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".

We love to say anything can be innovated, anyone can innovate and innovation can happen anywhere.  Silicon Valley and other recognized innovation hubs do not have a lock on innovation or a secret sauce that cannot be modeled or improved on.  It takes a willingness to put time, your resources, explore and expand your creativity (we all have it) beyond where you are today to see the non-obvious.  When you do, you will be like our Kentucky guests, innovating in a non-traditional innovation hub, non-traditional way and a non-high tech innovation.

As part of our Innovation Across America tours, we ventured across the country in our new mobile studio to Paducah, Kentucky.  This tour was looking for those innovating “Beyond the Obvious”

In our show this week we had the opportunity to interview the founders of Fin Gourmet Foods.  Started in 2010, Fin Gourmet is a Kentucky Proud Producer™ of wild-caught Asian Carp products.  So why Asian Carp. It has the highest source of healthy clean protein and Omega-3 fatty acids, on par with wild caught salmon.  Nowhere else in the world but the USA are Asian Carp wild-caught, and those from Western KY are of the best quality. More importantly this innovation story is unique.  Fin’s mission and vision are that the Asian Carp provide economic opportunities for the communities, fostering job creation and revitalizing the inland fishing industry. 

Defining and Tackling a Problem Statement

The team at Fin Gourmet defined the problems and challenges and engaged in disruptive ideation.  As an integral part of their innovation process they considered some basic assumptions of innovation to create value including:

  • Turn other people’s trash into a product: Fin took the Asian Carp, which is an invasive species that is taking over the Mississippi and Ohio river systems, and innovated a way to turn it into a great food source.
  • Give opportunities to people overlooked: In addition to locating in a rural part of the country, Fin works with local halfway houses to offer jobs to former prison inmates and others down on their luck.  Training, teaching and building a culture that values and leverages the abilities of all.
  • Breathe life back into an industry overlooked by others: Fin pays a premium price for what many considered “trash” to help local independent fishing families to transition to this new species of fish and the economy it can support.

What is the Non-Obvious Innovation at Fin?

Fin has two patented innovative processing techniques to:

  1. Debone Asian Carp fillets and
  2. Make all-natural surimi (Japanese fish paste) from the Carp without using water or chemicals.

With their innovative model, process and approach Fin Gourmet is making a big impact locally and across the globe with their products and story.  The Fin founders, together with fisherman like Ronny Hopkins, we will better manage the Asian Carp so that our rivers/lakes/estuaries are better protected while employing people who need second chances from incarceration, drug court, domestic violence, or just to have a better life path.

If you find yourself in a fog with innovation, why don’t you head over to The Innovators Community.  It is a great place to connect and get energized and refreshed around innovation or send me a private message and I will respond.  I’d love to hear from you.  If you would like to learn more on ideation techniques to look Beyond the Obvious take a look at our Disruptive Ideation Workshops.  Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to join us today.  

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

I was recently asked to give a talk at TEDx Boulder.  The talk was based on a speech I gave in D.C. a few months past.  Humans have a superpower. That superpower is the ability to convince ourselves that something is true when it is not.  Seventy-five percent of us have convinced ourselves that we are an imposter or fraud when it comes to our jobs and careers.  Psychologists refer to this as the imposter syndrome. The imposter syndrome is questioning our achievements and living with the fear that someone is going to find out that we are not good enough and we are a fraud.  The imposter syndrome struggle does not know anything about career, title, identity, history; it is universal.  So many of us struggle with this, the question is what do you do about it? I am going to give you two plans of action.

  1. Find a comfortable/safe environment to share the secret that is telling you that you are not good enough.
  2. Be an encourager and encourage others on their skills and capabilities.  

I wasted twenty-five years of my career believing the lie that I was not good enough.  So what lie is telling you that you are not good enough and that you are an imposter? Whatever that lie is, the opposite is the truth.  So, what is the truth about you that is amazing?  

Fear of the Imposter Syndrome

As I shared in the speech, imposter syndrome knows no boundaries.  It is not tied to something about us, it is ourselves being hypercritical of ourselves.  The fear of being found out can be paralyzing.  What is fear? Fear is that emotion that comes from feeling threatened, feeling like you are going to get hurt, or abused, it can be the result of being physically impacted or how we will be emotionally impacted.  Fear stands for “false evidence that appears real.” My fear was not conforming to what society said would make me successful.  In the innovation game we will experience the fear of failing, the fear that the idea is not good enough.  What I learned from my experience from feeling fear from imposter syndrome is to test it.  Is it true fear? Or false evidence that appears true? Once you know, put your fear in its proper place.

If you find yourself struggling with imposter syndrome, why don’t you head over to The Innovators Community.  It is a great place to connect and post your own imposter syndrome or send me a private message and I will respond. I’d love to hear from you.  Definitely, find someone to share your imposter syndrome secret.  Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to join us today.  

