David Kwon shared this amazing infographic detailing the history of the wheel. It's a nice follow-on post to mine: The Wheel: A Great Innovation? There are a lot of myths and misperceptions about the wheel and it's impact on society. Read more here:
We all know the endless kick-on, kick-off routine associated with that perfectly comfortable pair of house slippers. Our days are filled with quick trips to the market, impromptu lunches, and endless dog walks. And one of two scenarios are typically woven into the daily in-and-out saga of life -- either countless episodes of shoe swapping or foregoing those fabulous house shoes to spare extra minutes.
Mahabis, a shoe company based out of London, set their innovation sites on resolving this daily dilemma by creating the Mahabis slipper. Utilizing the Division Technique, Mahabis created an indoor-outdoor wool slipper made possible by a detachable sole. According to Mahabis, these soles “flick-on and clip-down in seconds.” By offering convenience, Mahabis hasn’t overlooked quality as they aimed to make a sole that is light and comfortable and provides adequate heel support, grip, and relaxed comfort.
The Mahabis slipper is just one example of the Division technique at work. To get the most out of the Division technique, you follow five basic steps:
List the product’s or service’s internal components.
Divide the product or service in one of three ways:
Functional (take a component and rearrange its location or when it appears).
Physical (cut the product or one of its components along any physical line and rearrange it).
Preserving (divide the product or service into smaller pieces, where each piece still possesses all the characteristics of the whole).
Visualize the new (or changed) product or service.
What are the potential benefits, markets, and values? Who would want this, and why would they find it valuable? If you are trying to solve a specific problem, how can it help address that particular challenge?
If you decide you have a new product or service that is indeed valuable, then ask: Is it feasible? Can you actually create this new product or perform this new service? Why or why not? Can you refine or adapt the idea to make it more viable?
Keep in mind that you don’t have to use all three forms of Division, but you boost your chance of scoring a breakthrough idea if you do.
What’s in a name? Perhaps more than we might think, according to researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Most of us are familiar with the dynamic of “judging a book by its cover,” making quick judgments about a person based on initial appearance. But in a recent study led by Dr. Ruth Mayo and Yonat Zwebner, researchers investigated the opposite: can a person’s facial appearance be significantly influenced by their given name? The research suggests, “yes!”
In eight separate studies, independent participants were recruited and shown color headshots of random people. Participants were asked to choose the name of each individual from a list of names provided with each picture. The outcome: time and again observers chose correctly more than not. For example, when looking at a photo and considering four names – Jacob, Dan, Josef, or Nathaniel – participants chose the correct name “Dan” 38% of the time, which is above the 25% chance level for a random guess. Researchers found consistent results when controlling for ethnicity and age. And, even computers surpassed the odds by matching the correct name to a face to a clinically significant degree.
An interesting dynamic that researchers suggest from this study is the existence of shared face-name prototypes. It was remarkable that participants were unable to match names to faces from a culture other than their own, which indicates the possibility that shared face-name prototypes (eg. stereotypes) which are common in various cultures are necessary for the face-name matching effect to happen.
The study also suggests that the dynamic of self-fulfilling prophecy might be at work. Researchers found that participants still chose correctly above the chance level for random guess even when they could only see the participants’ hair style, suggesting that people may choose a hair style according to a stereotype that matches their name.
Though the idea of a self-fulfilling prophecy is not new, researchers believe their contribution is innovative by demonstrating that the way we look is possibly impacted by the social tag we’re given at birth, one’s name. And since this name is given at birth, often before birth and independent from one’s face, researchers find it statistically plausible that the connection between facial appearance and social perception is a two-way street.
Researchers of this study are hopeful that their work will bring increased understanding of the important role social structuring plays in a person’s development. Gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status are all understood social structures that impact a person’s individual formation and identity. But the possibility that a simple choice – the giving of one’s name – might have a significantly greater impact on one’s development than previously imagined is both intriguing, innovative, and worth increasing consideration.
Creating an innovative brand is a great way to build loyalty with your customers. For many companies, brands are the single most valuable asset. But once you’ve created a brand, that’s where the challenges kick in. And it can be a real headache if you don’t manage brands correctly.
These challenges come from both inside your organization as well as outside. For example, one of the most common problems marketing leaders have with brands is what I call brand chaos. It happens when new brands start popping up almost out of nowhere. And sadly, they have no consistent look or feel to your other brands. Then, one day, you’re flipping through your product catalog and see a mish mash of products and brands that having nothing to do with each other. Your brand architecture is in a state of anarchy.
How does it happen? Well, marketers love to create brands. It’s fun and exciting, and they like creating ones that are distinctive and unique. Let’s face it, they want to put their mark on something.
So they get together with their design team and branding agencies and throw a lot of money creating the next big thing. If left unchecked, you’ll experience brand chaos. It’s expensive to fix, and it can really confuse customers on what your brands mean.
