Author Archives: Michael Graber

Embody the Problems to Discover Innovation

Much of the work of innovation takes place trying to deeply understand the unmet needs of a particular market. As one Innovation school of thought calls it, what are the “jobs to be done?” Discerning these needs, these undone jobs, takes more empathy than data, more heart than head, and it takes a real investment of time and attention. To ...

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The Necessary Value of Unstructured Time

I want to dedicate a column to the next generation. For me, this means addressing Uncle Leo and Ellery, my youngest son and grandson respectively. May they have the space to explore in the vast treasures of childhood and lose a sense of time while playing. There seems to be an unconscious conspiracy against the people having free time to ...

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Stumble Bravely into Innovation

I met many people who have been put in charge of their organization’s Innovation program because of their past performance record. They were product managers, engineers, database architects, IT professionals, HR specialists, or marketers by training. Suffice to say, they have proven to be capable and trustworthy in the past with a given initiative. But now, they look anxious. Their ...

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How to Create a Culture to Capitalize on Innovation

Creating a Commercialization Culture A presentation by Jay Morgan, VP Global Innovation Bayer Consumer Care given at the back end of Innovation Conference, October, 2015. Jay Morgan shared his story of how Merck Consumer Care (now Bayer Consumer Care) began its innovation journey. The story takes place in Memphis, TN. It begins in 2011. It began with struggle and a ...

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Allow Innovation Exercises to Expand Business Model

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. Don’t be put off by how wild or ...

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The Right ROI of Innovation for Your Firm

How to Protect Breakthrough Innovation

Too many organizations try an innovation effort once, under resource it, then claim failure and never try again. This over-reactive tendency to dismiss innovation as “oh, we tried that eight years ago and it didn’t work” displays a lack of real ROI thinking at an organization. In fact, if you think of your innovation mix in the same basic mental ...

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Revenue Model Innovation Exercise

One generative exercise for any CPG company to explore growing market share is to 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 ...

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Alas, Poor Henry and the Problem

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. Yes, to Ford’s ...

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Start with Feeling

People ask me often about Innovation. No one has a clear definition. Innovation is one of those words that mean something different to anyone who hears it. Similar to other words that are filled with misunderstanding, such as creativity or strategy, innovation, requires a refining conversation to demystify and better understand. The first task is to name what is not ...

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Innovation Metrics: Rock, Lava, Smoke

When organizations begin their innovation journey, they have no idea how to account for the many forms of value that get created. They may also have dormant fears about changing modes of work to effectively innovate. Yes, there is tangible value (read: real and significant ROI) generated from innovation, but there are also many other forms of value that range ...

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