Innovation.net provides insights and discussion on entrepreneurial approaches to growth and innovation. Topics include new business creation, lean startup methods and open innovation among others. It's written by Mike Docherty and the experts at Venture2, a consulting and new ventures firm.
www.venture2.com Venture2 applies entrepreneurial approaches to accelerate new businesses and new sources of growth. We work with established brand companies as well as emerging technology firms to rapidly connect and commercialize breakthrough new products, services and business models. Our business model leverages a small core team and a big network that brings diverse, multi-disciplinary skills from a variety of business management and entrepreneurial backgrounds.
As part of Fab10 (www.fab10.org), the 10th annual Fab Lab Community Meeting, IAAC - the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia - is holding the Fab Festival on the 5th and 6th of July 2014 (https://www.fab10.org/en/fab-festival). The Fab Festival includes Workshops, Demos, Panels and short talks, gathering members of the International Fab Lab Community, together with the innovative local community and the general public. Members of local groups will hold creative workshops, conferences and events for all ages, a great opportunity for all to partake in the creativity of the city.
Don't miss out on this opportunity to be inspired by and network with some of the world's most innovative people of our time.
One was from Carie Davis and her team's efforts to drive entrepreneurial activities inside of Coca Cola. I was impressed by the human approach to innovation that this group is taking. Here's a link to the Startup Weekend event they imported from the startup world. In my framework, I would call this an "inside-in" approach to breakthrough innovation where intrapreneurial teams and support are put in place. It's an effective approach, appropriate where the goal is to drive more entrepreneurial thinking and not necessarily disruptive new business ventures.
Another interesting talk came from was from Andy Donner sharing the story of Unilever's Go Global Initiative to connect Unilever brands for collaboration with digital startups. I especially appreciated the direct brand/startup collaboration and in-market pilots this led to. In my framework, this is a type of "outside-in" collaboration where startups are imbedded with corporate teams and is especially effective in ensuring better integration and hopefully having some of that startup DNA rub off on corporate teams.
Probably the most inspirational talk at the Chief Innovation Summit this week was from Kyle Nel presenting Lowes Innovation Labs and their efforts to envision and create future prototypes that can demostrate breakthrough opportunities for Lowes and their customers. Kyle lead's Lowes Innovation Labs with locations in San Francisco and Los Angeles, with a dedicated lab under construction in Boulder. Under the theme of Uncommon Partnerships, Lowes is partnering with such diverse groups as Singularity University and SciFutures. Lowes is actually using Sci Fi narratives to envision create future opportunities then actually them via prototypes. The first example: The Holoroom. In my framework, this is "Inside-out" innovation where the focus is disruption and the effort is outsourced to partnerships (such as Singularity) and/or dedicated teams and corporate incubators. Great for protecting these efforts from corporate anti-bodies, this approach requires significant senior level support to link these efforts back to the corporation. Kyle clearly has this senior support and Lowe's is getting amazing PR value from the effort which not only helps Lowes in its perception but can send a message to the entire organization of the importance of breakthrough and disruptive innovation.
What a great event this week, and one that gave me some great new examples of Collective Disruption in action. Sign up on the mailing list and we'll send you a notice when the book is published in a few more months!
I'm honored to be speaking at next week's Innovation Master Class June 10-11 being held at the epicenter of innovation, 3M's headquarters in St. Paul/Minneapolis. It's a wonderful line-up of speakers and one of the highest quality of attendees (based on last year's event) you'll find. I'm also doing a pre-conference workshop with Asoka Veeravagu, VP of New Business Development at Jarden Consumer Solutions. Our workshop on June 9 is entitled "Innovate Like a Startup: Entrepreneurial Methods for Breakthrough Corporate Growth".
WOBI, the leader in management and leadership conferences, gathered 600 of the world's top thought leaders from 27 countries at the AXA Equitable Center in New York City on June 4-5 for WOBI on Innovation to discuss the power of disruption and how businesses can thrive if they have the ability to navigate shifting landscapes that will see industries both thrive and perish.
According to a recent WOBI survey of top executives from 15 different countries, many are no strangers to disruption in both good times and bad — 74 percent of respondents said their organizations had been disrupted at some point by a new product or service, while 83 percent said they had lost money by failing to adopt new technology. The survey also revealed that 72 percent said they were afraid that their business might cease to exist as a direct result of failing to innovate. Now more than ever, the need to prioritize dealing with disruptive forces in business and life is becoming increasing important.
