ORIS Intelligence released the following update in mid-March, providing strategic information for Houseware manufacturers. Pricing Violations Heating Up in Housewares Industry: ORIS Intelligence Reveals New Insights […]
The Columbia Business School Executive Education program is, once again, partnering with SIT to bring Design Your Innovation Blueprint: Leveraging Systematic Inventive Thinking. Registration is now […]
To build innovation muscle, companies must include innovation in their competency models. A competency is a persistent pattern of behavior resulting from a cluster of knowledge, skills, abilities, and motivations. Competency models formalize that behavior and make it persistent. They prescribe the ideal patterns needed for exceptional performance. They help diagnose and evaluate employee performance. It takes a lot of work to develop one, but it's worth it.
Here is a nice example of an innovation competency modeled developed at Central Michigan University through a collaboration of authors. It could be customized to address the specific needs of a company or industry.
Companies can reduce the risk of adopting new innovation methods by testing them first. A short, pilot program that addresses a specific product or service line helps you understand whether a new method is right for your company. Pilot programs help keep your costs in line, and they help you reduce resistance to adopting new methods.
To organize an innovation pilot program:
Companies that struggle with innovation often make up for it by adding features to existing products. They succumb to "feature creep" - the gradual and continuous addition of features and functions though nothing is truly new. While it may look improved, the added features make your product more complex, difficult to use, and more costly to produce. Over time, your core customers abandon you.
Here is an example - the Numi toilet by Kohler. At $6400, it is promoted as the top-of-the-line toilet with lots of high-tech bells and whistles:
Proto Labs, the world’s fastest manufacturer of CNC machined and injection-molded parts, has announced the launch of its Cool Idea! award, a new program designed to give product designers the opportunity to bring innovative products to life. Proto Labs will provide $100,000 worth of prototyping and short-run production services to award recipients.
My friend and former J&J colleague, Stuart Morgan, is one of those rare people who can flex between the highest level of abstraction and the smallest details of any particular problem. He is a whiz, and it is hard to keep up with him. For innovators and innovation managers, this is a skill worth developing and adding to your company's innovation competency model. Here's why.
To be most successful at applying an innovation method, a team needs to determine the right level of granularity over the problem. Selecting different levels of innovation resolution will yield completely different innovative opportunities. Changing the resolution could yield interesting new adjacent market spaces. The level you target will also affect how you use an innovation method like S.I.T..
Here is an example. Suppose you designed and manufactured commercial aircraft. The natural starting point would be to innovate an airplane. At this level of resolution, our initial component list might be:
"Red tape" is defined as the collection or sequence of forms and procedures required to gain bureaucratic approval for something, especially when oppressively complex and time-consuming. That's how Southwest Airlines describes other airlines' frequent flyer programs versus its new Rapid Rewards program which has none of the traditional limitations like blackouts and point expiration. In a series of highly innovative commercials, Southwest demonstrates not one but two of the eight advertising tools described by Professor Jacob Goldenberg in "Cracking the Ad Code." These ads are flawlessly executed, funny, and memorable.
AOL succumbed to the myth that creating an eclectic workspace makes employees suddenly more innovative. The headline from USA Today reads: “It’s engineers gone wild at AOL: Quirky office space inspires app innovation.”
“The space you work in is a reflection of the kind of company you are,” says Brad Garlinghouse, AOL’s president of the Application and Commerce Group. “You get innovation,” he insists, from “working in a space that’s very open and doesn’t have offices…where people can work together and play together.” Further, the company believes letting workers draw on the walls helps creativity.
AOL is in more trouble than I thought.
A quick and effective way to sort ideas generated during an innovation workshop is to apply brand coherence. This means grouping ideas around relevant themes that support new or existing brands. Ideation sessions can overwhelm you with hundreds of opportunities. Teams struggle with evaluating and selecting the best ideas if they do not apply this simple step first. Here is a suggested way to do it.
Private equity firms can boost the value of their investment portfolio by applying a systematic innovation method along the entire investment value chain - before, during, and even after the investment.
Private equity firms are collections of investors and funds that put money into privately-held companies. Private equity investments provide working capital to a target company to nurture expansion, new product development, or restructuring of the company’s operations, management, or ownership. Private equity firms are betting on their ability to take control of the target, clean it up, make it more competitive, and then sell it for a higher price. It is like "flipping" a home in the real estate market.
Here is how a private equity firm could apply systematic innovation in their portfolios: