Editorial Results (free)
1. Using Customer Reviews as Consumer Insights
- Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Many companies waste some of their most valuable, intimate customer data. They may hire a firm or a few internal people to deliver responsive customer service and respond to online reviews and questions. However, they tend to neglect this treasure trove of field data for insights on how to improve their business or innovate on a new set of needs.
2. Wisdom in the Workplace
- Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Maybe you’ve been in this meeting or one like it. Competing agendas fly like bullets. The pace of conversation speeds up. Interruptions pounce out the façade of civility. People anxiously wait to talk, heads burning with desire, rather than listen.
3. Upsetting the Category
- Tuesday, April 11, 2017
After years of battling over market share and swapping customers back and forth, many companies lose perspective of their market. They know their market too well, ironically, which cripples their vision of new ways their categories could potentially grow or be disrupted.
4. Pivot For Innovation
- Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Pivoting your way to profitability, Somik Raha, SmartOrg. There are many unforeseen hazards between concept and launch. Pivoting provides a unique opportunity to learn from experience and to change course at key development stages, making the difference between attaining mediocre results and achieving astounding success.
5. Winning the Scale-Up Game
- Tuesday, March 14, 2017
A Back End of Innovation talk by Daniel Friedman, chief revenue officer for Imaginatik. The Back-End Innovation Game “I am going to focus on how,” says Daniel. “It all starts with asking the right questions.”
6. Two Highlights From the Back End of Innovation
- Tuesday, March 07, 2017
“A Systems Approach to Creating an Innovation Funding Board,” Craig Wirkus, Cisco. Cisco’s five-pillar strategy for innovation: Build, buy, partner, invent and co-develop.
7. 5 Keys to Good Collaboration
- Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Back End of Innovation Conference keynote by Daniel Shapiro, associate professor of psychology, Harvard Medical School/McLean Hospital, and associate director of Harvard International Negotiation Project
8. Keurig’s Journey into Connected Appliances
- Wednesday, February 22, 2017
A talk by Rachael Schwartz, general manager and senior director innovation, Keurig Green Mountain, given at the Back End of Innovation conference.
Schwartz began with two main points:
9. Becoming A Partner of Choice
- Tuesday, January 10, 2017
A talk by Johnson & Johnson executives Janette Edelstein, director external innovation, and Chris Ryan, director innovation sourcing.
10. Mold the Future Of Unplanned Purchases
- Tuesday, January 03, 2017
A Back End of Innovation Conference talk by Melissa Crompton, senior manager, New Model Innovation, The Hershey Co. In this changing retail landscape where trips in-store are down, how does a highly impulsive category remain relevant? And how do we become relevant to new audiences who are not going in stores?
11. ‘Love is The Answer’
- Tuesday, December 27, 2016
A talk at the Back End of Innovation conference by Christy Amador, senior communications manager, Global Public Affairs and Communications for The Coca-Cola Co., highlights how one company engages its employees more deeply.
12. Follow These Guidelines To Innovate Well
- Tuesday, December 20, 2016
A talk at the Back End of Innovation conference by 3M Healthcare’s Heather Webb discusses how the company manages to innovate in a complex business.
13. Innovation Inside the Box
- Tuesday, December 13, 2016
2016 Back End of Innovation Conference keynote by Drew Boyd, executive director of the Master of Science in marketing, University of Cincinnati.
The thesis of this talk is that creativity is a skill, not a gift. This practical advice starts with a promise from Boyd: “I’m going to teach you how to use your brain to innovate any way you want.”
14. The Innovation Trajectory Leads To Collaboration
- Tuesday, December 06, 2016
Talk by Tamara St. Claire, CIO, Xerox Healthcare. We use three key methods at innovation in my group, started St. Claire:
1. Lean Startup model: Based on a non-conventional approach to management to act more like a startup, not assuming you know what the market wants. Build. Measure. Learn – this is the cycle of Lean Startup. Then, build MVP, minimally viable product, which is a way to test customer reactions. Develop criteria for success. Should you pivot or persevere? This process manages the chaos and uncertainty of new product development.
15. Back End Of Innovation Is The Hard Part
- Tuesday, November 29, 2016
The Back End of Innovation Conference this year was in the perfect setting: New Orleans. The dynamic culture that gave the world Jazz and a North American culinary culture continues to inspire innovation and serve as a model for how to pivot and re-launch itself more powerfully than before after an epic tragedy, such as Katrina.
