May 13, 2013
By Mark Suster via bothsidesofthetable.com Article
Stop Trying to Catch Lightning in a Bottle
“I’m sure you’ve all heard saying derived from Voltaire, “don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good” which in a way is encapsulated in the lean startup movement and the ideology of shipping a “minimum viable product” (MVP) and then learning from your customer base. …
Because I live in startup land where everybody is a perfectionist. … every startup entrepreneur is trying to catch lightning in a bottle. … They want the perfect feature set, the PR company lined up to do the perfect press release, they want maximum coverage, rave reviews, viral adoption and they want to sit back and then wait for the signups to come roaring in. …
Even in the age of MVP worship I see founders who want to bundle too many features into a release because they’re worried that customers will be unhappy if they don’t. I see teams holding back on product releases even when the product is complete because they’re nervous it’s not yet good enough to get positive journalist reviews. They hold back on announcing their funding because they want to be sure they have 3 other important announcements to bundle …
Stop trying to catch lighting in a bottle.”
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 29, 2013
By Skylar Tibbits, director of the MIT Self-Assembly Lab via youtube.com Video
April 29, 2013
By Parmelee Eastman via smartblog.com Article
“Most of the information you need about your competitors already exists within your organization. …
- Your sales staff knows which competitors are the most aggressive, what solutions are being offered, what their marketing messages are, and whether they sell direct or through channels.
- Your purchasing managers know what supplies have been easier or harder recently to obtain because of demand from competition or supply variations.
- Your human resources people know which rivals are hiring and for which positions. They hear from candidates.
You’ll need to develop a “competitive information road map,” an outline of the information needed about your rivals and who might have the information. … Once you have interviewed each staff person, you will then know what information is lacking. Ask your customers, your suppliers or other knowledgeable people in your network to help you fill those gaps. …
You or someone in your firm should be collecting, analyzing and disseminating competitive intelligence on a continuing basis. …
You’ll make better decisions on the four Ps of marketing (product, pricing, placement and promotion) on existing products with the insight gleamed from your customers and about your competitors. And, your path to attractive future products will be much clearer.”
April 8, 2013
Via ahajokes.com Article
Theory of M&M Evolution
“Whenever I get a package of plain M&Ms, I make it my duty to continue the strength and robustness of the candy as a species. To this end, I hold M&M duels.
Taking two candies between my thumb and forefinger,I apply pressure, squeezing them together until one of them cracks and splinters. That is the “loser,” and I eat the inferior one immediately. The winner gets to go another round.
I have found that, in general, the brown and red M&Ms are tougher, and the newer blue ones are genetically inferior. I have hypothesized that the blue M&Ms as a race cannot survive long in the intense theatre of competition that is the modern candy and snack-food world.
Occasionally I will get a mutation, a candy that is misshapen, or pointier, or flatter than the rest. Almost invariably this proves to be a weakness, but on very rare occasions it gives the candy extra strength. In this way, the species continues to adapt to its environment.
When I reach the end of the pack, I am left with one M&M, the strongest of the herd. Since it would make no sense to eat this one as well, I pack it neatly in an envelope and send it to: M&M Mars, A Division of Mars, Inc. Hackettstown, NJ 17840-1503 U.S.A., along with a 3×5 card reading, ‘Please use this M&M for breeding purposes.’”
February 11, 2013
By Douglas Van Praet via Co.Create Article
Research – You’re Doing It Wrong. How Uncovering the Unconscious is Key to Creativity
“Businesses invest billions of dollars annually in market research studies developing and testing new ideas by asking consumers questions they simply can’t answer. Asking consumers what they want, or why they do what they do, is like asking the political affiliation of a tuna fish sandwich. That’s because neuroscience is now telling us that consumers, i.e., humans, make the vast majority of their decisions unconsciously.
Steve Jobs didn’t believe in market research. When a reporter once asked him how much research he conducted to develop the iPad, he quipped, “None. It isn’t the consumers’ job to know what they want.” And according to some measures, the iPad became the most successful consumer product launch ever and Apple went on to become the most valuable company of all-time. …
Einstein once said: “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” Creativity, the indispensable fuel of economic growth, is being killed by a corporate culture of wrongheadedness. It’s time to stop the violence! It’s time to honor the gift of the unconscious mind! …
My frustration with the tools of my trade led me to search for a more enlightening message. ….”