Another common brand problem is when employees take one of your brand marks and create their own adapted version of it. In other words, they make it look different than the official version. A sales rep might put an altered brand mark in a presentation, or a marketer might change it slightly to fit on a package. The sources of this problem are many.
Brand chaos can also stem from things outside the company. If your competitors start attacking your brands by depositioning them, you have to fight back. For example, a competitor might begin an advertising campaign telling consumers that the benefits of your brand just aren’t that important. This type of depositioning strategy can lower your brand equity.
Another common problem is when some company copies your brand and creates counterfeit products and services. Consumers don’t know the difference, so you lose a sale each time they buy a fake product with your brand on it.
So how do you deal with these challenges? First, you need to create a Brand Book. Just as the name implies, the brand book is the complete story of the brand and all the elements that go into it.
It establishes strict guidelines on every aspect of how a company’s brand will be managed. This affects everything from how the logo can be used, the look of a website, how social media is used, advertising, product design, and so on. For details on how to create one, see the course, Branding Fundamentals.
Second, you need to appoint a strong brand champion, someone who is senior enough in your organization to regulate and monitor brand compliance and stop anyone who violates standards in the Brand Book.
And finally, you need a strong legal team, internal or external, that will go after counterfeiters or anyone that hijacks your brands for their own use.
Great branding is about making and keeping promises in a consistent way. That’s why great marketers do whatever they can to prevent brand chaos.
At some point as an innovation leader, you and your team will launch new innovations into the market place. Those could be new products and services, it could be a new advertising campaign, or simply displaying your products at a trade show. These initiatives are an important test of your leadership. So here are my tips - the DO’s and DON’Ts for launching new initiatives.
First, lead through people. That means delegating to your team rather than trying to take on these projects yourself. Your first priority is to create a team of A players. So now is the time to use them. Thoroughbreds like to run and run fast, so put them to work on these initiatives. If you’re thinking that “it’s easier to do it myself than to explain how to do it,” forget it. When you assign a new initiative to a person, tell them what you need done and what success looks like. Let them figure it out from there.
Next, be visible during the launch of any new initiative. There’re lot of reasons for that. First, it motivates your people when they see you care enough to be part of their event. Second, it never hurts to have another pair of hands in case a team member needs help. As a marketing leader, don’t put yourself above the team when it comes to the dirty work. Hey, a good leader needs to pick up the broom and sweep the floor just like everyone else.
Finally, hold people accountable for the outcome. It’s critical that you give people constraints up front so they know the boundaries of what they can and can’t do. Measure those results and reward people for what they achieve. If they exceed the boundaries you set for them, you gotta point it out to them.
Now, let’s look at the don'ts.
First, whatever you do, don’t micromanage your people. Details are important in any initiative, but if you get in the habit of pointing out every last detail of a project, you’re telling your team that you don’t trust them. That will eventually undermine your leadership.
Next, never upstage your team members responsible for the event when the initiative is launched. If they do all the work but it’s you that gets in front of the camera to take all the credit, your team won’t ever be loyal to you again. Now it’s okay to manage up a bit and keep your bosses informed about the initiative, but just be sure to give credit to your team for their hard work. And by the way, when you give credit to others instead of taking it all yourself, your bosses look at you as someone who’s going to move up the ladder.
Finally, avoid playing the blame game. If the initiative doesn’t go well, take responsibility. Don’t start naming others on your team as the guilty party. You want to give that team member feedback about what could have been improved. But publicly blaming them for the failure is a mistake. As the leader, stand up and take full responsibility. But then go back and understand what went wrong. What were your assumptions? What unexpected things happened that hurt the initiative? And most importantly, what are you going to do about it next time?
And that’s what great innovation leaders do. They create a competent team that continuously learns, and gets better every day.
My Wharton interview was conducted in a group format in which we were asked to conceive a new conference to host at the business school. We went around the table, each candidate offering a different idea on which topic would most effectively engage students and faculty. The ideas reflected the respective backgrounds of each candidate - a "Big Data" conference from an IBM analytics practitioner, a "Health and Wellness" conference from a self-described 'yogi,' a "Healthcare" conference from a healthcare consultant, and so on.
I was the last to offer an idea - an "Innovation" conference.
I continued to offer examples in which each candidate's idea could be included within the theme of innovation. I suggested that students and faculty would not only benefit from appreciating the existing business priority to be continually innovative, but also by learning the tactical skills to become intentionally innovative themselves.
My interview group agreed on an "Innovation" conference, refined the idea, laid out the conference logistics, and pitched it to the interviewers. One month later, I was exploring Philadelphia with my family as an accepted member of the Wharton MBA Class of 2018.
You are one of the few people who have encouraged me to admit that I want to do great things in my life. I did not always have the courage to proclaim this. When I say it aloud, it fills me with energy. It makes me hungry to acquire knowledge, inspire breakthrough, and create impact. Thanks to you, I feel that I am on my way.
