Should the Government Encourage Innovation?

“We need to out-innovate, outeducate, and outbuild the rest of the world”

– United States President Barack Obama

In the quote above the American President implies that it is somehow the role of the government to drive innovation? But can they? And should they?

Governments and leaders around the world spend a great deal of time talking about innovation and its importance to their economies, but nearly all political leaders and governments have no idea about how to actually foster innovation.

There is a model for how governments can encourage innovation, and boost the performance of their economy as a result, and it is really quite simple. I call it the ICE Model of Innovation, and…

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Things Every Manager Should Know About Innovation

“In the 1980s, the [watchword] was quality; today, it’s innovation . . . But the two are not mutually exclusive . . . Now we want superior quality and faster cost reduction, plus innovation—all at once.”

– Harry Burritt , Whirlpool VP of Corporate Planning and Development

It seems like everywhere you turn these days, people are talking about innovation, and that is both a good thing and a bad thing. It is good because true innovations deliver more value than the solutions they replace and so hopefully most of us are better off when new innovations are introduced and adopted. It is bad because everyone means something slightly different when they talk about innovation. So what is innovation?

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How would you create an oil lamp out of an orange?

How would you create an oil lamp out of an orange?Often innovation comes as a result of someone looking at things differently.

And as I’ve laid out in the Eight I’s of Infinite Innovation framework, innovation starts with inspiration. If you missed haven’t seen the framework, click the link in the previous sentence, but here is a quick recap of the eight continuous steps:

1. Inspiration
2. Investigation
3. Ideation
4. Iteration
5. Identification
6. Implementation
7. Illumination
8. Installation

Click here for the English version
Click here for the Spanish version

Speaking of inspiration, I’m always on the look out for things that make me look at things a little bit differently, and recently I found this video that shows how to make an oil lamp out of:

  1. A jar of olive oil
  2. An orange

Videos like this, properly introduced, can be a great way of helping to focus people’s creativity on the innovation challenge that you’re currently attacking.

What videos do you like to use to inspire people’s creativity?

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Why the Maker Movement Matters

Making MakersThe Maker movement is steadily gaining steam and some cities are looking to help it grow and thrive, seeing it as an opportunity to inspire artists and entrepreneurs. One such city is Edmonton, which lies in the Alberta province of Canada, and its program in their public library system to provide maker spaces staffed with library employees and equipped with 3D printers, computers with Apple’s Garage Band and Adobe’s Creative Suite, and more.

Here is a video of Peter Schoenberg of the Edmonton Public Library introducing the EPL MakerSpace:

If you’re not familiar with the Maker movement, then check out these pages:

Maker Faire
Maker Culture – Wikipedia

Or check out these quotes from Time magazine’s article titled “Why the Maker Movement is Important to America’s Future“:

“According to Atmel, a major backer of the Maker movement, there are approximately 135 million U.S. adults who are makers, and the overall market for 3D printing products and various maker services hit $2.2 billion in 2012. That number is expected to reach $6 billion by 2017 and $8.41 billion by 2020. According to USA Today, makers fuel business with some $29 billion poured into the world economy each year.”

“As someone who has seen firsthand what can happen if the right tools, inspiration and opportunity are available to people, I see the Maker Movement and these types of Maker Faires as being important for fostering innovation. The result is that more and more people create products instead of only consuming them, and it’s my view that moving people from being only consumers to creators is critical to America’s future. At the very least, some of these folks will discover life long hobbies, but many of them could eventually use their tools and creativity to start businesses. And it would not surprise me if the next major inventor or tech leader was a product of the Maker Movement.”

So what do you think?

How much of a contribution to the future of innovation will the Maker Movement make?

How important is supporting the maker movement to the future of an economy?

Is this trend sustainable?

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Free Innovation Culture Keynote

Pipeline 2014 Conference

If your innovation culture leaves something to be desired and its your job to make it better, and you missed my virtual keynote at the June 6, 2014 Pipeline 2014 conference, then you can register now and watch my FREE keynote ON DEMAND and find out five actions you can take to change your innovation culture for the better.

Here is a description of the session:

When it comes to innovation, far too much emphasis is placed on creativity, ideas and products. Innovation requires more than ‘aha’ moments. Innovation is a team sport, not an individual one, and while it may be easier for our reptilian brain to understand a single innovation hero, the truth is that every innovation figurehead from Steve Jobs to Thomas Edison had a whole lab or team of people behind them making the real innovation happen. In this session we will investigate what it takes to build a successful team of capable innovation practitioners and contributors that will effectively form a strong and sustainable innovation culture to power success for the organization, not just for the moment, but for the lifetime of the organization.

And here is some information on this FREE virtual conference:

If you’re not familiar with the Pipeline Conference, it is a virtual conference with more than 4,000 participants from 95 countries over the past four years. PIPELINE offers product development practitioners access to experts as well as practical information they can use right away – all from the comfort of their desks. From idea to launch to end-of-life, the content will appeal to any professional involved in the end-to-end product development process. In addition, the newly designed PIPELINE virtual platform serves as a resource center for 12 months following the live event with new content each quarter.

Register now and get free access to the resource center. PIPELINE 2013 was named Event of the Year category in Best in Biz Awards for virtual conference on innovative product development. For more information and to register, visit:

Please check out my keynote and Q&A session and let me know your thoughts!

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The Battle for Innovation Attention

The competition among countries around the world for attention for their innovation efforts, and to find corporate buyers for the intellectual property being developed in their universities, is heating up.

This week I came across the following sizzle reel from New Zealand’s KiwiNet, otherwise known as The Kiwi Innovation Network:

This is just a taste of what is coming…

A heated BATTLE is brewing among not just countries or regions, but cities too, as they all ratchet up their competition for public/private partnerships, publicity for existing local innovators, and to attract additional innovative people and businesses to their city, region, or country.

