Editorial Results (free)
1. The Poetics Of Information Architecture
- Monday, February 16, 2015
Note: I wrote this piece 15 years ago and just rediscovered it. Sadly, the points bear repeating, and reprinting in the era of social media, client portals, and HTML5, as it seems truer than ever.
2. Lack of Innovation at Nonprofits
- Monday, February 09, 2015
Through the Southern Growth Studio, I have the great honor to work with nonprofits. Big ones. Growing ones. And ones on the verge of collapse.
There is an odd tendency for almost all of these organizations to respond to innovations in the same way; they desire them deeply but are wildly timid. It’s a dizzying and paralyzing fear-based response. “What if it doesn’t work? I don’t know. …” They yearn to roll out a new program or re-create an experience that gets better results, but something nagging in the culture keeps them from enacting the very thing that may set them apart and catalyze their potential.
3. Leadership Lessons From the Duke
- Monday, February 02, 2015
The American Master of Music, Duke Ellington, also stands as an ideal role model of leadership for the emerging business and nonprofit world. As the global workplace moves toward open workspaces and sees the value of multidimensional team filled with hard-to-traditionally-manage creative professionals, a look into Ellington’s leadership style can inspire outstanding results.
4. Keys for Compelling Storytelling
- Monday, January 26, 2015
Most innovations fail because they are too good, too smart and too unfamiliar to the existing business to risk launching.
The last phase of a full-cycle innovation process, storytelling, was rushed. A power point deck was created using the language of the business culture, unconsciously framing the new concept in the old world of the doldrums of existing operations. The new ideas get applause for their “brave, fresh thinking," then are summarily placed on the back burner to be ignored for eternity.
5. The Real Work of Innovation
- Monday, January 19, 2015
Being creative. Generating thousands of ideas. Making employees feel heard, valued, more than a cog in a machine.
These are the superficial by-products of an in-depth discipline.
Unto themselves, these tiny crumbs of the vast buffet of genuine innovation methods are not an Innovation effort. They represent mere pacification. Any board member or C-Suite executive who believes they have the Innovation box checked because they have an online idea submission forum and a committee that ranks ideas needs to resign. Enough with lip service. Stop the confusion of New Product Development and Innovation.
6. Metrics for Front-End Innovation Projects
- Monday, January 12, 2015
“What are the metrics?” We get this question all the time from nervous directors and VPs who are struggling with the philosophical underpinnings of front-end innovation. They are eager to launch an innovation program, but want to be able to foresee the outcome before embarking on the journey of discovery.
7. Empathy For Successful Innovation
- Monday, January 05, 2015
If you unpack the stories of most successful innovations, you’ll find that a deep immersion into the user experience of a product or service is the key that often unlocks the potential of the concept.
8. Market Understanding Leads to Wins
- Monday, December 15, 2014
Unlocking Value. Why do innovations end up in a “black hole?”
Jeff Pierce states that the hubris of Market Leaders keeps them from innovating. Pierce serves as the innovation architect of Pitney Bowes’ Corporate Innovation Program. He’s on a mission to change how the company sees itself.
9. How to Gain Immunity From Funding Cuts
- Monday, December 08, 2014
Martin Elliott, senior director of Mattel Inc.’s New Business Ventures, tells innovators how to avoid the budget cut thresher. Think like a V.C.
10. Even Procurement is Innovating
- Monday, December 01, 2014
Derick Kurdy from J&J and Neel Tilak from Janssen discuss the potency of an innovation culture in the procurement department and how it works with key suppliers.
They began with a story about the Band-Aid, about how the inventor made it as an act of love for his wife. The moral of the story; innovations start with a need that is cared for and executed for a real problem.
11. Why Corporate Innovations Fail
- Monday, November 24, 2014
Iliya Rybchin of the Highnote Foundry and formally of Bloomberg discusses where innovations break down in the corporate world. He was stronger than a good cup of coffee.
He comes out swinging. Warning: "I'm going to offend some people here." The room perked up. Then, Rybchin notes the most critical points of failure.
12. Building Innovation Networks
- Monday, November 17, 2014
This Learning Lab was presented at the Back End of Innovation 2014 Conference, by Ayelet Baron, Futurist, Simplifying Work and Innovator in Residence, Roche/Genentech.
