focus was on Focus, Ideation, and Ranking of the FIRE method.  Special emphasis was placed on Ideation.  

 

Skills Learned

Section 2 of the Disruptive Ideation Workshop was a walk-through of the elements in FIRE.  Exercises allowed students to apply those elements to a real problem statement.

Skill number one was FOCUS.  FOCUS is about defining the problem. Having a clear “problem statement” is critical.  Without a well-defined problem statement, everyone jumps to generate ideas to solve something that is not clearly understood.  In boot camp, the team spends half a day crafting their problem statement.

Skill number two is IDEATION.  Walk through the use and power of the question to generate more and better ideas.  Team ideation is built upon the ideas generated individually.

Skill number three is RANKING.  Grouping ideas is the starting point.  Then take the large number of ideas generated and find the top two to three percent of the ideas.  

The last skill taught is EXECUTION.  Take the raw idea from RANKING and put more thought behind it.  

We also taught “Adapt and Adopt.”  Take the experiences in Section 2 and adapt the skills making adoption easier for their organization.  

 

Lessons from the Disruptive Ideation Workshop

What are the lessons learned in conducting the Disruptive Ideation Workshop?

  1. One-day is a unit of time that people can more easily step away from the day job.
  2. The problem statement is critical.  Spend time to get it right!
  3. Limit the workshop to a reasonable number of students (20 max).
  4. Establish clear next steps.
  5. Plug students into a community.  Keep the learning and excitement alive after the course ends.

If you are interested in finding out more about the workshop, send an email to us.



Five Minutes to New Ideas

Are creativity and innovation only for the young?  Silicon Valley has clearly bought into this premise.  The truth of the matter is creativity and Innovation know no limit based on age.  You can pick up creativity at any age. Do you or your organization hold a bias as to who can or cannot be creative?  Listen to this week’s Five Minutes to New Ideas for more on how age really doesn’t matter in the innovation game.

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

Making hard decisions can bring the most seasoned leaders to their knees, no matter how calm they look on the outside.  The fear of a better option (FOBO) can paralyze decision-making. It is also the enemy of innovation.  In this show I talk about 4 ways to deal with FOBO.

 

FOBO versus FOMO

What is it that causes that hesitation at decision time?  Patrick McGinnis calls it FOBO: the Fear of a Better Option.  Patrick describes it as being “paralyzed at the prospect of actually committing to something, out of fear that we might be choosing something that was not the absolute perfect option.”  The result is that you get stuck in an analysis paralysis and never make the decision. The sister term to FOBO is FOMO, the Fear of Missing Out. If you miss out, you will not have that one magic piece of data that will give you perfect information.  So, our fear of missing out feeds our fear of a better option. The result is saying “yes” to everything. I used to say “yes” to every request to speak or teach no matter the impact on myself or my family. When you combine FOBO with FOMO you can find yourself afraid of doing anything. That is FODA, the paralysis that turns into a fear of doing anything.  What I had to learn was to say “no.” Breakthrough came when a newspaper article was written about me which forced me to go public with a secret that fed my imposter syndrome.  

 

The way that I deal with FOMO is I create criteria for myself that help me prioritize the requests for my time and attention.  

 

FOBO in Innovation

When it comes to innovation, deciding to move forward on an idea, to commit to resources such as people and money, is ripe of FOBO.  I have seen a leader hesitate to give a team the green light on a project because they are not yet convinced that it is the best/perfect idea.  The truth is that no idea is a perfect idea. In this case, FOBO could be masking a more general fear of failure. But not deciding means zero chance of an innovative idea. The main object is to innovate and to do that, you need to try your ideas.  You have to come to terms with the fact that most of your ideas are going to fail.  FOBO, the fear of a better option, is the enemy of innovation. It is the tool antibodies will use to brush off your ideas.  