16. Human Evolution of Innovation
- Tuesday, November 22, 2016
A Back End of Innovation Conference keynote by Kevin Ashton. Ashton opened his innovation talk at the Back End of Innovation Conference by taking a picture of the crowd and publishing it on Twitter, which he remarked was revolutionary a decade ago.
17. The Role Of Conscious Corporations
- Tuesday, November 08, 2016
Denial of a human-centric world and its impact on the planet since the industrial revolution is no longer an acceptable worldview.
In March, we reached the point of no return, the point where most credible international scientists agree that damage will be unprecedented and relentless. As we have surpassed global CO2 concentrations at 400 parts per million (PPM), let’s make this alarm a time for changing the purpose of business.
18. Give Us Your Lions!
- Tuesday, November 01, 2016
Command-and-control, top-down organizations have the most trouble innovating. In particular, the fearful mindsets that review, align and sign off on “decks” to be presented to vice president-level colleagues often edit out the insights and recommendations that have the power to grow the business in new ways.
19. Embedding Innovation In An Organization
- Tuesday, October 25, 2016
It takes two factors to make innovation real at an organization: concepts and culture. Work on both at the same time and the rest will emerge as a byproduct of the process.
If you outsource your innovation efforts, you will end up with concepts that will not be accepted by your existing culture. Some concepts might be potent enough to generate a lot of sales. Others will be even stronger, allowing your company to reframe what a category means to consumers and positioning you as the leader – think of the famous examples: Swiffer, iPhone and Tesla.
20. Innovation And The Tech World
- Tuesday, October 18, 2016
While the world of technology has filled the world with tools of productivity and connection, it has its drawbacks. Many people today suffer from the shadow side of technology.
Droves of burned out, screen-addicted zombies sign up for Digital Detox weekends. Families schedule a family night without cellphones at the table once a week or only allow their preschoolers to play games after reading. Technology has imploded many of the societal norms we once held sacred: look how online dating has disrupted generations of rituals.
21. Reboot a Sluggish Brand, Part 2
- Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Editor’s Note: Part-two in a two-part series. In last week’s column, we explored the corporate psychological journey that happens to accept the fact that a once-leading brand needs to be transformed and relaunched.
22. Declining Sales Call for Brand Reboot
- Tuesday, October 04, 2016
Editor’s note: Part one of a two-part series. Once market share dwindles and revenue targets are missed year after year (despite category growth), it may be time to reboot a once-beloved brand.
23. When to Call An Innovation Firm
- Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Change is difficult, and changing for the better rarely happens out of virtue. When prospects reach out we know only one fact: They want to change something in their organizational mix and grow and want help. Often the need is an unexpressed and even unconscious urge for the company or nonprofit.
24. Back to Basics: Elements in the Product Story
- Tuesday, September 20, 2016
Many companies and people confuse what they mean when discussing value propositions, benefits and features. Be clear with your product marketing.
Value Proposition. Definition: A value proposition is the concise statement of the overarching solution to your customer’s problem. The solution, then, is not your product or its technical details, but the solution your product or service provides; i.e., the end result, the value given to the customer.
25. Healthy Visionaries
- Tuesday, September 13, 2016
If you want to create a high-growth company or transform a slow- or flat-growth organization into a category-dominating leader, you cannot manage this type of growth with an MBA-styled leader who wants to function like a strategic CFO by mainly cutting costs and managing profit and loss.
26. Brand Essence: The Rock ‘n’ Roll of Business, Part 3
- Tuesday, September 06, 2016
Editor’s note: Part three in a three-part series. Your marketers either need to create a fire or be fired. If you have uninspired and uninspiring marketing professionals on your team, be warned. Give him or her one chance to kick into high gear. Then act decisively. Fire them if they cannot change tempo.
27. Brand Essence: The Rock ‘n’ Roll of Business, Part 2
- Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Editor’s note: Part two in a three-part series. One real power of a brand is that it serves as a tuning fork for an organization, helping them quicken strategic decisions, vetting new opportunities and making hard choices when projections are slipping away from the target.
28. Brand Essence: The Rock ‘n’ Roll of Business, Part 1
- Tuesday, August 16, 2016
Editor’s note: Part one of a three-part series. Like famous musicians, effective brands maintain a certain sway over those who come into contact with them, a sense of awe and authority that translates talent, focus and hard work into an essence that communicates instantly.
