July 29, 2013
By Dan Markovitz via timebackmanagement.com/blog/ Article
“Many people view standard operating procedures — or standard work, in the Lean lexicon — as shackles, constraining flexibility, creativity, and innovation. They’re wrong.
… the R&D engineers at Abbott Vascular created standard procedures to reduce the burden of their internal communication. Because their culture necessitated that they check their email when it arrived, they could never get any real work done—they were always interrupted by their smartphones. They solved this problem by establishing a standard communication protocol: urgent issues had to be communicated face-to-face or by cell phone; less urgent issues were communicated by office phone or email.
With this standard protocol in place, they were able turn off their email alerts and have more time for critical engineering issues. …
Standards shouldn’t be seen as manacles or part of a Taylorist “command and control” management system. Rather, they should be seen as a way to reduce errors, improve efficiency, and provide more room for creativity and innovation.”
July 29, 2013
By Brad Feld via feld.com Article
How Patent Trolls Really Work
“I’ve been asserting for at least six years that patent system is completely broken for the software industry. I’ve given numerous examples, dealt with the issue first hand as patent trolls have tried to extort many of the companies I’m an investor in, and I’ve had many public discussions about the topic.
On my run on Sunday, I listed to This American Life - When Patents Attack… Part Two! It is easily the best and most detailed expose I’ve ever heard on this issue. If you care to really understand how patent trolls work, spend an hour of your life and listen to it.
The issue has finally gone mainstream. Here’s a great quote on patent trolls from an article in Time Magazine (how much more mainstream can you get than that.)
“In 2011, Apple and Google spent more money on patent litigation and defensive patent acquisitions than on research and development. That’s not a good sign for the U.S. economy; in fact, it’s a stark indication that our intellectual-property system is broken. Rampant patent litigation is impeding innovation and ultimately increasing the costs of gadgets for consumers, according to legal experts and industry observers. Now President Obama says he wants to reform the system.”
There was an outcry of support last week when President Obama issued a set of executive orders and suggested legislative actions to fix the broken patent system. While the press release from the White House had a bland title, the substance was solid and the articles about it got to the point.”
July 15, 2013
By Kevin Meyer via evolvingexcellence.com Article
“Justin Brady’s article on creativity in The Wall Street Journal: …
The process of real creativity is messy, chaotic, sometimes even disgusting, and it reeks of failure, experimentation and disorganization. Because of this, most leaders don’t actually want creativity, they just want the results of it. …
Creative environments aren’t planted, they are cultivated by leaders who:
Listen. Listening is much different from hearing. When someone is truly listening, they keep eye contact and they strain to find meaning. When you are listening, you discover insights that weren’t obvious before. …
Empathize. This is a giant problem today, not only in companies but in politics and even relationships. Empathizing takes work. People who truly empathize not only try to put themselves in the other person’s shoes, but they also make it a priority to find truth in their words. …
Trust. Listening and empathizing are useless if you can’t trust another individual. Some ideas or concepts won’t make sense to anyone but the innovator. That’s what makes them innovators, they were capable of seeing a solution or connection no one else could.
… Effective leadership… and creativity and innovation and all that fine stuff… is a function of recognizing the value of people. To be a bit more specific, the value of the brains of people – not just the hands.”
July 15, 2013
By Drake Baer via fastcompany.com Article
How Habits Make You Less Creative
“… habits are powerful for sculpting a highly productive life because they take away the transaction cost of launching into an action: There’s much less mental overhead to going for a run if you do it every morning versus once a fortnight. …
And yet while habits may make you more productive, … they can make you less creative, contending that if you trying to expand your skill set, you should break your routines, since ‘too much consistency inevitably leads to a plateau where weaknesses ossify and improvement becomes harder.’
… quoting from British author Arthur Koestler’s The Act Of Creation:
‘The skills of reasoning rely on habit, governed by well-established rules of the game; the ‘reasonable person’–used as a standard norm in English common law–is level-headed instead of multi-level-headed; adaptive and not destructive; an enlightened conservative, not a revolutionary; willing to learn under proper guidance, but unable to be guided by his dreams.’
