Tag Archives: IBM

Where People Go Wrong with Minimum Viable Products

Where People Go Wrong with Minimum Viable Products

GUEST POST from Greg Satell

Ever since Eric Reis published his bestselling book, The Lean Startup, the idea of a minimum viable product (MVP) has captured the imagination of entrepreneurs and product developers everywhere. The idea of testing products faster and cheaper has an intuitive logic that simply can’t be denied.

Yet what is often missed is that a minimum viable product isn’t merely a stripped down version of a prototype. It is a method to test assumptions and that’s something very different. A single product often has multiple MVPs, because any product development effort is based on multiple assumptions.

Developing an MVP isn’t just about moving faster and cheaper, but also minimizing risk. In order to test assumptions, you first need to identify them and that’s a soul searching process. You have to take a hard look at what you believe, why you believe it and how those ideas can be evaluated. Essentially, MVP’s work because they force you to do the hard thinking early.

Every Idea Has Assumptions Built In

In 1990, Nick Swinmurn had an idea for a business. He intended to create a website to sell shoes much like Amazon did for books. This was at the height of the dotcom mania, when sites were popping up to sell everything from fashion to pet food to groceries, so the idea itself wasn’t all that original or unusual.

What Swinmurn did next, however, was. Rather than just assuming that people would be willing to buy shoes online or conducting expensive marketing research, he built a very basic site, went to a shoe store and took pictures of shoes, which he placed on the site. When he got an order, he bought the shoes retail and shipped them out. He lost money on every sale.

That’s a terrible way to run a business, but a great — and incredibly cheap — way to to test a business idea. Once he knew that people were willing to buy shoes online, he began to build all the elements of a fully functioning business. Ten years later, the company he created, Zappos was acquired by Amazon for $1.2 billion.

Notice how he didn’t just assume that his business idea was viable. He tested it and validated it. He also learned other things, such as what styles were most popular. Later, Zappos expanded to include handbags, eyewear, clothing, watches, and kids’ merchandise.

The Cautionary Tale Of Google Glass

Now compare how Swinmurn launched his business with Google’s Glass debacle. Instead of starting with an MVP, it announced a full-fledged prototype complete with a snazzy video. Through augmented reality projected onto the lenses, users could seamlessly navigate an urban landscape, send and receive messages and take photos and videos. It generated a lot of excitement and seemed like a revolutionary new way to interact with technology.

Yet criticism quickly erupted. Many were horrified that hordes of wandering techno-hipsters could be surreptitiously recording us. Others had safety concerns about everything from people being distracted while driving to the devices being vulnerable to hacking. Soon there was a brewing revolt against “Google Glassholes.”

Situations like the Google Glass launch are startlingly common. In fact, the vast majority of new product launches fail because there’s no real way to know whether you have the right product-market fit customers actually get a chance to interact with the product. Unfortunately, most product development efforts start by seeking out the largest addressable market. That’s almost always a mistake.

If you are truly creating something new and different, you want to build for the few and not the many. That’s the mistake that Google made with its Glass prototype.

Identifying A Hair On Fire Use Case

The alternative to trying to address the largest addressable market is to identify a hair-on-fire use case. The idea is to find a potential customer that needs to solve a problem so badly that they almost literally have their hair on fire. These customers will be more willing to co-create with you and more likely to put up with the inevitable bugs and glitches that always come up.

For example, Tesla didn’t start out by trying to build an electric car for the masses. Instead, it created a $100,000 status symbol for Silicon Valley millionaires. Because these customers could afford multiple cars, range wasn’t as much of a concern. The high price tag also made a larger battery more feasible. The original Tesla Roadster had a range of 244 miles.

The Silicon Valley set were customers with their hair on fire. They wanted to be seen as stylish and eco-friendly, so were willing to put up with the inevitable limitations of electric cars. They didn’t have to depend on them for their commute or to pick the kids up at soccer practice. As long as the car was cool enough, they would buy it.

