Scaling Local Food Revival with a Business Model Innovation

Business Model Innovation Taken for a Spin by Zaycon Foods

Their is no doubt that people are becoming more interested in where their food came from and with meat prices rising (especially here in the United States with widespread drought in some areas) people are also becoming more concerned with the cost.

Like a blast from the past, when neighbors used to get together and buy a side of beef together and have a butcher carve it up so they could stash it in their respective freezers, Zaycon Foods has come along with a business model innovation and introduced a Farm->Truck->You food distribution system for some types of meat and produce, bypassing several layers of warehousing, truck shipment, and unnecessary waiting time.

Here is a video describing their business model innovation for a spin using chicken as an example:

But it is not just chicken that they offer at their buying events. They also offer 93/7 lean ground beef, premium bacon, ribs, hot dogs, ham, and even seasonal produce straight to the trunk of your car. The benefits of the business model innovation are numerous:

  • Lower prices
  • Fresher food (no waiting steps in the process)
  • No food waste (which is part of the reason retailer’s charge more)

Now operating in 48 states to 1,000+ locations here in the United Sates and a growing favorite of churches, and other group purchasers, neighbors are now banding together and doing a scaled down version of sharing a side of beef (or, um, chicken).

What do you think? Is this an innovation or not?

P.S. They did win the first annual Post Harvest Waste Innovation Award from The Post Harvest Project (TPHP), a nonprofit organization founded in 2012 through the support of The Clinton Global Initiative.

Source: The Seattle Times

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Announcing a New Lean Innovation Series

Announcing a New Lean Innovation SeriesI’ve started working with a local healthcare insurance company in a role focused on driving improvement and innovation in its membership and billing operations. The company has a big focus on LEAN throughout the company and always has some sort of value stream mapping (VSM) or rapid process improvement workshop (RPIW) going on through the Kaizen Promotion Office (KPO). Despite this only being my second week on the job, I have already been involved in the company’s LEAN efforts. Having gone through Six Sigma Green Belt training and with my focus on innovation, this of course has been very interesting so far.

Some of you may recall my popular DMAIC for Innovation article for iSixSigma magazine.

In the spirit of the linkage I made between Six Sigma and Innovation in this article, I thought I would create a series of articles looking at the relationship and connections between LEAN and Innovation.

To anchor us all in the same frame of mind about what innovation is, my definition of the word is:

“Innovation transforms the useful seeds of invention into widely adopted solutions valued above every existing alternative.”

One of the key intersection points between LEAN and Innovation is that both are focused on value. LEAN focuses on activities in a process that add value and removing those that introduce waste, while innovation is focused on value creation, value access, and value translation. This I introduced in my often referenced article – Innovation is All About Value.

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

Now you will notice that the components are multiplicative not additive. Do one or two well and one poorly and it doesn’t necessarily add up to a positive result. Doing one poorly and two well can still doom your innovation investment to failure. Let’s look at the three equation components in brief:

Value Creation is pretty self-explanatory. Your innovation investment must create incremental or completely new value large enough to overcome the switching costs of moving to your new solution from the old solution (including the ‘Do Nothing Solution’). New value can be created by making something more efficient, more effective, possible that wasn’t possible before, or create new psychological or emotional benefits.

Value Access could also be thought of as friction reduction. How easy do you make it for customers and consumers to access the value you’ve created. How well has the product or service been designed to allow people to access the value easily? How easy is it for the solution to be created? How easy is it for people to do business with you?

Value Translation is all about helping people understand the value you’ve created and how it fits into their lives. Value translation is also about understanding where on a continuum between the need for explanation and education that your solution falls. Incremental innovations can usually just be explained to people because they anchor to something they already understand, but radical or disruptive innovations inevitably require some level of education (often far in advance of the launch).

Done really well, value translation also helps to communicate how easy it will be for customers and consumers to exchange their old solution for the new solution. My favorite example of poor value translation and brilliant value translation come from the same company and the same product launch – The Apple iPad. It’s hard to believe, but Apple actually announced the iPad with the following statement:

“Our most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price.”

iPad BillboardThis set off a firestorm of criticism and put the launch at risk of failure. But amazingly Apple managed to come up with the Out of Home (OOH) advertisements with a person with their feet up on a couch and the iPad on their lap (see above) by the time the product shipping. If a picture is worth a thousand words, this particular picture will probably end up being worth billions of dollars to Apple.

Never Forget!

