The value of inventive services
from BusinessWeek's Innovation and Design Portal
"It's the biggest part of the economy these days, but many companies' innovation remain focused on products. Here's why that needs to change.
Ask most executives how innovation can spur their growth, and they'll immediately think about changes in their product lineup. Wrong. They should be thinking "services."
First of all, there just isn't a lot of information or rigor around the topic. While reams of books and articles abound on the topic of product innovation and product development, very few focus specifically on services and the distinctions therein.
And you would be hard pressed to find a course on service development or innovation on any B-school campus, reflecting the dearth of academic concentration in the area. Today, few universities even teach service management, and if they do, the emphasis falls to quality management and the operational excellence associated with existing service environments, never the invention and nurture of new service concepts. Further, there are few public forums where professionals involved in service innovation can learn from exemplars.
Second, although we have found that the best service innovators draw on the conventional wisdom associated with product development, most aren't using the latest tools, such as ethnographic research and rapid development techniques, to drive innovation. Just as important, they don't understand the basic distinctions between product- and service-innovation environments. Before rushing off to innovate in services, managers would do well to understand their uniqueness.
Finally, research and development groups don't tend to exist in most service companies. This makes it more difficult for innovation expertise to find a home. By comparison, product-based companies regularly invest billions to understand where their future revenue streams will come from.
Observe what is with undivided awareness.
BusinessWeek Special Report: Complete List of Articles
How to build Innovative Companies.
"Listen closely. There's a new conversation under way across America that may well change your future. If you work for Procter & Gamble Co. or General Electric Co., you already know what's going on. If you don't, you might want to stop what you're doing and consider this...
"Old Needs, New Ideas
"Paradigm shifts have not just replaced products, they've revamped the markets the items sell in. Take a look at some of these transformations...
"Bringing Innovation to the Home of Six Sigma
Says GE CEO Jeff Immelt: "We want to make it O.K. to take risks".
"Jeff Immelt is creating a stir at General Electric Co. (GE ) Through the years, GE has produced a string of superlative results using precision management tools such as Six Sigma and by giving execs rich incentives for efficiency. Now Immelt wants to turn GE's buttoned-down ranks into a legion of innovators with a flair for creative thinking. He spoke with BusinessWeek's Diane Brady about his experiences and his expectations.
"Section on Innovation and Design
on the BusinessWeek website. They call it the Innovation Portal. Great news for us!A Creative Corporation ToolBox
BusinessWeek Special Report on Doblin
What this means for me, as an innovation consultant with Optimus Solutions, USA, is that we are doing it right! BusinessWeek talks of how companies like Optimus are using anthropology and ethnography to help client companies get more innovative - CUSTOMER-CENTRIC INNOVATION is what we call it at Optimus. Our Innovation WorkGroup is headed by David Wittenberg who has been practicing the above since the last 30 years! So it's definitely not "new" but it's a great feeling to know that companies are waking up to this approach instead of the "3-Day Workshop on Creativity" approach.
At our recently initiated Indian office, we are already talking to three of India's leading organizations in various sectors, how Optimus can help them get innovative and have results to show too.
The biggest contribution of this BusinessWeek article is going to be "CLIENT-AWARENESS". For sometime now, we [the innovation consulting fraternity] have been involved in trying to determine how to make a case for innovation at companies who aren't convinced. Don't get me wrong, the typical workshop approach has it's merits - it increases employee awareness about the concepts of innovation and creativity - but doesn't really contribute to the organization directly - meaning bottomline.
Like everyone else, since I too am a user of various products and services, I know that if a company [who's products / services I used] picked my brains, they'd probably get some good ideas on how to improve their offering. The latest example being the online networking portal openBC
- as a user / member I had ideas and they were enthusiastic and receptive enough to ask. Result: they're working on functionalities that other online business networking portals might not even be dreaming of.
For more on Optimus: Visit their website
For more on openBC: Join my network!
and visit my Business Networking Blog
For personal attention: E-Mail me!
Interview with Malcolm Galdwell
A few thin slices of Malcolm Gladwell
"The Tipping Point is the biography of an idea, and the idea is very simple," Malcolm Gladwell assured readers early in his hugely successful debut. "The best way to understand the emergence of fashion trends, the ebb and flow of crime waves, or, for that matter, the transformation of unknown books into bestsellers, or the rise of teenage smoking, or the phenomena of word of mouth, or any number of the other mysterious changes that mark everyday life is to think of them as epidemics. Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread just like viruses do.