“Get out of your work building and go into the world,” says the speaker. The team she is working with at Roche have started a program called “Get Out of the Building” as a way to not only get exposed to new ideas but also to build new relationships. It’s great advice.
13. Motivating the Corporate Elephant to Innovate
- Monday, November 10, 2014
VF Corp. created a series of Bright Spots to augment their product mix and sell the innovations inside the company to ensure the innovation eggs hatched in the market. The real goal was to change the culture to accept innovation.
14. Navigating a New Era of Medical Innovations
- Monday, November 03, 2014
Executive director of Cleveland Clinic Innovations, Gary Fingerhut, discusses the emerging era of medical innovation and commercialized new inventions and platforms.
Fingerhut opens by echoing a recurring theme; innovation begins with empathy. A deep understanding of the humanity, the personal narratives, fears and inspirations of patients empowers better care and inspires hospital systems to treat people differently than in the past.
15. Key Tools for the Backend of Innovation
- Monday, October 27, 2014
Alekasandro Grabulou, director of innovation and development of Philips, talks about key tools for redefining the role of innovation in a fast-paced era.
Philips is a leader in health care, consumer lifestyle and lighting. And, they fused their front end and back end innovation efforts with great results and a compelling story.
16. Midnight Lunch: Innovation Insights
- Monday, October 20, 2014
Sarah Miller Caldicott, the grandniece of Edison and CEO of Power Patterns of Innovation, presents “Midnight Lunch: Building an Innovator’s Toolkit for Success.”
What was Edison’s execution process?
17. Bringing Innovation to Innovation
- Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Notes from a keynote by John Kao, BEI 2014, Las Vegas
2.6 billion Google queries were on "innovation" last month, Kao posits. The issue, there is no shared definition, or mental map, of innovation. We are creating a tower of Babel effect.
18. Financial Elements of the Innovation Process
- Monday, October 06, 2014
Innovation is a saturated field, but one with a hole in it. Many companies can generate thousands of potentially valuable ideas, but have no accepted cultural method for placing a value on them.
Many of these same companies can do Wicked Thinking, block out Business Model Canvases, and follow a Design Thinking Sprint, but they lack credible and concrete thinking about the financial side of their innovation concepts as the front-end process is progressing.
19. Soft Skills for Emerging Leaders
- Monday, September 29, 2014
As a professional, as a leader, even as a brand ask yourself this critical question: are you empathetic? Do you have the genuine ability to “understand and share the feelings of another.”
20. The Only Difference: Mindset
- Monday, September 22, 2014
The same truths not brought into action present themselves as lessons, ongoing themes. This one rings with more truth every time I encounter it. Mindset is the real pivot point, the only true sustainable, competitive advantage (other than exclusivity, which is always temporary) for organizations that want to flourish.
21. Allow Innovation to Expand Business Model
- Monday, September 15, 2014
As your innovation efforts begin to move from the ideation to the testing phase, or the co-creation with consumers or customers, outlandish and disruptive concepts present themselves. As messy as children arriving, they show up, saying, "Feed me, let me scream at the top of my lungs, I’m uncivilized,” all without speaking.
22. Regenerate Corporate Cultures
- Monday, September 08, 2014
What’s good for the bee is good for the hive. Marcus Aurelius noted that "If a thing is not good for the hive, it is not good for the bee.” This statement has profound implications for corporate cultures. In a workplace setting, anything that keeps a culture from dynamically regenerating itself is harmful to its people.
23. The Gold Left on the Table
- Monday, September 01, 2014
I always feel bad for clients of a full-cycle innovation project. After the many ideation and co-creation sessions, there are far too many viable concepts to pursue. In many cases, millions of dollars of market expansion, new products with tested, validated appeal and new licensing opportunities get swept aside just because there are too many possibilities.
24. Primary Research and Talking Sticks
- Monday, August 25, 2014
Business, organizations, and nonprofits grow with the level of firsthand experiences they have with their prospects, customers, members or donors. These entities both know themselves and also know their audience, their tribe.
25. Consumers Driving Health Care Innovation
- Monday, August 18, 2014
Everyone in the U.S complains about health care – the rising costs of insurance premiums and co-pays, the lack of innovation, the poor experience at doctor’s offices and hospitals, and price of medications.
