Killer Innovations with Phil McKinney (Past Shows)
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".

This week, we will continue the discussion on the FIRE framework and expound upon it. We will discuss a technology that will enable your FIRE framework, known as an Idea Management System (IMS). 

Idea Management System

The Idea Management System supports everything from the focus, ideation, and ranking, to managing your funnel for the execution phase. I deployed my first IMS in 2008 while I was CTO at HP. Not known as IMS yet, we chose a particular platform back then. Every IMS system has its built-in assumptions as part of its basic platform. They have to work on enhancing their platforms due to competition continuously.

If you have procured an IMS, are building one, or are integrating one with other systems, there are seven must-have features you need. The first feature is known as the ease of idea capture. This consists of getting all of your ideas captured and putting them into your IMS. The key here is to get every idea you have into this system. It is also important to track who came up with each idea for legal reasons. 

Support for Innovators

The second feature is all about the support for your community of innovators. Especially critical for IMS because it brings all of your innovators together in a common system. It becomes a back and forth communication process between innovators. Most IMS systems don’t grasp the idea of bringing people together. People often take it as a passive process, observing but not engaging. A common feature needed is the ease of how you “plus an idea.” When someone creates an idea, you want other innovators to build on it. You want a way to communicate feedback on ideas as well. An IMS is also a great way to celebrate an idea, whether it got funding or ended up stopped.

The next feature is to enable an open innovation opportunity. This feature consists of allowing people outside of your organization to contribute. It includes things like public competitions for the best idea and rewarded with a prize.

Another feature that I am a big believer in is university joint ventures. These are opportunities where you fund PHDs or grad students who work in your focus research area.

Features 4-7

The next feature on my list is what I call a flexible and powerful workflow. In many cases, designed enterprise applications have a particular philosophy in mind. While not intentional, they inherently create a step of workflows that enable the feature set within that IMS.

In reality, you want an Idea Management System that adapts to you, not the other way around. It would help if you defined the workflow for your innovation framework and all the tools and processes you use to build upon it. When selecting your IMS, make sure you allow for the system to be easily updated.

Next is a must-have feature; the management of the entire idea life cycle. Ideas get touched by many people. They may get funded, stopped, or even resurrected in the future.  An example of managing the idea life cycle revolves around the selection. We talked about this on some previous shows on ranking. In your IMS, you want to capture the answers from the process of ranking. Years later, the scoring for these ideas could be completely different due to innovations.

The next vital feature is protection or how you protect your catalog of ideas. This feature can be basic security and encryption, which is very important. In this case, however, I am talking about patents. I am not aware of any IMS systems that have a built-in patent management system. In this case, you need to interface your IMS platform with the system you are using to track the patents you are submitting to or want to submit.

The seventh must-have feature is incentives and recognition. People don’t participate in innovation efforts out of the goodness of their hearts. Some organizations I have been a part of pay for patented ideas that are submitted. Use your IMS system to track this. Award badges for the ideas that people submit. Incentives and recognitions are a great way to get people to get engaged. 

Summary

The seven must-have features in your Idea Management System are:

  • Ease of Idea Capture
  • Support the Community of Innovators
  • Enable Open Innovation Opportunity
  • Flexible and Powerful Workflow
  • Manage the Idea Life Cycle
  • Protect the Catalog of Ideas
  • Incentives and Recognition

I based these features on my dozen years of employing these systems and helping CIOs or CEOs find what they want in their systems. This platform is a tool that supports the overall framework. We discuss and teach all these things in our Disruptive Ideation Workshops, whether virtually or in-person.

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

We will discuss something mentioned in last week's show: Execution. If you haven't listened to that episode, make sure to click here. The innovation lean canvas is a structure that we teach in all of our Disruptive Ideation Workshops. It is an innovation plan that offers an overview of your best idea all in one place.

The Innovation Lean Canvas

The lean canvas replaces a typically created business plan. We print this out on a huge poster-sized paper and tack it to the wall in our workshops. It allows you to look at your best idea and the critical areas around it, all in one glance. Updated as you acquire more learnings, you'll be able to see these ideas and critical areas on the paper. I would encourage you to customize your lean canvas to your own organization's needs. Don't be afraid to try something different that fits you.

Let's walk through my lean canvas so we can get a feel for it. Starting, we talk about the problem statement, and what makes this idea different. We discuss who the customers are and what the key metrics are. The steps and activities that are needed, as well as the resources needed, are discussed. With this framework, you get a perfect snapshot view of the problem, the solution, and how it all works. It helps you pinpoint areas that need work.

Breaking Down the Lean Canvas

The problem statement: you may have different variations of this, and you want to put them all on your lean canvas. Next, you want to discuss the solution. This statement is your idea that was ranked the highest, and you and your team feel it is ready to go forward. Now, you want to define who the customers are and discuss their personas. Everything must be crystal clear, and if not, you may need to investigate and validate the customer segment.

Next is the unique value proposition. Why is the customer going to find value in this? Why is it going to be unique compared to what is already out there? It would be best if you define why your idea is better and why the customers will want it. The problem, the solution, and the customer are tightly linked and foundational to execution. You have to be able to answer these areas.

At this point, you need to define some key metrics. What are the criteria for success? What constitutes you're making progress? An example of this would be asking five questions to twenty-five customers and bringing those answers back. The questions get tied to the key activities. The activities would be preparing the survey of questions for the customers to answer.

Unfair Advantage

I challenge you to spend some time thinking about improving your idea to create a sustainable advantage. Once you launch, you will have many copycats if you don't have a barrier to entry. The fast rise of copycats is due to low-cost manufacturing. It would be best if you found a way to have an unfair advantage that is defensive.

Patents are costly, averaging around $30,000-$35,000, including the legal work and working with the patent office. There are other ways for you to create barriers to entry, such as trade secrets. You need to find out what resources you need. Find resources in technologies, expertise, access to a sales channel, etc. You will have to pitch your idea, so you need to be crystal clear on what resources you will need to make it happen.

Next, focus on funding requirements and costs. When most people pitch ideas, they put the funding cost upfront. On lean canvas, we talk about the problem, solution, and how you will accomplish it before talking about the funding. Once you have evaluated these other areas, then you can talk about the funding.

Lastly, discuss the revenue stream. The revenue stream is more about the economic value sources rather than just looking at a spreadsheet.

Conclusion

We walked through all of the lean canvas elements such as problem, solution, customers, unique value proposition, key metrics, key activities, thinking through unfair advantage, resource partners, funding requirements/costs, and revenue streams. This innovation lean canvas is one that I use and teach in all of my workshops. Once a team fills it out, we have them pitch from their lean canvas. I like this approach because it makes sure they cover all of the key areas for successful innovation.

The lean canvas gives you a structure to make sure you don't miss any vital areas. I have found this to be hugely valuable and adaptable. Don't be afraid to adapt it to you and your organization's needs. We use the lean canvas in all of our ideation workshops and teach it to our customers. When you leave our workshops, you go with a filled-in lean canvas of your best idea, ready to be pitched to your management team.

Check out the Disruptive Ideation Workshop here to learn the lean canvas for you and your team.

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

On this week's show, we will wrap up the series of shows on the innovation framework known as FIRE. We will discuss the part of the innovation framework known as execution. Execution is composed of making your best ideas into something real. 

Execution

I have used the FIRE (Focus, Ideation, Ranking, Execution) framework for more than 20 years, and thousands of organizations use it. Focus is defining where your problem area is. Ideation is the process of creating ideas to address your problem areas. The process consists of individual and team ideation, which, when combined, generates 30% more ideas than when done individually. Ranking is where you prioritize your ideas. This process is through dot/wow voting and criteria ranking.

Execution, the last element of the FIRE framework,  is how one turns ideas into innovation. Done through two phases; it involves testing and validation and launching the MVP (Minimum viable product). Execution is not easy. 92% of CEOs say innovation is critical to their organization, but only 35% of them have confidence in executing these ideas. 

What to Expect

In my opinion, innovation consists of ideas made real. One quote I repeat all the time is, "ideas without execution are a hobby, and I'm not in the hobby business." At this point, you've ranked your ideas, but need to figure out how to make these ideas a real innovation. Going into this, you won't know all of the answers. Expect a very messy process because there might not be a clear path from point A to point B.

It would help if you were adaptable and ready to learn things. It would be best if you innovated around the idea frequently. Be ok with an unexpected outcome, as it is an experiment. Innovation projects have to be measured differently than a typical product development project. One of the measurements of success is learning throughout the process. Stay away from innovation antibodies. Innovation causes conflict, prompting these antibodies to come out. These include ego response (stepping on someone's toes), fatigue (people who have tried and failed at it before), no risk response (CFO or legal counsel), comfort response (we don't need to change). 

Steps of Execution

The first step to making an idea real is creating the pitch. The pitch is your way to tell the story around your idea, also known as strategic storytelling. The key is to tell your idea's story so that they see what life will be like when your idea is delivered.

The second step is to create the funnel. There are four funnel gates: market validation, customer validation, limited launch, and global launch. The key here is to convey the point that not all the ideas will go forward. Market validation is where you ask if the problem exists. One way to do this is through gorilla idea validation. Talk to people you don't know to get brutally honest feedback rather than people you know, who might tell you what you want to hear. Customer validation is where you see if your idea solves the customer's problem.

I use the Michelle test. I would take a product we built at HP and bring it home and leave it on the counter for my wife. She would take it out of the box and use it, giving it her honest evaluation. My wife is not a technology person to receive some solid feedback from a different perspective.

A limited launch is where you launch in a limited space. I use the buy test to build a product and advertise it, putting it into retail stores like a real launch. When people try to buy it, you give it to them for free in return for their feedback. Global launch is where you put your pedal to the medal and push the product out. At this point, you've gone through all of the steps and should have confidence in your product's success. 

 

Summary

This week's show focused on taking all of your ideas and making them real. Many innovators have great ideas but struggle to find funding. There could be an issue with their pitch. Learn and readjust the pitch, and understand all of the elements that go into it.

When Steve Jobs and Apple worked on the iPhone, the product was ready three years before the launch. They knew that they needed to wait to get a faster processor and another generation of touch screens. They had the discipline and patience to wait, which paid off in the long run.

I use the lean canvas to help me and my team stay on track and stay focused. The innovation lean canvas is in place of a typical plan. It is an overview of the critical areas at a glance, which frequently updates as the product evolves. We will discuss the lean canvas in a further episode of the show, so stay tuned. 

Check out the Disruptive Ideation Workshop here to teach your team the FIRE framework.

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

This week's show is a continuation of the series I've done on the innovation framework FIRE. We have discussed focus and ideation in previous shows. We will discuss the part of the innovation framework known as ranking, which helps you prioritize the best ideas you or your team generate.

Ranking

Innovation is about challenging an industry's assumptions, questioning what we think we know about our customers, and being open to new ideas. When it comes to the framework, it is not the process. Instead, it defines the elements that you need to structure your process around. We use the FIRE framework. The focus area has to be defined or come up with ideas that aren't impactful. Next is ideation, which is generating ideas. Ideation establishes the framework, and you can use whatever process you want to generate those ideas. Th use of ranking is for identifying the best ideas out of the group. Ideas without execution are a hobby, and we are not in the hobby business.

So why is ranking so important? Let's say management asks your team to come up with some new ideas. You write some things down on a flip chart, and someone types them up and emails them out. Typically, this method results in nothing, as there are too many broad ideas. Ranking helps you find the best ideas and zeroes you in on them. 

Ranking Selection Process

The purpose of ranking is to identify the best ideas to execute and move forward. The first key to ranking is leveraging the wisdom of the crowd. First, make sure to select a diverse group of people who have had different experiences. I have my teams ideate and rank at the same time. I have found that you get the best results with a minimum of eight people. The key to ranking is to avoid bias by eliminating executive influence. Vote unanimously. There are two types of ranking: dot voting (where you put a dot on the idea you think is most important), and criteria ranking (defined set of selection questions with some scoring structure). Dot voting is done within fifteen minutes and without talking. Each person gets four dots and places them wherever and however they want. Select the four to five ideas with the most dots and move forward with them. 

Criteria Ranking

The first part of criteria ranking is to define the criteria. Firstly, you need to find the must-have elements of your idea. One way to do this is to look back on your products or services that were successful. Think about what questions you would have asked yourself to give you the ideas that led you to that successful product or idea. Secondly, you need to ask what elements your leadership team is going to look at. Your leadership team is going to be part of this, so you need to meet their criteria. It needs to be constrained and structured the right way with a small number of questions (4-6). I use five questions: the first three are the must-haves for the product's success, and the bottom two are the questions that leadership will use to constitute success.

Question 1: Does this idea improve customer experience or expectations? Does it solve a problem, save money, create money, etc.?

Question 2: Does it fundamentally change the companies place competitively in the market?

Question 3: Does this idea radically change the economic structure of the industry? You'll rarely have an idea that is a "yes" for all three.

Question 4: Does your company have a contribution to make?

Question 5: Will the idea generate a sufficient margin?

Score each question from zero to five, zero being a no, and five a resounding yes. You can apply this process by setting aside thirty minutes and assigning a value of 1-5 to each of your questions. Transfer your score to the team's ranking board and total up the score. 

Summary

Ranking is critical in making sure you are working on the right and best ideas. Let's recap the key ideas of ranking. Firstly, leverage the wisdom of the crowd. Get a diverse team if you can. If you are a lone innovator, recruit some people you respect and bring them together to help you. You want a minimum of eight people, and you want to avoid bias within the group. Voting should be anonymous, so people feel like they can give honest and good feedback. Establish your criteria, which will help you make a selection that increases the likelihood of your success. Use the two types of ranking in conjunction (Dot and criteria). Trust the wisdom of the crowd and the criteria you have established. All of this fits into the FIRE framework, which is utilized by more than two thousand organizations. 

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

Today’s guest is an innovation guru who has been around for many years. Jeff DeGraff, known as the “Dean of Innovation”, is a business professor at the University of Michigan and an author and thought leader on innovation. On today’s show, we will discuss social responsibility and Jeff’s new book, “The Creative Mindset”. 

 

Jeff’s Background

After graduating from grad school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Jeff met a man who worked for someone who owned a twenty-million-dollar pizza company called Dominoes. He turned down a job offer from an Ivy League school to join the team. Five years later, they sold the company for five-billion-dollars to Mitt Romney. Not long after, Jeff was recruited to teach at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. He didn’t want to teach MBA’s because he thought they were dull and drab, but that is why they wanted him there. 

 

Two Faces of Innovation

Innovation creates concave value, things that are presently manifesting, and convex value, issues that are long-term. These types have to be measured completely differently. People tend to think about innovation from the tangible side of it. In places like Iowa State, they have huge innovation impacts, but no one sees it because it is based on research influence, not tangible products. Consumers tend to see the end result. When it comes to a COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S, many different startups and big pharmaceutical companies have been working and building off of old research to create one. Once a vaccine is made, then they have to figure out how to make billions of doses of it. It’s a lot more complicated than people think it is. Big innovation is composed of a lot of moving parts.  

 

The Creative Mindset

Jeff grew up in a blue-collar neighborhood and in an age where innovation was viewed as a social responsibility. There are a lot of creativity books out there nowadays that are what Jeff calls “new agey”. Jeff took what he thought was the real research on creativity and put it in layman’s terms for everyone to use. The book focuses on taking ordinary things and making them extraordinary. Jeff wants to re-install the old way of building things through developing learning and trying new things. He uses what he calls the six skills through the mnemonic device CREATE (Clarify, Replicate, Elaborate, Associate, Translate, and Evaluate). The book gives tools in a simplified form to somebody who is trying to grow and make something better. 

I got invited to do a keynote speech for Vail Resorts several years ago. I did a raise of hands asking how many people think of themselves as creative. I was shocked to see how many people didn’t raise their hands. People think it takes a special type of person to be creative, which is simply not true. We all have natural strengths that vary from person to person. The object is to recognize your strength, build on it, and find other people with different strengths. 

 

Advice for the Listeners

People refer to Jeff as the “Dean of Innovation”. When he went to work at Dominoes, people often threw the hard problems at him. When he got to the University of Michigan, he had some students that went on to be famous, so the name just ended up sticking. As far as advice goes, Jeff says that innovation happens from the outside in, like a bell curve. Its easier to change 20% of the company 80%, than changing 80% of the company 20%. Secondly, diversity your gene pool. All the people in Jeff’s labs are different than him. Thirdly, give as much as you can away to people. In doing this, you build your network and become a better human being and fulfill social responsibility. 

 

If you want to keep up to date with what Jeff DeGraff is doing, check out his website here. Check out Jeff’s LinkedIn here. Check out his new book on creativity here

 

About our Guest: Jeff Degraff

Jeff DeGraff is both an advisor to Fortune 500 companies and a professor at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. His simultaneously creative and pragmatic approach to making innovation happen has led clients and colleagues to dub him the “Dean of Innovation.” He has written several books, including Leading Innovation, Innovation You, and The Innovation Code. Jeff’s thoughts on innovation are covered by Inc., Fortune, and Psychology Today. He has a regular segment on public radio called The Next Idea. He founded the Innovatrium, an innovation consulting firm focusing on creating innovation culture, capability, and community. He earned his nickname, the “Dean of Innovation,” while working as an executive for Domino’s Pizza in his youth, where he accelerated Domino’s growth from a regional success story to an international franchise phenomenon. 

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

 

Our guest this week comes from a similar industry, and we share many mutual connections. Mo Katibeh, the EVP-Chief Product & Platform Officer of AT&T Business, joins us to discuss 5G innovation. We will talk about what is real versus what is hype when it comes to innovation in 5G, as well as some advice for the listeners.  

 

Mo's Background

Mo's parents left Iran right before the revolution in 1978 and came to the U.K. He moved to the U.S in 1991, where his parents bought and ran some sandwich stores. From the age of 13, he was working at the stores and learned about working with customers. Fast forward to today, Mo has been with AT&T for almost nineteen years. He loves AT&T because of how diverse they are with what they do. You can do something different every single year, and you are always learning new things. For Mo, that has included managing call centers, construction, and engineering, building up the LTE network, financial planning, product management for cybersecurity, marketing, etc. Similar to Mo, I was employed at a young age. My mom managed a bowling alley and was a professional bowler, so I worked at the alley often. It was great to see what working was about at such a young age and I gained great experience from it.

AT&T has an astounding legacy and has been heavily invested in innovation. They were one of the first companies in the world to put a lot of work into a corporate research group/fundamental science outside of product development. This was done for the sake of advancing the knowledge of mankind. 

 

AT&T and COVID-19

Voice, arguably the oldest innovation when thinking about communications network, experienced skyrocketing growth due to COVID-19. Peak use days are usually holidays such as Mother's Day or New Years' Eve. During the beginning of COVID, that level of network usage was seen every day across the country. Humans are social beings naturally so when you're sheltering in place you tend to get lonely. Work also shifted from central to distributed locations so that added to the high level of network usage. When the movement started in China, AT&T was able to get a heads up on what was coming before it shifted into Europe and the U.S. They were able to prepare and work with their large enterprise customers to help with the oncoming challenges of COVID.

 

5G

When people think about innovation in 5G, they often think of speed. Speed is a part of it, but when thinking about it from an innovation/business lens, it's important to look at the other capabilities. The first one is latency, or how quickly the network responds to a command. One promise of 5G is driving down latency from hundredths of milliseconds to sub-ten milliseconds. Another key promise is massive connectivity where you can connect a million things per access point. This technology will truly reshape the fabric of this next decade. Many people think about innovation as that next big thing, but oftentimes it's done in incremental steps. 

When it comes to 5G, there has been a lot of "hype" around it. In healthcare, a robot doing surgery on someone is something that would be hype because it is far in the future. What is available now is ways to move around large files more effectively from an MRI machine to a doctor using a cellular connection. In a post-COVID world, there are things like connected medicine boxes that track what medicine was used and recognizes the doctor using 4K video computer vision. Kids hate wearing medical bracelets at hospitals and like to take them off. 5G brings an IoT bracelet that offers peace of mind to the parent and can be branded with different fun designs. 

 

Advice for the Listeners

If Moe went back to the beginning of his career, he would tell himself three things. Firstly, in everything you do, look for how you drive step-function improvement. Find how to materially change the outcomes in every job tied to whatever your key performance indicator is. Secondly, make sure you communicate how you drive that improvement inside your specific role. Lastly, just be a good human being. Look out for the people you work with and share what you have learned. When you become a leader, look out for your team, and create a culture that is balanced and flexible. 

 

If you want to keep up to date with what Mo is doing at AT&T, check out his LinkedIn here.

 

About our Guest: Mo Katibeh

Mo Katibeh is the EVP-Chief Product & Platform Officer of AT&T Business. He has responsibility for the group's portfolio-wide P&L with $36 billion of annual revenue as well as its cutting-edge integrated platforms, products and solutions including Mobility, 5G, Edge Compute, Internet of Things, SD-WAN, cybersecurity, cloud connectivity and wholesale. He also oversees pricing, distribution strategy, compensation, analytics and AT&T Business's digital platforms and portals. Previously, Mo served as EVP-Chief Marketing Officer for AT&T Business, where he was responsible for marketing strategies including branding, advertising and global events. His team created the award-winning Edge-to-Edge advertising and marketing campaign, highlighting AT&T Business's ability to provide an entire range of services to business customers. During this time, Mo was named to Forbes The World's Most Influential CMOs 2019 list, citing his work around 5G in business. A 19-year veteran at AT&T, Mo draws on a wealth of experience in technology ranging from cybersecurity, omni-channel digital strategy, long-range technology and financial planning as well as deep operational expertise across call centers, field force management, construction and engineering, and customer experience improvements.

 

Let's connect; I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. If we do connect, drop me a note and let me know. The email address is feedback@philmckinney.com or you can go to PhilMcKinney.com and drop me a note there. If you are looking for innovation support go to TheInnovators.Network or want to be challenged to develop the next big idea, check out our Disruptive Ideation Workshops. Don't forget to join our Innovators Community to enjoy more conversations around innovation.

 

Direct download: Innovation_in_5G_Capabilities_.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

This week’s show covers an area that is critical to your innovation success. Ideation is the act of generating ideas, which is part of the FIRE (Focus, Ideation, Ranking, Execution) framework that we use to help discover ideas and lead to disruptive innovations. We will break down FIRE and discuss ideation and the process of our Disruptive Ideation Workshops

FIRE

In the past, we have covered the four elements of the innovation framework, consisting of focus, ideation, ranking, and execution. Focus is the area that you set up processes and ways of collecting info that identifies problem areas. Ideation is where you create a funnel of ideas and collect them. The Ranking is where you take this collection and score the ideas based on their impact and importance. Execution is where you take the best ideas and experiment to see what your outcome can be. FIRE is a framework that is used by many organizations that tailor it to their specific wants and needs. We will discuss the ideation aspect of FIRE.

Ideation

Ideation needs to consist of a type of idea that is being targeted. There are killer ideas, which are breakthroughs and create an advantage that makes the entire marketplace react. These are giant leaps forward and will shock the existing market. Incremental ideas are improvements in product quality, new features, etc., and happen over time. You need to be clear with your team where your focus will be on the type of idea.

I like to use tools that help trigger ideas. We use the Killer Questions Card Deck that focuses on questions based on the who (customer), the what (innovating product), and the how (organizational transitions that need to be made). Think about the questions you want to ask in ideation activities. You need to prepare for this and come to it from multiple different angles. There is feature versus function ideation. An example of a feature is to design a better cup. An example of a function is to design a better way to carry liquids. It would be best if you focus on coming up with complete ideas.

Ideation Workshop Process

Let’s walk through the exact process I take people through during our ideation workshops. Firstly, we start with individual ideation. We use sticky notes and put one idea on each sticky note. We spend about twenty minutes working on this, and you want to get 20 good ideas. Next, we use a process called SCAMPER (Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to another use, Eliminate, Reverse). Search SCAMPER under Google for more info or check it out on Killerinnovations.com.

At this point, it is still an individual activity. Done for about ten minutes, you will want to come up with five more ideas here. Now, you take your twenty-five ideas and briefly explain them to everyone else in your group or team. If there are two similar ideas, clump them together. If someone’s idea triggers a new idea, add it to the group of ideas. Now we move on to team ideation. One at a time, someone chooses another’s idea that they think is important and exciting. Then, they build upon that person’s idea and help improve it. The process should be done quickly and without any form of criticism. 

Conclusion

At this point, you should have a collection of good ideas grouped by similarity. When you combine a tool like SCAMPER (individual ideation) with team ideation, you will generate around 30% more ideas out of your ideation- as compared to doing team ideation and individual ideation separately.

If you are interested in learning more about ideation or want information from previous shows, check out all the free downloadable material I put together here

If you want to host a disruptive ideation workshop for your organization, check out the website here

 

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

This week’s guest offers some excellent knowledge about productivity and having your priorities in place. Steve Glaveski, CEO and Co-Founder of Collective Campus, joins us to discuss prioritizing high-value work. We talk about his view of the 6-hour workday, and how it helps to better innovation.

Steve’s Background

Steve went through the motions of getting his degree and climbing the corporate ladder, chasing what society associates with success. He worked for companies such as KPMG and Ernst and Young and found himself miserably comfortable while in his late twenties. Despite reaching these levels of success, but Steve felt it wasn’t doing what he was called to do. He decided to give it all away and pursue entrepreneurship, which led him to co-found Collective Campus, launch other ventures, and write multiple books. The inspiration behind the work he does is helping organizations and people unlock their potential to create an impact in the world and lead more fulfilling lives. 

One of his ventures is a company called Lemonade Stand that donates a license to children from socioeconomically disadvantaged areas for every license they sell to the developed world. It works as a software service platform that walks kids aged 10-15 through the entrepreneurial life cycle. When it comes to licenses, they work with schools, governments, and individuals. 

More Done in Less Time

Steve has a lot on his plate with all the ventures he runs. People often say you can’t do more than one thing if you want to do it well. According to Steve, it is based on how you go about doing things. If you are intentional about getting rid of unnecessary tasks and focus on the high-value work, you will get a lot done and innovate better. Steve reflects monthly and quarterly on how he spends his time whether it’s his daily tasks or products he’s working on. A couple of years ago, Steve and his team ran a 6-hour workday experiment to get more done in less time. The shorter timeframe forced them to do away with meetings/outsource and focus on the high-value work. After the experiment, they discovered that productivity was the same if not higher and people had more time to do things outside of the office. 

 

Time Rich: Do Your Best Work, Live Your Best Life

Steve’s book is about changing the 8-hour workday. This workday traces back to the last eighty years or so and has acted as a baseline. As the recent times, the nature of work has changed. Work has shifted to more of a cognitive work over a purely physical work. A recent study on scientists found that the ones who worked 20 hours a week were twice as productive as their peers who worked 35 hours a week. Even less productive were the scientists who worked 60 hours a week. You might think more hours equals more output, but in reality, you aren’t able to recover and recharge to innovate better. There are many distractions these days such as social media, which tends to distract us and hinder our productivity. At CableLabs, we have an unlimited vacation policy for our staff. With this option, people can manage their own time and schedules so they don’t get burned out and lose focus. 

 

Advice for the Listeners

Money can always be earned back after it gets spent, but time cannot. When you say yes to something, you are saying no to a whole lot of other things. We need to be frugal with how we spend our time. A lot of people say yes to everything which causes them problems. The key to saying no is based on what you truly value and what your goals are. Stay aligned with your values and goals in order to be successful and innovate better.

 

About our Guest: Steve Glaveski 

Steve Glaveski is an entrepreneur, author, and podcast host whose mission is to unlock the latent potential of people so that they can create more impact for humanity and lead more fulfilling lives. He is the CEO of Collective Campus, an innovation accelerator based in Melbourne and Singapore. He also founded Lemonade Stand, a children’s entrepreneurship program, and edtech platform, and during COVID-19 lockdowns, established NOFilter Media. Steve is the author of multiple books and hosts the award-winning podcast the Future Squared. 

 

If you want to keep updated with what Steve and Collective Campus is doing, check out his website here. Check out his book here

Direct download: 6-Hour_Workday__Better_Innovation.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

This week's guest applies AI innovation to an industry where you usually wouldn't think it can be possible. Micah Hollingworth, the CEO & Co-founder of Broadw.ai, joins us for a discussion. On the show, we will discuss AI in the theater industry and what Micah and Broadw.ai are doing to change the game. 

 

Micah's Background

Micah grew up in rural Massachusetts and had a passion for theater at a young age. He ended up attending UMass Amherst, which was the total opposite experience that he grew up in. His time here set him up on a path to entrepreneurship and the technology field. The program wasn't focused on performance but took a more generalist approach, which was similar to starting a startup. You have your initial idea, you raise capital, and you work to find your audience. Working together as a team is very important because even if one show isn't successful, you never know if the next one will be. Everyone always thinks there is a secret formula to success, but in reality, there isn't. You never know what your audience will think about your product until you put it out there. Look at the famous show Hamilton for example. If someone pitched it to investors in an elevator, they would probably have no interest in it. That's just how the industry works. Being comfortable in uncertainty is key. 

 

Innovating in the Theater Industry

Differentiating the experience is key to drawing in crowds. When the theater industry looks to innovate, they are often stuck with a lot of constraints. They have limited space and often have old, worn-down buildings. They focus on creating a special experience that is deep and powerful so that the fan is willing to accept things like waiting in lines to get tickets. There is a lot of competition for live events. People only have so many hours in the day and a limited attention span. You have to be where your fans are. It's not as simple as just putting up a website. 

 

Shows are typically not selling their shows directly. They often rent a property like a stadium and use a ticketing system that they don't have full control over. Broadw.ai helps partners find what they are looking for in tickets and at a specific price-point in a personalized way. In most cases, the partner is the event producer of a show. They aren't a ticket reseller or broker, they are just facilitating the sale and generating data for the event producer to see what most people are looking for. 

 

Broadw.ai

Micah never thought he would end up in the tech field given his background. His last employment opportunity was with Jujamcyn Theaters as the VP of Company Operations. During this time, he met a company called Satisfi Labs that pitched them an idea for an AI product in large arenas. This product would use location services to help people find things near them or ask questions if needed. They didn't have much of a use of this product, as Broadway theaters are generally very small. His current partner Jon Scott asked what would happen if they used this approach for selling tickets. Micah jumped on the idea and got to work. He brought it up to his owner and was encouraged to take the steps to do it. Micah and his team branched off and raised funds to launch their own company and invested some of the funds into Satisfi and their partnership. 

 

Advice for the Listeners

Micah says that any good idea will take time. You have to be patient. You're never done with the process in the tech world. You need a long-term focus to get to where you want to be. As innovators, we can often see the end result. However, the path to get there is never straight. You need to work with people that are smarter than you and often challenge you to keep up. 

 

If you want to keep up with what Micah is doing, check out his LinkedIn and Twitter. Check out his website here

 

About our Guest: Micah Hollingworth 

As CEO and Co-Founder of Broadw.ai and two decades of experience in creating, operating, and marketing live events, Micah is an innovator in the entertainment space. With Broadw.ai, Micah has recreated the audience experience, moving the customer conversation to the web from the box office window.

 

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

Innovation efforts require a structure to stay organized and for successful execution. Many organizations have weak frameworks, which in turn, weaken their overall effectiveness. This week, we'll look at an innovation framework that I use and have used throughout my career, known as FIRE. We'll also discuss how you can utilize this framework within your organization. 

Framework Versus Process

Think of a framework as the components needed to empower your team to be highly successful within innovation. Innovation frameworks and processes are not the same things. A framework is a construct that all organizations understand they need to have. A process is what is built on top of the framework to do the individual elements. I am not a big fan of processes as they often don't work because they require tailoring to the individual organization.

In the past, organizations have tried to use the process that I used at HP. Kroger used it, and Stanford and Harvard's business schools teach it. If you pick up this process and use it, you are not going to be successful. The process needs specific tailoring to work for you. Each organization requires a unique procedure, as each one has different structures, needs, and resources.

FIRE

A framework gives your team a mental model for conversations, motivation, and overall understanding. Here are four vital elements needed in every innovation framework:

Focus – Focus defines and researches the opportunity or problem area where you are going to point your team. It would be best if you investigate and determine the focus area. I create a list of 4-6 areas of focus with my team. Next, you need to create a problem statement that drives people to find a solution. Creating a problem statement is not an easy task, but it is vital. With a problem statement, you will increase the quantity and quality of your ideas. 

Ideation – Based on your focus, create a funnel of ideas that address the opportunity or problem. The funnel is where you generate your ideas. Step one is to do both individual and team ideation. I have found that when you combine both individual and team ideation, you increase the quality of your ideas by 30%. Step two is grouping the ideas. You can use Jamboard or post-it notes to bring those ideas together and generate that funnel. You want to capture all those ideas and make sure nothing gets thrown out. 

Ranking – This is the element that most innovation frameworks leave out. The driver for ranking is to use it to identify the best ideas based on specific criteria. The goal is to create criteria to identify a ranked list so that you can take the top two or three ideas. I teach a two-stage ranking process. The first stage is what I call the "wow stage." Everyone is given five dots and walks up to the list of ideas and puts their dots on ideas they think are the best. Next, you have criteria ranking, which varies by organization. It would help if you did the ranking in the same session as the "wow stage." 

Execution – You have to drive execution, which is very specific to an organization. It would be best if you had a test/experimentation on the idea. Next, you have to have an experimentation culture that is continuously experimenting and getting feedback. Lastly, you have to get a minimal viable product into the customer's hands. 

Review

Let's review what we learned about the innovation framework. I refer to this framework as the FIRE (Focus, Ideation, Ranking, and Execution) framework. When you bring these elements together, you have all the components needed to be effective in your innovation efforts. Each of these requires a process that is unique to your organization. If you don't have these four elements, you are fooling yourself. Used by thousands of organizations around the world, this framework is what I personally use and teach. A part of the bigger picture known as box think, the framework shows us to view things through different eyes. 

If you want to check out the diagrams from this show, as well as other materials from previous shows, click the link here.

 

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

Crafting well-written problem statements that focus the idea of creation are critical. Albert Einstein said, "If I only had one hour to save the world, I would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem, and five minutes finding the solution." This week, we will discuss combining out of the box thinking with inside the box thinking, and how this can be used to create problem statements and solve your problems. 

Problem Statements

Well-defined problem statements are freeing because they allow a team to innovate within certain guardrails. The goal of a problem statement is to solve a problem, remove a barrier, or improve an experience. One key characteristic of a problem statement is that it has to be solvable. It's not just about solving the problem but being able to define it within the confines of your resources. Some problem validation questions need to be applied.

Firstly, do you think it is a problem or is it a problem? If you think it's a problem, chances are it might not be. You are not a proxy for your customers. You have to prove that it is a problem by getting feedback from your customers. Secondly, find out how often this problem occurs and how long it has been occurring. 

The elements of a problem statement focus on three key areas: who the customer is, what the problem is, and why it is important.

  • Who is the customer – Who is the target? Outline the broad or narrow customer segments. You need to define and describe the customer. 
  • What is the problem – Define the problem that is occurring.
  • Why – Find out why it is crucial to solving the problem, and why you are spending time on it.

Examples

Let's look at an example of a first draft problem statement. Middletown Hospital's current diagnosis protocol and tools are resulting in low diagnosis effectiveness/efficiency causing up to 40% of its critical care patients painful extended treatments while substantially reducing the hospital's earning potential and resource efficiency.

Let's try to make this statement more concise. Middletown Hospitals' current diagnosis protocol and tools are resulting in low diagnosis effectiveness/efficiency, substantially reducing the hospital's earning potential and resource efficiency. This statement is better as effectiveness and efficiency stand out, but we can do better.

Middletown Hospitals' current diagnosis protocol and tools are resulting in low diagnosis effectiveness and efficiency, causing up to 40% of its critical care patients painful extended treatment periods. I think this one is good because it defines the problem and why it is essential, but we're going to try to make it a little better. Up to 40% of critical care patients are experiencing painful extended treatment periods due to low diagnosis effectiveness and efficiency of current diagnosis protocols and tools.

The one characteristic seen through these four examples is that they are getting shorter and more precise each time. Spending time thinking about the problem statement and making it efficient and crisp is critical. The example was an actual problem statement used to help an organization for ideation sessions they wanted to host. 

Here is a template that I use when crafting my problem statements. The what (describe the problem) effects the who (describe the customer), resulting in (Describe why it's important/what the benefit is). 

Box Think

Box think is doing both inside the box thinking and out of the box thinking. Using this process, an organization can create a complete collection of ideas that lead to better innovations. The first step of box think is to define the problem statement. Secondly, you need to identify your industry/company constraints. What are the operational rules of your company and industry? For inside the box thinking, you want to operate within those constraints. For out of the box, you want to remove those constraints and modify the problem statement accordingly.

Now I am going to walk you through a real example from when I was at HP. Our laptops are highly personal items, therefore, need to be designed and marketed to target demographics to increase sales in next year's peak selling season. The first constraint here was a time constraint. The peak selling season for laptops is the Christmas holiday season. The second constraint was the demographic that was going to be targeted. The product that ended up coming from this problem statement was a digital clutch designed by Vivienne Tam.

Recap

It would be best if you took the time to understand the problem before you expect your team to be effective at generating ideas. If you aren't sure what problems to target, you need to ideate on the problems. People tend to seek solutions when they find problems, which can be difficult. You need to ideate problems and then rank them accordingly. Set aside an hour to identify the top one or two problems, which will turn into problem statements. Crank out as many problems that you can find without worrying about solutions. Rank your problems and then allow your team to vote. After you identify your problems, choose the goal and timeline that you will apply to move forward. 

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

Box Think is doing both inside the box thinking and out of the box thinking. As we discussed in past shows, out of the box thinking is what most people use when they think of creative thinking. People often overlook what I call inside the box thinking and try to stay away from it.

Out Of The Box Thinking

The term “out of the box thinking” is a metaphor that means to think from a new perspective. It originally came from some management consulting firms that were trying to solve problems in new ways. The term was attached to a concept known as the nine-dot problem.

When challenged to do “out of the box thinking,”, you need to utilize risk-oriented thinking. You need to take all the risk constraints out of the scenario, whether it is financial, technology-based, etc.

Next, you need to rely on shared thinking. Shared thinking can be hard but is necessary to accelerate your ability to “think outside the box.”

Lastly, practice reflective thinking. We all love our ideas, as they are our “babies.” In some cases, we need to take a step back and take our emotions out of it. We need to distance ourselves from our ideas and look at other views as well. Set aside time to practice all of these thinking processes, and you will be able to successfully “think outside the box.”

Inside The Box Thinking

‘Inside the box thinking' means to innovate within the constraints defined by the box. It is more generally described as constraint-based innovation. The idea behind it is understanding your constraints and utilizing those constraints to innovate beyond the box. The box can be an organization, government, or even a team. It defines where you are operating here and now. The box can contain inside constraints that you can change.

Most people tend to think that good ideas only come from out of the box thinking, which is not true. Inside the box thinking is to constrain the problem but not the potential ways of solving it. Inside the box thinking is also to constrain the atmosphere, but not the team. Inside the box thinking is restricting the resources but not the ways to utilize them.

Constraint-based innovation is hugely powerful in limiting resources and can empower a team to create something novel.

Box Think

Box Think is the process of combining BOTH outside the box and inside the box thinking. To ensure you have a complete view of all possibilities for innovation, you need to do both and this is done by crafting problem statements that challenge the teams during ideation/brainstorming to look at the problem in both ways.

For more on Box Think, then download the free resources here.

 

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

This week’s guest has been around in the innovation industry for quite some time. We know a lot of the same people as we were at two companies that worked closely together. Brad Chase is an author and a former Senior VP at Microsoft. We will discuss innovation advantage through strategy and insights from his book, Strategy First: How Businesses Win Big

Brad’s Background

Brad’s stepfather used to go to Heathkit stores to find computer parts and build computers. Through this, Brad saw a lot of future potential in personal computers. He ended up going to business school, and after finishing, he interviewed with companies such as Apple, Microsoft, and HP. He ended up landing a job with Microsoft, where he spent 14 years exploring innovative advantages. While at Microsoft, Brad led the marketing efforts for the Windows 95 launch. It was the first operating system to help PCs go mainstream. Windows 95 ushered personal computers, Microsoft and Bill Gates into the mainstream media and technology world. 

Strategy

Brad learned a lot about strategy from Bill Gates. At Microsoft, he learned how the company had bet on the PC. They believed there would be a PC in every home on every desk, running Microsoft software. Right away, he learned that making bets is vital to success. If you bet on the wrong thing, you fail, but if you bet on the right thing, you will have a chance at success.

 

When Brad first started, Microsoft was doing poorly on word processing and spreadsheets and was behind its competitors. Microsoft decided to bet on a GUI (Graphical User Interface) and made a big risky bet on Windows, which turned out to be very successful. They eventually went on to become the leader in applications by using innovative advantages. Microsoft built most of their applications from the ground up.

A significant difference between Microsoft and Apple was that anyone could build a Windows computer as well as applications for it. Apple was a closed ecosystem where the users were not able to do that. 

