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3 Books Full of Cool Innovation Tools

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Every organization needs a basket of tools and methods to help find innovative ideas and solutions. Give access to the right tools to the right people based on the nature of their jobs and the types of challenges that needs to be solved. Surround them with proper innovation management processes, and the tools will help generate a culture of innovation and new profits. We are happy to share three of our favorite books on innovation tools.

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  The Big Book of Creativity Games resized 600

The Big Book of Creativity Games: Quick, Fun Activities for Jumpstarting Innovation by Robert Epstein

In the modern economy, where most workers are knowledge workers, creativity and innovation are the most easily sustainable competitive advantages. In The Big Book of Creativity Games, Harvard trained psychologist Robert Epstein provides dozens of games and activities designed to stimulate creativity and generate innovation in the workplace.

Dr. Epstein describes the scientific principles of creativity that underlie the games, and how these principles can be applied to tasks like problem solving, new product development, and marketing. Timely and innovative, The Big Book of Creativity Games is the ideal book for managers to turn to whenever they need:

  • Games that are easy to lead and fun to play
  • Exercises that go far beyond standard brainstorming techniques
  • Innovation jump-starters for team meetings and work groups
  Fast Creativity & Innovation resized 600

Fast Creativity & Innovation: Rapidly Improving Processes, Product Development and Solving by Charles W. Bytheway 

Function Analysis Systems Technique (FAST) is a powerful mapping technique that can graphically represent goals, objectives, strategies, plans, projects, processes, and procedures in function terms to identify related dependencies by organizing them into a cause-and-effect relationship. It is used as a tool to enhance productive thinking, innovation, creativity, and complex problem-solving by allowing problems to be represented quickly and clearly. "Fast Creativity & Innovation" explores all the original concepts behind the FAST method with examples from all sorts of disciplines and industries, as well as looking at some of the newer derivatives of the method - such as fishbone diagrams and process mapping - and how they can be re-introduced to the original concept to tap into undiscovered opportunities for success. 

  The Rudolph Factor resized 600

The Rudolph Factor: Finding the Bright Lights that Drive Innovation in Your Business by Cyndi Laurin & Craig Morningstar 

Praise for The Rudolph Factor

"Whether you're just starting a business or are a seasoned veteran, The Rudolph Factor provides the guiding light for continuously stimulating innovation. People are the key, and this is just the recipe for waking up the creative power within!"

The Takeaway

Innovation is an ever-evolving discipline.  Many practitioners and academics have invented and popularized many tools to help you accelerate your innovation efforts.

Over to you.  Please comment below.

  1. What other books would you add to the recommended reading list?
  2. What is your favorite innovation tool?
  3. In what area of innovation would you like to see new tools created?

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Strategic Acquisitions - Telecommunications Case Study

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Everything is connected to everything. Everything is moving from large, to small, to micro, to nano. That means computing power in the palm of our hands and soon in our blood cells. 

In order to turn data into information and knowledge, we need telecommunications.  As an example, one of the largest growing fields is the convergence of 2-D data and entertainment.  The convergence requires much larger and more efficient communication pipelines.  Not everyone needs the same pipeline of services.  Therefore, the Telecommunications industry must respond with customized communication services for any rich-media object.  That means, for anyone in the world, at anytime, all the time, in any direction.  

Client Situation

Let's take a look at a  US Based, Telecommunications company with 9,000 employees, operating in 34 states plus one international operation. 

They sought DeSai's help to develop new service offerings.  Organic growth was their focus although they were open to acquisitions that would bring capabilities the company sought for wireless communications. The company asked DeSai to validate the targets before it spent hundreds of millions of dollars on the acquisitions.  

DeSai Approach

The DeSai team dug deep into what jobs customers were really trying to get done in the target market by conducting interviews, implementing surveys and performing observational research. 

The work resulted in the conclusion that customers were seeking to accomplish a set of jobs involving much different performance dimensions than what the client had originally envisioned.