Robert Paterson's Radio Weblog
has a nice summary of the Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. So if you haven't had time to read the book, I'd suggest you go through the summary.
Innovation, a key for future of IT: NASSCOM President
There was no dearth of talent in India but the future of Information Technology was in innovation, NASSCOM President Kiran Karnik said today.
In his keynote address at the annual HR summit here, he said there was a need to change the process itself. While companies could sustain in the short term by making available cheaper and better products, it was imperative for adopting innovative methods in their practices for companies to sustain in the long run.
Mr Karnik said since innovation had to come from young people, it had to be bred at the university level by providing the right atmosphere and making available the right input.
Marketing and monetising of such innovation must be possible, he said and called for greater interaction and mutual cooperation between the industry and the academia.
''Incubate and foster innovations, which is valuable in terms of economics and how to bring to bear the industry's expertise on innovation gains importance.'' Confirming an enthusiastic response from the academia, Mr Karnik said NASSCOM had signed MoUs with AICTE and UGC, giving momentum to its ''IT Workforce Development Initiative.'' From the industry's point of view, he said the need was to work with academia for its own interest.
On the government's role, he said while funding was welcome, the government as a facilitator, could also provide the cushion of rules and regulations periodically for enabling the forging of private and public partnerships.
Anna University Chancellor D Viswanath, in his address, highlighted that the fundamental resource was in having a knowledge pool. Like a harbour providing a base for flow of goods, there was a need for a knowledge harbour.
He said focus areas would be communication, perfect management and resource management and train adequacy to excellence through these qualities.
Universities like Anna Varsity could contribute through activities like internships, post-doc programmes and data sharing to cater to global increasing demand by providing adequate supply of young talent.
Case Study: Keep Track of the Bright Ideas
Nine out of 10 senior managers see innovation as a key source of future competitive advantage, according to a study by business consulting firm Bain & Company, yet the same study found that two-thirds of the respondents were dissatisfied with their company's innovation performance.
What many companies lack is a formal process for capturing and vetting ideas. "In a low-odds, inductive game like innovation, the idea you lose could be the idea that would have worked," notes Bain's Paul Calthrop.
People tend to associate innovation with industries such as high-tech, pharmaceuticals, genetics and the like, but it's also the source of competitive advantage in comparatively low-tech industries. Advanced Drainage Systems (ADS), for example, has been perfecting its idea management program for more than two years. The manufacturer of polyethylene pipe used in residential and commercial construction first adopted a paper-based approach to capturing ideas and then sharing them among the company's 12 fabrication shops. The program involved some 100 employees, and it helped ADS develop standardized best practices that improved efficiency and quality.
In 2003, ADS decided to take the program companywide, applying the same principles, though not the same paper-based process, to 21 manufacturing plants and associated production and operations activities. By May 2004, the company piloted a centralized idea management program managed on a Microsoft Access database accessible throughout the company on a shared network drive. Facilitators in each plant collected ideas from employees (most of whom had no access to up-to-date PCs) and submitted them to the central database at headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, where reporting and tracking took place.
Unfortunately, the prototype system was soon overwhelmed. "We were pulling in hundreds of ideas out of just a few plants, and working with the network drives and Access proved slow and time consuming," says Scott Anderson, manager of employee involvement.
The next step was to look for purpose-built software that could scale up. Innovation management software, or "idea management" as some call it, is a small but growing category that also includes Brightidea.com
, MindMatters Technologies
and General Ideas
. Anderson narrowed ADS's choice to two vendors. After seeing demos, the company selected Brightidea.com's
On-Demand Innovation Management Suite. The hosted service starts at $49 per registered user and $1 per contributor per month.
ADS chose Brightidea
in part because the hosted solution was compatible with "relic" computers in the company's plants. These dated machines were fine for punching in production numbers, and with browser-based access to Brightidea.com, they could also serve as capture stations where employees can submit their ideas.
Anderson says Brightidea
also simplified central administration. "I used to spend 20 hours a week on tracking and reporting, but that's down to about five hours," he explains. "Now I can spend more time doing the prescreening, making sure ideas are valid and that they haven't been submitted by another plant."