Strategy First: How Businesses Win Big

When Brad was talking strategy to different businesses and MBA students, people would always ask him if he had a book. He did some research and found out there were no books that talked about strategy in a clear and easily understandable way, and that is how his book was born. The purpose of the book is to show that strategy is the most important thing to the success of a business leader and to give a model and tips about how to build a good strategy.

In many organizations, the strategy can mean a thousand different things. Brad defines strategy as a plan to compete with three key elements: execution, market potential, and customer value. Customer value is the inherent value of a product or service to a customer. The market potential is generally about how much profit you can make.

In some businesses, it might be how many customers you have, such as Twitter. At the Innovation Bootcamp, we don’t look at financials first when evaluating an idea. We say to value the idea first on the standpoint of impact and to achieve the objective. Once you’ve identified those ideas, you build a hypothesis on what the market potential is. Some people lose focus on the idea and don’t add the strategy in, which is a bad idea. 

Advice for the Listeners

Brad gives five key tips for building a new strategy in his book. The first is to seek change. Whenever there is a change in the market, such as COVID-19, there is a strategic opportunity to put innovative advantages into play. The internet, as an example, has made some businesses fail, and others succeed. Secondly, mind the gaps. Minding the gaps is about looking at the key areas of strategy and seeing where people aren’t doing well, then filling those gaps. Lastly, do a strategy off sight. First, assess your current strategy. Then, discuss where you want to take your strategy with your team. Talking things out and being aligned with a strategy is so very important. Leaders not aligned with a strategy will fail. No team sport will succeed unless everybody is on the same page. 

About our Guest: Brad Chase

Brad Chase has advised leaders of businesses of many different sizes, from startups to Fortune 500 firms. Some of the companies he has worked with include GE, Telstra, VMware, Mozy (a subsidiary of EMC), Blucora, Sonos, Vizrea, and Crisply. He has also held leadership positions on the boards of many companies and nonprofit organizations, including Expedia, Ooyala, DreamBox, Brooks, Boys and Girls Clubs of King County, and The Nature Conservancy. As a public speaker, Brad has spoken about his particular theory on business strategy, Strategy First. He has talked to executives at large and small businesses, incubators, at conferences, and to students at top-flight MBA programs. Before consulting, board work, and speaking, Brad spent 14 years at Microsoft finishing his tenure as a Senior Vice President and Executive Officer managing a team of over 4,000.

If you want to keep updated with what Brad is doing, check out his website, and book here. Check out his LinkedIn here.

 

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

Today’s guest is a follow up of a show we did recently around 3D printing. A lot of the listeners were interested in learning more about the overall tools and techniques of 3D printing. Andy Roberts, Vice President, inventor, and lead developer of Live Parts™ at Desktop Metal joins us today. On today’s show, we will discuss 3D printing and how Andy and Live PartsTM seeks to innovate the manufacturing process.

 

Andy’s Background

Andy was in the software industry for many years before getting involved with 3D printing. Eventually, he wanted to be involved in something more tangible like manufacturing. When Desktop Metal started, he saw an opportunity to innovate manufacturing by mixing software with hardware through 3D printing technology. I have a little background in subtractive manufacturing (building by removing material), as my father worked at an old milling machine company. When it comes to additive manufacturing (building by adding material), it is quite interesting. Technology is so sophisticated that it can create finished or near-finished products. It allows parts to be made in ways that they weren’t able to be made before. Desktop Metal is building these printers for the creation of products, as well as the software so people know how to properly use them. That is important because if a user is not from a manufacturing background, this software allows them to create quality parts. 

 

Live PartsTM

Andy was interested in innovating manufacturing by creating new design tools for engineers. One day he was looking out a window and watching trees blow in the wind. He thought about nature and how no one designs a tree, but rather plants the seed and it grows and adapts on its own. He started studying cells and how individual cells grow and take the form of different shapes. He created a prototype design tool based on this process. While it seemed like a cool idea twelve years ago, the technology was not there, so Andy put it on the shelve and pursued other ventures. Four years later, Desktop Metal was started, and Andy reached out to them to help build this software through 3D printing. The process starts with an assembly of existing parts. You then designate the regions that have to connect to different parts and send the information to the system. You need to specify the material which defines the strength of the parts. The system knows to get rid of excess material for less weight or to add material for more strength. 

 

The Creation Process

Andy walked us through a video showing the process of a skateboard being created by Live PartsTM. The parts were shown growing to fill in the regions connecting the parts. Next, they went through a process of adapting, in which old cells were killed off and new cells were spawned. The analysis of the part simultaneously takes place as the part grows, similarly to what happens in nature. When it comes to different materials, the parts can be very different. Engineers have the opportunity to choose different materials and change them during the process based on their wants. The parts react just like living cells and adapt accordingly, which is how Live PartsTM has innovated manufacturing through 3D printing. 

 

Advice for the Listeners

In the innovator space, there is a lot of interest in rapid prototyping to get ideas tangible. Many innovators have the ideas but don’t have a mechanical background or any experience with 3D printing. Andy recommends that innovators get their feet wet with 3D printing in some sort of capacity. If you work for an organization that has access to printing materials such as plastic or polymer, start using them. Learn about the benefits and drawbacks of using these technologies. A common misconception is that you just push a button and it starts printing things. There are a lot of details and constraints that will affect your design when you are attempting to innovate manufacturing. You don’t have to buy a 3D printer to get involved in it. There are a lot of places that have access to 3D printers so you can get started.

 

About our Guest: Andy Roberts 

Andy Roberts is Vice President, inventor and lead developer of Live Parts™, a new generative design tool at Desktop Metal that uses morphogenetic principles to enable engineers and designers to quickly realize the benefits of additive manufacturing, including material and cost efficiency, and design flexibility. A graduate of Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology with extensive experience at leading technology innovators such as Parametric Technology Corp., Ab Initio, Azuki Systems, and IBM, Andy has a proven track record of bringing to market successful products for engineers and developers.

 

If you want to keep updated with what Andy is doing with Live Parts, check out Desktop Metal’s website here.

 

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

This week’s guest innovates in an area that most view as already being innovated to its max potential. This view can’t be further from the truth, as this innovator and his team have made game-changing new products. Dave Fabry, Chief Innovation Officer at Starkey, joins us to discuss the innovation of hearing aids. We will discuss innovations in audio and what Dave and Starkey are doing to advance hearing aids technology. 

 

Dave’s Background

Dave is not the typical CIO, as he didn’t come from a tech background. Growing up, he wanted to be a veterinarian and found audiology while on that path. In the early 1980s, Dave went to the Mayo Clinic as an extern, and fell in love with clinical practice and working one-on-one with those who suffered from bad hearing but were reluctant to use aids. After getting his PHD., he went on to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he got direct exposure to acoustic pathology that many soldiers struggle with. Later in his career, he switched over from the clinical side of audiology to the industry side, and that eventually lead him to Starkey. 

 

Starkey’s Mission

In the U.S, only one in three people that need hearing aids wear them. If people become complacent with that, they leave room for a newcomer to disrupt. The mission at Starkey is to self-disrupt the market while still focusing on its core strategy of better hearing. They wanted to provide the first hearing aid with employed sensors connected to the internet. Starkey aims to turn hearing aids from something that people have to wear, into something they want to have and wear. On the show, we have talked about battling innovation antibodies, and how people deal with their innovation antibodies in an organization. At Starkey, Dave challenges himself to look at what the needs of the patient are rather than what his perspective would lead him to believe. He wears the products at times and works directly with patients when working on new technology. Many organizations view innovation programs as lab-oriented activities. You need to get out there and see first-hand what the customer is interested in, to fill their needs and wants genuinely. 

 

Starkey’s Features

Dave has a relatively young staff under him at Starkey. The average first-time hearing aid user is 67 years old. Starkey continually has to adjust their perspective to that of the end-user as they do not see things the same way as their older users might. On top of that, they have to care enough to learn about the patient’s situation. They are increasingly taking in consideration of other elements that the family and users need. One challenge of innovating for an aging population is the intimidation factor. For me, I had my Starkey’s custom-built to help me hear questions coming from large audiences, and I’m a tech-savvy person. If it were my grandparents in the same situation, it would go right over their heads. Starkey focuses on creating hearing that is useful and effective without much effort from the user. They recently introduced Edge Mode that uses AI technology that provides an acoustic analysis of the situation by just tapping on the device. Starkey has partnered with companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon to take advantage of cloud computing. They also have a feature called thrive care that allows the family to monitor the user’s activity from an app with the user’s permission. They also have Bluetooth features that are compatible with iPhone and Android platforms. 

 

Challenges/Changes

Starkey is continuously working on multi-functionality for its users. One unique challenge is similar to a problem I had at HP, which is battery life. A little bit of optimization makes a big difference, as battery life is only going up 10% a year. At Starkey, they have rapidly changed from regular batteries to rechargeable batteries that give more efficiency to their product. Innovation isn’t about reinventing the wheel but instead thinking about what is in front of you differently. 

 

About our Guest: Dave Fabry

Dave Fabry, Ph.D., is the Chief Innovation Officer at Starkey leading end-to-end innovations within the clinical audiology department. Dave received his Ph.D. in hearing science from the University of Minnesota. Subsequently, he divided his career between academic/clinical roles at the Mayo Clinic, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the University of Miami Medical Center, and several industry positions. He served as President and Board Member of the American Academy of Audiology, and recently, elected to the Board of Directors of the American Auditory Society. Dave has served as Editor-in-Chief of Audiology Today since 2008 and is a past Editor of the American Journal of Audiology and Section Editor of Ear and Hearing. He is a licensed Audiologist in Minnesota, Florida, and Rwanda. His 30+ years of industry experience and proven ability to implement forward-thinking concepts are instrumental in shaping future innovations at Starkey.

 

If you want to keep update with what Dave and Starkey are doing, check out their Facebook here. Check out Starkey’s website here.

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

Over the last few weeks, we have been focusing the shows on different thinking styles, such as out of the box thinking. This week's topic is a different twist on what we have been recently discussing. People often overlook what I call inside the box thinking and try to stay away from it. On today's show, we will discuss inside the box thinking and how it can be utilized in any team or organization to boost innovation success.

 

Inside the Box Thinking

'Inside the box thinking' means to innovate within the constraints defined by the box. It is more generally described as constraint-based innovation. The idea behind it is understanding your constraints and utilizing those constraints to innovate beyond the box. The box can be an organization, government, or even a team. It defines where you are operating here and now. The box can contain inside constraints that you can change. It may also include outside the box constraints that are out of your control. Let's look at what those constraints can look like:

 

  • Strategy/Vision – Going into a particular market with a fixed and specific plan.
  • Policies/Procedures – Depending on how these are set up, they can be very constraining.
  • Decision Making – Who makes the decisions? What are the decision-making criteria?
  • Resource Allocation – How does your organization allocate resources (time, people, money, equipment)?

 

The Seven Laws of Innovation

Dealing with inside constraints can be a tough task. What I like to call the seven laws of innovation, are laws that are critically important for inside the box thinking. Here's what the seven laws mean: 

 

  • Leadership – Having leaders within an organization that support innovation is critical. An alignment amongst the organization must happen to achieve innovation success.
  • Innovation Culture – Culture is key because an innovation culture encourages people to get out and try new ideas. Likewise, a bad culture can drag an organization down.
  • Resources – It is critical to have resources that are devoted to innovation, and to use your best resources. 
  • Patience – Inside innovation takes time. Stay committed. 
  • Innovation Framework Process – You need to have an innovation framework process that is tailored to your organization's culture. 
  • Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) – What is the colossal objective that you are going to pursue? The goal needs a timeline and plan of execution. 
  • Execution – Remember that ideas without execution are hobbies. There is no value without execution. 

 

Outside Constraints

These can include competition, outside investments, partners/suppliers, government regulations, etc. I've worked in regulated industries, which have given me a good perspective on what this is all about. Outside constraints are typically outside of your control and have been imposed upon you. These don't always have to be negative and can often be used to your advantage. Let's look at what these are:

 

  • Competition – If your competitor is much larger than you, they can invest and fund a lot more than you. You can innovate around the economy of scale by blowing it up. Look at what Uber and Lyft did to the taxi and rental car industry. 
  • Outside Investments – Innovation requires capital. It is challenging to do game-changing innovations without capital these days. That being said, there are a ton of different ways to get capital. 
  • Partners/Suppliers – If you combine your innovation efforts with partners, you can bring products to market faster. I call this co-innovation, and I have done this a lot throughout my career. A common interest and culture are vital when partnering with someone. 
  • Government Regulations – Governments can define regulations that restrict your access to raw materials/different markets. Sometimes you have to meet specific requirements to operate in a particular market. 

 

Summary

Like I mentioned earlier, people tend to think that good ideas only come from out of the box thinking, which is not true. Inside the box thinking is to constrain the problem but not the potential ways of solving it. Problem statements are critical because they radically increase the quantity and quality of your ideas. Inside the box thinking is also to constrain the atmosphere, but not the team. This is around culture and giving permission and autonomy to innovate. You don't want to limit the team so that they can't innovate ideas. Another part of inside the box thinking is restricting the resources but not the ways to utilize them. Constraint-based innovation is hugely powerful in limiting resources and can empower a team to create something novel. 

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

This week we are joined by a guest who has helped a wide range of companies speed up the process of innovation. John Carter, an inventor of Bose’s Noise Cancelling Headphones, designer of Apple’s New Product Process, and founder of TCGen Inc., joins us to talk innovation. On today’s show, we will discuss the lessons John learned while working under Dr. Bose, and how you can better your innovation pursuits.

 

Background

John believes that viewing things as a system rather than individual components helps achieve more profound innovations. By system, John means a collection of components that lead to consumer value. He found his interest in systems while studying engineering at Harvey Mudd College. His interest was focused on sound systems, so he pursued a master’s degree at MIT after graduating. While at MIT, he got connected with Dr. Bose and went on to work at Bose for 15 years. John learned many life-changing lessons from Dr. Bose that greatly impacted his career. 

 

Lessons Learned

While at Bose, John worked on noise-canceling headphones for seven years. He learned an important innovation lesson right away while working on microphones for headphones and quality loudspeakers. His first two projects were solely with Dr. Bose and a technician. During the first couple of months, they were making great progress on the headphones but were having some challenges. Dr. Bose decided to drop the other program and focus on the headphones. While focusing on improving the base and distortion of the headphones, they realized that the customers wanted noise cancelation. As the inventor, they thought they knew how the customer would like the product, and they were dead wrong. John and his team made the mistakes of not understanding the true benefits of the product and overengineering. When I was at HP, there was a lot of overengineering with our printing business. We were engineering way out on the curve, while the customers couldn’t even tell the difference that we thought was noticeable. John says that Bose was able to beat its competitors by not focusing on improvements that aren’t very noticeable. 

 

The Importance of Marketing

In the last segment, we talked about the patience required through the innovation process. The noise-canceling headphones have always impressed me, not just the product, but how it was brought to the market. $300 noise-canceling headphones were so new and radical to the market. Some of the greatest innovations at Bose were done on the marketing and sales front, not the product. They used simple product mission statements such as “great sound from small packages”. While John was developing products in the lab, Dr. Bose was focused on retail and marketing experiments. He used an innovation process of successive refinement and thought outside the box. Firstly, he tried selling Bose products door to door. Next, he went to direct mail by putting coupons in magazines. Lastly, he went through a radio station that covered various products. This allowed Bose to build a dedicated fan base and taught John the importance of third-party credibility. Having someone else in a position of authority talk about you in glowing terms is very impactful. Dr. Bose was an amazing innovator when it came to marketing. His willingness to experiment, fail, and try again is what brought Bose to where they are today. Failure is education and is about cutting out dead alleys to find the right way. 

 

Advice for the Listeners

One common question I get is around innovation investment. In John’s experience, you should spend about 10% of your budget innovation three-five years into the future. When I first got to HP, innovation was a low percentage of the budget. Over time, we shifted to using 10% of our budget on innovation as well. For smaller organizations, John says a rule of thumb is to fund about ten to twenty thousand dollars a year of every technical person you have on board as an investment. Many organizations hurt themselves by not hiring the right people and not letting them do their thing. Having small teams and a high focus is very important for innovation success. 

 

If you want to keep updated with what John is doing, check out his website here. Check out his book here

 

About our Guest: John Carter

John Carter is a widely respected expert on product development. He is an inventor of Bose’s Noise Cancelling Headphones and designer of Apple’s New Product Process. As Founder of TCGen Inc., he has consulted for Abbott, Amazon, Apple, Cisco, HP, IBM, Mozilla, Roche, and 3M. He is the author of “Innovate Products Faster,” featuring more than 40 tools for accelerating product development speed and innovation. John has an MS in Engineering from MIT.

 

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

We are picking up where we left off from last week's show. Lasts week, we discussed out of the box thinking, which means to think from a different perspective. In part 1, we discussed thinking differently and thinking unconventionally. On this week's show, we will discuss thinking specifically from a new perspective. 

 

Recap of Part 1

We started last week talking about thinking styles. Some of us may have multiple styles, such as myself. I like to come up with creative ideas, but also tend to be an analyst that likes collecting information. Next, we talked about thinking differently. We discussed seven different ways that are vital to thinking differently. You want to practice strategic, inquisitive, big-picture thinking, focused, risk-oriented thinking, shared-thinking, and reflective thinking. As I shared last week, one of these is not better than the other. You should do all seven of these in some scheduled way. Set some time on your calendar to utilize each of these seven types of thinking. Set an hour a week for strategic thinking, then another hour for inquisitive thinking. Ask what questions you should be asking of your team or customers. Step back and take some time to look at the big picture. For focus thinking, go somewhere isolated where you can focus on an opportunity area. For risk-oriented thinking, find someone more willing to take the risks that you won't. For shared thinking, collect ideas from people. For reflective thinking, set aside all of these times to reflect on new ideas. 

 

New Perspective

One key area of thinking outside the box is to think from a new perspective. It would be best if you change your perspective by taking a different route than your current one. One challenge that I give my staff is to take a different path to work. Sometimes we get in the zone and don't notice new things as we are stuck in the same route every day. 

Firstly, we need to get a new perspective to help us see customers, products, and opportunities differently. Let's look at five ways to do this:

Naturalism – This is an approach where one sits back and observes. At HP we did a project on lower-middle-class members in India. The project was looking at communication with family members that had gone to college and moved to Europe or North America. Instead of asking questions, we stayed in people's homes. We observed how they interacted and communicated right then and there, which was an eye-opening experience. 

Participant Observation – This is observing while asking questions. The best example of this is when I would go into Best Buy to observe and ask customers why they chose a product other than HP's.

Interview – This is a large observation. We do this for our Innovation Bootcamp, where we bring customers to dinner, and the students in the class ask the audience questions. 

Survey – This is gathering information about the group. The best way to do this is by asking questions of different types. A variation of this is focus groups. I am not of a big fan of focus groups and surveys because I think bias can be injected into the surveys based on the questions asked. 

Archival Research – There is a ton of work that has been done by other researchers. You can learn from others, so find research that may disagree with you and look at it transparently. Get out of your comfort zone, because changing your perspective can help you find that next great idea. 

 

The Customers Perspective

Now we will discuss how to walk in your customer's shoes. The best way to do this is to create a customer journey map. This tool examines how your customers interact with you. Let's look at what is needed to do this:

Establish User Personas – This is a semi-fictional character based on your prospective and current customers. You take a collection of your customers from surveys or observational studies and categorize them. Allow yourself to think about it in the context of that customer.

Understand Your Customer Touch Points – How will your customers interact from start to finish? You need to understand their perspective of your ads, websites, product quality, etc. 

Actors Who Influence Your Customers – These are people out of your control who can influence a positive or negative experience. If I am at Best Buy observing/talking to people and someone brings a friend with them, that friend can have a significant impact on what product they end up buying. 

The first thing you want to do when you have all of this is to create an empathy map. An empathy map examines how the customer feels during each interaction. An example of this is Chick-fil-A employees saying my pleasure after serving you. Next, you want to sketch the customer's journey on a whiteboard, post-it notes, mind map, etc. This process helps create innovations that will have a considerable impact. 

 

This two-part series was about out of the box thinking. In part one, we discussed different thinking styles. It is crucial to understand how others think and to have people with varying styles of thinking on your team. Next, you want to think differently through all seven of the styles previously stated. In part two, we discussed getting a different perspective. Do interviews, invite prospects to dinner, do surveys, etc. Next, create a customer journey map and personas to get into the customer's shoes. Then, understand how customers interact and how they are influenced. Lastly, create a customer empathy map and sketch your customer journey to find how to make their experience better. 

Direct download: Out_Of_The_Box_Thinking_-_Part_2.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

Today’s show is going to be a little different than usual, as I will be doing a solo show. On today’s show, we will discuss some current affairs, my opinions on them, and provide my answer to some fan feedback. 

 

SpaceX

One thing that has recently piqued my interest was the SpaceX Dragon demo launch. I was glued to the NASA stream and was quite impressed. The stream offered a great look at the inside of the rocket and I got to watch the rocket launch into space. As a kid, I watched Apollo’s launch and Neil Armstrong taking steps on the moon, which really exited me. I am a big believer in space due to the history of the U.S space program. It is an excellent catalyst for innovation, and I believe all governments have a role to encourage innovation. Technology such as a sensor to monitor blood/oxygen levels is just one of many creations that came from NASA. An innovative friend of mine, Gretchen McClain (former AD for NASA ISS), started a public-private partnership where the U.S paid others to build capabilities. The U.S module that is part of ISS was built by the Russians. I had the distinct privilege to be Gretchen’s guest at NASA to see the U.S module go up to be part of the ISS. Gretchen realized that to better explore space, it was important to co-innovate. We are seeing more and more of this being done by our government today. The key is to define a problem in such a way that people feel like they can solve it. 

 

The Future of Businesses

Over the weekend, a friend sent me an article from the Charter Tribune by Chris Jones. It was sent to me due to my interest in “megatrends” over the years. This article was looking at the impact on cities from COVID-19. The article was structured around the question of whether the cities would recover. My friends asked me what I thought about all of this based on my megatrends research. My research always focuses on 10-20 years out and is constantly changing. No one can predict anything too accurately, but it is more about laying out the range of possible futures to be better prepared. In the case of COVID, schools were out, businesses went to working from home, etc. Luckily, 80% of U.S homes have access to broadband services at home and have tools like Zoom to assist them. Zoom has turned out to be a big tool that a lot of people are using for school and work purposes. With all of this going on, we are learning how effective working at different locations other than the office can be. In my case, I have run the radio show from many locations such as Florida, Kentucky, Las Vegas, D.C, etc., and have done it with similar efficiency as in the studio. I see a future model of working from anywhere springing up rapidly due to COVID.  

 

Virtual Brainstorming

Last week, I took a meeting request from a key government agency in the U.S. They heard about the work I’ve been doing with the Marine Corps, VA hospitals, and in the past, the U.S Department of Education. They wanted to take what we have been doing with other agencies and apply it to them. I ran them through what we had done in the past, and how we do our one-day Ideation Workshops. One question that was posed was, “can this be done virtually?”. My answer was yes. It can be done just as good virtually. Since COVID, I have been putting out “Virtual Brainstorming Demonstrations” on YouTube and have been hosting virtual brainstorms. This has been made easy with tools like Jamboard. Through doing this, I have found that it can be more inclusive and diverse. You can invite anyone from the world to join the session without the cost of travel and extra constraints. This opens up more opportunities to build a better team. Another benefit is the fact that it requires less time. It takes little time to fire up a Zoom or Jamboard session and get working. More people will be willing to join in a session like this because of how hassle-free, efficient, and convenient it is. 

 

Innovation Misconceptions

Recently, I got an email from a listener of the show asking if it is a good time to start a business or invent a new product/service. This is tied to the question around COVID-19. I’ve heard all kinds of excuses and have had tons of conversations about this recently and throughout my career. People often have a great idea but haven’t done anything about it. It is often thought that innovation is for the young, but that is not the case. Vera Wang, fashion designer, didn’t start innovating till she was forty. Colonel Sanders of KFC didn’t get to franchising till his sixties. Henry Ford didn’t start his motor company until his forties. Age is not a constraining factor, and you can’t let it stop you from innovating. People often say, “don’t start a business in a recession/depression”. Companies like Disney and HP both started in a depression. Some think you need a special degree, which isn’t the case either. Some think you have to have all the contacts and a ton of money. There are many ways that you can work around those factors. Maybe you don’t know where to start. Firstly, you should find a community of people with similar passions. If you are an innovator like myself, join The Innovators Community. We have about one thousand members range from high-up CEOs to innovators working out of their garage, who are supporting each other. My final question to you, “What are you waiting for”?

 

 

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

This week's guest comes from my family's neck of the woods, the state of Ohio. Jerry Abiog is the Co-founder and CMO of Standard Insights, an AI service growth platform. We will discuss his learning from past innovation failures, and how Standard Insights utilize AI to aid the growth of businesses.

Innovation Failures

Jerry and I share a mutual appreciation for Ohio, as both my family and Jerry are from there. While talking about the state, we got into discussing the funding programs for startups that Cincinnati offers. I have been supporting a company from Cincinnati called LISNR, which is an audio technology that allows you to embed data and audio that humans do not hear. I would describe Cincinnati as a non-traditional high-tech center, not as high up as Boston or Atlanta, but steadily growing in its technology presence.

Jerry has about 25 years of experience in sales and marketing. He left the corporate world around nine years ago to help out software companies with sales and marketing initiatives. Working with was an AI startup, which turned out to be an innovation failure, taught him a lot. Jerry said he learned that it doesn't matter what software platform you are selling. It has to be easy to use and solve your customer's problems. After this, he ended up meeting his co-founder, and Standard Insights was up and running.

Failures of an AI Startup

Jerry said that the main lesson he learned from the AI startup failure was that it can't always be about you. No one cares about how good your technology is unless you can solve a problem with it. When It comes to starting Standard Insights, the vision was to help businesses drive buyers with AI. There are great tools out there with regards to AI, but they are not on an easy-to-use platform. Standard Insights helps businesses target the right person with the right product or service at the right time. Standard Insights is different because they incorporate all the text stacks into one, making it simple and easy to email, text, or run social media campaigns. It's not about creating something that is a big breakthrough but making something that is already out there better.

Standard Insights and COVID-19

In the business world, there has been a new drive for digital transformation. With COVID, it has become an imperative thing. Grocery stores are taking online orders and doing curbside pickup, as well as restaurants taking orders and payments online. At Standard Insights, they developed a digital menu for restaurants last year, but it wasn't taken too well. Now, they are bringing it back and launching it. You can access the menu on your phone and order from there, making it faster to get your order in. It also benefits restaurants as they don't have to use Grubhub or Uber Eats, which costs them a good amount of extra money. In times of disruptive shock such as COVID-19, more and more innovative technologies continue to spring up.

Advice for the Listeners

Jerry gave some good advice from his experience as an entrepreneur. He said never to give up and always be open to learning. If it were not for his past innovation failures, he would not be where he is today. He said, try to do something difficult every day, if not professional, personal. He competes in Ironman fitness competitions, which helps him stay sharp for his business dealings. When it comes to being an entrepreneur, failure comes with the territory. I always tell entrepreneurs that innovation failures are part of the experience. Most investors look for entrepreneurs that have experienced failure.

About our Guest: Jerry Abiog

Jerry Abiog is a Co-Founder and CMO of Standard Insights, an AI service growth platform that enables businesses to execute data-driven omnichannel campaigns. Jerry has roughly 25 years of experience in sales and marketing and has been involved in several startups throughout his career. He has a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration from the University of Cincinnati.

 

If you want to keep update with what Jerry is doing, check out his LinkedIn here. Check out Standard Insights website here.

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

While I was CTO at HP, I had the gaming division reporting to me. Also, I used to be a hardcore gamer, so gaming is something that has always held my interest. This week’s guest does an exciting twist on the typical gaming strategies/approaches. Austin Smith is the Co-Founder and CEO of Mission Control. We will discuss esport innovations, and what Mission Control is doing to change the esports world.

Gaming

Austin found his passion for gaming while growing up and gaming with his brother and his friends. He does not consider himself a hardcore gamer but engages in gaming for social interaction and fun. Austin used to view gaming as something you either do on your own or occasionally with friends, but that changed. He sees esports as very similar to recreational sports. The social and community aspect of sports is what inspired Mission Control. You don’t have to be a hardcore gamer to enjoy game-changing esports with your friends.

I, too, realized how big the gaming market was when I attended a huge gaming event in Korea. This was in 2006, and there was around 45,000 people in attendance. The experience changed my view of gaming from a strictly social activity to a competitive sport.

Mission Control

Austin came from a line of business owners, so creating a business was natural to him. While in college, he befriended his co-founder, Byron. They worked on a lot of things together in college. They ended up getting hired and worked together professionally after college, growing their friendship and teamwork. Austin says they have overlapping values and visions, but also have very different personalities and skills that help them excel in their business. Austin said that he and his partner noticed how esports was growing and wanted to dive in and build something. They couldn’t walk away from it, and in late 2018 they left their jobs to pursue Mission Control.

Byron is very focused and is the one who executes, while Austin is more creative and acts as the visionary. Their team reminded me of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Jobs was the visionary, and Steve Wozniak put the vision into play. It is vital to find that compatible partnership early on in a business pursuit to be successful.

Esport Innovations

COVID-19 has given Mission Control an advantage as they provide social interaction but on a digital level. Gaming offers interaction and community through our rec-games, and they gained a lot of attention as soon as things started shutting down. Mission Control focuses on the micro-community. We gather those micro-communities from all over the place and create a social community of those people. We don’t focus on gathering the best players around the world but focus on having fun as a group.

Mission Control has been around for about a year now and launched a beta in 2019. Austin says they launched their product to a larger group and started scaling it in early 2020. In the past months, they have had 3 times the amount of plays than in their whole history. Duke University, MIT, and GameStop are some notable groups that use their product to create community experiences. Austin says that Mission Control’s biggest hurdle is giving everyone what they want. They are so many game-changing things you can add to a platform, so that is where it gets tough. Players do have a mobile app that they can download and schedule games. They can also communicate with other teams, similar to a fantasy league, but they are many other things that can be future add-ons.

When looking back, Austin said there are some things that they could’ve have done differently. Over planning is one thing that Mission Control struggled with early on, as they focused more on planning than executing. Austin says it is essential to have good people that specialize in different things around you. Austin found his staff while looking for intelligent, open, kind, and curious people.

If you want to keep track of Mission Control's esport innovations, check out their website here. Check out Austin Smith’s LinkedIn here.

About our Guest: Austin Smith

Austin Smith is the Co-founder and CEO of Mission Control, a platform for rec league esports, similar to a local adult softball league or college intramural — but video games. Mission Control manages the league schedule, validates scores, and determines the champion while serving as a community forum for league members and friends. Austin attended St. Louis University, where he studied Economics, Entrepreneurship, and Service Leadership.

Direct download: Game-Changing_Esport_Innovations_During_COVID-19.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

This week’s guest on Killer Innovations is one who has had innovation experience in a variety of different industries. Jonah Myerberg is the CTO at Desktop Metal, a company that specializes in metal and carbon fiber 3D printing technology. We will discuss 3D printing and what Desktop Metal is doing to aid in fighting COVID-19.

Jonah’s experience

Jonah started at Black & Decker, making power tools. He went on to work at Bose Corporations, which exposed him to a high level of innovation. The creation of A123 Systems reintroduced him to engineering, which his team eventually sold to a Chinese conglomerate. While at HP, I had the benefit of getting a personal demonstration from Dr. Bose himself. He spent 20 plus years of research on a suspension system, leading a great example of innovation. I don’t know any other organization that was committed to innovation on that scale for that amount of time. In the innovation game, some people tend to focus on the present rather than what can come in the future. Dr. Bose set a great example of how important long-term innovation is.

3D printing is an excellent example of this, as it came from “traditional” printing to the 3D printing technology we have available today. Jonah states that the huge killer innovation does not necessarily have to be your invention, but your invention can enable the next killer innovation.

Desktop Metal

Jonah was designing high-performance batteries for racing teams. While working with these racing teams, he saw how they efficiently and effectively used 3D printing to optimize their performance. He thought this technology was something that everyone should use, not just elite racers. Making 3D printing accessible to everybody who wanted to use it lead to the creation of Desktop Metal. There are so many industries that are attracted to 3D printing in one way or another. Apart from the automotive industry, consumer electronics invests heavily in single designs for small parts. The jewelry industry has to manufacture small metal parts and would love to print precious metals like silver, copper, and gold.

Judging the performance of produced parts is a traditional focal point for 3D printing. Fidelity is an essential factor in 3D printing, but performance is generally the central focus. The material needs to be strong and have the right chemistry for the intended purpose. At Desktop Metal, they realized that the big challenge is when new materials and processes get presented within 3D printing. They started with materials that were well known and commonly used. Even if the process of forming is different, many engineers feel comfortable using 3D parts built out of stainless steel because the material used is familiar.

 

Aiding the fight

With the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies have come together to develop products to aid the situation. Desktop Metal opened its doors of technology and asked what they could do to help with the situation. They reached out to hospitals and essential workers and got a lot of feedback on needed supplies they could help out with. They had requests from the VA hospitals to make scuba masks into COVID-19 facemasks, as well as ventilators for other hospitals. Swabs were one highly requested item that Desktop Metal and some other companies teamed up to develop.

When it comes to the face masks, Desktop Metal was asked by doctors to design and provide a converter that would take an N95 filter and connect it to a scuba mask. As far as the ventilators go, hospitals acquired a ton of them after they had run out. The only issue was that there was no way to connect them. We ended up printing several connector pieces and attaching them to the ventilators.

 

Advice for the Listeners

Throughout Jonah’s wide-ranging career, he has had a lot of beneficial experience. When asked for advice if he was to mentor a new innovator starting a career, Jonah’s advice is to dive in. “Don’t be afraid to ask what needs to be fixed and try to fix it. Also, do not be afraid to fail at your attempt to fix it. Try to help people because they all have different challenges that need fixing. Don’t focus yourself in one area, instead learn broadly. Cross functionality is essential for success in innovation. Don’t reinvent the wheel; apply it in different areas.” 

 

If you want to stay up to date with Jonah Myerberg and Desktop Metal, check out their website here. Check out their LinkedIn here.


On today’s show, we will be doing something a bit different than that of our recent shows. We will be discussing buzzwords, things that are often misused in the innovation world and outside of it. 

 

Innovation Buzzwords

A buzzword is a term that can be technical or specific to an industry or a job function. It is often used to impress laymen, which often pushes people away. Some common examples would be synergy, which simply means working together. Another example would be clickbait, which is used as a negative slam for those who create content. Growth hacking is also a buzzword that has gone way overboard. It consists of trying to figure out how to grow an organization. Buzzwords are meant to simplify things for some people, but others often don’t know what they mean. It would be so much easier if we just simplified our language in a way that everyone could understand it.

 

 In the Innovation game, we have our own set of buzzwords that tend to drive people crazy. The number one innovation buzzword in my book is design-thinking. Design-thinking has been around for quite some time and is a term hated by actual designers. The original intent was to find a process where the needs of the user were conceived from the start of the project all the way through. These days, design-thinking has lost its meaning and fully turned into an innovation buzzword. 

 

Ideation/Disrupter

The next innovation buzzword I want to discuss is ideation. Ideation is a term that I use a lot. We at The Innovators Network teach workshops on the process of ideation. What does it really mean? Ideation is a process where innovators generate ideas. People outside of the innovation industry can be highly annoyed by it. In reality it is a made-up word. What is the difference between ideation and brainstorming? Honestly, I couldn’t tell you the difference. The output of both ideation and brainstorming is ideas. In some cases, you can argue the usage of ideation arose because as a way to find new clients.

 

The next buzzword is one that I also use a lot. The term disrupter describes someone who “rocks the boat”, coming into an existing industry with a unique and different angle. Disrupters may not necessarily be bad people, but they come in and disrupt already established settings. An example of this would be Uber changing the ride-hailing industry. Uber disrupted the industry earning itself the reputation of a disruptor. Along the lines of disrupter, we have the buzzword innovators. This is basically someone who introduces a new product, service, or a new strategy that is revolutionary. The challenge is that everyone and their mother says they are an innovator. People often describe themselves as innovators to be seen as extraordinary. As a result, it’s meaning has become less and less differentiated, making it hard to tell who’s really an innovator. Some argue that innovator is not a buzzword, but I say it is based on how much it is thrown around and applied so loosely. 

 

System-Thinking/Pain Points

The next innovation buzzword we will discuss is system-thinking. You may have heard of this from one of the big six consulting houses attempting to differentiate themselves. I used to be part of this group, so I understand what these companies are trying to do. They use the term system-thinking in which they look at complex things as systems rather than a defined and well-understood process. This concept is so vague that most people don’t know what it really means. They are trying to make something sound way more complex than it really is. Next, we have the buzzword pain points, which refer to answering the things that drive customers crazy. Another buzzword used is social innovation, which I have had a good amount of experience with. This term has been used to the point that it is almost meaningless. It is meant to focus on innovating to fix a social problem. 

 

Thought Leader/IMS

The next buzzword we will discuss is the term thought leader. This should be the goal of all aspiring innovation leaders, but this term can become cringe-worthy and overused. Do you call yourself a thought leader? Or do others call you a thought leader? You need to be genuine in your thought leadership and humble with it. Idea management software is a term that appeared in the last ten years. Its sole purpose is to capture and track ideas. The misuse of the term comes when people label their excel spreadsheets as idea management systems, which simply are not. Calling something an idea management system just because it is a popular buzzword is misusing the term. I often find myself using many of the buzzwords we discussed, which end up confusing people. My goal this year is to get rid of the barriers that separate those inside and outside the innovation arena, starting with buzzwords. 

 

Thanks for joining us. Check out my blog here and my book here. If you want fast updates on what I am doing, text innovation to 44222 (U.S), or send me an email to innovation@killerinnovations.com. This will add you to my contact list and update you on any of my upcoming webinars. 

 

 

 

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

Due to the great feedback we received from our Virtual Brainstorming show last week, we will be doing another one this week. Our goal at the end of the show is to come up with a list of suggested features for our sponsor, Zoom. Zoom has experienced a lot of growth during the COVID-19 virus and has seen new usage in a lot of unique ways. Part of today’s objective is to show how you guys can conduct a virtual brainstorm by yourselves using Jamboard. The process will help you generate tons of new ideas on whatever issues, opportunities, or needs you and your organization may face.

 

Question 1

We will be dealing with three questions from the Killer Questions Card Deck derived from my book “Beyond the Obvious.” On the front of a Killer Questions Card, there is a set of questions. On the back, there is what I like to call “sparking questions,” which are there to push you to the next idea or unique insight. The card deck consists of who, what, and how cards that come in gold, blue, and green. Today we will be focusing on who and what. Question number one asks, “Who is using my product in a way I never expected?” The sparking questions are, “what problems and needs are you looking to address? Are you too focused on what you believe your customer’s problems and needs are that you are missing out on a potential opportunity?”. The second sparking question is, “how can you identify existing customers and observe how they use your product?”. Thirdly, “is there a way to allow your potential customers to play with and use your product without giving them specific parameters on how and when they should use it?”. Let’s hop onto Jamboard to get this session going:

  • Education – If there’s one thing regarding the use of Zoom that surprised me, it’s this one: 1:1 with teachers, virtual classrooms, students doing team projects, and students just hanging out together.
  • Speech-Language Pathologists - School-based therapists had to offer tele-practice services due to COVID-19 suddenly. 1:1 calls between therapists and clients provide the ability to see and hear each other. We have seen 3rd party apps that the therapist and client can do over Zoom to work on specific skills while having fun.
  • Musicians - Using Zoom to hold virtual concerts given that each musician is in their homes. For King & Country, they used virtual tools to write a new song called “Together.” Musicians are giving music lessons over Zoom.
  • Gymnastics/Dance Studios – Zoom has allowed these lessons to continue. Grandparents like me can watch our grandkids no matter how far away they are.

 

Question 2

Question number two asks, “What features of my product create unanticipated passion”? The sparking questions are, “what are the features that have elicited the strongest emotional response from my customers?”, “how do you ensure these are carried forward both in your current and future products?” and “how do you avoid killing the passion?”. Let’s jump into brainstorming:

 

  • Free Zoom to Schools/Teachers – It elicited so much passion because it was the right thing to do. They made it easy for schools to avoid budget issues.
  • Virtual Backgrounds – It allows you to hide the messiness of any background. We hold background competitions at my office every Friday. Zoom has virtual background competitions. There is now a new category of graphic designers and photographers that create libraries of Zoom virtual backgrounds.
  • Original Audio – This takes away all the filtering of audio. This feature has allowed for music-making/the listening of live concerts without hearing the chopped-up sound. Zoom offers this feature to remove all the filtering.
  • Grid View – This allows you to see upwards of twenty-five to fifty people at a time. The grid view gives you the feeling of everyone being present, eye-to-eye. It offers a much more personal perspective and has generated a lot of passion.
  • Ease of Use – Zoom works across all platforms, making it super convenient to use. Given how easy it is to get people to join a Zoom call, people are using it to stay connected with their friends and family members.