29. Innovation Is Potent Leadership Development
- Tuesday, August 09, 2016
You can’t outsource the important things. After working with more than 100 clients, we have noted one of the most critical factors in the success of an innovation project: If you outsource all of the work on your innovation projects, they will fail.
30. What Drives Your Organization?
- Tuesday, August 02, 2016
As strategy and innovation consultants, we get called in when organizations are exhausted from trying to grow significantly and not meeting their goals. In most cases, the organization is trying to do too many things without a way to tie them into a coherent meaning.
31. Gray Hair: White Space
- Tuesday, July 26, 2016
Geritol. AARP. RVs. These symbols of retirement are losing their relevance, empty shells of another generation’s concept of how to spend the remainder of your life once you have worked your last day.
32. Real Magic: The Power of Words
- Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Editor’s note: Second in a two-part series. In part one, we explored how language and our relationship with words has limited the growth and development of organizations and human capacity. Now, we discover why expanding these things make a positive impact.
33. The Power of Words
- Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Editor’s note: Part one of a two-part series.
The life of an organization is defined and redefined by the language it chooses to use. More than any other factor, compliance around words conveys the values of a place where people work. Indeed, words are magic, carrying so much weight that they demand careful, conscious attention.
34. Sign This Pledge, Innovator
- Tuesday, July 05, 2016
Congratulations, you’ve been hired as an innovator. This is the apex of applied creativity, the rock ‘n’ roll of industry; you are hired to rock the boat. Steady your Warby Parker’s. Hit pause on your audible copy of “Abundance.” Fill your closets with Robert Graham and PrAna, and get some crazy socks; it’s time to work.
35. Do the Right Things
- Tuesday, June 28, 2016
So many people focus on the tiny details of their jobs. They are rewarded to sweat the details. In some fields the details are critical, such as medical care, clinical research, nuclear energy; in many fields, however, this focus on details impedes authentic growth.
36. Tell Compelling Stories to Connect
- Tuesday, June 14, 2016
A talk by William Greenwald, founder and chief neuroleaderologist, Windsor Leadership Group
William began with a story. This one was about air travel. Something happens. The plane makes an odd noise then nose dives.
37. Blended Reality: Riding the Waves Of Innovation
- Tuesday, June 07, 2016
A talk given by Shane Wall, CTO, HP. “Innovation is culture,” says Wall to start his keynote in high gear.
The way you get insight is to understand culture, he suggests, and to look at societal change. Not technology.
38. Tethering the Void to Moonshot Ideas
- Tuesday, May 31, 2016
This talk was given by Donna Sturgess, executive in residence, Carnegie Mellon University, at the annual Front End of Innovation Conference in Boston this month.
“I’ve been spending a lot of time in the future,” is how Sturgess opened this evocative session. “Things get funded at Carnegie Mellon for big, breakthrough ideas, exponential innovations.”
39. Innovation From The Inside-Out
- Tuesday, May 24, 2016
A talk from Karen Hersherson, clay street project leader, Proctor & Gamble. Innovation for P&G is about platforms and pipelines that create long-lasting value. To get these types of results, the company had to build an incubator for project teams, named “clay street.”
40. Better, Faster Insight-Based Innovation
- Tuesday, May 17, 2016
Better & Faster Workshop at the Front End of Innovation Conference
A masterclass with Jeremy Gutsche, the CEO of Trend Hunter and the best-selling author of “Better & Faster: The Proven Path to Unstoppable Ideas.”
41. What’s Your Innovation Definition?
- Tuesday, May 10, 2016
So many organizations set out to innovate but lose their way close to the finish line. All of the time, money and energy invested loom over them like an ominous shadow of failure ready to overtake the whole scene.
42. Essential Tactics For Innovation Intrepreneurs
- Tuesday, April 26, 2016
For authentic innovation to occur at an organization, you have to craft the culture of a place to accept and embrace new ways of working together and being in the market.
More often than not, teams or outsourced agencies follow an innovation method, create many concepts that are new to the market and certain to create new value, but are crushed by the cultural antibodies of a place while still an embryonic idea.
43. Radical Team Dynamics for The Highly Productive
- Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Investing in people means the conventional and expected things. You can send high performers to leadership development, provide access and time for seminars and online learning. You can reward with money, praise and attention. Yet, three aspects of people investment tend to get overlooked, leaving the most driven and brightest unmotivated and rudderless, looking for the door.