Value Creation is important, but you can’t succeed without equal attention being paid to both Value Access and Value Translation…

Because innovation is all about value…

Value Creation (x) Value Access (x) Value Translation = Success!

Lean versus Innovation

The graphic above highlights that LEAN and Innovation intersect on Value Access. Now let’s have a quick look at some of the key principles of LEAN from the web site of the Lean Enterprise Institute:

PRINCIPLES OF LEAN

The five-step thought process for guiding the implementation of lean techniques is easy to remember, but not always easy to achieve:

  • Specify value from the standpoint of the end customer by product family.
  • Identify all the steps in the value stream for each product family, eliminating whenever possible those steps that do not create value.
  • Make the value-creating steps occur in tight sequence so the product will flow smoothly toward the customer.
  • As flow is introduced, let customers pull value from the next upstream activity.
  • As value is specified, value streams are identified, wasted steps are removed, and flow and pull are introduced, begin the process again and continue it until a state of perfection is reached in which perfect value is created with no waste.

Key LEAN Principles

The second part of the above graphic highlights the seven sources of waste:

  • Inventory
  • Motion
  • Defects
  • Transportation
  • Processing
  • Overproduction
  • Time

While developed for the manufacturing context, LEAN can be (and is) used in service industries like health insurance as well. As you can see, LEAN is really focused on improvement and optimization of the status quo, while innovation in contrast is focused on the introduction of something new that disrupts the status quo. As a result, one is not better than the other, but instead both methodologies can be used side by side, and in future articles I will share more of my musings on how innovation and LEAN can be used together.

Stay tuned!


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Looking at Healthcare Innovation from the Inside Out

Taking a Swing at Healthcare InnovationAfter working for the last decade helping organizations from the OUTSIDE IN:

  • Build innovative marketing strategies
  • Manage multiple, simultaneous, cross-functional business projects
  • Optimize complex processes
  • Create an enterprise-wide innovation-focus

I thought it was time to flip things around and go native, and work with an outstanding organization to make some of these things happen from the INSIDE OUT.

I thought it was also time to dig deeper into an industry, get my hands dirty, and really come to know a particular vertical. And what could be more interesting in this time of rapidly escalating costs and innovation than the healthcare industry?

[Especially with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) going into force here in the USA]

It is with all of this in mind that I am happy to announce that I have taken an internal consulting position with Premera, one of the largest health plans in the Pacific Northwest.

Premera serves 1.5 million people—from individuals and families to Fortune 100 employer groups. Premera’s mission is to provide peace of mind to their customers about their healthcare.

As a result of joining up with Premera, I must also announce for this post and all future posts that the views here (and elsewhere) are mine and mine alone, and do not in any way represent the views of Premera.

This isn’t the end of my publishing here on BradenKelley.com or on Innovation Excellence or the other places that I contribute. In my spare time I will still be writing, and doing the occasional innovation keynote or workshop in various places around the globe.

So, please keep in touch, and stay tuned for more to come!

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Announcing the Crowd Computing Revolution

Designing Work for Man and Machine to Do Together

Announcing the Crowd Computing RevolutionI am proud to bring you a downloadable PDF of a piece I created on The Crowd Computing Revolution and the redesign of work that is now possible thanks to new technology tools and business architecture thinking that will allow man and machine to work more efficiently together than ever before.

Anyone who has read even one or two science fiction books or watched one or two SciFi movies inevitably finds themselves dreaming of a day when machines will free of us of some of the mundane tasks in our lives. Companies dream of this too. Witness the eagerness of companies to outsource entire job functions (or even more recently whole business processes) to third parties either onshore or offshore. Hackers and spammers have become quite adept at programming their machines to send emails to people or attempt to break through security around the clock, around the globe. We have built automated factories, interactive voice response systems, and devised all kinds of ways to put machines to work for us.

Roger Martin, Dean of the Rotman School at the University of Toronto has a simple framework from his treatise on Design Thinking titled The Design of Business, that shows how as we learn more about a knowledge (or work) area, our understanding and abilities allow us to move the piece of knowledge (or work) from something that is mysterious and performed in an ad hoc way by experts, to a level of maturity where we start to observe the patterns (or heuristics) in the knowledge area (or piece of work), to a stage where the work or knowledge is well-understood and can be reduced to an algorithm (or set of best practices) performed by lower skilled employees, and possibly even implemented as a piece of code to be executed by a robot or computer.