 

Question 3

Question number three asks, “What emotional, psychological, or status benefits could people derive from using my product”? The sparking questions are, “does your product create a connection with its customers that goes beyond just being a good solution to their needs?”, “can you refine it to reflect the changing needs and desires of your customers?”, “is the emotional connection literally between the customer and the product, or between the customer and what the product signifies?” and “are there good or interesting reasons to resist an emotional connection and prevent them from happening?”. Let’s hop on Jamboard and crank out some ideas:

  • Being Together - Using video to stay connected with friends and family. Zoom allowing teams to feel like they are together and working effectively.
  • Reduce the Feeling of Loneliness -Especially for those who are single and by themselves. It helps family members in nursing homes feel less lonely.
  • Feeding the Spiritual Needs of the Community -Churches using Zoom for services, small groups, and for generally getting together to talk and support each other within a given faith community.

 

Ideation

Based on thinking deeply about these three questions, what new features would you present to Zoom? Let’s hop back on Jamboard to get some ideas going:

 

  • Video Overlay (similar to what I am doing with Jamboard/Youtube) – this allows the speaker to engage the viewer and “make eye contact” with them.
  • Remote Karaoke – allows for social interaction and rates how well you hit the notes and sang.
  • Payment System tied in with Zoom – allows Zoom to become a revenue-generating platform for those who are putting out content such as fitness trainers or musicians.
  • TV Streaming Via Zoom – allows the audience to watch a movie or show at the same time and allowing them to communicate with each other during the event.

 

 

Thanks for listening to the show. Do you have a topic, opportunity, or problem you would like to propose for a Virtual Brainstorm? Send it to me at phil@killerinnovations.com. Check out the brainstorm for this show that I did on Jamboard here.

 

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

On today’s show, I will be demonstrating a private ideation/brainstorming session that you can do on your own. This helps in generating key ideas and solutions to the various problems you may be facing. There are numerous tools you can use for this, but today I will be using Jamboard from Google. 

 

Virtual Brainstorm

With the COVID-19 pandemic going on there are a lot of unknowns. You currently have two choices. You can freak out and go into hibernation, or you can sit down and brainstorm ideas that will allow you to not only survive but thrive during the crisis. For today’s virtual brainstorm, we will look at two questions from the Killer Questions Card Deck as they relate to COVID-19. These questions have been edited to focus the ideation specifically around COVID-19 because better focus increases the quantity and quality of the ideas. Our first question asks what customer segments will no longer exist or will be significantly impacted as a result of COVID-19. Our second question asks what customer segments could emerge as a result of COVID-19.  

 

COVID-19 Changes

Let's get into ideas for our first question. What segments will no longer exist or will be significantly impacted as a result of COVID-19? One idea I thought about would be sports and concert fans. These people love going to social activities and are going to be significantly impacted by COVID-19. The other segment that I thought of was travel influencers. These are the people who travel and do reviews of different places and are definitely going to be impacted as a whole. Similarly, businesses that are dependent on tourism such as hotels, tour guides, and national parks are going to be challenged going forward with this crisis.

 

New Emergences

Let’s move on to our second question. What segments could emerge as a result of COVID-19? The first one I came up with is the social distancing butler. This is the person such as a family member or friend who helps with errands such as grocery shopping and picking up various needed items. This person helps reduce the risk for someone who might be more affected by the virus. Another idea is what I call the COVID gig. These are people who have become contractors to essential businesses such as restockers or delivery drivers. These might be those who have been furloughed from their jobs and are filling the gap somewhere else. My next idea is what I call the virtual babysitter. Being a grandparent, I often babysit my grandkids for our kids that live in the area. With COVID-19, things are a little different as they cannot drop the kids off and go on a date anymore. Two to three times a week, my wife and I will virtually read bedtime stories to our grandkids via Facebook portal. This gives the parents a bit of a break from the kids and gives us some quality time with our loved ones. The final idea I thought of is what I call a virtual background creator. As a result of COVID-19, our sponsor Zoom has seen an astounding amount of new users. With this growth in video calls, virtual background is going to become very important going forward and I think the demand for the software will see an increase. 

 

Let me know what you think of the virtual brainstorming and feel free to propose a topic and killer question for a future “virtual brainstorm”. Check out the brainstorming session I did on Jamboard here. Watch the brainstorming session on YouTube here.

 

Let’s connect; I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. If we do connect, drop me a note and let me know. The email address is feedback@philmckinney.com or you can go to PhilMcKinney.com and drop me a note there. If you are looking for innovation support go to TheInnovators.Network or want to be challenged to develop the next big idea, check out our Disruptive Ideation Workshops. Don’t forget to join our Innovators Community to enjoy more conversations around innovation.

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

Joining us via Zoom this week is William Benner, the President and CTO of Pangolin Laser Systems. We will discuss laser technology and what he's doing to change laser-powered innovation. 

 

Pangolin Laser Systems

William got into electronics because of his father, who worked as an engineer at NASA. I attended college to study electronics but was also in a rock band. During my time in a rock band, the focus was not always on the music. We enjoyed being flashy and creative and got people excited about it, which is where I found my interests in lasers. Eventually, the band faded away, but my love for lasers continued, and I wondered how I could do business out of it. Fast forward to today, and we are the only laser-powered innovation company in the United States and manufacture products for people who conduct laser shows such as clubs, concerts, etc. How big is your company? We started in 1986 and have a total of 35 people scattered around the world. We manufacture 100% of our software in the U.S and sell a lot of hardware and software overseas with the help of our sister companies in Slovenia and China.  

 

Customers

Who are your main customers? William says the customers consist of theme parks such as Disney World and Universal Studios, the NFL, NBA, NHL, tours, concerts, and corporate events. Most of our customers are not direct but contract out production companies to utilize our products. 

In my experience, customers are not typically the best source for innovation. Do your customers often come to you with ideas, or do you develop them? William said it's the customers that are usually asking us to adapt our technology to their ideas. We look at how close their idea is to what we already do, and how much time and money it will cost the customer and us. We go where we need to go to help bring our technologies to other markets and benefits. 

 

Crazy Experiences

Laser shows can get crazy and creative. What are some of the craziest things you guys have seen or done? William says one of his peers was approached by the Chief Marketing Officer of Coca Cola, offering a million dollars to put a logo on the moon. One company has come up with an idea of sky lasers serving as beacons being projected into the sky. We don't know what this will look like, but you'll only know if you experiment. One customer came to us wanting to project lasers into space, and we had to figure out how to make it safe and reliable. We developed a product and formed a separate company that sells the product. 

 

Advice for the Listeners

Given all your experience, what advice would you give to the listeners? William said it is a lesson he learned quite recently. In the past, I would ask myself how I would put together a product for a customer. For our last three projects, what helped was not asking how, but imagining what it would look like if it already existed. Write it down, and that becomes a map to get you to where you are going. It's not business advice, but when it comes to innovation, its how to get there. This turns all the "how" questions to something more tangible and visible.

What are some challenges you have faced with laser-powered innovation? William says that laser scanners need to be filled with epoxy. I had an idea of how to do it, but I tried it, and it did not work. As soon as it failed, I came up with another idea to solve the problem. Yes, my idea failed, but it led to a solution that wound up being much easier and better. While it hurts sometimes, failures lead to success over time and begin a new pathway to solving a problem. 

 

If you want to stay up to date with what William Benner is doing, check out his website here

 

About our Guest: William Benner

William Brenner is the President and Chief Technology Officer of Pangolin Laser Systems. In addition to receiving more than 25 international awards for technical achievement, products invented by Benner and manufactured by Pangolin are used by companies such as Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Boeing, and Samsung. 

 

I'm hosting this free webinar to help other leaders navigate the changes that are coming. Being able to identify, survive, and leverage the current disruptions is the new must-have skill set of a successful leader. This webinar applies to all types of organizations. You can register to be part of the series on disruptive shock by visiting the website here.

 

Let's connect; I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. If we do connect, drop me a note and let me know. The email address is feedback@philmckinney.com, or you can go to PhilMcKinney.com and drop me a note there. If you are looking for innovation support, go to TheInnovators.Network or want to be challenged to develop the next big idea, check out our Disruptive Ideation Workshops. Don't forget to join our Innovators Community to enjoy more conversations around innovation.

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

This week's show is an excerpt from a recent webinar I did on how to survive and thrive during challenging times such as these. At the end of today's show, I will share how you can attend the free webinar series through Zoom, known as Disruptive Shock. 

 

Disruptive Shock

We're currently experiencing what I call a disruptive shock. What is a disruptive shock? It's a sudden upsetting or surprising event or experience that stop things from continuing as usual. COVID-19 is the poster child for a disruptive shock. With its fast, people have been asking me for advice on how to deal with the situation. While this all seems new to some, disruption is always happening. It happens in the form of new technology, new business models, etc. 

There are three types of disruptions:

  • Operational Disruption – this is your normal fluctuation of pricing, etc. Price wars, being short of supply, not being able to meet demand, etc. These can be planned for. 
  • Competitive Disruption – made to get an edge on competition from the outside. Uber disrupting the taxi industry, Tesla with electronic cars, etc.
  • Disruptive Shocks – these cannot be anticipated or planned for. SARS, COVID-19, etc. 

 

We're all familiar with things like flooding, earthquakes, fires, etc. Some of these may be short-lived and of little impact such as a storm hitting a rural town. In the case of COVID-19, it is unique in that its impact is on a global scale. GDP is estimated to be down anywhere from 11-30% in the U.S. In times of economic depression, it is said to never start a business. However, during the Great Depression, companies like Disney, and HP were started. We as leaders cannot retreat at this time but need to identify those opportunities to better position and create opportunities for ourselves.  

 

My Experience with Disruptive Shock

I've had my fair share of disruptive shocks throughout my career. During the SARS epidemic, I was at HP and our supply chains were impacted significantly. Our supply chain was not very digitally managed or monitored and due to the multinational distribution, it was quite a shock. We decided we would never be single-sourced on any key component again and utilized resiliency and flexibility to recover. Then, when the Fukushima tsunami happened, we ran into more component problems. One little spring that was a vital component in laptops was from one manufacture based in the area where the Fukushima tsunami occurred. This missing spring shut down laptop supply for three months causing us to miss revenue targets. This unfortunate situation taught me to utilize a second-order supply chain. After Hurricane Catrina happened, I was released from HP with help from the White House to head up recovery efforts in New Orleans around technology and broadband infrastructure. What I learned here was that in hard times competition and politics diminish, and the ability to leverage collaboration can be the difference between life and death. 

Here are three main lessons learned from my disruptive shock experiences: 

  • Take Action – this is not a time to push off action. Be willing to course-correct as you learn more about the situation
  • Prioritize Possible Changes – what changes will impact you? How do you prioritize all the things that are going to be disrupting against you? 
  • Rapid High-Velocity Experimentation – you need to be ready to do a series of rapid high-velocity experimentation to find your new normal now and make the proper adjustments. 

 

Disruptive Shock Strategy

When I'm in the middle of a disruptive shock, I like to step back and ask myself a set of questions I call disruptive questions. First, I ask what someone I know or respect would do in the situation. What would Elon Musk, Albert Einstein, or Thomas Edison do in this situation? Next, I ask what the one thing I should not do in this situation is. This creates a barrier that I know not to cross. Thirdly, I ask myself what would happen if I stop doing certain things, and ask what the outcome of that would be. 

 

I'm hosting this free webinar to help other leaders navigate the changes that are coming. Being able to identify, survive, and leverage the current disruptions, is the new must-have skill set of a successful leader. This webinar applies to all types of organizations. You can register to be part of the series on disruptive shock by visiting the website here

 

Let's connect; I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. If we do connect, drop me a note and let me know. The email address is feedback@philmckinney.com or you can go to PhilMcKinney.com and drop me a note there. If you are looking for innovation support go to TheInnovators.Network or want to be challenged to develop the next big idea, check out our Disruptive Ideation Workshops. Don't forget to join our Innovators Community to enjoy more conversations around innovation.

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

This week’s guest is an innovation guru from one of the world’s leading business schools. Stefan Thomke is a William Barclay Harding Professor of Business Administration Chair at Harvard Business School, and a widely published author around innovation processes. On today’s show, we will discuss Stefan’s new book, “Experimentation Works: The Surprising Power of Business Experiments” and how experimentation functions as the engine of innovation. 

 

Experimentation

Stefan says he got involved in experimentation while working as an engineering intern. He got tasked with optimizing a chip manufacturing process and was lost on how to do it. Someone mentioned looking into experimentation, and he decided to research and study it. He was able to solve the problem, prompting his realization that experimentation is the engine of innovation. For many innovators I know, innovation is viewed as stumbling in the dark hoping you have that “eureka” moment, verses having a methodology. Is that the case for innovators you interact with? Stefan says part of the problem is how we use the word experimentation itself. When people say they experiment, often they mean they are just trying something. They did something and it didn’t work, therefore it must be an experiment. I am talking about disciplined experimentation using principles employed in a scientific method. This is important because you can’t learn much from an experiment without implementing a process into it. In your book, “Experimentation Works: The Surprising Power of Business Experiments”, you call out the difference between an experiment and a mistake. In your opinion, what is the difference? Stefan says a mistake is something that you learn nothing from. The difference is that a failure has a learning objective, where a mistake does not. Failure is ok when you are learning from it. 

 

Does experimentation get correlated to incrementalism? Stefan says that most innovation in the world is incremental. Most of the big performance changes we see are the result of the cumulative impact of small changes. Microsoft changed the way they displayed their headlines and increased revenue by 100 million dollars a year. I call it high-velocity incrementalism, which means that you need to run fast but also go for scale. You need to be able to link cause and effect as a business. At the end of the day, you want to have a high level of confidence that action A will produce outcome B. 

 

Experimentation Culture

What are some attributes that are needed for an experimentation culture in business? Stefan says that companies often assume if they put the right tools into place the experimentation will just happen, which is not the case. There are a few elements needed to be successful. Firstly, a company needs to have curious people who value surprises. Secondly, they need to insist that data trumps opinions. Oftentimes companies will only accept results that confirm their biases and challenge results that go against our assumptions. Thirdly, we need to empower people to perform experiments. If people have to run it up the chain for every experiment, you’re not going to get the scale that you need run on. Next, you need to ethnically sensitive because we will all react differently to experiments. Lastly, you need to embrace different leadership models. 

 

When it comes to an experimentation culture, how do leaders need to act differently? Firstly, they need to set a grand challenge. The role of the leader is to set a grand challenge to keep the focus of the organization. Secondly, put in place systems, resources, and organizational designs so the people of the organization can get to work. Lastly, you need to be a role model and subject your ideas to tasks with intellectual humility. 

 

Advice for the Listeners

 Can you give us an example of one of the myths in your book and explain it? Stefan says he was giving a lecture to a group of leaders. A man raised his hand and said they didn’t agree with experimentation and said he taught his people to follow their intuition and judgment. I explained to him that it is not one or another. Rather, experimentation compliments intuition and judgment rather than turning it off. It's about bringing them together rather than doing one or the other. 

What is some advice that you could give the listeners on implementing experimentation into the innovation process? Stefan says to just get started. Experimentation is the engine that drives innovation. You can’t innovate without experimentation. You go through different levels as you experiment, but you have to start at point A to reach point B. 

 

If you want to keep up with what Stefan Thomke is doing, check out his website here. Check out his LinkedIn here.

 

About Our Guest: Stefan Thomke

Stefan Thomke is a William Barclay Harding Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. Stefan Specializes in the management of innovation, product development, technology, and operations. Prior to joining the HBS faculty in 1995, he worked as an electrical engineer and a consultant at McKinsey & Company, where he served manufacturing and service companies in the automotive and energy industries. He is the author of numerous books and articles on business and the innovation experimentation processes.

 

Let’s connect; I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. If we do connect, drop me a note and let me know. The email address is feedback@philmckinney.com or you can go to PhilMcKinney.com and drop me a note there. If you are looking for innovation support go to TheInnovators.Network or want to be challenged to develop the next big idea, check out our Disruptive Ideation Workshops. Don’t forget to join our Innovators Community to enjoy more conversations around innovation.

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

This week’s guest is one who is all too familiar to us. Phil McKinney, the host of the Killer Innovations show, will be joining us for the 16th anniversary of the Killer Innovations podcast. Bob O’Donnell, a Silicon Valley veteran, the President, Founder, and Chief Analyst at TECHnalysis Research, joins us to discuss the history of the Killer Innovations and some memorable moments on the show. 

 

How It All Started

Let’s talk about the backstory of the podcast. How did it get started and what was the motivation behind it? In 2004 while at HP, I had a talk with my mentor Bob Davis. I asked him how I could pay him back for all the help he had given me. He laughed at me and told me to just pay it forward. In late March 2005, I recorded a little test show while in a bathroom at the Marriot Resort in Arizona and eventually it just took off. What was the idea for your focal point? For me, it was all about innovation. Everybody thinks of me as being a tech guy because of my time at HP, but my background also covers things like wireless and mobile. It’s all about giving people an inside look on things and helping them take ideas and develop them into knockout products and services. It doesn’t matter if you’re running a lawn care service or a large multi-national company providing auto insurance. Our listeners cover a wide variety of sizes and industries. What’s your elevator pitch on innovation? Innovation is a skill that anyone can learn, and anyone can become proficient at it. We are all born naturally creative, and we need to find those channels of creativity to create and share the ideas running around in our heads. It’s all about taking those ideas and not letting the fear of failure stop you from successfully solving those problems. 

 

FIRE

When companies hire you to discuss innovation, what are the key messages you deliver? Recently, we’ve been working with Brother, the U.S Marine Corps and the Veterans Administration helping the government understand innovation from a unique perspective. We teach a framework with four elements around the word FIRE. F stands for focus and it’s about identifying where the upside opportunity is. Once you identify the problem space, then you can get into the I which is ideation. There are a lot of different ways to come up with ideas. Each person goes off on their own and comes up with ideas. Then they come back and share those ideas with their group. The third step is ranking. Very few organizations participate in rankings. There are different processes for ranking ideas but as a leader, it is important to get your team involved in it. The last letter is E for execution. Without execution, it’s a hobby. What are the timeframes for teaching the framework of FIRE? For the Marine Corps, we can do focus, ideation, and ranking in two to three hours. That includes problem statement definition, individual and team brainstorming, ranking, and an early phase of execution. 

 

Memorable Shows

What are some of the most memorable shows you’ve done? I’ve had Peter Guber, co-owner of the Golden State Warriors on the show, and got to be in one of his books. Bob Metcalfe, the founder of 3Com which co-invented ethernet, was also on the show. In 2005 before iTunes was a thing, I started podcasting. There was a company called Odeo that specialized in podcatching so people could get podcasts on their iPods and phones. They reached out to me asking for feedback when they were first conceiving their product. Odeo ended up becoming the social media platform Twitter. The Dean Kamen (FIRST, inventor Segway) show we did recently was also a very memorable one. 

 

Fan Moments

Phil said its really motivating when you get feedback from fans of the show. My very first fan engagement was in London, back in the early days of the show. A guy reached out to me asking if he could meet me. We ended up going to a pizza restaurant across the street from the hotel I was staying in. I thought he would be the only one there, but it turns out the whole restaurant was filled with fans of the show. Not too long after that, HP acquired webOS, and I announced that I would be flying to New York. When I got to the hotel at around 2 am, there were almost a dozen people I didn’t know waiting in the lobby to talk to me. 

 

The Innovators Network

The podcast has grown from an individual podcast to the Innovators Network and is on the Bizz Talk Radio. Can you tell us some history of that? Phil says the Innovators Network was launched around two and a half years ago. We wanted to create a platform allowing up and coming podcasters to get distributed on platforms like iHeart and Spotify. It is a host distributor for innovation podcasts such as Tech.PinionsKiller Innovations5 Miniutes to New Ideas, and Kym McNicholas on Innovation podcast focused on medical-tech innovation. A few years ago we got asked to syndicate the show on Bizz Talk Radio and are now on 63 radio stations in the United States. 

 

 

Let’s connect; I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. If we do connect, drop me a note and let me know. The email address is feedback@philmckinney.com or you can go to PhilMcKinney.com and drop me a note there. If you are looking for innovation support go to TheInnovators.Network or want to be challenged to develop the next big idea, check out our Disruptive Ideation Workshops. Don’t forget to join our Innovators Community to enjoy more conversations around innovation.

Direct download: Looking_Back_at_15_years_of_Killer_Innovations.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

This week’s guest is involved in the innovation game for as long as I’ve been around. Stephen Shapiro is a leading speaker and author on innovation, who previously lead a 20,000-person innovation practice at Accenture. On today’s show, we will discuss creativity, reframing questions, and how diverse personalities can come together to create a thriving innovation team. 

 

Creativity

Stephen says that we all start with a high level of creativity. We are all creative in our ways, but some people approach creativity differently. As we discussed in the previous show, every team needs a variety of different players with varying levels of creativity to achieve success. Stephen says collaborating with teams is vital to innovation success. Finding what teams are and what they are not will help them surround themselves with the key members that are needed. What is one lesson you learned from your time at Accenture? Stephen says he learned early on that everyone is creative and innovative; we just contribute in different ways. 

 

Personality Poker

Stephen created a card game to help bring different people together to achieve a goal, known as Personality Poker. The game has four steps to the innovation process, and four different styles are linking back to the steps. While in Vegas playing Blackjack, I got the idea of 4 steps, 4 styles, 4 suits, went home and grabbed a deck of poker cards, and got writing. The goal is for people to play to their strong suit, and to make sure your team is playing with a full deck. Not playing a strong suit is where a lot of organizations are falling flat. We tend to hire people and who “fit the mold” and result in the loss of breadth of experience and thinking. How would you compare this to something like Gallup Strengthfinders? Stephen says it’s not about what you are good at, but what gives you energy. We can be good at something, but it might rob us of our energy. The game helps you see what you do well and what gives you energy while telling you who you are and aren’t. How have these impacted teams? Stephen says there are 52 cards as well as words that describe behavioral attributes. People can gift these cards to others, which allows you to see how you are perceived and how people remember you. It acts as a great conversation starter within organizations and helps to bring the right people to the right team. On top of that, the game emphasizes having diverse perspectives and appreciating what each person brings to the table. 

 

Reframing the Question

What drove you to write your new book, “Invisible Solutions”? Stephen says that his previous book emphasized asking better questions but did not explain how to do it. I spent the last ten years building a toolkit on reframing problems and decided it was time to put it into a book. “Invisible Solutions” are the solutions right in front of you, but you can’t see them because you are asking the wrong questions. What approach do you use to craft good questions that people understand? I created a systematic approach to reframe questions, not to generate new questions necessarily. What is the “aha” moment for people in figuring out how to reframe questions? Stephen says they first come to have a deep appreciation of how important it is. They also start to understand how difficult it is. People usually don’t want to take the time to stop and think about what the right approach is. Thirdly, people can’t stay in the question stage, and they just want to start solving the next one. Most people don’t spend enough time trying to solve the problem, and they just rush the answer. 

 

Advice for the Listeners

What is one story that will give the listener some advice to take away? Stephen says a great example would be of a group called Pumps & Pipes in Houston, Texas. This group is composed of cardiologists who get together with people from the oil and gas pipeline industry. As far apart as those groups sound, they both work with the movement of fluid through a tube. In one story, a cardiologist was trying to figure out how to break up clots in the body. An oil engineer was dealing with the same issue from sludge and had developed a filter. They collaborated and were able to create a filter that breaks up clots in the body.

 

If you want to keep up with what Stephen Shapiro is doing, check out his website here. Follow him on LinkedIn here.

 

 

About Our Guest: Stephen Shapiro

Stephen Shapiro is a full-time innovation speaker and advisor to clients around the world. Before becoming a full-time speaker, Stephen created and led a 20,000-person innovation practice at Accenture. His work has been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, SUCCESS Magazine, CNBC, ABC News, TLC, and USA Network. He is the author of four books and continues to teach and lead innovation and problem solving everywhere he goes. 

 

 

Let’s connect; I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. If we do connect, drop me a note and let me know. The email address is feedback@philmckinney.com, or you can go to PhilMcKinney.com and drop me a note there. If you are looking for innovation support, go to TheInnovators.Network or want to be challenged to develop the next big idea, check out our Disruptive Ideation Workshops. Don’t forget to join our Innovators Community to enjoy more conversations around innovation.

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

On Today’s show, we will be discussing the most optimal innovation team size that will generate the most creativity and innovative ideas. This topic is something that would have helped me greatly if I had studied and learned it early on in my career. I will also discuss eight types of people that every innovation team needs in order to be successful.

 

Innovation Team Size Study

Does team size have an impact? Recently, I read a study done by Jeanne Brett and Dashum Wang from the Kellogg School of Management and Northwestern University titled “If You Want Creativity, Keep Your Team Small”. Basically, this study said that large teams solve problems, and small teams generate new problems to solve. As the teams grew from 1-50, the levels of disruptiveness decreased. The large teams delivered value by developing established ideas and used smaller companies to be disruptive.

The issues that impacted teams as they got larger were:

  • Relational Loss – the perception of team members that they are working with little support from other members
  • Social Loafing – the tendency of the individual group members to contribute less than they would contribute working in a smaller group or alone.
  • Lack of Development Maturity – larger teams tend to look to leaders for direction and motivation. Smaller teams frequently progress to periods of intense productivity fueled by “trust-based” relationships, structures, etc. With five or six people on your innovation team, it is easier to move forward with a common vison for the problem you are trying to solve.

How do you address the innovation team size problem? It is found through utilizing Multi-Team Systems (MTS), which is the process of breaking down a large team into smaller teams with some form of structural network. Implementing this process will bring efficiency and a higher rate of success.

 

My Experience with Innovation Team Size

We will now discuss my experience of team sizes throughout my career. My career started at Deltak where we developed computer and video-based training. This publishing operation required large teams. Later in my career, I joined Thumbscan which had mid-sized teams of a couple dozen people, and the lack of efficiency frustrated me. Through my frustration, I branched off to create a product called PCBoot, which ended up winning product of the year at Computer Dealers Exhibition (Comdex), the precursor to Consumer Electronics Show (CES). It took me by myself a long time to build that product to the point where the parent company ran out of money. Through these times, I realized not only how important a team is, but the size of the team as well.

Other Teams

Let’s talk about other teams outside of my direct experiences like Apple MacIntosh in the 80s. They came out with the Apple 1, 2, and then the 3, which was not very successful because it was developed by a large team. Apples success came when Steve Jobs hand-picked his MacIntosh team and locked the doors to anyone outside of the team. He separated the team from the larger organization to reduce the risk of large team influence, and it paid off. Now let’s look at the Manhattan Project. It started off with a small team which was split up into smaller teams in different areas focused on different aspects of the project. Each team knew what they had to generate in order to contribute to the larger overall objective, and they were very successful. When teams are broken down and given a specific objective, they become efficient in obtaining their specific goal.

                                                                                                            

My Optimal Innovation Team

 

I’d like to use a religious reference here. Jesus had twelve disciples, so why would I try to handle more than he could? Throughout my career I’ve learned that my optimal innovation team size is in the 6-8-person range. If I have more than that, I tend to lose focus and feel less engaged. I would argue that nobody should have more than twelve people directly reporting to them. While the number is important, the make-up of the team is also important. As a leader, it is your responsibility to bring together an innovation team with the right skillsets.  

Here are seven people that I believe are core to any high-impact innovation team:

  • The Visionary – the person who is the heart and soul of the idea.
  • The Leader – the person who recruits and motivates the best possible team.
  • The Mother – the person who is sensitive to everyone and makes sure everyone is taken care of.
  • The Energizer – the person who will get it done, sometimes at a cost. They pump energy into the team
  • The Customer Advocate – the person who advocates for the customer. They are the voice of the customer on the project.
  • Radar O-Reilly – (from the movie and TV show Mash): The person who can find/secure anything you need by understanding the process in an organization.
  • The Designer – the designer is no longer a behind the scenes activity.

 

Bonus:

  • Neurodiversity – get people who think differently than you on your innovation team. They can see what others don’t see in a unique way.

With these key players on your innovation team, you are that much closer to creating that game-changing product or idea.

 

Let’s connect; I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. If we do connect, drop me a note and let me know. The email address is feedback@philmckinney.com or you can go to PhilMcKinney.com and drop me a note there. If you are looking for innovation support go to TheInnovators.Network or want to be challenged to develop the next big idea, check out our Disruptive Ideation Workshops. Don’t forget to join our Innovators Community to enjoy more conversations around innovation.

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

Introduced to me through a mutual contact I worked with at HP, this week’s guest is the Senior Vice President of Product and Technology at Universal Electronics Inc. (UEI), Arsham Hatambeiki. We will discuss innovating technologies and what UEI is doing to make in-home technology experiences better for the consumer.

UEI

What is UEI, and what is the company’s history? Arsham says he’d bet just about every listener of the show has a product of UEI. The company started with a basic concept of making life easier both for the consumer and the service provider. We came up with the idea of a “universal remote control” that could control different aspects of TVs and set-up boxes from the provider. How big is UEI today? We are about 3,700 employees distributed globally with offices in Scottsdale, AZ, the Bay Area, Orange County, and San Diego, California. Does UEI deliver finished products or just components added to a later finished product? Arsham says they do both. We offer finished products such as remote controls, security sensors, and gateways. We also have software that can integrate with smart TVs and smart speakers, as well as a software-only solution.

Path to UEI

What was the spark that led you on the path to UEI? Arsham says he would categorize it into two different things. Firstly, I wanted to help the market evolve by integrating innovative technology into smart home, speaker, and other innovative home products. Secondly, I saw the need to keep brands in control of their own experiences. UEI came together to enable direct home delivery for the consumer. We focused on protecting choice and bridging the gap between entertainment experiences and smart home experiences. Have you seen pushback from consumers with privacy concerns? Arsham says most concerns of privacy by consumers have been misguided. I do think clear business models from brands will be the only way to address that. Having a clear business model stated by the brand is the only way to address that.

Cross-Brand Innovation

What advice would you give to people innovating technologies across ecosystems? Arsham says to always start from the user in the application. In the world of smart homes, there is much more value in going deep than going wide. When integrating across ecosystems, you are often hoping that your business model doesn’t conflict with another’s, so beware of that. Users have proven that they like specific brands, they want to have a choice, and they like to build their own experiences. You need to go to the market with that in mind.

If you want to keep up with what Arsham Hatambeiki is doing with UEI, check out his website here. Follow him on LinkedIn here.

About Our Guest: Arsham Hatambeiki

Arsham Hatambeiki is the Senior Vice President of Product and Technology at Universal Electronics Inc. Arsham has a research background in areas of data communication networks and machine learning with a special passion for smart home applications of conversational AI.

Let’s connect; I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. If we do connect, drop me a note and let me know. The email address is feedback@philmckinney.com, or you can go to PhilMcKinney.com and drop me a note there. If you are looking for innovation support, go to TheInnovators.Network or want to be challenged to develop the next big idea, check out our Disruptive Ideation Workshops. Don’t forget to join our Innovators Community to enjoy more conversations around innovation.

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

Today’s guest is one who I met a few years ago at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Albert Zeeman is the Director of Marketing Services at GBO Innovations Makers and is an editor for the GadgetGear tech blog from the Netherlands. On today’s show, we will discuss trends and changes at CES, as well as some tips for startups.

 

 

Governments at CES

With all the changes with the companies at CES, what have you seen? Albert says he’s seen a lot of changes in his 16 years attending CES. I’ve seen different trends from the apple products such as the iPad to different flying cars and drones. Most notably, there have been a number of different policy makers in attendance at the show recently. People from the EU, the U.S Department of Energy, and some state secretaries of European countries have attended. Countries are sending different people to CES to promote themselves. Why is this trend arising? Because government policies have been struggling to keep up with the rate of innovation. AI has been growing and continues to be a hot topic these days. While the government can’t regulate everything, the question of whether there should be some ethical principles plugged into AI continues to resurface.

Change at CES

With all the new innovative products, have you noticed anything that isn’t at CES anymore? A lot of technology has moved in and design products have moved out. Everything is becoming touch screen and interactive. Another thing that disappeared has been companies making mounts for TVs. There used to be thirty or forty of them, but now there are just three. Audio headphones were also huge, but now its wireless earbuds such as the Apple AirPods.

 

Startups at CES

At Eureka Park of CES, there are a ton of different companies. Albert says that Eureka Park is filled with diverse startups eagerly looking for investments. A lot of these companies think they have the best idea and they are going to win investments with it. In reality, a good idea in and of itself does not win anything. Proper timing, execution, and focus are the keys to a successful startup.  Many startups make the mistake of having one target market. Albert says that startups should redefine their target market strategy to three or four target audiences.

Medical Products

 Albert said that there have been a lot of new medical startups at CES. One product I saw measured stress level from something added to the wristband on a watch. Medical devices have always interesting to me since I oversaw accessibility technologies creating products for those visually impaired or deaf while at HP. Albert says he’s seen a lot of hearing aid devices at CES this year.

If you want to keep up with what Albert Zeeman is doing check out his LinkedIn here. Check out his book and marketing plan methods here.

 

 

About Our Guest: Albert Zeeman

Albert Zeeman is a certified marketing and IT specialist who has worked on various innovative products throughout his career. Albert is the author of the book, “Marketingplan Today”, which details his proprietary method for developing a marketing plan in 1 hour. Currently, Albert is the Director of Marketing Services at GBO Innovations Makers and is an editor for the GadgetGear tech blog.

 

Let’s connect; I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. If we do connect, drop me a note and let me know. The email address is feedback@philmckinney.com or you can go to PhilMcKinney.com and drop me a note there. If you are looking for innovation support go to TheInnovators.Network or want to be challenged to develop the next big idea, check out our Disruptive Ideation Workshops. Don’t forget to join our Innovators Community to enjoy more conversations around innovation.

 

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

This week's guest is an old friend of mine with an entrepreneurial spirit and a passion for collegiate athletics. Craig Ridley, CEO, and Co-Founder of ROUTE Analytics Inc. joins us to discuss some game-changing innovation efforts in the world of college sports recruitment. On today's show, we will discuss sports tech innovation and what ROUTE is doing to help young student-athletes make their dreams come true.

ROUTE

What is ROUTE? Craig says ROUTE Analytics is the convergence of three of his many passions. It's sports, technology, and innovation through data science. We help high school athletes find their best path to play collegiate sports. We are grounded in the sport of football for three reasons: It is the most popular American sport, it is the most complex in terms of recruiting, and it is the most lucrative. There are many challenges for the parents, players, and coaches, in the recruiting process. What is the process of getting an athlete noticed by colleges today? Craig says it's more competitive than ever, and much of the lift falls on the athletes and the parents. That process begins earlier than ever, and the student-athletes and their families need to find the best opportunities to play. Collegiate athletic organizations such as the NCAA, NAIA, and NJCAA all have varying restrictions on college coaches and student-athletes contacting each other. That is where ROUTE comes into play. What kickstarted ROUTE? My son played football as a wide receiver in high school and wanted to play Division 1 football, but his coach told him that he was a Div. II/Div. III player. Through the recruiting process, we realized it wasn't that simple. Long story short, we took a sports tech innovation approach to the process and my son was able to get recruited to play at West Virginia University.

The Birth of ROUTE

Craig says that a dream without a plan is a wish. We put up a plan to help my son achieve his goal. When the coach told us that he was a D2/D3 player, we were looking at about 417 schools and a total of 672 schools with football programs in the NCAA. We went to a football camp at the University of Maryland and realized that with 350 kids at the camp, the coaches were unable to evaluate all the kid's talents. Realistically, you can only do about five football camps a summer with the five weeks in between football seasons. We came back from that camp and got smarter with our approach. I started to build a spreadsheet and went to athletic and academic websites, journaling information and narrowing down the schools to target. That is the approach that we took to get my son to his dream. After navigating that process, I had parents asking me for help, but I could only help one family at a time. With my sports tech innovation background, I wondered if there was a way to help navigate this process more efficiently. With regards to ROUTE, what has been the response from coaches and schools? Craig says the coaches love it because it makes their jobs easier. We provide the research and analytics and the predicted outcomes, simplifying the process.

Spreadsheet to Business

How did you go from a spreadsheet to launching a business? Craig says he started by looking for a great data scientist. I was blessed to find three of them and with some tremendous diverse experience. From there, we built a prototype and took it to the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA). The coaches at the show said they had never seen anything like it and encouraged us to build it. I put the initial capital in to go from prototype to beta, and now we're post-beta and working on version three. 80% of our current customers are on IOS devices and we are working on getting it available on Android as well. We have athletes from every state in the country, Canada, as well as users from Europe using our product. What is the next sport after football? Craig says basketball would be next, due to the number of kids playing it in the U.S. What does it take to bring on a new sport? Craig says they acquire a massive amount of data, so it is not a simple task. It's not just on the athletes, but on the school's athletic and academic data. We want to be the foremost data analytics and research company in the area we are in now. Focusing on sports tech innovation in one key area at a time is vital to maximization.

Advice for Startups

With ROUTE being your fifth startup, what is the advice you wish you had before all the startups? Aligning your interests with the folks you're working is beneficial for everyone. Startups don't die because they run out of money, but because the founders run out of energy. It comes down to what you're willing to sacrifice to achieve your dream. How do you validate that your interests are aligned? Craig says it comes down to leadership. Listening is an underrated leadership skill. If you ask the right questions and you listen, you'll hear who and what makes them tick. Assembling my team was the essential step in creating ROUTE.

If you want to keep up with ROUTE and download the ROUTE app, check out their website here. Follow Craig on LinkedIn here.

About Our Guest: Craig Ridley

Craig Ridley is the Co-founder and CEO of ROUTE Analytics Inc. ROUTE is a college football recruiting application that helps athletes make better decisions about where to play. Craig has a background in sports tech innovation through data science and was involved in five different startups.

Let's connect; I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. If we do connect, drop me a note and let me know. The email address is feedback@philmckinney.com or you can go to PhilMcKinney.com and drop me a note there. If you are looking for innovation support go to TheInnovators.Network or want to be challenged to develop the next big idea, check out our Disruptive Ideation Workshops. Don't forget to join our Innovators Community to enjoy more conversations around innovation.

 

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

Today's guest is one that I had the privilege of working alongside during my time at HP. Luca Di Fiore, Head of Products at Xtreme Performance Gear, joins us here at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2020, to discuss some game-changing innovation efforts. On this week's show, we will discuss gaming tech innovation and the latest at Xtreme Performance Gear (XPG).

XPG

During my time at HP, I worked alongside Luca in the Innovation Program Office. Luca leads the effort for the carbon fiber laptop known as the Voodoo Envy. He went on to work for Razer, leading the VR efforts over there. Luca says after working on some award-winning products at Razer, he moved on to a new venture known as XPG by ADATA, a memory company. XPG had an exciting plan to push into gaming. Given an innovation budget, Luca has the freedom to innovate. Why would a memory company want to get into gaming? Luca says it's more evident than it looks. The connection is very simple. Memory is the one part that you can really push through the next level with gaming. XPG was able to assemble a team of people passionate about gaming tech innovation from different companies such as Razer, HyperX, Corsair, etc. How big is the group? Luca says he has three teams working in product management, marketing, and RND, totaling almost thirty people. In less than eleven months, we've managed to launch short of twenty products with a relatively low budget. Luca says most of his team is in Taipei, Taiwan, a hub of competitive gaming.

New Products

With XPG, you guys have made a ton of announcements recently. Can you give us the rundown? Luca says the big announcements here at CES are called "Invasion has Begun" and the fact that XPG entered into systems. There aren't many gaming companies that can do accessories, peripherals, and systems at the same time, so this is big for us.

On top of that, we announced a new gaming laptop and a partnership with intel. We also partnered with a U.S startup called Pixeldisplay to create one of the most innovative gaming tech monitors in the market. We looked at how much time tech enthusiasts spend on their monitor and wanted to find a way to preserve their eyesight. We've implemented Pixeldisplay's technology, which offers a better quality of the image that doesn't filter out the blue color, but just the harmful blue LED properties. How big is this display? Luca says it's the same size as any other display with the difference that it does not ship with a stand. On the peripheral side, we have brought in our innovation spearhead called XPG Headshot. In developing this product, we asked the question of how to create an ultra-lightweight mouse. We used 3D printing to create a nicely structured mouse built into one place.

Product Customization

Typically, with mice today, there is a universal set of hand sizes, such as small, medium, and large. With 3D printing, do you customize the mice at XPG? We built this AI application to help in the customization of the mouse. We use an AI algorithm to take a picture of your hand and modify it based on the specific dimension. We even let you choose your grip style and personalize the mouse specifically for your needs. Scalability isn't a problem because our gaming tech innovation allows us to build anywhere in the world with these 3D printers.

What are some other announcements from XPG? We are sponsoring an ESL tournament in Bangkok, Thailand, and we brought a 24-karat gold keyboard, worth $10,000 as the prize. We also have a laptop collaboration with Intel. It is a gaming laptop with a 15" display and is available to ship in Taiwan and Latin America, acting almost like a field trial for the future U.S market.

