How do you tie innovation to strategy? Professor Christie Nordhielm from the University of Michigan has developed what I consider the best single contribution to marketing thought since the 4P's. Her Big Picture framework of the marketing management process provides the context for innovating across the entire business model. Applying systematic innovation tools to each aspect of her Big Picture model can yield amazing insights at both the strategic and tactical levels of the business. It is the intersection of these two ideas...Big Picture Strategy and Systematic Inventive Thinking...that will yield consistent, profitable results. Innovation follows strategy...not the other way around.
DnaYou may be surprised to find many of your products and services conform to the five innovation patterns of Systematic Inventive Thinking. If so, it means your employees are predisposed to use innovation patterns when developing new products. Like many innovators, they are using patterns probably without realizing it. Given this predisposition to using innovation templates, a company can realize huge gains in innovation effectiveness by taking the next step.
Read this partial list of core competencies for a particular firm and try to guess what industry it is in:
1. Consumer insights: understanding what consumer want
2. Design: making things easy to use
3. Innovation: coming up with new ideas routinely
4. Systems integration: making things work together
5. Customer relationships: forming and maintaining customer loyalty
From this list alone, you could imagine this firm being part of virtually any industry. In fact, the firm with these core competencies would likely be the leader of that industry. Which company owns these skills?
In 2008, managers at Kodak cited these skills as their core competencies. Less than four years later, Kodak is on the verge of bankruptcy, ending the reign of a once proud and legenday 120 year old brand. It is now forced to sell its massive patent estate to raise operating cash.
What happened? Many will cite the familiar reasons: failure to innovate, slow to move into digital photography, poor execution of digital photography, and so on. Yet none of these reasons are correct. Kodak was a highly innovative firm. It invented digital photography long before it wiped out its paper film business. Kodak was a marketing powerhouse. It could execute marketing campaigns and brand building with the best of them.
Executing and launching new products takes financial and human resources. But there is a hidden cost, one which often goes unnoticed, when the project is delayed. Poor execution postpones the revenue stream from a new innovation. Given the time value of money, that financial loss can be staggering. Consider one of the most famous innovative product - the Post-it® Note.
When you use Subtraction, you don’t always have to eliminate the component. There is also what we call “Partial Subtraction.” It is a valid technique as long as the product or service that remains delivers a new benefit. To deploy Partial Subtraction, you pick a component and then eliminate a specific feature of that component. Consider the case of Twitter, a microblogging application used by hundreds of millions of people worldwide. By simply restricting each tweet to 140 characters, Twitter has become a vast digital conversation about what individuals around the globe are thinking and doing. A Partial Subtraction of the traditional blog down to 140 characters dramatically increased the volume of and participation in this Internet phenomenon. How did it happen?
The Subtraction Technique is amazing because of its simplicity and power. It is one of five techniques that form the core of Systematic Inventive Thinking, a method of innovating new products and services. Here is a classic example of how it can completely reframe how we see one of the most familiar of institutions - the Library.
As Albert Einstein noted, one cannot solve a problem with the same thinking that created it. That seems to be Blackberry’s predicament as it faces another drop in its stock value. However, with a fresh investment by Fairfax Holdings and a new CEO, Blackberry may have time to reinvent its business model. The new leadership team will need to think differently. It is a perfect time to apply systematic innovation tools to create a new future.
It's official. Twitter is a publicly traded company, and it will face constant pressure to innovate and grow. Let's look at how innovation methods can be applied to Twitter to find new opportunitues.
We'll apply the five techniques of Systematic Inventive Thinking to Twitter. Our goal will be to create new features and innovations with the main Twitter platform as well as to create completely new applications related to Twitter.
The end of the year is a popular time to publish lists of all sorts. A quick glance at CNN, for example, revealed lists such as "75 Amazing Sports Moments," "The 50 Best Android Apps," "8 Very Old Sites in the New World," and many more.
Here is The Top 10 Most Underappreciated Inventions. The criteria for making this list are: 1. the invention has to be of high value, 2. we take it for granted; we just expect it to be there, and 3. it would be hard to imagine life without it; the substitute for the invention would be unacceptable.
One way to develop your expertise in SIT techniques is with pattern spotting. A key premise of SIT is that for thousands of years, innovators have used patterns in their inventions, usually without even realizing it. Those patterns are now embedded into the products and services you see around you, almost like the DNA of a product. You want to develop your ability to see these patterns as a way to improve your use of them.
There's probably no better place to practice pattern spotting than at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). In last week's CES in Las Vegas, "manufacturers demonstrated a range of previously mundane but now smart, web-connected products destined to become part of daily domestic existence, from kitchen appliances to baby monitors to sports equipment," as reported in The Independent.