DeSai Recommendation

DeSai recommended acquiring the capabilities to address the jobs from one of several struggling (and inexpensive) firms, rather than the high-priced acquisition target the firm was considering.  Why?   Because of the different capabilities identified during the vetting process.

Results Are The Measure of Innovation Success

How did applying the DeSai Body of Knowledge impact the company?  

  • DeSai's recommendation saved the telecom client millions of dollars in acquisition costs while showing the company an inexpensive route to acquire the capabilities it really needed to address the right customer jobs-to-be-done.
  • Client achieved 22% top-line growth in first three years.
  • 15% net contribution to the bottom line during the first three years resulting from the innovation program/process. 

The Takeaway

Change your innovation culture to allow validation of key assumptions before committing large amounts of resources to a project. 

Your  Turn.  Please comment below.

  1. What is your system of checks and balances for vetting possible acquisitions?
  2. How is convergence impacting your business opportunities?
  3. Do you prefer organic growth or acquisitions to increase the size of your business?

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You Can Build Your Own Innovation Engine

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Yes, You Can Build Your Own Innovation Engine 

Jatin Desai was interviewed for the Propelling Marketing Ideas blog about different aspects of Innovation. He answers these questions.

1.  What is innovation?

2.  Can innovation be measured? If so, how?

3.  Besides product innovation, where else can a company innovate?

4.  How does a company link innovation to their current business strategy?

5.  How can a company innovate together with their customers?

Click here to read the interview.

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Pioneer Innovation in Action - Consumer Products Case Study

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Global Consumer Products Companies are faced with three choices on how to compete in the new products and services arena.  They can be a Pioneer, Fast Follower or Imitative.

The Consumer Products industry is the fastest of all industries. Unlike Financial Services or BioPharma, the industry must innovate new products and services every six months. At the same time, it must respond to new business models driven by automation and globalization at the speed of light.  The primary way to grow is through building Innovation Engine capabilities across the value chain. 

Let's take a look at how an $18 Billion company with 18,000 employees, mostly in the US, evolved their Innovation Strategy. 


Client Situation:

A global multi-billion dollar fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) company, had successfully instituted a "fast-follower" strategy. Growth had come through organic operations and few small acquisitions in existing categories in adjacent FMCG fields. 

The leaders in the industry had refocused their efforts on competing through innovation, speeding up the rate of new product introductions.  Retailers had emerged as the leaders of "fast following" strategy.  The client wanted to transform into an innovation leader or Pioneer.

Four Phase Innovation Approach: 

Innovation Diagnostics: The innovation assessment highlighted critical issues within the organization that needed to be addressed immediately. 

Program Pilot: In Phase II, the capability building tools were created, tested and tailored to the company. 

Full Implementation: In Phase III, the capability building was started in three different strategic business units, concurrent with creation of the wider implementation plan. 

Enterprise Rollout: In Phase-IV, the Innovation Approach was embedded across all enterprise systems and expanded across supply chain and open innovation platforms. 

Innovation Teams Receive Venture Board Approval

Business Strategy must inform Innovation Strategy.  The Consumer Products Company established a Venture Board to vet the ideas and seed them with $10 million in capital. 

The goal was to find breakthrough ideas throughout the enterprise.  The Innovation Funnel was opened wide.  Innovation Teams worked the ideas into business concepts. 25% of the business concepts were initially funded.  The balance of the business concepts was placed in an Innovation Database for future company use.

Results Are The Measure of Innovation Success

How did applying the DeSai Body of Knowledge impact the company?

  • DeSai helped the client develop a range of new high value ideas with historically high concept testing results.
  • 5-7 year innovation roadmaps and pipelines in three strategic business units were created.
  • To achieve the desired growth path, the client initiated relationships with potential innovation partners and gained new insights from external partners.
  • Several innovation processes were instituted: idea generation and management, innovation teams and charters, and a high-level blueprint for building an innovation organization.
  • The client witnessed a cultural change within the organization.  Six highly motivated innovation teams were formed creating a range of success stories, and spontaneous adoption of the approach within the organization.
  • The client has attributed a revenue increase of 12.5% directly from the new innovation venturing process.
  • The pipeline of ideas being tested are expected to begin, at least, three new business ventures every year with a potential of $500 million in revenue within the first three years after launch.

