Guerilla Innovation

    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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    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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    Innovation Strategy Power Tools

    Challenge Mapping & IdeaKeg Do you want to cut through the clutter when it comes to innovation strategy? Are you sorting through plans for year-end strategy and ideation sessions? Are you at the very front end of innovation and not sure where to go, where to start? Are you asking questions like these (you should be!): What projects might we get started before the end of the year? What might be our innovation focus for 2017? How might we leverage those research insights we’ve developed? What trends and ideas outside our industry might we adapt to innovate? These questions can be tough to sort out. I’m suggesting here two bits of “sorting out” technology. Consider using two powerful innovation and




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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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    Temporary Innovation Veep

    The case for bringing in a temporary Innovation Veep.* “On Call Innovation Director/Mentor/Trainer”? What really changes innovation culture? Are you seeking a change in your innovation approach? Is your organization mired in a non-innovative swamp? First let me say what does NOT change innovation culture. It’s not that these services that I’ll mention below can’t be helpful, they can. But on there own, they will not change innovation at your organization. There’s one thing that will change culture and I talk about that at the bottom of this post. Don’t skip ahead. * Let me acknowledge the ideas of author Michael Foster — we discussed these concepts about a Temp Veep over coffee in San Jose a few weeks ago




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    21 Rules for Innovation Team Building

    I revised this “rule of thumb” list for a client and she suggested I re-share it in a blog post. This list is the accumulated wisdom of many years and it includes thinking from colleagues in the innovation space. Its target is the innovation team leader, but there are lessons for all types of team members here. The big change from the previous version is the emphasis on projects. It’s the key to Innovation in my view, from culture change to positive team dynamics to effectiveness of an overall innovation program. It’s the one thing of innovation — doing Projects. So here goes: 21 Rules for Innovation Team Building 1. A strong bold project initiative, with a clear vision for




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    Paying Lip Service to Developing Entrepreneurs

    There is a very frightening trend happening in the USA. We are not growing entrepreneurs. See my “Seven Ways to Grow Entrepreneurs” below! What is it we believe in our capitalist country? Isn’t it something like this: Anybody who works very hard, has a bit of talent and a good idea, can start something, grow it, and do well.  Isn’t that the essence of the entrepreneurial American dream? Yes, there is more to it than that. Yes, you can fail. Yes, it’s a market driven meritocracy — or it should be. I’ve always taken this entrepreneurial spirit for granted – it’s who we are! I’ve always assumed that as the years go by, more and more Americans (and this extends




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    Want Innovation? Ask.

    Not everything about innovation is complicated. I recently gave a creative problem solving workshop to a group of scientists who all worked for the same outfit. It was a lively session. In addition to learning structured creative problem solving (Osborn-Parnes-Basadur framework) we did some short bits of ideation around new business concepts. This was more as a sampler than it was a real session. It wasn’t the goal of the session to reinvent their business, nonetheless, in a short time there were some relevant business growth ideas with potential on the table. An executive with the company remarked after the session that “nobody ever comes to me” with new business ideas. Talking more with this man a reason why emerged:




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    Four Criteria for Hiring an Innovation Speaker

    Four Criteria for Hiring an Innovation Keynoter Let this post work as a guide for meeting planners. You don’t have to hire me as your innovation speaker, but if you hire one, you’ll be well served if you pay attention to these four criteria and my comments in bold. Innovation is a complex, wonky topic and it has some special requirements that go beyond the classic things meeting planners look for in a speaker. Let’s keep this simple and as neutral as possible — my shameless personal plug is at the very bottom. I’m even going to suggest my competition here. So here goes, in my view an Innovation Speaker should: 1. Have a background as a successful entrepreneur and/or




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