January 28, 2013
By Corey Mull via CEB Blogs Article
How the Innovation Process is Poised to Change
“I’m probably best-described as a skeptic on most new technologies. Partially because the benefits are usually wildly overstated, and partially because I’m just curmudgeonly like that. But I am very enthused about one thing in particular: the rise of the 3D printer.
… as we’ve seen, the development of new modes of computing has the occasional quality of disrupting incumbent experts on a topic who served as gatekeepers to it. A slightly wordy way of saying, in other words, that computers make things that were once available only to insiders available to all. Publishing was once restricted to those capable of buying a printing press, a few barrels of ink, and giant rolls of paper; now anyone can publish anything they want. Retailing was once restricted to those capable of buying or building a physical facility (and some warehouses to boot), now anyone can set up a store on Etsy or Amazon and sell to their heart’s content.
Similarly, I’d expect that the widespread ability of 3D printing will democratize access to the design and prototyping of products. Design is computerized now, obviously – but applications like AutoCAD have steep learning curves and are officially for professionals only. And to actually create a prototype requires some sort of engineering or artistic skill. But when creation is made as simple as touching a button, I’d expect design tools to follow suit.”
January 14, 2013
By Austin Carr via Co.DESIGN Article
The Secret Yardstick Driving Innovation At AOL, Beats, And Microsoft
“”When you look at any other email product from a distance–if you’re at a Starbucks or on the train, and you see someone reading Gmail or Yahoo–they all largely look the same,” says Bill Wetherell, a senior director of UX design at AOL. “One of the key things from a design perspective that we wanted was to do something different. And we wanted it to pass what we call the 15-foot test.”
The “15-foot test,” as Wetherell refers to it, is the threshold for differentiation he holds his team to: Products must attract attention even yards away from the computer screen. It’s the idea that in order for a product to stand out in such a crowded market, he says, “it needs not only to function differently but also look noticeably different from afar.” …
While it was once endless tech specs that drove tech reviews–RAM and processor speeds and graphics cards–companies now more often design products that pass the so-called 15-foot test, either in hardware or software or both. The larger point here is that aesthetic must be markedly different–in form factor, color, UX, and so forth–in order to attract consumers.”
January 14, 2013
By Mike Shipulski via Innovation Excellence Article
“Know what’s new in the new design. … divvy up newness into three buckets – new to your company, new to your industry, new to world. If the buckets are too big, jettison some newness, and if there’s something in the new-to-world bucket, be careful. …
Build first – build the crudest possible prototype to expose the unfamiliar, and use the learning to shape the next prototypes and to focus analyses. Do this until you run out of time. Cost and function are joined at the hip, so measure engineering on both.
Have a healthy dissatisfaction for success. Recognize success, yes, but also recognize it’s fleeting. Someone will obsolete your success, and it should be you.
To get an engineering team to believe in themselves, you must believe in them. To believe in them, you must believe in yourself.”
January 7, 2013
By Cliff Kuang via Co.DESIGN Article
The Brainstorming Process Is B.S. But Can We Rework It?
“The business practice of brainstorming has been around with us so long that it seems like unadorned common sense: If you want a rash of new ideas, you get a group of people in a room, have them shout things out, and make sure not to criticize, because that sort of self-censoring is sure to kill the flow of new thoughts.
… a devastating experiment, conducted in the 1950s, … found that when test subjects tried to solve a complex puzzle, they actually came up with twice as many ideas working alone as they did when working in a group. Numerous studies have since verified that finding: Putting people into big groups doesn’t actually increase the flow of ideas. Group dynamics themselves–rather than overt criticism–work to stifle each person’s potential. …
“People in groups tend to sit back and let others do the work; they instinctively mimic others’ opinions and lose sight of their own; and, often succumb to peer pressure. The Emory University neuroscientist Gregory Berns found that when we take a stance different from the group’s, we activate the amygdala, a small organ in the brain associated with the fear of rejection. Professor Berns calls this “the pain of independence.” …
CAN WE REWORK THE BRAINSTORMING PARADIGM?