26. Why Experts Live in Fear
- Monday, August 11, 2014
More trouble has fallen upon companies that tempt the universe with this ego-inflated statement: "We are the experts.” A sizable lack of innovation occurs in the practice of being perceived as experts instead of practicing humility in the workplace.
27. The Power of Unplugging
- Monday, August 04, 2014
I am returning from a vacation on the Forgotten Coast, a cape wedged in between the sea and a bay. The best part of the location is that my smartphone connection did not work.
All of the incessant demands of running a business, having clients, making social media updates, keeping up with news for organizations for whom I serve on boards: poof, gone.
28. Atkinson Joins Dermaflage Team
- Tuesday, July 08, 2014
Michael Graber asked that I write this week’s column to both announce my move to join the leadership team at our Ventures company, Silicone Arts Labs, and to reflect on the last seven years at Southern Growth Studio. We announce my departure from the Studio with a great sense of pride and accomplishment, as it is one of the ways we are meeting our mission and making a positive impact in Memphis.
29. Business Becomes Human
- Monday, June 30, 2014
After sifting through 20-plus in-depth consumer narratives of their condition, an R&D scientist said to me, “We need to always begin new product development projects this way.”
These people went into great details about their lives, their struggles, their rituals, their beliefs. As we unpacked their learnings, the scientist understood the complexities of having a rich, full contextual understanding of the people for whom he will design new, innovative solutions.
30. Necessary Disruptions
- Monday, June 23, 2014
Last week, the New Yorker published an article about how Disruptive Innovations have failed and how the theory is bogus. The long piece went into great depth about the emerging Disruption industry of consultants, the Disruption ethos prevalent in Silicon Valley and the many Disruption discussions in boardrooms across the globe. As a local practitioner of innovation methodologies, several people asked me my take on the piece.
31. Perfection vs. Petri Dish
- Monday, June 16, 2014
We live in the fastest-evolving marketplace in history, so why is it that so many companies still move so slowly bringing new products to market?
We believe it is because they are holding fast to an industrial revolution mindset where innovations are carefully devised, honed and perfected. The heft of extensive machines and expensive infrastructure mire down the collective mindset, locking in a collective fear of imperfection. There is much to learn from the nimble tech industry that focuses on speed to market over perfection.
32. Culture of Collaboration
- Monday, June 09, 2014
Despite tremendous advances in technology that yield nearly infinite access to information and the Internet’s connectivity of the world’s greatest experts, many companies continue to look inward for new product development and innovation.
33. Enroll the Skeptics Early
- Monday, June 02, 2014
After working on hundreds of innovation projects, one fact remains. If you cannot get executive sponsorship of the final concepts, they will never launch. We recommend a few steps to get leadership engaged in solving the problem with you as part of the process; therefore, they will feel invested in the outcome of the innovations in the marketplace.
34. Have Courage to Leap
- Monday, May 26, 2014
As Innovation and Growth Strategy consultants, we have methods, processes and exercises that we apply to client problems.
While tools from this vast toolbox work for any type of organization seeking to provide a better service or product (health care, nonprofit, hospitality, consumer goods, financial services, wholesalers and B2B) to generate insights and custom solutions that set them up as a category leader, what we sell is something else ultimately. This is perhaps the rarest asset in corporate America for an unknown reason, called courage.
35. How to Get Unstuck From a Rut
- Monday, May 19, 2014
Perspective is everything. In life and work life this adage proves true time and time again.
If you can see opportunity without preset lenses, you are more prone to make advantageous use of this gift. If you harness the skill to zoom out and zoom in, you see your business in many different settings, in different categories and segments, and serving different customers. We, at the Studio, cannot empathize the power of fresh thinking and a cached perspective.
36. Being Social Entrepreneurs
- Monday, May 12, 2014
There is a lot of talk these days about social entrepreneurs and social ventures but not a lot of clarity around what this really means.
It seems the term is just a new spin on not-for-profits, a new label for startup organizations that focus on social issues. However, there is a big difference – social ventures can be for-profit or nonprofit in their structure.
37. Running on Autopilot?
- Monday, May 05, 2014
With the first quarter behind us, it is time to evaluate your business performance and start assessing the effectiveness of the tactics in your growth strategy. At the end of each quarter it is imperative to run a series of diagnostics to attain a deeper understanding of why the results are what they are, regardless of whether they are positive or negative.