The Takeaway

Fast moving industries need a developed Innovation Process that can continue to deliver new products, services and growth to the company. 

Your Turn. Please comment below.

  1. Does your company employ a Pioneer, Fast Follower or Imitative strategy?
  2. How does your company vet and seed promising business concepts with funds?
  3. How full is your Innovation Funnel?


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15 Killer Questions to help build a New Marketing Strategy

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So you think you need a new marketing strategy? Or do you want to make sure your current marketing strategy is solid. Review and answer the following killer questions to help you develop maximum clarity quickly. 

  1. Is there a written strategic plan and/or marketing plan with measurable goals? If not, what is the goal of a new marketing strategy? To achieve what?
  2. What is driving the new “go to market strategy” and what are the expectations from the corporate view?
  3. Are the products the same or repositioned? 
  4. Has a USP (Unique Selling Proposition) been formulated and tested? 
  5. Is there a plan for implementing and supporting the sales & marketing through third parties; including: training, allocation of transactions, measurement systems, staffing, etc.? 
  6. If repositioned, have focus groups been used for strategy evaluation?  With ultimate customers? 
  7. What is the risk of product cannibalization? For your company and other similar products?
  8. If products not significantly changed, why the marketing change? 
  9. How does the competition go to market with these or similar products? 
  10. What are the advantages vs. disadvantages of options such as direct selling…different costs, service quality, close rates, margins, training?
  11. How would these products fit into the company strategy?  How would these products, being sold through currently, add value in the eyes of the company customers? 
  12. What marketing vehicles have been explored to assure success…direct mail, solicitation, co-marketed with other products, etc.?
  13. Are there plans to test market this strategy using a controlled study with market segment variables, such as income, geodemographics, age, penetration by competition, pricing, etc.?
  14. To what extent has market sizing studies been performed and corresponding budgets developed?
  15. How have you integrated Social Networking into the strategy?


Option-1: Answer above questions yourself. Distribute the list with answers to your colleagues in your area and outsides your area and in other business units. Ask them to make your answers better (improve) or add new questions and the answers you had not thought of. 

Option-2 (4 hours): Run an ideation session. Depending on number of participants, set up working group (round) tables by assigning equal number of participants per table. Assign a question to each table and have them generate ideas using various idea generation Innovation Tools. Give 30 minute per question. Once completed, have each table pick Top 3 ideas and post them on a Top Ideas list at the front of the room. Repeat for each remaining question.


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Help your organization with Leadership development programs - critical ingredient for innovation and growth.

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Leaders are not created leaders are born; is a partly flawed argument. In our experience working with Fortune clients since 1983, born leaders are mostly charismatic but they have a tendency to topple organizational values, principles and sometime ethics. That is, they are not true leaders, they are greedy managers. In the short run they can be unprecedented but for a sustained long term growth such charismatic leaders can be detrimental.

Various reasons can support the argument.

Any above average charismatic leader in a short span makes an impact and convinces the top line management to believe in his convictions. The team assigned to the leader soon follows the diktats of the concerned leader and get used to her or his way of conduct. Failures, misappropriations and disapprovals in such circumstances affect the nerve of the organization heavily because of over reliance on the leader. Same goes true with success stories. The flip side of such methods of leadership is clear devaluation of potential of the large work force. Such leadership tendencies are hierarchical and in most cases create a rift of ideology between large sets of people.

In case the leader quits the organization, the entire team crumbles and suffers from a confidence crisis. The situation becomes so worse that newer measures are often treated in comparison to the last leader. In extreme cases employees quit the organization and seek to join their old leader.

Thus every leadership development training program should make leaders out of ordinary employees based on their loyalty, potential and dedication. Leadership programs should focus within the parameters laid by the organization so that never the will of the leader challenges the authority of the organization. Such systematic leadership creates a deep respect for the organization and not the leader only. Innovation best happens under such circumstances of equality of law. In fact all successful organizations of today in any format of business create organizational leadership over personal leadership.