Interestingly, Google Glass made a comeback as an industrial product and had a nice run from 2019 to 2023 before they went away for good. For hipsters, an augmented reality product is far from a necessity, but a business that needs to improve productivity can be a true “hair-on-fire” use case. As the product improves and gains traction, it’s entirely possible that it eventually makes its way back to the consumer market in some form.

Using An MVP To Pursue A Grand Challenge

One of the criticisms of minimum viable products is that they are only suited for simple products and tweaks, rather than truly ambitious projects. Nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is that the higher your ambitions, the more important it is for you to start with a minimum viable product.

IBM is one company that has a long history of pursuing grand challenges such as the Deep Blue project which defeated world champion Garry Kasparov at chess and the Blue Gene project which created a new class of “massively parallel” supercomputers. More recently were the Jeopardy grand challenge, which led to the development of its current Watson business and the Debater project.

Notice that none of these were fully featured products. Rather they were attempts to, as IBM’s Chief Innovation Officer, Bernie Meyerson, put it to me, invent something that “even experts in the field, regard as an epiphany and changes assumptions about what’s possible.” That would be hard to do if you were trying to create a full featured product for a demanding customer.

That’s the advantage of creating an MVP. It essentially acts as a research lab where you can safely test hypotheses and eliminate sources of uncertainty. Once you’ve done that, you can get started trying to build a real business.

— Article courtesy of the Digital Tonto blog
— Image credit: Pixabay

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CEOs Say Creativity is the Most Critical Factor for Future Success

CEOs Say Creativity is the Most Critical Factor for Future Success

GUEST POST from Linda Naiman

According to the IBM 2010 Global CEO Study, which surveyed 1,500 Chief Executive Officers from 60 countries and 33 industries worldwide, CEOs believe that,

“More than rigor, management discipline, integrity or even vision — successfully navigating an increasing complex world will require creativity.”

IBM CEO Study: Creative Leadership

CEOs say creativity helps them capitalise on complexity

“The effects of rising complexity calls for CEOs and their teams to lead with bold creativity, connect with customers in imaginative ways and design their operations for speed and flexibility to position their organisations for twenty-first century success.”

Amen to that! If we are going to find solutions in a world that is becoming increasingly interconnected and complex, we cannot rely on traditional ways of leading and managing.

Creativity is the most important leadership quality

Facing a world becoming dramatically more complex, it is interesting that CEOs selected creativity as the most important leadership attribute. Creative leaders invite disruptive innovation, encourage others to drop outdated approaches and take balanced risks. They are open-minded and inventive in expanding their management and communication styles, particularly to engage with a new generation of employees, partners and customers.

High-performing CEOs practice and encourage experimentation and innovation throughout their organisations. Creative leaders expect to make deeper business model changes to realise their strategies. To succeed, they take more calculated risks, find new ideas and keep innovating in how they lead and communicate.

The most successful organisations co-create products and services with customers, and integrate customers into core processes.

They are adopting new channels to engage and stay in tune with customers. By drawing more insight from the available data, successful CEOs make customer intimacy their number one priority.

95 percent of top performing organizations identified getting closer to customers as their most important strategic initiative over the next five years – using Web, interactive, and social media channels to rethink how they engage with customers and citizens. They view the historic explosion of information and global information flows as opportunities, rather than threats.

Better performers manage complexity on behalf of their organisations, customers and partners.

They do so by simplifying operations and products, and increasing dexterity to change the way they work, access resources and enter markets around the world. Compared to other CEOs, dexterous leaders expect 20 percent more future revenue to come from new sources. 54 percent of CEOs from top performing companies indicated they are learning to respond swiftly with new ideas to address the deep changes affecting their organizations.


IBM 2010 Global CEO Study: Creativity Selected as Most Crucial Factor for Future Success — May 18, 2010

My reflection

As a practitioner in the world of business creativity and innovation over the past twenty years, I am heartened by this encouraging news. We’ve all been tracking the success of innovators at companies like Google and Apple, and now it looks like a second wave of creativity and innovation is penetrating C-level leadership. We truly have entered the Age of Creativity.

