Archive

This page contains the archive of all of the posts on this site. If you are looking for a specific topic, I would suggest you use the search function to the right.


Killer Questions and Stepping Outside

Once you have assigned your Killer Questions, briefed your group, and set the date for the innovation session, it’s time for everyone involved to do observational homework. This is exactly what it sounds like. You need your team to get out of the office, into the real world, and make as many observations as possible […]Read More »

Area of Focus for Workshop Groups

The ideas you generate in your workshop are only ever going to be as good as the people in the group. I want people of different ages, races, education levels, economic statuses, and beliefs to come up with an area of focus. Theoretically, I want twenty-three-year-old inner-city scholarship kids sitting next to corn-fed engineers three […]Read More »

Ideation Workshop Game Plan

So what do you need to know as the leader of an ideation workshop? A workshop has multiple elements—participants, Killer Questions, and so on—but at the end of the day, the quality of the ideas directly relates to your ability to create a highly functional, highly effective group. In the following series of posts I’m […]Read More »

Golden Rules of Innovation Workshops: Killer Questions

Rule #1: Set a focus. The first critical error David and his group made was failing to focus their attempt to generate ideas. As we’ve defined in the FIRE method, focus is essential in order to give people a targeted, specific area of investigation. Pick one aspect of your industry or organization, and decide whether […]Read More »

Brainstorming Quality Ideas

I’ve given you my system for using the Killer Questions to generate the quality ideas that lead to great innovations. Now comes your challenge: getting this information out of the book and into your organization. In this chapter I’ll give you a few essential rules for running a successful innovation workshop, including how to select […]Read More »

Gray wave and assisted living

So, how do you determine where you, as an individual or a business, will be in five years? You can’t say where exactly you’re going because you can’t predict what’s going to happen in the world. However, you can challenge yourself to change. In 2001 Apple’s sales figures were in decline. The company had yet […]Read More »

Cell phones and the value chain

Your customers will change the way they use your products in ways you don’t currently anticipate. Do you remember when you got your first cell phone? I was living in Chicago when the city was selected for the first FCC trial of a cell-phone network in 1984, and I jumped at the chance to try […]Read More »

Time-sensitive Customers

I mentioned in chapter 7 how my wife loves to look for travel bargains. Her main goal is to save money, and she considers spending several hours comparison shopping a fair tradeoff for savings. I’m kind of the opposite; in the very rare instances when I have to make my own travel plans I all […]Read More »

Free Shipping!

The other day my daughter Rachel ordered some shoes from Zappos. She’s used them a few times in the past, and the next morning she got an e-mail saying her shoes had been shipped overnight as a reward for being a good customer. Now, one of Zappos’ gimmicks is that shipping is always free, but […]Read More »

The promise of online dating?

Are you in a serious relationship or married? If so, how did you meet your spouse or partner? I work with a lot of young single people and most, if not all, of them have tried online dating. Some of them are young enough that the idea of not using online dating sites is incomprehensible. […]Read More »

The changing customer base

Lately I’ve been hearing a lot about the impending retirement surge caused by baby boomers finally leaving the workplace and how it will affect changes in the tech industry. The combined worth of this market segment is roughly in the $2 trillion bracket. That’s a lot of disposable income—and a lot of freed-up time for […]Read More »

Digital Twins

Do you have a digital twin? The concept first formed on consumer sites like Yelp, but it’s becoming a catchphrase in marketing and sales. The idea is that dedicated users of sites like Yelp eventually notice that there are other users whose tastes, interests, and “favorites” match their own. These digital twins do not “know” […]Read More »

Savings from your input cost

There is a reason that the percentage in this question is as high as it is. Sure, it would sound less scary and more reasonable if I asked you how you could cut your price by 5 percent, or maybe 8 percent, but that would be missing the point. If you want potentially game-changing moves […]Read More »

Looking at information and ideas

My wife is famous for being a little frugal. She once routed me and our son Logan from Las Vegas to Phoenix to Los Angeles and finally to San Jose because she could save twenty bucks each over the nonstop fare. Kind of nuts, right? But if I’m honest I have the same mind-set in […]Read More »

Develop...then design later?

In the traditional R&D process, the product is developed and then handed off to the design team to “wrap” it and make it look pretty. The drawback is that this approach is out of date; in the last ten years consumers have become much more design-savvy. Consumers want functional, usable design that highlights ease of […]Read More »

In-house or Outsource as Needed?

What is your organization’s philosophy about design and development? Do you keep everything in-house, or do you outsource as needed? There are two schools of thoughts on this. By keeping the design process in-house, a company can build a sense of continuity and cohesion that links the entire family of products together in a satisfying […]Read More »

Is The Project Worth Pursuing?

What are your criteria for deciding that an idea is worth pursuing? We all have our own set of selection criteria, the first of which is usually looking for profits. However, selecting a course of action based solely on ROI can be limiting. If you are doing something really innovative, how on earth can you […]Read More »

The Battle for Customers

Odds are that you and your competitors are actually competing in two distinct ways. The obvious battle is the one to win customers from each other. The less obvious, but equally important, one is the battle for the resources required to produce your product. In chapter 2, we touched on the concept of unexpected jolts, […]Read More »

Designing over the competition

No matter what business we are in, we are all fighting essentially the same fight—designing a product that a customer will prefer over that of our competitor. To do this, we need to constantly be aware of how our business environment is evolving, how our customers are changing, and what we need to modify in […]Read More »

Make it Happen, First!

A few years ago I saw a website offering a product called After the Rapture Pet Care. It claimed to offer a service for Christians concerned about the welfare of pets that would be left behind after the Day of Judgment. Subscribers were promised a network of non-Christians who’d swoop in, collect pets, and promise […]Read More »

Stay Relevant— The Changing Nature of Products

Do you sell atoms or bytes? Do you think that your answer could change over the next five years? Think about Amazon and the Kindle. Jeff Bezos asked, What is my role going to be if the nature of books changes? He realized that to stay relevant and necessary his company needed to retain control […]Read More »

That Sputnik moment

On October 4, 1957, Russia launched a beach-ball-sized satellite named Sputnik, which orbited the Earth in just over ninety-six minutes. The previous frontrunner in the space race, the United States, was now the runner up. Our only competitor had trounced us, seemingly out of nowhere. A month later the Russians sent up Laika, a small […]Read More »

Finding Ways to Offer Underused Resources

I’m an innovation guy. It may not say so on my business card, but that’s what I do. I encourage people, whether inside HP or in my meetings with customers around the world, to accept that they and their product are going to have to change. No matter how popular and successful your work is, […]Read More »

The zero-tolerance consumer

The designers and engineers who work at HP face many challenges in getting their ideas signed off on. It’s a long process from an idea to a finished prototype. Before any product can hit the market, it faces one final test. I take the prototype home, give it to my wife, and say, “Tell me […]Read More »

The Benefit of Being Strategically Disliked

The flipside to any positive emotional connotation or connection is a negative one. If you are inspiring enough such that some people love what you are doing, odds are you are going to be inspiring others to dislike your product with an equal passion. Plenty of companies trade on the fact that they represent something […]Read More »

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