Leadership development programs from The DeSai Group, are targeted towards building pipeline of leaders from within by developing existing employees. Every leader should be groomed and customized to outperform. We believe that best leaders are those who are pushed beyond their current capacity, it is only then the person can tap into the undiscovered capability and the reservoir of potential within. These types of leaders should be taught to stretch their thinking beyond their comfort zone and assure never to endanger the will of the organization at large. Rather the leadership development workshops would stabilize the vision of the organization through proto organizations in the form of leaders. That is, true leaders walk the talk everyday.They should be the ideal role models for leadership for everyone.

The DeSai Group engages with clients to build leaders that can drive performance but also innovation. Too many leadership programs only focus on developing expected outcomes. That mindset cannot work any longer. Organizations must demand leaders to go beyond just the left-brain metrics of performance to whole-brain approach for strategic growth and value creation. It is imperative to build leaders that can out-perform but also out-compete in the turbulent markets.

The DeSai Group’s leadership programs are highly constructed with balance of science and art. These programs focuses on leadership performance bereaved of emotional impact. The psychological effect of a leader will be minimized and a leader would lead simply because he is not better than others but by the fact that he has tested leadership skill acknowledged by colleagues and employees.

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Nine Excellent Ways To Stifle Innovation

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Innovation doesn't just happen…it comes from awesome intrapreneurial teams. Are you or your company guilty of killing good ideas?

Yes, everyone at the top is interested in innovation. It has become a business mandate in many organizations. But are the leaders serious? We find that plenty of companies are not walking the talk. They want innovation, but also don’t want to recalibrate the organizational systems. These systems are where a good idea has as much opportunity to succeed as me going to the moon. Why so?

For starters, organizations do not have an internal muscle for a creative process. The creative process is not well understood and it is truly a fragile process. This situation promotes uncertainty; something most leaders do not want to spend time on. Additionally, there are very few internal experts who can support it and nurture it like there are for project management processes, customer service processes, budgeting processes, etc. This is very tough in today’s short-term focus surrounded by the fear-inducing environment of rapid technological change and dynamic markets—but this also makes innovation essential.

So what to do? First, kill the innovation killers. Here is our list of innovation killers that will need significant moderation if not surgical removal. You can discover for yourself if you have an environment that is crushing good ideas or allowing growth and change to be welcomed.

  1. Clear(?) and cumbersome approval processes, rules, regulations for every action at every level within the organization. Making decisions takes forever and when they are made, they take forever to implement. Too much process everywhere.
  2. Silos are promoted. The organization loves to allow departments and individuals to compete against one another for resources and protect their areas.
  3. The truth is one-sided the truth comes mostly in the form of criticism without praise. The glass is always half-empty. The focus is so much on execution, that the culture often forgets the impact on human spirit.
  4. Don’t trust new ideas. All ideas are evaluated with great suspicion and ‘yes, but’. When someone contributes a new idea, the first thing someone says is ‘yes but…’ followed by ‘not sure if we can do that, or we have never done that before, or management will not approve it, etc.’ Moving away from the status quo is very difficult and not often welcomed.
  5. Control and calibrate everything. The organization is very systematic, dashboard driven, precise, and project managed. Although all of that is very essential, the system does not allow for any quick experimentation of new ideas or technologies with spontaneity. Missing target goals is frowned upon more than the lessons gathered through failure.
  6. Organization is very secretive. Restructuring, product launches, competitive news, and executive changes all occur in a secretive manner. Leaders believe that “the less people know, the better they can stay focused on the day-to-day job.” The firm does not like to share bad news with employees until the last minute. 
  7. Promote class-based relationships. There are seniors and inferiors. Seniority and tenure are heavily used to promote fear-based execution. The culture perpetuates the idea that seniors know everything and they should get the best of everything. The higher you are up in the ladder, the more you are allowed to look down at others. Unpleasant duties can be delegated to inferiors.
  8. The pyramid is inverted. The higher-ups know everything important about the business, and the bottom does not need to know how the business should be conducted; as long as they do what they are trained to do.
  9. Leadership is invisible. Leaders are not able to connect to employees. Employees do not have confidence in the leaders based on their action and those of the top management team.

