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.

Beyond the Killer Idea

I’ve been able to succeed because I’ve generated a system that guides me past the obvious ideas and straight toward the killer idea. I also have the confidence to push for my ideas and make sure they get a chance to prove themselves. So, if you find yourself with a killer idea, but are lacking […]Read More »

The Permission to Innovate

“I hereby grant you all permission to innovate.” Some people don’t believe that they can generate the ideas their companies need. A story from a few years ago, when HP acquired a small start-up, illustrates the reason behind this mind-set perfectly. As part of the process of introducing the new team to HP, I hosted […]Read More »

Not Relying on Specialized Knowledge

What do you think your core value or skill is? If you are resting on an assumption that a deep-rooted and highly specialized knowledge or skill is enough to get you by, you are mistaken. Back in 1995 or so, I noticed a sliver of an ad, one column wide and two lines deep, on […]Read More »

Creating Innovations in Education

My objective for the workshop was to test the Killer Questions before handing them off to the Department of Education. Remember, the focus for the attendees of the workshop was how to create innovations in education to better prepare our students for the competitive workforce. I gave them the modified set of Killer Questions I’d […]Read More »

Killer Questions for Education Template

I’m going to show you my stream of thought as I worked on creating my Killer Questions for education. This will give you a template that you can use for your own organization. WHO Growing up, I got a firsthand look at the ecosystem that surrounds education because my mom was on the local school […]Read More »

Innovating Education to Prepare Students

The first thing I did after the phone call to participate in the meeting about innovating education was post to my blog, Facebook, and Twitter. These posts generated the most feedback I’ve ever received on any topic. I got tons of suggestions, ranging from the provocative: To the amusing: I quickly realized that I needed […]Read More »

Education and Change

About a year ago I got a call inviting me to participate in a meeting with the Department of Education because they were actively looking at ways to innovate how kids are educated. I agreed to participate in a meeting in San Francisco, and I was happy to have the opportunity to do so. My […]Read More »

Scanning Tunnel: Creating one that works

Can a scanning tunnel change the nature of a business? For example, as I’ve mentioned a few times now, I’m not a huge fan of putting too much emphasis on ROI in the innovation process. However, there are businesses and industries where trying to downplay ROI in the ranking process would create resistance and frustration […]Read More »

The Killer Question Mentality

One of the most interesting aspects of how Kroger uses the Killer Questions is that they’ve worked to implement a Killer Question mentality. The employees understand that a Killer Question is about learning/seeing/considering something you wouldn’t have learned/seen/considered otherwise. They incorporate that mentality into their day-to-day observations, ideation, and innovation. When Kroger does explicitly ask […]Read More »

Customizing Beyond The Obvious

I don’t know what your needs are. I don’t know what drove you to pick up Beyond The Obvious, read it, and (hopefully) work through the exercises. It’s possible you weren’t completely sure of your needs at the beginning of the book either. However, you should now have a sense of how you can use […]Read More »

Pitch Timing and Selling Your Idea

Making Your Pitch Keep the pitch simple, and build it around the Guy Kawasaki Rule of 10/20/30: 10 slides, 20 minutes, nothing smaller than 30-point font. Remember that you are telling a story; you want a spokesperson who can bring the idea to life and get people excited. Practice pitching the idea before you take […]Read More »

Top Ideas and How to Execute Them

Which Top Ideas to Pitch? The next stage is to consider how these ideas might be implemented by your organization. Look at the top ideas and say to yourself as the leader, “These are great ideas—how can we execute them?” The following questions will help you get to your answer: Can we get our teams […]Read More »

Questions and Scoring Answers

The Five Questions Score your answers to each of the first three questions from 0 to 5. A 0 means that the idea being considered doesn’t move the needle on this question (or, in other words, is a no-go for the time being), while a 5 is a resounding yes. You should ask these five […]Read More »

Group dynamics and ranking

Before we start ranking I want you to think about group dynamics for a second. Ideally you will have somewhere between five and ten people participating in your ideation group. These people will be drawn from all divisions of your company, including, but not limited to, engineering, marketing, and executive. Some of them will be […]Read More »

Individual Ideas in Workshop Groups

At the end of the ideation part of the workshop, have the team members briefly talk through their individual ideas. Have them take their Post-it notes and place them on a flip chart or other surface that everyone can see. Get through this process quickly. You don’t need master’s dissertations. Start to group the Post-its […]Read More »

Ideas? Don't give up on them

Once everyone is settled into the meeting, it’s time to share what you’ve discovered.  I generally give a quick recap of our area of focus, not about the ideas yet. I start off by asking the participants to share their own list of the assumptions and rules that define how the industry and organization operates. […]Read More »

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 »

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