Idea to Product

Many listeners of the show have ideas. They've come up with but no expertise on how to turn them into a product. What advice would you give to an entrepreneur with a fresh idea? Luca says the first rule of thumb is to do great prototypes and make them as functional as possible. For example, my monitors had a prototype that could turn around in a month's time frame. We have a lot of prototyping housing in Asia, specifically Taiwan, due to the cost-effectiveness of the area. The area also has a lot of companies that help with startups. Having a prototype will get you started in creating your gaming tech innovation products or any other product types.

About our Guest: Luca Di Fiore

Luca Di Fiore is the Head of Products at Xtreme Performance Gear (XPG) at ADATA. Luca is a bleeding-edge technologist with an international mindset and years of experience innovating and solving problems within the ICT industry, looking to make a difference in people's lives through new human-machine paradigms. His previous experience includes Director of R&D at Razer, and Senior R&D Manager, CTO Office-Innovation Programs at Hewlett-Packard.

Let's connect; I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. If we do connect, drop me a note and let me know. The email address is feedback@philmckinney.com or you can go to PhilMcKinney.com and drop me a note there. If you are looking for innovation support go to TheInnovators.Network or want to be challenged to develop the next big idea, check out our Disruptive Ideation Workshops. Don't forget to join our Innovators Community to enjoy more conversations around innovation.

 

Direct download: Bringing_the_Game_to_Gaming_Tech_Innovation_CES2020.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

Today’s guest is no stranger to the Killer Innovations Show. John Osborne II, Chairman of the Board of the Zigbee Alliance and General – Manager of Leedarson North America, joins us at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). On this week’s show, we will discuss the growth of IoT devices and the trend of consolidation within IoT. 

 

The Zigbee Alliance 

With the recent scale-up of the device connectivity arena, what’s Zigbee been up to? John says that Zigbee has formed together with Apple, Google, and Amazon, to drive the industry into a common direction. If we can accomplish what we are trying to do with the big four, it will drive the industry towards consolidation. Consumers can go to stores and buy the product they want rather than focusing on specific brands. We don’t want this to be just another standard. Instead, we want to take the top existing technologies and put them together. We’ve seen more and more large companies desiring consolidation.

 

LEEDARSON and IoT

I get a lot of inquiries from listeners on the show with ideas for IoT devices. With your experience, what advice would you give to someone with these ideas? The company I work for, LEEDARSON, specializes in that. Whether one comes with a design ready to be built, or they have an idea, we can walk them through it. We try to educate, as well as walk them through the design process, and occasionally do real-time iterations. We’re happy to help whether they’re a multi-billion-dollar company or someone new to the industry. Sometimes people come in with similar ideas for devices that we already have. We’ll modify their idea, make it compliant, package it, and ship it to them. Others come in with great ideas about different devices, and we’ll test them and possibly do a joint development. We don’t strictly manufacture. We are involved in many different things.

 

Advancing IoT Products

What unique applications of IoT have you seen? John says there are very few significant new ideas. It’s mostly the same products being improved over time. The most changes we’ve seen are on the AI side. We’re trying to get the end device smart enough to operate without the cloud. Recently, I’ve seen some cool new things in the lighting arena. Lighting has been recently tied to entertainment. If you’re playing Fortnite, you want the room around you to emulate what is happening. However, this can often be tricky. In the case of many IoT devices, there is a cost lift to each of these modified products. What is that cost lift? John says people want more functionality at a lower price. For example, people are willing to pay about $5 premium on a smart bulb. That is a target we are all shooting for. Today, it is at around $10 premium. What are the other barriers holding people from buying IoT devices? Most people won’t just throw away their already purchased light bulbs. LED bulbs last a long time, so people get comfortable with them. We need to figure out how to incentivize people to swap out a good bulb for something more connected. 

 

Increasing Consolidation

As Chairman of Zigbee, what else have you been working on? Part of what we have been dealing with is whether we’re a technology or an alliance. We may be changing the name soon. We’ve been partnering with different entities and working to put our differences aside to reach common goals. We have also been working on consolidating internal protocols to gain more flexibility. Some massive changes are coming for Zigbee. With all these groups newly combining, do you see this continuing over the next 4-5 years? These organizations have assigned full-time resources into it, as it is essential to them. I believe we will see this consolidation grow a lot over the next couple of years.

 

If you want to keep up with Zigbee Alliance, check out their website here. Follow John on his Linkedin here and his website here

 

About our Guest: John Osborne II

John Osborne is currently General Manager at LEEDARSON North America and Chairman of the Board of the Zigbee Alliance. In these capacities, he helps educate and grow the IoT market globally. LEEDARSON is a global provider in traditional and connected lighting and sensors. The Zigbee Alliance is the premier Internet of Things (IoT) standards development organization since 2002. John has extensive experience in new product development, rapid product commercialization, systems innovations, and operations improvement. He has demonstrated the ability to manage and inspire multi-cultural, internal-external teams. He is a skilled communicator and presenter and has a sound background in budgeting, resource allocation, and operations efficiency.

 

 

Let’s connect; I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. If we do connect, drop me a note and let me know. The email address is feedback@philmckinney.com, or you can go to PhilMcKinney.com and drop me a note there. If you are looking for innovation support, go to TheInnovators.Network or want to be challenged to develop the next big idea, check out our Disruptive Ideation Workshops. Don’t forget to join our Innovators Community to enjoy more conversations around innovation.

 

ES2020 Guest: John E. Osborne II S15 Ep50

Direct download: Where_is_Iot_Going_CES2020.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

This year at the Consumer Electronics Show 2020 (CES), we were joined by another groundbreaking innovation group. E-Novia is an innovation company that inserts robotics and AI into everything they do. Our guests include Ivo Boniolo, Chief Innovation Officer and co-founder of E-Novia, Fabio Todeschini from BluBrake, Roberto Rossi from Smart Robots, and Patrizia Casali from Wahu, all enterprises of E-Novia. We will discuss E-Novia’s product lines and how they are infusing robotics and AI throughout various enterprises.  

 

E-Novia

 Ivo says that E-Novia came from the desire to bring robotics and AI to Italy’s most recognized fields. E-Novia collaborates with local universities to find and develop products that will have success in the marketplace. Currently, E-Novia has 30 enterprises in their group, while only being a company for five years. Ivo says E-Novia is currently in the process of an IPO to increase capital and qualify its unique model. What is the scale of E-Novia’s enterprises? E-Novia has enterprises that are in every stage, some early, in the middle, and some more advanced. With the huge design market in Milan, E-Novia has been working to create design products infused with robotics. We seek to create products that will welcome and interest the users. How has E-Novia been funded so far? Ivo says that E-Novia has been funded by an Italian family in the Manufacturing Industry as well as through fundraising. We have been working on growing our international relations, as we have a subsidiary in San Francisco, CA, and are currently opening an office in Japan.

 

BluBrake

We are now joined by Fabio Todeschini of BluBrake, an enterprise of E-Novia that develops Antilock Brake Systems (ABS) for e-bikes. Why do e-bikes need ABS technology? Fabio says that the e-bike market is growing a lot. The way we use bikes has changed from strictly cyclists using them to commuters using them as well. Many people using these e-bikes are unfamiliar with how to use them, causing accidents. People panic brake which cause the majority of e-bike accidents. Is Bluebrake’s product being used by bike manufacturers today? Fabio says it is available in Europe and they are working on making it available in the U.S. What is the incremental increase in the cost of adding this product to an e-bike? Around $500 additionally, which has been positive due to our high-end target-market. Are there others out there doing this? Fabio says there one competitor is Bosch, but Blubrake’s product is a bit different that its competitor. With all this traction, what’s next for Blubrake? Fabio says they are in the scale-up phase and wish to expand into the U.S, as they already have customers in Europe. As far as product expansion, Blubrake has a potential interest in motorcycle, scooters, and car braking systems. 

 

Smart Robots

We are now joined by Roberto Rossi from Smart Robots, a system used to support production line operators in factories. Smart Robots emphasize making the human the center of the production process. What does this collaborative robotics really mean? Smart robots put humans first and support them with their two configurations. One guides humans during manual operations to eliminate errors by suggesting feedback. The other configuration works as a co-worker alongside the human. How do you get the workers to accept the robots as a tool? Roberto says that it is a step by step process. You introduce the robot to the workers and they get acquainted with it over time. Eventually, they come to appreciate the robot's help and treat it as a colleague. Where can these robots be useful? Roberto says that there is a lot of interest in different sectors of manufacturing. Wide goods productions such as washing machines and automobiles can use them due to their need of human and digital assistance. Complete automation is an old approach and human use in manufacturing is coming back. What’s next for Smart Robots? We have a big surprise coming into the safety realm of the manufacturing process. Many conditions in manufacturing need extra safety to keep workers protected. Our new product will aid in the safety of these workers. 

 

Wahu

Now joining us is Patrizia Casali of Wahu, a company that offers a shoe sole with the capability to adapt to ground features and environmental conditions. Why is having a sole that changes so important? Patrizia says that if someone wants to go hiking or play golf, they need to use different types of shoes. With this technology, you use the same shoes and they adapt to your environment. How do the shoes auto-detect what’s underneath them? Inside the sole, there is an electronic board with sensors and actuators that take data and analyze it. We offer a lot of different customization options that the user may choose from. 

 

About our Guest: Ivo Boniolo

Ivo Boniolo is a co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer of E-Novia, an innovative group that infuses robotics and AI into their ventures. Ivo studied at schools such as the Politecnico di Milano, the Politecnico di Torino, and Alta Scuola Politecnica. The experience gained from his schooling added to his skills in innovation, management, and invention. During his ten years with the E-Novia group, he has spent his time transferring his technical and innovation knowledge and experience to the growth of E-Novia’s many enterprises. 

 

About our Guest: Fabio Todeschini

Fabio Todeschini is from BluBrake, an enterprise of E-Novia. Fabio has a Ph.D. in engineering. He has experience in working on Antilock Brake Systems (ABS) for motorcycles. Fabio has taken his experience in ABS and applied it to e-bikes, the product line of BluBrake. 

 

About our Guest: Roberto Rossi

Roberto Rossi is from Smart Robots, another innovative enterprise of E-Novia. Roberto has a Ph.D. in robotics. After receiving his Ph.D., he helped start Smart Robots, which aids humans in the goods manufacturing process. 

 

About our Guest: Patrizia Casali

Patrizia Casali is from Wahu, a company that offers a shoe with a unique sole that adapts to different environments. Patrizia is a biomedical engineer who joined E-Novia to work on innovation after receiving her master’s degree.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about E-Novia and its enterprises, check out their website here

 

Let’s connect; I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. If we do connect, drop me a note and let me know. The email address is feedback@philmckinney.com or you can go to PhilMcKinney.com and drop me a note there. If you are looking for innovation support go to TheInnovators.Network or want to be challenged to develop the next big idea, check out our Disruptive Ideation Workshops. Don’t forget to join our Innovators Community to enjoy more conversations around innovation.

Direct download: Innovating_Across_Enterprises_CES2020.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

Two outstanding guests joined us while we were at the Consumer Electronics Show 2020 (CES). Bob O’Donnell, the President, Founder, and Chief Analyst at TECHnalysis Research, and Greg Johnston from Manta5, a company that offers the world’s first Hydrofoil Bike that replicates the cycling experience on the water. This week on Killer Innovations, we will discuss CES, the PC industry, and Manta5’s new game-changing product.

 

Standing Out at CES

With the size and noise of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), how do companies attract attention? Bob says that flashy press conferences are the key to getting noticed. Panasonic brought out Michael Phelps and showcased Star Wars characters to broadcast their work with Walt Disney Imagineering. Sony rolled out a car prototype known as the Vison-S during a press conference to promote the component technologies they are producing for the automotive industry. Having something that stands out is vital to gaining attention at an event like CES.

 

PC Growth

Bob and I had the pleasure of growing up together. We reconnected many years later through the PC industry. Bob has been a follower and influencer of the PC industry for a long time. With talk about PCs being dead, Bob shared some thoughts on the matter. The PC market has never reached its height. Still very much alive and kicking today, PCs have proved to be relevant even in the days of smartphones. The capabilities offered from PCs such as a larger screen and a physical keyboard are incredibly important. We saw some of the most significant innovations of PCs have been in recent times. AMD came out with their Ryzen 4000 Series parts for desktop and laptops based on their Zen 2 Core. Intel just debuted Tiger Lake, their next-generation intel core processor. On top of that, these guys are also exploring AI and 5G within the PC realm. That is why I partly believe we are in a real renaissance era of the PC market.

If you want to follow Bob’s endeavors, check out his recently started Forbes column here. He writes for Tech.pinions and has the Tech.pinions podcast, so check that out here. If you want to dig in, go to Bob’s website here.

 

Manta5

Here at CES, you will see just about anything and everything under the sun. Joining us is New Zealander Greg Johnston, CEO of Manta5, a company with a unique product. What is Manta5, you might ask? Greg says that Manta5 is the “brain-child” of its founder Guy Howard-Willis, an avid cyclist who had the dream of cycling on the water. Years later, that dream came true when Manta5 created the world’s first Hydrofoil Bike on water. The bike itself has two wings and a propeller, and while the user peddles, the cycle planes on the water.

 

Idea to Product

As an innovator, I know how hard it is to translate an idea into a product. How was the process of turning this idea into a product? Greg said there wasn’t much to go off at first, so they started with a bike frame and a propeller. We used a private pool and experimented with heaps of different prototypes trying to develop the hydrofoils. Once we nailed the rider position relative to the foils, we received a grant from Callaghan to develop the propeller and foils with an engineer. How long was the time frame for this process? It took about seven years to get the product out, and the product has been on the market for about a year now. It is a customized product except for the handlebars, the seat, and the pedals. What was the feedback on the product? Greg says the feedback has been overwhelming. We created an unboxing experience to deliver directly to the customer which they loved.

 

Growing Manta5

What was the learning process for the company with the blow-up of the product? Going from creating a prototype, to designing the product, to producing it on a scale has been a significant challenge. We’ve grown our design team as well as our production and engineering team over time. We’ve also been developing our relationships with suppliers for when we are ready to mass-produce these products. How did you guys catch the attention of manufacturers with this product? Greg says that Manta5 worked with an agent in Taiwan who knew their founders. Building relationships is everything. If manufacturers like you as a person and your vision as a company, that is huge.

 

Vision for the Future

What’s next for Manta5? The vision is to become cycling’s new frontier. We want to create a range of new products in biking while cultivating a sport through our product. When it comes to any game-changing product, copycats always arise. How will Manta5 deal with copycat products? We at Manta5 place importance on establishing ourselves as the leader in Hydrofoil Biking. We support other brands that may pop up in the future, as we want to cultivate a sport out of Hydrofoil Biking.

Follow Manta5 and check out the world’s first Hydrofoil Bike, view their website here, and check out their Facebook here.

 

About our Guest: Bob O’Donnell

Bob O’Donnell is the President, Founder, and Chief Analyst of TECHnalysi Research. The firm's research and O’Donnell’s opinions are also regularly used by major media outlets, including Bloomberg TV, CNBC, CNN, Investor's Business Daily, the Wall Street Journal, Yahoo Finance, and more. O'Donnell writes regular columns for USAToday and Forbes, as well as a weekly blog for Tech.pinions.com published on TechSpot, SeekingAlpha, and LinkedIn. Before founding TECHnalysis Research, Bob served as Program Vice President, Clients and Displays for industry research firm IDC. He is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame.

 

About our Guest: Greg Johnston

Greg Johnston is the CEO of Manta5, the creator of the world’s first Hydrofoil Bike, that replicates the cycling experience on the water. Greg is a driven entrepreneur who’s passionate about high growth startups and innovative social enterprise. He’s currently working alongside the original Torpedo7 founders to commercialize the Manta5 Hydrofoil Bike. Greg enjoys being a part of the Waikato startup and business scene. He’s always keen to meet new people, help connect others, and find ways to collaborate.

 

Let’s connect; I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. If we do connect, drop me a note and let me know. The email address is feedback@philmckinney.com, or you can go to PhilMcKinney.com and drop me a note there. If you are looking for innovation support, go to TheInnovators.Network or want to be challenged to develop the next big idea, check out our Disruptive Ideation Workshops. Don’t forget to join our Innovators Community to enjoy more conversations around innovation

Direct download: Renaissance_Era_in_Innovation_CES2020.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

This year at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), we witnessed a notable trend occurring. Government agencies from all over the nation, as well as foreign government agencies, were seen at the show. This week, Dimitri Kusnezov, the Deputy Under Secretary for AI and Technology at the U.S Dept of Energy, joins us on The Killer Innovations Show. We will discuss what the future of AI looks like from the Department of Energy’s side of things.

The Dept of Energy’s Mission

Typically, people don’t notice much of the DOE’s activity in their everyday lives. In reality, the Department of Energy continuously operates from the shadows fixing our nation’s toughest problems. It works in areas that range from the health industry to electrical grids. At its core, the Dept of Energy exists to fix a wide variety of issues by leveraging its innovative capabilities. Dimitri Kusnezov, says that the DOE is the biggest funder of physical sciences in the U.S. They focus on public-private partnerships to accomplish their many goals. The DOE uses connections, as well as advanced innovative technologies, to keep our nation running efficiently.

 

CES and the Dept of Energy

How does the U.S Department of Energy approach attending a show like CES? Dimitri Kusnezov says that innovation is global. It’s almost anywhere you look, from small and large companies to academia. The DOE needs to identify where the innovation trends are and ask important questions. Who should we talk to? Where should we draw ideas? With the recent “overhype of AI,” the name has been thrown around loosely everywhere. I asked Dimitri where the DOE stands on AI. Due to the recent birth of Artificial Intelligence, the DOE has kept its feelings of AI open. Dimitri says when it comes to the future of AI, only time will tell. The Dept of Energy looks at specific problems and asks what it will take to best solve them. Something like AI can pose other problems if not approached correctly. AI touches areas such as privacy, civil rights, etc., and can sometimes hint at unintended biases. Who is to blame in touchy situations like these? Is it the guy writing the code? Is it the guy collecting the data? The problem with AI is that no one owns it explicitly. Data confidentiality is a big issue in the technology world today. With the growing potential and use of AI, innovators need to explore what the tech is all about thoroughly.

 

The Role of AI at the Dept of Energy

What is the role of AI at the Department of Energy? Dimitri Kusnezov says that Washington D.C has recognized the importance and value of AI increasingly over the past couple of years. The DOE has 17 labs and a workforce of around 90,000 people. They have surfaced more than 600 projects in the areas of nuclear weapons, smart cities, cybersecurity, transportation, farming, cancer research, etc. You’ll be able to see the core of learning and AI technology in many different areas throughout the U.S Department of Energy. With such a large cache of info available, how does the DOE extract actionable data? Dimitri says the DOE focuses on catastrophic events. They use AI and partnering to understand when to make decisions in those high-consequence situations. With such a big organization,  how does the Dept of Energy leverage its tools? Dimitri Kusnezov says that the DOE workforce has many different skillsets and a good knowledge of their assets. The DOE has a unique advantage with the ability to simulate very realistic situations. Dimitri says their ability to handle data is unmatched by anyone else.

 

Advice on AI

What information can you give to other organizations looking into AI? Don’t overthink it, Dimitri says. Currently, AI is in a fragile stage. It is very limited in what it can do. The answer isn’t, “where can I plug in AI?” but rather, “what are the problems you’re trying to solve?”. Which AI methods apply to your problems? Identify what is essential for you and how AI can help you.

 

When it comes to the government, many innovators either avoid working with them or don’t know where to go to get involved. Where can those who are looking to help find you guys? Dimitri Kusnezov says that the Dept of Energy’s doors are always open. Many companies are stopping by our D.C headquarters and talk to us about various things. We have a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) office as well as other resources for innovators to get involved with us. I encourage innovators to get involved in a public-private partnership to solve government problems, advancing their products along the way. If you are working on something that might be useful to a government agency, I encourage you to reach out.

 

About our Guest: Dimitri Kusnezov

Dr. Dimitri Kusnezov currently serves as Deputy Under Secretary for A.I. and Technology. Dimitri received A.B. degrees in Physics and Pure Mathematics with highest honors from UC Berkeley. Following a year of research at the Institut fur Kernphysik, KFA-Julich, in Germany, he attended Princeton University earning his MS in Physics and Ph.D. in Theoretical Nuclear Physics. At Michigan State University, Dimitri conducted postdoctoral research and then became an instructor. In 1991, he joined the faculty of Yale University as an assistant professor in physics, becoming an associate professor in 1996. He has served as a visiting professor at numerous universities around the world. Dr. Kusnezov has published over 100 articles and a book. He joined federal service at the National Nuclear Security Administration in late 2001 and is a member of the Senior Executive Service and is also a Visiting Researcher at Yale.

If you’re interested in learning more about the U.S Dept of Energy and what they are currently up to, check out their website here. For small businesses interested in working with the DOE, check out their SBIR program here.

Let’s connect; I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. If we do connect, drop me a note and let me know. The email address is feedback@philmckinney.com, or you can go to PhilMcKinney.com and drop me a note there. If you are looking for innovation support, go to TheInnovators.Network or want to be challenged to develop the next big idea, check out our Disruptive Ideation Workshops. Don’t forget to join our Innovators Community to enjoy more conversations around innovation.

 

 

Direct download: Dept_of_Energy_on_AI_and_its_Impact_CES2020.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

This week on Killer Innovations, we are joined by two guests here at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Scott Kim, CEO of NEOFECT USA, an innovative health tech company, and Sarah Brown, the Director of Event Communications for the Consumer Technology Association (CTA). On this show, we will be discussing technology in the health industry, as well as what the future of CES looks like.

NEOFECT

NEOFECT has been focused on aiding people in stroke rehabilitation by providing them with top tier health technology. Their products, such as the Smart Glove, run solely on AI technology. This provides a more independent therapy option for users while tracking their progress over time. Scott Kim's passion and vision for the company come from hard life experiences. Scott was born with Spinal Bifida, making him very familiar with the rehabilitation process at a young age. Scott worked through his adversities and created something successful and meaningful. While NEOFECT has established itself as a high-end health tech company, it wasn’t an easy journey. Scott Kim started with a team of eight founders, and only three currently remain with the company. The company started small with limited funding and worked for four years to launch its first product. Today, the company has multiple products to aid stroke patients, as well as products to aid children in dealing with motor challenges.

What’s New

Going forward, NEOFECT is launching an app called NEOFECT Connect. This app will give its users live rehab solutions to aid in recovering from a stroke. It will act similarly to Skype and will provide users with the human relationship aspect of therapy that is desired. To keep up with NEOFECT and what they are currently doing, check out their Facebook page here.

Trends at CES

Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is the world’s largest and most influential tech event. Sarah Brown, the Director of Event Communications for CTA, the host of CES, joined us to discuss the growth and future of the event. A new trend is visibly starting up, as non-tech centered companies are attending CES. New industries such as travel and tourism, have been promoting products and services at CES as well. Smart Cities, aimed at making communities better prepared for natural disasters, have been popping up at the event. An array of different companies joined CES to show off their products to the world. CES become the "go-to" show not only for innovators but for policymakers as well. Representatives from the government, such as the Department of Energy, as well as international representatives from the EU, were in attendance.

Growth and Expansion

With all the different companies at CES, there is a magical competition between companies large and small. Startups are trying to gain the attention of investors and larger companies with their products. Hotels are filled up, and more and more companies are attending each year. With this continual growth, some questions come to mind. How much bigger can CES become? Sarah says that if companies want to be at CES, we want them here. Space is running out, but the facilities are being expanded significantly, so even the smallest companies can attend. What is one thing at CES 2020 that wows you? Sarah says flying cars are the coolest. Companies like Hyundai are partnering with Uber to bring flying cars to the people.

About Our Guest: Scott Kim

Scott Kim is the CEO of NEOFECT USA (San Francisco, CA), and Co-founder of NEOFECT, its parent company based in South Korea. The company is a rehabilitation technology company focused on providing vital rehab equipment to those recovering from strokes and suffering from motor challenges. Scott was born with Spinal Bifida, which gave him a unique understanding of the rehabilitation process. His prior work experience includes working in the gaming industry for GREE, Z2Live, and 505 Games.  He received a bachelor’s of Business Administration from Korea University, as well as a master’s in Business Administration from the University of Virginia.

About our Guest: Sarah Brown

Sarah Brown is the Director of Event Communications for the Consumer Technology Association (CTA). Sarah serves as a spokesperson for CES and leads the media relations strategy for the show. Previously, Brown led the global media strategy for leisure, innovation, and food & beverage for Hilton Worldwide. Before her time at Hilton Worldwide, Brown worked for Ketchum, a global public relations firm. Sarah Brown earned her bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Arizona and a master's in public relations and corporate communications from Georgetown University. 

Let’s connect; I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. If we do connect, drop me a note and let me know. The email address is feedback@philmckinney.com, or you can go to PhilMcKinney.com and drop me a note there. If you are looking for innovation support, go to TheInnovators.Network or want to be challenged to develop the next big idea, check out our Disruptive Ideation Workshops. Don’t forget to join our Innovators Community to enjoy more conversations around innovation.

Direct download: Impact_From_Innovation_Personal_and_Global_CES2020.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

Today’s guest is one of the top technology industry analysts, well known in Silicon Valley and globally. When he talks about your company or products, you hope it is more positive than negative as his word moves the markets. Our guest is here with us at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which is his 50th. This week on Killer Innovations, Tim Bajarin joins us to discuss what is real and becoming a future innovation platform.

How’s it Shaping Up

CES has evolved over the years from a heavy focus on video and audio to every product category that touches technology. From cosmetics, toilets to autonomous cars, and smart televisions. We have seen it all say's Phil, who is in his twenty-fifth year at CES. The evolution over these years has generated innovation and technology in our everyday lives that was once a fantasy you saw in movies. Now turned into reality. One area is in transportation and the progression of the vehicle becoming, as one Fortune 500 CEO told Phil, a “Cell Phone on Wheels.”  The smart vehicle today is now turning into your entertainment room and productivity station – Transportation As A Platform (TAAP).

The glass on vehicles and your house is transforming into the smart visual platform that keeps you communicating wherever you are. These glass displays today are amazingly more connected, but just now tipping the iceberg of potential. Companies like Corning are doing amazing things by focusing on the smart glass and its unlimited possibilities.

AI Everything —What’s Real? How about Ethics?

Catch all term?? When it comes to Artificial Intelligence (AI), it is everywhere, but used as a loose term – for most a feature I need to have and tout. We have AI in our soap. You don’t need to rub soap all over your body, it now finds the dirty spot and rubs it for you. Really what is practical and real AI? It has been around for many decades in different lingo and forms. Now, AI has more market form and will be in anything electronic. You need to understand AI and not just use the term or application loosely. The intelligence aspect of AI has to be applied to more effectively utilize the full potential.

Where is the critical impact on AI that can hurt or help you, it’s ethics. Most organizations are inserting AI into their common language and products; however, the impact is not all that obvious. If you are not thinking of the ethical and various risk impacts, you are just a follower in the buzz word bingo. It's crucial to establish your AI governance. Setting up an AI ethics Board is what is going to keep your risk low and your value high.

Computing will Drive Innovation

AI is one of the advancing technologies that rely on high-performance computing and silicon. However, demand shifts, availability and advancement can generate problems for the next generation of innovation. Computing power advancement does come with the balancing of the cost versus rapid progression that companies are grappling with today. Impactful innovations and expectations of new products and technologies are reliant on industry players making the right call and investing.

Without the exponential growth of computing power, we will stall in our progression of innovation. IoT, sensors, AI, Cloud, Drones, Autonomous, and all the latest trends will come to a halt unless the dynamics are aligned and balanced from cost, pricing and R&D for those providing the computing power. The demand is at such a high pace at this stage of technology expansion. It takes a tremendous commitment from the major players such as Intel and AMD. It also makes the PC players keep providing productivity tools. One of which is still the PC. Many think the PC is dead, but that is not reality as it is still the most productive platform.

Will Form Factor Make a Difference

Foldables at CES was a big attraction, as they moved towards mobile devices and displays for entertainment and productivity. Manipulated to the contour you desire, these intelligent displays are starting to gain traction and turning into reality. For the players, it comes down to a component that can give the industry a big boost, a refresh, and generate new channels and opportunities for innovation. Phil was pioneering foldable/bendable displays 10+years back when at HP and his prediction has taken form. The foldable players are building all the intelligence in a complete screen that bends at will. What does this give the consumer – more straightforward communication, lighter smartphones, increased productivity and creative possibilities beyond the obvious.

About our Guest: Tim Bajarin

Tim Bajarin is one of the most recognized and sought after global technology analysts, futurists, and consultants. His fifty years in Silicon Valley has made him a voice that moves the market.

His writing and analysis have been at the forefront of the digital revolution. He was one of the first analysts to cover the personal computer industry and is considered one of the leading experts in the field of technology adoption life cycles. He is president of technology-focused company Creative Strategies and is also a regular podcaster on Tech.Pinions (also broadcasted on The Innovators Network).

Bajarin is a futurist and credited with predicting the desktop publishing revolution three years before it reached the market and multimedia.

He has been with Creative Strategies since 1981 and has served as a consultant to most of the leading hardware and software vendors in the industry including IBM, Apple, Microsoft, Nvidia, AMD, HP, Xerox, Compaq, Dell, AT&T, Microsoft, Polaroid, Lotus, Epson, Qualcomm, Toshiba, and numerous others.

He also serves on the technology advisory boards for IBM, Compaq, and Dell. (from Wikipedia)

Let’s connect; I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. If we do connect, drop me a note and let me know. The email address is feedback@philmckinney.com or you can go to PhilMcKinney.com and drop me a note there. If you are looking for innovation support, go to TheInnovators.Network or want to be challenged to develop the next big idea, check out our Disruptive Ideation Workshops. Don’t forget to join our Innovators Community to enjoy more conversations around innovation.

 

Direct download: Future_Innovation_Platforms_CES2020.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

AI has become the new buzzword that has been applied to anything and everything. You can’t attend trade shows without seeing AI attached to labels such as AI apps, AI-enhanced coffee, and AI influenced healthcare, etc. As of recent, AI has been in transition mode. It has moved from merely a “hype label” to something of reality. Some are even calling it the AI-driven “fourth industrial revolution.” On today’s show, I am going to be discussing AI and how it can be applied and used in innovation.

AI Innovation

Innovation and creation come from our learnings and experiences. With every new creation comes inspiration from something else. Edison didn’t invent the lightbulb; he perfected it. Einstein was inspired by physicists that went before him. So what is the difference between AI invented and AI-inspired? Input and experience play a key role. For AI, that comes in the form of the “training data” supplied to the system to recognize patterns and identify the best solutions. Training data is critically important and allows AI to do what it does. It is part of an element called machine learning, which has historically applied to games like chess and go. It was initially thought that humans had a unique advantage at these kinds of things. Here are a few examples that may prove otherwise:

  • Deep Blue’swin over Chess champion Garry Kasparov. It took multiple attempts, but the robot's skill evolved after a while.
  • IBM Watson’sJeopardy win over human trivia kings.
  • Google DeepMind’s Go-playing bot’s win against a Korean grandmaster. The top player has retired, saying that a human will never be better than a computer at Go.

 

Is this proof that AI is becoming smarter than humans? It depends on how you define smart. Do you define it by IQ number, critical thinking skills, or memorization? What makes humans smart? Let’s not move too fast here. In the case of chess, the key is to recognize patterns and to be able to look at the number of steps ahead. These are two skills that computers have become quite good at using machine learning. So is that the definition of smart?

 There is no doubt that AI will make an impact. Will it have an impact on innovation? If so, how will it be manifested? In what ways can we use AI to support our innovation endeavors? Are you ready to jump in?

AI and Creativity

One example of AI is in the writing of stories for Associated Press

AP uses deep learning in its Wordsmith tool to generate millions of news stories for financial services and sports, outpacing the output of all major media companies combined. Wordsmith has been trained on articles written by others that were redeemed as “good.” It plans to offer medium-specific stories, such as those published online and read on the air by newscasters, publication-specific stories separately tailored for publications like the New York Times and Buzzfeed. The question I ask myself is, could they write the script for my show? Not really, because my show isn’t triggered by press releases, and based on a specific style. So what is the downside of this? No one is reading the press release to validate it manually.

 

 One of my hobbies is to write instrumental music I use during ideation and brainstorming workshops. They recently came out with an experimental AI plugin from Magenta Studio. I’ve been experimenting with it to see if it can be a tool to help me create better instrumentals

Magenta provides a pretty easy way to get started with AI applied to create music. Another example of AI applied to creativity is when Christie, in October 2018, auctioned its first work of art generated by an algorithm called a generative adversarial network (GAN). This GAN approach meant that the AI was fed 15,000 portraits painted between the 14th and 20th centuries to train it in a style of art. Then a portrait was created by one computer network (the generating computer) that attempted to convince a second computer (the discriminating computer) that the image it generated should pass as real art. The discriminating computer is trained with portraits to teach it how to discern what a good portrait looks like so it can play the referee. The generating computer’s task is to create convincing art through a feedback loop, which improves both their capabilities over time. The portrait that passed the test sold for $432,000. This begs some important questions: Who should get the byline for the article published by the wordsmith tool for AP? Who gets the songwriter credit for the new song?

Who should sign their signature to the painting?

 

 

Applying AI

Could AI be applied to creating ideas that result in high impact innovations? Could it replace human creativity? Could AI be used to generate new ideas? I don’t think so. It could be used, however, as a tool to take raw ideas and apply AI to expand, enhance, and improve them. Possibly a tool to help the human side of brainstorming get past the mental block of generating more and better ideas.

So if we use AI as a tool to “create,” …

  • Who should get the byline for the article published by the wordsmith tool for AP?
  • Who gets the songwriter credit for the new song created by a tool like Magenta Studio?
  • Who should sign their signature to the painting?
  • Who should get credit on the patent application for a tool that helped in brainstorming?

AI augments what authors and inventors can do. With advances in machine learning, the interaction between algorithms and the creative process is changing. AI now allows artists to find unexpected beauty in chaos and complexity that exceeds the human grasp. AI is something to experiment with. It shouldn’t be feared. I am very optimistic about the role AI can play as a tool.

 

Five Minutes to New Ideas

No two people are alike. We all enjoy different movies, music, and experiences. To be normal is not to be average, but different. For some reason, we are uncomfortable showing our differences. Many people feel inadequate when looking at others around them. Face it; we are all quirky. Everyone has their own “normal.” It is normal to follow your natural inclinations. Trying to conform to the crowd is not acting like yourself. We are all outstanding in some way. Once we find what our “super-power” is, life takes on a new meaning. What are the steps to being content with who we are? Find out who you are and be that. Discover your strengths and use them. You are unique, and it is your duty to be who you are.

Let’s connect; I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. If we do connect, drop me a note and let me know. The email address is feedback@philmckinney.com, or you can go to PhilMcKinney.com and drop me a note there. If you are looking for innovation support, go to TheInnovators.Network or want to be challenged to develop the next big idea, check out our Disruptive Ideation Workshops. Don’t forget to join our Innovators Community to enjoy more conversations around innovation.

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

Today’s guest stands as one of the top inventors and scientists of our time. Dean Kamen has been innovating for decades and is known for his invention of the Segway, the infusion pump, the iBOT wheelchair, and many more game-changing inventions. This week on Killer Innovations, Dean Kamen joins us to discuss inventions and what he is currently doing to help change the world.

 Helping People Live Better

Dean is continuously trying to invent things to aid those in need. He has worked on taking technologies developed for broad markets and using them to meet the needs of patients. Many of Dean’s products help those with rarer issues, such as veterans who’ve lost limbs, or those with genetic disorders. Dean wants to reach the point where medical patients can live comfortably at home and still have access to the latest medical technology to keep them healthy. These inventions will not only save a ton of money but gives the patients more independence and dignity in their lives.

Hope for Future Inventions

When it comes to future inventions, Dean wants to create better alternative solutions to his dialysis invention as well as his infusion pump. He wants to continually enhance his products to make them more convenient for users. Through his company Deka Research and Development Corp, he tackles the world’s most complex problems, solving and innovating to improve our lives. In the “Near Future Series: “A Better Place”, Dean and the team are working towards opportunities in these areas.

The Next Generation Inventors

As an innovator on a mission, Dean’s passion is unchanging, and many see him as the Thomas Edison of our time. While we face our biggest challenges, such as the environment, healthcare, transportation, etc., a question remains: Who will be the next Dean Kamen? Dean says that there is a culture problem in our country rather than an education crisis. The abundance of things clouds kids from having creativity. Kids want to become movie stars and professional athletes rather than inventors of lifechanging products. Kids would instead want to be celebrities due to the recognition and glorification of those positions. To fix this problem, Dean decided to make inventing a sport, to encourage kids to work hard at something more impactful. That is where FIRST comes in to play. Dean founded FIRST, an international organization that hosts robot building competitions. FIRST gives kids an opportunity at a future and sets them up to become changers of the world.

Dean is an innovator with a passion and a mission to change the world. He continually strives to help others by creating and enhancing products that aid them. Finding success in what you are doing is vital to have an innovation mission on lockdown. What is your innovation mission?

If you want to get more knowledgeable about the future of invention or innovation, hop on over to the show to get more expert insights and advice.

About our Guest: Dean Kamen

Dean Kamen is a top American scientist and inventor known for his inventions of the fusion pump, the iBOT, and the Segway. His futuristic inventions have revolutionized the world of healthcare, personal transportation, and numerous other areas. Dean’s passion for science and helping others has driven him to great success. Dean Kamen has received a vast number of awards throughout his career, but most notably, the Heinz Award for his contributions to the medical world, and the National Medal of Technology, for his innovative endeavors. In 1989, Dean founded FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). FIRST is an organization that hosts annual robot-building competitions between different youth teams. FIRST seeks to encourage kids to get excited about technology and their part in it. Dean currently resides in New Hampshire and his devotion to his work is unwavering as he continues to strive to make the world a better place.

Let’s connect; I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. If we do connect, drop me a note and let me know. The email address is feedback@philmckinney.com, or you can go to PhilMcKinney.com and drop me a note there. If you are looking for innovation support, go to TheInnovators.Network or want to be challenged to develop the next big idea, check out our Disruptive Ideation Workshops. Don’t forget to join our Innovators Community to enjoy more conversations around innovation.

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

Artificial intelligence is quickly growing in the technology world today. Google and Microsoft have invested heavily in AI. Does AI live up to the hype around it? Will the building blocks of AI transform from hype to reality?

Today’s guest stands at the forefront of artificial intelligence advancement. Steve Guggenheimer has been with Microsoft for 26 years and has been heavily involved in the company’s AI ventures. This week on Killer Innovations, Steve Guggenheimer joins us to discuss the progress of AI, the transition into “the cloud,” and what he and his team at Microsoft are doing to advance technology.  

 

  • The Growth of AI – Will AI transform from hype to reality? AI, as Steve says, is in the “grind it out” phase, and is being crafted for real-world application. While it hasn’t had a “Ta-Dah” moment yet, it will be another year of progress for AI as it builds upon itself.
  • Transitioning into the Cloud – With the recent transition of big things into “the cloud,” the focus has become all about accessibility. Whether it’s AI or the cloud, it’s about being smart with the technology in creating solutions. It’s about having adaptable services and experiences.
  • Into Rural America - Around 14-15% of homes in America don’t have broadband. The lack of subscriptions is not only due to internet connectivity but also from the lack of a connection shared by the people and tech companies due to culture and livelihood. How do we, as the tech community, help these rural areas? It takes individual efforts that eventually expand.

 

If you want to be more knowledgeable for the new year on AI, the cloud, and rural America’s broadband issues, hop on over to show to get more expert insights and advice.

 

About our Guest: Steve Guggenheimer

Steve Guggenheimer, the Corporate Vice President of Microsoft’s AI sector, is responsible for creating groundbreaking AI technology and advancing its global presence. Throughout his 26 years at Microsoft, Steve has been involved in key leadership positions, building Microsoft’s hardware and software systems as the head of the OEM division and Developer Evangelism. Steve has also been in product teams for Microsoft’s Windows, Application Platform, Visual Studio, and much more. Before coming to Microsoft, Steve worked on developing and marketing products in the field of lasers at Spectra-Physics Inc. Steve attended the University of California, Davis, where he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Physics and received a Master’s Degree in Engineering Management from Stanford University. Steve and his wife run the Guggenheimer Foundation, and he is on the board of directors of Muzik.

 

Let’s connect; I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. If we do connect, drop me a note and let me know. The email address is feedback@philmckinney.com, or you can go to PhilMcKinney.com and drop me a note there. If you are looking for innovation support, go to TheInnovators.Network or want to be challenged to develop the next big idea, check out our Disruptive Ideation Workshops. Don’t forget to join our Innovators Community to enjoy more conversations around innovation.

