Building an Imagination Machine

Exclusive Interview Excerpt from InnovationManagement.se with Martin Reeves and Jack Fuller

Imagination Machine Authors

Imagination is one of the least understood but most crucial ingredients of success. It’s what makes the difference between an incremental change and the kinds of pivots and paradigm shifts that are essential to transformation — especially during a crisis.

Imagination is needed now more than ever—to find new opportunities, rethink our businesses, and discover paths to growth. Yet too many companies have lost their ability to imagine. What is this mysterious capacity? How does imagination work? And how can organizations keep it alive and harness it in a systematic way?

Drawing on the experience and insights of CEOs across several industries, as well as lessons from neuroscience, computer science, psychology, and philosophy, Martin Reeves of Boston Consulting Group’s Henderson Institute and Jack Fuller, an expert in neuroscience, provide a fascinating look into the mechanics of imagination and lay out a process for creating ideas and bringing them to life.

I had the opportunity recently to interview the authors about the concepts behind the book The Imagination Machine: How to Spark New Ideas and Create Your Company’s Future.

Below is the text of the interview:

1. What do we most need to understand about the slowing growth rates you highlight early in the book?

Long term growth rates have been slowing in recent decades and its likely that this will continue, driven by demographic maturation even in countries which have been motors of global economic growth like China, as well as by increasing material saturation and planetary sustainability limits. The consequence is that it will become harder for companies to passively participate in aggregate growth or to merely refocus on faster growing geographic or product markets. Companies will therefore need to compete more aggressively for growth by creating new opportunities through imagination and innovation.

2. How does imagination differ from dreaming and creativity?

Dreaming is fantasy, unconstrained by the laws of physics and economics. Imagination, as we use the term in the book, is conceiving of things which do not exist but could be created. Imagination is therefore grounded in causal thinking. Creativity is a capability which can help individuals generate imaginative ideas but to systematically harness the power of imagination we need to look at the entire life cycle of ideas from inspiration through obsolescence and renewal and we need to consider how ideas develop and spread socially.

3. What makes imagination go?

Imagination is triggered by surprises which do not fit our current mental model for how the world, or a business is supposed to work. These surprises occur in the form of accidents (unintended consequences), anomalies (deviations from normal outcomes), and analogies (comparisons with other situations). In order to leverage a surprise, we need to first perceive it, requiring an external orientation, keen observation and open-mindedness. We also need to care about what we see, in the sense of harboring ideals or frustrations which propel is to pursue further the impetus created by surprise.

4. What is collective imagination, why is it important, and how is it fostered?

An idea which is not communicated or supported and adopted by others can never create new realities and be of economic value. Since an idea cannot be directly observed, it creates what philosophers call the challenge of inter-subjectivity. We can share ideas socially however by creating a prototype, by sharing the experience of developing an idea together, by witnessing its effect or by hearing and being motivated by a narrative which points to the significance of the idea. Put another way, one person’s idea needs to become the next persons surprise and inspiration if an idea is to spread. Organizations can unwittingly create many barriers to the spread of ideas, from functional silos, to local organizational dialects, to applying financial criteria too early, to skeptical cultures which only embrace proven ideas.

5. What gets in the way of imagination?

There are many obstacles to harnessing imagination throughout the lifecycle of ideas. These begin with the internal orientation of large companies, and over-reliance on averages and aggregates which conceal the surprises we need to see. Then we have the fact that few managers are trained in counterfactual thinking and many company cultures reject new ideas, in the name of “practicality”. Then we have obstacles to the spread of ideas, some of which I have already mentioned. As ideas mature, success needs to replicated and scaled through codification, which many companies make too complex to be implementable or too vague to capture essential features. Finally, past success can be toxic to future success if it becomes enshrined in fixed mental models and complacency.

The Imagination Machine6. Why is it important to understand and challenge your mental models?

Mental models are often confused with facts, but constructs like an industry, a strategy or a business model are chosen simplifications, which could be otherwise. If we don’t challenge our existing mental models, we cannot create new ones which then become the basis for new realities. To do this, we need to pay attention to anomalies and use them to update and evolve our mental models. It helps if we hold several mental models in mind at one time and if we are familiar with the techniques of counter-factual thinking – like decomposing models into elements and recombining them or imposing or removing constraints. It also helps if we educate ourselves broadly in several disciplines to build our repertoire of concepts and perspectives.

