Posts Tagged ‘Innovation’

To spur innovation, hire people who agitate you …

September 10, 2012

Punch line: Nearly 66% of companies on the Fortune 100 list in 1990 are not on the list today.


It is largely because they didn’t innovate and open themselves up to their next market.

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Excerpted from Fast Company, “Why Hiring People Who Annoy You Helps You Innovate”

So are there ways for large, established companies to innovate?

Yes and here are some unconventional guidelines to follow.

1. Hire people who annoy you:


A lot of research shows that diverse teams tend to come up with a wider variety of answers, and, thus, are more likely to find the surprising winning idea.

This suggests a hiring strategy–hire people who annoy you.

As long as you’re ensuring they are smart, the people who annoy you represent the diversity you and your company require.

2. Don’t copy, remake:

There is an entire cottage industry devoted to teaching you how to be innovative.

Most answers are glib because they point to some surface feature of a behavior.

3. Don’t create, listen:

The purpose of innovation is not simply to build something new, but to win new customers, new markets, or new products …

If you want to find out what customers want, nix the focus groups and instead watch their behavior.

Edited by JDC
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Disrupting the shave category (and no, Gillette didn’t introduce 6 blades…)

June 22, 2012

Punch line: Dollar Shave Club is to shaving what Netflix is to renting movies.  A disruptive business model and innovative launch in the digital space have made Dollar Shave Club a threat to the big wig razor brands who are still calling an additional blade innovation (see the Flashback link below for a view on blades’ innovation)

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Excerpted from’s, “Shaving and the Power of Viral Marketing”

… Dollar Shave Club, a disruptive idea … turns the expensive and drab process of buying men’s razors into a Netflix’s-like business model. For a set low-price per month, DSC sends members new high quality razors.

What makes Dollar Shave Club so unique is how it was launched. In March, DSC posted a video written by and starring  company founder Mike Dublin. In going after personal hygiene giants like Gillette and Schick, Dublin had to get people’s attention out of the gate. His opening line – and every line thereafter – captured attention and have racked up 5 million views.

         click to view video

imageAfter the video went viral, Dublin was featured in scores of mainstream news and business reports. So great was demand that DSC had to delay adding new members for weeks while it increased support capacity … This a great example of excellent marketing that came at a low cost and high returns.

Solution providers often see marketing as an expensive proposition only big vendors can afford. Even when they do engage in marketing, the products are rather stiff and unimaginative, which leads to unfulfilled expectations. 

Other examples of companies who have taken advantage of viral marketing: Microsoft’s “Smoked by Window’s Phone” and CalNet’s Wally Cleaver videos.  So before you dismiss the notion of marketing – viral, video or otherwise – think about what Dollar Shave Club, Microsoft and CalNet did. A little creativity can go a long way.

Edit by BJP

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Flashback: “We’re Going to 5 Blades”

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Innovation is hot … especially in b-school mission statements.

May 31, 2012

The WSJ reports that:

An analysis by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, an accrediting body, involving 733 member schools, found that 28% include the words “innovate,” “innovation” or “innovative” in their school mission statements.

Most use the terms to describe their own curricula.

Business schools have added research centers, classes and even full-fledged majors in innovation.

But some think the schools may be missing the mark, focusing too heavily on ideation and brainstorming while skimping on the practical aspects of turning ideas into concrete strategy and action.

“Innovation requires taking the great idea and doing something with it.”

So where does it all lead?

As schools race to add innovation to their offerings, they’re also trying to differentiate themselves from one another.

The goal at the Haas School of Business at Berkeley,  is to create managers who can foster innovation or oversee innovative organizations, not just come up with innovative ideas.

“It’s not about producing home-run hitters.”

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Algorithms are out … exponential technologies are in.

May 21, 2012

Punch line: Despite the hoo[la around Facebook’s IPO, social media is already passé in Silicon Valley.

America’s innovation engine is now focused on transportation, energy and manufacturing.

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A couple of snippets from an editorial in the WSJ : The Future Is More Than Facebook by Rich Karlgaard  of Forbes.

Only a certain kind of company is getting rich in the Obama economy.

These are outfits that make algorithms — bits of software code cleverly strung together to take the form of an iPhone operating system, a LinkedIn social network, or a proprietary trading scheme.

But America can do better than that, and it will. In fact, the seeds are being planted now.

In Silicon Valley, investing in social-media companies is already passé. America’s innovation engine, Silicon Valley, is again overheating.