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Design Thinking: 11 Ways to Open Your Innovation Lens! (Part 2 of 2)

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In my last post I talked about organizations tapping into the collective pool of Design Thinking to unleash the Intrapreneurship in everyone.  Through this process I strongly recommended to learn to see “with a new lens” Here are 11 practical ideas that I believe will spark innovation! .

Here are my suggestions on how to come up with some great new ideas and build your new lens: 

1.    Think when you are not thinking. For example, going on a run or a walk, cooking at home, cleaning the house, doing the yard work, etc. Asking questions to stimulate curiosity and creativity has proven helpful for all kinds of endeavors, whether problem solving, product development, inventing, or communication. Begin by The Journalistic Six:

1.1 Who? (Actor or Agent) Who is involved? What are the people aspects of the problem? Who did it, will do it? Who uses it, wants it? Who will benefit, will be injured, will be included, or will be excluded?

1.2 What? (Act) What should happen? What is it? What was done, ought to be done, and was not done? What will be done if X happens? What went or could go wrong? What resulted in success?

1.3 When? (Time or Timing) When will, did, should this occur or be performed? Can it be hurried or delayed? Is a sooner or later time preferable? When should the time be if X happens?

1.4 Where? (Scene or Source) Where did, will, should this occur or be performed? Where else is a possibility? Where else did the same thing happen, should the same thing happen? Are other places affected, endangered, protected, and aided by this location? Effect of this location on actors, actions?

1.5 Why? (Purpose) Why was or is this done, avoided, permitted? Why should it be done, avoided, permitted? Why did or should the actor do it? Different for another actor, act, time, place? Why that particular action, rule, idea, solution, problem, disaster, and not another? Why that actor, time, location, and not another?

1.6 How? (Agency or Method) How was it, could it be, should it be done, prevented, destroyed, made, improved, altered? How can it be described, understood? How did the beginning lead to this conclusion?

2.    Listen to classical music. Go to a concert or a play or sit quietly in the park to daydream. Scientists at Stanford University, in California, have recently revealed a molecular basis for the "Mozart Effect", but not other music. Dr. Rauscher and her colleague H. Li, a geneticist, have discovered that humans perform better on learning and memory tests after listening to a specific Mozart's sonata. Recently, a Book called The Mozart Effect by Don Campbell, has condensed the world's research on all the beneficial effects of certain types of music.  According to the research outlined in the book, musical pieces, such as those of Mozart, can relieve stress, improve communication and increase efficiency. Creativity scores soar when listening to Mozart. In 1996, the College Entrance Exam Board Service conducted a study on all students taking their SAT exams. Students who sang or played a musical instrument scored 51 points higher on the verbal portion of the test and an average of 39 points higher on math.

3.    Read periodicals you would not typically read - a scientific magazine, for example, if you are more interested in business; or books outside your typical genre. In order to generate Diverse Thinking. Diverse Thinking has proven to be a critical competency in the creative process. Howard Gardner notes in Creating Minds (1993): "In contrast [to convergent thinkers], when given a stimulus or a puzzle, creative people tend to come up with many different associations, at least some of which are idiosyncratic and possibly unique. Prototypical items on a creativity test ask for as many uses as possible for a brick, a range of titles for a story, or a slew of possible interpretations of an abstract line drawing: a psychometrically creative individual can habitually issue a spectrum of divergent responses to each item, at least some of which are rarely encountered in the responses of others." If you really want to be inspired, here are top 50 inspirational website.

