Tag Archives: ideas

Innovation Quotes of the Day – May 31, 2012


“Every bursted bubble has a glory! Each abysmal failure makes a point! Every glowing path that goes astray, shows you how to find a better way. So every time you stumble never grumble. Next time you’ll bumble even less! For up from the ashes, up from the ashes, grow the roses of success!”

– From the movie “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”


“You can’t really innovate for the past (your offering won’t be innovative and will be beaten easily by competitors). If you innovate for the future, then adoption will be slow until customers become ready. The trick is to task your insights team to provide guidance for the future present.”

– Braden Kelley


“The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.”

– Dr. Linus Pauling
– submitted by Khululeka Khumalo


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 6, 2012


“If it is a good idea… go ahead and do it. It is much easier to apologize than it is to get permission.”

– Admiral Grace Murray Hopper


“If people in your organization don’t talk about innovation in a consistent way and see communications reinforcing the common language, how can you possibly hope to embed innovation in the culture of the organization?”

– Braden Kelley


“I can’t understand why people are frightened by new ideas. I’m frightened of old ones.”

– John Cage


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!

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.

Innovation Quotes of the Day – April 9, 2012


“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”

– Will Rogers


“Invention is driven by ideas while innovation is driven by insights.”

– Braden Kelley


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!

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.

Innovation or Invention? – Dog Washing Machine

Innovation or Invention? - Dog Washing MachineI saw the second picture in this article (of a dog washing machine in Japan) over my wife’s shoulder during a leisurely reading of the Sunday Seattle Times yesterday. I think it was in the Parade magazine, and as I started writing this article I found the same picture posted two years ago here, so it became clear that this idea – a dog and cat washing machine – has been already productized and in use for at least a year in Japan. But then I found the first picture in this article (which looks a lot like my daughter’s dog) in an article about the Dog-o-Matic that appeared in The Daily Mail back in 2009, meaning some inventive Brit appears to have beat out someone from Japan by nearly a year.

Dog Washing Machine - JapanNow, I can say with reasonable certainty that very few dog or cat owners really enjoy giving Fido or Princess a bath, and so the idea of a machine that you lead Fido or Princess into and shut the door and push a button to accomplish the job, sounds very appealing. It can be an incredibly messy operation fraught with danger and frustration (thus the rise of self-service dog washing places), but when you look at the first picture, is the emotional trauma of the experience something that dog or cat owners (or dogs/cats for that matter) could endure over the long term?

Hmmm…

Looking at these images, they remind me of an experience my wife and I (or mostly my wife) had in an automatically cleaned public restroom at a train station in Versailles, France that was just about as traumatic. But that’s a story for another day…

So, what do you think? Invention or innovation?

Is this something that will catch on with dog owners around the world?

I’ll leave you with a video of the Japanese version in use:

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Interview with Retired President X

Interview with Retired President XI had lunch in 2009 with the recently-retired president of a multi-billion dollar company and had a great conversation about innovation, leadership, and culture. The insights are still relevant and he enjoys his private life so I won’t be naming any names, but I will share some of the key insights and advice for innovators that came out of the conversation.