7. What is the link between action and imagination?

Click to read the rest of the interview on InnovationManagement.se

Posted in Innovation | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Leveraging Alien Thinking

Exclusive Interview Excerpt from InnovationManagement.se with Cyril Bouquet, Jean-Louis Barsoux, and Michael Wade

Alien Thinking

For the past decade, Cyril Bouquet, Jean-Louis Barsoux, and Michael Wade, professors of innovation and strategy at IMD Business School, have studied inventors, scientists, doctors, entrepreneurs, and artists. These people, or “aliens,” as the authors call them, are able to make leaps of creativity, and use five patterns of thinking that distinguish them from the rest of us.

Alien Thinking leads to a fresh and flexible approach to problem-solving. Alien thinkers know how to free the imagination so it can detect hard-to-observe patterns. They practice deliberate ways to retreat from the world in order to see the big picture underlying a problem. And they approach ideas in systematic ways that reflect the constraints of reality.

I had the opportunity recently to interview these three IMD professors about the concepts behind the book ALIEN Thinking: The Unconventional Path to Breakthrough Ideas.

Below is the text of the interview:

1. It looks like A.L.I.E.N. is an acronym. What are the key components that make up the approach? And what was the genesis for its creation?

Cyril Bouquet (CB): ALIEN thinking is first and foremost a metaphor that captures the need to approach problems with an open mind and a fresh perspective – like a child or an outsider – in order to develop breakthrough solutions.

About 10 years ago, my colleague Estelle Metayer (now professor at McGill University in Canada) was discussing the importance of avoiding strategic blindspots in a session she ran for groups of executives at IMD. Browsing through a book on change called Future Think, she also brought my attention to the first chapter, which was called “Looking Through Alien Eyes”. I thought this metaphor was very applicable to innovation – and at some point, I made a connection between the letters and some of the themes I was teaching to executives in class. Together with my colleagues, Jean-Louis and Mike, we came up with an acronym that highlights the essence of the creative mindset that we believe executives must embrace.

So, A stands for Attention, which is about noticing problems or opportunities that you and others previously missed by changing where and how you look.

L is for Levitation, which means stepping back to gain perspective and make sense of what you’ve seen to reflect on what you need to do differently.

I stands for Imagination, which involves connecting the dots in new and interesting ways to create original and useful ideas.

E is about Experimentation, which is about testing your promising idea and turning it into a workable solution that addresses a real need.

Finally, N stands for Navigation, which is about finding ways to get your solution accepted without getting shot down in the process.

2. Why is originality important? Why is it difficult to be original?

Jean-Louis Barsoux (JLB): Originality is a key driver of innovation and progress. It’s what fuels economic growth and brings advances in domains from science and medicine to inequality and sustainability, not to mention spiritual and emotional sustenance through the creative and performing arts.

But originality often represents a challenge to the prevailing norms and practices. It can easily trigger an allergic reaction toward the “odd” idea or its “weird” originator. The more disruptive your idea, the harder you need to work to show how it fits with the belief systems of people whose support you need to move the idea forward.

This is especially the case within companies. Intrapreneurs who come up with breakthrough ideas are often shocked to discover how much resistance they elicit from inside the organization that stands to benefit the most.

3. What does it mean to think like an “alien”?

Michael Wade (MW): Urging would-be innovators to think like aliens is similar to what Zen Buddhists call adopting the “beginner’s mind”. It’s about developing an attitude of openness and overcoming the many biases and blindspots that place artificial limits on your creative intelligence.

Perhaps the most insidious of these biases is what the French call “déformation proféssionnelle”. This is your tendency to look at the world through the distorting lens of your job, your training or profession. The very expertise that can help you solve problems can blind you to a wider range of creative possibilities. Instead of seeing the world as it is, you view it in the way an accountant, lawyer, engineer, or professor would see it.

This expertise baggage is problematic because it can impact every phase of the innovation process: starting with what problems we pay attention to or ignore; and how we interpret the information. It influences the types of ideas we generate and what aspects we stress or neglect in testing. Ultimately, it also impacts who we reach out to for support and what arguments we put forward to convince them.

It is vital to be conscious of this conditioning as we develop our ideas, test them, and try to sell them. Whenever possible we need to get input from people who think differently from us – and make sure we listen to them – to counteract our preconceptions.