 

 

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

When you are going to reform something, the goal is to change it to something better. It is to reshape or correct something. It comes in cycles. We see it in the financial industry through Wall St. and the many government regulations. Policies, rules, regulations, laws, etc. all drive reform. What is the cataract to reform? To go in the opposite direction by deregulating, removing regulations to let the market take over. On today’s show, I am going to be discussing and explaining what innovation reform is.

Innovation Reform

Does innovation need reforming? Can something as nebulous as innovation be changed? The reason that this issue bothers me is due to the misuse of innovation, done in a whole variety of ways. Innovation tends to have minimized support financially. What is the proper role that innovation plays in our daily lives? We tend to view innovation as the new shiny gadget from Apple, Dell, or HP. The reality is that innovation plays a much more significant part of our daily lives. It’s the continuous role of innovation solving issues such as healthcare, education, politics, etc. It allows us to share ideas globally uniting us rather than dividing us. Back to my fundamental question. Does innovation need reforming? If so, what approach should minimize? Should more regulation or other incentives be applied? Or is there another completely different approach?

3 Key Areas of Innovation Reform

What is wrong with innovation that requires reforming? I believe there are three critical areas that we, as innovators need to be thinking about:

  1. Unethical Innovation

 

  • Presenting Misleading Information – people have presented innovation in a misleading way to investors and the public. Ex. Theranos promised to do blood tests with a single drop of blood. They were installed into Wallgreens’ stores and provided false information misleading their customers.
  • Academic Research Retracted – there has been a growing number of retracted academic research in the last few years. It is so common that somebody created a website to track retractions for the public’s use.
  • Knowingly Faulty Products Released – Innovators releasing products they know are faulty. Ex. Boeing knew that their 737 Max had issues and still released it.
  1. Stolen IP
  • Small to Large Companies - I’ve seen this happen from small startups to large companies. Rather than doing their R&D, they take an idea from another company. It’s all about avoiding the need to do R&D and to save money.
  • Employees misappropriating IP – people have downloaded IP from a previous employer and take it to a new employer.
  • Lack of Transparency – there is an apparent lack of transparency when it comes to investment returns. Instituting GAP created a balance and to compare companies. The balance does not exist in innovation. This issue of a lack of transparency has been one of my most frustrating areas. How a company looks at it is entirely different from company b. It becomes hard to attach intangible value related to innovation.

How do we address these innovation reform issues? What are the best ways to address these issues? What do we as a society do to encourage innovation to solve the challenges we are facing?

How to Initiate Innovation Reform

How do we reform unethical innovation, stolen IP, transparency?

 Here are my proposals:

Unethical Innovation

  • Establish a Code of Ethics - I propose that we establish a code of ethics similar to what the medical field has. Define an oath for innovation so engineers and project managers etc. recognize that the use of innovation for good or bad is just like medicine. The hypocritic oath for innovation would be 1. Do no harm. 2. Protect IP as an employee and employer. 3. Be transparent with research and test results.
  • Disincentivize Investing in the Unethical - What happens when someone violates this oath? When doctors break theirs, they lose their license to practice medicine. For innovators, there needs to be more than the standard issued punishment. So how would you keep investors from backing violators of the oath? For innovators, there is a need for money to create products and services. The best way to deal with this is to punish investors by taking away their tax benefits, such as capital gains. Use whatever mechanism that applies to where you live to disincentivize investors from backing unethical people. Another privilege I would take away is the option to declare bankruptcy.

Stolen IP

  • Loss of Tax Credits – this would incentivize organizations to boost their R&D spend, rather than stealing IP. If you do the right thing, the government should encourage you to increase your R&D.

Transparency

  • New Set of GAP Reporting Requirements – these would give insight into the value of innovation created by the organization. These would include bad patents canceled/retracted, innovation premium, and intangible value of innovation. We want to encourage innovation investment through transparency. We need more innovation. Are there areas you would like to see reformed? What are those areas?

Five Minutes to New Ideas

My grandfather had an old saying when I was growing up, “never burn a bridge.” At the time, I thought it was a strange saying, but only later did I realize what he was saying. No matter how bad someone treats you, don’t get angry or retaliate and destroy that relationship. Great leaders keep cool even when the attacker makes it personal. A president of a large corporation was confronted by an angry employee who stormed into his office and poured out his complaints. The president calmly listened and when the employee stopped, the president said thank you. The president had wisely remained cool like the writer of Proverbs, Solomon. He said, “A gentle tongue is a tree of life.” The person who winds up in charge is someone who can remain calm through intense stress and pressure. Stillness is the most universally outstanding quality of great leaders. Leaders don’t make the best decisions when in the heat of anger. Earlier in my career, I was overseas and saw two truck drivers who came face to face in a narrow street. Neither backed up to let the other go and they yelled and honked at each other. After a few minutes of watching this, I went on to a meeting. After a few hours, I returned to see them in the same place doing the same thing. Nothing happens when anger and emotion overcome reason. Nothing constructive happens. We need to recognize when we are in the wrong to avoid burning bridges.

 

Let’s connect; I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. If we do connect, drop me a note and let me know. The email address is feedback@philmckinney.com, or you can go to PhilMcKinney.com and drop me a note there. If you are looking for innovation support, go to TheInnovators.Network or want to be challenged to develop the next big idea, check out our Disruptive Ideation Workshops. Don’t forget to join our Innovators Community to enjoy more conversations around innovation.

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

Organizations are always trying to create the next big thing. What drives these organizations to create something new to bring to the marketplace? These are solving problems, creating opportunities, removing barriers, etc. What do all these things add up? They create value. How do you find out what people value? Look at who is going to benefit from what you are creating. You may think you know who they are, but odds are, you’re wrong. I’ll bet you are wrong. Why? You are too close to what you are creating. On today’s show, we will walk through perspectives and the value of innovation.

Identifying the Customer’s Wants

When I was at HP, there was an engineer who was pitching new features for a product line. At the end of his pitch, I asked him what the customer asked for the specific function. Did it come from a feedback form, a customer care call, or user surveys? The engineer replied, “I came up with this idea because it is a feature that I would really want.” Why did I ask this question? Because of the complexity that the feature would add to the product. It would take an HP engineer to figure out how to use the feature. The engineer mistakenly put himself in the position of the target customer.

It is vital that you, as the creator of a product/service, get out and observe what the customers want. During my years at HP, I frequented Best Buy on my weekends. If a customer looked at an HP laptop and ended up buying another computer, I’d hand them my business card and ask them a simple question. What caused you to look at this product and buy another? The answer to that question showed me what they valued. In today’s show, I am going to be discussing what the value of innovation is.

Understanding the Value of Innovation

How do you find what the customer values? You need to know their perspective. Their perspective has a significant impact on their decision making. An excellent example of this is my wife. My son Logan was a fencer back around 2009, and we were in Las Vegas at a two-day competition.

Logan was doing well and advancing in the tourney. That was great, but it also made us tight on time to get to the airport. After the competition, we raced to the airport. The person informed us at the check-in counter that there has been a delay in our flight to Phoenix. I corrected her, saying it must be a mistake because we were going to San Jose. She said that our ticket was Las Vegas to Phoenix to Los Angeles and then to San Jose. A typical flight from Phoenix to San Jose takes about one hour, but this one took 6 hours. I called my wife, and she said that booking the 6-hour flight saved $20. I thought she was kidding—at the time, I was the CTO at HP. She didn’t value my time the way I did.

Why does my wife think that way? My wife is the most frugal person in the world. Why? Because of her upbringing. She was one of six children, and her family struggled to say afloat. Her father worked double shifts in the steel industry, seven days a week, to provide for them. During this time, her family lost their home multiple times, and she was often forced to live with other family members. When she looks at the value of money, her experiences shaped her perspective. When you’re thinking about the value innovation, you may think you’ve got it all figured out. That doesn’t matter. What matters? The perspective of the person buying your product. It doesn’t matter what you think, but what they think. Do you know the “who” and what they value?

 Creating Enhanced Value

Beyond understanding how people make decisions and what they value, let’s look at how we create enhanced value. I remember, there was a social media meme that showed an iron bar: An iron bar costs about $5. If you pound out that iron bar into horseshoes, equates to $12. It’s the same amount of iron, but making the bar into horseshoes created six extra dollars. Now take that bar of iron and put it through a manufacturing process and make sowing needles. That $5 bar of iron turned into needles gives you $3,500 worth of needles. Take that same bar of iron and turn it into springs for watches, and it will be worth $300,000. That is the power of innovation.

This instance is the creation of the value of innovation. Take the raw goods and produce something that the “who” values, and they will pay the premium for it. Take birthday cakes for example. My grandmother would make my birthday cakes from scratch when I was a kid. Each cake probably cost around a dollar. When she passed, my mom started making my birthday cakes with cake mix, which probably cost around $3. It was much easier than making it from scratch. When my mom started working full-time, she would get my cake from a bakery. What began as a $1 homemade cake, was now around a $15 bakery cake. The value of the convenience was hugely valuable.

Today, with my grandkids, it has to be an experience. You go to a trampoline park and pay a couple of hundred bucks for pizza, cake, and games. Why do you do this? It’s all about the value creation brought in by innovation. People will reward you with an innovation premium because of what they value.

 “Me Too” Innovation

How do you earn the innovation premium? By conveying value uniquely and differently. If you’re an avid listener of the show, you know that I tend to rant about the “me too” innovations. Look at bottled water. There are thousands of brands of water bottles. There was a handful of them in the 70s. In the 70s, there were four types of milk and 19 in the 1990s. Today, there are hundreds of types of milk. How many different types of water bottles or milk do we need?

I was in the store the other day getting some Lays potato chips for my grandkids. I realized there were a ton of different flavors of chips. All this created complexity, and for what? The unnecessary complexity is the problem with “me too” kind of innovations. When talking about the value of innovation, you need to create something unique. Look at who your customers are, how they make decisions, what is the perspective that fuels that decision, and what is the unit of value that will convey a premium. Is what you are selling unique?

Let’s connect; I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. If we do connect, drop me a note and let me know. The email address is feedback@philmckinney.com, or you can go to PhilMcKinney.com and drop me a note there. If you are looking for innovation support, go to TheInnovators.Network or want to be challenged to develop the next big idea, check out our Disruptive Ideation Workshops. Don’t forget to join our Innovators Community to enjoy more conversations around innovation.

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

Lonely Leadership

What are leadership struggles? Many leaders act as if the point they’ve reached in their careers was easy to reach. From my perspective, as I progressed throughout my career, I ran into many different struggles. These struggles are some that I believe every leader will encounter. Rather than hiding these struggles from you, I will be putting them out in the sunlight for all of you to see. I have come to realize that all leaders are alike. As much as we think we are different, we are not as unique as we think. We all share the same struggles. On today’s show, I will be discussing the various struggles all leaders face and how to counteract them.

The first leadership struggle I’ve encountered is lonely leadership. As you progress through an organization it gets harder to find people that understand you. Great leaders are told that transparency is a must. Be transparent. Share things with others around you. While transparency holds importance, is it always the answer? Transparency is only important to a point. There are some things you should not be transparent about.

You should never be transparent about your self-doubt. Being open about your struggles with employees can cause them concern about your organization. Secondly, never be transparent about your opinion of others. Especially key stakeholders. They will find out. My philosophy is to never burn a bridge no matter what. This decision has come back to benefit me throughout my career.

Thirdly, never be transparent about confidential information shared with you. I’ve seen may promising leaders sidelined because of issues of integrity and trust. Building a reputation of integrity as a leader is crucial. It can be lost in just one decision. Don’t make that mistake. This will shatter your career. Being a leader is lonely. Who can you share things with? Your spouse? Not always. I remember when I was at Teligent and we were the hottest new thing. We were on the cover of Business Week, Forbes, WSJ, NY Times etc. My wife was at her hairdresser one day, and the hairdresser was drilling her about information on Teligent. He assumed she had access to confidential information and was getting aggressive. After that, me and my wife came to an agreement to protect her. I do not share any confidential information with her. Never. She doesn’t want to be in that position.

Is there anyone you can be transparent with? Your coach or mentor. Let your board/shareholders know that you have a coach or mentor. If you’re going to share confidential information with someone, they should sign a non-disclosure agreement. All of this said, you will be lonely as a leader. It comes with the position. Do you have someone that you can be transparent with?

 

 

What Got You Here Won’t Keep You Here

Will the skills that helped you reach your position keep you there? These things will not keep you here or progress you in your career. Look at me for instance. My specialty is technical work. I have not touched technical work in 15 years. I had to learn new skills in order to advance. How did I learn those different skills? Right out of college, I was told by my mentor Bob that in order to find success, I had to broaden my playing fields. I knew my specialty very well, but I needed to have a variety of experiences. What did I do? I rotated in marketing, sales, finance, IT, etc. I did everything. While these experiences broadened my knowledge, it wasn’t enough. What were the skillsets that brought me to success?

  • Organization design - How do you structure a team? You have to be willing to adjust in order to create a successful organizational structure.
  • People Reading - Each person is unique and you have to commit to learning them.
  • Consensus BuildingLearn the individuals and their objectives. I do one on one calls with each member of my board before meetings. This helps me to get a better grasp on the thoughts and feelings of each member.
  • Objective Setting – How do you set good objectives? use OKR’s/make sure they are clear and measurable. Grant autonomy letting your experts use their skills to achieve ultimate success.

 

Consequences of Ideas and Statements

Ideas and statements made as a leader have consequences. Things will get taken out of context and all the sudden they become the “new law”. When I was CEO at Cable Labs, I told my team that the most common statement they would hear was “Phil said”. In many cases what I said was misinterpreted or misused. The best proof point of this in my career is press coverage. If you google my name and read the articles on the first 16 pages of google, not a single article got the situation 100% correct. At Cable Labs, we had issues with the press pushing out false information. This caused employees to start worrying about the longevity of our Colorado office. I had to call a meeting with my all my employees to address this issue. I made a commitment to my staff that day that they would hear from me first, and not the press. In fact, this created a new culture at Cable Labs called the “no surprise rule” to constantly remind my employees of this. Why do I do this? Because ideas and statements can be a disaster. You need to be hyper-vigilant about what you say, how you say it, and how you operate. Are you conveying statements the right way?

 

Creative Self-Doubt

What is the number one skill leaders are expected to have? Creativity/ ingenuity leading to product, service, and operational innovation. Many leaders get promoted to a leadership role because of innovation they are credited with. Look at Nobel Laureates. There is a trend of peaks seen from the recipients of Nobel awards. One in their mid-twenties and one in their mid-fifties. The question comes down to this. Do you still have your creativity?

 

What type of innovator are you?

Conceptual Innovators - “Think outside the box,” challenging conventional wisdom and suddenly coming up with new ideas. Conceptual innovators tend to peak early in their careers.

 

Experimental Innovators - Accumulate knowledge through their careers and find groundbreaking ways to analyze, interpret and synthesize that information into new ways of understanding. The long periods of trial and error required for important experimental innovations make them tend to occur late in a Nobel laureate’s career. Success comes from recognizing that as an innovator we need to shift from the conceptual to the experimental.

Let’s connect; I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. If we do connect, drop me a note and let me know. The email address is feedback@philmckinney.com or you can go to PhilMcKinney.com and drop me a note there. If you are looking for innovation support go to TheInnovators.Network or want to be challenged to develop the next big idea, check out our Disruptive Ideation Workshops. Don’t forget to join our Innovators Community to enjoy more conversations around innovation.

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

What do you think about when looking at innovation? Most organizations look at innovation as the process of coming up with new products. This statement is only partially correct. How do you achieve innovation success? The innovation world is continuously moving. Finding the best way to innovate products and services is vital to success. How do you find the best way to innovate in your arena? Is there a better way to go beyond the small fixes and reach new possibilities? On today’s show, I will discuss in more detail how to challenge your innovation efforts with idea hacking.

When I was at HP, there was this catalyst project based on battery life. Battery life is a nightmare. How do you increase the life of batteries while making them safe? Battery life only sees improvements of 10% every year. The battery is a chemistry problem. Their design has not changed since their invention. A breakthrough was needed, but the reality was that chemistry could not move fast enough. There were improvements made to the power, but not to the battery. These come from hard drives and screen fixes that save and conserve power. How were these improvements made? The perspective of the opportunity and problem was changed. How would you define the need? How would you describe the issue to reach that different perspective?

Feature to Function Innovation

What unlocked the ideas not considered previously? Changing the challenge from “how can we improve batteries?” to “how can we improve portable power?”. This change in mindset may not seem like much, but this switch caused a seismic shift. Battery improvement is “feature innovation.” Portable power is “function innovation.” That simple shift from feature to function innovation unlocked a flood of new ideas. It created an increase in the quality and quantity of views. What was the result? A new desire for the constant availability of power. New innovative opportunities arose from this shift in thinking. HP began funding universities and hosting ideation workshops in their efforts to create new creative ideas. This concept then turned into a product. Toshiba and HP started working on a co-innovation attempt to create a portable charging device. Toshiba went on to release a refillable USB charger device that sold for USD 328. That is the power of a simple shift in thinking. New innovative ideas are born from changing the challenge. How do you apply the shift form feature innovation to function innovation to your goals?

Here are four key steps:

Step 1 –

  • Define the Product/Service You Are Focused On (Example: high-end laptop)

Step 2 –

  • Describe What its Features Are — What it Does (Example: 17” screen, Intel i9 processors. Keyboard)
  • What feature innovations are you thinking about for the next version? (Example: DreamColor screen, GPU, etc.)

Step 3 –

  • Step Back and Describe the Core “Function” of the Product or Service (Example: Portable computer)
  • How many ways could you define the function? What is the most fundamental core function? (Example: digital file cabinet, digital photo shoebox, etc.)

Step 4 –

  • Ask How Else You Could Perform/Enable the Function (Example: Portable compute — > Phone mobile -- thin/edge devices)

 

Apply the little shift in thinking to just about anything. Think about a cup. How many ways can you innovate a cup? There are coffee cups, teacups, Yeti-like cups, sippy cups, etc. What if I asked you to innovate a way to carry liquids? You could cup your hands, use your mouth, use a sponge, use a hose, etc. See what ideas you come up with and post them at The Innovators Community. That simple shift from the feature (innovate a cup) to function (innovate a way to carry liquid) shifted the perspective resulting in ideas never that were before considered.

 

Applying Function Innovation 

You can apply function innovation can to anything from products, services, business models, internal operations, etc. Apply it to any organization from small, large, government, NGO, and Non-Profit companies. Function innovation radically increases the number of ideas you unlock. Is function innovation easy to apply? No, it is a lot harder than it looks. The simple shift from innovating cups to innovating ways to carry liquid is vital to creating new ideas. Why is the process of function innovation so hard? Our human nature wants to jump to the feature. We want a larger hard drive on a laptop, or a bigger cup so we don’t have to refill it so often. We jump to the feature rather than focusing on the function. How do you fix this problem?

Here is an approach I have used thousands of times in product development:

  • Take each feature. Example: 2TB hard drive
  • Define the function: reliable mobile data storage
  • Innovate that function: idea — 2TB solid-state (no moving parts)
  • Repeat for every feature
  • Combine them to create a new product/service made up of innovated multiple functions

This process of going from feature innovation to function innovation is the secret that took HP from #3 or 4 in the marketplace to #1 tech company in the world with their computing products. This function approach will allow you to create a variety of new ideas that could lead to a breakthrough product or service.

 

Let’s connect; I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. If we do connect, drop me a note and let me know. The email address is feedback@philmckinney.com, or you can go to PhilMcKinney.com and drop me a note there. If you are looking for innovation support, go to TheInnovators.Network or want to be challenged to develop the next big idea, check out our Disruptive Ideation Workshops. Don’t forget to join our Innovators Community to enjoy more conversations around innovation.

 

 

 

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

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

How do you manage over $100B in spending to innovate and not let that scale overcome your vision and approach to driving the most effective outcomes?  Can you balance speed and performance, short and long term innovation in parallel? Overseeing and innovating throughout the US Navy’s vast involvements to protect is a daunting task at hand. From basic to in-depth research, development, procurement, deployment and sustainment of assets, the Navy is always working to stay one step ahead of the world in innovation. How do you optimize your choices and take the right risks while empowering your workforce to successfully complete a job? Today’s guest on Killer Innovations stands at the forefront of these decisive decisions every day and has a keen eye for high speed, low drag. Assistant Secretary of Research, Development and Acquisition James ‘Hondo’ Geurts has been innovating the U.S military’s ecosystem for over 30 years and will to discuss his involvement in taking the Navy into the next wave of innovation.

Staying Focused While Differentiating

The demands of the US Navy require a multi-dexterous approach that works to avoid getting overwhelmed by bureaucracy and standardization which limits flexibility needed for today’s forces. Many organizations have problems doing many things well or even multiple workstreams, multiple ways. Jim’s task is to ensure the Navy can do that while boldly stepping out and harnessing innovation with scale and speed, knowing there are certain areas they absolutely cannot fail in. With such vast organization and many opportunities to advance the Navy, Jim uses a simple, but powerful wet-dry framework to differentiate the work. In a large scale innovation you have to operate with speed of relevancy. Simultaneously, you may have one group operating with a longer term workstream or low iteration speed that requires assured performance, while the other at high iteration speed and low iteration cost. You can’t lock into one approach for multiple threads of innovation pacing in a single deliverable or launch. However, those workstreams have to operate and synchronize at the right timing for an effective state of the art product deliverable. Each group that is innovating at a speed relevant to their workstream needs to be valued equally, though they may have a varying culture. Staying focused on mission and how each contributes allows you to have differentiating approaches, innovation paces and cultures in one large scale innovation effort. Another challenge in balancing the speed and relevancy of a mission need is absorption rate. Sometimes rapid innovation outpaces the ability to absorb and integrate, deploy, train and operationalize capabilities. Keeping an active focus and appropriate disciplines on mission speed and relevancy ensures efficiency.    

Innovation Leadership

How do you manage the right thing at the right time and synthesize it to meet a critical mission and the expectation you have out innovated your competition? In a leadership position like this, one is often faced with the challenge of how to operationalize and develop a successful team. Jim discusses his strategy to motivate his workforce in three core ways:

  • Ruthlessly Decentralize – layout vision with focus on intent and empower your workforce—free to make decisions
  • Offer Various Tools – differentiate the work, allow them use multiple tools and customize for the right tools as needed
  • Have an Agility Mindset – create a good enough plan with proper intent, tools needed and be ready to pivot with pivot speed and adapt to change
  • Get Rid of Stupid – remove things that are wasting time in the organization and don’t replace it with more stupid time wasters, but with items that create or preserve value

When in a leadership position such as Jim Geurts, there is limited opportunity to be specifically involved in each situation. To deliver excellence for the mission, Jim has focused on enablers to deliver his intent to the organization, even when he is not available:

  • Learn Fast and Act Fast – press the boundaries, expect 50% failure with appropriate judgement and measured risk
  • It’s About Team – outcome of the idea and answer to the problem is more important than who it came from
  • Be a Servant Leader – create conditions and foundations for others to succeed—realize that you are there to help those under you, not vice versa
  • Explain Your Intent – continuously repeat your intent until your audience gets it

Importance of Agility in Innovation

How do you plan for the unknown? The unknown can be a daunting thought to those unprepared for it. Building a culture, mindset and set of skills that increase pivot speed to take advantage of upside opportunities prepares you for the unknown and ultimately makes or breaks an organization’s success. Couple of insights Jim has learned from his Special Operations Command days and other experiences he employs today:

  • Get Over Fear of Failure try something new
  • All about a Learning Environment - value best ideas not necessarily individual ideas—collaborate and improve on individual ideas with a team
  • Have a Network that is Diverse and Inclusive – engage a variety of functions, levels, internal and external organizations
  • Rip Off and Deploy – don’t just value inventing yourself, look for what can be innovated on
  • Kill Projects Fast – if a project is not going anywhere, move on – takes thoughtful deliberation, courage and leadership
  • Don’t Overvalue Discovery and Undervalue Deployment – ideas must be made real and delivered to a customer

When it comes to the working with the military, many businesses are intimidated by it. So how do you create a friendlier and easier path to make a contribution? Jim’ strategies focus on reducing barriers with a variety of incentives to bring the best ideas forward at the lowest cost. These include connecting the idea generators from the sailor to the startup with access points, and creating an environment in which contributors want to bring their best in class solutions at the best price to the Navy.

Engaging to Contribute for Success

While there is no one perfect path or mechanism for organizations to contribute to the Navy’s mission Jim Geurts, or ‘Hondo’ as many call him, has created as large a surface as he can to attract innovative solutions from any internal or external entity. With his leadership the Navy has:

  • Spent $500M+ each year on Small Business Innovation Research (SBIRs) – broadcasting events, educating and discussing needs.
  • Doubled Efforts to Leverage Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRDA)
  • Instituted Tech Bridges – multiple tech clusters to help certain mission areas
  • Created Challenges for Solutions – pay on the spot
  • Shortened Procurement Timelines – Idea to contract in 90 days or less programs

Hondo’s emphasizes the Navy’s focus on being multi-dexterous—good at all things from small to large while enabling scale and speed. There are many challenges from talent development to mission solutions. When we open up our approach and mindset working with outside sources, like inventors such as Dean Kaman, we will leverage more innovation and apply technologies to elements we didn’t envision as traditional tech solutions. That requires though an ecosystem of the best/most qualified internal and external entities supporting to complete any given mission with efficiency.

About our Guest

James ‘Hondo’ Geurts is Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition). Mr. Geurts is responsible for a $100B+ budget, as well as supporting and equipping Marines and Sailors with the top technology and systems to better them in their pursuit to defend the United States of America. Prior to his time current position he served as Acquisition Executive of US Special Operations Command (SOCOM), with responsibility of overseeing special operations forces acquisition, technology, and logistics. Through this position, Geurts innovative leadership and mindset bettered USSOCOM and earned him the Presidential Rank Award, USSOCOM Medal, William Perry Award, and Federal Times Vanguard Award for Executive of the Year. Prior to his service with USSOCOM, Mr. Geurts served as an executive officer with the Air Force. Throughout Geurts 30 years of extensive joint acquisition experience and service, he has earned the respect of many of his colleagues, and has used his innovative mindset to better the defenses of the United States.

Let’s connect; I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter.  If we do connect, drop me a note and let me know.  The email address is feedback@philmckinney.com or you can go to PhilMcKinney.com and drop me a note there.  If you are looking for innovation support go to TheInnovators.Network or want to be challenged to develop the next big idea, check out our Disruptive Ideation Workshops, with our next one in Washington DC, November 18-19th.  Don’t forget to join our Innovators Community to enjoy more conversations around innovation.

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

What can derail the innovation journey?  Recently, I finished a 3.5-day Innovation Bootcamp. In the end, I was asked an interesting question with a different look and perspective of innovation, now and in the future. The participant asked what challenges are facing innovation. After answering the question for the group, I put more thought into what I’ve seen in the past, is happening today and can persist in the future. In today’s show, I will examine in more detail what I see as the 4 challenges facing innovation that innovators need to pay close attention to and address.

Ethics in Innovation

Over the years, there have been many companies making promises and claims that were not true or half-truths. A number of them have been very high profile market players like Theranos. Poster child type companies that toe ethical lines and cross them creating innovation skepticism and pessimism in customers, investors, and markets. Whether you cross the ethical lines or have perceived to, the damage is done with confidence destroyed. This puts a negative perception on innovators/entrepreneurs as greedy people focused on making some quick money.

Why are ethical lines crossed though? Many times it is driven by ridicule and fear of failure. as well as not gaining the full potential of what may be defined as success. We need to do something to change the nomenclature of fear of failure through our education system, society in general and organizations across industries. Why was it such a big deal when Theranos crossed the line? They had created a compelling story and marketed it with no slowing while assembling a Board of Directors of who’s who of the world. But the challenge with the Board was none of the members had real sophistication around the risks, challenges and how to execute for breakthrough innovations. They had no Innovation Sophistication where they had:

  • Been intimately involved in innovation lifecycles – personally experienced it hands-on
  • Understood challenges and risks with paths to address
  • Developed and launched breakthrough ideas/innovations
  • Dealt with unknowns and may have had to pivot

Innovation sophistication doesn’t mean you took a company IPO or were sold for high multiple and big dollars.  It is the years of experience toiling in the innovation trenches where you build a sophistication, insights, and wisdom to navigate an innovation journey and have sustained success.

Unrealistic Expectations for Innovation

When you set unrealistic expectations people lose confidence and innovation outcomes diminish. In innovation many times we overstate and overpromise a capability creating an expectation bar that is hard to follow through on. We all have done it. If you underestimate you may not get the traction with the funders you need to gain appropriate funding. It is a fine balancing act of over and under-promising and setting ill-fated perceptions early on. For breakthrough innovations, it takes patience—law of patience. You have to have the intestinal fortitude to progress forward with expectation balance incorporating patience in an ecosystem that has very little patience.

Many today use the ‘Rule of 18’ to manage the innovation journey. However, this diminishes breakthrough opportunities and creates short-sightedness inflating potential capabilities, timelines, and sales. It does have some value in setting expectations, securing incremental funding (especially for companies that normally would have not received funding), incremental progress, enhancements, and capabilities--but not the highest return breakouts—Killer Innovations. The best path is to set expectations early, with a balanced view of what is achievable while providing the highest potential for a breakthrough. Be careful not to cross the lines of expectations and lose credibility.

Availability of Funding for Innovation

Raising money has always been one of the hardest things to do and today it’s more competitive and demanding then it has ever been. If you’re not in the hot trend space of the day you start off with a huge disadvantage to overcome and need to be very precise in your targeting of the right fit investors. The characteristics of entrepreneurs range, but most are in the fast lane category stretching the limits to gain traction and quickly building and flipping their innovation. With the dynamics of the market, investors and innovators the ‘Rule of 18’ quickly become the default. A dangerous zone for innovators and markets as you limit the opportunity to gain breakthrough and killer innovations.

Many innovators and investors fall into the ‘first to market’ mentality which time has proven to be rare, and not necessarily the most profitable path. Iconic names today like Google, Facebook and Apple weren’t first to market in their categories, they just made them better. As I always say the difference between a good idea and a great one isn’t about the idea, but almost always about the timing.

Characteristics Investors Look For to Invest

You have the full package and can demonstrate that you:

  • Can articulate a compelling story that makes it clear you know what you’re doing
  • Have a broad market view with a unique insight
  • Are plugged into the market, know the customers and sensitive to market timing
  • Know the challenges, risks and understand how to adjust
  • Envision the impacts of your product, service, and solution today and into the future
  • Manage expectations with balance—passionate, realistic, but also have an element of the BHAG

Most importantly you need to be very clear on your execution.  As I always say, Ideas without execution is a hobby and I am not in the hobby business. Funding is not an easy path, just as you work to create that next innovation, you need to also approach your funding with creativity. Step out and apply creativity to your funding structures. Think through all the possibilities to make it work such as:

  • Customer or channel partner investing
  • Leveraging convertible debt
  • Seeking those interested in non-governance investments

Spend some time learning your needs, financial structures that work for your innovation and company, who are the right investors and what are the market permissions that give the best chance to get funded.

Government’s Role in Innovation

I’ve been inspired since I was a child from the incredible innovations driven by the Government and long term focused private labs that reinforced my desire for inventing. From the Space Program to DARPA and the Internet. We need inventions and innovations that are a result of more long term projects. There must be a big stretch goal, coupled with patience and appropriate funding. Investing for discovery and global competition and not only financial gain. This emphasis has gone by the wayside and needs to be revitalized.

Long-range innovation has declined drastically in the Government as well as in Corporate’s comparatively to the past. The government has outsourced more of that R&D and innovations to short term focused and profit-oriented organizations. This can have a more negative than the positive impact. Today, China R&D spending is off the scale. To get a competitive advantage, breakthroughs Government and Corporates need to build back that R&D and long term innovation backbone.

Overcome the 4 Challenges to Innovation

These 4 challenges change and impact progress, discouraging innovation and slowing it down or preventing it from ever happening. The short term ‘flip it’ approach won’t lead to true discovery. It will only drive the fear of failure with setting unrealistic expectations, lack of appropriate funding, bad investments, questionable behavior, and unethical actions. We need to work to change the game so we can create breakthrough innovations and discover things we never imagined possible.

Let’s connect; I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter.  If we do connect, drop me a note and let me know.  The email address is feedback@philmckinney.com or you can go to PhilMcKinney.com and drop me a note there.  If you are looking for innovation support go to TheInnovators.Network or want to be challenged to develop the next big idea, check out our Disruptive Ideation Workshops.  Don’t forget to join our Innovators Community to enjoy more conversations around innovation.

 

 

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

Creating and continually innovating the entertainment experience to keep your customers on the edge of their seat is a monumental undertaking? Can the entertainment experience go to new levels? What cool innovations and technologies is the sports industry doing to make your time watching an event/ game more enjoyable. Today’s guest is always on the forefront of what it takes to keep customers engaged in the experience.  Steve Hellmuth has been innovating the customer experience for over 30 years from the Olympics to Major League Baseball and today the National Basketball Association with some of the most experiential ideas, innovations and technologies. This week on Killer Innovations, Steve Hellmuth joins us to discuss what he and his team are doing to make your experience with the NBA beyond expectations.   

Permission to Innovate

The NBA has a great reputation for willingness with ample runway to experiment and fail in order to get that next innovative experience. NBA Leadership, players, players association, fans and owners are the most progressive at experimentation and interactive experiences. Steve and his team continually are working special fan experience projects to give you the thrill of the game. It’s important to have permissions with every relation and level in innovation efforts and the platform to test your ideas and validate. At this year’s NBA Summer League Steve had his mobile unit parked in the middle of all the broadcasters to rollout some of their experiments from their innovation sandbox. This is the perfect time to interact with players, fans and management with room to experiment with innovations/ideas, fail, adjust and try again. Some of the fun experiences you will see this season have been tested at the Summer League and percolating in their innovation sandbox. A number of these ideas they have worked on for many years and just now are being deployed—sometimes innovation takes a long time to curate and requires patience.

Where is the Fan Experience Going

Innovating in this league is all about entertainment and the story. Steve teamed with Phil in the past spending a good deal of time in 3D initiatives and experimenting on the convergence looking for the focus that would give the best experience with successes and failures. So what will be the experience of the living room of the future be. Today Virtually Reality and Augmented Reality have been problematic, but it will play a part in the NBA experience as it moves towards better eye tracking and the next generation. Steve also wants to move faster towards no walls and pick your experience in your media room to feel like you are in the venue. Part of that will be to expand on the synchronous experiences with all information flow and devices to track what really catches your attention and is exciting at that moment. He envisions more immersive experiences and premium services that give the fans an opportunity to pick and choose experiences with or without advertising. Steve and team will continue to work closely with stadiums to get the most innovative blueprint and technology deployment to ensure the 6th man affect is in play in all games.   

What’s in the Innovation Sandbox for Rollout this Season

Steve’s vision is to get everyone involved in the NBA experience and to do that their innovation sandbox has to continually be testing the limits, being the first to leverage technology advances (such as WIFI-6, 5G, others) and coming up with innovative ways to put you closer to the floor and part of the game. Some of the focus this year and near future that you will experience includes:

  • Skycam’s/Spydercam’s on the Move – this active camera positioning gives a closest encounter ever catching the move by move experience and passion of the game and players following them over the court during play
  • Smartphone & Telecast Integration – produced telecast of the whole game with all audio and video in 5G from the smartphone. This is going to open up doors for fans to participate in broadcasting and will lead to more real-time and diminishing costs to produce courtside interviews, tapping into fan action shots and immediate fan broadcast experiences
  • Robotic Camera Positioning – remote action with ability to get to better views, low angles and positioning normally hard to see and get to
  • Dueling Announcers – announcers competing and dueling throughout the game with a new ultra-audio track

Where’s the Next Level of Innovation & Impact for the NBA

There are a number of areas that Steve and the team continue to experiment with for the ultimate fan experience, but one area that his in the interests of the players, fans and leadership is ensuring the players are at the top of their game and available to go at a 100%. Biometric video capture and motion capture of the players every move is a priority. This will allow for preventive actions and better load management.

With a number of dynamic player duo’s this should be a real fun season full of rich fan experience both live at the event or from your favorite sportscave.

About Our Guest

Steve Hellmuth is the Executive Vice President, Media Operations & Technology for NBA Entertainment.  Under Hellmuth’s direction there have been numerous first’s in innovation to include, SportsVU Player Tracking, the optical player tracking system in every venue, making the NBA the first major US professional sports league to quantify and analyze the player movement in live game action throughout an entire season. Steve spent time in his management career with MLB and NBC and has produced the Emmy-nominated telecasts for the 1986 World Series and coordinated the production of Olympic profiles for the 1980 Moscow games. He also produced Larry Bird Night for the Boston Celtics and the All-Century Team Celebration on field at the 1999 MLB All-Star game. Best place to see some of Steve and his team’s innovation experiments, prototyping and rollouts from the sandbox can be best observed and experiences on NBA League Pass and NBA TV.

Let’s connect; I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter.  If we do connect, drop me a note and let me know.  The email address is feedback@philmckinney.com or you can go to PhilMcKinney.com and drop me a note there.  If you are looking for innovation support go to TheInnovators.Network or want to be challenged to develop the next big idea, check out our Disruptive Ideation Workshops.  Don’t forget to join our Innovators Community to enjoy more conversations around innovation.

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

Is controversy good when it comes to innovating? Today’s guest is passionate about creating breakthroughs and states ‘If it isn’t controversial, it’s not a good idea’. Scott McNealy knows a few things about changing the game by challenging the status quo, disrupting platforms, products and services. Focusing on continually challenging an idea, model, platform, technology and service leads to disruptive breakthroughs and advances society. This week on Killer Innovations, Scott McNealy joins us to discuss a number of topics in the quest for future advances.

Lessons from the Trenches

Seeking to make an impact by looking at things from a different lens has always been Scott’s game if it’s technology, golf, education, marketing, politics or social issues. His open source view permeates his approaches and has led to positive impacts. Scott has had opportunities to learn from his pioneering and early mover days with Sun Microsystems to recent ventures in marketing and education platforms. There are many takeaways in the battles he and his teams engaged with over three decades of incredible growth and technology advances that made significant contributions to the boom of the PC and Internet. So what does it take to continue to innovate and grow. Scott has some key thoughts from disrupting markets, managing and leading in fast growth times to developing breakthrough products and services.

  • A Good Idea has to be Controversial – crazy and controversial ideas have to be correct or you look foolish—controversial and correct, not controversial and stupid. No controversy, no chance to survive, if it isn’t controversial then everyone does it and no differentiation or pricing power.
  • First to Market is Great when You’re Right on Timing and Team – having been on the leading edge as well as the refiner of technologies and markets, the most important aspect is ensuring you have architected a well-rounded team that will challenge the status quo, be willing to admit failure and adjust, while also being patient for timing to present itself. Sun had many ideas and technologies that were too early for the market, so it took leadership sensitive to timing and execution to seize the right opportunities at the right time.
  • Most Products and Technologies aren’t Original but Evolving and Require Pivoting – it is rare you will have something brand new, but innovating current products, business models and industries can create breakthroughs when you forge forward and are willing to adjust and pivot with what the market is presenting.
  • Observe, Analyze, Adjust and Execute Fast – A customer in China was using Sun’s Route D (routing software) technology differently and if Sun had spent more time in observation, assessed the implications and potential opportunities they would have been the router king before CISCO. It’s important to pay attention to not just how YOU view your product’s use, but how your customers are using it. Your customers can create new markets beyond your imagination.
  • If you Miss an Opportunity, Leave it Behind and Move Fast Forward – we all have ideas and innovations we worked on and didn’t execute on that someone else succeeded in. Forget about it and keep innovating and working the execution. The secret to success is always leaving the past as the past and pressing ahead with what’s next.
  • Capital Doesn’t Solve ProblemsCapital Infusion Creates Confusion –  many times more capital infusion creates more confusion and less focus on disrupting, ideating and coming up with that next innovation. More capital can get you compulsive, complacent and distracted. You can’t beat technology with more capital, you need cleverness and leadership.

 

Augmenting Education Now and the Future

We need education advancement more than ever before.  Today’s tools and platform don’t provide the best we can do as a society for our students, teachers and parents. Scott started Curriki to focus on augmenting the education experience and creating a new digital era in our education. A catalyst for Scott’s desire to challenge and create value in education was the rising cost of educational material and his open source mentality. The desire is to have no student, no teacher and no parent left behind. To fulfill that we need to continue Innovating around the facilitation of key learnings and interdisciplinary skills like critical thinking, communication, teamwork and civility along with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). Curriki’s free and open source exchange platform with a new age of curriculum, is all about a virtual and classroom experience that:

  • Focuses on the Student’s Personal Training Needs – opening up educating for differences in aptitude and providing an adequate education at your speed and pace. Not all kids learn the same or need to learn the same material. One on one personal attention and access to custom services meet at the point of need.
  • Challenges with Interactive, Fun and Exciting Tools – bringing the binge mentality into education—like FORTNITE in gaming or Netflix entertainment has done. Why not have the same desire and demand for learning, as there is for playing and entertainment.
  • Provides a Collaborative and Transparent Community Forum – a personal dashboard with collaboration and visibility for all engaged in the lifecycle of educating from student, teacher and parent.