Knowledge Funnel

Source: The Design of Business by Roger Martin

But, as alluded to earlier, companies have not only become more comfortable with designing work to be executed by machines instead of employees, but also more amenable to many different sizes and shapes of work being completed by people outside the organization, including:

  1. Entire job functions (Contractors or Outsourcing Firms – Global Outsourcing Market was $95 Billion in 2011)
  2. Whole business processes (Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Firms – 2011 Market in excess of $11 Billion)
  3. Projects or initiatives (Outside Consultants)
  4. Discrete tasks (99Designs, Crowdspring, etc.)
  5. Micro tasks (Amazon Mechanical Turk, etc.)

Task and Micro-Task Division

Task and Micro-task Division

Over time the human race has moved from building simple machines that function as tools (like a forklift), allowing a man to do more with the help of the machine, to building machines and robots capable of completing a whole task (like painting a car or making an exact copy of a document). Has anyone seen a help wanted advertisement for a scribe lately? Meanwhile, our fully automated manufacturing and packaging plants use machines to complete an entire process. But machines aren’t suitable for every kind of work. They are appropriate for tasks that are well-defined and repeated continuously as part of a standardized process, but not a proper fit for tasks where judgment is required, particularly tasks with numerous exceptions, variability, or personalization.

As a result, typically machines and robots have been relegated most often to the production areas of a business, places where it has been easy to define specific tasks or even whole processes that can be designed for machines or robots to own and complete 24/7/365 if necessary.


Build a common language of innovation on your team

Rethinking Who (or What) Does the Work

Crowd Computing Part 2Rise of the Crowd

There is another growing trend that is now rivaling the growing power of robotics and automation – crowdsourcing. It all started with prizes like The Longitude Prize, but now thanks to the power of the Internet, companies and individuals all around the world are breaking down their projects and processes and tapping into the power of the crowd using loosely-organized, non-employee workforces like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to execute micro-tasks, getting whole tasks completed through sites like Top Coder and Crowdspring, or calling upon the crowd to solve difficult challenges using sites like Innocentive, NineSigma, and Idea Connection. Sites like these enable organizations to access knowledge, expertise, perspectives, or capacity that they don’t currently have in their organization (or to possibly to get a task or challenge completed at a lower cost). Check out my white paper Harnessing the Global Talent Pool to Accelerate Innovation to learn more about this topic and some of the strategies for successfully leveraging external talent.

Rise of the Business Architect

Our organizations face an innovation imperative amidst intensifying competition that is forcing an increasing number of industries to become commoditized. This increasing need for a sustained level of innovation and a requirement for innovation to be a repeatable and sustainable activity, has led to an increasing number of organizations to consciously design their approaches to the new businesses that they enter. This has led to the growth of two new business disciplines – business architecture and social business architecture.

NIH Business Architecture

Source: National Institute of Health

Business Architecture, according to Wikipedia, is “a modern technology-oriented business occupation…. Working as a change agent with senior business stakeholders, the business architect plays a key part in shaping and fostering continuous improvement and business transformation initiatives. Business architects lead efforts aiming at building an effective architecture for the business process management (BPM) projects that make up the business change programme. The business architect implements business models that require business technology to work effectively.”

Social Business Intersections Social Business Connections

Social Business Architecture on the other hand, facilitates and optimizes the group dynamics and interactions inside the organization, and Social Business Architects specialize in identifying the different parts of an organization that need to interact with groups of people outside the organization, how those parts of the organization should work together to communicate with people outside the organization, and help to identify and implement communications solutions that connect the organization with the target groups so that a meaningful connection and conversation can be built, and then helps to manage the conversations and the information and learnings from their outcomes for the benefit of the organization.

Social Business Attraction Social Business Engagement

Few organizations employ or are even yet aware of the need for Social Business Architects, but there are an increasing number of help wanted postings for Business Architects. This is because not only do organizations recognize the need to architect their new lines of business for maximum efficiency and to , but also because there are so many different ways that work can be executed (employees, contractors, consultants, outsourcing, business process outsourcing (BPO), crowdsourcing, and micro-task execution, that for maximum efficiency it now increasingly requires someone to investigate all of the options, break down the work to be done into jobs, projects and processes, tasks and microtasks so that the right resources can be hired, contracted, briefed, or otherwise engaged to ensure that everything is completed as quickly and as cheaply as possible.