… each of these findings suggest that the brainstorming process might not be totally hopeless after all. We know that breakthrough insight likely requires intense, individual reflection. We also know that criticism unlocks creativity. And finally, we know that creativity can be fostered by a certain type of physical space. Each of these findings, taken together, is cause for optimism. For one, ….”
December 17, 2012
By Michael Schrage via HBR Blog Network Article
Don’t Confuse Engagement with User Experience
“The numbers don’t lie. The Android operating system has been outselling Apple’s iOS by nearly a 5:1 ratio. Android dominates “device share.” Yet by virtually every meaningful metric that matters,Apple’s users are reliably, revealingly and remarkably more engaged in ecommerce, browsing and apps than their Android counterparts.
Where Android jumped from 1.43% of Black Friday shopping traffic in 2010 to 4.92% this year, Apple’s iOS pole-vaulted from 3.85% to 18.46%. Barely 3% of Adobe digital magazine downloads went to Androids, fully 97% were iOS.
Put harshly, Android sells disproportionately more devices that are used disproportionately less. What gives? Literally hundreds of billions of dollars rides on the answer(s). You can be sure Amazon and Microsoft are paying — and investing — disproportionate attention to the possibilities.
The mystery shouldn’t be a mystery: Designing a great device is not the same as designing a great user experience. Designing a great user experience is not the same as designing greater engagement. While it’s completely understandable why designers, product managers and marketers might conflate them, reality suggests that a great user experience doesn’t necessarily generate engagement any more than meaningful engagement inherently assures a great user experience.”
October 22, 2012
By Gianfranco Zaccai in Co.Design Article
Why Focus Groups Kill Innovation
“How many great ideas have you had sitting around a table? If you are like most people I know, not many. Yet, time after time, companies looking for a winning idea gather a group of people around a table to ask them what they would like. Other times, companies may actually develop innovative ideas–but then their impulse is to convene a focus group to critique them and, more often than not, undermine them. In my 40 years working in design and innovation, alongside some of the most brilliant minds in the business, I have never seen innovation come out of a focus group. Let me put it more strongly: Focus groups kill innovation. …
As Steve Jobs famously asserted, true innovation comes from recognizing an unmet need and designing a creative way to fill it. But focus groups can’t identify those needs for the simple reason that most people don’t know what they are missing until they experience it. A focus group can work in adding incremental improvements to an already existing product or service. But for truly game-changing ideas, they are more likely to cast doubt and skepticism upon them just because they are unfamiliar.
… Just because an idea is a good one doesn’t mean that people will immediately jump for joy the first time they hear about it. You need to test early, and you also need to test in context, directly with the people for whom it’s intended. That’s what we did with the Reebok Pump ….”
October 15, 2012
By Seth Godin in Seth’s Blog Article
“There are two kinds of users/creators/customers/pundits.
Some can’t understand why a product or service doesn’t catch on. They can prove that it’s better. They can quote specs and performance and utility. It’s obvious.
The other might be willing to look at the specs, but he really doesn’t understand them enough to care. All he knows is that the other choice is beautiful–it makes him feel good. He wants to use it.
Acura vs. Lexus, Dell vs. Apple, New Jersey vs. Bali…
You can have both specs and beauty, of course, but only if you work at it.”
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
Posted by Marta Kagan in HubSpot Blog Article
7 Reasons Your Brand Will Never Be as Awesome as Apple
“The world’s most valuable and most admired brand has given a lot of businesses a wicked bad case of Apply Envy. With over $100 billion in annual revenues and a 66% increase in net sales last year, it’s hard for even die-hard PC loyalists not to drool over Apple’s ability to rake in 50% of worldwide cell phone profits while commanding only 4% of unit sales.
2) You Don’t Care Enough About Your Customers
The world’s most successful brands don’t become (or remain) the world’s most successful brands without deep dedication to their customer’s needs. Apple’s customer focus is legendary. Spend five minutes in any one of their retail stores and you’ll experience it for yourself:
- Friendly, knowledgeable staff greet you the moment you walk in.
- Purchases never require standing in line – they come to you.
- Your new iPhone/iPad/Mac will be set up just the way you want it, right there in the store, by a friendly person who genuinely seems to care about YOU.
- If you have a problem or question, the Genius Bar is available at your convenience — a massive improvement over the frustrating, scripted tech support calls offered by most Apple competitors.
