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.


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 »

Why Do Questions Matter For Your Success?

One day when my kids were still little I was sitting in the car with my daughter Tara. She was about four years old at the time, and as we drove down the street she noticed the curb along the side of the road and got curious about it. Suddenly I was fielding question after […]Read More »

Is The Current Innovation Refresh Rate A Good Thing?

As the retired CTO of a major technology company, I was surrounded by visual clues that clearly indicate when a tech product is headed to the gadget graveyard. Most of the time, it’s hard to ignore these clues, because they are pretty obvious. I see them in meetings with my coworkers or customers when we […]Read More »

Are There Bad Questions And Good Questions?

The more I started to look at questions and how essential they are to fostering creativity and innovation, the more I realized that there are bad questions and there are good questions. And within those good questions, some just aren’t relevant to the process of ideation. The key is to develop the ability to separate […]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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

How To Prepare For The Unexpected Jolts

If assumptions keep you safe, comfortable, and stagnant, then jolts are their counterpart. Jolts are the earthquakes and the tsunamis, metaphorical and occasionally literal, that you either don’t or can’t see coming. Jolts can be terrifying; one day you wake up and a fundamental assumption about how you do business has crumbled away. Its absence […]Read More »

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 »

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