The question, then, is really one of framing: what are we trying to do here? If we’re trying to produce as much as possible as fast as possible, habit seems to be useful. But … if we’re trying to make something new–as in, commit the act of heresy otherwise known as innovation–smartly breaking and experimenting with habits can be a way to prime creativity, since the creative act so often begins at the intersection of previously unrelated ideas.”
July 8, 2013
By Lyden Foust via innovationexcellence.com Article
Language Is Killing Our Ability To Innovate
“Before we had language, we made sense of the world through pictures, sounds, and smells. … Eventually we developed the capacity for language as a form of communication. …
The problem with grammar is that it locks us into certain ways of thinking about things. … if there are no words for certain concepts, we tend not to think about them. This means a key component of successful innovation is our ability to think beyond the constraints of language. …
Be Able to Switch Between Visual & Verbal Communication
… The use of images, diagrams, and models can help reveal patterns of thinking and new directions you can take that would be hard to imagine exclusively in words. …
Put it to work
… When attempting to sketch an idea, we must observe it closely, gaining a feel through our fingers on how to bring it to life. When you are trying to solve a hard problem, think beyond words. …
Is there a way you could depict all the stakeholders in a process …? … Could you create a mental map of your to do list? What are all the possible outcomes of a negotiation …? What does your supply chain look like? Have you tried mind mapping a presentation or a meeting?
Revert to your most primal form of intelligence, visualize the problem, and watch the solution illuminate before your eyes.”
June 24, 2013
By Jeffrey Phillips via Innovate on Purpose Blog Article
The logical limits of product innovation
“Innovation appears stalled in many industries because the product or service has reached its point of diminishing marginal returns for innovation. … We’ve perfected the brewing of beer. We’ve created thousands of types of beer – lager, stout, porter, hefeweizen (my favorite), bock, etc. Have we reached the point of diminishing returns for beer innovation? I think the signals are flashing “yes”. Here’s why.
Coors recently ran an ad that highlighted the beer can. The can had three significant attributes they wanted to call to attention. First, the mountains on the can change color when the beer is cold. Second, the can has a liner to keep the beer cold. Third, the can has a new pop-top to improve airflow and drinkability. All of these things may be labelled “innovation”, but they are innovation in packaging, in marketing and in information signalling, not beer innovation. …
Note that some of these “innovations” are a bit perverse. Many beer drinkers will tell you that beer shouldn’t be too cold, otherwise you lose the flavor. And does anyone need a more technical pop-top? Were there unacceptable incidents of beer spillage or individuals who failed to get the beer from can to mouth previously?
When product manufacturers start innovating the packaging, the information about the product, the channel or the business model, it’s a good signal that they’ve reached a diminishing return on innovation in the product itself, and only a significant disruption will spark new product innovation in the sector.
Innovation itself isn’t stalled, it’s simply on hold for the next disruptive evolutionary cycle. Innovation isn’t a smooth, continuous process but a spiky discontinuous process made up of long period of incremental innovation punctuated by short bursts of disruptive innovation.”
June 24, 2013
By Drake Baer via fastcompany.com Article
Hone “Strategic Patience,” Watch Your Creativity Spike
“Deep patience. Close attention. … the skills for finding the ‘details, relationships, and orders that take time to see’ can be introduced.
[Harvard art history professor Jennifer L. Roberts] calls it ‘decelerating education’ … she prompted her pupils to plop down in front of a painting forthree hours … details began to reveal themselves, like about the shape of the boy’s ear or the squirrel’s ruff, the way the boy’s hand was in proportion to the glass of water, how the folds of the curtain fell, how the eye was depicted, and what these varied symbols may mean. …
Smart people have told us about how acute, focused observation births creativity. And we’ve discussed, innovation often begins with observation before moving to addition or subtraction. …
When P&G wanted to make new a product for people’s homes, they studied they way we cleaned. After hours of fieldwork, they realized that people were spending as much time cleaning their mops as they used the mops themselves. …
In the same way that a gourmet can savor the flavors of a dish and reverse-engineer its preparation, the patience-practicing, insight-seeking observer becomes familiar with the subject of her study, whether canvases or customers–and in so doing, can begin to know their needs.”