Whole Brain Creativity

Develop creative leadership in your business:

  • Discover your Creativity and Innovation styles
  • Leverage the four intelligences of creative thinking in your team
  • Develop a language and structure for managing the creative process
  • Create a climate conductive to fostering creativity and innovation
  • Design and conduct high-performance idea-generation/problem-solving sessions
  • Recognize when and how creativity is stifled and be able to prevent this
  • Build innovation and critical thinking into individual and teamwork processes.

Image credits: Pixabay and Linda Naiman

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The Importance of Diversity in Driving Innovation within Organizations

The Importance of Diversity in Driving Innovation within Organizations

GUEST POST from Art Inteligencia

In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, organizations worldwide are recognizing the critical role that diversity plays in driving innovation. As industries become more competitive and consumer demands continually shift, companies that embrace and promote diversity within their workforce are finding themselves at an advantage. Not only does diversity foster a multitude of perspectives, it also enhances problem-solving capabilities, boosts creativity, and ultimately leads to greater innovation. To underscore these points, this article will highlight two real-life case studies that demonstrate the importance of diversity in driving innovation within organizations.

Case Study 1: IBM’s Focus on Diversity

IBM, a global powerhouse in technology, has long been a champion of diversity and inclusion. The company recognizes the importance of tapping into a broad range of perspectives, experiences, and talents in order to drive innovation effectively. IBM’s commitment to diversity is deeply embedded in their corporate culture and is consistently reinforced through various initiatives.

One such initiative is their Global Women’s Initiative, aimed at empowering female employees and promoting gender diversity. Through this program, IBM has bolstered the representation of women at all levels of the organization, encouraging their active contribution to decision-making processes. As a result, gender diversity has become a driving force behind the company’s innovative capabilities.

IBM’s focus on diversity led to the launch of their AI-driven product, Watson. The team behind Watson recognized that diversity was critical to building a technology that could effectively understand and respond to the diverse needs and perspectives of its users. By assembling a diverse group of engineers, data scientists, and researchers, IBM successfully developed Watson into a revolutionary innovation that is transforming industries such as healthcare, finance, and education.

Case Study 2: Pixar’s Creative Collaboration

Pixar Animation Studios, renowned for its groundbreaking films, thrives on diversity and collaboration. The company understands that diversity encompasses not only nationality, culture, and gender but also a range of talents and skill sets. Pixar’s commitment to diversity is apparent in their hiring practices, ensuring they bring together individuals from various disciplines and backgrounds who can contribute unique and innovative ideas to the creative process.

One of the best examples of diversity driving innovation at Pixar is their film “Inside Out.” In the development of this animated feature, the creative team included professionals from the fields of psychology, neuroscience, and child development. By combining the talents of animators, storytellers, and experts in different fields, Pixar was able to create a film that not only captivated audiences but also contributed to the understanding of emotional intelligence and mental health.

Beyond the film industry, Pixar’s focus on diversity also extends to their storytelling. With diverse voices and perspectives, they have been able to address a wide range of social and cultural issues, making their films highly relatable to audiences worldwide. This diversity-driven innovation has significantly contributed to Pixar’s enduring success.


The case studies of IBM and Pixar highlight the transformative power of diversity within organizations. By fostering diverse teams, these companies have harnessed a wealth of perspectives, experiences, and talents that drive their innovation and market leadership. Embracing diversity not only enhances problem-solving capabilities and creativity but also opens doors to new markets, ideas, and perspectives. As organizations navigate an increasingly complex and dynamic business landscape, investing in diversity becomes paramount for ensuring sustainable growth and competitive advantage.

Bottom line: Futurists are not fortune tellers. They use a formal approach to achieve their outcomes, but a methodology and tools like those in FutureHacking™ can empower anyone to be their own futurist.