Keynote speakers Scott Anthony, Andy Cohen, Stephen Ritz, Vivek Wadhwa, Joichi Ito, Juan Enriquez, Mark T. Bertolini, Trish Gorman, Hunter Lovins, Peter Sims, and Chip Conley shed light on how innovative disruption can be a powerful force based on their experiences as disruptors and being disrupted.
While it's daunting to conceive how artificial intelligence, drones and 3D printing can replace anyone from pizza delivery boys to construction workers to surgeons and disrupt the labor force, lower healthcare, energy, housing, transportation and other costs coupled with better food and water supply point to a bright future.
"You are talking about the costs of everything dropping dramatically, so yes people might not make as much money, but they also won't spend as much money," Vivek Wadhwa told reporters at a gathering after his delivery.
“What I hope is that we are smart enough to leverage all these advances to solve humanity’s grand challenges and that we’re smart enough to distribute the prosperity we create and to solve the world’s social problems. It’s really up to us,” concluded Wadhwa.
The event heralded the arrival of the WOBI World Business Forum that will take place at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on October 7-8. This year's World Business Forum will echo the WOBI on Innovation forum's disruptive nature by addressing the traits of the Provocateur, one who writes his or her own rules, challenges time-honored truths and forges new paths to growth.
As some of you may know, I had the good fortune to work with Dr. Peter Salk MD in the launch of BeyondPolio. Our efforts were focused on driving collaborative innovation efforts toward better and lower cost delivery of IPV (injected Salk vaccines). IPV plays the central role in the developed world in maintaining eradication efforts, while the Sabin vaccine (OPV) is used in the remaining trouble spots in the world (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Somalia and others), primarily because of its ease of administering. If you didn't know (and it makes some interesting reading), Salk and Sabin were rivals in their day and certainly not collaborating with each other.
Because of my involvement with the fight against polio, and my focus on collaboration and innovation, I was recently impressed when Peter Salk (son of polio vaccine pioneer Jonas Salk) came together with Deborah Sabin, BSN, FNP (daughter of Albert Sabin, developer of the oral polio vaccine) in this year’s Rose Parade on the Rotary Foundation's float.
The pair came together both to honor their fathers’ legacies and to announce their continued efforts to rid the world of polio with the continued support of Rotary.
While the Salk and Sabin vaccines were often seen as competing methods of treating the disease, we can see now that the successes of the last 50 years would not have been possible without both vaccines. Collaboration, not competition, is the ultimate result of the two scientists’ work.
Continuing the fight to eradicate polio is the top priority to both Peter Salk and Deborah Sabin, and they recognize the need for continued collaboration to reduce costs, increase availability, and overcome the obstacles that arise along the way.
We’ve learned that combined efforts and a collaborative spirit have been integral in the fight against polio up to this point, despite two “competing” vaccines, and all signs indicate that this lesson will remain true as work continues to end polio once and for all.
No one today would argue the importance of a consumer/customer focus in driving innovation. Yet in today's 'open innovation' environment, where companies are searching externally for technologies and solutions from startups and elsewhere, the age-old question of consumer driven vs. technology driven takes on new importance. I still often get asked about whether companies should start with identifying needs and then search for technologies that address those needs.... or identify compelling intellectual property and then match them with unmet consumer needs which can be solved?
My answer? Yes.
What I mean by this non-answer is that the question implies a linear approach of first "A" then "B". Innovation, especially breakthrough innovation is an iterative process. The process you use for incremental product and service improvements will seldom work for real breakthroughs. Your company may do all of the right consumer interviews and observational research to identify compelling unmet consumer needs. Yet in spite of this excellent work, you may not be able to develop or source a compelling solution, or perhaps the competitive environment won't provide the opportunity to introduce the innovation into the market... the time just may not yet be right.
Rather, companies should be continually scanning for technologies, consumer/market trends and marketplace opportunities. To me, it's all about finding and exploiting the intersections between unmet needs, enabling solutions (e.g. technology) and marketplace opportunities.
It's at these intersections that compelling and winning innovation lies. And to me it's not about where you start, it's about ensuring that you're truly finding these intersections. So, if you dream up or run across a breakthrough technology or unique idea that's great. Just be willing to step back from it at that point and validate the idea objectively against the consumer/problem and the market opportunity.
All that said, I'm still a believer in creating a deep understanding of consumers and their needs in searching for strategic innovation opportunities. Think of it as 'creative fuel' for your innovation efforts. With this fuel, you'll see potential technologies and solutions through a more clear lens and increase your chances of creating really big ideas. Just don't expect your technology scanning to solve the problem you've set out to solve. As Louis Pasteur once said, "Chance favors the prepared mind". And I'd add... an 'open' mind.