People are writing about Chicago struggling and Seattle surging for example.

One look at the Top 5 cities in the Seattle article link and you’ll quickly see the link.

What is your city, region or country doing to attract innovation talent?

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Johnson & Johnson’s Innovation Center

Video Provides a Peek Inside

As innovation becomes increasingly recognized as the sustaining lifeforce of any company, more organizations are investing in improving their connections to startups, entrepreneurs, academic institutions, researchers and other outside entities to strengthen their pipelines for insights, ideas, and collaboration.

To support this effort, some companies are even creating dedicated physical spaces for this collaboration to occur, and regular events to attract startups, entrepreneurs, and the like for collaboration events.

The embedded video provides a peek inside Johnson & Johnson’s Innovation Center and some of their efforts in this area.

Is your organization undertaking similar efforts?

Are they considering it?

And those of you that have done something like this already, have you been satisfied with the results?

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Value Access Example – Domino’s Steady Pizza

Helping People Extract the Value You’ve Worked So Hard to Create

I came across this great video from Domino’s Pizza Brazil that shows their new Steady Pizza concept.

It’s a perfect example of the Value Access component of my Value Framework for Innovation, and how Value Access can help you better deliver the value you’ve created for customers (literally).

The concept of the video starts with a simple question:

How do we help to reduce the chances of a delivery fail?

I love this.

The result of the concept is a piece of delivery equipment that not only helps to reduce the chances of a delivery fail, but also serves as a great marketing gimmick.

Too many people after working so hard in the Value Creation step of innovation (which in large part is invention), just stop there and think they’re done. Don’t!

So ask yourself:

Value Access – What can we do to help people access this value?

Value Translation – And even more important, you must keep in mind how you are going to translate that value for people, to help them understand how this new solution will fit into their lives AND is better than their existing solution and worth the trouble of replacing it.

Always remember:

Innovation = Value Creation (X) Value Access (X) Value Translation

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Coke Combining Creativity with Marketing and Branding

Coca Cola Vietnam Thinking Beyond Traditional Product Lifecycle

I came across this great video from Coca Cola Vietnam that is an example of how creative minds and the concept of Value Access can sometimes unlock more value from your existing products and possibly even create new products as a result.

The concept of the video starts with a simple question:

What if a Coca Cola bottle was never thrown away?

From there it goes on to show lots of different potential uses for a Coca Cola bottle, and possibly even new products that Coca Cola could sell.

I love this.

And hopefully it will inspire you to ask, what simple question could we ask that would unlock new sources of value from our existing products or services for customers?

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Are You Investing in an Innovation Culture?

Are You Investing in an Innovation Culture?

Innovation is everywhere.

You can’t go an entire commercial break during the Super Bowl or a State of the Union address (okay, sorry, both American examples) without hearing the word innovation pop up at least once or twice. Companies have added innovation to their company values and mission statements in accelerating numbers. Some organizations have implemented idea management systems. And others are willing to spend large sums of money on design firms and innovation boutique consultancies to get help designing some new widget or service to flog to new or existing customers. Based on all of that you would think that most companies are committed to innovation, right?

If you asked most CEOs “Is your organization committed to innovation?”, do you think you could find a single CEO that would say no?

So, why do think I’m about to make the following statement?

90+% of organizations have no sustained commitment to innovation.

When it comes to fostering continuous innovation, most organizational cultures stink at it.

Let’s look at some data, because anyone who is committed to innovation (and not just creativity) should love data (especially unstructured data from customers):

  • Over the last 50 years the average lifespan of a company on the S&P 500 has dropped from 61 years to 18 years (and is forecast to grow even shorter in the future)1
  • In a worldwide survey of 175 companies by Hill & Knowlton (a communications consultancy), executives cited “promoting continuous innovation” as the most difficult goal for their company to get right. “Structurally, many companies just aren’t set up to deliver continuous innovation.”2
  • 84% of more than 2,200 executives agree that their organization’s culture is critical to business success3
  • “96% of respondents say some change is needed to their culture, and 51% think their culture requires a major overhaul.”3

So what does this data tell us?

For one thing, it helps to reinforce the notion that the pace of innovation is increasing.

For another thing, it doesn’t exactly scream that organizations are as committed to building an innovation culture internally as their words externally say about being committed to innovation.

Why is this?

Well, as fellow Innovation Excellence contributor Jeffrey Phillips once said:

“When it comes to innovation, ideas are the easy part. The cultural resistance learned over 30 years of efficiency is the hard part.”

And when you get right down to it, most employees in most organizations are slaves to execution, efficiency, and improvement. And while those things are all important (you can’t have innovation without execution), organizations that fail to strike a balance between improvement/efficiency and innovation/entrepreneurship, are well, doomed to fail.

This increasing pace of innovation along with the lower cost of starting/scaling a business and the always difficult challenge of building a productive culture of continuous innovation, is the reason that the lifespan of organizations is shrinking.

So if it isn’t enough to talk about innovation, or to invest in trying to come up with new products and services, shouldn’t more organizations be also investing to making sure their innovation culture doesn’t, well, stink?

The obvious answer is… (insert yours here)

So, if your innovation culture stinks, I encourage you to come join me at Pipeline 2014 and attend my keynote session on exploring five ways to make it smell better:

“Our Innovation Culture Stinks – Five Ways to Make it Smell Better”

It’s a free virtual event on June 6, 2014.

I look forward to seeing you there!

1. Innosight/Richard N. Foster/Standard & Poor’s
2. Hill & Knowlton Executive Survey
3. Booz & Company Global Culture and Change Management Survey 2013

Build a common language of innovation on your team

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