The system also facilitates collaboration without the chaos of e-mail. Users can share their ideas and related attachments, and reviewers can then enter comments that are captured and visible to all.
Once ideas have been prescreened, review groups at each plant approve suggestions for their own facilities and can then escalate ideas for review by a corporate review group. When ideas are approved as companywide best practices, the system also tracks progress toward implementation in all locations.
Thus far, the 1,200 employees with access to the system have been a wellspring of new ideas. In fact, one standout employee has submitted more than 60 ideas, 90 percent of which have been implemented and half of those companywide. Some ideas are simple and easily implemented. In one example, an employee suggested switching the type of spindle bearings used on cut-off saws in the pipe plants; as a result, bearing replacements and, thus, saw outages are now rare. In other cases, suggestions require development, as in the case of the design and production of a "mitered joint pusher" idea contributed by a fabrication department employee. The tool eases the assembly of pipe in the field, and it's being used companywide.
The next step for ADS is to extend Brightidea to ADS's six international plants. Translation technology available with the system is expected to ease idea sharing among Spanish- and English-speaking employees in North, Central and South America.
From Intelligent Enterprise.com
. Written by Doug Henschen
Imagination is more important that knowledge.
Organization not conducive for innovation
From John StarkOrganization not conducive to innovation
Interdepartmental borders prevent communication of innovative ideas
Incorrect measures hinder the advance of innovative products and services
No processes defined for innovation
Not listening to customers
Not knowing what customers really want to buy
No recognition of the need for a creativity process
Incompatible innovations producing confusion rather than growth
Inability to handle uncertainties about risks, results and timing of innovation
Lack of information on markets and technologies
You'll keep gettin' what you been gettin' as long as you keep doin' what you been doin'.
Typical reasons for innovating
From John StarkTypical reasons for innovating
Responding to customers
Increasing market share
Being at the forefront of industry
Establishing a new market
Improving the quality and speed of service
Expanding the product range
Meeting Government standards/regulations
Kurt Hanks and Jay Parry Quote
A person might be able to play without being creative, but he sure can't be creative without playing.
Organizational conditions in which innovation can flourish
From John StarkCreate the organizational conditions in which innovation can flourish
An environment for innovation
A flexible organization
Build an infrastructure that encourages communication
Put in place a good Change Management program
Create measures of innovation performance
Build a climate of trust
Provide venture finance for innovation projects
Age of Abundance Requires Innovation
You might have the best team with the best of innovation, but there are these overly diluted markets out there, glutted with look-alike brands and identical services. The challenge is to fine-tune a marketing process that will not only re-energize the production but produce a shaper edge in design, quality and value, and build a unique iconic identity.
Full article at TechNewsWorld
The Oxford Handbook of Innovation
The Strategy Pyramid: How to Create and Sustain Success (RedefiningStrategy.com)
Built around the theory introduced in "Strategy, Redefined." (later termed the Theory of Business Solutions), this presentation highlights another facet of this theory - its unifying character. While the business world is divided between a "you are what you do" perspective and a "you are what you say" perspective when it comes to strategy, this theory introduces a "you are what you do AND you are what you say" perspective that can help businesses achieve and sustain success.
Using 'Outside-the-Box' Thinking to Drive 'Inside-the-Box' Strategies (Marakon Associates)
Rather than spurring on creative thinking in strategy development, the command to "think outside the box" is often taken as a rallying cry for radical change. For most large companies, however, radical change - be it portfolio transformation or diversification - has not been all that effective in producing superior shareholder returns. More often than not, the biggest opportunities for sustained value creation stem from applying creative thinking to a company's existing business portfolio. The article asserts that this does not mean that executives should mute the call for outside-the-box thinking.
Those who have changed the universe have never done it by changing officials, but always by inspiring the people.
Great is the human who has not lost his childlike heart.
Innovation That Fits: Moving Beyond the Fads to Choose the RIGHT Innovation Strategy for Your Business
by Michael Lord, Donald deBethizy and Jeffrey Wager
The trouble with innovation models is that people have been very innovative with them. Do you encourage innovation from within, or partner to get what you need? Do you spin an innovation out or keep it inside? Where does funding come from? What does the process look like? There is fine theory for all of these issues, but what would work best in your company?