Image credit: Misterinnovation.com

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Design Thinking in the Digital Age

Leveraging Technology for Creative Solutions

Design Thinking in the Digital Age

GUEST POST from Chateau G Pato

At the intersection of innovation and problem-solving lies design thinking. This unique methodology provides a solution-based approach to overcoming obstacles and has been at the forefront of some of the most creative solutions and remarkable inventions. In today’s digital age, design thinking has transformed, leveraging the boons of technology to create more agile, dynamic, and user-centric products and services.

Navigating through uncertain times and complex challenges, businesses across the globe are utilizing design thinking to produce creative solutions. This article offers a glimpse into the process of design thinking in today’s digital era by exploring its role, benefits, and two enlightening case studies.

The Role of Design Thinking in the Digital Age

In the digital age, companies need to fully understand and meet the unique needs of their digitally-savvy customers. This is where the empathetic, human-centered perspective of design thinking comes into play. Technology not only provides a plethora of tools to facilitate design thinking but also prolifically influences the human experiences which are central to the process.

Leveraging technology in design thinking can help companies to better understand their customer’s behaviour and needs. Utilizing digital mediums like A/B testing, data analytics, virtual reality, etc., not only provide a wealth of insights but also allows for agility in designing, prototyping, and testing products or services.

Case Study 1: IBM

IBM exemplifies a company that has used design thinking to navigate business transformation. The tech giant adopted Enterprise Design Thinking, a framework which melds design thinking with agile practices for businesses. In response to advancements in digitization, IBM recognized a need to transform itself into a more user-centered business, with the goal of creating elite software that solves users’ problems.

IBM trained thousands of its employees in this strategy, fostering a company-wide shift that prioritized user experience. Their design thinking workshops enabled them to gather insights through collaborative creativity, and to iterate solutions based on valued user feedback using technologies such as AI, cloud computing, and machine learning. This demonstrates how design thinking, coupled with technology, can drive growth, profound transformation and outstanding business outcomes.

Case Study 2: Airbnb

Another exemplary application of design thinking and technology can be seen with Airbnb, now a billion-dollar startup. When Airbnb was on the verge of bankruptcy, the founders decided to focus on developing a better user experience to distinguish them from competitors. Thus, they turned to design thinking.

The co-founders traveled to New York and started living as Airbnb hosts. They met customers, learned about their experiences, and made necessary changes. Utilizing technology, the founders restructured and improved the website interface, resulting in an intuitive, appealing UI that focused on high-quality images of rental spaces. They mapped the customer journey, identified pain points, and provided innovative solutions. This approach resulted in a significant increase in revenue in just one week, reaffirming the power of design thinking in transforming businesses.


Design thinking delivers creative problem-solving strategies that promote a more empathetic, user-focused philosophy. In the digital era, leveraging technology enables real-time feedback, seamless collaboration, and a vast potential for innovation. As the examples of Airbnb and IBM illustrate, the combination of design thinking and technology can lead to transformative results for businesses ready to embrace change and focus on user needs. Indeed, as the world becomes ever more digital, design thinking will remain a vital tool for leveraging technology to foster creative, exceptional solutions.

Image credit: Pexels

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Change Leadership and the Power of Storytelling

Change Leadership and the Power of Storytelling

GUEST POST from Chateau G Pato

Change is an inevitable part of life, especially in today’s fast-paced and ever-evolving world. Organizations constantly find themselves navigating through various changes, from mergers and acquisitions to technological advancements. However, with change comes challenges, and the success of any change initiative lies in effective change leadership. One powerful tool that change leaders can harness is storytelling. By utilizing the power of stories, leaders can inspire, engage, and drive individuals towards embracing and supporting change. In this article, we will explore two case study examples that highlight the impact of storytelling in change leadership.

Case Study 1: IBM’s Transformation

IBM, a multinational technology company, went through a significant transformation when Lou Gerstner took over as CEO in the early 1990s. Gerstner inherited a struggling organization that was losing its market share and lacked direction. To turn things around, he recognized the need to infuse a new culture within the company and get everyone on board with the forthcoming changes.