June 17, 2013
By Jeffrey Baumgartner via innovationexcellence.com Article
Creativity, Innovation and Cake
“Do you know the difference between creativity and innovation? If so, good for you! If not, don’t worry. It seems an awful lot of people do not know the difference. …
Creativity is combining two or more different ideas or concepts in order to create a novel, new idea. Innovation is using those ideas to change your world for the better. In short, creativity is about the ideas. Innovation is about the implementation of those ideas in order to institute change. …
So, what happens when people talk innovation but do creativity? Not much and that’s the problem.
Creative Alone Makes No Cake
Imagine you launch a cake recipe competition in which the three most creative cake recipes, submitted to your competition web site, win rewards. The public loves the idea and submit thousands of recipes, many of which sound like they would be incredibly delicious! It’s a great exercise that generates lots and lots of cake ideas, but not a single cake. In short it is a creative exercise and not innovation. …
Clearly, a better approach would be to have a cake baking competition where people bake cakes and submit them to you for tasting. There probably will not be as many submissions as in the case of the recipe competition. But you will have cake. You will have innovation.”
June 3, 2013
By Jerome Provensal via innovationexcellence.com Article
“If you have been to the gym or involved in any fitness for the past few years, you certainly run into the concept of “muscle confusion“.
The idea behind the concept is that muscles accommodate to a specific type of stress/exercise when the same stress is continually applied to the muscles over time. We become very proficient at doing that same exercise but we eventually reach a plateau, where we get stuck. The solution: mix up your exercise routines. …
When it comes to our daily job, we also become very proficient at it over time. Our brains develop routines and we stick to them because they work. That said, by not challenging the way we do things we invariably plateau and reach a state of pleasant comfort, sometime without even realizing it. However, there is nothing more dangerous in life than comfort because it can quietly kill your creativity, desire to innovate and aspiration for a better tomorrow.
If you have reached that dangerous level of comfort or don’t want to get even near it, let me offer a solution: Mental Confusion. …
2 Ways to Stimulate Mental Confusion ….”
June 3, 2013
By Andy Zynga via blogs.hbr.org Article
The Innovator Who Knew Too Much
“It is a profound irony that the more you know about a particular industry, and the more experience you gain in it, the more difficult it can be to move it forward with truly meaningful innovation. But it’s true, thanks to something known as “the curse of knowledge” — one of the most vexing cognitive biases identified by psychologists and behavioral economists. …
Cognitive biases are very human and arise from our need to make sense of a situation before deciding on a course of action. As we acquire, retain, and process relevant information, we filter it through the context of our own past experience, likes, and dislikes. Not surprisingly, with every subsequent challenge, our response is increasingly shaped by our knowledge of “how we’ve always done it.”
This is part of why open innovation is so powerful. By definition, it sources valuable ideas and inventions from outside the walls of an organization. That not only brings more brainpower to bear on a problem to be solved, it brings minds that are not constrained by industry conventions.
But if you think that by merely opting for open innovation you will escape the curse of knowledge, you may be wrong. Assumptions based on convention can still undermine the effort because, at the outset of any open innovation, someone has to communicate what is being sought.”
May 6, 2013
By Jennifer Miller via fastcocreate.com Article
How To Tell If You’re Creative (Hint: You might be a bit of a jerk
“Forget Myers-Briggs. A study out of BI Norwegian Business School has determined the signposts of a “creative” personality. Conducted by Professor Øyvind L. Martinsen, the study posed 200 questions to 481 people.
The subjects fell into three categories. One group of “baseline” subjects such as lecturers or managers, and two groups of people who are generally considered to be creative, such as students of advertising and performing artists. Martinsen says he found meaningful differences between the creative and non-creative groups.
There are seven elements of a creative personality, so if you’re thinking about quitting your job as a lawyer or stock analyst to go on tour with your band or finally write that novel, you might want to consider the list below.