A Guide to Open Innovation and Crowdsourcing

Investigating Examples of Crowd Computing

The Crowd Computing Revolution - Part ThreeMoving from The Design of Business to Redesigning Work

Business Architects have the opportunity to plan for the organization how work can move from mystery to heuristics to algorithms to code. Business Architects (or people filling this role in an organization) have the opportunity to redesign work in the most efficient way possible to leverage both man and machine to get the work done at the lowest cost possible. Technology now exists to allow Business Architects and managers to move beyond allocating work on a job, project, or process basis, and instead design flexible workflows that combine the use of humans and machines to complete the tasks that they are best suited for, or even for humans to augment the work of machines.

For example, imagine that you work in the purchasing department at a large multinational and every month you receive hundreds or thousands of invoices from suppliers all over the world in all different kinds of formats – electronic, mailed paper invoices, PDFs, scanned paper invoices, and even faxed invoices. Your job as purchasing (or accounts payable) manager is to track all of the invoices that you receive, get them entered into your ERP system, and ultimately make sure that they get paid. You can hire or use an existing employee or contractor to manually key them all in, or sign a big dollar outsourcing deal sufficient to support the hiring, training, and management of offshore resources by the outsourcer, or you could try and use OCR software to do the job, but it would fail because of the great deal of variability in both the input sources and formatting of the documents and you’ll end up needing human resources to interpret the OCR output anyways.

Crowd Computing Invoice Processing Example

Or, you could examine the workflow of the process and identify which micro-tasks humans are best suited to perform and which micro-tasks machines are most efficient and cost-effective at performing. Then assign the right micro-task to the right resource. In the case of human resources, this could be an employee, a contractor, an external expert, or even a resource you don’t even know or control (via a crowd workforce like Amazon Mechanical Turk, Elance, etc.). And finally for each micro-task, assign a level of confidence in the quality of the assigned resource’s output and a define a process for grading it. In situations where you have a high level of confidence in the micro-task’s output quality, you can move directly on to the next micro-task in the workflow, but if you have a low level of confidence in a particular micro-task output performed by a machine, assign an alternate process to validate that output (such as using someone via Amazon Mechanical Turk to validate that “yes, this is a purchase order number”).

But that is not all that is possible these days. It is now possible for systems that facilitate the management of this kind of atomized work structure definition and workflow management and assignment, like those from Crowd Computing Systems, to also use artificial intelligence to both learn from the corrections that humans are making to a machine-driven, micro-task execution to get more accurate in the future, but also to learn how to do micro-tasks that humans are currently performing without machine assistance and to help identify the best performing crowd resources to inform work allocation decisions and to perform overall output quality optimization.

Conclusion

In much the same way that outsourcing felt awkward 20-25 years ago and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) felt foreign a decade ago, the time has come for crowd computing to begin to be a tool that managers and Business Architects can keep in their toolbox to better allocate work across man and machine. The time is now for man and machine to work together in ways that they never have before, and to learn from each other. The time has come for businesses and work to not just be operated and executed, but designed for maximum efficiency. Should we be afraid as workers that the machines are going to take away our jobs and leave us with nothing to do?

No. In much the same way that tractors and steam shovels began freeing man and beast from back breaking work nearly two hundred years ago, there are many benefits for man to gain from the crowd computing revolution – the biggest being freedom from an increasing amount of mind numbing work. Organizations that embrace crowd computing stand to gain not only to potentially lower processing costs for many high volume processes, but also will benefit from acquiring the ability to reassign analysts and other highly-skilled and trained employees to higher value work – better leveraging their existing human resources while simultaneously increasing employee satisfaction, retention, and knowledge creation in the enterprise. Are you ready for the crowd computing revolution?

Click Here to Download The Crowd Computing Revolution PDF

Sources:

http://speakology101.com/welcome/2012/05/21/break-it-down-tasks-sequencing/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/martin-ford/job-automation-is-a-futur_b_832146.html

http://www.statista.com/statistics/189788/global-outsourcing-market-size-since-2000/

http://www.rediff.com/business/report/bpo-market-to-be-worth-14-bn-in-2011/20110412.htm

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Building Virtual Diplomacy

Building Virtual DiplomacyThe Setup

Lets look at Innovation, Crowdsourcing, and the United States Government for a minute…