Gerstner realized that simply presenting a cold set of data and charts would not be sufficient to inspire and motivate a workforce that had become disillusioned and resistant to change. Instead, he employed the power of storytelling to connect with his employees on a deep emotional level. Gerstner crafted a narrative that focused on IBM’s rich history, its role in shaping the world, and the collective responsibility of each employee to revive the organization.

Through his storytelling, Gerstner effectively conveyed the urgency for change while instilling a sense of pride and purpose. This emotional connection ultimately resulted in the successful turnaround of IBM, transforming it into a leading technology company once again.

Case Study 2: Procter & Gamble’s Innovation Culture

In the early 2000s, Procter & Gamble (P&G) faced the challenge of how to breathe life into their innovation efforts. A.G. Lafley, the CEO at the time, recognized that P&G needed a culture shift to foster creativity, risk-taking, and collaboration across the organization.

Lafley understood that storytelling could bridge the gap between strategic objectives and people’s daily work lives. He implemented a company-wide initiative called “Connect+Develop” that encouraged employees to share stories about their innovative ideas and experiences. These stories, which focused on real people and real challenges, helped employees see the tangible impact of their work and inspire others to think differently.

By creating a storytelling platform, Lafley empowered P&G employees to become change agents and ambassadors for innovation. This cultural shift resulted in numerous successful product launches and allowed P&G to maintain its position as a leader in the consumer goods industry.

The Power of Storytelling

These case studies highlight the transformative power storytelling can have in change leadership. Stories have the ability to evoke emotions, create meaning, build trust, and inspire action. When change leaders effectively communicate their vision and purpose through storytelling, they paint a vivid picture of the future and create a shared understanding among individuals.

Furthermore, storytelling engages both the rational and emotional aspects of individuals, making change feel more relatable and personal. It helps people see how they fit into the narrative and how their contributions are instrumental in achieving the desired change.


Change leadership is crucial during times of transformation within organizations. The power of storytelling as a change leadership tool cannot be underestimated. By crafting compelling narratives that resonate with employees’ experiences and emotions, leaders can bridge the gap between resistance and acceptance, ultimately driving the success of change initiatives.


  • McNamara, C. (n.d.). Transformational Change, IBM Style. Retrieved from https://managementhelp.org/organizationalchange/transformational-change.htm
  • Denning, S. (2011). The case of storytelling in organizational change. Journal of Change Management, 11(3), 325-347.

Image credit: Pixabay

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Change Leadership and Building Resilience in Organizations

Change Leadership and Building Resilience in Organizations

GUEST POST from Chateau G Pato

In today’s rapidly changing business landscape, organizations need strong leadership and resilience to thrive. Change is inevitable, and effective change management requires leaders who can guide their teams through transitions and build resilience within the organization. This article explores the concept of change leadership and its impact on building resilience, using two case studies to illustrate successful strategies.

Case Study 1 – IBM

IBM, a global technology giant, faced a significant challenge in the early 1990s when it realized that its traditional mainframe business was becoming obsolete. The company recognized the need to shift its focus towards emerging technologies such as cloud computing and artificial intelligence. To lead this transformation, IBM appointed Gerstner as its CEO in 1993.

Gerstner implemented a change leadership approach that involved creating a sense of urgency, establishing a clear vision, and involving employees at all levels. He recognized the importance of building resilience in the organization by aligning the company’s culture with its new strategic direction. Through transparency and open communication, Gerstner instilled trust in his employees and motivated them to embrace the changes.

IBM’s transformation was successful, and the company not only survived but thrived in the technology industry. This case study demonstrates the critical role of change leadership in driving organizational resilience during periods of significant change.

Case Study 2 – Patagonia

Patagonia is an outdoor apparel company known for its commitment to sustainability and social responsibility. In 2011, the company faced a supply chain crisis when environmental organizations exposed the use of harmful chemicals in its products. This revelation threatened Patagonia’s reputation and market position as an eco-friendly brand.

