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.


Explore Observe Ask: Suspend Your Own Assumption

I used to spend a lot of time in India, as most tech guys do. The subcontinent can be spectacularly disorienting for a Westerner. On one trip, I stayed in a blissfully air-conditioned, five-star hotel. Outside there was 100-degree heat, and the uniquely foul stench of Kolkata’s open sewers and packed streets. Inside I had […]Read More »

Understand The Needs Wants and Fears of Your Customers

All your work, all your ideas, all your devotion and sacrifice mean nothing if you’re not confident of whom you are doing it for or why. In order to succeed—whether you are developing a new product, service, or process—you must understand the needs, wants, and sometimes fears of the person you are targeting. Why is […]Read More »

Not Understanding Who Your Customers Are

A couple of years ago my kids gave my ninety-three-year-old grandma a digital picture frame for Christmas. It contained several hundred photos that they had painstakingly selected, organized, and then downloaded onto it. Every minute or so a new image of the kids living their lives would appear; exactly the kind of thing any grandmother […]Read More »

Why You Need an Innovation System

So, what happens if you don’t use an innovation system like FIRE to innovate and execute the strongest ideas? One of the biggest dangers of not having a way to identify and execute the best ideas is that weak ideas get selected and the results are disappointing. When this happens, management loses confidence that the organization […]Read More »

Constraint Based Innovation

One of the keys I’ve found to successful execution is constraint based innovation. It is exactly what it sounds like. When I’m in the execution phase of the innovation process and assigning teams to various ideas, I’ll ask them, “How long will it take for you to create the product?” Whatever answer they give me, […]Read More »

How To Use A Stage Gate Funding Model To Create Your Innovation

My motto throughout my career has been “Ideas without execution are a hobby, and I’m not in the hobby business.” Execution is a risk; it requires commitment, money, and manpower; but there’s no point going through the process of ideation if you’re not going to do anything with the end result. In the end, successful […]Read More »

Pitch Your Best Idea

The next stage is to consider how these ideas might be implemented by your organization. Step one is to think about how to pitch your best idea. 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 […]Read More »

Idea Ranking

Once you’ve generated your ideas the next step is idea ranking to determine the potential to become innovations. So, how do you decide which ideas to work on? The typical innovation process leaves that decision to the senior-level managers, which seems like a logical choice. They’re senior, so they should have the wisdom to make the […]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 »

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 »

Weak Signals

“Weak signals” are the equivalent of a canary in a coal mine. They are the unspoken needs and wants of your customers, and they are also the arrows pointing to what your customers are going to need and want in the future, even if they themselves don’t know it yet. If you pay attention to […]Read More »

Ideation

The Killer Questions are used in the Ideation phase of FIRE. The point of the Killer Questions is to keep you focused on a specific facet of your organization, your customer, your product, or your operations, but at the same time keep your search for ideas expansive within that area. The Killer Questions will help […]Read More »

Fight or Flight Against The Corporate Antibodies

I have a very simple reason for being passionate about pushing back (fight) against corporate antibodies. Nearly all great ideas require nerve, vision, and guts to get in motion. The corporate antibody is the first of many hurdles that you’ll need to push your idea past. If you can’t develop the skills to fight for […]Read More »

How Can You Overcome Corporate Antibodies?

I work in the innovation and technology sector. Many of my coworkers are brilliant individuals, some bordering on genius. Yet many of these men and women have almost no ability to navigate the hurdles between having an idea and getting others to support it. I’m amazed at how few people have the skill to pitch […]Read More »

How Does FIRE Fix The Innovation Gap?

The main challenges that all organizations face are what I call the innovation gap and the innovation delay. The innovation gap is the difference between the need for really great ideas and the actual supply of them. The innovation delay refers to how long it takes you to go from selecting an idea for execution to […]Read More »

Where are your future customers?

How will you identify and locate customers in five years? Every hot trend reaches a point I like to call the “Uncle Larry moment.” You know what I mean. It’s the juncture where one of your older relatives announces he’s taken up something that had seemed cutting edge, futuristic, and exciting up till that second. Facebook […]Read More »

Focus Your Search For Better Ideas

The first stage of FIRE, Focus, is about doing a thorough but organized search, so you don’t inadvertently ignore a critical area of discovery. Successful innovation is the translation of better ideas into something, such as a product, that is real. If you are focused in your approach, you will be able to decide if […]Read More »

What Are The Rules And Assumptions Under Which You Organization And Industry Operates?

To uncover the assumptions that could be blocking you from seeing the challenges and opportunities, here are two questions that are designed to help you discover the rules and assumptions under which your organization and industry operates. I want you to use them to start unraveling the assumptions you have about your business, your industry, and your […]Read More »

The New Economy

I firmly believe that we are in the early stages of a new economy, one where the most valuable talent you can bring to the table is being an “idea person.” Knowledge is quickly becoming a commodity (think of the thousands of highly capable educational institutions springing up in India, China, and other areas of […]Read More »

The History Of The Killer Questions

I started writing the Killer Questions when I was in my short-lived “retirement” early in 2001. As I relaxed in the Virginian countryside, my mind started to flash back to various experiences I’d had during my working life. Over the course of the preceding twenty years I’d seen dozens of highly innovative products and ideas […]Read More »

What Are The Corporate Antibodies And Are They Dangerous To Your Ideas?

The antagonist of the innovator is the corporate antibody. Much like antibodies in our immune system attack and destroy foreign objects that might harm the body, “antibodies” in your organization identify and neutralize forces that threaten to destabilize a company. And in much the same way as antibodies can damage the very thing they seek […]Read More »

To See Your Assumptions Act Like An Outsider

The problem with trying to be the “outsider” is that most of us aren’t outsiders. We are inside—inside our company, our industry, or our organization. There’s a delicate balancing act between being the person who can speak the confrontational, difficult truths, and the person who can speak these same truths in a way that doesn’t […]Read More »

To Innovate You Need To Question Your Assumptions

Every year I travel around the world giving workshops and motivational talks on innovation. I enjoy doing this; I’m a naturally curious person, and there’s always something interesting to observe and learn from these speaking dates. Often I’ll walk into an auditorium full of people wondering if they will learn anything new that they can […]Read More »

The Power of Questions And How To Use It!

I’ve been fascinated by the power of questions, either good or bad, for my entire professional life. The more I thought about them, the more I began to notice how people used them. I started to see how some people had the innate ability to formulate and pose questions that propelled others to make investigations […]Read More »

Building and Testing The Killer Questions

I started collecting the Killer Questions when I was in my short-lived “retirement” early in 2001. As I relaxed in the Virginian countryside, my mind started to flash back to various experiences I’d had during my working life. Over the course of the preceding twenty years I’d seen dozens of highly innovative products and ideas come […]Read More »

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