innovation excellence weekly - issue 22

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We are proud to announce our twenty-second Innovation Excellence Weekly for Issuu. Inside you'll find ten of the best innovation-related articles from the past week on Innovation Excellence - the world's most popular innovation web site and home to 5,000+ innovation-related articles.


  • March 1, 2013

  • Issue 22 March 1, 2013

    1. Making Time for Innovation..................................................................... Kevin McFarthing

    2. Why the Front End of Innovation is Different ......... Jeffrey Phillips

    3. Innovation Eats Itself ..... Mike Shipulski

    4. Three Obstacles to Innovation Diffusion ....................................................... Tim Kastelle

    5. Leadership, Timing and Opportunity ... Mike Myatt

    6. How Small Innovation Teams Hit the Nail .... Nicolas Bry

    7. Birth of a New Job Type! Arise co-creation manager ...... Yannig Roth

    8. Why Design Thinking Will Fail ... Jeffrey Tjendra

    9. Innovation REALLY Matters Lessons Learned from Detroit ....... Adam Hartung

    10. Design & Innovation with Robert Fabricant, frog design ....... Lou Killeffer

    Your hosts, Braden Kelley, Julie Anixter and Rowan Gibson, are innovation writers, speakers and

    strategic advisors to many of the worlds leading companies.

    Our mission is to help you achieve innovation excellence inside your own organization by making

    innovation resources, answers, and best practices accessible for the greater good.

    Cover Image credit: Hourglass

  • Making Time for Innovation

    Posted on February 23, 2013 by Kevin McFarthing

    A very good friend of mine works for a large, global company with multiple

    locations around the world, many of which are run as hot desks. He is in

    a position of responsibility, and often finds himself travelling to a different

    destination on the other side of the world at short notice. Its the kind of

    business where looking for ways to innovate is very important, as is time


    Just to clarify, innovation in the core product is a long-term game for

    reasons of investment and regulation, so the focus is on an innovative

    approach to how things are done.

    I can therefore understand his deep frustration when he describes the weekly telecon. A large number of people assemble at the same time

    every week around their conference phones. The time is chosen to accommodate as many of the global team and their direct reports as

    possible, but inevitably some people are up really early and some really late. There is an understandable impact on operational effectiveness

    and family life.

    The first item on the agenda is to understand who is on the line. Given that there are over fifty people on the call yes, you did read that

    correctly this takes some time. The boss then launches into a list of the other items she wants to cover, then starts the meeting. I use the

    word meeting advisedly here. As Im sure youll have worked out already, this format is not the most effic ient or appropriate for an exchange of

    views, so it simply degenerates into a monologue interspersed with questions directed at the usual suspects on the call. J im, what do you

    think? wakes Jim up with a start to realize his mind had drifted somewhere else.. And before you know it the hour is up and everybody is

    signing off.

    An agenda is produced in advance, with different people chosen at random to speak on ideas for initiatives to improve the effectiveness of the

    business. These often dont relate to previous initiatives that are just left to roll on, leading to a large number of projects and a small number of

    completions. Over time the operating managers have realized the situation, so are sapped of the energy and will to persevere. This is even

    before the regulatory implications of any change can be evaluated.

    All that is achieved is the opportunity for the boss to verbally issue instructions that could have been done by email. There is no time to

    seriously discuss how the business can do things better, no coordinated project structure and no project management. And yet, innovation is

    expected. The senior operating managers are expected to improve the way they run their businesses, which of course is the right thing to do.

    However in the absence of a common approach, managers just do what they think is right for their office. This produces some nice short-term

    gains but an inevitable fragmentation of practice.

  • This situation may be somewhat extreme, and be as much about the efficient use of time and clear communication as it is about innovation.

    Nevertheless I think there are some points to make. First, if you are serious about innovation, time must be found to do it properly, with a clear

    link to strategy, a strong understanding of priority areas to attack, a process thats well understood and targets to reach. There is no point

    allocating an hour in the management meeting agenda and saying, right, its innovation time, lets have some ideas. And please, dont start an

    innovation initiative with a suggestion scheme.

    Second, as much commonality of approach as possible should be sought to avoid wide deviation in practice. On this point, I appreciate the

    attraction of individual initiative and there is no desire to quash it, on the contrary. While the really important areas should have the best

    available way for common implementation, the best source of this is often an entrepreneurial group of people who have piloted the new method

    and shown it to work.

    Finally, your people are all really busy; dont waste their time on pointless meetings just to show them who is boss.

    image credit: businessman standing image from bigstock

    Kevin McFarthing runs the Innovation Fixer consultancy, helping companies to improve the output and efficiency of their

    innovation, and to implement Open Innovation. He spent 17 years with Reckitt Benckiser in innovation leadership positions,

    and also has experience in life sciences.

  • Why the Front End of Innovation is Different

    Posted on February 27, 2013 by Jeffrey Phillips

    Lets assert that youve become very good at your job. Whether you are in finance,

    marketing or operations, your proficiency is based on your education and your work

    history. You know how to anticipate financial needs, or how to manufacture products

    more efficiently because you love what you do, you do it often and you are rewarded

    to do it well. You have deep knowledge about your chosen area of specialty and you

    can demonstrate expertise. Then along comes an innovation need.

    If the innovation need is really just continuous improvement or slight improvements

    to existing products, you are in luck, because that work simply requires that you

    extend your existing deep body of knowledge. If, on the other hand, you need

    radical or disruptive innovation, your existing body of knowledge, your scope and

    frameworks, even your tools and insights may become barriers to innovation rather

    than accelerators. Thats because true innovation is about discovery, learning and analysis rather than building on past knowledge and

    success. True innovation is unusual, and requires a different approach. Innovation is the only activity in a business where the people involved

    are amateurs, because we spend so little time in most businesses working on discovering new needs, learning about customers and markets,

    and thinking deeply about the implications from discovery and learning.

    Lets consider three factors that make the Front End of innovation so different from the rest.


    Most of us in businesses spend our days perfecting what we already know. The processes that drive a business are evident and well-

    understood, and may need a few tweaks to perfect them. Theres little to discover about the day to day operations, as most of it has been

    understood and perfected for years. Deep expertise and constant repetition mean that discovery is rarely needed. Tools and capabilities that

    arent exercised become moribund and stale. We lose a sense of discovery when that sense isnt effectively or even periodically applied.

    When innovators talk about the method of innovation, they usually describe it as a divergent convergent process. This means that the first

    activity is about diverging enlarging the scope, enlarging the number of possible outcomes, discovering new possibilities. Most of us are

    very good at converging eliminating even the reasonable alternatives to quickly arrive at one specific solution. Divergence is often one of the

    most difficult aspects of innovation for many corporate executives to grasp, because it feels like unnecessary effort. Further, divergence is

    uncomfortable because it requires discovery and exploring areas where the level of expertise is much lower, or non-existent.

  • Discovery requires people who are comfortable going beyond what they know, who are interesting in discovering something new which has

    relevance to their organization. It requires those people to look in unexpected places for new and unanticipated things. In other words, a

    surprise. And you know how managers and executives love surprises.


    If innovation creates something new to your market, or new to the world, then by definition someone has to partake in a learning exercise. We

    may have to learn about needs, or new capabilities, or new channels, or new customer segments, but there is little innovation that isnt

    preceded by learning. Yet learning, especially learning beyond the tools and activities that enable existing products and services is almost

    unheard of in modern corporations. We spend countless thousands of hours learning about personality differences, tolerance, comm