(This post is an update to a previous very popular blog entry on the same topic)
Groupe SEB, a French company that produces small household appliances in association with large corporations and small startups alike, has launched a new open innovation portal at www.innovate-with-groupeseb.com.
The site proposes to allow people from all over the world to submit ideas, and allowing companies large and small to connect with these innovators to move toward collaborative business relationships.
Groupe SEB’s Chief Innovation Officer, John Christophe Simon, said, “The Innovate with Groupe SEB website offers three different types of initial collaboration: proposing an invention like a technology or a potential product, joining Groupe SEB innovation network to be identified as an expert in a given field, and answering to challenges organized around specific requirements defined by the Group.”
While the quote and inferred top-level support is necessary, it's not sufficient for open innovation success. I'm actually more intrigued by the following quote, not in their press release, but placed directly in their site by Gérard Durand, Innovation Process Manager:
“Our relations with our innovative partners are characterised by transparency, proximity and trust. Within our Innovation division, the team dedicated to open innovation follows up and supports every partner individually. We have established processes for submission and evaluation of innovations that guarantee that your case is processed in the best possible manner within the timeframes set. If collaboration is confirmed, this team will become your preferred contact and will support you during the entire progress of the project.”
They atleast understand the importance of speed and transparency with partners. I've seen too many programs than run external partners through a mysterious gauntlet of reviews, with little to no feedback on progress. These reviews can run over 3 months in some cases. Then too often it's a "no" without any honest feedback on rationale. These companies quickly develop the wrong reputation and become not the first stop but the last in the list of prospects pursued by brokers and inventors. If Groupe SEB lives up to their promises in the statement above, they'll be well ahead in the race to become the partner of choice.
The SEB portal also has an area for 'joining our network'. On its surface, a very good idea, but I suspect they've gone about this like most companies who try to build a database of inventors and partners. They treat it transactionally and not as a true relationship-based network of innovators. Rather than collecting names with a sign-up form, they would be much better served to create a 'curated' network, i.e. an 'exclusive club' of partners that come from previous programs and a more strategic outreach program aimed at the technology areas they've already identified as of interest. I've experienced the power of this approach and hope that Groupe SEB takes their 'network' concept to the next level quickly.
(Image via Forbes) Recently, Industry Week published an article by John Dyer entitled "Does Management by Objectives Stifle Excellence?" It's an intriguing article that challenges today's goal-focused management culture and implies that goals and metrics can sometimes get in the way of breakthrough thinking. Eliminating 'management by numbers and numerical goals' was one of W. Edward Deming's 14 points from his seminal quality book "Out of the Crisis" first published in 1982.
When I worked for Ford Motor Company earlier in my career, I had the amazing opportunity to be trained by the legendary Dr. W. Edwards Deming, regarded as one of the world’s most influential leaders in promoting high quality management, evidence-based business practices, and exploring long-term, qualitative approaches to achieving business goals.
Dr. Deming was hugely ahead of his time, with the majority of his material out before many people had ever heard of terms like “conscious leadership,” or were even considering the impact that different management styles and company standards could have on overall productivity.
Plenty of Dr. Deming’s teachings are still extremely relevant today, but for some reason, their adoption isn’t nearly as ubiquitous as it should be.
Among his greatest contributions to the world of managerial training are fourteen key principles for transforming business effectiveness, first written in his book Out of Crisis in 1986.
Many of these principles focus on removing barriers to employee engagement (again, far ahead of its time), calling for the substitution of ineffective quotas and unreachable standards with motivational leadership and a sense of pride in the work being done.
He posed that “Management By Objective” was counterproductive to success, that holding employees to numerical goals actually decreases quality and fosters dissent.
The alternative, management through positive reinforcement, collaboration, and an understanding of human psychology, provides a much more fulfilling and engaging workplace.
It has been two decades since Dr. Deming passed away, and still his principles and teachings are indelibly relevant to the challenges that many businesses face today.
His concepts were ages ahead of their time, and yet so many companies are still struggling to catch up.
Profitability for university tech transfer offices (TTOs) has historically only been available to the smallest percentage of top tier institutions, with 87% of universities failing to break even over a 20 year average. The vast majority of the revenue generated is through licensing opportunities, of which 70% of all income went to the top 10% of universities.
There is clearly a problem with this model, with most TTOs operating in the red year after year.
Instead of focusing on licensing opportunities (usually to the highest bidder), as the profitable, top ranking universities do, the report suggests a shift toward the less common focus of spin-outs and startups. By shifting in this direction, TTOs can foster increased joint responsibility, and break away from a model that restricts technological access to only those universities and license purchasers with the strongest financial backing.