Scott believes this is a group effort by society regardless of your views and he is looking for people who are passionate and interested in supporting the augmentation of our education system. Everyone can help create our future of education.

Making an Impact with Issues of Today

Tackling issues in society are important, however, the forum and approach you use can be effective or destructive. Finding commonality to break the divide and divisions in business and politics helps progress us forward and strengthen the future. Scott has a lot to say on challenging ideas and having healthy conversations around them. For companies being A-political and getting involved in policies that impact your business, investors and shareholders should be the focus, but not alienating substantial fractions of your customer base. Is Government’s job to promote or regulate business? Government is not the answer to innovation, or all the challenges and problems we have in society. Financial freedoms and liberties give people and business the abilities to make a difference. Scott is in the early ideation stages of a digital issue-based platform to provide a forum for healthy discussions around the challenges we face. This digital town hall approach would give everyone with different views the opportunity to make an impact and cross the aisle to find commonality and bridge the divide and solve problems. He doesn’t believe today’s social media platforms provide the best channels to get things done in a civil and breaking the divide fashion to progress forward.

Future Advances and Taking Responsibility

The future is full of many possibilities when it comes to disruptive technology. Autonomous everything will be one of the most impactful to our society. Where do you play in it and filter through the possibilities as an entrepreneur and innovator? Any area within a technology space can be the best or worst, but it is really about the execution. Some areas people have pinpointed as the unfruitful path have turned out to be the most successful. So do your research and analysis, then dive in, adjust and be nimble on your journey—don’t wait, fire away. Scott has challenged many leading companies from Microsoft, IBM and Apple taking on their ideas, products and business model—challenge the idea, not the people. Controversy leads to the next innovation breakthrough. Most importantly we need to have more responsibility and accountability with our generation on how we manage our own lives and not rely on others or Government to take care of our actions and needs.

 

About Our Guest

Scott McNealy is the former co-founder and CEO of Sun Microsystem which pioneered it’s way in computing technologies from hardware, operating systems to software, including the JAVA language.  He was with Sun from its start in 1982, IPO in 1987 to sale to Oracle in 2010. Scott also is on many Boards and advises Fortune 500 to entrepreneurial startups.  He co-founded social media intelligence company Wayin, which was recently acquired and founded Curriki the non-profit free education service. Scott is looking for help with Curriki and you can connect with him on Twitter.

Let’s connect; I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter.  If we do connect, drop me a note and let me know.  The email address is feedback@philmckinney.com or you can go to Philmckinney.com and drop me a note there.  If you are looking to develop a Loonshot, check out our Disruptive Ideation Workshops.  Don’t forget to join our Innovators Community to enjoy more conversations around innovation.

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

Have you created a Loonshot? Have people dismissed or laughed at your Loonshot? Safi Bahcall takes us through how to manage Loonshots—a big goal, an audacious idea which has a lot of enthusiasm and support, but may be viewed as crazy. What if you nurtured these crazy ideas that are dismissed and written off. Loonshots have always been created and declared, but not always nurtured, which is critical for real success. This week on Killer Innovations, Safi Bahcall joins us to discuss how to handle Loonshots.

Phase Transitions

There are behaviors and patterns for Loonshots. Previous building blocks can support the creation of a Loonshot or destination.  However, the most important focus has to be on how you get to that destination, which is the continual nurturing of those crazy ideas. As the goal is established, the nurturing process spurns off other creations, insights and breakthroughs making the ultimate destination not only achievable, but also richer in value. A big challenge is that many times good teams kill great ideas. Why though? From experience and research there are certain properties of groups and characteristics that lead to failure or phenomenal success.

Leaders Role with Loonshots

What can you do that ensures phase transitions are balanced as a leader of innovators and those driving execution. Leaders need to understand their role, the rules and any exceptions to rules. Safi breaks this down into nurturing three elements in the toolbox, the Ice Cube, Garden Hoe and Heart.

  • Ice Cube – has two types of groups, the Artists and Soldiers. Those creating the Loonshots and those that are getting them to market. The leader has to understand these two distinctive groups have multiple dynamics and functions requiring appropriate channels and systems to operate in.
  • Garden Hoe – to manage the transfer as a leader you have to lean on as Gardner with nurturing care and not a bulldozer plowing through. It is vital that a leader carefully manages the transfer between touch and balance with each group from interactions, communications, timelines and deliverables.
  • Heart – and the most important is to ensure you demonstrate equal value to both your Artists and Soldiers. Love and care for both sides with the same vigor.

What are the Rules for Individual Innovator’s

There are three rules that are critical for innovators to always keep in their toolkit as they create Loonshots and nurture them.

  • Listen to the Suck with Curiosity (LSC) – when others critique your idea and dismiss it or call it bad, react with curiosity not animosity. Investigate and explore. Ask the questions—what was wrong and why with a mind to learn. Look for that gold nugget that can save and/ or accelerate your crazy idea.
  • Minding the False Fail – when everyone is abandoning understand if the failure is really a flaw in the idea or the experiment. The Facebook story makes it clear, don’t give in to a false fail. Examine is this really a fail or false fail – investors were leaving Friendster, but one investor, Peter Thiel, investigated deeper and realized it was not a broken social media model, but the problem scaring away investors was a software glitch. The rest is money making history.
  • Ignore Fail Fast and Pivot – when an idea and project keeps failing and all are giving up, be persistent don’t just pivot. Continue looking at the failure with different dimensions, variables and aspects. Persistence with failure doesn’t mean don’t stop and move on. How do you know though when to persist or move on. The litmus test is to determine if this is stubbornness or if you’ve been applying LSC, being curious, exploring and nurturing.

Balancing the Activities to Create Value

Managing Loonshots there are two dimensions that leaders need to balance, the size and type.

  • Balancing the Size – Loonshots are like a big ship that launches both a speedboat and helicopter. Your speedboat is your core product or service that you’re developing variations and incremental innovations while moving fast forward. The helicopter is on an exploratory search in a whole new space and completely different lane.
  • Balancing the Types – there are P-Type (Product Type) and S-Type (Strategy Type) Loonshots that you need to balance between and sometimes you may lean more towards one, but always have to ensure both are nurtured. A new technology/product may propel your organization, but if you don’t balance the strategy focus, success won’t last. Walmart began as that S-Type with a business model strategy and not innovative technology or product, but an innovative model. One of the strongest brands in history was Pan American Airlines (Pan Am) with a P-Type focus of bigger and faster engines. American Airlines focused on the S-Type and a shift in strategy while balancing technology advances. Guess who is still around today. Understanding the distinction is important and focusing on one can be fine, but achieving balance between the two can be the difference between a good innovator and a fantastic innovator.

About Our Guest

Safi Bahcall is the author of How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries. He is an author, second generation physicist, and CEO.  In 2001, he co-founded a biotechnology company developing new drugs for cancer. Safi led its IPO and served as its CEO for 13 years before being acquired.

Safi has numerous awards and accolades to include National Science Foundation Fellow, Ernst & Young New England Biotechnology/Pharmaceutical Entrepreneur of the Year. He also worked with President Obama's council of science advisors (PCAST) on the future of US science and technology research. Pick up Safi’s book today!

Let’s connect; I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter.  If we do connect, drop me a note and let me know.  The email address is feedback@philmckinney.com or you can go to Philmckinney.com and drop me a note there.  If you are looking to develop a Loonshot, check out our Disruptive Ideation Workshops.  Don’t forget to join our Innovators Community to enjoy more conversations around innovation.

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

Does architecture have an effect on how we think, feel, and act?  Donald Rattner has researched and explored environmental psychology and come to the conclusion that it does.  This fact plays into our daily lives, affecting how we act and feel at the office and in our personal lives.  This week on Killer Innovations, Donald Rattner joins us to discuss innovation and creativity in design of architectures that impact our daily lives.

Natures Effect on Creativity

What is the role of nature in regard to creativity?  The human body craves to be near nature; unfortunately, we spend ninety percent of our time indoors.  Rattner says to you do not have to do a lot to bring nature to your workplace.  One study showed that simply placing a plant on your work desk can boost your creative output from fifteen to twenty percent.  Fortunately, you do not need hours of exposure; you need a certain amount of inputs to achieve the necessary restorative affect nature has on the human body and mind.

Creativity at Home

People get ideas more often while at home; it is the place where you do the most unconscious ideation.  So, what can people do in their homes to improve their creativity?  First, you need to designate a creative place; pick where you want to associate creativity with.  Second, pick a place where you want to spend time in.  Try to get a sense of openness in your creative space.  Studies have shown that the more open the space, the more open your mind is to creativity.  Another point Rattner makes in his book is the effect that ceiling space has on creating an open space.  Pictures, color, beauty, lighting, sound, music, and scent all affect creativity.

About Our Guest

Donald Rattner is the author of My Creative Space: How to Design Your Home to Stimulate Ideas and Spark Innovation.   He is an architect and practitioner.  He has also taught at the University of Chicago and worked at Parson’s School of Design.  Pick up Rattner’s book today!

Let’s connect; I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter.  If we do connect, drop me a note and let me know.  The email address is feedback@philmckinney.com or you can go to Philmckinney.com and drop me a note there.  Don’t forget to join our Innovators Community to enjoy more conversations around innovation.

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

This week on Killer Innovations, I am joined in the studio by Katherine Radeka.  Katherine is the founder of Rapid Learning Cycles Institute.  She has a new book coming out on October 1st called “High Velocity Innovation.” Katherine started her career at HP and then went on to carry on Dr. Ellen Wards legacy as a lean product consultant.

Challenges of Innovation

The challenge inside large organizations is the challenge of catching of the innovation.  Inside any organization there has to be a pull for innovation that starts at the strategic level.  Even when they have that inside an organization, there are still going to be the innovation antibodies that create barriers and slow down the innovation engine.  Another important challenge within an organization is distinguishing between process metrics and result metrics.  Process metrics for innovation focus on how much time is your team spending on innovation activities.  For result innovation, you should be looking at the amount of revenue coming and how fast you can get to market.

Failing Fast

Companies sometimes need hurdles thrown at their innovation teams to help them grow.  Katherine recommends having escalating hurtdes at least once a quarter.  It encourages teams to find fast ways to validate whether or not their ideas are good ideas and challenge their perspective on it.  Getting feedback from management is essential to these teams because it is an incentive to learn fast.  You can keep up with Katherine at high velocity innovations.

Let’s connect; I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter.  If we do connect, drop me a note and let me know.  The email address is feedback@philmckinney.com or you can go to Philmckinney.com and drop me a note there.  Don’t forget to join our Innovators Community to enjoy more conversations around innovation.

 

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

On this week’s episode of Killer Innovations, Phillip Merrick joins us in the studio.  Phillip and his wife Caren started a company called webMethods and pioneered the use of web services integrating, machines, software applications and databases with XML-based software integration technologies.  He was the co-founder of a web-multimedia resume company VisualCV and is currently CEO of cloud security company Fugue with its own innovation’s. As a serial entrepreneur he is accustomed to creating and disrupting market spaces and has had a number of his companies acquired.  Phillip has been recognized for driving results including KPMG & Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Washingtonian Magazine “Titan of Technology”, and CRN “Top 25 Executive” as well as Deloitte’s fastest-growing software company in North America over the period 1998 to 2002. In 2000, webMethods went public on the NASDAQ in the most successful software IPO to date.

The 1st Mover Experience

Phillip was a software developer with a dream and when his wife, a marketing specialist, teamed with him it wasn’t immediate success. However, an initial journey of rejection and failure. Using credit cards to survive, going down to nothing financially they experienced the fear of many entrepreneurs. They had numerous rejections pitching to over 135 investors before they won over an initial venture investor in DC and eventually venture capitalists in Silicon Valley.  Success started to take hold and led to more breakthroughs

But why so hard! Well when you are creating a new space with a new technology you deal with 1st Mover pains. Many companies we know today from Apple to Google weren’t 1st Movers in a space, but Phillips vision of connecting machines to the web disrupted the market and challenged the norms into a new space. webMethod’s was challenged with people not getting what they had or were doing. His team convinced the market how to use the technology and how much easier it was. They proved it to global companies and markets from Phillip’s basement with the team of four getting a product in the hands of potential customers in record time.

Lessons from 1st Mover in a New Space to Existing Space

Phillip has moved from pioneering a space to pioneering in an existing space from VisualCV to self-healing infrastructure in cloud security with Fugue. He makes it clear that creating a space is definitely far and few in between and an exception--innovation happens in many ways in existing spaces.  You can have innovation in how you productize, market and structure your business model.  Innovation has to be in the idea, product development and driving execution.  Philip’s advice for success is that you need to realize that innovation is not just about the idea.  It is how you bring it to market, how you package it up for service, and how you build the team from recruiting to culture.  From his journey he will tell you that “No idea comes away with contact with a customer in the same shape”.

What do you wish you knew early in your career?

Within reason you can do anything you put your mind to.  Phillip was afraid of failure in a company, feared public speaking and overcome them. What’s interesting is with all of his successes at webMethod’s one of his breakthroughs was actually speaking insightfully in front of the public. There are not many limits you can’t overcome he states.

Philip says that in his career he is more focused on team building, not just the idea.  Once you get all of that figured out, then you can focus on the idea.  

Let’s connect; I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter.  If we do connect, drop me a note and let me know. The email address is feedback@philmckinney.com or you can go to Philmckinney.com and drop me a note there.  Don’t forget to join our Innovators Community to enjoy more conversations around innovation.

 

Five Minutes to New Ideas

The world is made up of yes people and no people.  We need more people who will say yes to non-obvious ideas.  Success belongs to those people who thoughtfully and hopefully say yes, let’s try it.  Many people in an organization play the role of the anti-risk antibody; they say no because it is safe.  Why are we afraid of being wrong about new ideas? Take a risk, be willing to be wrong, and say yes to that new idea.  Are you a yes or a no person inside your organization?


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

On this week’s show of Killer Innovations, Michael George, Author, Entrepreneur and CEO of AI Technologies joins us as our guest. He is the founder of Lean Six Sigma, the most widely used process improvement method used globally. Since 2012 Mike has worked on applying Artificial Intelligence (AI) as the next big process breakthrough beyond Lean Six Sigma.  Over the years Mike has worked with Fortune 100 companies and Government’s globally and was Founder and CEO of The George Group, which he sold to Accenture as well as Founder and CEO of International Power Machines which he took Public and then sold to Rolls Royce. He has authored 8 books including “Fast Innovation”, “Lean Six Sigma”, “Conquering Complexity in Your Business” and his latest “Lean Six Sigma in the Age of Artificial Intelligence”.  

The Power of Process Innovation 

Innovating processes and discovering ways to leverage process to bring exponential returns on innovation initiatives and product development has been a mission of Michael and the results of his work has created and preserved value.  The combination of Lean and Six Sigma brought a breakthrough for non-repetitive processes and global leaders enjoyed the elimination of waste and enhanced quality.  However, leaders had another dilemma “How to Get to Market Faster with Quality Products”.  

Fast Innovation gave them:

  • Speed in the Product Development Process
  • Market Velocity with Better Forecasting and Predicting 
  • Preservation and Enhanced Quality
  • Innovation Blitzes – Fast Gating while discovering Drivers of Delays

The next iteration of Process Innovation applies AI to drive Innovation’s through a lifecycle as well as discover ideas that can create breakthroughs.

Fourth Industrial Revolution: Solving Unsolvable Problems 

Michael has been engaged in Deep Learning Neural Networks for many years.  With the onset of ‘Big Data’ we can now apply AI and machine learning to recognize patterns to help solve what has been unsolvable in the past.  With Lean Six Sigma in Age of AI they have discovered a number of valuable insights that will power organizations to the next level and help them harness the power of the Fourth Industrial Revolution:

  • Don’t get overwhelmed with your data.  Over-engineering your data quality and data cleansing efforts can grind you to a halt and not necessary – there are a number of processes to get high value sets of data for analysis in short order – a challenge for CEO’s today
  • Unseen discoveries are attainable even in the most proficient organizations—a recent effort revealed 60% of inefficiency came from only 20% of revenue
  • AI and machine learning didn’t eliminate jobs, but created more opportunities and growth while developing more productive employees

So what can leaders do to take advantage of the next wave? Michael believes every CEO should have their own AI and data expert that can comb every aspect of a business or organization to find common patterns in their activities (for instance product development and innovation initiatives) that elude human interaction. 

Future Advances 

So, what game changing innovation does Michael expect to see? AI provides approximate answers. The next big thing after AI, that is also complimentary, is quantum computing.  An exponential game changer. As it has been in the past, from the internet to semi-conductors, the Government will play a big role in quantum computing. With patience, funds and applicable activities the organization that is best suited, and has always been a leader in advancements, is the U.S. Department of Defense.  To learn more insights, keep up with Michael and his Firm.

Let’s connect; I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter.  If we do connect, drop me a note and let me know. The email address is feedback@philmckinney.com or you can go to Philmckinney.com and drop me a note there.  Don’t forget to join our Innovators Community to enjoy more conversations around innovation.

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

What are the unique skill sets needed for innovation leadership?  We all have a list of what good leadership skills are but what are the unique ones you need to be a true innovation leader?  Today on Killer Innovations, I will discuss what I have found to be the skills needed for successful innovation leadership.

Innovation Leadership Skills

These leadership skills apply to all organizations, whether you are small organizations or a large organization.

  1. Integrity
    1. You need to trust the people you are working with.
    2. You need to know they are looking out for what is in the best interest for the team and organization.
  2. Vision and Strategy.
    1. Team members are looking to the leaders to communicate what the vision and strategy are.
    2. You need to look longer range beyond where the team is and roll that back in so they can see what your vision is.
    3. You need to be able to tell the story, make the pitch, share their dream with others.
    4. Communication is critical to successful innovation leadership,
    5. If you are going to be a leader you need to be able to interact and build relationships and truly have interests in other people’s lives.
    6. Know what is going on in your team member’s lives so you can help them eliminate distractions and really get their head in the game.
    7. You have got to persuade people to leave what they are doing now and join your team.
    8. You have to be able to convince them that what are doing is something worth their time.
  3. Adaptability and Flexibility.
    1. As a leader you cannot be rigid; you have to be adaptable and flexible with your team and organization.
    2. Can you operate as a leader of a team?
    3. You need diversity on your team to be successful.
  4. Coach and Develop.
    1. Find young and upcoming people and coach and develop them.
  5. Decision-Making.
    1. You have to be comfortable making the final decision.
    2. Realize that sometimes the decision you make are going to fail.
  6. Planning and Organizing.
    1. If you are not good at planning and organizing, then hire people to do it for your team.

These are the basic skills you need to be a successful innovation leader.  So, what skills do you need to do differently to truly be an innovation leader?

  1. Innovation leadership involves taking risks.
    1. You have to be comfortable that some of the decisions you make are going to fail.
    2. Some of your decisions are going to be flipped.
  2. You need to keep looking for new opportunities and threats.
    1. Look for threats to your organization, industry, or geography.
  3. Innovation is about change.
    1. Stability is the death of innovation.
    2. Foster a culture where change is expected.
  4. Do not rest on the traditional management techniques.
    1. Every situation is different.
    2. You need to invent the way you manage and do leadership.
  5. Be an optimist.
    1. Innovation is about being an optimist.
    2. You need to convince and convey an optimistic view of the future.
  6. Innovator’s cut through the crap.
    1. Innovation leaders need to cut through the crap and get to the core.
    2. You need to step in and stop the corporate game-playing.

Let’s connect; I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter.  If we do connect, drop me a note and let me know.  The email address is feedback@philmckinney.com or you can go to Philmckinney.com and drop me a note there.

Thinking Beyond the Obvious

The challenges on the creativity innovation side does not change based on scale.  It is the same whether you have a five-person team or a fifty-person team.  The challenge is operating and innovating at the same level.  A lot of companies get in a rut because they are doing what they have always done.  So, how do you push yourself and people to go beyond the obvious and do the next thing?

  1. Break the rules.
    1. Corporate anti-bodies will come after new ideas; you need to recognize that these antibodies exist.
    2. Sometimes you are the corporate antibody.
  2. You have to think differently.
    1. You have to unlearn what you have been taught when it comes to conforming.
    2. Make sure that you challenge yourself to go beyond the obvious answer to questions.
  3. It is all about asking
    1. How do you ask questions that will make you think about something you have not considered before?
    2. How do you ask those killer questions?
    3. Better questions get you better answers.
Direct download: Innovation_Leadership_and_Going_Beyond_the_Obvious.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

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

Co-Innovation

What is Co-Innovation?  Co-Innovation is two parties with unique expertise that come together in a 50/50 funding of resources.  The key component being they have complimentary interests. Think of it as a Venn diagram.  The goal of Co-Innovation is to find where the Venn diagrams overlap.  Co-Innovation means:

  • Two parties with patented expertise.
  • A complete 50/50 venture.
    • Define what it is/why it exists.
    • Find the common area of interests.
    • Agree on what the target is.
    • How do you go about doing it.
  • Neither of you can do it alone.
    • You and your partner cannot do it alone.
    • This creates mutual dependency.
    • Requires both entities to participate in.
  • You are going to launch a real product.
    • The product had to be launched within 24 months.
    • The product had to have high impact to both organizations.

If you set up a Co-Innovation program successfully, they will have benefits to your organization such as:

  • Reducing risk.
  • Speeding up delivery of innovation.
  • Leveraging your R&D budget.

Lessons Learned

Over the years of creating these programs there are a couple lessons I have learned.

How do you manage these programs once they are under way?

  • Use your senior executive sponsorship to set the pacing.
  • Set gates and milestones.
    • You must have clear targets.
  • Share and show what you are working on.
    • Get real feedback from customers using your products.

How do you get a Co-Innovation program going?

  • You have to find the areas of mutual interests.
    • This takes time and many conversations with leaders of other organizations.
  • Set up a one-day workshop where teams from both sides talk about their areas of interests.
    • Start working together as teams and propose a target.

When Co-Innovation programs go wrong, the case is usually that people want to call it a Co-Innovation program when it really is not.

  • A lot of companies confuse Co-Innovation with contract R&D.
  • Another is that a lot of people are really focused on research with no real plan. Innovation is all about execution.
  • It turns into a PR or a marketing effort.

If you follow these basic rules, Co-Innovation programs can really ignite your organization and take you into market opportunities you would never be able to achieve on your own.

Strategic Storytelling

Why is it so hard for people to pitch their ideas?  To tell their ideas in a way that people swarm towards it and want to be a part of it.  The skill of the pitch is so hard to find.  What I have found is that the skill of pitch usually falls into two categories:

  • The person making the pitch believes they can win you with facts
    • They know what they are talking about.
    • They attempt to belittle anyone who challenges them, with facts.
  • Overwhelming with content
    • They overwhelm you with an abundance of slides and content.

So, what is it that makes people struggle with coming up with a well thought-out and structured pitch?  Many people forget about the fact that decisions are personal.  You cannot ignore the personal and emotional side of decision making.  In doing the pitch, you have to create an emotional side to your story to hook the listeners in and make them understand your pitch.  The way I do this is called “Strategic Storytelling.”  Storytelling is a critical part of the pitch.  Storytelling around a strategic pitch involves three things:

  • Define the problem in the form of a story.
  • Define the solution as part of a story.
    • Tell the story in such a way that they can see themselves using that solution.
  • Place the people in that story.
    • Tell the story in such a way that they can place themselves in that story.

The Structure of Strategic Storytelling

The way to structure the strategic storytelling is the structure of a three-act play.  A three-act play is typically what you see in TV shows and movies.

  • Act One is the set up.
    • It is about setting up location, defining characters, and laying the foundation.
    • Giving people background.
    • Warming people up to the concept of a story-telling process.
  • Act Two is the confrontation.
    • The obstacle, the problem, the challenge people are facing.
    • Describe the size, the scope, and the impact of the problem.
    • This act is used to pull out the emotions of people.
  • Act Three is the resolution.
    • Describe how the solution is going to solve or minimize the problems.
    • It tells what the role of the solution is on a long-term basis.

Think about the acts in the context of a movie.  Use this structure in your presentation; don’t just use slides, talk and engage.  There are a few basic rules I have learned about strategic storytelling:

  • Keep it short.
    • Typically, twenty minutes is a good time length for the story.
    • If it takes longer, than you do not know your subject matter well enough.
  • Tailor it to the people in the meeting.
    • Do not go in there with a generic story.
    • You can find out a lot about the people through social medias.
  • Put emotion and passion into it.
    • Do not make it sound like you are reading a script in a monotone voice.
    • Practice it so it sounds natural.
  • Understand the use of pausing and the tone of your voice to create tension and excitement.
    • Understand the role of your voice.
  • Read the body language of the people in the meeting.
    • If people are not really listening, change it up and catch their attention.
  • When you end your strategic story, end it with emphasis.
    • End it on a pause.
    • You want it to fully sink into people’s minds.

At the end of your pitch there are a few things you can do to improve your strategic storytelling.

  • Follow up with the people in the room at the end and ask how you can improve your pitch.
    • Ask if you were clear and fully conveyed your message.
    • Record it and listen back.
    • Go on YouTube and find great storytellers.

I hope today’s show inspired you to look into co-innovating and engaging in strategic storytelling.  Don’t get bogged down by distractions that take you off course from creating the next Killer Innovation, telling a compelling story and achieving your goals.  If you have questions or comments on this week’s show, I’d love to hear from you.  Or carryon the conversation about these steps to building innovation strength at The Innovators Community.

 

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

The success of the Apollo 11 mission, the first moon landing, inspires our innovative passions and pursuits.  With the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the moon, I’ve been looking back at all of those that impacted and supported an incredible journey.  In this episode of Killer Innovations, I had the pleasure of interviewing the inventor of the early display technology that ultimately resulted in the creation of the moon monitor.  It was the moon monitor that allowed NASA and the rest of the world to watch Neil Armstrong walk on the moon.  An IEEE Fellow for Logic Analysis technology, he also was President of ACM, the world’s largest Computer Science society, and is an ACM Fellow. He holds HPs only Medal of Defiance, awarded by David Packard for “extraordinary contempt and defiance beyond the normal call of engineering duty”. Other awards include Engineer of the Year, Smithsonian Wizard of Computing, Top 50 inventions of the 20th century, CNN top 25 inventions of the past 25 years, Entrepreneuring Honor Roll.

Past in HP

Long before the Apollo 11 success, Chuck House was a physics major at CalTech when he had an interview with HP.  He went on to work at HP for 28 years. It was there that he was challenged by the CEOs and directors to be on top of innovation.  House says that every year at HP there was an oral exam to review each project. They would ask questions such as:

  • What contribution does it make?
  • Why is it ahead?
  • What is the next step after this?
  • What is the science underneath it?

The notion at the company was that you had to be part of a team and the team must understand the science behind what you are working on.  House discusses a number of insightful practices in a book  he co-authored about his time at HP.

Impactful Successes & Awards

House’s second project at HP, which ultimately led to the moon monitor for NASA, was to figure out how to stabilize a scope screen. The project appeared to have been a waste of time.  It even failed the technical evaluation. House was told to cancel the project and remove it from the lab.  Instead of abandoning the project, House and his team decided to put the product in production.  Within ten months it was finished. Who would have known about this project’s pivotal role in the Apollo 11 mission? The project turned out to be a huge success with sales to many leading companies and NASA.  Sixteen years later, in April of 1982, House was awarded a going away gift…the Award of Defiance.  House speaks more of this in his HP memoir.  House also received the Innovative Applications in Analytics Award (IAAA).  Other awards include Engineer of the Year, Smithsonian Wizard of Computing, Top 50 inventions of the 20th century, CNN top 25 inventions of the past 25 years, Entrepreneuring Honor Roll. 

Words of Advice

Lastly, I asked House: What advice would you give people who really have a passion to be inventors, to be innovators, to really change the world? What advice would you give them? What should they do to get ready? House believes in a lot of experimentation.  What you learn are not formulas, it is a way of thinking.  And the way of thinking is a logical, ordered, structure of cause and effect or of relationships that work. And that ordered, structured way of thinking is crucial to being able to work through to a solution. The curiosity and the enthusiasm and the drive is essential to the creativity side. But unless you can take that creativity and harness it so that you can make traction and get something in a resultant way, you are going to be slowed down.  You cannot be afraid to try new things and make mistakes.  

Giving in to corporate antibodies and giving up at the first signs of failure could seriously limit the out of this world opportunities.  Had Chuck giving up when he was told to shelf his project, we may never have seen the Apollo 11 moon landing.

If you have questions or comments on this week’s show, I’d love to hear from you.  Do you have failures that lead to success you’d like to share with us?  Spark the conversation at The Innovators Community.


What is the strength of innovation in your organization?  In this week’s Killer Innovations, we explore avenues to building innovation strength.  Innovation from Mergers and Acquisitions can be a fast track to innovation.  What are the pros and cons to this innovation path? We also look at the five biggest risks to innovation.  Your company’s innovation depends on avoiding the pitfalls. Is building innovation strength through acquiring innovation right for your company?  Avoiding the risks to innovation stretches across a broader spectrum.  Any company should be aware of the five biggest risks to innovation.

Mergers and Acquisitions: Acquiring Innovation

A growing means of building innovation strength is through acquiring innovation.  Innovation from Mergers and Acquisitions has its benefits and its drawbacks.  

To start, there are two types:

  1. Acquiring a company outright
  2. Purchasing the Intellectual Properties – This could be a product line, patents, a team, or a group of individuals with core expertise.

Let’s discuss the first type, acquiring the company.  Innovation from Mergers and Acquisitions has its pros and its cons.

Pros

    • You can get into a market fast – you don’t have to wait for R&D.
    • There are reduced risks.

Cons

    • Reduced risks = lower returns.
    • This approach can make an organization lazy.
    • This approach can be expensive.

The most common reason for Innovation from Mergers and Acquisitions are:

  1. Your company missed a trend and now you have to acquire company to get into the space.
  2. You saw the trend, but didn’t realize its impact.
  3. You saw the trend, but wanted to avoid the risk of investing in it.

Innovation from Mergers and Acquisitions can work if it is:

  • Proactive
  • Part of an innovation strategy

The second type of Innovation from Mergers and Acquisitions is purchasing Intellectual Properties (IP).  Why has it become so important? In a word: litigation. Patent lawsuits offer lucrative opportunity. Exclusivity to a company’s investment can reap financial gain.  This creates issues for those seeking to build innovation strength in this way. It can be especially difficult for the small business. To buy a patent can be expensive.  Options are out there for acquiring innovation to build innovation strength. Companies can join a patent pool. Another option is for companies to join forces and make a group purchase of a patent.

Patent Selling

Whether you are part of a large or small organization, think of this approach.  If you are a seller of patents, write it in your agreement. Prevent the buyer from using your patents in proactive litigation.  Allow the patents to only be used in defense. Why do people acquire patents?

  1. To exert a form of control.
  2. To create a defense.

Allowing your patents to be used only in defense, make them unattractive to patent trolls.  Patent trolls’ sole purpose is to buy patents and sue. We need to come up with a radical approach to addressing the patent lawsuit challenges that are taking place in organization.  

Another aspect of this are PCLs (Patent Cross Licenses).  Most large companies pre-negotiate a patent cross license.  This takes the whole risk of litigation off the table.  

The Five Biggest Risks to Innovation

It does not matter what or who you are as an organization.  It’s a common theme I have seen across organizations, irrespective of their size.  I’ve compiled what I’ve observed into “The Five Biggest Risks to Innovation.” Those risks are as follows:

  1. Corporate antibodies and the tolerance of leadership for antibodies.
    • Antibodies can prevent uncontrolled risks, but are mostly roadblocks to innovation.
    • Leaders know who they are, but still tolerate them.
    • True leaders should correct or remove antibodies from an organization.
    • If leaders never correct antibodies, it counters being an innovative organization.
  2. Lack of patience
    • Innovation is not the quick fix.
    • Have robust innovation pipeline – keep it active and full.
    • Companies realize they need ideas, but ignore it for so long that they want a quick fix.
  3. The Ambiguous Process
    • If someone in the company has an idea, what is the process for submitting the idea
    • Without a clear process, people get frustrated, then disengaged.
    • Goal should be 100% of the ecosystem engaged in your innovation agenda.

       

      How do you do this?
      • Be clear about what the process is.
      • It should inform how employees can get engaged and track the process.
      • Employees should feel their contributing to the process.
      • Contributors should know how decisions are made and what projects get funded.
  4. Unprotected Resources
    • Commit your resources.
    • Protect your resources.
  5. Poorly defined “BHAG” (bold, hairy, audacious, goal)
    • Setting the bar high for the team.
    • Provide a clear goal.

Within your organization you could see anywhere from one to all five of these risks to innovation.  As an innovation leader, you need to define the problem and find a solution. Don’t try to solve all five problems at once.  I recommend defining the “BHAG” and the ambiguous process first because those you can directly control.  

I hope today’s discussion gives you the insight on ways to build innovation strength.  Through acquiring innovation, you can get an innovative edge over the competition. But be wary of this approach as a way to play catch up.  Then, for any organization with a drive towards innovation, watch out for the Five Biggest Risks to Innovation. If you have questions or comments on this week’s show, I’d love to hear from you.  Or carryon the conversation about these steps to building innovation strength at The Innovators Community.


Innovation is all about translating ideas into real products, real services and real solutions.   Ideas without execution are a hobby.  Is your organization in the business of innovation?   This week’s show boils it down to a simple equation.  Ideas + Innovation Culture = Innovation Success.  The process starts with ideas and the management of them.  But ideas won’t develop and thrive without the right culture.  Core Attributes are about setting the basis for Innovation Culture.  When you set up a good system of gathering ideas and lay a foundation for innovation culture, innovation success ensues.

Creating Order from the Brainstorm of Ideas

The process starts with ideas coming from many sources.  Then comes the question of how to manage your ideas.  How do you log, track and rank them?  Where are your ideas today in the innovation lifecycle?  What about from all the brainstorming sessions over the last few years… and could you easily put your hand on the list of those ideas?  Ideas have value over time.

The Idea Management System, Step By Step

If you believe ideas are the currency of the economy, you need to manage ideas as a valued asset for innovation success.  Treat ideas as a valuable asset.

What’s needed in an idea management system?

  1. Idea capture and tracking
    1. Easy way to put ideas in system, track over time, evaluate them and link to other ideas that could grow into something significant.
    2. Done by people on innovation team but also open to other people in the organization who can submit an idea easily – have one place to look for all assets
  2. Idea evaluation – some form of an idea evaluation tool that allows for management to assess and look at ideas more closely
    1. Does everyone in the organization look at it and vote
    2. Use a ranking process like F-Focus, I-Ideation, R-Ranking, E-Execution
    3. Crowd source feedback
  3. System must allow for Ad Hoc Team Collaboration
    1. As people submit an idea, people can search the system to see if someone has a similar idea across the organization – can team up, combine efforts and areas of expertise
    2. Social hub of innovation within an organization
    3. Get better ideas – cross organizational efforts – collaborations that generate exciting ideas
  4. Supports whatever your organization’s process is for innovation
    1. Tool needs to match today’s and even tomorrow’s process
    2. Track ideas through the gating process your organization uses
    3. Follows phases of innovation used
      Lot of tools out there that force you to follow their process – be careful – you need a tool that follows your process.
  5. Needs to support pausing ideas
    1. Difference between a good idea and really great idea is not about the idea.  It’s about the timing.
    2. Market, customer, organization, government regulation are not ready – lots of reasons.
    3. Key is you always need ability to pause the idea – capture it so that can pause and pull out an idea later when timing is right
  6. Ability to issue challenges
    1. Don’t run idea management system like an electronic suggestion box – ideas will become incremental
    2. For breakthrough ideas, issue challenges: carefully worded questions, problems, areas of interest put out to the general population with some form of incentive for spending time thinking about ideas/approaches that will answer or solve that in form of ideas
    3. Well constructed challenges (problem statement) generate wealth of good ideas
    4. Gets org thinking – signaling where the org is going, what the direction of org is

My Experience With These Tools

  1. Without a system or tool, you are lost
    1. You have to treat them as a valuable asset
  2. Don’t restrict access to the tool
    1. Open it up to 100 percent of your organization
    2. You have to trust your employees
  3. Promote your tool
    1. Get people to engage on the tool providing their feedback
    2. This becomes the mechanism by which ideas are trained and tracked
    3. Promote constantly and consistently
  4. Close the loop with the idea submitters
    1. If someone submits an idea they need to hear back
    2. Give them feedback
  5. Think about applying some form of gamification
    1. Make it fun
    2. Give them a point or scoring system

Core Attributes

Last June, I took over a new role as CEO where I set out a hundred day plan looking at the organization and figuring out what made it tick.  I spent a significant amount of time doing one on one interviews with all the key stakeholders.  I asked them four questions:

  1. What should we preserve?
  2. What should we stop doing?
  3. What is it that you most hope I do?
  4. What do you hope I do not do?

Ninety-five percent of employees were afraid that the new CEO would not change anything.  They understood that in order for the company to flourish, some things needed to be changed.  I realized that I had to build the core attributes from scratch. So, how do you do that?  The key is to help everyone understand why core attributes are so important.  What is it the team wants the organization to become?  Core attributes articulate what you stand for.  The ones we came up with are:

  1. We need to be passionate
  2. We think big and bold
  3. We are fast and agile
  4. We are a team
  5. We unlock individual potential
  6. We lead by example
  7. We are resourceful

Once you have captured this, you are ready to start the process.  Having the list is the beginning of the process. The senior executives must own this; this must always be controlled by the senior executives. We need to manage the process to get everyone on board with the innovation culture.  It is communicating the process and communicating the core attributes.  Instead of telling people these are the core attributes, we published them and invited people to come in as part of group sessions.  We collected a list of core attributes employees liked and helped brainstorm recommendations to the executive team about how we could live it.  We have included core attributes into our performance management.  At the end of the year, employees are getting assessed on those core attributes.  The impact on the organization was beyond anything I expected.  It is not static and it is a never ending process, but it develops an effective framework for an innovation culture that drives success.

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

When it comes to the process of generating ideas, the default answer is to host a brainstorming session.  Are there other ways to generate new ideas that are not dependent on traditional brainstorming?  Today on Killer Innovations, I am going to share with you five that I use.

Mind Mapping and Wishing 

Mind mapping is a fairly common term nowadays; there are many types of software proving templates for mind mapping.  Traditionally they are used to organize your data, but it is also a great way to generate new ideas.

  • Develop your problem statement.
  • Write down the problem statement in the center of your idea (whiteboards work great).
  • Expand on this problem statement by surrounding it with terms that better describe what you need.
  • Now add a second layer to each of your needs describing how you might be able to solve for these individual challenges.
  • Keep adding to your mind map using the steps above until you have sufficiently broken down your problem into manageable parts.

It is a fantastic ideation technique that encourages creative answers.  Another great way to generate new ideas is wishing.  Wishing encourages your team to let imaginations run wild.  Assuming you have a well-researched and understood problem statement, ask each participant to dream up the most unattainable solutions they can think of related to the problem statement.  Create a list of a few dozen wishes and go through the wishes by considering and discussing the ideas in detail.  Ask yourself:

  • What makes them so impossible?
  • How can that idea be scaled down?
  • Which features of that wish could we integrate into this other approach?

You might be surprised to discover applicable, real-world solutions among the team’s wildest wishes.

Six Thinking Hats

Six Thinking Hats by Dr. Edward de Bono unleashed a new approach to generating ideas by breaking down the ideas into six areas of thought.  It helps participants put themselves into the shoes of another.  The six hats are:

  • Logic- the facts.
  • Optimism- the value and the benefits.
  • Devil’s Advocate- the difficulties and dangers.
  • Emotion- Feelings and intuitions.
  • Creativity- Possibilities and new ideas.
  • Management- Making sure the rules of the hats are observed.

So, how do you use the tool? Have each member put on one of these different “hats” for the discussion. Make sure everyone has their say and for extended sessions, rotate the hats to others so everyone gets the opportunity to see the problem and ideas from a variety of different perspective.

Brain-writing and Forced Combinations

One challenge for generating ideas is to get everything that is rattling around in your head out.  In this exercise, each participant takes a piece of paper and writes down a few rough ideas for solving the problem statement.  Each piece of paper is then passed on to someone else, who reads it silently and adds their own ideas to the page.  This process is repeated until everyone has had a chance to add to each piece of paper.  Once each participant has retrieved their original piece of paper, they read and organize the ideas.  Then each participant shares the notes and ideas on their piece of paper.  The big advantage of brain-writing is that it makes sure everybody has an opportunity to share their ideas and it also reinforces the idea of “building on the ideas of others.”  The last way to generate ideas I wanted to share is one I have used with my own product teams.  The premise is to look at non-logical combinations to create entirely new ideas.  This exercise involves bringing together ides that serve very different needs or interest to form a new concept.  How does this work?