The world continues to move faster than ever and diplomatic responses from the United States are required that are both increasingly more complex and more urgent, and the required solutions must address the inherent situational challenges while also protecting the interests of the United States and its allies. To deal with this diplomatic reality, the United States State Department is embracing the principles of crowdsourcing, eGovernment, and open innovation and partnering with America’s best universities to help solve the World’s biggest challenges as part of a new initiative called Diplomacy Lab. I found the following after meandering through a bread crumb trail of tweets from @AlecJRoss (Hillary Clinton’s former Chief Innovation Officer):

Diplomacy Lab is designed to address two priorities: first, Secretary Kerry’s determination to engage the American people in the work of diplomacy. And second, the imperative to broaden the State Department’s research base in response to a proliferation of complex global challenges. The initiative enables the State Department to “course-source” research and innovation related to foreign policy by harnessing the efforts of students and faculty experts at universities across the country. Students participating in Diplomacy Lab explore real-world challenges identified by the Department and work under the guidance of faculty members who are authorities in their fields. This initiative allows students to contribute directly to the policymaking process while helping the State Department tap into an underutilized reservoir of intellectual capital. Teams that develop exceptional results and ideas are recognized for their work and may be invited to brief senior State Department officials on their findings.

This then led to me to information about another digital diplomacy program.

US State Department Harnesses Interns Around the Globe to Address Digital Needs

During Hillary Clinton’s tenure, the United States State Department introduced an eIntern program, as detailed on the State Department web site:

Virtual Student Foreign ServiceThe Virtual Student Foreign Service (VSFS) is part of a growing effort by the State Department to harness technology and a commitment to global service among young people to facilitate new forms of diplomatic engagement. Working from college and university campuses in the United States and throughout the world, eInterns (American students working virtually) are partnered with our U.S. diplomatic posts overseas and State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) and the U.S. Commercial Service domestic offices to conduct digital diplomacy that reflects the realities of our networked world. This introductory video provides an overview of the VSFS program.

VSFS eIntern duties and responsibilities will vary according to the location and needs of the VSFS projects identified at the sponsoring domestic or overseas diplomatic office. VSFS projects may be research based, contributing to reports on issues such as human rights, economics or the environment. They may also be more technology oriented, such as working on web pages, or helping produce electronic journals. Selected students are expected to work virtually on an average of 5-10 hours per week on VSFS eInternship projects. Students apply in the summer and if selected, begin the eInternship that fall lasting through spring. Most work and projects are internet-based and some have language requirements. Past projects asked students to:

  • Develop and implement a public relations campaign using social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, etc. to communicate and reach out to youth
  • Conduct research on the economic situation, prepare graphic representations of economic data, and prepare informational material for the U.S. Embassy website
  • Create a system to gather and analyze media coverage on a set of topics including environment, health, and trade
  • Develop a series of professional instructional video clips to be published by the U.S. Embassy
  • Survey social media efforts of U.S. diplomatic posts, NGOs, and private companies around the world to help establish best practices in a U.S. Embassy’s social media outreach business plan.

The Conclusion

It is fascinating to see the world changing before our eyes and to see the children and young people of today engaged in commerce and government and entrepreneurship in ways that weren’t available to previous generations of young people. This only helps to accelerate the pace of change. But, the reality is that when an organization sits at the fork in the road and is making the decision of whether or not to actively engage people outside their four walls in their strategic efforts, the choice really is to either ride the crest of the wave by embracing and engaging talent outside your organization or choosing instead to get tumbled and drowned by this wave of progress by doing nothing.

What choice is your government or your organization making?

If you’re not sure how your government or your organization needs to change to adapt to these changing realities, check out my previous article:

What is the Role of Personal Branding in Achieving Innovation Success?


Required reading for Congress and Obama if they are serious about fostering innovation

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Food Innovation Sighting – Probiotic Chocolate

Food Innovation Sighting - Probiotic Chocolate

I came across the inspiration for this latest food innovation sighting through a London Business School announcement of their upcoming TELL Series speakers, and noticing that Nancy Cruickshank, co-Founder of MyShowcase would be speaking on May 21, 2014.

Clicking over to the web site, I noticed that one of the highlighted products was Ohso Probiotic Chocolate which Andrew Marten brands as a healthy chocolate.

“Ohso Probiotic Chocolate is, quite frankly, the best invention since sliced bread. A delicious dark Belgian chocolate, it contains over a billion friendly bacteria per mini bar. If you love dark chocolate, you will love Ohso. And it loves you back, because as well as tasting divine it promotes your wellbeing via your gut.”