4.    Attend a conference or a meeting outside your field. By learning about other fields, you will develop some knowledge that eventually connects to other ‘dots’ in your life. Every sector is changing at a great pace. Be open to learning about how another industry works. Conferences and networking groups are the perfect forum to help you accelerate in a new subject. There are countless stories of how someone invented something because they were in a totally neutral environment. Being ‘away’ from your daily routine is a sure bet to help find creative solutions for your existing challenges. One of my favorites learning venue is the TED Conferences, along with the Discovery Channel when I cannot travel but still want to get away.

5.    Surround yourself with creative thinkers. Most organizations do not hire creative people. They hire for skill and “fit for task”. The hiring process is designed to improve predictability, reliability, and conforming to organizational culture. So, the chances are there are more ‘alike’ people in your area than there are ‘different’. This does not mean people are not creative. It means most working people do not practice tapping in to their natural creativity. According to Wall Street Journal, Mr. Marc Parker, current CEO of Nike, loves to look for that creative edge in unusual places and with unusual people, a perfect example of how to do this. So, it is up to you to bring out your own because others are not likely to help you, especially your manger. So, find some creative thinkers who are comfortable looking at things through a different lens, or are not afraid to challenge assumptions, or who naturally love to explore ‘newness’ in everything. Find people who love to doodle, draw often, or who are exceptional storytellers. 

6.    Immerse yourself in a ‘real’ problem. Ask questions, investigate possible outcomes. Nothing really can be explored without asking great questions. Most of us have never attended a course on ‘how to ask questions’. But, we know, without questions, there can be no new answers. Many people focus on results first and not enough on understanding the problem first. In our training workshops, we often teach a technique called State-Restate. In this exercise, the student starts with writing a current challenge they are working on; in an open-ended question format.  We then teach them to restate the questions in eight different ways. By the time they are done with the entire exercise, 100% of the people experience much greater clarity of their ‘problem statement’ than before. This exercise clearly illustrates how people often attempt to solve something that really was not the actual problem needing a solution. Once the problem is clear and concise, then dive in. Most likely, you will want to jump to a solution fast. Don’t. Follow these ‘innovation process’ steps instead: 

  1. First, find a small team (3-5 people) to work with you on this problem for an hour.
  2. Second, diverge – without judgment, without limitation, without constraints. Do not converge or select ideas yet. Look at your problem from 360 degrees (we call this Lensing); from everyone’s perspective – your boss, your colleagues, customers, suppliers, intra-company stakeholders, etc. Do not be ‘biased’ by your own thinking. Keep diverging until you are exhausted. If it is a small challenge, you should have at least 20 ideas to consider. If it is medium or a large challenge, you should have at least 100 ideas to pick from. We have generated over 400 ideas in 15 minutes when we have worked with groups of 30 or more.
  3. Finally, converge and select the few best ideas needing further nurturing. There are many voting techniques you can use. Contact us, and we can send you some ideas.

7.    Keep an idea journal.  Find your strong hour of the day and have your journal ready (maybe AM). What is an Idea Journal? An idea journal is accomplished when we take the time to commit our ideas to paper. It makes no difference whether it's done with a notepad or a fancy journal. The effect is the same. All your ideas need to be recorded. Why is it important? Throughout the course of any given day countless ideas come and go our way -- even though many of them may appear to be unrealistic to us at the time. For most of us, we simply discard them as a passing thought. The problem with this is that what we previously believed to be unachievable can change drastically as our minds are expanded with each new success that comes our way.

My best hour is from about 5:00am-6:00am. Some days it extends through the 30 minute car commute to the office. That is the time I have the most coherent concepts and feel a flow of what next actions are ready to get done. If you have a smart phone such as BlackBerry, iPhone, or Droid, you can use one of many ‘idea’ recording applications, such as from Dragon Software, where you speak your idea into the phone and it will transcribe as text. Then email it back to yourself or to someone else, to record into your journal. This is an excellent way to use technology to capture any ideas, anywhere, anytime. 