4. Why do existing innovation frameworks – including design thinking and lean startup – fall short?

CB: The design thinking and lean start up methodologies have done a wonderful job of raising our understanding of innovation and creating a shared vocabulary – with concepts like “minimum viable product”, ideation, and pivot. But we feel that like other innovation frameworks, they fall short in two ways.

First, they are incomplete. They don’t explicitly take account of the vital role of reflection – what we call levitation – throughout the innovation process. Instead they emphasize speed and action, presenting innovation as a series of sprints. Lean startup takes the initial problem as a given, leaving no space for reframing it, before launching into a frenzied cycle of build-measure-learn. Nor do existing models integrate the digital aspect of innovation or show how digital technologies relate, say, to the “human-centric” principles enshrined in design thinking.

Second, existing models are misleading because they gloss over the psychological pitfalls and biases that inhibit your original thinking. They tell you what to do, without acknowledging why it’s difficult. For example, pivoting is a great concept, but to do it, you must overcome some critical cognitive biases, including confirmation biases and sunk cost effects. By contrast, ALIEN thinking surfaces some of the ways we deceive ourselves at different stages of the innovation process – and end up focusing on the wrong problems, or jumping to solutions, or sticking too long with a bad idea.

Our view is that an alien mindset can support and complement design thinking and lean startup by helping to challenge assumptions that these frameworks take for granted.

5. What can or should be the role of digital augmentation be in innovation activities?

MW: Digital technologies can boost ALIEN thinking in several ways – but especially during the attention and experimentation phases.

For example, in terms paying attention to how products or services are actually used and what are some of the unmet needs, we traditionally relied on painstaking direct observation of users. But today, a lot of that observation can be automated. You can remotely monitor people and objects in close to real time through sensors and social listening. For example, the German-based Nivea brand tapped into discussions across social media sites concerning deodorant use. Contrary to expectations, they discovered that the main preoccupation of consumers was not fragrance or effectiveness, but clothes stains. This insight triggered the development of a new category of anti-stain deodorants. Digital tools enable you to collect data without direct observation and on a much larger scale than previously.

Digital technologies also make a dramatic difference at the experimentation stage. You can build digital twins of objects to experiment quickly, safely, and cheaply. This is exactly what Bertrand Piccard’s team did when they built the first solar-powered plane, with the wingspan of an Airbus, the weight of a car and the power of a small motorcycle. Testing multiple full-scale prototypes would have been ruinously expensive. But computer simulation creates the possibility of trial without error – or at least without costly errors.

Alien Thinking6. In an era of digital saturation and burnout, how are people supposed to make time to focus and elevate their thinking?

JLB: Occasionally stepping back from the action to regain perspective and make sense of disparate pieces of information is vital to creativity. Reflection is an integral part of the innovation process – whether it’s to reconsider the problem, or your approach to it – or the solution itself.

But elevating your thinking, which we call “levitation”, has become increasingly difficult in a context where we are inundated with calls, emails, and texts from colleagues expecting quick responses.

Paradoxically, the experience of working from home, which should have given us more control over our agenda, has often exacerbated the problem, with back-to-back or even overlapping zoom calls. And although we save on commuting time, we rarely make use of that time to re-energize or re-assess.

The only way to secure reflection time is to plan for it. This may seem forced, but unless you schedule breaks, you will find that the demands of the problems at hand always win out. It also has to be a meaningful break. Snatching a short lunch at your desk while watching social media for distraction won’t help. Nor does going out a walk and taking your phone with you.

Creativity demands introspection. To leverage your pause, you really need to unplug and see where your mind leads you. You need to protect your boredom! Is it any wonder that people often report getting their best ideas in the shower? It is one of the few mindless activities that remains beyond the reach of digital technology!

Click to read the rest of the interview on InnovationManagement.se

Posted in Innovation | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Teaming Up to Drive Customer Experience, Change and Innovation Success

Teaming Up to Drive Customer Experience, Change and Innovation Success

I have exciting news to share and I can finally reveal all the details.

I am teaming up with the HCL Digital Consulting practice to help clients design compelling experiences, organizational agility, and innovation capabilities at the front end of their digital transformations.