Apparently chocolate helps probiotics survive the journey to the gut where they can do some good and potentially help irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) sufferers.

Who knew?

So, here’s the question…

Innovation or not?

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What Should the Role of Personal Branding be in Recruitment?

What Should the Role of Personal Branding be in Recruitment?I’ve been thinking a lot lately about personal branding, in part because several people have told me that I seem to do it pretty well, in spite of the fact that I would never call myself a personal branding expert or endeavor to make my living as a personal branding consultant.

While I think the personal branding topic is an interesting one, it is more because I am curious about:

  1. The role of personal branding in helping organizations achieve innovation success
  2. Whether or not organizations should be factoring in personal branding strength as part of their recruitment considerations

Now that we’ve hopefully made the case for the role of personal branding in helping organizations achieve innovation success in my previous post, let’s investigate whether or not organizations should be factoring in the strength of personal brand as part of their recruitment considerations.

Is the personal brand of an individual important to the brand of a collective and the brand equity that the organization is trying to build?

Well, look no further than organizations like Nike and Adidas that harness the personal brand equity of elite athletes like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Derrick Rose.

Look no further than organizations like Target that harness the personal brand equity of Michael Graves, Isaac Mizrahi, Mossimo Giannulli, Jason Wu, and Phillip Lim. Meanwhile Macy’s has the Martha Stewart Home Collection (but JC Penney, Sears and Kmart also have Martha Stewart collections). So, harnessing the personal brand of designers and celebrities is obviously seen as beneficial to the brand of the collective in the minds of these organizations.

But it doesn’t stop there, the University of Phoenix is attempting to harness the personal brands of Clayton M. Christensen, Jeff Dyer, and Hal Gregersen to try and save their accreditation, London Business School harnesses the personal brand equity of Gary Hamel, Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management harnesses the personal brand equity of Philip Kotler, and several consultancies harness the personal brand equity of famous professors to lend credibility to their consulting brands.

So, if at the highest levels, the organization’s brand equity benefits from harnessing the strength of the personal brands of certain individuals, shouldn’t organizations be considering the personal brand strength of applicants in the hiring process?

Not just for the reasons detailed above in relation to the increasingly open and interconnected organization, but also as content marketing becomes an increasingly important way for organizations to tell their brand story, and as innovative organizations seek to do the value translation component of innovation, shouldn’t the strength of personal brand equity be a consideration?

Now I don’t want to make this about me, or to say that my personal brand is nearly as strong as any of the individuals referenced before, and so I’ve made this as generic as possible:

  • Wouldn’t a McKinsey, Booz & Co., Deloitte, PWC, Bain, BCG, Innosight, Strategyn, ?WhatIf!, IDEO, Frog, Idea Couture, Fahrenheit 212, Jump Associates, or other consulting firm be better off (all other things being close to equal) hiring a consultant that could not just do great client work, but also a public evangelist for the firm at conferences and events, and bring visibility to the firm in print in the various media outlets that their personal brand has given them access to?
  • Wouldn’t a university be better off bringing in a candidate into a PhD research effort that would not just create a purely academic piece of research, but benefit more by partnering with a candidate that has a pre-existing publishing track record, pre-existing public visibility to help promote it, and whose personal brand equity could also bring potentially greater visibility to the degree granting institution?
  • Wouldn’t a company (all other things being roughly equal) be better off bringing in someone to lead their innovation efforts who has a strong personal brand in the innovation and/or startup communities, than someone who might have great program management capabilities, but limited personal brand equity and visibility? I mean, if one of the goals of an innovation program is to gather more insight-driven dots than your competitors, shouldn’t you base part of your selection criteria on the insight capacity of the individual and the connections that their personal brand equity brings?

These are just three examples of where organizations (and HR professionals) should be factoring personal branding into their recruitment criteria, but there are many more.

I have to say that too much of the focus on personal branding these days is from a social media perspective and making sure that the individual is not damaging their personal brand with careless social media involvement, or is focused on encouraging people to gather as many ‘friends’ as possible, or on the clothes that someone should wear, as if these things by themselves create a personal brand.

I’ve already given my thoughts about what the organization should do with personal branding.