No wonder Apple stores pull in 18,000 visitors (on average) per week and rake in more than $5000/square foot (6x-10x more than other successful retailers!).
If you’re serious about elevating your brand to Apple status, you might want to take a page from their training manual:
- Approach customers with a personalized, warm welcome.
- Probe politely to understand all the customer’s needs.
- Present a solution for the customer to take home today.
- Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns.
- End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return.
If every business on the planet adopted this sort of customer-focused strategy, I’m pretty sure we’d have world peace.”
April 16, 2012
By Bill Lee Article
“Many firms assume that customers can do just one thing of real significance: buy their products and services. It’s time to seriously challenge that assumption, as many companies are doing by looking to customers to fuel their growth engines. …
Customers know more about each other than you know about them. That’s the source of much of the stratospheric value placed on Facebook by investors. Imagine a traditional company that tried to generate the kind of information Facebook generates: real time data on what movies people are watching, where they travel, the books they’re reading, the restaurants they’ve tried. Facebook dispensed with all the research most companies would have tried to dig up, and instead focused on letting customers provide it. …
Customers are more credible than you are. That means they make better marketers for a firm than agencies or internal employees. …
Customers are more persuasive than you are. That means they make better sales people. Marc Benioff … relied instead on face-to-face meetings with prospects and customers in major city markets. He found, to his surprise, that prospects at such events were much more interested in talking with SFDC customers than with him and his executive team, and found to his delight that 80% of prospects who attended the events wound up becoming customers themselves — an amazing close rate for any offering. …
Customers often understand buyer needs better than you do. One of the great misconceptions still floating around is that customers can’t articulate their needs, much less develop ideas for products to satisfy them. A substantial body of well-established research has shown that many if not most successful innovations are customer-originated. In one compilation of studies of 1193 commercially successful innovations across nine industries by MIT’s Eric von Hippel, 737 (60%) came from customers. …
Prospects in your market would rather affiliate with their peers (your customers) than with you. …”
March 12, 2012
By Ron Adner Article
“Launched in 2006, Sony’s Reader was a Lamborghini to the Model Ts of earlier attempts at electronic book readers. Slim and lightweight, with a highly praised “electronic ink” technology that was as easy on the eyes as was paper, it was touted as the iPod of the book industry. It achieved what no other reader had managed: a reading experience that approximated traditional print, with all the advantages (storage, search, and portability) inherent to digital media. The launch met with much fanfare from the press, where the Reader was hailed as “the electronic gadget that could change the way we read.” …
As the publishing industry haggled over how to make e-books a winning proposition, Amazon entered the fray in 2007. Described by one analyst as “downright industrially ugly,” it was larger than the Reader, weighed more, and had an inferior screen. Moreover, it was a very closed platform that was able to load content only from Amazon, and which precluded users from transferring the books they purchased to or from any other device, sharing with friends, or even connecting to a printer.
How could Amazon engineer a triumph with a weaker product? The company did it by engineering a superior solution. Presenting the Kindle, CEO Jeff Bezos announced, “This isn’t a device, it’s a service.” Unlike Sony’s Reader, the Kindle offered a complete experience for the customer: an expansive library of books and the ability to download the book instantly using Amazon’s wireless network….
Amazon’s and Sony’s efforts to conquer e-books were the inverse of one another: Sony enjoyed competence in its hardware but was a stranger to the ecosystem; Amazon was well positioned in the ecosystem but was less competent with its hardware. The e-book ecosystem–like so many of today’s innovative efforts–is ultimately a system of interdependencies. Success is not determined on the basis of a winning effort at any single point; it requires moving the entire cohort of partners in the same direction.”
December 12, 2011
By Jeremy Jackson Article
Wanna Create A Great Product? Fail Early, Fail Fast, Fail Often
“Prototyping is underutilized in product development. And you don’t need specialized knowledge to develop them. …
1. Low-Fidelity Prototyping
Starting the prototyping process at the pencil-and-paper level is the least expensive and fastest way to visualize and iterate design ideas. It give’s a designer’s idea physical expression almost immediately — with no specialized technical knowledge required. …
2. Medium-Fidelity Prototyping
Often executed as wireframes, medium-fidelity prototypes are intended to highlight only the most macro-aesthetic details of an interface’s content and design. … when showing a working wireframe prototype to an end-user or stakeholder, a design team can effectively evaluate how efficiently the design allows users to achieve their goals.