In addition to the report’s recommendations for an increased push for spin-outs and startups, I believe it’s important to foster relationships between corporate and university departments beyond transactional licensing opportunities, as well as increased corporate and venture capital connectivity, to create an environment where research and technology can fuel innovation and commercial scale-up.
University research teams should also take corporate and public perspectives into account when developing research projects, guiding the research toward practical applications of technology to fulfill unmet needs.
When the figures are presented in such a clear cut way, it’s easy to see that a longstanding model of major university and TTO licensing is not an effective method of getting technology and research into the hands of those who can leverage it for the public good. As recent history has shown, true innovation tends to arise from small groups, startups, and special interest spin-outs. The TTO model needs to reflect this reality.
(Photo by The Lean Startup Conference/Jakub Mosur and Erin Lubin)
Day 2 of The Lean Startup Conference in San Francisco included main stage speakers such as lean startup pioneer Steve Blank, Detroit's lean manufacturing expert John Shook and Christie George of New Media Ventures. The day was finished off in great fashion with a wonderful dialogue led by Eric Ries with Marc Andreessen and Chris Dixon of Andreessen Horowitz.
Christie George (@christiegeorge) is Director of New Media Ventures, an angel network focused on media startups that drive social and political progressive change. Applying lean thinking in social ventures is her vision based on a personal philosophy that "if you can do better, you should". Her story of personal belief in the idea and without direct experience is inspirational and ultimately led to success that they are seeing today. Don't just dream or assume others will do it, follow your own passions and "be the change you want to see" as Gandhi said.
Palantir is a computer security company that was founded in 2004 by a group of Stanford scientists and Paypal alums, has doubled in size every year since. Ari Gesher (@alephbass) has been engaged in much of Palantir's growth. His 3 keys for success in hypergrowth? Hiring, hiring, and hiring. If you can't do this well, you'll never sustain successful growth. Palantir focuses a lot of effort on building leaders and supporting/nurturing its culture. "Culture is an emergent property of the people you hire".
Steve Blank of Stanford and co-author of "The Startup Owner's Manual" and author of "Four Steps to the Epiphany" provided some salient points on evidence-based entrepreneurship for the audience. According to Steve, "everthing we've been told about business building has been wrong". Entrepreneurship is a discipline and one that can be measured and repeated. My favorite quote form Steve on the lean startup movement was "Lean startup is like a trip to IKEA. Everything looks good in the store, but what do you do when you get it home?" He provided a case for a more predictble model of entrepreneurship through his 'lean launchpad' approach. According to Steve, the implementation of these methods through training at the National Science Foundation led to a change in venture success rate from 18% to over 60%. He finished up with (a bit of a commercial) for another startup he's helped co-found "Launchpad Central", which he claims is the first comprehensive platform for lean startup portfolio management and mentoring.
Wyatt Jenkins (@wyatt_earp_) of Shutterstock provided a deep dive into Shutterstock's experimentation and testing culture. According to Wyatt, "growth is a series of experiments". Steves talk included a variety of support tools and tactics they use for more effective A/B tests and other experiments used to continually improve Shutterstock's user experience and conversion rates.
Marc Andreessen and Chris Dixon of Andressen Horowitz wrapped up the main conference in a wide ranging discussion on the evolution of entrepreneurship with Eric Ries. Some of the key points:
Marc: "Tech is harder than other industries. I'm jealous of Campbell's Soup. Invented some soup a hundred years ago and they're still selling it"
Marc discussing Tech reaching beyond Silicon Valley: "Every industry well be Tech enabled in coming years. The auto industry is there right now. We're colonizing every industry."
Chris on what advice he'd give to entrepreneurs: "Expect a 5-10+ year journey, not a quick payout. So work on an idea that's worthy of that."
Marc on advice for entrepreneurs: "Entrepreneurs over-train on how to pitch to VC's. They under-train on how to have ideas that VC's can't resist funding."
Chris on what investors look for: "Best companies combine founder skills and dedication with a headstart on understanding the maze of the particular challenge area."
Marc on what investors look for: "The top down market assessment is the kiss of death. Know why your idea will scale and be able to explain the dynamics of how it can happen."
Marc on demonstrating viability: "Get 100 customers who are thrilled with you."
Overall, an inspirational conference, with some great opportunities for networking with both executives and many passionate entrepreneurs. I predict we'll see more entreprise executives in each coming year as they wake up to the need to connect to these startups and to using lean startup principles in their own new venture efforts.
Many thanks to the @leanstartup organizers for pulling off a great event and allowing me to share in the activities. Let's see if I can go build a few more lean startups in the next 12 months with this new energy.