  • Bring a bag of random items to your ideation
  • Draw up two lists side-by-side of the items in the bag.
  • Ask a team member to pick two or more items and explore different ways they can be combined.
  • On the list, draw a line for each combination shared with a brief description of the ideas that resulted.
  • Put the items back in the bag.
  • Next person selects two or more items and repeats the process.

This technique can produce some silly results, but it is ultimately a helpful way of getting your team out of a creative rut.

 

Five Minutes to New Ideas 

Everybody wants and needs change, but on the other hand we enjoy doing what we do well.  We tend to limit ourselves to the things we know we do well. When it comes to innovation, this plays out in spades when a new innovation team reaches success. They become repetitive in their process, believing the steps are what lead to success. This week on Five Minutes to New Ideas we will talk about how the only way to change creativity and generate new ideas in our lives is to do it deliberately.  We all can do things to get ourselves out of our old ruts and avoid the habit trap.

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

This week on Killer Innovations, I will discuss how to use both individual ideation and team ideation to generate disruptive ideas that will create high impact innovations.  

Individual Ideation

When kicking off individual ideation, you need to ensure that the mechanics are in place.  

  • Make sure everyone has a stack of yellow sticky notes and sharpies.
  • They will be asked to write one idea per sticky note.
  • Set the expectation of time and minimum of ideas.
  • No editing.
  • No talking.
  • Write legibly and big.

At the end of time, see how many have hit their idea quota.  Then let them take a break before the next set of exercises.  Now that everyone has their individual ideas in front of them, each person should take turns and go up to a flip chart and place each of their sticky notes on the flipchart and read what they wrote.  Once everyone has shared their ideas, the group should step back and look at the flip chart. In some sessions, I will circle the group and have the team come up with a name for the group of ideas that are the same or nearly the same.  I recorded a video of a grouping exercise I facilitated for a workshop for the US Department of Education. You can find it on my Youtube channel. Next, we want to see if there are any wow ideas.  Hand out to each person on the team four sticky notes. Each person should have their own color so they can know who/what they voted for.  Rules for this exercise:

  • No talking.
  • Place all four of your dots on a specific idea, not a group.  It is okay to place more than one dot per idea. Do not overthink it and do not move other people’s dots.
  • Time the activity (no longer than ten minutes).

You now have everyone’s ideas on the flip chart, grouping of everyone’s ideas into similar overlapping ideas and marked ideas.  

Group Ideation

Innovation is a team sport and that applies to ideation.  The benefit of a group is when we build on each other’s ideas.  So, the next exercise emphasizes looking at the individual ideas and asking how to make them better.  Ground rules for group ideation:

  • One at a time (choose someone else’s idea, not your own).
  • Ideate (think out loud).
  • Let ideas trigger ideas.
  • Build on, develop and expand each other’s ideas.
  • No evaluation.

So, the exercise is:

  • Build on each other’s ideas.
  • Select one idea you are excited about.
  • Add new ideas.
  • Group ideas together.
  • Time the exercise for twenty-five minutes.

The next step is to now rank the groups you have come up with.  It is important that you rank before you dismiss the team. You can learn more about ranking at Killer Innovations or in the chapter of my book.  So, why does this process work?

  • This is not just a group exercise.
  • You get the benefit of individual ideation which is great on generating raw ideas.
  • You get the benefit of group ideation.

These exercises are trusted and used by thousands of organizations and governments around the world.  I would love to hear the results if you try this inside your team or organization. I you need help in setting up a test to see if this will work in your organization, go here.  Put in your contact information and someone will reach out and help you think through how to test it in your organization.  

 

Five Minutes to New Ideas

I find it interesting that we usually get from other people what we expect from them.  The longer I live the more I realize the impact attitude has on me. When it comes to success attitude is more important than the past, your education, more than money, more than circumstance, and more than what other people think.  This week on Five Minutes to New Ideas we will discuss the importance of the attitude of an innovation leader. An innovation leader needs to set their expectations high.  Sow hat will your expectations be?

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

Today’s show is going to be a look behind the scenes around the time when I took over as CTO at HP.  This time is so important because it is the time that I came up with the concept “The Innovation Program Office.”  In today’s show we will talk about the pros and cons of the “IPO”, what are some of the things you need to think about regarding the “IPO”, and will it work for you?  The concept of “IPO” still applies today, and hopefully by the end of the show you will have your own insight of how it can apply to what you are trying to do in the organizations you serve.

History

A lot of traditional teams set up to “do innovation” by creating an innovation team.  This makes the innovation team a target because people not on the team no longer saw innovation as part of their job.  What a lot of organizations experienced was that it was hard to scale. Scaling is the key factor because scaling limits impact.  Even with major significant support, no organization can grow a dedicated team large enough.  Innovation is not a team of people where you have an innovation program office, innovation is around a capability that an organization can and should have that is part of that core of how you do things.  New teams need to show innovation value right away with a near zero team members. Most likely you will have zero funding yet, you need to show an early win. How do new teams do this? By getting others to support them.

  • Let them get credit for the early wins.
  • Be viewed as a resource to help.
  • Let the group benefit (new product, revenue, marketplace credit, etc.).

If you are in the innovation game and it is all about you getting the credit, the odds of you being successful in this game are near zero if not zero.  

Role of the Innovation Program Office

The role takes on many forms but the role of the “IPO” is establishing the innovation framework, securing the funding, project selection and tracking, and training and supporting the teams as they innovate.  The first thing the “IPO” needs to establish is the framework that the broader organization will align around. You need to adapt the framework to the language of the organization.  Getting others to adapt it is a “change management” process. At HP the gradual roll-out to get the framework established takes over two years for 20,000 employees. Once you have the framework in place, you need to look at the metrics.  Understand how executive decisions are made and adapt metrics to it. Test your “alpha metrics” against yourself and against your peers.

  • Does it reveal something?
  • If you have the info int eh past, would you have made different decisions?

Your objective is to find metrics that are:

  • Predictive of future challenges and opportunities.
  • Give you enough foresight to change directions and have an impact.
  • Satisfies the “fear” response from execs.
  • Prove to management that innovation can be managed.

Key with funding in the “IPO” is to move it from underneath the normal budget process and control.  Once you have the metrics it is much easier to secure the funding. Start small, prove yourself, and grow the funding.  Look forwards to what you will do not what you have done in the past. Remember that you are competing for money that could be used in other ways.  Next is project selection and tracking:

  • Define the criteria for project selection.
  • We used ranking questions.
  • Create their own.
  • Re-evaluate the selections to improve how you identify the projects that will have the biggest impact.

Once you have everything in place: the framework, metrics, funding, project selection and tracking, you then need to role it out and scale it across the organization.

Impact and Pitch

In “IPO” it is about transforming the approach.  It is not about being the innovators but instead being the enablers of innovation.  

  • Keep the “IPO” small.
  • Avoid being viewed/perceived as competition to others in the organization.  
  • Not about the doing but the enabling.

For HP, “IPO” was never bigger than thirty-five people.

  • We provided funding that was outside the budgets.
  • Teams did not need to compete for money against items already generating money.
  • Off the radar from their management team.
  • Spread the money freely; show that you are willing to fund things that you may not see as being successful.
  • Do not appear biased to your own or your team’s ideas.

How do you convince leadership to create an “IPO”?  Identify the challenges the organization will face without an innovation capability.

  • Speed of change.
  • Changing customers.
  • Market expectations.
  • Competitors who are changing.
  • Draft and get alignment around the problem statement that the organization can rally around.

What do they want?

  • Understand everyone has a boss.
  • Everyone wants to look good to their boss.
  • How can you help them look good to their boss?
  • How can you model true partnership?
  • They want to be the hero.

What do you want?

  • To show what you can do.
  • Show success and impact.
  • Transform an organization.
  • You should not want to be the hero. You want to be the guide.

How do you structure it so everyone gets what they want?

  • Focus on the agreed problem statement.
  • Do not forget what they and you want.
  • Each decision you make ask yourself:
      • Does this help solve the problem statement?
      • Does this help them achieve what I want?
      • Does this help me achieve what I want?

The “IPO” is an important resource, whether you create it as a separate team or use support from outside resources.  

Five Minutes to New Ideas

There’s an old saying that goes like this, “Speaking with passion but without the facts is like making a beautiful dive into an empty pool.”  To convince or persuade others to believe in your idea, you have to base your idea on incontestable facts that can be readily grasped and understood.  When it comes to innovation, you not only need to get people to support your idea, but also to fund it. On this week of Five Minutes to New Ideas we will be discussing the importance of facts.  What part of the story are you telling about your ideas based on absolute truth?

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

So, you are about to pull together a team of eight to twelve people into a brainstorming session; do not make the mistake that 90% of us make…no area of focus.  Most teams will be given the challenge of to “quickly come up with a product idea.” The results can be predicted; poor to none when it comes to creating any form of disruptive ideas.  This week on Killer Innovations, we will talk about four steps to better brainstorm problem statements.

Brainstorming

When you pull together a team for brainstorming, creating focus is critical.  When I say “creating focus” I mean that you need to tell the brainstorm team:

  • Who has the problem?
  • What exactly is the problem?
  • Why is it important to solve?

In full or multi-day brainstorms, I have the teams develop their own problem statement.  I set aside between four to eight hours to create a proper problem statement. Do no scrimp on this; spend the time!  A well-defined focus via a well thought out problem statement will generate more and radically better ideas when you are ideating. The core elements have to address one of the following:

  • Solve a problem.
  • Remove a barrier.
  • Improve an experience.

And while you try to answer all of this remember:

  • Need to be concise.
  • Does not state or imply a solution.
  • Specific enough to be solvable in the given time frame and with available resources or competencies.

Sounds hard doesn’t it?  Thus, why I spend four to eight hours crafting, testing and validating a problem statement before I bring the team together.  

Good and Bad Problem Statements

I have a few different templates I use for creating problem statements:

  • The (what/problem) affects (who/customer) the result of which (why/importance).
  • (Who/customer) is affected by (what/problem), the result of which (why/importance).

So, what are the steps that would allow you to create a well-defined problem statement?  The first step is to brainstorm the problem!  Ask for people to list problems, challenges, friction in the system, barriers and unmet needs.  The second step is to have each individual answer the “who, what, and why” we talked about earlier in the show.  Step three is to then take the answers and start to draft problem statements using the templates. Then repeat the “who, what, and why”, drafting multiple versions of the problem statements.  Step four is to test it with the “who”, the target segment.

Testing Your Problem Statement

Once you have a version of the problem statement that you think works, you need to test it with others.  Never use yourself as a proxy; you are too close to it. You test it by writing it out, editing it, simplifying it, and making it tight and concise.  Then find and talk to the people who you believe have the problem. Then ask them a set of questions to validate the problem and problem statement:

  • Is this (team’s hypothesis) a problem for you?  Why or why not?
  • What problem would be solved for you if the problem was fixed?
  • How frequently does the problem cause a problem for you?
  • What value would you gain if this problem was solved?

Now that you have a problem statement, I would recommend sharing it with the team for the brainstorm as “homework.”  Have the think about the problem statement and ask them to answer the validation questions from the perspective of the individuals who would receive the benefit from the brainstorm.  If you would like your team to learn how to run radically better brainstorms by writing better problem statements then I would suggest you host a one-day Disruptive Ideation Workshop.

 

Five Minutes to New Ideas


The tech and tools we have now available for podcasts are far superior to what we had back when I first started recording my podcasts in 2005.  This got me thinking about how wonderful innovation is and how easy it is to overlook it. Fifty years ago, we lived in a way that would be considered a burden today.  While it is great to be nostalgic about the past, I cannot imagine going without the innovations we have today. This week on Five Minutes to New Ideas we will talk about how change from innovation is inevitable.  If you continue as you have in the past, where will you be five years from now?

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

It goes without saying that not all ideas are good ideas that lead to market winning innovations.  Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that while failures will happen, we can learn from those that have gone before us in bringing innovations to market.  This week on the show, we are going to look at the five worst innovation failures and see what could have been done differently.  

 

Five Worst Innovation Failures No. 1: The Apple Newton

In 1993, Apple launched the Newton.  While I tracked this product at launch, it was not one that I found interesting enough to purchase.  It was not a success because it tried to do too much. What could have been done differently?

 

  • Get the hardware right.
  • Determine the most important features users are looking for.
  • Establish a model of “continuous innovation” of adding features.
  • Only release features when ready and at the quality customers expect.

 

Palm learned from one of the five worst innovation failures.  In 1997, Palm introduced the Palm Pilot, using the lessons learned from the Newton.  Palm focused on the minimal viable product.  Rather than doing twenty things poorly, the Palm Pilot did its core functionality extremely well.  The Palm Pilot dominated the PDA market for years.

 

Five Worst Innovation Failures No. 2: Microsoft Zune

In 2006, Microsoft introduced their portable music player, Zune.  It was Microsoft’s answer to the Apple iPod. Even with a ton of marketing effort the product never took off.  There was nothing unique about it that would cause someone to switch from using an iPod to take up a Zune. The product was finally killed off in 2011.  What could have been done differently?

 

  • To win you need to commit.  Taking half a step by introducing a re-branded product is not a winning strategy.
  • To win against an entrenched leader you need to out-innovate them.

 

Five Worst Innovation Failures No. 3: HD-DVD

In 2006, Toshiba, with support from Microsoft, launched HD-DVD which was supposed to become the Hi-Def successor to the DVD.  Standalone HD-DVDs players were sold and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 had a HD-DVD option. Most will not recall the HD-DVDs versus Blu-Ray wars.  It was a direct repeat of the VHS and Betamax wars. What should have been done differently?

 

  • HP should not have switched its position based on incentives.  It injected confusion into the market and impacted its technical credibility with its partners.
  • Ecosystem partnerships are critical for most, if not all, major global innovations today.

 

Five Worst Innovation Failures No. 4: Samsung Note 7

In 2016, Samsung came out with the Samsung Note 7.  This failed because it had a problem where it occasionally caught fire and exploded.  Out of prudence, the phones were banned on flights and Samsung had to recall the entire line.  What could have been done differently?

 

  • Don’t let the schedule dictate launch.
  • Get the quality right.
  • Customers will always reward quality with loyalty.
  • Balance risk of new innovations.
  • Learn from others.

 

Five Worst Innovation Failures No. 5: TwitterPeek

In 2008, Peek introduced Twitter Peek, a hardware device which allowed users to send and receive tweets using Twitter.  It was the first Twitter-only mobile device. Peek took the minimal viable product to an extreme. TwitterPeek met broad skepticism in the press.  CNN listed it as one of the top ten biggest technology failures of 2009, while Gizmodo went as far as to name TwitterPeek as one of the fifty worst gadgets of the decade.  In 2012, Peek dropped all of its hardware devices and shifted to making software for OEM’s.  What could have been done differently?

 

  • Be careful of going to extremes.
  • Test/validate.
  • Don’t outsource everything to the big design houses.

 

We can learn a lot from the innovation failures of others.  Failure is part and parcel of the innovation game. Don’t shy away from looking deep into failures to see what can be learned.  



Five Minutes to New Ideas

An institution’s impact should be measured over time.  The ability to produce a great product or service is linked to the inherent drive for quality from the team who builds it.  This week on Five Minutes to New Ideas we will talk about the importance of quality.  There is nothing more important than to instill in ourselves, our children, and grandchildren a love for quality.  Quality puts the value into everything. You should never stop asking yourself how can I improve on the quality of what I do?

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

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

Leadership support for innovation is critical to an organization. Any leader knows how to spell innovation.  But few senior leaders understand what is involved or how hard it is unless they have come from an “innovation background.”  What are some essentials of innovation leadership? In today’s show we discuss the role of the CEO and the Board of Directors.  We also consider the benefits of an effective Innovation Advisory Board.

Role of the CEO

What is the role of a CEO running an organization?  

  • To set the vision.
  • To establish the leadership team.
  • To define the objectives for the organization.
  • To hold self and others accountable to achieve the vision and objectives.

The CEO crafts a structure and a budget which the Board approves or disapproves.  Where does the innovation aspect fit in? Innovation should be part of how an organization achieves its vision.  It should be funded and resourced to enable the vision and objectives. The CEO should promote innovation and its role in the organization.  The CEO should hold the leadership team accountable for innovation.

Common reasons that a CEO does not provide the innovation leadership needed:

  • Funds only where there is a clear line of sight of the results.
  • Uncomfortable with the unknown or associated risks.
  • A weak relationship with the Board.
  • On shaky ground with the Board because of past mistakes or failures to deliver.
  • Doesn’t believe in the value and impact of innovation.
  • Doesn’t know how and won’t ask for help.

What should the innovation leader do when the CEO is not fully engaged in the innovation efforts?   First, start small. Find the hidden project that someone has been doing in stealth and get behind it.  Next, lay out a clear plan and metrics that can be shared with leaders and the Board of Directors.  Lastly, gradually gain their support. After concerted effort, if there is no support, this organization may never give innovation a role.

Board of Directors

While the CEO may be the focus when it comes to innovation, the Board plays a critical role.  The Board is the “boss” of the CEO. The Board has control of the budget - a key resource for innovation.  A Board’s commitment to innovation is shown by the time spent talking about it in Board meetings. Another indicator is willingness to make it a priority in the budget process.  The committed Board understands and is comfortable with the fact that risk is associated with innovation.  The Board, with the CEO and innovation leadership team, sets realistic, high quality innovation metrics.  A Board conveys support by “protecting” the CEO when it comes to stakeholders.  

A big risk for many organizations: most Boards do not have members from an innovation background.  You need people on your Board who have lived it.

How does a Board get guidance on encouraging and supporting innovation?

  • Find outside consultants that can train the Board.
  • Have innovation leaders meet with Board members one on one to educate them.
  • Find organizations that have innovation at their core.
  • Create an innovation board of advisors.

Establishing an Effective Innovation Advisory Board

How can you get the CEO and Board to embrace innovations when it is not part of the DNA?  Recruit an Innovation Board of Advisors. This Board of Advisors should contain the innovation leader from within the organization.  Other members should be proven innovation leaders from outside the organization.  No consultants. The Innovation Advisory Board meets with organization leaders and the Board of Directors.  It provides guidance and feedback. A rewarding experience for me was serving as an outside member of the Roche Innovation Advisory Board.  I was tasked to help their innovation and management teams get “fresh eyes”.  

What did I learn from serving on an Innovation Advisory Board?

  • IABs can play a critical role in bringing outside perspectives.
  • IABs are outside validation of what and why you do the things you do.

How would I set up one today?

  • Find the best people.
  • Be prepared to pay for Board membership.
  • Set clear focus and expectations.
  • Make it real, not window dressing.
  • Give them visibility to your leadership and Board.
  • Plan a rotation of membership.

Want to know how to engage your CEO and Board of Directors?  Looking to establish an Innovation Advisory Board? Reach out and drop me a note.


Everyone is creative.  Yet some people seem more creative than others.  What do those people have that others might lack?  What’s the secret to creativity? This week we talk about finding creative inspiration outside of work.  I’ll share my thoughts on what makes people creative. We’ll also hear Kym McNicholas interview Tania Katan.  Tania has just come out with a book called Creative Trespassing: How to Put the Spark and Joy into Your Work and Life.  

Finding Inspiration

Humans use creativity every day to solve complex issues.  Some people are more creative than others in problem solving.  How do these people manage to stay ahead of everyone else creatively?  First, these people are inspired. Find something that piques your interest, that drives you to go above and beyond, to experiment and learn.  You can find creative inspiration even at work. If you are passionate about what you are doing, then you are feeding your creativity.

Practicing Creativity

Another common denominator of creative people is that they practice creativity.  People do not just wake up already skilled at something. They have to practice it until they have mastered it.  Practice can be defined as two things:

 

  • To do repeated exercises for proficiency
  • To pursue a profession actively

 

There is a myth that you can't practice creativity and innovation.  You can practice and become proficient. There are many ways to exercise your creative abilities.  There are exercises for daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly practice of creative skills.  

Talking Creative Inspiration with Tania Katan

Tania Katan shares with Kym McNicholas how people’s creativity in personal life can enhance their work.  Her book, Creative Trespassing: How to Put the Spark and Joy Back into Your Work and Life, looks at the impact of bringing personal creative exercise into the workplace.  Tania wrote this book because she saw a disconnect between people’s creativity and what they did at their jobs during the day.  


Tania says that if you are looking for innovation, you need to bring your creativity inside your job.  Problems with innovation could be solved if we brought our creativity to work. Throughout the book there are exercises called “Productive Disruptions.”  These are creativity breaks. There was a study done by Stanford called the “Walking Creativity Study.” This proved that people who went for walks when experiencing creative blocks experienced 60 percent higher creativity afterwards.  Disruptions and breaks are scientifically proven to help improve creativity. Many people don’t improve creativity because they think they don’t have the right experience or training.  We need to break through that barrier and ask “what if” questions. Stop trying to solve problems the same way and give creativity a try.

 

Some of the greatest takeaways from the book are:

 

  • Our job does not have to be uniquely creative for us to actually be creative.
  • We need to feel free at the workplace to create a creative revolution inside our bodies, minds and cubicles.

 

One of the biggest roadblocks of creativity is the fear of thinking and doing things differently. The best way to get through that obstacle is to face it.  

 

For more information on creative inspiration pick up Tania Katan’s book Creative Trespassing: How to Put the Spark and Joy into Your Work and Life.

 

To track what Tania is doing, visit LinkedIn.




Five Minutes to New Ideas

What got me to start a podcast in 2005? I got inspired.  True inspiration goes deep. It changes us and transforms us.  On this week’s Five Minutes to New Ideas hear about finding and exploring your creative inspiration.  What is your creative inspiration? Who has inspired you? And how are you translating your creative inspiration to have an impact.  Send me a note on your creative inspiration story.

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

With major shifts in the global economy, businesses need to be ready.  Amid a slowdown of growth, companies that thrive are using innovation to grow the intangible economy.  Steven is the global head of innovation at KPMG. Steven joins us to talk about the intangible economy and what companies need to know.

Scale and Investment Equals Growth

CEOs and boards who are serious about innovation must consider the intangible economy.  KPMG conducted a study of 15,000 global firms with at least 250 employees. They called the top 10% of these firms frontier firms.  The other 90% were the followers. A remarkable factor in the findings: major growth seemed to remain with the frontier firms. Very few followers were able to reach growth at the frontier level.  Of the firms, only 18 follower firms moved to frontier status. What separated the two? Scale and how a firm invested.  Frontier firms used data and AI to transform their platform for productivity.

Harness the Power of the Intangible Economy

The value of data is clear when one considers how Amazon has harnessed its power.  Smart businesses are finding ways to use data as a business strategy.

The four pillars to consider in developing data and AI strategies:

  • Using data to change customer experience and predict customer behavior.
  • Valuing assets in the organization differently.
  • Creating service capabilities as an organization.
  • Transforming the workforce with data and AI.

Creating Core Capability Around Innovation

Using innovation to grow the intangible economy requires more than having an innovation team.  You have to create core capability around innovation inside the organization. There are a number of things that can prevent that from happening.  KPMG worked with Innovation Leader to survey large organizations worldwide about innovation. The responses reveal what is stifling innovation in organizations.

 

  • Lack of leadership engagement and support of innovation
  • Politics or turf wars between departments
  • Company culture
  • Inability to act on signals
  • Lack of budget
  • No vision or strategy

The need for innovation has never been stronger.  Leadership involvement is the driving force behind it.    Innovation is a capability not a box on your chart or team name.  The organization will take their lead from the CEO. You have to live it every day with your team.  

Challenges Faced

There are many challenges to sustaining innovation.  Part of the problem is that leaders don’t understand what innovation is. Defining innovation is an important step.  Customize the definition of innovation to fit the organization. Set the standard for the culture of innovation. Innovation is characterized in three ways:

 

  • Incremental Innovation - asks people to think differently about what they do and drives new thinking.
  • Adjacent - things you are doing that are tangential that add value.
  • Transformational - turning a traditional business into a platform for creative transformation.


Lessons Learned

One challenge that leaders face is building innovation as a sustainable activity.  Advice Steve gives for those trying to transform their organization:

 

  • Find a respected and known leader who gets things done to lead innovation.  Give that person the mandate to start building a disciplined innovation capability.

 

  • Work on the culture of the organization overall. Establish cultural momentum by talking about it and making it a strategic set of imperatives.  

 

  • Develop contests (hackathons).  Create a place that acknowledges and celebrates people across enterprise for innovation.  

 

  • Put real money behind the investment portfolio.  Money matters.

 

When it comes to your budget, be clear with yourself, your people and the marketplace.  Money should be tracked explicitly against the specific use case and efforts.

To track what Steven Hill is doing at KPMG, check out the KPMG website.  You can also reach Steven on Twitter or his email.

 

Five Minutes to New Ideas

Some people might wonder what ethics has to do with innovation and creativity?  Some organizations could take a lesson on how to establish and reinforce a culture of good ethics.  A culture must reinforce its core values. The Boy Scouts did this. Five Minutes to New Ideas explores how organizations can learn a lesson in ethics from the Boy Scouts.  What standards of ethics have you defined for yourself and your team? Does your team know the ethics you expect from them? Do you hold everyone, yourself included, to that standard?  Let’s set the standard for ethics in innovations.

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

Behind all things smart, from homes and buildings to vehicles, is IoT.  What will open up new worlds for the future? Open IoT standards.  John Osborne II is Chairman of the Board at Zigbee Alliance.  He is also Vice President of IoT, sales and marketing at LEEDARSON.  He talks with me about device innovation and enabling IoT standards across the industry.

Innovation Across Industry

John and I met years ago when he worked as Kroger’s innovation leader.  Kroger’s process of instilling a culture of innovation is featured in my book.  As Chairman of the Board at Zigbee Alliance, John is innovating an industry’s approach.  Although it may be in your home, you may wonder what Zigbee is. Zigbee is one of the original machine -to-machine protocols allowing device sensors to communicate to a mesh network.   Their device innovation has evolved into one of the premiere mesh networks in the industry. Zigbee products are designed to be long lasting and interoperate. The products require minimal upkeep and maintenance.  But Zigbee is more than device innovation. Through Zigbee Alliance, John brings industry leaders together.

Collaboration to Benefit All

A main goal of Zigbee Alliance is to get industry leaders to accept IoT standards.  Those standards will broaden innovation opportunities. Low power technology is at the forefront.  The hot topics in our world today - health and wellness, aging in place, connected vehicles.  These areas highlight the need for what Zigbee Alliance is doing.  


Joining forces will simplify the industry for customers and businesses.  But finding common ground among competitors is no easy task. Zigbee Alliance’s efforts to build relationships started with a one-week session of industry leaders.  Since that first meeting, the collaboration has grown. The meetings are now held in locations across the world. Zigbee Alliance has become the facilitator allowing companies to lead.  Amazon announced last year it would incorporate a Zigbee smart hub in Alexa. That has sparked the interest in others to follow suit.

 

The Aim of IoT Standards

The challenges still exist in to getting consensus among industry leaders.  Yet, Zigbee Alliance moves forward. Their intent is to achieve common data models, common API, and common security.  Companies want layers of security. But that’s not ideal on the consumer end. Still a few years out, companies are working towards the middle ground – designing the right security.

 

Still in the works is how IoT standards compliance will be identified.  Zigbee Alliance is working with other organizations to determine this. Once established, it will simplify the consumer’s purchase process.

 

Partnerships for Smart Device Innovation

John also highlights the work that LEEDARSON is doing in partnership with small businesses.  As an ODM, LEEDARSON has the resources. Small businesses bring their ideas. Not many innovators are aware of this type of ODM partnering approach to device innovation.  The right partner can accelerate the innovation.

 

Lessons Learned from the Innovation Leader

The process of innovation always presents challenges in the form of innovation antibodies. New people come with their own agendas and ideas.  What has John learned in his experience in device innovation and promoting IoT standards?  

 

Here are John’s tips for dealing with innovation antibodies:

  • Keep pushing your idea.
  • Give them a platform for their view.  
  • Make them part of the process.  
  • Spend a lot of time educating.
  • Work through the problems.

 

As innovators we can’t always jump to the conclusion that we’re right.  Sometimes you are the one hindering your process. When that happens, you need to self-reflect and try a new approach.  

We have to evolve ourselves.  Take a risk and try something new and different.  

The Trends

Now that the tech is here, the solutions are next.  Smart homes and advances in home security give rise to many use cases.  The trend now is managing properties remotely and aging in place. A trend of tomorrow is cloud connected cars as displayed at CES.  John’s hope for the future is connected cities. Before that can happen, issues of politics need to be resolved.  Getting ecosystems like telecoms and the sensor business to work together is another future challenge.


To track what John is doing, check out LinkedIn  https://www.linkedin.com/in/johneosborneii.  Check out his website  http://www.jeoii.com/ or send him an email.  

You may also join the conversation with John and me on The Innovators Community.  


Five Minutes to New Ideas

Inspiration, true inspiration goes deep.  It changes and transforms us. What is your creative inspiration?  Five Minutes to New Ideas explores how to discover your creative inspiration. How are you translating your creative inspiration into having an impact?

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

Making creative ideas into tangible products takes time.  Anything that can optimize the process will give the advantage.  Developing the next evolution of cloud computing is Mutable, which offers public edge cloud.  This translates into low latency, increased security and maximum efficiency. Antonio “Pelle” Pellegrino is Founder and CEO of Mutable.  Pelle joins me to discuss his innovations using edge computing.

 

Bowling Alley to CEO

Pelle’s career has been an interesting one.  From working in his parents’ bowling alley to streaming E-sportscasting, he gained business sense and startup initiative.   Four years ago, he saw the potential for innovations using edge computing. With Nathalie Zadocks, he founded Mutable. It was self-funded and revenue-based in its inception.  The company is now charging ahead as part of the CableLabs Fiterator program.

 

Solving Problems of Latency and More

Speed is no longer the metric.  Latency is what is measured, especially in gaming.  Latency depends on distance. How does Mutable managed the distribution of edge computing assets?  Through automation, from networking to server management to deployment, Mutable uses software to bring all the pieces together.  It’s a platform that makes things seamless for developers. With its innovations using edge computing, Mutable is a market maker for shared compacity.

 

Retrospective Advice  

Pelle’s experience starting up Mutable has given him some perspective.  His words of advice ring true for startups and innovators.

Innovating cable services, Mutable meets the demand in lowering latency.  To track what Mutable is doing, visit https://www.mutable.io/edge.html.  For the latest, check out their Twitter account: https://twitter.com/mutable.  

 

Five Minutes to New Ideas

Can you teach an old dog new tricks?  Great leaders know when it comes to others, there’s always more than meets the eye.  When it comes to creativity, everyone should know all the tricks, right? The truth is most people need to be taught.  Five Minutes to New Ideas explores how to recognize potential in your team’s creativity.  What will you learn from teaching your team creativity?

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

Being connected has become an essential part of our daily lives. Wireless has made huge strides over the past two decades.  IoT is connecting our world in ways we would have never imagined.  With the growing demand for constant connectivity, one area that needs fine-tuning is battery life.  All these devices we use throughout the day require battery power. Today’s guest saw this as the opportunity.  David Su is CEO of Atmosic.  His company is innovating battery life.  Creating technologies to reduce battery usage, Atmosic develops solutions that keep things powered up.  

Stanford to Startup

Much of David’s career has been in the wireless space.  With a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford, David joined Atheros Communication in 1999 as its fifth employee.  David continued with Atheros as it grew and went public. He stayed on when Qualcomm acquired Atheros. After some years, David felt his time at Qualcomm had run its course.  He ventured into new areas.  With four former work colleagues, he started a new company.  

Atmosic’s Vision

In the wireless world, battery power can be a boon and a bane. Reliance on wireless means dependence on batteries for power. When batteries lose charge, things can come to a standstill.  Limited battery life also means a lot of batteries get thrown out - to the tune of three billion per year.  Two and a half years ago, David and fellow co-founders started Atmosic with this in mind.  David, Masoud Zargari, David Nakahira, Srinivas Pattamatta, and Manolis Terrovitis brainstormed.  They sought advice from experts in the field. Their vision began to coalesce - to keep connected devices powered with little to no battery usage.  


With the vision in place, Dave and his team went to work innovating battery life.  They started with battery powered Bluetooth devices.

Solving Core Battery Problems

The advantages Autmosic’s technologies will offer:

  • Lowest power usage without compromising quality.
  • Turns device off when not in use with system level check that transmits only when needed.
  • RF energy harvesting, enabling the battery to last forever.

Long-term vision:

  • “Battery-free utopia” – ecosystem in enterprise applications.

Lessons Learned

What has David learned along the journey towards innovating battery life?  David has some tips for people whether they’re starting a company or pursuing innovation.  

  • Interoperate – work with what is already known and improve it.
  • Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you and be willing to listen.
  • Make sure what you are doing is what you truly believe in and are passionate about.
  • Ground what you are doing in reality.  

By innovating battery life, Atmosic is focusing on a problem that affects us all.  Powering down to power up will keep us connected in a sustainable way.

To track what Atmosic is doing, visit www.atmosic.com.   For the latest updates, check them out on Twitter and LinkedIn.  

 

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Five Minutes to New Ideas

Writer’s block happens to the best of us at one time or another. What is the solution to writer’s block? Doing a weekly podcast has forced me to exercise the creative muscle and fight writer’s block. Five Minutes to New Ideas explores how to cure writer's block and recharge your creativity.  What creative exercise are you going to do today?

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

Before becoming CTO at Comcast, Tony spent a good part of his career as the number two guy.  At Rogers Communications, Inc., people counted on Tony to get the job done. From there, he moved on to TCI in the number two role.  His innovative vision soon got him recognized.  A phone call from John Malone surprised Tony.  John had a problem that needed to be solved. With two weeks to mobilize, Tony brought the right people together and came up with a solution.  John was impressed. About three weeks later, Tony was promoted to Chief Technology Officer.  Success to Tony is when opportunity meets preparation.

Steps a CTO Needs to Take

What are some of the first steps a new CTO should take?  Focus on your vision, belief, and financing.


For Tony, the most important thing is to bring people with you.  The people on your team need to be fully on board and passionate about your vision.  Steve Job’s team is a great example. His team brought the innovative ideas.  Steve made those ideas into bigger things. As a CTO, you need a credible plan to sell to your team, to your peers, to the CEO, and the Board.  Then you need to execute.  

CTO Lessons Learned

Looking back on his career, Tony shares some lessons learned.  Do you have your sights on a CTO role? Here are a few words of CTO advice for the innovator:  

  • Be willing to take a step backwards to go forward.  
    • There have been times in his career that Tony has taken a step backward to gain experience.  The value of experience outweighed the financial down step.  
  • Set high expectations for yourself and your team.  
    • Tony feels at times he could have set higher expectations and would have achieved more.

 

CTO Challenges and Success

From my experience as CTO at Hewlett Packard, a CTO has a divided focus.  The challenge is to find a balance between thinking of present goals and thinking years ahead.  Senior leadership support is crucial.

Another bit of advice for the innovator is to vary your experience. What helped me find success was my wide range of experience. For long-term career success, having a variety of experiences can make the difference.  You have to step out of your comfort zone. Be willing to try different roles. Be a part of teams that you would not normally be comfortable in. Having different experiences gave me the confidence I needed to be bold in innovation.  

If you have questions or comments about today’s show, drop me a note.  Join the conversation on this and other topics at The Innovators Community.

 

Five Minutes to New Ideas

What is the opposite of bravery?  The opposite of bravery is not cowardice, but conformity.  The economy demands creativity not conformity. Five Minutes to New Ideas explores the different ways to succeed in a creative economy.  Could these tips further you and your company’s success in today’s creative economy?

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

Early in my career one man who had a huge impact on me, my mentor Bob Davis, told me to pay it forward.  As Killer Innovations kicks off Season 15 this week, we reflect on what it has meant to pay it forward.  Challenging and encouraging others toward impactful innovation has been my passion. Kym McNicholas joins me on the show as we look back at the Killer Innovations evolution from simple podcast to syndicated radio show.

Worth It

Having enjoyed success as a career innovator, I decided in 2005 it was time to pay it forward by inspiring impactful innovation on a larger scale.  I owe much of my success to the people in my life who have mentored me and led me in the direction for success. As my way of giving back to my mentors, I chose to encourage others in innovation.  Jumping back to Season 1, the feedback from listeners all over the world for Killer Innovations has motivated me to keep going.  Having an impact on people through their innovation journey is the impetus.  Along the way, I’ve developed lasting friendships with many long-time listeners worldwide.

Getting Started

As podcasting emerged in late 2004, I began experimenting with it.  The critical piece of technology enabling podcasting, the enclosure tag, allowed for media distribution.  By March 2005, I jumped in with my first Killer Innovations episode.  It was a bit like the Wild West.  I modeled myself after Earl Nightingale, a motivational speaker whose tapes and cassettes inspired me.  With a laptop and a microphone, I began the podcast from a hotel.  That was the start of it.

Making an Impact Then and Now

One eye-opening comment I received in the first year of the show has stuck with me.  It was from an avid listener whose son, a young listener of nine years old, took the inspiration to heart.  He started taking items apart in the home to “innovate” them. That boy is now 23 years old and I would love to hear from him.  I hope he’s doing creative and innovative things.

Guests I’ve had an opportunity to talk to from across the country are doing impactful innovation.  With the Mobile Studio, we’ve been stopping in small towns to find innovation in unexpected places.  Guests in the past year from Fin Gourmet Foods are innovating in such unique ways on multiple levels.  The workforce is one facet of that innovation - investing in the lives of people who need a second chance.


[shareable cite="Kym McNicholas"]Some of the best innovators take those really big, calculated risks.[/shareable]

Fin Gourmet Foods is a great example of how innovation doesn’t have to be tech or happen in Silicon Valley.  Helping people innovate their own lives is impactful innovation at its best.

Guests Who’ve Inspired Us

Guests are an integral part of the show.  As they share their innovation experience and lessons learned, we gain some valuable lessons.  One guest who has inspired us is Noah Scalin. His strategy to spark creativity is another great example of impactful innovation.  An artist based in Richmond, VA, Noah faced a creative block.  To re-ignite his creativity, he started the Skull-a-Day project.  

Another guest who’s personally inspired me is Tom Fishburne.  His on-point marketing themed cartoons show the power of creativity and influence.  His impact on people through humor is amazing.

Evolution of Killer Innovations

From starting out in a hotel room to now rolling around in the Mobile Studio, Killer Innovations continues to grow and change.  Kym recalls how she and I met - chasing the latest Tech at CES.  Now the Mobile Studio, a fully equipped 44-foot custom bus, is my studio and office while on the road.  In addition to the Mobile Studio, the show has gone from being fully funded by me to having sponsors. With the sponsorship, we are now able to pay it forward with ads for nonprofits such as Hacking Autism and Pioneer Education Africa.

The community of listeners, like Chris Woodruff, continues to impact me and others.  Innovation doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Recently, we created The Innovators Community.  Open to anyone interested in innovation, it’s a place where people can share their ideas and ask for advice from others in the innovation game.

 

Five Minutes to New Ideas

Don’t fall into a rut repeating the same formula to solve every problem.  You need fresh eyes. Look at things in a new light. This week’s Five Minutes to New Ideas will challenge you to use fresh eyes to find game-changing innovations.   

 

Glad you could join us for the kick-off of Season 15.  Thanks for taking the time to listen to the show. If you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you.  Drop me a line.

Direct download: Season_15_Inspiring_Impactful_Innovation_Since_2005.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

When you’re in the middle of an important project and equipment fails, you want it fixed fast.  In this week’s show I talk with Blitzz Co-founder Rama Sreenivasan. His company is solving the inefficiencies of tech support.  Blitzz’s customer support innovation integrates AI, AR, and live video to solve problems faster.

Winding Journeys Connected

As a chemical engineer working on medical devices to starting a SaaS company, Rama’s path has taken some unexpected twists.  But at the heart of it, he is a problem solver.  The source of his inspiration: his dad who he likes to call “MacGyver”.  

Rama founded Blitzz together with co-founder Keyur Patel two years ago.  They most recently participated in CableLabs Fiterator.  This accelerator program helps startups develop a product-market fit aimed at the cable industry.

A System That Assesses Without the Hassle

When instruments stop working, it’s time to bring in a helpful live assistant. Blitz’s customer support innovation allows a better perspective of and feel for the problem. Through live video chat, companies can avoid spending for onsite technician visits. The customer support is not only heightened, but it is also trained to see around the inconspicuous.  Innovation in repair operations contributes to cuts in labor fees and time processing.  What prompted Rama to create Blitzz’s innovative approach?  During his PH. D and Post-Doctoral work, frustration with equipment breakdown mid-experiment was the impetus.  The long wait to get repairs done seemed a waste. Rama felt there had to be a better way.

AR Perception

In any given company, customer support could always be better. That’s why the addition of AR technology adds to the customer experience. Questions can be answered faster and more efficiently. No longer does one have to worry about the hassle of scheduling an in person visit.  AR perception captures it all. This innovation allows one on one human interaction on a more convenient level.