Now here are my personal branding recommendations for the individual:

  1. Determine what your personal brand is. Start by thinking of the three words that define you. What do you want to be known for?
  2. Once you determine what your personal brand stands for, then make sure that all of your online profiles and other kinds of digital and physical assets (including your appearance) reinforce it.
  3. Create content for your online portfolio on the topics related to the three words that define you.
  4. Join the communities that intersect with your personal brand and your passions.
  5. Get out there and meet people. Look for those intersections of skills, abilities, talents, and passions that you have with others that are also consistent with your personal brand.
  6. Look to pursue activities that will strengthen your personal brand, not weaken it.
  7. Be authentic!
  8. Have fun!

Let’s close with a few questions:

  • What would you add to this list?
  • What is your personal brand, how strong is it, and how are you going to leverage this to power your career success?
  • How is your organization viewing personal brand when it comes to its recruitment efforts?

Keep innovating!

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What is the Role of Personal Branding in Achieving Innovation Success?

What is the Role of Personal Branding in Achieving Innovation Success?I’ve been thinking a lot lately about personal branding, in part because I’m about to begin a new commissioned white paper and so I’ve been re-visiting my popular white paper for Innocentive – Harnessing the Global Talent Pool to Accelerate Innovation, and what I wrote about personal branding there:

“… the world continues to move away from being a place where employees expect to have jobs for life, and fight against any change to this paradigm, to a world where portfolios, personal branding, and project-based work will become more common in an increasing number of industries. The evolving world of work is becoming a world in which individuals will need to be really good at collaborating and playing well with others, while also honing their skills at standing out from the crowd. At the same time, the external perception of your network value will expand from a focus on internal connections to also include the talented minds you might know outside the organization that can be brought in on different projects or challenges.”

So, let’s dig in…

The power of the individual versus the power of the collective. This is a tension that has been around longer than the practice of human resources and talent management as an occupation. While the organization is concerned with achieving success for the collective, too often we forget that the collective is made up of a collection of unique individuals, and that each of these individuals have a collection of unique skills, talents, and abilities that may or not directly fulfill the needs of their role and the organization’s goals and brand promise:

“To build a brand, you must start a conversation with your customers. Your customers have to know that you stand for something and that they can count on you to deliver upon your brand promise.” (April 20, 2012)

While the role of the individual in helping to fulfill the organization’s brand promise is often not considered, it should be, at the same time that the organization considers whether its chosen individuals adequately fill the defined job requirements that the organization believes are necessary to fulfill the collective’s mission to achieve revenue and profits for its shareholders, value for its clients and donors, or benefits for its constituents (depending on whether you’re talking about a for-profit, non-profit or governmental organization).

If we look at each role in an organization as an attempt by management and human resources to find a perfect match for the job requirements that live within a certain circle, the fact is that for every role, the circle of the individual’s skills, talents, and abilities will never perfectly overlay the circle of the job requirements, it will always look like a Venn Diagram with a good candidate possessing a large amount of overlap, but with always some of their skills, abilities, and talents lying outside of their job requirements’ circle.

But most organizations (referred to as Typical Organizations in the graphic below) fail to harness the skills, abilities and talents of the individuals they have in their organization to achieve greater performance as a collective. In my mind this is painful, wasted human capital – painful for the organization (lost potential revenue and profitability) and painful for the individual (boredom, stress, and disappointment).

Wasted Talent and Human Capital

But, a handful of more progressive, innovative organizations are trying to do better to harness the passions AND the skills, abilities, and talents of their individuals to better achieve the collective’s ability to generate revenue and profits (or other appropriate benefits) by engaging their employees in the innovation efforts of the organization, and allowing their employees to take some of their skills, abilities and talents and apply them to help fulfill other job descriptions. This looks something more like this:

Building an Innovative Organization

But in the most progressive organizations, they not only provide a way to better harness a more complete set of their employees’ skills, abilities and talents to more than one job description, but they also find a way to harness more of the skills, abilities, and talents that employees are currently realizing outside the organization in their hobbies, volunteer work, or other places.

And the successful organizations of the future will not stop there. They will also harness the connections their employees have outside the organization to increase the innovation capacity of the organization, and better engage not only partners in helping to fulfill the needs of different job descriptions, but they will also even engage their customers in achieving the work of the organization.

Where customer or partner skills, abilities and talents intersect with the job requirements, work can get done, and where customer or partner skills, abilities or talents intersect with employee skills, abilities or talents intersect, communities and connections have the chance to form and be nurtured. This is what organizations of the future will look like:

Organization of the Future

In this scenario, where innovative organizations begin to move beyond better harnessing the internal innovation capacity of their employees, to also harnessing the external capacity to work (and to innovate) of individuals outside of the organization (and to expand the scope of the collective), and to attract partners and customers to participate, organizations that allow and even encourage employees to develop a personal brand and greater external connections, will claim an outsized share of the potential benefits to both the mission of the organization and to its innovation efforts.

