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.

Organizational Creativity, A Practical Guide for Innovators & Entrepreneurs

Book Review of: Organizational Creativity, A Practical Guide for Innovators & Entrepreneurs I read the literature associated with creativity and innovation. Can you hear me snoring? I don’t review most of them because I’d have to pan them. They are consistently boring, dry, and wonky. At the end of the day many books in the genre are, weirdly, not very creative. I’m happy to report that I’ve read a new creativity book that is quite dynamic. Organizational Creativity, A Practical Guide for Innovators & Entrepreneurs, by Gerard Puccio, John F. Cabra and Nathan Schwagler* is a breath of fresh air. It’s dense with fascinating and fresh information about innovation. As claimed in the title, it really is practical, and indeed,




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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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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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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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Confederacy of Creative Effectiveness

Creative Effectiveness 2017 What if 2017 turned out to be the most creative year of your life? More than creative, what if 2017 was the most creatively effective year of your life? There’s a difference. You can be incredibly creative in terms of self-expression and ideas — without being creatively effective. What good is creativity if it doesn’t get done? Doesn’t find an audience? Doesn’t get put into play? Let’s make 2017 the year you put projects over the goal line. That is, finish projects. There are a lot of horror stories when it comes to great creativity but no finish. A heart breaking example is that of John Kennedy Toole, who wrote the incredible picaresque novel, “A Confederacy of




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