I thank you for your guidance, advice, and support over the years. I promise I will put it to good use!
Look at any industry, in any market, and you’ll find the same strategy playing out everywhere. Companies compete with one another in a mindless race to the bottom, matching products and services feature for feature, competing primarily on price. This commoditizes markets and drives down prices and margins. But ultimately, no one wins—not even the consumer--as quality, service and differentiation suffer. We call this senseless strategy “Attrition Competition”, and it is derived from prevailing military strategy, which seeks to overwhelm competitors.
However, there is another way: maneuver strategy.
Maneuver strategy has been used by the military since King Leonidas and Genghis Khan, yet businesses all too often neglect it. In OUTMANEUVER the authors examine how maneuver strategies, based on speed, agility, insight, and innovation win the most in any market at the least possible cost, for companies of any size, in any industry.
Unlike attrition, maneuver never seeks to attack an incumbent in head-to-head competition. Instead, maneuver uses reconnaissance and insights to identify weaknesses and uses three strategies to attack those vulnerabilities:
Preemption: taking a valuable, unoccupied space before competitors are aware the space exists.
Dislocation: attacking an incumbent in a way that forces the opponent to fight with less than its full capabilities and on the attacker’s terms, causing the opponent to vacate part or all of a valuable position.
Disruption: upsetting an opponent’s detailed scheduling or planning, distracting an opponent from efficient execution, delaying a timely launch, creating confusion or havoc in an opponent’s capabilities.
OUTMANEUVER details a combination of military and business case studies to identify the relevant points of the strategy. Companies such as Zara, Tesla and Netflix have proven successful in the sea of sameness. Military tactics from the Civil War through the wars being fought in Afghanistan and Iraq today are identified to exemplify the strategy as well.
As the pace of change accelerates, as speed and agility become more important than size and strength, as new entrants disrupt existing markets, attrition strategy seems outdated.
OUTMANEUVER details this overlooked methodology; its focus on speed, agility, and innovation is the right strategy for the new emerging markets and companies of any size.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
JEFFREY PHILLIPS leads OVO Innovation, an innovation consulting company in Raleigh, North Carolina. Jeffrey has led strategy and innovation projects in a number of industries including pharmaceutical, high tech, financial services, insurance and medical products. He is the author of three books, including Relentless Innovation, and writes the popular Innovate on Purpose blog.
ALEX VERJOVSKY brings over twenty years’ experience in the consulting and technology sectors as both a consultant and entrepreneur. His most recent company, Castor Fields SAPI, reached over twelve billion dollars in sales. Prior to Castor Fields, Alex founded BioFuel Alternatives, a pioneer in the biodiesel market. Alex is a graduate of Columbia Business School.
Innovation clusters require six key ingredients: skills, accommodating policy framework, infrastructure, low cost structures (in early stages), a good lifestyle offering and serendipity.
Clusters are like the companies they host: they change over time, and their long term success depends on how well they adapt to the challenges of success, like congestion and increased rents
Clusters are strongly reliant on an open immigration policy at the national level – tightening borders reduces a cluster’s access to global talent
Innovation is often associated with triumphant lone inventors. The likes of Thomas Edison, Louis Pasteur or Bill Gates are the central characters in this narrative. But all innovators spring out of a specific context. The environments that foster their individual and collective success are very often ‘innovation clusters’: ecosystems that stimulate and nurture the best ideas and attract the brightest talents.
Clusters emerge when a network of companies coexists within a geographic location, allowing each of them to collaborate – and compete – in a way which delivers greater productivity gains than they would achieve in isolation. Silicon Valley is the most famous, but there are countless others across every continent.
Clusters attract innovative people. They network, leading to the cross-pollination of ideas. Companies benefit from each other’s success: What one invents, rivals can access – think of a productivityboosting tool like Dropbox. And what one firm invents, others can build on. Think of the ‘sharing economy’, led by trailblazers Uber and Airbnb, in turn giving rise to an army of startups taking the same idea to new applications. The sharing of knowledge, the spillover effects of innovation and the networking that densely populated spaces enable are all key ingredients for startup success.
Yet for all their benefits, innovation clusters are not straightforward to build – and many do not last, even with the ‘magic ingredients’ seemingly there. To prosper, clusters need six key success factors: skills and talent, accommodating policy frameworks, infrastructure, low costs (especially in the early stages), a good lifestyle offering to draw talent, and finally good luck, whether geography (proximity to key markets), historical accidents or even good fortune.
The ‘big 6’ success factors
These six factors are necessary conditions, although they are not always sufficient. Many places in the world lay claim to these six, but never give rise to a successful cluster. These factors are best seen as the necessary conditions for clusters, but not – on their own – the silver bullet. Cluster success depends both on individual factors, but also the interplay between them. Good universities are little use if there is no connectivity with industry. A high standard of living is not helpful if immigration policies prevent global talent from moving to the cluster.