 

FODA (the Fear of Doing Anything)

When you combine FOBO and FOMO you can find yourself in a paralyzed position not wanting to commit to anything.  This is FODA, the Fear of Doing Anything. You need to learn to be decisive. Here are 4 ways to deal with FOBO and not get caught in the trap of FODA:

 

  • The Ask and Watch method.  Patrick McGinnis says to whittle your decision to two options.  Assign each item to either the left or right side of your watch. Look down and see where the second hand is at the moment.  Taking the final decision when you have two good options out of your control releases you from doubt.

 

  • Criteria method.  Create a clear criterion that works for you.  Mine are the Five F’s: Faith, Family, Friends, Fitness, and Finances.  Score requests on your time against your list of criteria.

 

  • The Innovation = Ranking method.  When it comes to innovation use your funnel and ranking process to create a list of “next best ideas.”  These are the ideas based on their ranking score from the FIRE framework.  With the ranked lists of your ideas, force a decision that says something like each quarter we will fund the idea with the highest score.  

 

  • The Trust but Verify method.  Apply the old Ronald Reagan maxim “Trust your decision but verify.”  If the decision is not delivering the result you expected, then adjust.  

 

These 4 ways to deal with FOBO will help you be aware of your own FODA and change.  We will never have perfect information and, therefore, will never make the perfect decision.  So, make your decision and move on. For any questions or comments send me an email.  



Five Minutes to New Ideas

Tony Robbins once said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”  You can apply this quote to networks, communities, family, and friends you socialize with. To change that quote a bit, you are the average of the five social networks where you spend the most time.  This week’s Five Minutes to New Ideas considers how our social networking reflects who we are.

Direct download: 4_Ways_to_Deal_with_FOBO.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

Ethical lapses in some tech companies have grabbed headlines in recent years.  Tech is changing daily, touching every aspect of our lives. It’s time to define the ethical boundaries of technology.  Without focus on ethics in technology, there will be huge unintended consequences.    On today’s show, Joe Toscano, joins me.  Joe is founder of BEACON and author of Automating Humanity.  He is also a former award-winning experience designer for Google.  Joe’s background in Silicon Valley and Big Tech has led him to explore tech in terms of ethics.  

Leaving the Valley

After several years in the Silicon Valley “bubble,” Joe decided to step away.  Disconnect between life in the Valley and the world outside became his opportunity.  Joe Toscano formed a nonprofit called BEACON. BEACON stands for “Better Ethics and Consumer Outcomes Network.” It is a social innovation organization.  BEACON strives to connect the public to what is going on in the tech industry.  BEACON provides insights to policymakers in defining ethical boundaries of technology.   This tech insight equips them to address ethical concerns in a balanced way. BEACON works with technologists to create products that meet consumer demand and create positive social impact. Some tech leaders are content to leave it to regulators to define ethical boundaries of technology.  Through BEACON, Joe takes a holistic approach. Shaping ethical boundaries of technology has many factors to consider. The effect on the consumer, small business, local and global community as well as Big Tech must be in view.

Lighting the Way

Regulators cannot keep up with the pace of innovation today.  Joe believes there are certain things regulators must address. But, some things need to remain informal and driven solely by business.  This is where the nonprofit side of BEACON comes in. It is about education, research, and creating public safety tools. The goal is to educate consumers and regulators to ask the right questions.  BEACON partners with the University of Nebraska and Digital Futures Initiative.  These partnerships center on ethics in technology.

BEACON has branched out this year forming a for profit side.  In the for profit sector, BEACON is creating products that will help small businesses comply with regulations.  The first product launching will generate required legal agreements. This will minimize legal expenses for small businesses.

Ethics in Technology

Businesses that want to set ethical boundaries of technology must change the mindset.  BEACON advises that they must move their business away from the quarterly statistics and into the longer term.  

What is one of the biggest problems today? The attention economy drives tech.  This presents issues in terms of ethics. There is not a defined production value.  There’s room for innovation in defining what the production value is. The area of data is wide open for innovation.  At the core, innovations like these require thought on the long term ethical implications. BEACON’s work in the space of ethical boundaries in technology is timely and essential.

