Tag Archives: Innovation

Nine ways for organisations to kill great ideas

25 Oct

Slide11. Normalise it: by turning it into yet another project, to be assessed and prioritised alongside 100 other projects. Yes, a structured discipline around making things happen is important, but great ideas are vulnerable when born, they can all too easily lose their essence and excitement when translated into the normative language and management behaviours of the organisation.

2. De-personalise it: in other words, lose sight of the customer it is trying to help, by literally sucking the life out of it and turning it into numbers, projections, and assumptions. Numbers are important too, but it’s far too easy to create distance between ourselves and the customer. The end result? We only talk about customers as targets and segments, and how to extract value from them. 

3. Patronise it: “you’re not from round here, are you? Let me tell you, we tried this before and it didn’t work…” And, the bigger the company, the more likely it is to also secretly believe it’s too big to fail, and why meddle with a formula that’s served us well so far?

4. Reduce it: by de-risking it. Failure is not an option, really, and besides the idea is competing with many others that have traded risk off by reducing scope and ambition. So, this becomes the game to play, but beware the implications for your idea by de-risking it.

5. Grow it: have you noticed how everyone wants to embrace a good idea, and add their own twist, and pet ideas to it? Scope creep is always a risk, you don’t want your idea to become the universal panacea, that fixes everything, because what began life as a swan, a simple, elegant and achievable solution can easily morph into a  Frankenstein, a hastily stitched-together collection of ideas, all seeking to become real, by attaching themselves to the original..

6. Quarantine it: in splendid isolation. Great ideas are the result of multiple departments, if not the whole organisation, collaborating together and marching to the same tune in the same direction at the same time. Not departments ignoring each other and always competing for budget to achieve their own functional goals.

7. Disown it: literally speaking, remove the owner, its originator. The reality is, the cast is constantly changing (maybe even more so than the customers, ironically), so just change priorities and agendas, re-organise departments and / or people and before you know it, the idea is an orphan. Which, even if it is successfully adopted, will most likely then be forensically re-examined, taken apart and re-built in a different guise.

8. Stall it: by setting the pack on it and ask smart but let’s face it, unhelpful questions, ones that don’t really have answers at this early stage, or ones that sow the seeds of doubt. How statistically significant is the data? What’s the ROI? There’s nothing like smart talk to kill an idea. The sad fact is it is a lot simpler and easier to stay sitting down and ask questions than it is to stand up and support and sponsor an idea.

9. Smother it: in bureaucracy and committees, where it may never see the light of day again (or certainly not in its current form).




Power to the people (and those companies that embrace this). Ten 2013 consumer trends

29 Nov
Concert Crowd (Osheaga 2009) - 30000 waiting f...

(Photo : Anirudh Koul)

Wacky names, thought-provoking stuff. Here are ten key consumer trends for 2013 from trendwatching,com. Some good insights and signals in here on how the power game between consumer and company might be played out in future.

 ‘ PRESUMERS’ is about people seeking active engagement and participation with the company, getting involved in co-production before launch. Why? Because they connect, they are extreme advocates with a connection (I love this product, I like what this company is about, I want it to succeed and make a difference).

 Hand in hand with this, then, perhaps even a pre-requisite would be ‘FULL FRONTAL’, extreme transparency to you and me. So, what might transparency 2.0 look like? Well, moving from ‘having nothing to hide’, to “pro-actively showing and proving they have nothing to hide”, supplying unambiguous and clear evidence. So, a company will have to be pretty clear then about what it wants to be famous for and it had better be something more attractive to its customers than maximising shareholder value, for example.

 Another manifestation of consumer power is ‘DATA MYNING’ where we consumers begin to trade on our own worth to the company. As the paper says, “to date, the ‘big data’ discussion has focused on the value of customer data to businesses. Now, increasingly savvy consumers will start to reverse the flow”, and seek to benefit from the value of their own data”. 

“Hiring well is the most important thing in the universe”

28 Nov
English: Company logo for Valve Corporation. E...

(credit: Wikipedia)

This is fascinating. It’s a handbook for new joiners at Valve, a successful US PC-games company that was originally posted on the web in April,unofficially. This raised all kinds of speculation along the lines of… is this for real? In response, not only did Valve confirm that it was indeed, but also posted it on its own website.

A quick dip into it will quickly reveal just why it’s so interesting. It describes – very eloquently – the culture at Valve, in other words, how things get done.

And ok, while desks with wheels may be pushing it (yes, it’s true), it contains some great insights on what drives and fuels exactly the kind of culture they seek.

Clearly, we’re a long way from the world of command and control: “When you’re an entertainment company that’s spent the last decade going out of its way to recruit the most intelligent, innovative, talented people on Earth, telling them to sit at a desk and do what they’re told obliterates 99% of their value.  We want innovators, and that means maintaining an environment where they’ll flourish”.

That means then that “hiring well is the most important thing in the universe”.  As the handbook says, “Nothing else comes close.  It’s more important that breathing.  So when you’re working on hiring – participating in an interview loop or innovating in the general area of recruiting – everything else you could be doing is stupid and should be ignored!”

Enjoy! And the visuals are great too.

Ten ways to kill innovation. A handy checklist.

21 Nov

(Photo credit: Seth1492)

Good reminder of tried and tested ways to kill innovation from Holly Green in Forbes.

It’s all good and sobering stuff, but my favourite is probably the “Lone Ranger approach”, where, as she says, a small team gets tasked with innovation, which is like asking a single NASA engineer to develop a new rocket ship to get to Mars.

The reality is, for innovation to succeed, you need a careful blend of skills and talents from all areas of the organization. It does not flourish in isolated silos or hidden corners of the organization.

Following on from that, the other downside of isolated innovation is that it makes it all the harder to then re-integrate the work back into the business. Put simply, the danger is that the host simply rejects the virus, as the power of vested interests and the status quo are just too strong.


Why companies bet against big ideas

19 Nov

A good article by David Aaker, of Prophet, in HBR on the importance of companies’ innovation efforts including ‘game-changers’ as well as ‘homeruns’.

 The challenge being that risk aversion leads to overinvestment in incremental innovation, and under-investment in game-changers: “being attached to an optimistic forecast that fails to materialize is a risky career move”. 

 The result? A constant death-spiral of “my brand is better than your brand” incremental innovation.

 A good reminder, but of course, easy to say, much harder to do, and to do consistently too, in large companies where the cards are often being re-shuffled.  


It’s not the price, stupid. It is the value to the customer

19 Nov

Nice piece from the Business model innovation blog on the importance of understanding and framing the ‘price’ to the customer in broader terms, to factor in the effort and process involved in acquisition.


The author talks about the total price of purchasing (TPPs; the price for the good and the costs of process of purchasing it).  As soon as you factor in customer effort to get the job done, in other words, what are you trying to solve for your customers, you will rightly look beyond the actual price, to consider how you can make the ‘life of your customer easier, better and thereby cheaper’.

It’s not the price, stupid. It is the value (proposition) | Business Model Innovation.

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