HCL’s Digital Consulting practice brings together decades of deep technology expertise with best in class consulting services that are global, outcome based, and people-focused. Our mission is to drive both transformation and continuous improvement, and to do it all at scale. We work as a partner alongside our clients to align technology needs with business goals — from strategy to execution — to deliver solutions that are:

  1. Visionary — find what’s possible with strategic future focus
  2. Pragmatic — actionable solutions right-sized
  3. Empathetic — human-centered and business-minded approach
  4. Enabling — trusted advisors who work with you

If you’re looking to beat the 84% Digital Transformation failure rate then we should definitely talk – wherever you might be in the world.

Contact me here if you’d like to start a conversation about customer experience (CX), organizational change, innovation or digital transformation!

In the meantime be sure and download my free success guide on "Riding the Data Wave to Digital Disruption."

Riding the Data Wave to Digital Disruption

In our digital age, all companies must change how they think, how they interact with customers, partners, and suppliers, and how their business works on the inside. Customer, partner, and supplier expectations have changed, and a gap is opening between what they expect from their interaction with companies and what those companies are currently able to deliver. Companies must immediately work to close this expectation gap, or their entire business is at risk.

This success guide provides questions and frameworks for companies to use to plan and execute successful a Digital Transformation.

Click for free access to the "Riding the Data Wave to Digital Disruption" success guide

Posted in Change, Design, Innovation, Strategy | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Building Cumulative Advantage

Exclusive Mark Schaefer Interview Excerpt from CustomerThink.com

Mark W SchaeferCumulative Advantage as a concept builds unstoppable momentum for your ideas and your business — even when the odds seem stacked against you. The book shows how initial advantages, seams of opportunity, sonic booms, and the lift from mentors can impact your world in powerful and permanent ways. It’s designed to be a practical source of inspiration for the entrepreneur, business leader, and every person with a dream that’s ready to take flight. The Cumulative Advantage concept focuses on:

  • How the initial advantage that drives momentum comes from everyday ideas.
  • The inside secrets of creating vast awareness for your projects.
  • How to nurture powerful connections that lead to break-through opportunities.
  • Why momentum is driven by the speed, time, and space of a “seam.”
  • How the “certainty of business uncertainty” can be used to your advantage.

I had the opportunity recently to interview Mark Schaefer, a globally-acclaimed author, keynote speaker, and marketing consultant. He is a faculty member of Rutgers University and one of the top business bloggers and podcasters in the world. Mark is the executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, Chief Executive Officer of B Squared Media and on the advisory board of several startups. He has been a contributor to Harvard Business Review and Entrepreneur magazine.

His latest book is Cumulative Advantage: How to Build Momentum for Your Ideas, Business and Life Against All Odds.

Below is the text of the interview:

1. Is success random?

Yes and no.

Momentum in life begins with some initial advantage. That is almost always random and unearned. It could be inherited wealth, a special, early educational opportunity, or being in the right place at the right time. Even being born into a free country and living in a stable household with two parents can be an advantage.

Frans Johansson wrote an entire book about this phenomenon called “The Click Moment.” I can point to a random conversation with my boss in 1992 that led to this book!

However, just having an idea or an advantage is not enough. You must pursue the idea and apply it to something changing in the world to create an opportunity. Randomness is likely to get the ball rolling, but hard work and smarts still make a difference when it comes to success.

2. Why is creating a cumulative advantage important?

There are many reasons to understand the patterns of momentum but for me, it’s the fact that it’s just so hard to stand out today. Even if you’re doing your best work, you can be buried because the level of competition and content out there is so great. How can a person or a business be heard? How can they be found?

For the past 10 years, most of my career has been devoted to this idea of becoming the signal instead of the noise. It’s never been harder for a business to be seen and heard and I think understanding how we can apply momentum to our lives is a big idea to help solve this problem.

3. Can anyone create cumulative advantage for their business or ideas?

This is going to sound weird, but honestly, no. This haunted me as I wrote the book. I realized that every business book and every self-help book is inherently elitist. The author assumes a person has the money to buy the book, the time to read it, and the resources to act on it.

But there is a big part of society that is being pulled under by Cumulative Disadvantage. It’s a cosmically complex topic that I address, in part, at the end of the book. I wanted to write a book that could help everyone, I don’t think anybody can, really.

But let’s put it this way — if you have the resources to buy the book and read it, then yes, you can probably build momentum!

4. What kinds of initial advantages might the average person have?

It can be anything really that leads to some momentum in later life. I already mentioned this idea about just living in a safe home as an advantage. Children adopted out of poverty had a substantial gain in IQ just from being in a safe environment.