In response, the company’s founder and CEO, Yvon Chouinard, took a proactive approach to address the issue. Chouinard implemented a change leadership strategy that involved owning up to the problem, conducting thorough research on alternative materials and manufacturing methods, and engaging with stakeholders to rebuild trust.

The change leadership approach also emphasized building resilience by fostering a learning culture and empowering employees to adopt innovative practices. Patagonia introduced its “Worn Wear” program that encouraged customers to repair, reuse, and recycle their garments, aligning with its sustainability values.

Patagonia’s commitment to change and resilience paid off. With its transparent approach and focus on sustainability, the company regained customer trust and attracted new environmentally conscious consumers. The case study demonstrates how change leadership and resilience can not only mitigate a crisis but also be a driver for long-term success.


Change leadership is essential for building resilience in organizations. The case studies of IBM and Patagonia demonstrate that effective change leaders create a vision, engage employees, and foster a culture that embraces and adapts to change. By proactively addressing challenges and building resilience within their organizations, both companies achieved significant success.

Leadership that guides organizations through change and builds resilience enables businesses to adapt to evolving market conditions, seize new opportunities, and navigate crises. In an era of constant change, organizations that prioritize change leadership and resilience are more likely to remain competitive and thrive.

Image credit: Pixabay

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Highlights from IBM’s Latest Innovation Research

Highlights from IBM's Latest Innovation ResearchMore Than Magic

According to a recent research study published by the IBM Institute for Business Value, outperforming organizations are 79% more likely to establish dedicated innovation teams.

For those of you who don’t have time to download, print, and read the whole thing, I’ve taken the liberty of collecting the highlights for you.

IBM’s analysis revealed three key categories that separate Outperformers from the rest:

  1. Organizational structures and functions that support innovation
  2. Cultural environments to make innovation thrive
  3. Processes to convert ideas into innovation

IBM found that Outperformers approach innovation differently. They:

  • Align innovation with business goals
  • Structure open forms of innovation
  • Create specialized teams
  • Lead with an innovation focus
  • Encourage innovative behaviors
  • Sustain innovation momentum
  • Generate new ideas from a wide range of sources
  • Fund innovation
  • Measure innovation outcomes

Another important point to keep in mind, but not highlighted in the report, is the tension between inefficiency and innovation. The more inefficient the organization, the fewer resources available to invest in innovation.

Something to think about…

But more about that later in another post, so stay tuned!

If you missed the download link above, here it is again.

Accelerate your change and transformation success

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Innovation Quotes of the Day – May 17, 2012

“Indeed parents of some of the most innovative young people whom I interviewed for this book carefully monitor and limit ‘screen time’…the Innovation Generation, have extraordinary latent talent for – and interest in – innovation and entrepreneurship, likely more than any generation in history.”

– Tony Wagner

“The faster you get at learning from unforeseen circumstances and outcomes, the faster you can turn an invention into an innovation by landing smack on what the customer finds truly valuable (and communicating the value in a compelling way).”

– Braden Kelley

“It’s a lot easier to name the things that stifle innovation like rigid bureaucratic structures, isolation, and a high-stress work environment.”

– Senior IBM Executive

What are some of your favorite innovation quotes?

Add one or more to the comments, listing the quote and who said it, and I’ll share the best of the submissions as future innovation quotes of the day!

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Innovation Quotes of the Day – May 10, 2012

“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.”

– Steve Jobs

“While an innovation vision determines the kinds of innovation that an organization, and an innovation strategy determines what the organization will focus on when it comes to innovation, it is the innovation goals that break things down into tangible objectives that employees can work against.”

– Braden Kelley

“Innovation is creativity with a job to do.”

– John Emmerling

What are some of your favorite innovation quotes?

Add one or more to the comments, listing the quote and who said it, and I’ll share the best of the submissions as future innovation quotes of the day!

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