44. The Evolving Role of Design, Part Two
- Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Editor’s note: Part two of a two-part series. We are talking about Big Design, Big D, Meta D. Designing the energetics, level of interaction, the culture of work, and the methods of inquiry, creation and production – the invisible infrastructure of how all pieces and parts of an organization and the world interrelate.
45. The Evolving Role of Design, Part One
- Tuesday, April 05, 2016
Editor’s note: Part one in a two-part series. The role of design evolves at the speed of innovation, the dizzying, dynamic speed of the market. Design now has a seat at executive and board tables across the globe. More than ever, a holistic sense of design is valued as a legal means of significant competitive advantage.
46. Lip Service or Real Metamorphosis?
- Tuesday, March 29, 2016
When we get called into a company it is often because a very expensive innovation effort failed.
One of the huge global innovation firms was called in to create a new platform and what happens next is very much like a bad action movie – you know the story. No surprises.
47. Storytelling, The Brain & Work Culture
- Tuesday, March 22, 2016
I love the quote by the poet Muriel Rukeyser that says, “The universe is made of stories, not atoms.” Humans live for stories. We learn from stories at home, school, from friends and also very compellingly at work.
48. Toward a Better Definition Of ‘Innovation Process’
- Tuesday, March 15, 2016
Innovation is one of those words that means something different to each person that hears it. When you describe the whole framework as an innovation process, the confusion compounds exponentially. The word process is more misleading than the word innovation.
49. Birth of A Product Company, Part 4
- Tuesday, March 08, 2016
Editor’s note: Part four in a four-part series. “After you have a solid business plan and actual market feedback on your product concepts, including revenue,” I continued, “you’ll want to think about raising capital.”
50. Birth of a Product Company, Part 3
- Tuesday, March 01, 2016
Editor’s note: Part three of a four-part series. At this point in the dialogue, I felt the need to break down the conversation into helpful actions in two main categories: test marketing and business planning.
51. Birth of a Product Company, Part 2
- Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Editor's note: Part two in a four-part series. In the last column I profiled a too-common scenario. A person with passion, drive and talent created a handful of products without considering the many factors of launching a new company in a complex, overcrowded market.
52. Birth of a Product Company, Part 1
- Tuesday, February 16, 2016
Editor’s note: Part one of a four-part series. A friend of mine is a stylist to the stars. If there is a movie or TV show shooting in the region, she’s on the set, making hair magic. She gets flown around the world at times. She’s in demand.
53. Innovation: A Journey Of Discovery
- Tuesday, February 09, 2016
Innovation gets defined so many ways that it can be confusing. While there is a repeatable framework for creating new value, the iterative nature of front end discovery work can perplex those who believe that work should be linear.
54. For Whom Do You Create New Products?
- Thursday, February 04, 2016
According to AcuPoll more than 95 percent of new products fail each year. This harrowing statistic should sound an alarm, one that says, the way we approach the conceptualization and launch of new products does not work.
55. The Gift Of Writing A Book
- Thursday, January 28, 2016
Running any business day-in and day-out can bring active contemplation to halt. The pace of work stays at such a staggering speed, leaving you inspired, exhausted and bewildered.
With such demands on your time, it’s hard to make sense of life and work, and even harder to extract wisdom out of the many experiences that constitute a workday.
56. Value Stream Discovery & True Grit
- Thursday, January 21, 2016
Aaron Eden, former Innovation Catalyst at Intuit before founding Moves the Needle.
Value Stream Discovery is a framework for unlocking value for enterprises, in a scalable manner.
Lean Innovation: How do we eliminate waste in the discovery of new value?
57. Practices For Today’s Consumer Reality
- Thursday, January 14, 2016
Sandra Kang, Director, Brand Insights, Digital Insights & Consumer Affairs, Clorox
Not so long ago, we could take out a TV ad, take out a newspaper ad – and win with consumers. Now, it’s all different for the CPG industry. The, retailers led.
58. How To Innovate Like A Startup
- Thursday, January 07, 2016
Ann Thompson, The Garage Group; Kristi Zuhlke, Knowledge Hound; Tarrae Schroeder, Kellogg; Kristine Greiwe, LYFT; Luana Nichifor, Proctor & Gamble
Ann Thompson began the talk about her big company background, at Proctor and Gamble. Then, switched to her life now at a startup. The garage group helps enables corporations to innovate and grow like startups.