There are clearly many that have done it well, are still doing it well, and some that have tried and struggled.
- See more at: http://destinationinnovation.economist.com/part-1/#sthash.iRIxQ9vD.dpuf
WRITTEN BY THE ECONOMIST INTELLIGENCE UNIT (with permission)
You've heard that old adage - "Don't judge a book by its cover." The same holds true in creativity. We want to resist the temptation of judging ideas depending on where it came from. Yet, its very difficult for us to do this. If we like the person, we tend to like their idea. And if we don't like that person, well, let's just say we might see a few more flaws than we might have otherwise.
Now you and your colleagues might not even be aware that you're doing this. And what this means for you in practice is that you have to find a way to strip ideas of their identity.
You can boost the creative out put of your team just by making sure these ideas don't get thrown out prematurely. Here's how you do it. When you're facilitating a session to generate ideas, announce to the group that there's a new ground rule and the ground rule is simply this, people cannot put a name to any idea. That means that people are, are going to have to stop saying things like, "hey that was my idea," or "hey, let's go back to that great idea that Michael had earlier."
People will find this hard to do. So, you're going to have to be firm about the rule.
Another good technique is to tell people that whenever they have an idea, they have to write it down on a piece of paper, again, without putting anybody's name to it. Every so often go around and collect those pieces of paper, and then pass them out randomly to people in the group, and have people take an idea and read it aloud to the rest of the group. That keeps the ideas anonymous.
And finally, another good technique is to have people work in pairs or groups of three. And whenever they share their idea, they do it as coming form the entire group, not just from one team member. And what this does is it makes it more difficult for other people in the group to figure out where that idea came from. It helps them eliminate that natural tendency to have a bias to that idea. Now these techniques might take a little bit more time and may feel a bit awkward, but trust me it's well worth it.
You'll boost you're creative output at work by making sure good ideas don't get thrown out too quickly.
People who believe that the wheel is the greatest invention ever assume two things: That it was wholly new when it was invented, and that is was so wonderful that people adopted it immediately. Historically, neither is true.
What is true is that three different types of wheels evolved over time, but none of them were as great as sliced bread.
The concept of a wheel emerged a long time ago. Archaeologists uncovered evidence that Olmec children in southern Mexico played with toy dogs on wheels 3000 years ago. But their parents never transferred the wheel idea to carts or wagons. How could anyone who understood the concept of the wheel not have used it for transportation?
Here’s why. Ancient Mexicans lacked domestic animals to hitch to a wheeled vehicle. There was no advantage over human porters. A more important question: Was the wheel such a good idea that building a toy dog on wheels should inevitably have transformed a transportation system?
Evolutionary biologists tell us that modern humans have not improved their basic store of physical or intellectual capacities for 100,000 years. So when we migrated out of Africa to people the globe, we did it without the benefit of wheels. And we kept on walking and carrying the “stuff” that George Carlin would later poke fun at on our backs for the next 90,000+ years. We could divide up our stuff into manageable loads that were light and compact enough to carry. Finally, some 10,000 years later, we started loading some of our stuff onto the backs of animals.
This solution satisfied the transportation needs of most of the world down to the invention of the internal combustion engine, even though by that time some peoples had been using wheeled vehicles for over 5000 years. But carts and wagons weren’t all that common. So long as roads were seas of mud in rainy weather people thought twice about whether to entrust their stuff to a wheeled vehicle.
Wheeled transport is not an obviously good idea. People who insist that it was truly revolutionary ignore the fact that many societies that became aware of wheeled vehicles over the centuries chose not to use them. It took so many other innovations over a long period of time to make the wheel useful.
For thousands of years, inventors have embedded five simple patterns into their inventions, usually without knowing it. These patterns are the "DNA" of products that can be extracted and applied to any product or service to create new-to-the-world innovations. Drew Boyd shares how to use this effective, repeatable, and trainable innovation process for organic growth.
"Innovation Sighting" is a monthly feature that demonstrates the use of structured innovation methods. A great way to develop one's skill at innovation is to be able to recognize the use of templates in everyday products and services.
"Marketing Innovation" is a monthly feature that demonstrates innovation templates for advertising, promotion, and integrated marketing communication. It is based on the pioneering work by Professor Jacob Goldenberg and his colleagues in "cracking the advertising code."
"Academic Focus" is a monthly feature that highlights an institution or professor who is doing an outstanding job bringing the tools and skills of innovation to the practitioner community.
The LAB is a regular feature that demonstrates how to use innovation methods and tools. Blog readers are invited to pose a question or submit a product or service for The LAB . Drew will then show how to apply a systematic process to the product or service and create real, new-to-the-world concepts.