According to the authors of Innovation That Fits, the call over the last decade to "innovate at all costs" has cost many companies dearly. It turns out that those costs do matter. Ask Enron. Ask the many "business incubators" that incubated nothing but failure.
In this very short (248-page, fairly large print) book, the authors study innovation trends from the years 1998 to 2003, deriving case studies to guide companies that know they must get better at innovation, but see no clear path to doing so. Major themes analyzed here include corporate ventures, IP licensing, in-house innovation versus partnering, and spinouts.
The book ends with a recipe for a new, post-bubble model, which focuses on sustainable innovations that have fit and focus with the organization.
As the authors state, "What all the innovation fads and fashions had in common was that, in both presentation and execution, they tended to ignore, neglect, or distract (and therefore ultimately detract) from core innovation." Procter & Gamble did it right, the authors argue, with the Crest Whitestrips and Spinbrush lines. "Procter & Gamble chose to expand its portfolio of innovation sources and modes, even as it renewed the purpose and refocused the direction of its core innovation strategies."
It's easy to come up with new ideas; the hard part is letting go of what worked for you two years ago, but will soon be out of date.
From John StarkWhy you have to innovate
Changing industrial structures and strategies
Evolving customer desires
Competitors improve their products, processes and services
Customers stop buying your old products and services so you need to replace them and add new products and services
New opinions are always suspected and usually opposed, without any other reason but because they are not already common.
Take This MIT Survey - Social Networking, Blogs
Innovation Design Questions
What is innovation?
Why do we innovate?
When do we innovate?
Where do we innovate?
How do we innovate?
What do we innovate?
What skills are needed for innovation?
What knowledge is needed for innovation?
What resources are needed for innovation?
What infrastructures, contexts, cultures are needed for innovation?
What technologies enable innovation?
How is innovation done collaboratively?
How is innovation restricted or limited?
How is innovation continually maintained?
How is innovation lead? How is it managed?
How do we justify innovation?
What are the costs of innovation? What are the costs of no innovation?
What are the economics of innovation?
How is innovation localized? How is it outsourced?
How are sources of innovation shared or protected?
What results from innovation?
What are examples of innovations? Who are examples of innovators?
How do we measure the success of an innovation?
What are the roles of designers in innovation?
How does design thinking differ from business thinking?
How does the design process differ from the innovation process?
What are the processes, techniques and methods of design that can be used for innovation?
What is needed for design to be involved in business innovation?
From this post
on CPH127 Blog
If opportunity does not knock, build a door.
Report 103"How can we make cold calls more effectively and generate more interest in our products and processes?"
There are a number of components in this problem. Which do you see?
I see several:
1. Identifying what is interesting in your products and processes.
2. Who are you calling? Obviously some prospects are better than others. Focusing on better prospects will lead to better results.
3. Who is doing the cold calling? Can they be improved, perhaps through training?
4. How are you communicating? Are you reciting a script? Are you smiling? (research shows that when people smile while talking on the telephone, they sound friendlier)
5. What are you asking the customers to do? Order something directly? Make an appointment to meet a salesperson?
6. What follow up are you doing to help make the sale? Are you calling the customers again in a week or two?
I am probably the world's worst salesman. A professional could surely break the problem into further components.
Once we have broken down the problem, it may become clear that the problem is with a single component. In the above example, it is possible that the company has never really analysed their products and processes in order to determine what makes them attractive to their existing customers. Clearly this information would be extremely helpful in selling to new customers.
Alternatively, the company above might realise that they are doing no follow up on their cold calls. As a result, people who would buy their products are not being offered an easy chance to do just that.
When breaking problems into components, it is useful to establish several small creative teams – each of which is briefed on the overall problem and assigned a component for which they should brainstorm solutions. Give them time to work on solutions (this could be a half hour or it could be a week depending on the nature of the problem) and then bring the teams together to report on their results.
Those results can be impressive, often groups will have complementary ideas that fit together like puzzle pieces, thus providing a big solution which can be applied to the problem. At other times, one team will come up with a solution that can be applied to all of the components of the problem.
So, the next time you are facing a problem. Break it into pieces. Not only will doing so make problem solving easier, but it should result in better solutions.