Idea Generation

    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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    Different Ideas Emerge From Different Doing

    Different Isn’t That Difficult; It Requires … Doing Things Differently Innovation Programs Based On Best Practices are Doomed to Mediocrity Things I’ve heard recently from c-suite executives about their own innovation programs: “Floundering and ineffective, if I’m honest.” “Mediocre results, we just can’t seem to get to anything really different.” “Lackluster. I’m not impressed by what they come up with.” “We don’t do idea generation well.” These are the words I’ve heard innovation directors and c-suite executives use to describe their own innovation programs. Sad isn’t it, those words are depressing. It’s enough to contemplate bringing a swift end to the thing. The quotes above are all from larger company high level managers who already have highly defined innovation processes




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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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    Ten Things United Airlines Might Have Done

    Improving Customer Service at United Airlines Requires a Paradigm Shift and Recognizing They Have a Problem Creative Training Would Have Helped 10 Things United Airlines Might Have Done (see below) Once again we have an incident of extremely poor customer service from a major airline. This time it’s United (as it is frequently) who dragged a paying customer off a flight by force. A doctor on a deadline. Incidentally, an Asian man. The video is very hard to watch, it’s sad, degrading, humiliating for the passenger, and an example of brutality visited upon an innocent and trusting consumer. The cops went too far as well, but United made the call and got them involved. United is responsible. Other than beating




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    Small “i” Insights or Large “I” Insights Yield Different Innovation

    Qualitative Consumer Verbatims Lead Directly to New and Improved Ideas Disruptive Innovation Requires Reframing of Consumer Words and Need States Working with Fortune 1000 companies I’ve found cultures rich in respect for qualitative research. The term “Focus Groups” really doesn’t do the method justice, it’s more sophisticated than that.  Smaller companies often do qualitative to, usually less formally, and often poorly, but sometimes brilliantly. Listening to consumers is a skill any entrepreneur or innovator can cultivate. The trap is thinking that consumer words, aka insights, are great launching pads or problem frames for ideation. They’re not bad, but they rarely lead to disruptive innovation. As a qual friend said to me, “here are big “I” insights and small “i” insights.”




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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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    Get a Grip on Innovation — 10 Questions, 20 Minutes

    Get a Grip on Innovation — 10 Questions, 20 Minutes Ten questions for you to focus on assessing the state of your organization’s innovation program. Twenty minutes to learn something and take action steps. If you think your current program is working, non-existent, or just a disaster — you will learn something by taking this quick survey. Yes, there are other ways to assess innovation culture that are more thorough (such as Teresa Amabile Ph.D. “KEYS“). However, the purpose of these ten questions is to get you off the dime and into action around your innovation program/department. If these questions raise any red flags, you might need to go deeper, perhaps using a qualitative approach. But in the interest of




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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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    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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