Author Archives: Jeffrey Phillips

Why Innovation Matters Now

As the economic downturn settles in for its second year and promises to hang around like a slacker twenty-something on the couch, there is a growing divide between the innovation haves and have nots. Firms that were relatively innovative before the economic slowdown have for the most part sustained a high level of innovation investment. That’s not uniformly true, however. ...

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Failure Must Always be an Option

I chose the title of this point tongue in cheek, because I have a great friend in the military and his signature is FINAO – Failure is not an option. In the military, when every decision is life and death, that mantra is correct. In innovation, however, failure must always be an option. I’ve been scanning Twitter posts and other ...

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The Five Uncertainties of Innovation

Let’s face it. Innovation isn’t hard, it isn’t complicated, it isn’t unattractive work. Innovation is really difficult because it is new and fraught with uncertainties. Since we’ve been trained to abhor vacuums and uncertainties, many firms shy away from innovation, and use excuses like “It’s too hard” or “The pay-off is hard to predict” or a number of other arguments, ...

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To Innovate is to Choose

Analogies are a powerful tool in an innovator’s arsenal. We use analogies to understand how other firms or other industries have solved a particular problem, and then evaluate that existing approach or solution in light of our challenges. Here’s an example. We were working with a firm that makes lawn mowers, and the goal was to improve the result of ...

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3 Key Components of an Innovation Culture

Good artists borrow and great artists steal. Today I am a great artist, and stealing from another. At a recent speaking engagement which I attended virtually through a Twitter stream, Rob Shelton described an innovation culture as being made of vision and metrics and motivation. I thought this was an excellent summation of the attributes of an innovation culture, and ...

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Government's Role in Innovation

I saw an article recently, highlighted by Richard Florida, that suggested that the incoming Republican-led House of Representatives will reduce spending on scientific research. The natural conclusion from that assertion was that therefore, there would be less funding for “innovation”. It’s interesting to consider how funding for basic R&D within government labs impacts innovation, and what role we want the ...

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Innovating Designed Products and Experiences

There’s a good, short recent article in the Irish Independent which states that people want designed, not designer products. While I doubt that many people are going to rush out and give up their BMW cars or Breitling watches, I suspect that the notion of “designed” products, services and experiences is really the next big opportunity for innovation. And the ...

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The Real Product of Innovation

I think we’ve been thinking about innovation all wrong, at least conceptually speaking. I don’t mean that terms like “incremental” or “disruptive” are wrong, or that techniques like crowdsourcing or “open innovation” aren’t often effective. What I think many firms are getting wrong is their expectation about outcomes, regardless of the tools and techniques. You see, what they miss is ...

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Finding Lead Users for Innovation

Just when it seems Google has gone and jumped the innovation shark, the smart guys at Google demonstrate that they are still in the innovation game. I’ve just learned about Google Slam, and I’m here to tell you it’s probably one of the smartest innovation moves I’ve seen online in several years, if Google is doing with it what I ...

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