3. High-Fidelity Prototyping
High-fidelity prototypes are intended to portray the end vision for the interface and usually include realistic content, refined interactions, transitions, and animated effects. Prototyping in high-fidelity is clearly the most time-consuming way to prototype, but it goes a long way in usability testing and design presentations. … Highly polished prototypes can easily be mistaken for the final product. When creating the prototype, resist the urge to pack in as many features as possible. Remain focused and ensure that the general concept is being clearly conveyed. Gear your efforts toward the most-used features. Try to demonstrate one-third of the interface, at most.”
November 28, 2011
About Ben Yoskovitz Article
“In the olden days, most people followed a waterfall method. It involved writing “complete” specifications on exactly what had to be built, how it would be built, how it would work, look, etc. You’d have the “complete” package of documentation up-front and then you’d start coding. Seems like eons ago…
Then we were introduced to agile development, which encouraged us to throw away big specifications and go with user stories, or to eliminate documentation entirely and just start coding, building things iteratively.
I’m greatly simplifying the evolution of software development into a couple paragraphs, but you know the drill — specifications went from being necessities to being outlawed. To draw a quick parallel, the same has happened (to a large extent) with business plans. They started out as big ass documents you’d write before doing anything practical / hands-on with your business. People then decided they weren’t necessary whatsoever. We’ve now found a middle ground (which is constantly shifting and evolving based on practice and results vs. whim) with things like the Lean Canvas, which provides us with a focused and simplified means of designing a business. …
I don’t see specifications as ultra-descriptive product roadmaps. I see them as four things:
- A high-level, but “all-encompassing” brain dump;
- A customer-centric description of the value we’re trying to provide, describing the functionality to be built short-term (often including ideas, brainstorms, differing options);
- A future-looking description of things to be considered, and potentially planned for; and,
- A launchpad for discussion, debate, validation (or invalidation) with customers … a “working document.””
November 14, 2011
By Sean Ellis Article
“Great products aren’t anointed by product gurus. Only customers can decide if a product is great.
Customers will decide your product is great if you can map it to their motivation for changing to your solution. All customers change from something. Generally they either switch from a competitive solution or from just tolerating a problem without a solution. New products should decide on one of these markets. Trying to serve both markets generally leads to failure.
One way to decide which market to serve is to ask yourself: “when we are generating $100m in revenue, which type of customer do we think will contribute the majority of this revenue?” Your guess is usually the market you should serve.
If you decide to target “greenfield” people (those without a current solution), then your product roadmap should be focused on simple, effective execution of their desired task. Simplicity is usually much more important for greenfield users than being feature rich. Dropbox is a great example of a product that has succeeded in a greenfield market with a dead simple solution. …
Competitive Solution Customers
If you are targeting people who will be switching from another solution, then usually features are an important part of people’s decision to try it. In this case, you’ll want to make sure that you at least have parity on the key features. Of course they have no reason to switch if everything you do is the same, so you’ll need to understand their switching motivation. If you can differentiate on one of the key gripes of the competitive solution, there is a good chance you can be successful.”
November 7, 2011
by Tim Kastelle Article
“Experimenting is a key part of innovating. In his new book REAMDE, Neal Stephenson has a great description of learning through experimenting:
“Much like a teenager who starts playing a new video game without bothering to open the manual, he tried things and observed the results, abandoning whatever didn’t work and moving aggressively to exploit small successes. A profusion of ideas spewed forth from his mind. There was no such thing as a bad idea, apparently. But, perhaps, more important, there was no such thing as a good idea either, until it had been tried and coolly evaluated. It was clear how he had become the leader of a sort of gang back home: not by asserting his leadership but by being so relentless in his production, evaluation, and exploitation of ideas that his friends had been left with no choice but to form up in his wake.”
It’s a great quote, and there are several crucial points about innovation in it:
- Prototype everything: ….
- We can win by experimenting faster: ….
- There’s no such thing as a good idea, until it’s been tested: ….”
