Entrepreneurial

    To Innovate, Invest (USA, UK, listening?)

    7320Ben Tarnoff’s recent article for the Guardian hits hard.

    America has become so anti-innovation – it’s economic suicide

    This article is worth a careful reading. If you care about American Innovation, or UK Innovation for that matter, you’d better realize something; our governments are currently committing economic suicide. They are doing this by not investing in deep theoretical science and in infrastructure.

    Small “i” innovation is something we do well in the USA, but we can’t live on that kind of innovation forever. We need to create new markets and build new jobs based on new science and technology, new materials, and new infrastructure.

    This means countries like China, who are investing, are paving the way for their future success. I wish them well, but also wish we’d remain competitive.

    Big companies don’t do deep research for the most part. They either buy it, or, they wait until the commercial opportunities are closer to hand. Solo entrepreneurs don’t have the resources to create businesses from technology they invent. They take more risk than big companies, but again, they look for platforms to build on. Apple was not created from scratch. It was built on existing technology that was combined in a new and creative way. The chips were there first.

    We’re not building platforms right now. The USA investment in NASA for instance has had huge payoffs, and, they’ve taken years to realize. NASA is a great example of the government paving the way for private sector success. I believe in the market, but I also believe the market is not interested in big risk or long term investments.

    Read the article and tell me I’m wrong, and if I’m wrong, how I’m wrong. Investment in innovation happened at a mediocre level during the Obama era. It would appear investment is going down further with the current administration.

    This is not good.

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    Innovation MoshPit

    What’s Really Needed is an Innovation MoshPit Reinventing Combinations, Concept Blends, and Mash-Ups I’ve been touting concept blends in innovation for some time. My reason is simple, it’s a fast path to new and different ideas. From the Printing Press to the iPhone, big new market-creating innovation happens when concepts from two different domains are combined. These Mash-Ups are not intuitive for most people to do and maybe that’s why some people try it and fail. Take heart, smart people can do concept blends with careful mental scaffolding. The key benefit to concept blends for organizations is finding breakthrough innovation. It’s my contention that a lot of breakthrough innovation is left on the table because not enough thinking work is




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    The Founder, Innovation On Film

    The Founder, Lessons in Innovation The Founder, starring Michael Keaton as McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc, is the best film about innovation since Moneyball in 2011. Between the two of them there is enough marvelously illustrated content to teach a masters course in innovation. Unlike Moneyball, which had the surface covering of a baseball story, The Founder is actually about how innovation happens.  In telling Ray Kroc’s story, we see it all: the entrepreneurial mindset, observational research, desire, and, how an idea is taken to the next level. One does not have to be a student of innovation to love this movie. Innovation stories, in both the movie, and in real life are filled with emotion, brilliance, and human frailty. Innovation




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    Innovate Immigration Policy

    Why a Hostile Immigration Policy is Stupid Who remembers George Gilder? He’s a relevant person to recall at this moment in time. George Gilder said in 1995: “Without immigration over the last 50 years, I would estimate that U.S. real living standards would be at least 40% lower.” He could be wrong with that figure. It might be more than 40%. He said that in 1995. Readers who would prefer I stay out of political posts please understand this is a post about Innovation. I’m not going to comment on the moral, legal, or overtly political aspects of the new immigration policy. I will say that the new policy is hostile, at the very least in terms of how it’s




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    Colorado Innovation Training

    A brief post to make sure you know about the upcoming Denver, CO public course in Advanced Innovation Facilitation.  This is a high value training. It’s partially sponsored so the price is much lower than usual. Here’s a page with details. It’s next week Starting Wednesday February 1, continuing on Feb 2, finishing at noon on Feb. 3rd. Essentially this is intensive, hands-on workshop that trains people in innovation frameworks, and tools for strategy, ideation, research, and project management. It’s being held at the Community Research Center and I’m working with CO local Kim Smoyer of Smoyer & Associates. It’s a course for innovation project managers, consultants, intrapreneurs, and entrepreneurs who want to have more productive strategy, idea generation, and




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    Retro Motorcycles Signal Innovation In Goshen, IN

    Manufacturing in America — Using the Past to Create an Innovative Future It’s heartening to learn about a small USA manufacturer who’s doing something creative, new, and interesting. Janus Motorcycles in Goshen, Indiana is creating hand-crafted, small batch motorcycles. These are simple, accessible, easy-to-work-with bikes. They are throwbacks in a certain way, but don’t get me wrong they’re elegant. The retro-ish designs are informed by old American bike brands like Indian, and old British bikes like Triumph and Norton. It’s not hard to imagine that famous Hoosier, James Dean, riding one of these bikes around the countryside. The bikes look like James Dean era rides because Janus purposefully leaves the bikes open, in the sense that all the parts can




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    Projects Are How Innovation Happens

    Projects, Projects, Projects Innovation is complex and difficult — but one thing about it is not. What’s quite simple about innovation is that projects are what make innovation real. The following concepts, frameworks, approaches, etc. are Not Innovation.  Unless they are in the context of an actual project. Thinking about things is not innovation Having beers and kicking ideas around are not innovation Brainstorming sessions are not innovation Idea Campaigns are not innovation Guided visualizations are not innovation Design Thinking is not innovation Creative Problem Solving is not innovation DeBono’s Six Thinking Hats are not innovation Lean is not innovation Prototyping is not innovation Crowd sourcing or Open innovation are not innovation TQM and Six Sigma are not innovation Defining




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    The Risk of Not Innovating

    I recently was a guest blogger for Gibson Insurance and I wrote this piece about the risk of Not Innovating. I’ll make the point again here — with fewer words. For more detail, read my post over at Gibson. Risk Aversion is a Risk Itself Many leaders pull back on innovation programs because of expenses, and, fear of change. They settle for small changes and improvements and continue to look at innovation as if it’s extra work. They pay lip service to innovation and waste time doing culture assessments. They also spend precious time developing a precise process for innovation. Cultural awareness of the climate for innovation is a good thing, and a defined process is as well, but don’t




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    Intrapreneurship Chicago 2016

    Authentically Different Conference In recent years I’ve become a bit anti-conference. I still go to some but I find the formats tired. The formula favors big name authors and speakers who sometimes miss the mark. The agenda is so jammed you don’t have time to talk to your peers. The social events are fun, but a bit… forced. So, you may be surprised when I bend over backwards to promote Intrapreneurship Chicago 2016.  The event is going to be held at the TechNexus accelerator in the River North area. Chicago area innovators and intrapreneurs, take note. June 22! This conference is authentically different. And highly useful if you are a real working Intrapreneur. 90% of the conference attendees will be




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    10 Essential Elements of an Innovation Mandate

    Getting a Mandate to Innovate is Key Larger companies typically have an innovation process in place. They don’t always work, but the majority of the Fortune 1000 has some kind of innovation process or system. There is an implied consent then, to innovate, at those organizations. There are people, budgets, expectations. At smaller companies, the Mis-Fortune 5000 as I sometimes jest, there is often not a process in place. In many of these still sizable firms innovation tends to be a reaction to an emergency, or a sporadic effort that takes a back seat to operations. They often default to incremental improvement of the product or service based on customer demands. A newly appointed Innovation VP or Director at a




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