38. Go Deep or Go Home
- Monday, April 28, 2014
We meet companies and nonprofits who have been marketing to the same lists for years. Often, these lists and the assumptions about the people on their lists are more than a decade old. These aged lists may have been scrubbed, but that is simply for those who have fallen off the grid, one way or another. This point should be obvious to any reader of this column: there are major problems with this scenario.
39. Innovation Risk Brings Rewards
- Monday, April 21, 2014
Suppose I told you that you could spend $185,000 and turn it into $25 million or more in a few years. You would accuse me of phishing, an investment scam, or dismiss the proposition as foolhardy. Yet, these are the types of returns we see from clients and those in the world who invest in breakthrough innovation at their companies.
40. Backend of Innovation
- Monday, April 14, 2014
Many of the CEOs we talk to tell us that they have more growth ideas than they know what to do with. It seems like there is a universal love affair with generating ideas but less enthusiasm when it comes to figuring out which ideas are the most commercially viable and how to actually implement.
41. Trendcasting and Innovation
- Monday, April 07, 2014
Did you wake up this morning to realize that the world has changed and your business has not changed with it? If you are a regular reader of this column you know we discuss growth strategy and innovation and all of the challenges that accompany those pursuits. We see many companies of all sizes that are dying a slow death in a saturated market with outdated business models. They fail to get out ahead of what’s next.
42. The Right ROI of Innovation for Your Firm
- Monday, March 31, 2014
Innovation as investment is a simple three-step process. First, figure out the risk tolerance level at a firm. Then you can get real with your expectations, roles, resources, and metrics. Second, come up with a mix based on the risk-tolerance level of your culture. Third, formalize the assignment – and kick off all projects with visible executive leadership support. The executive support is critically important.
43. Slow Down to Innovate
- Monday, March 24, 2014
Somewhere in the Industrial Revolution a prejudice was created for speed.
Efficiency came to mean effectiveness. From this mindset emerged two paradigmatic biases: more is better (more work, more inventory, more money) and speed wins (time to market, time is money, etc.). This mindset was a boon in its era, but has outlived its usefulness.
44. Marketing Is About Strategy
- Monday, March 17, 2014
The word marketing has lost its true meaning in common business vernacular. Instead of a strategic activity that contemplates price, product, promotion and place, marketing has largely come to mean tactical execution of advertising or sales materials.
45. Nichols’ Rookie Award Comes With Accolades
- Friday, March 14, 2014
First, there was the debate. Would Briarcrest star Austin Nichols really stay home and play for the Memphis Tigers? Or would outside offers, including ones from Duke, Kansas and North Carolina, be too good to pass up?
46. Keep Your Finger On The Pulse
- Monday, March 10, 2014
Would you believe us if we told you that traditional market research is an antiquated practice that is heading toward obsolescence? Even the online survey, the modern successor of the traditional door-to-door and phone surveys doesn’t really cut it in today’s complex world.
47. Next Step: Innovate Open Young Minds
- Monday, March 03, 2014
Our last Let’s Grow column focused on an outgrowth of our efforts with some sharp peers, the Memphis Innovation Bootcamp.
One objective of the Bootcamp is to build a community of innovators. The more we socialize these methods and tools, the larger the social and business problems can be met with creativity, empathy and the widest range of possible solutions.
48. Innovation for the Rest of Us
- Monday, February 24, 2014
Innovation, as a discipline, tends to be special assignment work that is reserved for the creative hotshots, iconoclasts, those in hot spots like Palo Alto, or on an esteemed university campus, such as MIT.
49. Your Intellectual Property Strategy
- Monday, February 17, 2014
Entrepreneurs and businesses alike wrestle with the question of patents. Patents can be an accelerator or a hurdle as new products and technology travel through the pipeline and approach the market.
50. Prioritize Market Opportunities
- Monday, February 10, 2014
Too often companies rush to bring new products to market without first considering which verticals to sell into and which sales channels to utilize. This leads to a series of detrimental scenarios that end in lackluster market performance or white rabbit chasing that burns cash and never yields market traction.
51. Corporate Shamanism
- Monday, February 03, 2014
Everyday we advise clients to take risks, leap into unknown and unexplored areas, express themselves in new ways – all to locate, validate and capitalize on new areas of growth.