You’re Creative If: ….”
May 6, 2013
By Wayne Simmons and Keary Crawford via Innovation Excellence Blog Article
Innovation versus Product Development
“Since the inception of the automobile industry, product features and functions were thought to be the primary determinants for customer buying decisions. Indeed, many automobile companies have built their corporate identities around specific product characteristics such as Volvo’s emphasis on safety features, GM’s and Chrysler’s focus on “American horsepower” …
Powerful market forces and changing customer behavior have challenged this dominant interpretation of innovation … factors such as the buyer’s experience at dealerships, the availability of maintenance services, financing options … are outside of the traditional product development arena and now play a significant role in buying decisions. …
… companies … must elevate the conversation about innovation to the new language of business innovation. In conjunction with entrepreneurship and growth strategy, the six dimensions of business innovation – service, design, business model, value, customer and strategic innovation – offer multiple pathways for companies to drive growth and enterprise value creation.”
April 22, 2013
By Drake Baer via fastcompany.com Article
What You Can Learn From Pandora’s Near-Death Experience
“Great ideas don’t always make it to market. Here’s what it took Tim Westergren to finally get a crucial round of funding for Pandora — on his 348th pitch. …
Between the nannying, database-building, and elevator pitching, it didn’t come easy. Westergren notes that the companies that you see at a conference (or in the pages of a magazine) represent just a part of the long-suffering iceberg. The only thing that held the company together was the “unshakeable belief” that their idea–the Music Genome Project–was a worthy one. And like Paul Graham says, a startup founder is an economic research scientist–so finding where that idea fits takes a lot of investigation.
‘Most (good) ideas are definitely crazy,’ Westergren says, ‘because if they’re a new idea, they’re not part of the existing intellectual structure.’”
April 8, 2013
Einstein’s Problem-Solving Formula, And Why You’re Doing It All Wrong
“Einstein spent nearly all his time thinking, and very little time doing. Today, we do just the opposite–and it’s working against innovation. …
While Einstein said he had no special talent aside from being passionately curious (and being possibly the smartest person ever), he also knew how to make time for insight–a skill that’s scarce in our present cult of stimulation. Innovation consultant and author Jeffrey Phillips tells this tale:
When asked how he would spend his time if he was given an hour to solve a thorny problem, (Einstein) said he’d spend 55 minutes defining the problem and alternatives and 5 minutes solving it. Which is exactly opposite of what the vast majority of executives today would do.
Instead, Phillips says, our harried execs default to the slog of defining a solution, hurtling into its implementation, and then taking a sort-of break by thumbing through their email–a pattern of behavior that predicts shallow thinking, rather than depth. Sounding a bit like Thoreau, Phillips makes a strong argument for why our busyness is killing our business–that is, if you’re in the business of creating anything new.”
April 1, 2013
By Brian Sullivan via slideshare.net Source
Design Like DaVinci — SXSW 2013
March 18, 2013
By Joe McKendrick via SmartPlanet Blog Article
How to be the ‘disrupter’ and not the ‘disrupted’
“The new breed of disrupters share some common characteristics … :
- Unencumbered development: … the engineers and developers at disruptive companies often are gathering for late-night ‘hackathons,’ and are trying to outdo one another with new products and innovations, which are rolled out in a rapid-fire manner. There’s lots of room for experimentation and failure. …
- Unconstrained growth: The five distinct customer segments—innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards — are slashed down to two segments: ‘trial users, who often participate in product development, and everyone else.’
- New product cycles: Traditional companies have months-long and years-long cycles of innovation, in which new ideas are vetted, approved, developed, tested, and brought to market. ‘The innovators collectively get it wrong, wrong, wrong—and then unbelievably right,’ …
- Undisciplined strategy: Traditional companies have carefully laid-out plans and strategies, with different departments handling various phases of R&D, operations and sales …. ‘Big-bang disrupters, however, are thoroughly undisciplined,’ …. ‘They start life with better performance at a lower price and greater customization. They compete with mainstream products right from the start.””