If your employees lack the external exposure, the external connections, and the external personal brand equity and awareness, how much harder will it be for your organization to:

  1. Attract the best partners to your innovation efforts
  2. Recruit the best customers to co-create with you
  3. Build a strong pipeline of potential future internal talent

Through this lens you can see that in the future, innovation success will be determined not just by how strong the brand of your organization is (or the collective), but also will be shaped by the strength of the personal brands of the collective’s component individuals.

Does your organization recognize the value of your personal brand to the innovation success of the collective, and foster it, or attempt to prevent you from growing your personal brand equity?

What is your personal brand, how strong is it, and how are you going to leverage this to power innovation in your organization?

Keep innovating!


Build a common language of innovation on your team

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Join me in London for a Two-Day Innovation Certification Course

Join me in London for a Two-Day Innovation Certification CourseI’m excited about the launch of the first global innovation certification, with four full levels to choose from (two for innovation practitioners and two for innovation leaders), complete with many action learning components.

The certification is being offered by the Global Innovation Management Institute in cooperation with the IXL Center, the Hult International Business School, and Innovation Excellence.

In 2014 in addition to doing innovation keynotes, workshops and masterclasses, I am considering a world tour to bring in-person two-day GIMI Level 1 Innovation Certification courses and innovation eLearning to Seattle in Mar/Apr, followed by London in May.

The two full days of Level 1 Innovation Certification training in London will be priced per person or with a discount for a group of four (4) people (which will include materials, the cost of the certification exam, and some special bonuses), or if you’d like to organize a group session for your company while I’m there, we can discuss a price for that.

If someone is willing to donate a Central London location and attendee logistics, please contact me as I can offer a significant discount in exchange (at least 50%).

But I need your help to determine which dates the two-day Level 1 Innovation Certification Training should be held on.

Please select a choice below:

Finally, In addition to London I hope to soon be announcing other cities where the two-day in-person GIMI Level Innovation Certification course will be offered, either before or after the London dates.

Should your city be at the top of the list?

Sound off in the comments!

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Food Innovation Sighting – Waffle Taco

Food Innovation Sighting - Waffle TacoDo you ever see a product that makes you wonder either:

A. Why didn’t I think of that?
B. How come nobody ever thought of that before?

Well, those are the thoughts that hit me when I opened the newspaper this morning and was greeted by a surprisingly tasty looking Waffle Taco that Taco Bell is launching to anchor their new breakfast menu (formerly known as First Meal at their restaurants). Now to be honest, for over a decade (and still to this day) have felt that ascribing the restaurant label to a Taco Bell was quite generous, and always wondered why people go to Taco Bell when there are so many good Taquerias and Taco Trucks around. Sorry, Taco Bell. But recently they have surprisingly been one of the more innovative fast food players.

In a previous post – Food Innovation Sighting – Doritos Tacos – I took to blogging about their previous food innovation, the Doritos Locos Taco, which initially came in the Nacho Cheese variety and was then followed by the Cool Ranch one. Frito Lay subsequently then made the taco shells available in grocery stores. Not a bad little piece of supplier innovation if you ask me.

Now, Taco Bell is following up their Doritos Locos Taco success with the Waffle Taco.

A waffle wrapped around scrambled eggs and either sausage or bacon (with a side of maple syrup). I have to say the picture here looks pretty tasty, but of course I know it won’t look like this in reality when someone orders it (see False Advertising? and follow the link in the article).

Innovation doesn’t have to be hard, it doesn’t have to involve coming up with something that is really hard for others to discover, sometimes the most successful innovations are those that come from ‘land mine’ ideation, which is basically focusing the energy of your group (or company) on the following question:

What potential innovation ideas are so close to us and should be so obvious to us, that if they were a land mine, we would probably blow ourselves up because we’re not seeing them?

So, keep looking for those obvious innovations that you’re missing now and keep innovating!

P.S. I’m sure some enterprising restaurateur out there thought of the waffle taco decades ago, and that makes another point about innovation – that many flashes of brilliance and successful innovations are triggered by seeing something when you’re out in your environment (and why inspiration sits at the core of the Eight I’s of Infinite Innovation).

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