We have formal methods and processes for unlocking potential and manifesting new realities for them. We always tell them to be true to themselves, their organizations and be a positive force on the planet. We embolden and encourage. We connect them to the real lives that use their creations.
52. The Role of Play in Innovation
- Monday, January 27, 2014
In the Creative Economy, inspiring a sense of play in culture, marketing and innovation is critical to success. You have to engage your people so that they can engage prospects and customers with a lively sense of mission and purpose. Too often the roles we assign diminish this sense of play.
53. If It Can Be Imagined, It Can Be Made
- Monday, January 20, 2014
The industrial revolution brought efficiency but led to the decline of human creation by hand. We stopped tinkering and started operating machines, becoming inherently less ingenious.
Over the past century, new product developed hinged on access to expensive machines out of reach for the individual. Thus, new production development and innovation became the domain of companies with the cutting edge equipment.
54. Time for Biz Housekeeping
- Monday, January 13, 2014
The new year is a time of growth planning, renewed focus and basic housekeeping. We encourage you to take this time to evaluate your business for pruning opportunities. Just like nature’s cycle, the old must die to make room for the new in the business realm as well.
55. Will a Leader Take a Stand?
- Monday, January 06, 2014
Despite its history of entrepreneurialism, Memphis is a ghost town when it comes to birthing and growing businesses.
We keep beating this drum, hoping people will hear and that a leader will answer the call. Memphis needs an entrepreneurial champion.
56. Shooting for the Moon
- Monday, December 23, 2013
The Commerical Appeal ran a story last week about the Greater Memphis Chamber’s Chairman’s Circle and its “Moon Missions.” While the details remain nebulous, the Chairman’s Circle consists of private sector leaders that contribute funding and business perspective to identify, analyze and define solutions for some of Memphis’ greatest challenges.
57. Since When is Failure Good?
- Monday, December 16, 2013
Failure is the new business and innovation buzzword. Magazine articles, consultants and even professors are encouraging everyone to “learn to fail.”
Their intent is to break the hardwiring in our culture that trains us to strive for success and perfection because they believe this limits our appetite for taking risk. They hold up poor Thomas Edison as a famous failure and use Winston Churchill’s quote “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm” as support for their mantra. The failure zealots celebrate failure and encourage everyone to not just fail, but fail a lot.
58. Revenue Model Innovation Exercise
- Monday, December 09, 2013
One generative exercise for any CPG company to explore growing market share is hold a session where a team role-plays a wide array of alternative revenue models for a particular brand.
As far as the ground rules for this ideation session, any ideas should be welcomed – and the cultural antibodies of “how we have always done things” need to be silenced. This session will not only challenge your existing model and inspire new, profitable thinking, but will also unlock new avenues of growth the existing paradigm of doing business usually will not allow considering.
59. Listening: The Hardest Part
- Monday, December 02, 2013
For many in the innovation field, the hardest task is listening – real listening, deep listening. To listen without building a mental model or rushing to a conclusion is a cultivated skill.
To listen to a person’s summary of your product or service and honor their experience as the only experience that matters is not only a great courtesy, but it can be a competitive advantage; that is, if you are willing to collect feedback from a lot of customers and apply adaptive intelligence.
60. Define Your Core Business
- Monday, November 25, 2013
Most successful new businesses begin by taking advantage of a new, untapped opportunity that develops in the marketplace. These businesses can grow organically for many years by continuing to take advantage of their formula for success.
61. End User Holds the Keys
- Monday, November 18, 2013
Last week we had Shekhar Mitra, the former head of global research and development for Procter & Gamble in Memphis for a strategy working session with our Southern Growth Ventures portfolio company, Dermaflage. We are very fortunate to have Mr. Mitra on the board, and we asked him to share his innovation model with the team over lunch.
62. Parts or Whole?
- Monday, November 11, 2013
What do you call a single cell in a huge body acting counter to the general flow of a body? A rebel cell.
The theory of cancer is happening at the corpuses of businesses everywhere. When parts are running in different directions than the whole, there is a schism a hand.
63. Be Open To Surprises
- Monday, November 04, 2013
The commercial world of research and development, product development and innovation can learn from the insights of poetry by applying the deep wisdom to its process and pipeline. A single line from a Robert Frost essay has the gravity to change the growth trajectory of a business: “No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.”