If you’d like to track what Joe is doing, visit https://www.beacontrustnetwork.com/ .   For the latest, sign up for his newsletter.  Pick up a copy of Joe’s recent book, Automating Humanity, available through Amazon.

 

Five Minutes to New Ideas

Time is one of those resources that we never have enough of.  We are given 1,440 minutes each day and once it is gone, it is gone.  When it comes to translating ideas into innovation, it comes down to opportunity costs.  This week on Five Minutes to New Ideas I discuss opportunity costs.  How can you help your team save time on things of low value to work on things of higher value?  How will you prioritize your 1,440 minutes today?

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

The latest innovation of today can quickly be replaced with the next best thing tomorrow.  Whether you’re a newcomer to innovation or the seasoned innovator, there’s something every innovator should know.  How to forecast and survive cycles of innovation.  This week Ray Zinn, longest serving CEO of a publicly traded company in Silicon Valley, shares his insights.  Ray’s astute ability to forecast what was coming enabled his company to survive the cycles of innovation.

Sage Advice: Don’t Work for Someone Else

In 1974, Ray’s boss conveyed a bit of advice.  Don’t work for someone else. This advice set Ray on the entrepreneurial path.  He started his own company. With $300,000 of self-funding, he started doing test services.  It was challenging to start a company that was profitable from day one. Ray and his business partner managed it.  By 1985, their company, Micrel Inc., hired a group of engineers and started designing their own products. Eventually, Samsung selected Micrel technology for their first cell phones.  With blue chip clients, numerous inventions and patents in wireless radio and other areas, Micrel went public in 1994. Micrel was profitable every year through 2001. Despite the fact that Ray had to rebuild the whole company, it remained profitable.  

Forecasting Innovation Cycles

How do you lead companies through the high rate of innovation change?  Ray was able to accomplish this successfully. Ray learned the cycles of innovation so he could forecast them.  You have to know the cycles so you can predict them for your company.  How do you do this? Your customers are your best lead.  The key to surviving these cycles is understanding them.  Cycles last at the most five years.  You must anticipate what is going to be the next winning product.

Getting Your Board Right

What were the insights Ray wished he had early on?  Be careful about your Board. He elaborated on his biggest mistake -  not being more selective on his Board of Director participation.  Having a viable, helpful and contributable Board is critical.  You want members who roll up their sleeves and add value where it’s needed.  You don’t need board members who will pick you apart and create tension. Ray believes that Boards need to focus less attention on what investors or shareholders want.  They need to put emphasis on what is best for the company and adds sustainable value. Boards should not be too independent. Independency leads to disconnect and a lack of understanding a company’s intricacies and operation.


The Zinn Starter

With his wealth of experience in the heart of the startup capital of the world, Ray wanted to give back.  He created the Zinn Starter, a seed investment firm akin to Shark Tank for universities. Almost every university in this country has an entrepreneur program.  The Zinn Starter consists of students taking their business ideas before a Board. If the Board approves the concept, the student has the opportunity to start a company while still a student.  Zinn Starter is limited to fully enrolled university students. It is part of the entrepreneur program for six universities. The program has been running for two years with over five thousand students participating.

Ray has also written a book called Tough Things First.  Used by many universities as a textbook, it covers his time with his company in Silicon Valley.  You can track Ray at http://toughthingsfirst.com/.  Visit his website to hear weekly podcasts and tips for entrepreneurs.



Five Minutes to New Ideas

Your idea was rejected.  You were told to give up.  If you want to succeed at innovation, you have to put yourself and your ideas out there.  This means you will get rejected. The alternative is that your idea will never become a reality.  Throughout the cycles of criticism, trust that the steps you are taking will lead to achieving your vision.  What are you willing to innovate even in the face of criticism and rejection? Listen to this week’s Five Minutes to New Ideas for insight on pushing through rejection to reach your innovation vision.

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