March 11, 2013
By Randy Mayeux via First Friday Book Synopsis Article
“Imagination, not sterility; creativity, not imitation; experimentation, not conformity; excellence, not mediocrity”
– Newton N. Minow, 1961
March 11, 2013
By Mike Shipulski via Innovation Excellence Article
Error Doesn’t Matter, Trial Does
“If you want to learn, to really learn, experiment. But I’m not talking about elaborate experiments; I’m talking about crude ones. Not simple ones, crude ones.
We were taught the best experiments maximize learning, but that’s dead wrong. The best experiments are fast, and the best way to be fast is to minimize the investment. In the name of speed, don’t maximize learning, minimize the investment. …
Define learning narrowly, design the minimum experiment, and run the trial. Learning per trial is low, but learning per month skyrockets because the number of trials per month skyrockets. … The first trial informs the second which shapes the third. But instead of three units of learning, it’s cubic. …
Another way to minimize investment is to minimize resolution. Don’t think nanometers, think thumbs up, thumbs down. Design the trial so the coarsest measuring stick gives an immediate and unambiguous response. … Think sledgehammer to the forehead.”
March 4, 2013
By Andrew Hargadon via Innovation and Choice blog Article
“For every great idea, many other people will have had ‘exactly similar, perfectly good ideas.’ But something happens around the time those ideas enter the larger organization and social context that prevents them from be carried out. …
Individuals act in organizations acting in industries — at particular moments in time.
Pity the young visionary working in a rigid bureaucracy, the brilliant scientist solving a problem outside her firm’s markets, or the entrepeneur that shows up a few years too soon, or too late, to launch a new industry.
Ideas alone are nice and sometimes even necessary, but they are not what puts the epic in innovation. Innovation happens when good ideas emerge in companies ready to change, in industries ready to be changed. The more clearly we see this, the better was can focus our own best efforts.”
December 10, 2012
Via The Heart of Innovation by Mitch Ditkoff Article
Brainstorming vs. Braincalming
“If you work in a big organization, small business, freelance, or eat cheese, there’s a good chance you’ve participated in at least a few brainstorming sessions in your life. You’ve noodled, conjured, envisioned, ideated, piggybacked, and endured overly enthusiastic facilitators doing their facilitator thing. …
For the moment, I invite you to consider the possibility that the origination of great, new ideas doesn’t take place in the storm, but in the calm before the storm… or the calm after the storm…
Every wonder why so many people get their best ideas during “down time” — the time just before they go to sleep… or just after waking… or in dreams… or in the shower… or in the car on the way home from work? Those aren’t brainstorming sessions, folks. Those are braincalming sessions. …
“The best thinking has been done in solitude,” said Thomas Edison. “The worst has been done in turmoil.”
I’m not suggesting that you stop brainstorming (um… that’s 20% of our business). All I’m suggesting is you balance it out with some braincalming. The combination of the two can be very, very powerful.”
October 15, 2012
By Matthew E. May in Fast Company Article
The Rules Of Successful Skunk Works Projects
“When Germany’s first jet fighter planes appeared in the skies over Europe in 1943, the U.S. War Department hired Lockheed Aircraft Corporation to build a working jet fighter prototype, giving it just 180 days to do so. … Challenging constraints shaped the project: build a jet fighter prototype that would fly at 600 miles per hour–the edge of the speed of sound and 200 miles per hour faster than the current Lockheed P-38 propeller plane–in 180 days. …
He [Kelly Johnson] broke away from the Lockheed main operation, taking 23 of the best design engineers and 30 mechanics with him, and set up camp in a rented circus tent next to a foul-smelling plastics factory, figuring the odor would help keep nosy parkers away. … Perhaps it was the stink that drove Kelly’s secret team to design and build the prototype for the P-80 Shooting Star–nicknamed Lulu Belle–in a mere 143 days. That’s 37 days ahead of schedule. …
Thus was born the de facto standard for running top secret projects among the world’s most innovative companies, and the model [Steve Jobs] used in launching the Macintosh division of Apple. In his biography of [Steve Jobs], [Walter Isaacson] tells how Jobs cherry-picked a team of about 20 “pirates,” as he referred to them, and seceded from the Apple main campus. He relocated the team to a small building three blocks away, next to a Texaco station. The two-story brown-shingled building became known as Texaco Towers. Jobs kept the renegade spirit alive with his maxim “it’s better to be a pirate than join the navy.” Jobs actively recruited rebels and swashbucklers–talented but audacious individuals who could move fast and get things done.