There’s a growing interest among bright minds to apply “exponential technologies”  to solve problems much larger than whom to friend on Facebook: transportation (smart cars), manufacturing (3-printing), and energy (high-tech horizontal drilling).

Question: If America could have only one of the following — Facebook, Twitter or horizontal drilling — which would be the smarter choice?

Happily, we don’t have to make that choice. America remains the world’s innovator, a country without limits.

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IDEO: Increase your innovation leverage …

May 2, 2012

Punch line: Less scale, extend reach, and more collaboration. IDEO representative explains how companies and individuals can increase their own innovation leverage.

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Excerpted from, “How Can Companies Be More Innovative?


… Recently, interviewed Ryan Jacoby  –  who helps clients incubate new businesses, design new offerings, and craft innovation strategies at IDEO.. We asked him to explain how a company or an individual can increase their ‘innovation leverage:’

    Instead of ‘scaling innovation,’ focus on increasing your innovation leverage.

    Scaling innovation often means enabling hundreds or even thousands of individuals within an organization to become more productive participants in the innovation process. While a lofty goal, most organizations aren’t going to transform an organization without years of work and significant investment.

    There are thriving communities and partners out there actively innovating right now. The trick is to tap into that activity. Rather than focusing efforts exclusively on scaling innovation, for some companies I recommend organizations find quick and concrete ways to increase their Innovation Leverage.

    Broadly speaking, you can increase your organization’s Innovation Leverage in two ways:

  •     Extending your organization’s innovation reach: Opening up to a variety of collaborators—internal groups, customers, suppliers, stakeholders, and partners—extending your ecosystem in the process.
  •     Leveraging your reach and newly formed relationships: Smartly utilizing that extended ecosystem, contributing to platforms, inviting collaboration, and doing more in the process with limited investment.

    As the tools and networks evolve, it should get easier and easier to increase innovation leverage. The trick, as always is the case, is for innovators to get their organizations comfortable with the act of opening up and getting feedback on less-than-perfect ideas. The organizations that do will find a wealth of options for them to innovate more, with less.

Edit by KJM
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Which are the most innovative companies in the world?

November 8, 2011

Apple tops the list from Booz & Company’s annual Global Innovation survey.

The study’s key finding:

There is no statistically significant relationship between financial performance and innovation spending, in terms of either total R&D dollars or R&D as a percentage of revenues.

Many companies — notably, Apple — consistently underspend their peers on R&D investments while outperforming them on a broad range of measures of corporate success, such as revenue growth, profit growth, margins, and total shareholder return.

Meanwhile, entire industries, such as pharmaceuticals, continue to devote relatively large shares of their resources to innovation, yet end up with much less to show for it than they — and their shareholders — might hope for.

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Innovate by Spending Less on R&D … huh?

November 1, 2011

TakeAway: Companies that spend more on R&D are rated less innovative than other companies that spread spending across divisions to grow innovation.

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Excerpt from WSJ: “Top ‘Innovators’ Rank Low in R&D Spending”

A report by consulting firm Booz & Co., says that few of the biggest R&D spenders crack the top 10 in terms of being considered “innovative” by their peers.

The most frequent pick for innovative was Apple — the 70th biggest research-and-development spender— followed by Google and 3M, also not among the top-20 spenders.

Health-care companies held four of the five top-spender spots, but none made the top 10 in terms of being deemed innovative.

Pfizer, which ranked second for R&D spending in the study and 16th for innovation, has for the past few years tried to spur creativity by inviting researchers to attend commercial meetings and encouraging employees on the commercial side to attend scientific reviews. The company also plans to cut its R&D budget, currently over $8 billion, to as low as $6.5 billion as it focuses on fewer, targeted disease areas.

3M, which spends relatively little money on its research and development, landing at number 86 on Booz’s spending list, allows employees to spend 15% of their time exploring side projects. It also offers seed “grants” to encourage innovation.

Edit by ARK

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The unpredictability of innovation …

October 6, 2011

According to innovation guru Clayton Christensen:

Statistically, 93% of all innovations that have ultimately become successful started off in the wrong direction

The probability that you’ll get it right the first time out of the gate is very low.

Excerpted from MIT Sloan Review: Good Days for Disruptors – An Interview with Clayton Christensen Spring 2009

Bottom line: stay flexible, don’t get wedded to a concept …. constantly look for repurposing of the product or its technology.

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