8.    Take a course to learn a new language or some other skill outside your expertise. Across the world, the emphasis these days is on a multicultural working environment. If you are in the US or in India the chances of you getting a job in Europe has increased, if you speak at least one European language. Companies place premium on communication globally and if you are able to communicate in the local language of the company, you already have a lead. It is also proven that people who speak and write in multiple languages seem to score better in life. In the US, The College Board, the primary testing authority for college admissions, calculated correlations between length of study of certain subjects, including English, math, biological sciences, physical sciences, and social studies, and Scholastic Aptitude Test(SAT) scores, and found that in almost all cases the longer a student studied one of these subjects, the higher were the scores. However, the verbal scores of students who had taken four or five years of a foreign language were higher than verbal scores of students who had studied any other subject for an equal length of time. Similar results have been obtained by other researchers who have examined foreign language study and SAT scores. 

9.    Be curious and experiment. Curiosity leading to innovation has been a hallmark of American society and was provided for in Article 1 of the Constitution: "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." President Obama reminded us in his inaugural speech by saying "upon which our success depends - hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism...” In today’s no-nonsense environment, where everything is on a ‘machine-like’ pace, those who can stand out will rise to the top faster. Those who demonstrate curiosity and tenacity to experiment will become visible.

In our experience, we have noticed that leaders value people who display a never-ending curiosity for the many facets of the business. Similarly, successful employees as intrapreneurs display a never-ending curiosity that emerges as "passion" in a meeting room filled with people. What better measure of passion than curiosity? You can see its presence or absence in interviews, meetings, telephone conversations, or luncheon chatter. You can display it and you can discern it. Be curious about everything with everyone, and in every part of your life. If anything seems ‘boring’ to you, you have not been curious about it.  

10.  Articulate your idea, seek feedback from co-creative’s, or other people you trust. Put structure on it, harvest it. Everyone thinks they have the next big idea, just ask a venture capitalist. Over 95% of new small businesses fail because the owner had an idea that he thought was great. The problem was no one else thought it was great. Since the early days of modern commerce, there have been plenty of ideas to exploit in every sector across the globe. According to the TRIZ theory, there is no such thing as a ‘new’ idea. TRIZ says, all ideas and innovations follow one of 36 patterns of possibilities. So practically speaking, real innovation ideas are those that solve an unmet need in the market. So it is not about having new ideas or not, but it is about getting them out there first and fast. If you have an idea, quickly test it within your network, especially with those who have no affiliation with your idea. Testing an idea with your coworker is one thing, but testing it with your customer or with people who are not current customers will give you the best insights on the applicability of the idea. You will get more precise feedback about the need and impact of your idea without too much effort. If you keep finding ideas and testing them with the same people every time, you will get the same results you get today. Seek feedback from collaborators and creative’s. 

11.  Create a Greenhouse for your ideas. Young ideas need a Greenhouse for protection. In most cases, environmental forces within an organization will kill the idea before it becomes real in the explicit world. Locate who or what brings down your energy level. There are four primary negative forces designed to kill your ideas immediately. The first is time, the second is money, the third is people around you, and the fourth is yourself. For each, identify how to reduce the negative influence on the fresh ideas that desperately need ‘Greenhousing’; some attention, protection, nurturing, and growing. Greenhousing means keeping the ideas safe, then growing them naturally by being more curious, researching the elements and finding possibilities for impact. Don’t force them to sprout too early; that is, don’t tell others or discard them. Give these early ideas timely attention in the Greenhouse until they have some viability. Once you have confidence in the idea, share it with others for further discovery and testing. 

How can you add some of these to your list of ways to find inspiration and problem solve?

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Design Thinking: 11 Ways to Open Your Innovation Lens! (Part 1 of 2)

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I believe that innovation arises from ideas. Ideas show up when one applies a process of being creative. Creativity is shaped by an individual's engagement. Engagement and commitment to one's work is directly linked to clarity of Personal Values and the Organizational Values of an institution for which one works. Personal Values are molded based on one's Spiritual Integrity (alignment of thoughts, words, and actions). Spiritual Integrity is the expression of one's deep self-awareness of their inherent Human Values. Human Values are the same in all human beings. One's ability to unearth the Human Values distinguishes one's moral compass vs. that of another - sometimes we call that Character.