 

AI Intelligence

Equipment can malfunction and run the risk of being unreliable. AI customer support can redirect the customer to questions and answers that may be a better fit. This AI customer support innovation, becomes its own teacher. The AI brings with it the ability to learn from the information that it processes.

Lessons Learned

Rama highly recommends entrepreneurs go through an accelerator.  He learned critical elements of the startup process through that experience.  He also credits passion for driving the startup process. Connecting with mentors can help fan the flames of that passion.

If you’d like to track the latest with Blitzz, visit the website: https://blitzz.co/ or check out Blitzz on LinkedIn and Twitter.

We’re coming up on the launch of Season 15 of Killer Innovations. We’d love your feedback on what you’d like to hear on Killer Innovations for the next 15 years.  Get in touch and let me know.

 

Five Minutes to New Ideas

When you don’t find a way to differentiate from the pack, you run the risk of losing uniqueness.  What attributes do you have that you may not realize? Listen to this week’s Five Minutes to New Ideas.   Find out how you can get the most out of any opportunity or idea.

Direct download: Customer_Support_Innovation_Solving_Problems_Faster_S14_Ep51.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

Getting around in the big city can be easier than in smaller, less populated locations.  In many areas across the country, getting from point A to point B is dependent on having a vehicle.  This can present a challenge for people who don’t have access to a personal vehicle.  With this in mind, our guests today are solving this problem for communities in Ohio. At the Consumer Electronics Show, co-founders of SHARE, Ryan and Hoa McManus, join us in the Mobile Studio.  Ryan and Hoa tell us about seizing the opportunity with microtransit innovation. What evolving transit demographics are shaping this corner of transportation? What innovative changes are upcoming?  SHARE has a new angle on microtransit: meeting the needs of an overlooked market.

Going Places

SHARE, a startup founded 2-1/2 years ago, has been contributing to a better future in ride systems.  Their focus is to provide regularly scheduled transit for the trips people take the most.  Trust is at the center. They serve school systems, healthcare systems, and workers commuting.  SHARE fills the gap between public transport and ride-sharing. It’s affordable and reoccurring, flexible and reliable.  This benefits a significant unmet market: senior citizens.  The number of cities that the company serves continues to grow. SHARE is proving to be a model of microtransit innovation - a safe and efficient transport system.  SHARE gets people where they need to be on a daily and weekly basis.

Investing in the Team

Packing up and moving across the country, Ryan and Hoa joined an incubator.  They weathered the highs and lows. Finishing the incubator program, they promptly informed their investors about their decision to pivot.  As I say, always invest in the team rather than the tech. Their investors stuck with them. They then joined an accelerator program. From buying their first vehicles, to operating a fleet of vehicles, the tough decisions were made.  As SHARE grows, it confirms those were the right decisions.

Microtransit Innovation:  Lessons Learned

Through their shared experience as co-founders, Ryan and Hoa have learned different things.  

For Ryan, a resounding lesson is to have more clearly defined roles. Startups can get overwhelmed if they don’t establish who does what from the very start. Everyone should know where they fit and what their tasks include. It will come together if things are organized and understood. This way, the team can efficiently move towards the end goal.

Hoa’s major lesson was to have grit amid the challenges as a woman entrepreneur in the transportation industry.  Bouncing back from the low points builds endurance. Facing off with the innovation antibodies with grit makes all the difference.  It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Want to find out more about Ryan’s and Hoa’s microtransit innovation through SHARE?  Track what they’re doing on their website ridewithshare.com, or on Facebook (facebook.com/ridewithshare/) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/ridewithshare/).

We’re starting Season 15 of Killer Innovations in March.  We’d love to hear your thoughts on what you’d like to see and hear on Killer Innovations for the next season and beyond.  Drop me a line and let me know.

 

 Five Minutes to New Ideas

This week’s Five Minutes to New Ideas examines the importance of building onto existing products that are lacking. Sometimes, making that 180 degree turn from the existing norm can really pay off. Forget the obvious solution. Take a crazy gamble.  Could you create a standardized offering of a custom product? Don’t be afraid to go the opposite direction from everyone else.


If you’ve attended the Consumer Electronics Show for many years, your perspective can be invaluable.  For Tim Bajarin, preeminent Silicon Valley analyst and President of Creative Strategies, this is his 44th CES.  When he speaks, the tech industry listens.  Tim joins us in the Mobile Studio to give his impressions on CES 2019.  What trends does Tim notice? Which innovations will impact our future? Overall, CES 2019 is one of incremental innovation.  Nevertheless, there are innovation gems that can prove to be life savers and game changers.


Trends that Matter

Of the ever-evolving innovations at CES, Tim is intrigued by those in the health area.  This year he sees a strong emphasis on digital tech impacting people’s health.  The Omron blood pressure watch, the first of its kind, is one of those innovations that will have huge impact.  For Tim, the health care innovations are fascinating in their far-reaching effect, but also on a personal note. As more people face health issues and aging in place becomes a focus, the tech world has taken on the challenges.  Stay tuned for blood pressure on the iPhone.

Ahead of Its Time

Tim recalls the flexible displays I worked on while at HP.  Well, they’ve caught on and come a long way. Flexible displays are a big opportunity.  LG’s rollable TV is staggering in its resolution, durability, and sheer size. The breakthrough of flexible displays is shown in multiple ways at CES, especially in television display.  The use cases for others are yet to be seen. It’s incremental innovation applied in new ways that’s captured the public’s attention.


Feature Wars

Tim and I talk about what I like to call the ‘feature war’ in the chase for ever increasing resolution displays.  Although content is lacking for 4K, the TV makers are pushing towards 8K and beyond. 8K is a big deal at CES 2019.  Expect to see it making a breakthrough, especially since Japan has made 8K broadcasting a requirement for the 2020 Olympics.  Keep eyes out for its appearance next year.

The distinction between High Definition HDR displays and 4K is not easy to perceive.  In fact, people notice the color more so in the High Definition HDR. When asked to identify the 4K display, people actually chose the High Definition HDR more often.  Similar is the difference between 4K and 8K. The industry moves forward towards 12K and 16K. Are these increasing resolutions useful to consumers? The competitors in the resolution race may at some point need to reassess the needs of the consumer.   

Audio Innovations

Tim talks about the medical devices that are becoming game changers.  Namely, hearing aids with a fine tune audio capturing. The movement in the sound technology means lower costs to consumers for a basic health care need.  Innovations of better audio-centered hearing aids are on the rise. Starkey, the leading hearing aid maker, is going the next step tying Alexa into the hearing aid.  What the tech world is missing is a focus on audio. The tech industry has razor sharp focus on optics, with little attention to audio. As AR and VR grows, some attention to audio will be necessary.  Starkey’s new product will tie in to AR use. The incremental transference of heightened audio is something to get excited about. No longer will the cost be daunting for the consumer. These devices will grow with you while adding more freedom.

Apple Services New Direction

Apple announced they’ll be working with major TV manufacturers to bundle Apple services iTunes and Airplay on TVs.  Apple is setting the groundwork for their services, moving their services in new directions through collaborative efforts.  With Apple services bringing in $10 billion a quarter, it’s becoming a dedicated focus.

Thank you to Tim Bajarin for his return to our show.

My Review

In this show, Tim and I touch on innovations in healthcare.  It’s a topic close to Tim and me.  For example, I’ve had to use a hearing aid for a number of years.  I was given a pair from Eargo to try out.  I had an opportunity to meet with the head of innovation at Starkey.  It’s exciting what’s happening in hearing aid innovations.

Aging in place is becoming a focus and challenge.  We’re seeing incremental innovations in this area.  As consumers age, tech is addressing the needs of the aging population.  

Both Tim are I skeptical about the increasing resolution feature wars.  What is a feature war? Industry locks on to a feature and trains the customer to buy the product with the best offering for that feature.  There may be minimal or no advantage to the upgraded feature, but it’s the hook to catch the customer. Innovators beware: don’t get caught up in a feature war.  Pick your differentiation carefully.

This year is the year of incremental innovation at CES.  It alternates from year to year between high impact innovation and incremental innovation.  Not every company has dipped into this tick tock pattern. There are some companies at CES doing the high impact innovations.  We’ll be looking at those in upcoming weeks.

If you know of a big impact innovation, let me know.  Drop me a note.

 

 

Five Minutes to New Ideas

Consumer complaints and product feedback can turn your product around. Don’t stop at simply resolving an issue. Instead, ask the question, “Who complains about my product?”    

This week’s Five Minutes to New Ideas examines how customer feedback and complaints have changed the way some companies do business.

 

Direct download: Incremental_Innovation_at_CES_2019_S14_Ep49.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

As the hype settles, practical AI emerges.  The use of AI in various forms is gaining traction.  Who can benefit from AI and how? Steve Guggenheimer, Microsoft VP of AI and ISV, joins us in the Mobile Studio at CES 2019.  He shares his thoughts on CES and how AI is taking shape. The cool AI of last year gives way to the practical AI of today.

CES 2019: Electronics and More

Steve, like myself, is a CES veteran.  He’s been coming to the show for years.  What has stood out about CES 2019? Clearly, it’s no longer just about electronics.  In fact, technology has taken over with just about every industry represented. Yet, for Steve, there hasn’t been a clear theme for CES 2019 above the din.  A noticeable change over the years is the companies represented. Among the TV manufacturers that have dominated in the past, new companies and relatively recent ones are taking center stage.  From Amazon and Google to startups and new Chinese companies, CES 2019 is quite different from that of 15 years ago. Some of the trends Steve noticed were smart homes, AI, Mixed Reality, and quantum.

Besides the displays, one of the biggest benefits of CES is the side meetings.  CES brings all the right people together. It’s the perfect chance to schedule meetings with customers, clients, partners the world over without having to travel all over the world.

Overhype, Disillusionment, and the New Wave

Although some things are overhyped, companies are less prone these days to hype their products.  Things get notice and tracked. As Steve puts it, he sees “less of companies sticking their necks out.”  The hype is still there and often it’s propagated by press with limited tech savvy. With too much hype raising expectation, the trough of disillusionment looms.  

Both Steve and I have done vision videos.  Rather than hype, vision videos convey the work of innovation and how it can play out in the future.  Innovation takes investment, commitment, and time. Overhype doesn’t factor that.

The building blocks of yesterday – compute, storage, networking - are not the building blocks of today.  IoT, blockchain, AI are the new wave of building blocks. People need to get out of the hype cycle and see the horizon.

AI and ISV

At Microsoft, Steve works with ISVs.  Steve helps line of business ISVs move towards SaaS.  

In addition, his focus is on AI.  As AI is becoming a hardened layer in the stack, cognitive services research is moving into APIs.  This is the work of the Microsoft Azure team.

Of the basic elements of AI – the cloud, data, the algorithms – the rate of change for the algorithms has “accelerated immensely.”  The innovation in machine learning comprehension tool sets is “superfast”.

AI from the Front Row

AI is multi-faceted.  Some areas of AI are picking up quickly.  Others are slower. While the more complex, integrated AI takes more time, some AI aspects that are gaining traction include:

  • Virtual Agents – bots that are proactive, reactive and conversational
  • AI enhanced tools for professionals – lawyers, doctors, marketing
  • Knowledge management - making a broad set of information easier to graph
  • Autonomous systems
  • Combining computer vision and other tools to digitize a physical space

The practical AI Steve promotes requires a logical approach.  For building a long-term asset, BI must come before AI. The questions he asks steer towards purposeful AI:

  • Is your data in order to do something with?  
  • What do you actually want to build yourself versus use what others have?
  • Where do you want to customize?  
  • Want to build a business out of it? Let's talk.

Is AI Right for You?

To help companies determine if AI is right for them, Steve has more questions for companies to ask:

  • How do I want to use AI to run my company better?
  • Should I build, buy, or partner?
  • Where do I want to infuse AI?
  • How do I differentiate my company with AI?
  • What do you want to add value to?
  • How do you want to add value for your customer?

If AI will not add value in the right areas, don’t do it.

When AI Fails

Often, it’s the bespoke AI project that fails. AI developed around data that is no longer tied to the core data can quickly lose its relevancy.  Failure is common with the bespoke AI project done to impress senior leadership without regard for its actual value to the business.

Another fail is the grand vision that is impossible to implement given situation and resources.  It could be a lack of expertise, financial backing, or executive patience.

Ethics and AI

Ethical AI is an important issue.  To lay out their viewpoint and start the conversation, Microsoft issued The Future Computed.  Steve advises that companies using AI have a framework for addressing ethics and AI.

If you would like to track what Steve is doing at Microsoft, visit the Microsoft AI webpage.  You can also track him on  Twitter or  LinkedIn.

Thank you to Steve Guggenheimer for once again joining us on the show.

 

 

Five Minutes to New Ideas

Could you cut the price of your product by 25%?  Take a look at your inputs. Big savings can mean the game changing advantage.  This week’s Five Minutes to New Ideas, features a company that took a gamble on less is more.

 

Direct download: Practical_AI_at_CES_2019_S14_Ep48.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

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.


Success in innovation requires more than great ideas, that amazing product, the unique service.  Innovators need support from others to make their innovations a reality. How does the innovation leader persuade and influence others to support his/her innovations?  Executive presence plays a key role. This is Part Two of the two-part series that will help you create a strong executive presence.

The Innovator and Executive Presence

Ideas without execution are a hobby.  Innovators are not in the hobby business.  To execute on those ideas, innovators need funding and support.  People are willing to listen and take a chance on the innovation leader with strong executive presence.  For some, executive presence comes naturally. Others have to work at it. Hence, this two-part series, a first for Killer Innovations.  It’s within everyone’s reach to create a strong executive presence.  Part One covered three traits and their associated skills: maintaining composure, making connections, and charisma.  Let’s explore more traits that convey executive presence.

Trait Four: Confidence

An important aspect of executive presence is confidence.  Confidence isn’t only about what’s said. Non-verbal cues reveal confidence or a lack of it.  Practice body hacks that display confidence.

  • Stand straight, head up, face and eyes forward.
  • Smile.
  • Don’t cross arms.
  • Don’t cross legs.
  • Have a strong, firm handshake.
  • Plant feet a shoulder width apart.  Don’t sway.
  • Make good eye contact.
  • Lower voice pitch.

Nonverbal cues speak volumes about a person.  Interested, engaged, and strong. Or indecisive, weak, and nervous.  Not naturally confident? These hacks will help to exude an aura of confidence and create a strong executive presence.

Trait Five: Credibility

A crucial trait of executive presence is credibility.  Building and maintaining credibility is a multi-faceted effort.  Faking it won’t make it. Sooner or later, people will find out and executive presence dissolves.   Credibility takes a long time and hard work to establish, but it’s easy to lose. Never risk your credibility.  

Steps to building credibility:

  • Establish trust
    • If people trust you, they will do business with you.
  • Exhibit competency
    • Become an expert in your field.
    • If you have the expertise, let others know without bragging.
  • Be consistent
    • Your actions and the messages you send out should align with who you are and what you do.
  • Be authentic
    • Don’t fake it till you make it.
    • Base your business or leadership on a solid foundation.  This will provide lasting stability no matter what changes may be ahead.
  • Exhibit sincerity
    • Don’t say everything you think, but mean everything you say.
    • It takes commitment, dedication, always being straightforward.
  • Respect everyone
    • No matter who or what position they hold, respect people.
    • Respect because everyone deserves it.
  • Be accountable
    • Own up to mistakes and correct them.
  • Be honest

[shareable cite="Phil McKinney"]Your trust account is more important than your bank account.[/shareable]

Trait Six: Clear, Concise Communication

Communication has a huge effect on executive presence.  Yet, it can be one of the biggest downfalls. To create a strong executive presence, you must know how to communicate with senior executives.  When conveying information to senior executives, less is more. The more concise, but clear the communication, the better. Being wordy does not impress.  

Here are some basic tips to communicating to senior executives:

  • Lead with your main point.
    • Get to the main point within the first two sentences.
  • Cut the jargon.
    • Leave jargon and slang out.
    • Use clear, concise language.
  • Use short, direct sentences.
    • Put the subject in the beginning.
  • In speaking, if the sentence has a comma, it’s too long.
    • This is advice from my speech coach in preparing for my TEDxBoulder talk.
  • Be clear with the ask.
    • When presenting to an executive, inform up front whether you have an ask or not.
  • For written communication, read it aloud.
    • If you stumble reading aloud, others will stumble reading it.
    • This helps to simplify and clarify.
  • Communicate emotion in person.
    • Don’t email or text in an emotional state.
    • Type it up, leave the address line blank, then delete it.
    • Maintain composure.

You can build or destroy strong executive presence depending on how and what you say.  Through concise and effective communication, you can persuade others to support what you’re doing.

Executive presence is critical for the innovation leader.  Leading, influencing and persuading people to come onboard with your innovation requires executive presence.  It’s not easy to create a strong executive presence. But, it’s attainable.

I hope I’ve achieved my objective in helping you to create a strong executive presence.  I’d love to get your feedback. Do you know someone who could benefit from knowing how to create a strong executive presence?  Tell them about the show. The show has grown in subscribers since March 2005 by word of mouth. Thank you for telling others.

Continue the conversation with us on this and other topics over at The Innovators Community (https://www.theinnovators.community/).  It’s a free online community of innovators, designers, and creative people just like you.

If you join The Innovators Community before the end of the year, you’ll receive 25% off an order at Innovation.Tools, including the Killer Questions Card Deck.

Direct download: How_to_Create_a_Strong_Executive_Presence_Part_Two_S14_Ep42.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

What makes great leaders great?  Those who motivate and inspire others and draw a following embody a strong executive presence.  If you want to lead in innovation, strong executive presence is a must. Although it may seem an elusive quality, it’s not.  Today’s show is one of a two-part series on what defines, exemplifies, and comprises executive presence. With focus and effort, you can create a strong executive presence.

Elements of a Leader

The person with strong executive presence stands out as a leader.  Executive presence is a blend of temperament, competence, and skills that send out the right signals.  It conveys that this person is in charge, confident, and capable of leading others. Leaders with strong executive presence influence others and drive results.  To garner support for their ideas, innovation leaders should harness the elements of executive presence.

Learning through Observing

Many leaders with strong executive presence learned from mentors who modelled this quality.  My mentor, Bob Davis, a leading software executive, recruited me out of college.  I learned by observing. I watched how he conducted himself, his strategies, and his dealings with senior executives.  Bob had a servant-leader focus, an important aspect of executive presence. I benefited from working with Alex Mandl at Teligent.  Alex demonstrated strong executive presence. I observed how he engaged with others and operated. These were two great examples in my life.

Every organization is different.  Be ready to adapt and be flexible.  If you’re starting out in your career, watch senior executives.  See how they operate. This can lay the foundation for your success.

Executive Presence: Traits of Great Leaders

This two-part series is the result of my observation and experience in the innovation arena.  Creating executive presence is possible. By learning, observing and practicing, you can become an innovation leader with strong executive presence.  

The three traits discussed in this show are composure, making connections, and charisma.

Trait One: Composure

Composure is the state of being calm and in control of oneself.  The ability to remain in control and calm under pressure is a key element of executive presence.  Nobody wants to follow someone who cracks under pressure or has a fierce temper. The ability to remain composed will attract positive attention.  Letting negative emotions take over results in regret and solves nothing.

[shareable]Realize that your reputation is disproportionately affected by how you handle yourself under pressure.[/shareable]

Focus to remain in control.  Focus on the underlying issue causing the problem and how to solve it.  You win when you remain calm and focused. Some people might disengage when faced with pressures.  Do not disengage. Leaders don’t give up and retreat.

Maintain perspective to remain calm in crisis.  Reputation is at stake. Regrettable words and actions make things worse.  The effect of remaining calm under pressure can build up one’s reputation. Others will take note.

Prepare for those stressful situations.  Exercise and taking deep breathes helps calm and relax the body and mind.

Trait Two: Making Connections

Building relationships with people is integral to executive presence.  Develop the ability to read and understand people. This involves one on one conversations with people.  Through direct interaction, you can demonstrate you are a person of intelligence and helpfulness.

Here are some tips for building connections with people.

  • Extreme helpfulness
    • Build up IOUs in the bank by helping others where needed.  
    • Keep a positive balance of IOUs.
  • Make people feel special
    • Remember names
    • Be encouraging
    • Give recognition
    • Remember details, e.g. hobbies, interests
    • Keep things positive
    • Be curious about people’s life and interests outside of work
  • Have open body language
    • Show interest and attention, e.g. lean forward at meetings
    • Smile, be jovial, be upbeat
    • Be approachable, don’t fold your arms across your chest
  • Maintain regular, face to face contact with your network of people
    • Have an objective when you meet
    • Give something before asking for anything, e.g. a lead on a potential client

I have a list of 25 people with whom I keep in contact on a regular basis.

Trait Three: Charisma

Charisma is the ability to attract, charm, and influence the people around you.  This trait helps you rouse followers and band people together in pursuit of a goal.  You may think that charisma is an innate trait, you’re either born with it or not. From firsthand experience, I know that’s not true.  When I first met Steve Jobs in the 1980s, he did not have charisma. He acquired it along the way. He went on to lead the Macintosh team that ultimately created the iPhone.  You can develop charisma.

Here are some starter points to building up charisma:

  • Have confidence
    • Do the research and prepare
    • Don’t wait for perfection, take risks
    • Have exuberance – that positive energy that gets others excited
  • Have optimism
    • Be optimistic your team can win
    • Smile, be approachable
  • Develop a voice tone that is friendly and passionate

These are three traits that can help you develop an executive presence.  In Part two, I’ll share more traits of executive presence. To make sure you don't miss it, subscribe to the show on iTunes or wherever you get your podcast.

If you know someone who could benefit from this series, why not tell them about it. Word of mouth is how we've grown our subscribers to the show since March 2005.

To continue our conversation on this and topics related to innovation, creativity, leadership, career, join me in The Innovators Community. Visit https://theinnovators.network/.  Membership is free.  The community is growing. That's where I hang out every day, answer questions, throw ideas out, contribute to other people's posts. Hop on over to The Innovators Community.

Direct download: How_to_Create_a_Strong_Executive_Presence_S14_Ep41.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 7:45am PDT

We’ve all heard these larger than life claims made about some innovation.  If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Bogus innovations cause serious damage.  They hurt consumers, employees, investors, and the innovator community as a whole. But how do you know if it’s fake?  There are telltale signs that should cause you to dig deeper. These tells will clue you in to a bogus innovation.  

The 4 Tells of Bogus Innovation

Before you invest in that startup, join that cutting-edge innovation company, buy the latest device, assess.  Check the organization and innovation against these four tells.

  1. Unvalidated claims
  2. Technical oversight
  3. Fact checking
  4. Organizational governance

Don’t take for granted that someone else, perhaps a well-known board member, is standing by it.  Do the due diligence yourself. Be aware and avoid the expense and pain of being fooled by bogus innovations.

Tell Number One

Companies often promote their innovation as the next big thing.  But, claims without validation should be treated with great suspicion.  To a degree, most companies want to protect the secret to their innovation.  But when a company insists on keeping the entire input secret and expects you to trust them, alarm bells should ring.  The company should be able to demonstrate an input and the resulting output to back up their claim.

I am often asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) before I ever lay eyes on an innovation.  I won’t. An NDA binds you even if you uncover some fault with the claims. It requires a level of secrecy and trust before validating the claim.  When a company goes to great lengths to protect their own testing and status of the innovation, beware. Dubious companies may use NDAs, employee agreements, arbitration agreements to create a fear factor.  These could be a firewall for a false narrative.

Theranos, the now defunct medical technology company, made unvalidated claims.  They claimed their blood testing equipment could perform a number of blood tests with a single drop of blood.  Many bought into their claims without validation. The day of truth came and Theranos claims were proven false.  But not without first hurting a number people and creating a lot of damage.

Best practices to validate claims are emerging in the wake of bogus innovation scandals.  

Best practices:

  • Get independent lab results throughout the funding phases.
  • Have senior leaders (CEO, CIO, CTO) attest to the results.

Tell Number Two

A lack of technical oversight should be another red flag.  The lack of industry and technology experts on the boards of companies is shocking.  Many companies stack the board of directors with big names, former CEOs or CFOs with backgrounds in sales or finance.  There’s a dearth of technical expertise. Bernie Madoff bilked millions from investors. No one questioned the lack of technical oversight until it was too late.

I’m a big proponent of diversity, with a particular interest in neurodiversity.  On the board of directors, diversity of expertise is essential.  The board should include an independent, deep technical expert who can push back and challenge where needed.  This expert should not be the inventor or closely linked to the innovation. There’s an alternative to a technical board member.  Set up a Science and Technology Advisory board to investigate and validate claims.

Best Practices:  

  • Include an independent technical expert on board of directors, or
  • Have a Science and Technology board.

Tell Number Three

Simple fact checking could reveal something’s amiss.  Many biomedical innovations have claims of FDA approval.  A quick fact check could reveal if this is true. Companies may make other government endorsement claims.  Theranos made false claims that the Defense Department used their product on the battlefield. This was not the case.    

Hire a fact checker to research every claim a company makes.  Should any claims prove misleading or false, make them public and have them corrected.

Companies should consider supporting an ombudsman type role.  This would be the company’s point of contact for external concerns about false or misleading claims.  An ombudsman investigates claims and reports directly to senior leaders.

Best Practices:

  • Hire a professional fact checker to go through each claim a company makes.
  • Talk to every customer a company claims to have sold to.
  • Make misleading or false claims public and correct them.
  • Companies should appoint an ombudsman to field outside concerns and investigate.

Tell Number Four

Organizational governance is tell number four.  Many companies caught in fraud had stellar innovation leaders on their boards.  The fact is, many board members fail to do the due diligence. They instead do what I call due diligence by proxy.  They assume the other members of the board have done the research. Many people on boards are serving on too many boards.  They are lending their name without making the effort to ensure that what they are backing is real innovation.

Best Practices:

  • Ensure each board member has done his/her own due diligence.
  • Review board participation to see if they are fully behind the company.

Keep the Bogus Innovation at Bay

I’m concerned about the growing list of bogus innovations.  Fake and false claims hurt people – investors, employees, customers.  Keep a lookout for the four tells of a bogus innovation. It’s up to those of us who are passionate about innovation to raise the bar.  Keep lies, fraud, and false claims out of the innovation arena.

  

If you have an example or comment about this, join me at The Innovators Community (https://www.theinnovators.community/).  The Innovators Community is a free community of innovators, designers, creators, and futurists.  I hang out there every day. It’s where we can collectively go deeper on topics like bogus innovation.  Head over there to continue the conversation.

We will be at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas soon.  If you’re going to be at CES, let me know. For details on where we will be located at CES, visit The Innovators Community https://www.theinnovators.community/.

Thanks for listening.  If you enjoyed this episode, share it with somebody.

Check out Zoom, our sponsor.  Let them know you heard about them on this show.

Direct download: 4_Ways_to_Sniff_Out_a_Bogus_Innovation_S14_Ep40.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 7:36am PDT

A good number of us harbor a secret fear about our abilities or qualifications.  We’re shadowed by clouds of doubt. Do you feel like a fraud and an impostor when it comes to your career?  You’re not alone. I was an innovator with Impostor Syndrome. In this week’s show, I share my recent TEDxBoulder talk about my experience.  

 

The Truth About Impostor Syndrome

Impostor syndrome is a real fear founded in unreality.  It’s a fear that you’re not good enough. Maybe it’s a secret you’ve held onto that you feel discredits all you’ve accomplished.  That was the case for me. After a twenty-five year, rather successful, career, my secret came out on the front page of a major newspaper.  I never graduated from college. Once the secret was out, the fears dissolved in the days following. I realized others did not view me as the impostor I felt I was.  All those years, I had held onto the fear and my feelings of not being up to par.  In the end, it didn’t matter to others that I didn’t graduate from college.  I wasn’t an impostor, but I was an innovator with Impostor Syndrome.







Overcome the Fear

Seventy-five percent of adults feel they are a fake, a fraud, not worthy, an impostor when it comes to their career.   Impostor syndrome is universal, transcending titles and backgrounds. It can have crippling effects. For me, with each new success, the fear intensified.  Fear is False Evidence that Appears Real. You need to test the fear.  Is it real?  Or is it false evidence that only appears real?

How do you overcome the Impostor Syndrome?  

Two pieces of advice:

  1. Tell someone about your fears.  
    • Reveal your secret on your terms.  
    • Find a place and person you are comfortable with.
    • Let others know when you are impressed by their skills or abilities.
  2. Be an encourager.

Don’t be an innovator with Impostor Syndrome.  Don’t delay pushing back on Impostor Syndrome. It cost me 25 years of unneeded worry.  

 

The TEDxBoulder Adventure

When I got the call to do a talk at TEDxBoulder, I was excited about the opportunity.  While I'm a regular attender at TED, I never could have imagined the prep that goes into giving one of these talks.  I had to condense a prior talk on Impostor Syndrome I gave from 45 minutes to nine minutes. I spent more time on this talk than any other talk in my entire career, bar none.  The pressure was intense. What you see of TEDx on YouTube is not what you get live. Speakers may fumble, freeze, forget lines. They can pause and restart their talk if that happens.  Then, it’s polished and edited on the recording for release.

 

The practice, the memorizing, the coaching was worth the effort.  The subject definitely struck a chord with the audience.  A number of people came up to me afterwards to talk about it and share their struggles with Impostor Syndrome.  It was great to share my personal journey and struggle with Impostor Syndrome. I hope you’ve found it useful.

 

Are you looking for a place to talk about challenges in the innovation game or with Impostor Syndrome?  Hop over to The Innovators Community (https://www.theinnovators.community/).  It’s a free online network of innovators who help each other.  I’m on The Innovators Community every day. Share your innovation struggle, post a question, or send me a private message through The Innovators Community.

 

 

Five Minutes to New Ideas

Does your product evoke a strong emotion?  Is there a benefit to being disliked by some?  Could this set your product apart? Five Minutes to New Ideas challenges you to think in unique ways about creating your own community of customers.

 

Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to listen.  

If you have comments, drop me a line.

I’ve been doing this show since 2005 to pay back my early mentor by paying it forward.  

Would you help me pay it forward?  

  • Share the show with others.
  • Give us a rating wherever you get your podcasts.

This show is produced by The Innovators Network

Direct download: An_Innovator_with_Impostor_Syndrome_S14_Ep39.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 7:04am PDT

When delivery fails, it costs in more ways than one.  In today’s show, I talk with Santiago Navarro, founder and CEO of Garçon Wines.  Santiago shares his unique solution to a constraint that caused major problems for his online wine business.  Based in the UK, Santiago developed a packaging innovation that ensures delivery the first time. But his flat wine bottle does much more than simply guarantee delivery.  This constraint-based innovation gives rise to market opportunities beyond the mailbox.   

Constraints that Spark Innovation

Santiago’s online wine business suffered because wine bottles would not fit through the traditional UK mailbox.  Failed deliveries cost the business. This was the spark for his flat wine bottle innovation. In developing the bottle design, other constraints factored.  When it comes to wine, heritage and tradition are strong elements. The wine bottle designs used today date back 200 years and are steeped in tradition.  The challenge was to toe the line of tradition as much as possible with the packaging innovation.  Another constraint was aesthetics. The new design had to present well on the table. In the case of this constraint-based innovation, the constraints further refined the product.

Shaping the Flat Wine Bottle

The design process involved focus on three circles of a Venn diagram:

  • Aesthetic, emotional and experiential in one circle,
  • Function and functionality in another circle,
  • Sustainability in the third circle.

Respect for tradition along with these elements helped to shape the design.  The result was a packaging innovation that solves a number of problems. Aside from cost savings, the flat wine bottle leaves a smaller carbon footprint.  It minimizes the space needed in delivery. The bottle is made of post-consumer recyclable material. This also makes the packaging innovation friendly to the environment.

Timing is Everything

The flat wine bottle has gained broad acceptance.  Leaders in wine and wine logistics are taking notice.  Airlines, where space is a premium, are interested. His packaging innovation has won awards and received plenty of media attention.  In fact, I posted an article on the flat wine bottle at The Innovator’s Community, which led to this show.

[shareable cite="Santiago Navarro, Founder Garçon Wines"]For us, it's fundamentally important to take our business customers through an innovation journey, not a sales process.[/shareable]

The desire for convenience, sustainability and cost savings resonates with people.  The timing is right for the flat wine bottle.  It’s a wine bottle for the 21st century.  But Santiago recognizes that not everyone is ready to embrace it.  He doesn’t want to rush it.

Words of Advice

It took years to get his packaging innovation from idea to market.  Reflecting on this, Santiago says don’t give up if you believe in what you’re doing.  

He offers another word of advice for those innovating a physical product.  Get a minimum viable product (MVP) as soon as possible.  This is essential when presenting your idea to people.  It will save time and money in the long run.

For details on Garçon Wines, visit www.garconwines.com.

Today’s Guest

Santiago Navarro is founder and CEO of Garçon Wines, creator of the flat wine bottle.  He is a serial entrepreneur, launching his first start-up, Vinopic Wines, in 2011. He is also co-founder of Nightly.travel, an online hotel booking site.

You may follow him on Twitter at SantiagoBiz.  

You may also reach him through The Innovators Community (www.theinnovators.community), a free online community for innovators.

[xyz-ihs snippet="Packaging-Innovation-S14-Ep38"]

Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to listen.  

Would you help me pay back my early mentor by paying it forward?

  • Share the show with others.
  • Give us a rating wherever you get your podcasts.

We are getting ready for CES 2019.  If you know someone who will be at CES and would be a great guest on the show,  drop me a line.  We will be hosting Killer Innovations in the Mobile Studio at CES. If you’ll be there, stop by the Mobile Studio to check it out.

For more on innovation, check out my book, Beyond the Obvious including extensive excerpts, over at beyondtheobvious.com.  You can find hardcover, digital, and audio versions of my book on Amazon or wherever you get your books.

This show is produced by The Innovators Network.

Direct download: The_Wine_Bottle_Ripe_for_Packaging_Innovation_S14_Ep38.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 6:06am PDT

For innovation leaders, one of the hardest tasks is keeping the innovation funnel full.  Yet, this is key to sustaining an innovation effort. What’s worked for me is to create an innovation challenge.  Today’s show lays out a process for making an innovation challenge. Creating a challenge will keep the funnel stocked with high quality ideas.

What’s an Innovation Challenge?

An innovation challenge is no mere cattle call.  A vague request for innovative ideas from everyone will result in low quality ideas and not many.  An innovation challenge is a well-defined effort to draw in the best and non-obvious ideas.  It invites those whose daily job may not be innovation. It opens up the funnel to unique perspectives.  

[shareable cite="Phil McKinney"]The wisdom of the crowd is always more powerful than the wisdom of one. [/shareable]

An innovation challenge requires two things.

1) Crafting an innovation challenge statement.

2) Creating the process that invites people to submit their ideas.

Innovation is a team sport.  But if you limit the game to those on your innovation team, you may be missing out.  While the innovation team is busy bringing ideas to market, the funnel is drying up. You need backup.  Use the power of the crowd to help fill your funnel with breakthrough, game changing ideas.

Defining the Challenge

To get your innovation challenge started, begin with focus.  It’s the “F” in the FIRE framework (Focus, Ideation, Ranking, Execution).   Create a focused innovation challenge statement.  

The key elements of the challenge statement answer who, what, and when.

  • Who is the target for the innovation?
  • What is the problem or opportunity?
  • When will the challenge be realized?

Those invited to participate in your challenge will answer the “how.”  

The more specific and targeted your statement, the better the ideas that result.  In fact, the smart use of constraints will also improve the quality and impact of the ideas submitted.  

Take time to get your innovation challenge statement right.  Once you’ve drafted the statement, test it with a small group of people.  Listen carefully to feedback and make changes. Test it two to three times before releasing the final innovation challenge statement.

Setting Up the Challenge

In deciding how to run the challenge, determine:  

  • What constitutes success in the innovation challenge?  
    • Is it the number of ideas received?
    • Is it the attention the challenge generates for the sponsor?
    • Is it the innovative solution to an actual problem?
  • To whom will the challenge be open?
    • Will it be open to the general public?
    • Will it be internal to the organization?
    • Will it be by invitation only?
  • What is the motivation to participate?
    • Will the challenge offer prize money, royalties, investment in the idea?
    • Will name recognition or promotion be the motivator?

Consult a legal team while developing the challenge.  The legal team can help set clear guidelines on who owns an idea that’s been entered.

Launching the Challenge

Once you’ve got your challenge statement and structured the challenge, you need participants.  The next step is promoting the challenge. Find out where your target participants hang out. What social media are they on?   If the innovation is a social challenge, engage the press in promoting it. Use the networks of others to reach out. If you’re opening an innovation challenge to the public, drop me a note.  Or join The Innovators Community and promote your challenge there.  Keep promoting the challenge until it closes.

After the Challenge

Once you’ve created and launched the challenge, here are some points to keep in mind.

Recognize the best ideas.  Call out the people who came up with them.  

Keep every idea.  It may be useful in the future.  The difference between a good idea and a great idea is rarely the idea. It's the timing.  

Set up a regular schedule if an innovation challenge will become part of your long-term strategy.  This will allow people to prepare for your next challenge.

Now go out and create an innovation challenge that will fill that funnel with game changing ideas.

 

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Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to listen.  

Would you help me pay back my early mentor by paying it forward?

  • Share the show with others.
  • Give us a rating wherever you get your podcasts.

We are getting ready for CES 2019.  If you know someone who will be at CES and would be a great guest on the show,  drop me a line.  We will be hosting Killer Innovations in the Mobile Studio at CES. If you’ll be there, stop by the Mobile Studio to check it out.

For more on innovation, check out my book, Beyond the Obvious including extensive excerpts, over at beyondtheobvious.com.  You can find hardcover, digital, and audio versions of my book on Amazon or wherever you get your books.

This show is produced by The Innovators Network.

Direct download: Dont_Let_the_Funnel_Dry_Up__Create_an_Innovation_Challenge_S14_Ep37.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 10:44am PDT

Big corporate innovation or startup getting off the ground, the challenges are similar.  Amy Radin knows something of both. She went from direct marketing to becoming the first Chief Innovation Officer of Citibank.  Now she advises startups. Her latest book, The Change Maker’s Playbook, offers insight on getting your innovation from idea to scaling.  In today’s show, Amy defines what it means to be a change maker and how to win in the innovation game.

The Change Maker at Work

As the internet emerged, Amy recognized its future impact.  Her direct marketing experience gave her insight. She went on to lead digital transformation at Citibank.  She knows first-hand the hard work of corporate innovation. The nature of big companies is “predictability” and “continuity.”  Innovation disrupts that momentum. Amy prepared for resistance by pulling together a strong, diverse, collaborative team.  She built strong partnerships.  And she used her direct marketing skills.  Amy put consumer insight up front: know the customer’s unmet need, then meet it with technology.

[shareable cite="Amy Radin, Author The Change Maker’s Playbook"]I think tough problems are more likely to be solved when you have diversity of thought, expertise, perspective, life experience.[/shareable]

Corporate Innovator versus Startup

When it comes to innovation, do corporate innovators and startups have anything in common?  

Amy interviewed innovators from large and small sized companies across sectors. She found that the “how” differs, but the challenges are similar.  The startup has speed, passion, and purpose. The less agile corporate entity has the advantage of resources, scale, and brand infrastructure. With each having its advantage, the real success for corporations and startups is to partner.

Defining a Change Maker

A change maker finds a solution to a market problem.  With purpose and passion, the change maker drives the idea to execution and scaling.  Through hurdles and successes, the change maker sees it through.  In reality, rarely is it one person who does it all.  The change maker is a team. One person may have the initial idea and leadership.  That person brings the right team together, finding those who have the skills to fill the gaps.  This team becomes the change maker.

Framework for Innovation

Amy has developed a framework for innovation.  It’s based on thorough research and her own experience.  Through interviews with founders, investors and corporate innovators across sectors, she formed this practical approach.  

The pillars of this framework are seek, seed, scale.  

  1. Seek
    • Once an idea takes root, focusing on target users’ insights.
    • Finding answers through users’ behavior.
  2. Seed
    • Validating your concept through prototype.
    • Connecting user insights to your business model.
  3. Scale
    • Amy calls it the “green light moment”
    • Confirm you have what’s needed to scale.

Key Advice from a Change Maker

Amy’s key advice for innovators and change makers is to listen.  Listen to users so you can fully grasp their needs.  Listen to those you need to influence. Listen for the emotional reaction.  In Amy’s words, “360 listening is going to help change makers be more successful.”

To learn more about Amy’s framework for innovation and how to be a change maker, read The Change Maker’s Playbook.  Find excerpts and a free download infographic on seek, seed, scale at Amy’s website.

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Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to listen.  

We are getting ready for CES 2019.  If you know someone who would be a great guest for our CES show in the Mobile Studio,  drop me a line.

Would you help me pay back my early mentor by paying it forward?

  • Share the show with others.
  • Give us a rating wherever you get your podcasts.

 

This show is produced by The Innovators Network

Direct download: A_Change_Maker_in_the_Innovation_Game_S14_Ep36.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 6:36am PDT