October 17, 2011
From fastcodesign.com Article
Want To Create A Breakout Product? Start With A Narrow Focus
“When Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone in January 2007, he famously described it as being a combination of just three things. “It’s a widescreen iPod, a revolutionary phone, and a breakthrough Internet communicator.” … glaring holes were evident in the iPhone. Why didn’t it have 3G data? Where was real support for corporate email? And why couldn’t you write real applications for it?
On closer examination, it seemed Apple had blundered in its product strategy. Most famously, CBS MarketWatch’s John Dvorak claimed that Apple should cancel the iPhone before it shipped even one unit. How could a device with this many missing pieces ever succeed?
We know the rest of the iPhone story. Over the next four years, Apple has systematically added every single feature that it left out of the original iPhone while moving more than 100 million units. …
What the media took for missing features or technical incompetence was actually a series of strategic choices that Apple made to scale down from all of the possible things a smartphone technically could do to the handful of things that the iPhone could do better than any other product on the market–media playback, visual voicemail, and multitouch web browsing.
Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
… Oddly enough, seemingly under-powered and narrowly focused technology platforms tend to outperform their more broadly aimed peers. The Nintendo Wii dramatically outsold powerhouses like the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 for years. The Amazon Kindle is the market leader in e-readers. The original Flip handheld video camera began outselling much more full-featured camcorders shortly after its launch. And Apple’s “big iPhone that can’t make phone calls,” the iPad, quickly seized more than 80 percent of the share in a tablet category that also includes devices capable of running all of Windows.
In technology, simple beats complicated in almost every case.”
October 3, 2011
by Heather Schafer Article
The New Patent Law: What does it mean for your startup?
“On Your Mark….Get Set…GO!
With a swift stroke of his pen, President Obama signed the America Invents Act last week that will completely overhaul the U.S. patent system.
And what should be of interest to startups and entrepreneurs everywhere is the transition of U.S. patent law to a “first-to-file” system.
Currently, the U.S. is the only developed country on this planet to grant patents to the “first-to-invent.” Under the first-to-invent system, there are several procedures within both the Patent Office and the Federal Courts that allow an inventor to assert prior rights due to prior invention over patents that have an earlier filing date than theirs.
For example, today, I may file a patent application on my invention for dog food that is completely 100% metabolized and therefore never comes out the other end of my dog (“Zero Emission Dog Food”). Five months before today, Purina may have filed a patent application disclosing and claiming my exact formula for Zero Emission Dog Food. Under a first-to-invent patent system, upon my proving my dates of invention predate those of Purina, the Patent Office would be persuaded to grant the patent for Zero Emission Dog Food to me rather than the earlier to file Purina.
After the new legislation takes effect (in about 1 year) I will no longer have recourse if I lose the “race to the patent office.” It won’t matter how many days or years ahead of Purina I am in development, if I don’t get my application on file first – I lose.”
September 19, 2011
By Rana Foroohar Article
Illustration by Harry Campbell for TIME
“Bob Lutz, the former Vice Chairman of General Motors, is the most famous also-ran in the auto business. In the course of his 47-year rampage through the industry, he’s been within swiping range of the brass ring at Ford, BMW, Chrysler and, most recently, GM, but he’s never landed the top gig. It’s because he “made the cars too well,” he says. … his new book, Car Guys vs. Bean Counters: The Battle for the Soul of American Business, has a message worth hearing. To get the U.S. economy growing again, Lutz says, we need to fire the M.B.A.s and let engineers run the show.
Lutz’s main argument is that companies, shareholders and consumers are best served by product-driven executives. In his book, Lutz wisecracks his way through the 1960s design- and technology-led glory days at GM to the late-1970s takeover by gangs of M.B.A.s. Executives, once largely developed from engineering, began emerging from finance. …
It’s interesting to note that the one area of the U.S. economy that’s adding jobs and increasing productivity and wealth is also the one that is the most relentlessly product- and consumer-focused: Silicon Valley. The company off Highway 101 that best illustrates this point is, of course, Apple. The only time Apple ever lost the plot was when it put the M.B.A.s in charge. As long as college dropout Steve Jobs is in the driver’s seat, customers (and shareholders) are happy. The reason is clearly the one Lutz puts forward in his book: “Shoemakers should be run by shoe guys, and software firms by software guys.”"