 

Five Minutes to New Ideas

Have you ever purchased an item that others hated? Or what about the opposite; have you ever been using a product or service that you absolutely despise?  If you are producing a product that some people love what you are doing, there will be others that dislike your product with an equal passion. Plenty of companies trade on the fact that they represent something that the mainstream culture will find offensive or questionable.   Will it benefit you and your product to deliberately set yourself in opposition to certain social groups? Can you use the things that’s objectional about your product to create a community of customers? By looking at your product differently, from the perspective of something objectional, you may find that one thing that will set you apart.  

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

On April 4, 2008, Phil McKinney, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at Hewlett Packard, delivered the morning keynote speech at the fifth annual Business Alliance Bootcamp for growing companies and entrepreneurs in Washington DC.

Creativity Economy

What I am going to do today is give you my perspective on some of the economic challenges and also encourage you in thinking differently when working to create value.  Knowledge is becoming a commodity.  If you have a job that can be taught at a University, your skill is at risk and your job is at risk.  The impact of this is everywhere.  Think about the transitions from an agricultural to a manufacturing economy to a knowledge economy.  My argument is that the creative economy is here.  What’s the new thing?  The new thing is this creative economy.  In the early 1980’s the market value for companies listed on the stock exchanges was concentrated on book value with most company’s stock value at 95% book value.  Twenty years later 23% is the average book value.  So, in 20 years a major fundamental shift occurred on how companies get valued.  I would argue that one of the key pieces on the increases of that intangible value is the role of creativity and innovation.  It is the value of ideas.  It is no longer what you can do with your hands or with a machine, it is the ability to continually generate new ideas, new products, and new services.  A lot of companies are unable to do this and as a result, do not survive.  Economic stability going forward is the ability to have ideas being continuously generated from the organization.  Innovation is important, but a lot of companies make the mistake of putting all of the pressure for innovation on their Chief Innovation Officer.  Go out and do a survey.  Eighty six percent of CEO’s admit that innovation is key to their business but less than ten percent have any formal process to innovate within their organization.

Bringing Back Creativity

My strong belief is that creativity is not a gift.  It is not bestowed on people, it is a skill that anybody can learn, practice, and become proficient at.  It ignores age, demographics, education levels, and geography.  It is the ability to put your own thought processes in place, to come up with the next idea, product, or service.  A lot of people are self-pessimistic and are convinced that they do not have it and they are not creative. The fact is that we are creative creatures; we were created to create.  Think about kids and how creative they are with a simple object like a toilet paper roll. The problem is through the process of our education systems and through jobs, we literally beat that creativity out of our people.  How do we bring back that amount of creativity that we see in kids and bring it back to our day to day lives?  We need that ability to take our filters off and see things from an unbiased and different perspective.  I had a conversation with a co-worker many years ago about “old think and new think.”  Old think is when you are coming up with an idea and then you put a filter on it and decide to go safe and go with the old way of doing things.  New think is all about breaking perspectives and getting rid of perspectives that confine and restrict us from coming up with new ideas.  The best ideas will sound stupid.  If you are not coming up with stupid ideas, then try harder!

FIRE and POE

“FIRE” is a very simple method you can apply to come up with ideas.

  • “F” in the acronym “FIRE” stands for focus.
    • How do you bring focus to where you are going to innovate?
    • Pick an area of focus.
  • “I” stands for ideation.
    • How do you generate ideas?
    • Ask better questions.
  • “R” stands for ranking.
    • What is the best idea?
    • I rank through five questions:
      • Will this idea fundamentally change the customer’s experience or expectation?
      • Will this change the competitive landscape?
      • Does this fundamentally change the economics of the industry?
      • Do you have a contribution to make?
      • Will this generate sufficient margin?
    • “E” stands for execution.

So, what does “POE” stand for?  “POE” is two fundamental skills that you should do each and every day in perspective to “FIRE.”

  • “P” stands for perspective.
    • You must be able to change your perspective.
    • Look for the non-obvious.
  • “O” stands for observation skills.
    • Watch how customers buy your products and your competitor’s products.
    • Get out there and see how your customer’s use your products.

Innovation Gap

Idea’s without execution are hobbies.  People’s individual career success is going to be in their own individual ability to participate in the creative economy.  What are you contributing to those intangible values that your company is creating and is going to get a return back from those investors?  Companies are suffering today on a huge innovation gap.  Small businesses are the most prolific patent producers in the entire segment in the U.S.  Small businesses are fourteen times higher than any other segment on the marketplace.  Patents that are highly referenced by other patents or materials are highly valued patents.  If you look at the top one percent of the cited patents today in the U.S. it is two times more likely that it is a small business patent.  That says that the most important innovations that are being created are coming from small businesses.  Companies and economies are going to be dependent on creating an environment where people can bring their creativity skills to create value for the business, create jobs, create economic stability, and put all the economies back on the growth curves.  Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to join us today.  If you have questions or comments on this week’s show, I’d love to hear from you.  You can also carry on the conversation with other innovators at The Innovators Community.