Research has shown that early reading skills can lead to an advantage in education. Early athletic coaching can lead to longer and more profitable professional careers (just ask Tiger Woods or Serena Williams!). It can be a special ability, a personality trait, or even a stroke of luck along the way.

5. We are all surfing the crest of a wave that started long ago. Advantage builds on advantage. Why is curiosity so important?

I once had the opportunity to meet Walter Isaacson, the biographer of Steve Jobs, Leonardo DeVinci and Benjamin Franklin. I asked him what made a genius. He said endless curiosity and an ability to see patterns.

The world is filled with millions of ideas. An idea is worth nothing without the pursuit of curiosity, That is the beginning of momentum.

Click to read the rest of the interview on CustomerThink.com

Posted in Entrepreneurship, marketing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Rethinking Electric Vehicles and the Power Grid

Ford F150 Lightning Electric Truck

Ford just announced an electric truck for the masses, the Ford F-150 Lightning, with up to 300 miles of range starting at just under $40,000.

That is about as much detail as I’m going to go into about this new electric truck from Ford, and you won’t find me comparing it to Tesla’s Cybertruck or GM’s electric Hummer. I’ll leave that that to the gearheads.

The purpose for today’s article on Human-Centered Change™ and Innovation is not to compare electric truck specifications, but instead to highlight a somewhat buried feature of the new Ford F-150 Lightning Electric Truck:

Ford is providing an 80-amp home charging station that completely charges the truck in eight hours, or allows buyers to easily use the truck to power their entire home for around three days in the event of an electricity outage.

Sometimes what seems like a minor benefit outside the typical product feature set actually has the potential to shift mindsets and customer expectations. AND, it leads to a series of questions:

Have you spent $10,000-20,000 on a Tesla Powerwall battery backup system for your house?

Or thousands of dollars on a more traditional partial home generator?

Have you ever thought about using your car or truck to power your house?

What if this were to become a common expectation of consumers of electric vehicles?

If this became a key differentiator between internal combustion and electric vehicles, might this help to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles in the United States and elsewhere?

And what might the implications be for utilities and the power grid?

Stay tuned! It will be interesting to monitor how this situation develops and whether other electric vehicle manufacturers modify their marketing strategies, leading to one final question:

Innovation or not?

Image credit: yahoo

Posted in Design, Innovation, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Big News to Share Soon

Big News to Share Soon

I have exciting news to share very soon, but I can’t reveal all the details quite yet…

Here is what I can tell you now:

On June 1st I am going to join one of the global leaders in digital transformation advisory services. My mission will be to help clients design compelling experiences, organizational agility, and innovation capabilities at the front end of their digital transformations.

After the Labor Day holiday when I officially start, I’ll reveal the name of the company I’m teaming up with and how we can work together to beat the 84% Digital Transformation failure rate.

Contact me if you’d like to start a conversation about customer experience (CX), organizational change, innovation or digital transformation next week!

Stay tuned!

Posted in Digital Transformation | Tagged | Leave a comment

500 Quote Slides on Design, Innovation, and Change

500 Quote Slides on Innovation, Change and Design

Free Downloads for Keynote Speeches, Presentations and Workshops

Looking for a compelling quote for a keynote speech, workshop or presentation on any of these topics?

  • Innovation
  • Design
  • Change
  • Digital Transformation
  • Design Thinking
  • Creativity
  • Leadership

I’m flattered that people have been quoting my keynote speeches and my first two books Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire and Charting Change.

So, I’m making some of my favorite quotes available from myself and other thought leaders in a fun, visual, easily shareable format.

I’ve been publishing them on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

But now you can download ten (10) volumes of fifty (50) quote posters, for a total of 500, for FREE from my store:

You can add them all to your shopping cart at once and download them for FREE.

Print them, share them on social media, or use them in your presentations, keynote speeches or workshops.

They are all Adobe PDF’s and the best way to add them to your presentation is to:

  1. Put the PDF into FULL SCREEN MODE
  2. Take a screenshot
  3. Paste it into your presentation
  4. Crop it and adjust the size to your liking
  5. Change the background color of the slide to a suitable color (if necessary)

Contact me with your favorite innovation, design thinking, change, transformation, or design quotes and I’ll consider adding them to my library of future downloads.