Therefore, if an organization wants to create a climate and culture of innovation, the best possible lasting solution is to help every employee and leader become more self-aware; more in touch with who they are and what they personally value. And I don't simply mean the definition of personal values but rather the expression of those values; i.e. how do those values show up in their work? - In their projects, in their email communications, in writing a proposal, in negotiating terms with a vendor or a customer? This self-awareness will allow everyone to 'tap into' their inner source where very powerful ideas are sitting dormant.

Great innovation leaders figured this out a long time ago - i.e. innovation arises from one's (or the team's) deep passion for something much bigger than themselves. These leaders have learned how to create ‘drive’ (as Daniel Pink describes in his recent book with the same name) for themselves as well as for their teams. We call this Design Thinking. When an organization taps into the collective pool of Design Thinking, they unleash Intrapreneurship for all.

Practicing Intrapreneurs, using Design Thinking, are the best source for Innovation.

The problem: It is difficult to find such leaders. Even if you do, it is harder to find organizations that practice Design Thinking and Innovation as a core expertise. So, how does one become an Intrapreneur inside an organization irrespective of corporate culture?

The first step we strongly recommend is to learn to see “with a new lens” – which is easier said than done. (My next post will include 11 Practical Ways to Open Your Innovation Lens!) 

Chuck Palus and David Horth, authors of The Leader's Edge: Six Creative Competencies for Navigating Complex Challenges, speak about the need to “see with new eyes”. Human beings are magnificent, imperfect, and predictable, and do not like change. That is why the entire Change Management field was born – to help organizations adapt to a constantly changing world. Since the days of Adam and Eve, Man has learned to lead his life through habits; looking at things with the same eyes, analyzing it with the same logic and creating the same perceptions. It is easy to get used to this routine. Most managers act the same way. According to the authors, most managers “act on what they expect to see”, take shortcuts, do not spend enough time analyzing information and making a sound judgment. It’s as if the managers are walking around blind-folded since they have already created built-in perceptions of what they see. 

In my opinion, the only way Man changes, is through the emotions of Love or Fear. Love as passion, to desire, to achieve, to give,  and Fear as the feeling of failure, loss, negative judgment by others, and death. These two emotions are at the center of human motivations.

Without motivation, permanent change cannot occur.

Without change, nothing new can be innovated. 

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Driver for Adoption of an Innovation: Technology or Market?

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What is the driver for new innovations? Does technology drive new innovations or does the Market dictate need for new innovation? 

In many ways we are speaking about the two sides of a coin. So the question is, what is the coin made of? (sorry to get too philosophical, but allow me to please).

Technology is something that gets created by technologists because:
1) It is Human Nature to Create and Solve - the passion and desire to solve something far greater then one’s self (Human Spirit as the driver). There are many who simply create because they want to serve. There is nothing in it for them, but to experiment and create.

2) Motivated by raw Discovery and Inquiry – just to see what can happen (Academic Personal Brand as the driver – in most cases). Of course academia is far removed in many cases so piles of patents/technologies are created without a home for applications. 

3) Marketers ‘tells’ the technologist what the market demands are and they go off and innovate (Market Driven). Of course we know how often the product actually generates the indented impact – not very good (and both the marketer and the technologist gets ‘restructured’…lol). 

4) As the recent new Hollywood movie “Wall Street” depicts and as the Mortgage Crises occurred here in USA, we also see Financial Performance as the driver for new innovation at the cost of societal damage (Greed as the driver) 

5) I also think technologist stay busy because of fear. Either they or someone else in their organization is fearful of losing to competition, losing their job, losing their reputation or losing their personal belongings. (Fear Driven) 

I believe that Market Driven has two definitions: 1) There is an unmet Market need in the current market and 2) There is a new market being developed that is un-harvested. 

If we assume the Fortune 1000s or Global 2000s as the context, I think that most innovation is driven (funding) by the “Current Market Conditions” and the “Adjacent(near future) Market Conditions” of those markets.


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