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

Laws of Innovation

Why do some organizations have better innovation than others?  Over the years I have collected what I call the “7 Immutable Laws of Innovation.”  No single organization could be successful in all of these laws but there are always opportunities to improve.  Let’s get started with the laws of Innovation.

  1. Law of Leadership.
    1. Leadership sets the tone of the organization. This includes the:
      1. Board of Directors and CEO
      2. Direct Reports (other C-levels, Vice President’s, Directors)
    2. Leadership must be at the front walking the walk and talking the talk.
  2. Law of Culture.
    1. “Culture eats strategy for lunch.”
    2. Create a culture of innovation to support a strategy of innovation.
    3. Culture has to:
      1. Involve people.
      2. Value ideas.
    4. All the resources need to be aligned.
    5. Communication needs to be clear.
  3. Law of Resources.
    1. This requires a committed level of resources to include people, money, time and equipment.
    2. Must effectively allocate and protect your resources.
  4. Law of Patience.
    1. Patience is critical for innovation.
    2. Management needs to have patience. Some innovation projects can take longer than twenty years to be completed.
  5. Law of Process.
    1. You can apply somebody else’s process, but you need to adapt the process to your organization.
    2. Needs to cover the full innovation chain.
      1. How you capture ideas.
      2. How you generate better ideas.
      3. How you identify the best ideas.
      4. How you execute those ideas.
    3. Never let your innovation process become stagnant.
  1. Law of the BHAG. (Bold, Hairy, Audacious, Goal).
    1. Unique characteristics of BHAG.
      1. Very clear and concise of what the target is.
      2. Needs to be a stretch.
    2. Let the process of innovation within your organization define the how.
  2. Law of Execution.
    1. Execution is the task of going through and putting a product out there for customers.
    2. Ideas without execution are a hobby.
    3. Think about segmenting the execution into phases.
      1. You will be able to kill projects that are not going to be successful.
      2. Allows you to reduce your risks.
      3. The objective is to actually execute, not review.

Not all organizations will be in a position to be successful in all of these laws.  Think about each of these laws and rank your organization.  Be honest with yourself on the areas you need to improve upon.  You can see our Organization’s Innovation Readiness survey based on the 7 Laws to assess and benchmark.

Five Questions to Ask an Innovation Consultant 

Have you noticed that the market is being flooded with a new type of consultant?  These people have branded themselves innovation consultants.  My advice to organizations is to treat consultants with a little bit of caution; they should be one of many inputs in the innovation process.  Do not discount the inside experts you already have within your organization.  There are five questions you should ask every innovation consultant.

  1. What innovations have you come up with and delivered to the market?
    1. Emphasis on them, not past clients.
    2. Weeds out the people who teach versus the people who do.
  2. What approach did you use?
    1. How did you deliver that to the marketplace?
    2. Why did you use that approach?
    3. What are the benefits versus using other approaches?
    4. How many firms are using the approach you came up with?
    5. When was the last time you innovated the approach?
  3. What were the lessons learned?
    1. What would you do differently?
  4. What innovations are you working on now?
  5. How do you personally stay innovative?

I have framed these questions specifically for people looking to hire innovation consultants, but some of you are innovation consultants looking to get hired. How would you answer these questions for yourself? And how can you improve your answers?  Consultants are needed and critical, but you need to make sure you are getting real expertise in this field.  

The MacGyver Method Creative Challenge

Based on the popularity of the last podcast’s creativity challenge, I have decided to present another one in this week’s show.  This creative challenge is called the MacGyver or the Apollo 13.  With this method:

  1. You are given a problem or objective.
  2. You open your purse, briefcase, or desk drawer.
  3. Use only the items you have.
  4. Create as many ideas within twenty minutes.

For this exercise, you get to work and realize you forgot to get a gift for a co-workers upcoming wedding.  You are given the tasks of creating or buying a gift with only the items within your reach.  For each idea:

  1. The idea must have a practical use.
  2. The idea must be made from two or more items you have on your desk.

I hope today’s show inspired you to look more in depth into the 7 Immutable Laws of Innovation and to see how it is applied in your organization and can be optimized.  Remember an innovation coach can be very impactful and help exceed outcomes, but you do need to be careful in choosing one.  Look for real experience and proof points, not just theory.  If you have questions or comments on this week’s show, I’d love to hear from you.  You can also carry on the conversation with other innovators at The Innovators Community.

Direct download: 7_Laws_of_Innovation_and_Benefitting_from_Coaching_Insights.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 12:00am PDT