64. You Should Play to Win in Business
- Monday, October 28, 2013
A.G. Lafley, CEO of Procter & Gamble, the keynote speaker at the FedEx Institute of Technology’s Innovation Expo, shared a wealth of insights on leadership and strategy from his experience and his collaboration with Peter Drucker. However, his most impactful message was so simple, many in the audience may have missed it – strategy is about making choices. That’s all there is to it. Make decisions about what business you are in, how you win in this business and then stick to them.
65. Bite Yourself Before You Get Bitten
- Monday, October 21, 2013
A few weeks ago we attended the FedEx Institute of Technology’s Innovation Expo to hear Philip Mudd, formally of the CIA and FBI, speak about risk, and A.G. Lafley, CEO of Procter & Gamble, discuss product development and market strategy. We will share with you their messages in our next two columns, as both had unique insight on strategy.
66. Private Labels Winning Brand Wars
- Friday, October 11, 2013
Almost everyday the Studio faces challenges that private label competitors impose upon our branded products clients. More and more private label brands are taking lessons out of the innovation and brand strategy playbooks and getting ahead of the once category-leading brand product.
67. Go Beyond Insight to Foresight
- Friday, October 04, 2013
Foresight is better than insight.
Given advances in market research, innovation methods and data analysis, insights should aim for being less descriptive and more predictive.
The highest and best value of business is to find new opportunities and plug into emerging trends, rather than make deeper sense of what already exists. These envisioning roles and departments should be renamed the Foresight department rather than Insights.
68. Avoid Competitive Blind Spots
- Friday, September 27, 2013
Pop quiz: do you complete a formal competitive analysis at your company a few times a year? Do you have a systematic way to monitor and capture competitive information real-time?
Be honest. It’s too bad we even have to ask this question, but the vast majority of the companies we meet with do not have a formal process nor do they analyze competitors regularly as a matter of course. They make excuses, telling us that their sales guys know exactly what’s going on in the marketplace. They tell us they rely on the “Magic Quadrant” put out by their industry’s presiding research firm. But the truth is they operate on hearsay and gut feelings. This is true for large and small companies alike, all myopically focused on the tasks at hand and the daily fires.
69. Don’t Let People Halt Progress
- Friday, September 20, 2013
Many times it is the people on the team that limit their own company’s growth. Infighting, politics and a lack of conviction at the top are the most common inhibitors to growth that we see in our work as consultants. Sure, breakthrough ideas backed by a strong business case are needed to fuel continued growth, but many times those are easier to come by than team collaboration and consensus. People stand in the way of progress.
70. Ideation Different Than Brainstorming
- Friday, September 06, 2013
As a critical phase of any innovation project, ideation brings the generative possibilities to life. While there are similarities with traditional brainstorming, there are also some key differences. Let’s explore both in this column.
71. The [Fill in the Blank] Way
- Friday, August 30, 2013
Each professional entity has a way of handling business. This way is encoded with spoken and codified rules and unspoken and non-verbal clues on how to perform. What gets done, how decisions are made and how money gets allocated can be defined as “culture.” This way, then, is an explicit and implicit set of rituals that reward or punish based on its own complicated, internal logic.
72. Drowning in Big Data
- Friday, August 23, 2013
“We have so much data but no answers.” This phrase echoes down the halls of all of the larger clients with whom we meet. In a quantitative world, where there is every dimension of research and analysis available, unreality multiples. The business world is drowning in data and, by the level of panic and anxiety, has lost its rudder.
73. Turning Good Ideas Into Great Products
- Friday, August 16, 2013
One innovation method is to invite customers (in a B-2-B situation) or consumers (in a B-2-C scenario) into the creative process with you. Here, they will ideate, workshop concepts that arise in the session, augment concepts provided for them, and create some new product or service ideas that do not yet exist.
74. Execs: Feed Yourself First
- Friday, August 09, 2013
So many new business ventures die on the vine. Statistics vary, and we’ll keep the details of the debate to a minimum here. Let’s say that 1 in 20 make it. Let’s define the “Making It” as either having a profitable company after five years of existence or selling to a larger firm for a wealth-creating sum.
75. Your Company Must Play to Win
- Friday, August 02, 2013
Are you rewarding your team for outrageous thinking about your product or service mix? Do you give them ample room to experiment and defy expectations about such things as new customer experiences, new business models, new strategies, growth ideas, and new lines of revenue? Can they play and not be punished for generating new thinking about old problems? Can they learn by doing?