  1. Don’t be afraid to pay people well. When people aren’t busy worrying about money, they can focus on how to get more money into the business instead of trying to figure out how to get more money out of the business for themselves. Removing money from the equation also increases the chances that employees will bring their best ideas to the business instead of leaving to create a startup based on them.
  2. If you are an innovator and want to develop your idea within the company you are working for (whether it is an incremental innovation or a radical innovation), try to take it to someone who can say yes. There are far too many people in organizations that are trained to say no, and far too few who are equipped to say yes. Unfortunately, most organizations reinforce the importance of saying no, without empowering enough managers to say yes.
  3. Run as flat an organization as possible is crucial to innovation. Flatter organizations have fewer people in the middle to say no, and flatter organizations require managers to push more decisions to the edges of the organization. Pushing decisions to the edge of an organization tends to result in better decisions. The farther removed you are from all of the factors in decisions, the less successful you will be in making them correctly.
  4. Echoing former Halliburton CEO John Gibson’s thoughts – people brought in to help re-make the organization will ultimately be defeated by the processes and culture of the organization. Organizational change must occur from within and will generally occur quite slowly.
  5. Big ideas should be separated from the main organization into a new organization funded by the board of directors and reporting directly to them. They should also be staffed with employees from outside the main organization as well (except maybe Finance to enable consistent reporting). When you try and keep these potential radical innovations within the main organization, inevitably conflicts of interest will emerge between funding the idea and funding other transitory short-term leadership priorities.
  6. Upper management doesn’t generally know the best ways to effectively improve individual components of the organization. One approach to maximizing incremental innovation and improvement possibilities is to give the employees (not management) of a factory, a business unit, etc. a pile of money to use to improve the organization. You will be surprised how quickly employees can self-organize to determine the best uses for the money, how good they will be in selecting the best improvements to fund, and how fast stories about such an effort will spread to other parts of the organization.
  7. When people have an idea, they often just jump in and start developing the idea (even those ideas that others have had before), often reinventing the wheel and repeating many of the mistakes of those who have gone before them. To reduce waste and to accelerate success, consider having people submit a short research paper on the area of innovation they plan to pursue (to show that they have researched those that have gone before them). At the same time, somehow we have to find a better way of capturing the learnings from failed efforts for those undertaking new projects to learn from.

Finally, President X expressed that he would encourage anyone about to rise to the top job to take a break before assuming the top job to refresh, reflect, and to bring renewed energy and insights into the job. Whether or not you are in the top job or several levels down, I think there are some interesting insights to ponder here.

What do you think?

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Think ‘Out of Four Walls’

Think 'Out of Four Walls'I had coffee with a clever marketing and sales consultant recently and one of the topics we discussed was the impact of location on a group’s ability to innovate. At the time we spoke about getting people to think in new ways by getting people to think in new places. That is to say that if you always meet in the same places to try and be creative as a team, don’t you ultimately get the same types of thinking? In other words, do you hit a creativity plateau by meeting in the same places all the time?

That of course is part of the reason that companies have off-sites, but I would argue further that the “same places” includes the typical locations for off-sites. I would argue that if you are trying to get people to think differently that you have to take people to an unusual, unexpected location. I would argue that you announce one location for the meeting that you have no intention of going to, get everybody to assemble there, and then go somewhere else. What this achieves is that in the time leading up to the meeting people start preparing mentally for what to expect and how things will go, but then when they show up and you announce you are going somewhere else, you will generate buzz and excitement, the walls of expectation will come tumbling down and you will get people to begin thinking in a different way than they were prepared to think.

That is only half the battle though. My next recommendation would be to pre-arrange for people to bring portable seating with them or bring it for everyone yourself. Then if you are trying to get new thinking, get radical but relevant. For the approach I am to suggest, you must keep the groups small, tailored to the venue you select (you don’t want to be asked to leave, or at least not too quickly).

For example, salespeople for BestBuy who are trying to figure out how to do things differently might go meet in an auto dealership, or a Nordstrom’s, or a 7-eleven. Find a place out of the way and start your meeting. If asked to leave, have your meeting on the sidewalk outside or in the parking lot (going back inside as needed). The site you choose should be related to your business but not directly related – notice Circuit City was not an example.

The site could also however be related to your topic. A meeting to talk about how to better understand what customers want could be held at a busy intersection with stop lights in case you wanted to ask real people what they think. Just please make sure to be careful and not get yourself run over when trying to ask people questions(stay on the sidewalk).

If you meet at someone else’s business, please try to choose a slow time of day and stay off to the side and out of the way. If you’re looking for more “natural” thinking, then meeting in the woods, by a river, or on a hill can also be good. Regardless of where you choose to meet, just be sure to debrief at the site, or literally just outside your own building before returning to work.

If you try this approach to uncovering new thinking I think you will be pleasantly surprised, and I would love it if you send in your stories and photographs of different unusual places you meet and what the topic for the meeting was. I look forward to seeing your “Out of Four Walls” thinking!

Build a Common Language of Innovation

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