59. Thrive in The Expectation Economy
- Thursday, December 31, 2015
Maxwell Luthy’s keynote begins with a warm-up. Luthy, director of Trends and Insight, showed two innovations and asked if they were good or bad. The first has a real-time countdown of your life expectancy. The second innovation is an emoji-based room service.
60. Q&A With Seth Godin
- Thursday, December 24, 2015
Seth Godin is the author of 18 books. His blog is one of the most popular in the world. After a keynote about the Connection Economy, Godin made time for a Q&A for 50 people.
At the foundation of the Connection Economy lies weirdness and art, an authentic humanness.
61. The Hearts And Minds Of Unicorns
- Thursday, December 17, 2015
A Back End of Innovation 2015 Talk
Porter Gale, Former VP of Virgin America
Porter started with a few questions, “Is it easy or hard to innovate in your company?” “Can you recognize unicorns?”
62. Why Relationships Are Essential To Research
- Thursday, December 10, 2015
Beth Werner, Head of Retail Research and Vision at Bose
So, why are relationships essential for research? Let me begin by telling you a little about myself, and then tell you about why relationships are scary for Bose.
63. Accelerate Growth By Integrating Research
- Thursday, December 03, 2015
Stephanie Cunningham, Associate Director, Global Insights Business Lead – Specialty Division, The Clorox Co.; Jody McInerney, Senior Vice President, Burke Inc.
64. New Consumer Research & Brand Measurement
- Thursday, November 26, 2015
New Frontier of Consumer Research, Olga Diamandis, Senior Manager, Open Innovation, Mattel. Three key things are happening that are changing research: Crowdsourcing, big data and artificial intelligence. We will mine these dimensions, but first let’s take a brief look at the history of marketing research.
65. Two Innovation Talks That Noted Telemedicine
- Thursday, November 19, 2015
A Journey Toward Commercialization: A Case Study in Xerox’s Venture into Telemedicine, a talk given by Denise Fletcher, Xerox
66. Overlooking the Obvious: Why Innovation Fails
- Thursday, November 12, 2015
This column was based on a presentation by Scott Jenkins, SVP of Innovation and Product Development of Deckers.
67. Creating A Commercialization Culture
- Monday, November 02, 2015
How to Create a Culture Where You Can Capitalize on Innovation: A presentation by Jay Morgan, VP Global Innovation Bayer Consumer Care, given at the Back end of Innovation Conference, October 2015.
68. Strategic Foresight For Key Projects
- Monday, October 26, 2015
Here are notes from the back end of Innovation conference 2015, in San Jose, California. These tips come from a workshop led by Tamara Carleton, Innovation Leadership Board LLC.
69. Design Thinking As Worldview
- Monday, October 19, 2015
Design thinking is considered a human-centered framework for problem solving, used in formal innovation work in many fields: health care, consumer products, software, medical devices, durable goods, services and city planning. Design thinking has been perhaps the most lauded innovation method. In brief, the phases include empathy, define, ideation, prototyping, testing and storytelling.
70. Culture is The Key Indicator Of Innovation
- Monday, October 12, 2015
An odd dynamic is taking place among the C-suite of many companies. They demand more innovation from the organization without really knowing what that means and the implications it has for the organization.
71. Six Sets Of Eyes For Innovation
- Monday, October 05, 2015
To successfully foster an innovation, you have to look through at least six different sets of eyes.
First, you have to unlearn everything you know. Admit it. You are biased, preprogrammed, and your bonus is tied into business results. Apply sincere empathy with people who do not know as much as you.
72. Leadership Lessons From Design Thinker Max DePree
- Monday, September 28, 2015
The former CEO of Herman Miller, Max DePree said, “I’ve got so many MBAs, but what I need is a poet. Poets are the original systems thinkers.”
73. Situational Medicine, Purpose and Innovation
- Monday, September 21, 2015
Encouraged by 1000s of Leadership Training workshops, books and sessions, I took a time to contemplate and draft my purpose. The idea is that if you know your driving purpose, this knowledge will guide and attune all future growth. The purpose will act as a point of inspiration, a decision filter, and also an endless surplus of renewal.
74. Denying Apoptosis or Atrophy? Unhealthy Corporate Ailments.
- Monday, September 14, 2015
With situational irony firmly in tact, the first definition of “corpus” in the Merriam-Webster dictionary reads, "the body of a human or animal especially when dead.”
Corpus, of course, is the root word of corporation. The concept of work far precedes the birth of the corporate structure.