76. Purposeful Innovations
- Friday, July 26, 2013
Many of the Let’s Grow columns discuss practical and theoretical strategies and tactics to help companies better innovate.
While these tips and tools can serve as a guide to creating breakthrough and incremental innovations at your firm, they tend to have a higher rate of success in corporate cultures that provide the process, rewards, metrics, training and resources to innovate. More important, perhaps, is a mindset that fine tunes the organization. This mindset can galvanize a culture. This mindset is based in an overarching purpose.
77. Labor of Love
- Tuesday, July 23, 2013
One morning a few days ago, Jeff Hulett woke up earlier than usual.
His days frequently are a blur of activity – given that he’s a PR and communications coordinator for the Church Health Center, as well as a husband and father – and on this particular morning he wanted to squeeze in some time to himself playing guitar.
78. Perfect Harmony: MBA and MFA Mindsets
- Friday, July 12, 2013
Business needs to bridge two universes together: the scientific process taught in schools that offer a Master of Business Administration degree and the creative process taught in Master of Fine Arts degree programs.
79. Three Critical Ingredients for Innovation
- Friday, June 21, 2013
Our firm, the Southern Growth Studio, helps many companies with innovation. We help with projects labeled as innovation and we also consult on how companies set up the processes, framework, and governance for successful innovation.
80. Doing Right is Good Marketing
- Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Here is a short list of rapid cultural changes: Consumer and business databases. Cable. TIVO and DVR. The Internet. Search engines. Satellite radio. Podcasts. Social networks. Blogs. Mobile. The iPhone. Thousands more innovations in beta today.
81. Financial Speed Bumps for Innovations
- Wednesday, June 05, 2013
The creative process of birthing breakthrough innovations can provide a substantial top-line boon but too often suffers a fatal flaw felt in failed product launch after failed product launch.
Welcome to the Innovation Graveyard. Hundreds of millions of dollars get lost here.
82. PURE GOLD: Use Effective Taglines
- Wednesday, May 29, 2013
While many tools and technologies of marketing change at the speed of innovation, some fundamental elements retain their value. A few essential elements increase in value as more clutter finds new ways to compete for our increasingly valuable attention. Nothing has as much perennial value as an effective tagline.
83. Measuring Innovation With Money
- Wednesday, May 22, 2013
But will it make real money? Innovation is such a heady, ill-defined concept. Innovation is one of those words – like strategy or creativity – that means either nothing or something different to anyone who hears it. But when handled correctly, genuine innovations are the lifeblood of any company’s continued health and success.
84. Forming the Second Wave
- Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Most businesses start with vigor and willpower. Truly breakthrough businesses launch and fly with such an impassioned sense of mission that it changes the market and the communities where their offices are located.
85. Both Sides Win in ‘Battle of the Brains’
- Wednesday, May 08, 2013
If you have ever engaged someone in a discussion about left- and right-brain thinking they almost always take a side. Sometimes it seems that the two sides are incompatible and unbending in their view of how one should see the world. The right-brain people are typically labeled “creative” and “artistic” with a unique ability to see things intuitively and as a whole. The left-brain people are “analytical” and “detail oriented” utilizing linear process and logic to solve problems.
86. Nobody Wins the Low Price War
- Wednesday, May 01, 2013
We get asked about pricing all of the time. Usually, the inquisitor is looking for a simple answer but the topic is vastly complex due to the many variables involved.
Pricing is a key element of market strategy and a powerful lever in your arsenal. It is intrinsically tied to your position in the market and is only as effective as your strategy as a whole.
87. If You Can’t Win, Change the Game
- Wednesday, April 24, 2013
In today’s dynamic world it is imperative for companies to continually realize growth through a sustainable competitive advantage. The trouble is that every innovation is just one new innovation away from becoming obsolete. How do proactive companies stay one step ahead?
88. Sometimes You Need to Shift Things Around
- Wednesday, April 17, 2013
When leading a series of innovation workshops for Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr.’s Innovation Delivery Team with division leaders at City Hall, our task was steep: change long-standing behavior patterns. Turn doers into innovators. Have proven professionals who are deeply embedded in their roles get out of their current paradigm and empathize with the community and citizens they serve. Break the cognitive lock created by doing the same thing every day and see the city with fresh eyes.