Posted in Change, Design, Digital Transformation, Innovation, Leadership, Quotes | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is innovation everyone’s job?

EPISODE SEVEN – Ask the Consultant

Live from the Innovation Studio comes EPISODE SEVEN of a new ‘Ask the Consultant’ series of short form videos. EPISODE SEVEN seeks to answer a strategic question that many innovation leaders struggle with:

“Is innovation everyone’s job?”

Should it be? Can it be?

Check out the video here:

Innovation is the oxygen of business. Without continuous reinvention and renewal of the sources of value for the company and its customers, the inevitability of the Product Life Cycle will eventually defeat even the strongest company if it stands still.

The Innovation Imperative - Product Life Cycle

In the video we look at the difference a commitment to reinvention, reimagination and innovation can make to the survival of an organization by looking at the different fortunes of two companies in the same business faced back in 2010/2011.

We’ll also look at where innovation comes from, the intersection it sits at, and the power of the Infinite Innovation Infrastructure™ and the Nine Innovation Roles™ that I introduced in my first book Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire.

The video will show you what an innovator looks like, the importance of people to innovation and the roles that well-functioning innovation teams need filled to be successful.

Nine Innovation Roles

We’ll detail in the video what each of the Nine Innovation Roles are — and you can get lots of free gifts at http://9roles.com — but here are the names:

  1. Revolutionary
  2. Artist
  3. Troubleshooter
  4. Conscript
  5. Connector
  6. Customer Champion
  7. Judge
  8. Evangelist
  9. Magic Maker

}} Click here to watch the video {{

Help Shape the Next ‘Ask the Consultant’ Episode

  1. Grab a great deal on Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire on Amazon while they last!
  2. Get a copy of my latest book Charting Change on Amazon
  3. Contact me with your question for the next video episode of “Ask the Consultant” live from my innovation studio

Below are the previous episodes of ‘Ask the Consultant’:

  1. EPISODE ONE – What is innovation?
  2. EPISODE TWO – How do I create continuous innovation in my organization?
  3. EPISODE THREE – What is digital transformation?
  4. EPISODE FOUR – What is the best way to create successful change?
  5. EPISODE FIVE – What is design thinking?
  6. EPISODE SIX – Zoom Tutorial – Amazing New PowerPoint Background Feature
  7. All other episodes of Ask the Consultant

Posted in Innovation | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Five Lessons I Learned as an Accidental Entrepreneur

Five Lessons I Learned as an Accidental Entrepreneur

You don’t have to start a business to learn from my journey.

I like think of myself as an accidental entrepreneur. I originally set out to make innovation insights accessible for the greater good. But, nearly 15 years after publishing my first article, I sold a site that had more than 8,000 articles from around 400 contributing authors.

Along the way I learned a great deal of things, some the easy way and some the hard way. Here are the five key lessons I learned from my 15-year journey as a webpreneur:

1. Before turning a passion into a business, nail the business model

My website, Innovation Excellence, started as a passion project that shared my own thoughts about innovation. The site didn’t begin with a business model and sort of evolved as my project grew. Even after bringing in partners to transform my project, everyone had a day job and didn’t have time to develop the most viable revenue streams. I began to experiment with advertising and sponsorships, but everything was difficult and quite manual. From this inability to invest, I learned that you shouldn’t start commercializing a passion project before nailing the business model. If you can’t, leave it as a small, manageable hobby.

2. Don’t give up too much equity too soon

I eventually brought on three partners, but ended up owning less than a third of my creation. I now see that I placed too little value on all of the work that I had done to that point.

Don’t give away half the commercial potential of your passion project to the first person offering you money to grow it. You always have the option of not growing it or growing it more slowly with more control. Make these choices carefully and err on the side of only giving up small amounts of equity for investment. I brought on some great people as partners, but the painful reality is that I gave up equity to fund a redesign that we ended up throwing away for another redesign that I did myself.

3. In any partnership, make sure ownership percentages match contributions

It takes work to run a website. If someone owns a third of your business, they should be doing a third of the day-to-day work involved. Even financial investors should be getting their hands dirty. Refuse purely financial investors unless their money funds the successful launching of a profitable business model.