75. Four Elements of a Successful Innovation Boot Camp
- Monday, September 07, 2015
After working with more than 100 organizations – from leading nonprofits to Fortune 500 companies – this hard-earned mantra about innovation has emerged: Concepts and culture are two critical factors necessary for successful innovation.
76. When Did We Stop New Thinking?
- Monday, August 31, 2015
Human evolution is a complex topic. Personal growth may be more perplexing even to the best psychologists. The theme that really defies reason is when a whole organization or market segment falls into the trap of formal rigidity, as in “it’s just the way it is.”
77. Use Driving Insights To Bolster Growth
- Monday, August 24, 2015
The lifecycle of an innovation project uncovers far more insights than can be filtered, harnessed or used.
Those new to an innovation discipline can get intoxicated from this endless wellspring of insights.
78. Equity Firms Should Leverage Innovation
- Monday, August 17, 2015
On the strategy side of our business, we work with many private equity-backed companies. We get called in when the growth trajectory and investment thesis aren’t being realized as projected.
We complete a diagnosis, based on a holistic evaluation of the market, competition, culture, marketing and operations of the firm. Applying a variety of in-depth primary and secondary forms of research and analysis, we develop a roadmap of real, organic growth.
79. Why Hesitate? Innovate.
- Monday, August 10, 2015
Often there is so much anxiety about innovation. Is it just a fad, or is it a viable, potent form of value generation?
Is it something that needs to be outsourced, set up as a skunk works, or can I add it to the existing responsibilities of our employees?
80. Ethnography Alone Cannot Generate Transformative Insights
- Monday, August 03, 2015
Consumer anthropology offers such refreshing insights into the marketplace, re-humanizing the relationship between people, things and stores in very profound and moving ways. This movement also has helped stores get their noses out of spreadsheet and theories and keep their eye on the customer experience.
81. The Corporate Inquisition Of Intuition
- Monday, July 27, 2015
While there are clear benefits of data and analytics when applied to growth efforts, a widespread, unhealthy dependence on a purely analytical approach to business cripples too many corporations.
While small- and mid-sized organizations still welcome some calculated risks backed by and bet on a team of spirited rising leaders, corporations appear more risk averse to their approach to launching new products in the market. In fact, the gestalt is that we’ve entered a second age of enlightenment where nothing gets signed into action unless analytic models, predictive tools, and others first bless it with a numerical score.
82. Spotting Your Organization’s Orthodoxies
- Monday, July 20, 2015
Often the very factors of success around which you launch, build, and manage an organization can turn on you like a venomous snake. The framework that worked so well, for so long, now limits the growth of the place. At some points the factors have turned into choke points.
83. The Objective Leader’s Vision
- Monday, July 13, 2015
“Once in a while you get shown the light/In the strangest of places/If you look at it right” – The Grateful Dead
To celebrate the iconic lifestyle brand of the Grateful Dead and their recent sold out 50th anniversary reunion stadium run, let’s talk about vision and its shadow side, blind spots.
84. Culture Trumps Concepts
- Monday, June 29, 2015
When many people hear the word “Innovation” they think of a service that created a category: Xerox or FedEx. Or, they think of one that made bold, brilliant moves to earn a leadership position in an emerging space: Google, Facebook, Uber and Airbnb.
85. When Less Means More
- Monday, June 22, 2015
Anxiety floods the boardroom, the conference rooms, every decision. Costs are rising. Returns are flat. Margins are thinning. Now, private label competitors are beating us in every area: technology, price, placement, design and sales. Worse, they have turned the category that we invented into a commoditized war zone and keep us in a rigid box that controls every factor of our influence and gives them every advantage.
86. Talent-Supporting Structures
- Monday, June 15, 2015
A fallacy about organizational management prevents many firms from getting the best out of their best people: the notion that everyone who excels in their jobs will eventually become managers, directors, etc. True, some may have a talent for management, while others flourish in active roles that have nothing to do with managing.
87. Once Upon A Time at Work
- Monday, June 08, 2015
In business and daily life, we are wired for stories as a species. One creation myth begins by saying God created humans because he needed good stories. Stories bind us together, creating an emotionally connected narrative through which we make sense of the world. I want to share a “Here’s What I Love About My Career” story with you.
88. Job Search Advice: Care Enough to Prepare
- Monday, May 25, 2015
So, you want a job? We’ve been on a hiring frenzy at the Studio. Sadly, the drudgery of the interview process has wasted too much time and energy.
More than 90 percent of the time, we end up playing a role that seems more like a professional coach, friend or therapist, trying to help the candidate figure out their core strengths and where they may potentially make a good fit in our culture. Then we stop being so nice, realizing this is their job, their ticket to the meeting.
89. The Real Benefit of Design Thinking
- Monday, May 18, 2015
Many days I catch myself uttering “thank you” to the universe, which the mystic Meister Eckhart claims is a prayer sufficient enough to carry an individual through an entire life.
Unlike a policeman or a bartender, I have the radical blessing to work in-depth with people doing inspiring exercises, which bring out the best side of their humanity. Being human is an incredible birthright. Our senses, instincts, and capacity for wonder can evoke awe upon contemplation.
90. Successful Ideation: Mindset and Methods
- Monday, May 11, 2015
Define what ideation means to your organization. Many companies practice some form of brainstorming or ideation. While it can be freeing to withhold restraints such as costs and technical matters and enter into the unchartered frontiers of “What If,” a lack of focus and too few creative restraints make it a fun but fruitless experience.
This is what we call idling instead of ideating. Thrilling, but a waste of time and money – incapable of generating the volume and range of ideas that make a difference.
91. Welcome to the New Era of Automation
- Monday, May 04, 2015
When Netflix put the video rental retail stores in their coffins, there was still a sizable segment of people who missed the convenience, were suspect of a mail-order or streaming subscription service or simply didn’t have the connectivity to enjoy it.
92. What I Tell My Team
- Monday, April 27, 2015
Ask the hard questions. As a thriving consultancy, our primary vocation is providing insight that adds value to our clients. To meet this objective we have to play enlightened court jester, asking the unaskable questions those inside the company cannot ask.
We also have to set the stage, carefully constructing an atmosphere of trust where we can mine issues deeply, uncover hidden orthodoxies, serve as a mirror, and always point out reachable possibilities for growth. We also have a duty to name the obstacles. Sometimes there are “family-style” secrets inside companies and denial as thick as prison walls. Be respectful on this quest. People, especially tough people, are really tender.
93. Business Hacking
- Monday, April 20, 2015
There’s an intriguing term known as Life hacking. According to Wikipedia, “Life hacking refers to any trick, shortcut, skill or novelty method that increases productivity and efficiency, in all walks of life … anything that solves an everyday problem in an inspired, ingenious manner.
94. The Perils of Pure Advertising for SMBs
- Monday, April 13, 2015
Many first-generation small and mid-sized businesses get confused about the differences of advertising and marketing. After the founders come up with a name, marketing is an afterthought for too long.
95. Signs That You Need to Fire a Client
- Monday, March 30, 2015
A beginning of a client and consultant relationship is a lot like a romantic courtship. Each party starts in a gleeful mode, inspired by the pure potential of working together. But all relationships, including professional ones, crash down to earth after an initial high. At this point your firm can tell if the partnership is a short-term assignment or a long-term collaborative relationship.
96. Taking Off the Training Wheels
- Monday, March 23, 2015
Here’s a Studio secret. We have a natural client attrition plan inherent in our business model. We not only lead innovation projects, but also give away our practices as part of the process.
When you set up your projects as both a value-generating project and an innovation-training program, it is a great success when clients complete a project cycle and then are eager to take off their training wheels.
97. Don’t Make a Shrine of Your Success
- Monday, March 16, 2015
There is a scene in the black-and-white section of The Wizard of Oz when one of the farmers (who later transforms into the Tin Man) tells Auntie Mae, “They’re going to make of a statue of me one day!” Her response handled the ego inflation with a dose of pragmatic farm wisdom. As she pointed to his next chore, she retorts, “Don’t start posing for it now.”
98. Four Internal Benefits of Practicing Innovation
- Monday, March 09, 2015
Ultimately, innovation must be defined by the new value it creates for an organization.
Sure, there are many innovations that create nominal value by shaving costs at various points of the value chain. These incremental product or service adaptations are a positive by-product of having an innovation discipline. Sights need to be set higher to really change a category for the better and create a sustainable leadership position in the market.
99. How to Delve Further Into User Insights
- Monday, March 02, 2015
Think of it as the front end of the front end, this fusion of methods for solving problems for real people and creating a better experience for them.
By fusing Design Thinking and User Experience, you learn the socio-psychological wants and desires of your user base and understand their world, as well unpacking attitudes, reactions, and emotions about a specific tested object.
100. 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.