89. Market Power Versus Brute Force
- Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Pushing too hard? Often a rush to hit short-term numbers or an over-caffeinated executive can force some costly mistakes. Failed product launches. A weak but bloated product pipeline. A service in desperate need of reinvention but too entrenched and in love with its own methods too change. A company that charges ahead blindly, carrying dead weight and a dying value proposition to the market. A feature set that doesn’t meet users real needs. Add a bomb from your professional experience here ___.
90. Zero Budget – What a Boon
- Wednesday, April 03, 2013
Entrepreneurs come alive when all odds are stacked against them. Think of the famous stories. Walt Disney and Frank Lloyd Wright going bankrupt several times until their visions pay off. Edison brokering the GE deal that meant the West would use the type of electricity the wizard of Menlo Park created. Steve Jobs kicked out of Apple, starting Next. The old saying holds true: the darkest hour is just before the dawn.
91. Companies Need to Think Like Venture Capitalists
- Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Last week we discussed the concept of the intrapreneur and our conviction that companies must add the pressures of failure and constrained resources to get ingenuity. Real entrepreneurs have vision, resilience and fortitude. Their natural drive, focus on survival and ability to pivot with the market is what generates market winners. It is the natural selection process at work. This is why VCs think the team is most critical, and companies looking to innovate should too.
92. Put Your Internal Team on Bootstrap to Drive Innovation
- Wednesday, March 20, 2013
In 1992, The American Heritage Dictionary acknowledged the popular use of a new word, “intrapreneur,” meaning “a person within a large corporation who takes direct responsibility for turning an idea into a profitable finished product through assertive risk-taking and innovation.” This term and concept is enjoying a revival as current companies struggle to realize growth and innovation. Companies seeking growth typically design programs that are based in strategy-driven or intrapreneur-driven innovation.
93. 3-D Printing Revolution Will Drive Innovation
- Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Technology like that imagined by Star Trek and the futuristic cartoon The Jetsons is becoming reality with 3-D printing. Also known as additive manufacturing, it creates customized solid three-dimensional objects from digital schematics. It has arrived – and it is disruptive.
94. Southern Growth Studio Helps Companies Think Differently
- Monday, March 11, 2013
Memphis-based Southern Growth Studio is getting ready to bring some of the spirit of innovation, sunny optimism and can-do attitude to Memphis that its principals found on a recent trip to Las Vegas.
95. Good Manners and Innovation
- Wednesday, March 06, 2013
Brainstorming sessions can easily devolve into a contest of strong egos or a parade of old, tired ideas and their accompanying resentments. Worse, meetings around ideation or innovation sour when there is lack of good manners.
96. Alas, Poor Henry and the Problem
- Wednesday, February 27, 2013
According to legend, Henry Ford scoffed at market research and what we now call Consumer Insights, proclaiming, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” While there is a certain degree of wisdom in this statement, it has been misquoted to justify bad, hubris-inspired product failures by too many corporate egos.
97. Why Limit Yourself?
- Wednesday, February 20, 2013
When consulting with clients here in the Memphis area, we often have to deliver the bad news first. This bitter pill usually comes in the form of a Sunset Analysis that details when the client’s once market-leading products will be costing more to keep in production than generating revenue.
98. Can Big Data Pay Off Big?
- Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Perhaps one of the most exciting advances in this decade is the emergence of big data, a collection of data sets so large they cannot be processed with standard database management programs. The analytics that companies glean from this data yield quantitative insight into business strategy that was previously unavailable. The world’s technological per-capita capacity to store information has roughly doubled every 40 months since the 1980s.
99. Economic Development Through Entrepreneurism
- Wednesday, February 06, 2013
Last week we visited downtown Las Vegas to tour and learn more about what Zappos founder Tony Hsieh is doing to stimulate entrepreneurial activity and urban revitalization through his Downtown Project initiative. Hsieh is personally investing $350 million to transform downtown Las Vegas into the most community-focused large city in the world in less than five years.
100. Growth Capital Wasteland
- Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Capital makes the world go round – or at least it used to before the recession and our new economic reality took hold. Enacting growth strategies is difficult without capital to invest. This is certainly true for early stage companies that need enough runway to get the business off the ground and then gain momentum to cash flow the business.