4. Create as many win-wins as possible

My team was able to build Innovation Excellence into a saleable asset because it was a purpose-driven business focused on creating as many win-wins as possible. Every decision was measured against the mission to make innovation insights accessible, and we were focused on creating value for our global innovation community and value for our contributing authors. We turned down advertising dollars we didn’t think would be a win for our community and our authors.

If I start a new site, it will definitely follow this paradigm of creating value for as many stakeholders as possible. Win-win relationships create value over time, while win-lose relationships destroy value until it reaches zero.

5. When it’s time to sell, make sure the buyers share your vision

I’m proud of what I built with Innovation Excellence and grateful for my partners. Sadly, Innovation Excellence has disappeared. The buyers said they shared our vision, wanted to do no harm, respected what we had built and only wanted to make it better, but they completely replaced the brand nonetheless.

The buyer had every right to do this in pursuit of leveraging the assets they purchased, but it’s still painful as a founder to not be able to point people to the thing that you built. This should be a consideration when you sell something you’ve poured your heart and soul into.

Building and selling the Innovation Excellence was a wild ride, and I definitely learned a lot along the way. But you don’t have to build a company to gain insights. You can learn so much about how investors think by watching Shark Tank or reading articles. Talk to other entrepreneurs so you can learn without going through the hard part. Always look to grow and keep innovating, so you’re prepared when entrepreneurship comes knocking.

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com

Image credit: Pixabay

Posted in Entrepreneurship | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

After Hours with Mauro Porcini – PepsiCo’s First Chief Design Officer

After Hours with Mauro Porcini - PepsiCo’s First Chief Design Officer

A short while ago I had the opportunity to sit down with Mauro Porcini, SVP & Chief Design Officer at PepsiCo, a multi-billion-dollar American corporation with more than 250,000 employees. It is the second largest food and beverage company in the world, and the largest in North America.

The initial part of this interview focused on how PepsiCo embraces failure and gets to the root of customer needs and can be found on Innovation Leader. But Mauro had so much design and innovation wisdom to share that he agreed to stay after hours and answer more questions.

Mauro Porcini joined PepsiCo in 2012 as its first Chief Design Officer and began infusing design thinking into PepsiCo’s culture and leading a new approach to innovation by design across the company’s popular product platforms and brands, as well as new platforms such as Alternative Hydration (water personalization and consumption beyond the bottle) and Spire (Smart Fountains for drinks customization).

The team’s efforts extend from physical to virtual expressions of the brands, and to the company’s focus on sustainability. In the past seven years the PepsiCo design team has won more than 1,000 Design and Innovation awards.

To dive deeper into innovation at PepsiCo I posed the following questions:

Why is innovation important to PepsiCo?

Innovation is an absolutely fundamental, core value at PepsiCo. It’s a key ingredient in the company’s success and continued growth. Our daily work as designers within PepsiCo is to keep our innovation pipeline as human-centered as possible, as well as agile, flexible, reactive and in-tune with global and local trends. This requires a multi-disciplinary effort that involves close collaboration with other functions like R&D, Marketing, Strategy, Consumer Insights, and Manufacturing to ensure we are unlocking the full potential of our brands.

Mauro, I see you’re already connecting innovation and design. Let’s dig into that.

What do you see as the intersection between innovation and design, and why is this intersection important?

Mauro PorciniThe reality is that design and innovation are one and the same. Innovation is all about people. Innovation is about imagining, designing and developing meaningful solutions for people’s needs and wants. As designers, we are trained in three dimensions: human science (desirability), business (viability) and technology (feasibility). In the projects my global design team works on at PepsiCo, we connect these three dimensions to create products, brands, experiences and services that are relevant to the communities we design for. We call this approach “design”; the world often calls it “innovation.”

It’s interesting that you see innovation and design as synonyms where many see design instead as a path to innovation. Let’s explore what it takes to excel at design.

Click here to read the rest of the interview with Mauro Porcini on CustomerThink

Other questions Mauro will answer on CustomerThink include:

  1. What are some of the most important differences between doing design and being a design leader that innovators and designers should be aware of?
  2. What was the impetus, what resistance did you face, and what excited you about this design challenge?
  3. Why is it more important to be in love with your customers than to try and satisfy them?
  4. Do you have any tips for organizations trying to get better at empathy, listening and understanding to become better innovators?
  5. What are you most curious about right now?
  6. What are you working on learning about or mastering right now to help the team?

Images courtesy of PepsiCo

Posted in Design, Innovation | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment