Innovation in Practice Blog

October 12, 2009

Academic Focus: Harvard Business School

A colleague asked me, "Who is that innovation guru at the Harvard Business School?" That's easy: Dr. Teresa Amabile. Dr. Amabile heads the Entrepreneurial Management Unit at Harvard Business School and is the only tenured professor at a top business school to devote her entire research program to the study of creativity. She is one of the world's leading voices in business innovation.
October 4, 2009

Innovation Sighting: The Division Template in Elevators

What is the first thing you do when you step into an elevator? Push the button of the floor you are going to. Not so with a new breed of elevators manufactured by Schindler North America. These elevators have the buttons on the outside, not inside. The buttons for selecting your floor are on each floor. Instead of just pushing a single up or down button to hail an elevator, you push the button for the floor you want as though you were inside. The Division Template is the culprit here. In this innovation sighting, the elevator floor button panel was divided out and placed back into the system...outside the elevator cab. Very novel, useful, and surprising. To use Division, make a list of the components, then divide out a component. Divide functionally or physically and place it back somewhere in the system. Use Function Follows Form to identify potential benefits, feasibility, challenges, and adaptations.
September 28, 2009

The LAB: Innovating the Hockey Stick with Attribute Dependency (September 2009)

Ice hockey is big business. But it lags behind other professional sports - soccer, football, baseball, and basketball. As with all industries, the key to growth is innovation. Equipment manufacturers such as Reebok are taking this seriously with the creation of the Hockey Research and Innovation Center. In this month's LAB, we will focus on the equipment side of hockey, specifically on: the hockey stick.
September 20, 2009

Innovation Healthclub

Building a prototype of your innovation is a crucial link between conceiving the idea and commercializing it. A physical prototype helps you get immediate feedback from customers, designers, and financial backers as to the commercial viability of the project. It is a necessary step in the patent process. It is a pivotal point in the "GO vs. NO GO" decision, and it can save an inventor money and time as even Abraham Lincoln found out when he prototyped his patented invention. Prototyping can be difficult especially for a small company or independent inventor. Here is help. Imagine a 15,000 square-foot workshop with tools, equipment, and instruction to build and prototype your inventions. It is called TechShop, now with three locations in the U.S..
September 14, 2009

Corporate Innovation Strategy Template

Here is a simple template to create your company's innovation strategy.
August 30, 2009

The Livescribe Pulse Smart Pen – Never Miss an Idea

Innovating is mental, visual, and vocal. Here is a new product to help capture...and coordinate...all three. It is called the PulseTM by Livescribe. The PulseTM is a smart pen that records and links audio to what your write, so you never miss a word...or an idea. The PulseTM will become a great tool for conducting innovation workshops. One of the more challenging issues in conducting workshops is capturing ideas. No matter how diligent the team is in collecting ideas, many subtle insights and ideas are missed. Even if an innovation workshop is recorded on audio tape or video tape, it would be nearly impossible to connect the spoken words to the drawings and notes taken by the participants. The PulseTM SmartPen solves that.
August 24, 2009

The LAB: Innovating Health Care with S.I.T. (August 2009)

Health Care Reform, as the U.S. government sees it, promises lower costs, better access, and improved quality for all. Let's apply a structured innovation method to health care to see if we can achieve some of these goals. For this month's LAB, we will apply Systematic Inventive Thinking to the hospital discharge process.
August 14, 2009

Innovation Sighting: Web Site Morphing with Attribute Dependency

Imagine a Web site that detects a visitor's "thinking" style and "morphs" its look and feel to suit that visitor's style? Professor Glen Urban and his colleagues at M.I.T. describe an approach in the Sloan Management Review article, "Morph the Web To Build Empathy, Trust and Sales." They collaborated with BT Group, the UK-based telecom company to create a website that learns whether a person prefers a more analytical style versus a holistic style, and whether the person is a more visual versus verbal in how they process information. Once the Web site learns this (based on a few preliminary clicks on the site), it adapts itself to present information in an optimal way:
August 11, 2009

Academic Focus: University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs has created the first-of-its kind Bachelor of Innovation™ program. Founded by Professor Terry Boult, the program is "an internationally unique interdisciplinary undergraduate program between the College of Engineering and Applied Science (EAS) and College of Business (COB). The Bachelor of Innovation™ (BI) is a family structure, much like a Bachelor of Science (BS) or a Bachelor of Arts (BA), in which particular majors are defined. Included degrees (in alphabetical order): BI in Business Administration, BI in Computer Science, BI in Computer Science Security, BI in Electrical Engineering, and BI in Game Design and Development. Each degree in the program is composed of an emphasis major, an innovation core, and one of 4 cross-discipline cores."
August 4, 2009

Automated Innovation

This chilling conclusion about the fate of artificial intelligence seems to put an end to the idea that we can automate innovation. Since this book was first published in 1972, not much has changed, and the field of artificial intelligence seems to be in decline. For a machine to innovate, it would need to: 1. Take a product or service and break it into its component parts 2. Take a product or service and identify its attributes (color, weight, etc) 3. Apply a template of innovation to manipulate the product or service and change it into some abstract form 4. Take the abstract form and find a way for humans to benefit from it I like the odds of a machine being able to do the first two steps. Imagine a computer that had the ability to “Google” a product or service to create a component list. Try it yourself. Search Google for “components of a garage door.” You should be able to find several websites from which a component and attribute list could be developed. There are other resources available to machines to derive lists such as patent filings, engineering specifications, instruction manuals, etc.