Over the years, the term Skunk Works has come to refer to any effort involving an elite special team that breaks away from the larger organization to work autonomously on an advanced or secret project, usually tasked with breakthrough innovation on limited budgets and under aggressive timelines.”
October 8, 2012
“A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.”
–Antoine de Saint Exupéry,
French poet, writer and aviator
Rock Pile Image Cathedral Image
September 17, 2012
From The Heart of Innovation Article
“”Now that we have met with paradox, we have some hope of making progress.” - Nobel Prize winner, Niels Boh
“Innovation is full of it — paradox, that is. On one hand, organizations want structures, maps, models, guidelines, and systems. On the other hand, that’s all too often the stuff that squelches innovation, driving it underground or out the door.
The noble search for a so-called “innovation process” can easily become a seduction, addiction, or distraction whereby innovation is marginalized, deferred, over-engineered, and worn like a badge.
True innovation is about allowing room enough for paradox to be a teacher and guide — and to accept, at least for a little longer than usual, ambiguity, dissonance, and discomfort — the age-old precursors to breakthrough.
Remember, there’s a big difference between Six Sigma and Innovation.”
September 17, 2012
By Thomas L. Friedman in the New York Times Article
“One of the standard lines about China’s economy is that the Chinese are good at copying, but they could never invent a Hula-Hoop. It’s not in their DNA, we are told, and their rote education system reinforces that tendency. I’m wondering about that: How is it that a people who invented papermaking, gunpowder, fireworks and the magnetic compass suddenly only became capable of assembling iPods? I’m wondering if what’s missing in China today is not a culture of innovation but something more basic: trust.
When there is trust in society, sustainable innovation happens because people feel safe and enabled to take risks and make the long-term commitments needed to innovate. When there is trust, people are willing to share their ideas and collaborate on each other’s inventions without fear of having their creations stolen. The biggest thing preventing modern China from becoming an innovation society, which is imperative if it hopes to keep raising incomes, is that it remains a very low-trust society. …
China is caught in a gap between its old social structure of villages and families, which created its own form of trust, and a new system based on the rule of law and an independent judiciary. The Communist Party destroyed the first but has yet to build the second because it would mean ceding the party’s arbitrary powers. So China has a huge trust deficit.”
August 27, 2012
By Jim Kerstetter and Josh Lowensohn from CNET, News, Politics and Law Article
“To many in the high-tech business, a troll plots his schemes in a white office building on a hill in this leafy suburb of Seattle. This is the home of Intellectual Ventures, which, depending on whom you ask, is either the biggest, most aggressive patent troll on the planet or a pioneering company that’s helping inventors get their fair share.
The question of “whom you ask” is a big one, of course. Since it was founded in 2000 by Microsoft veterans Nathan Myhrvold and Edward Jung, Intellectual Ventures has — through $5 billion in investment funds and its own brainstorming efforts — collected nearly 70,000 “intellectual assets” on technologies ranging from nuclear power to camera lenses. It currently controls about 40,000 intellectual assets.
In the process, Intellectual Ventures has become a boogieman for aspiring entrepreneurs and big tech companies alike. (Ironic, since some of its early investors include Microsoft, Intel, Sony, Nokia, Apple, Google, and eBay.) Rolling out a new feature for your Web site? Have a better way to reflect light through a camera lens? Better watch out, Intellectual Ventures might have a patent for that.” …
Nathan Myhrvold is a very, very, very smart man. He may be the wealthiest man on Earth when all is said and done,” said Jonathan Schwartz, CEO of the health care startup CareZone and the former chief exec of Sun Microsystems. “Congratulations on arbitraging the patent system.”"