People & Skills

10 Great Ideas That Were Originally Rejected

History has shown us that a lot of wise people haven’t been able to recognize the potential of a great idea. “This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.” Western Union internal memo dated 1876. “I do not believe the introduction of motor-cars will ever ...

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Insight #1: BIF Summit 2016

Tap into the Power of Reinvention! Unlike most conferences, the BIF Summit has no theme beyond presenting remarkable stories of transformation. Why? The BIF organizers know that the participants themselves will discover patterns, aha’s, and insights that make sense for them. I’ve been to most of the 12 BIF Summits. I now work for BIF, but like everybody else at ...

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It Takes More than a Big Idea to Change the World

In 1882, just three years after he had almost literally shocked the world with his revolutionary lighting system, Thomas Edison opened his Pearl Street Station, the first commercial electrical distribution plant in the United States. By 1884 it was already servicing over 500 homes. Up till that point, electric light was mostly a curiosity. While a few of the mighty elite could ...

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Overcoming Hurdles to Scaling Innovation

Crossing the Chasm To put it simply, everyone has good ideas — and some have great ideas. But the imperative of any innovation program is in its ability to scale and realize its financial promise. We call this “crossing the chasm.” It is critical in any development process that innovation ‘show stoppers’ are recognized and nurtured quickly. For some innovations, ...

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Innovation Doubts

One of the first concepts I learned in a university course on statistics was not about regression analysis or significance of results but, rather, on the importance of doubt. Our professor drilled home the point that no matter how large our dataset and how clever our hypothesis, our results should always be presented using language such as “suggests” or “points ...

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Lessons from Four Great American Innovators

In 1912 a young scientist from New York, Clarence Birdseye departed on a fur-trading expedition to Labrador in Canada. While he was there he noticed that the local Eskimos kept their fish fresh in winter by freezing it in the ice.  He was intrigued to find that the fish retained its flavour and did not deteriorate. He wondered whether the same ...

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Learning Innovation from Leonardo Da Vinci

This article focuses on a series of observations about Leonardo’s work and applies those to the challenges of the present-day innovator. When one thinks of Leonardo da Vinci and innovation, the typical picture that emerges would be some of Leonardo’s amazing designs for flying machines, military equipment, or even the Vitruvian Man, perhaps the most famous drawing in history.  I ...

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Crowdsolving in Action: From Wikipedia to Firefox

From restaurant reviews in Yelp to traffic information in Google Maps, crowd-sourced information has become more and more integrated into the websites, apps and other technologies that we use every day. In all of these cases, the information collected from users requires low thought on the part of the users submitting the information. However, in the aggregate, this information provides ...

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Books as Tools: A Guide to Open Innovation and Crowdsourcing

A Guide to Open Innovation and Crowdsourcing is a compendium of best practices, advice and case studies from leading thinkers, commentators and practitioners edited by Paul Sloane. Chapters are written by an international team of eminent thinkers, writers and practitioners in the field, and covers the definition of open innovation, how to manage virtual teams and co-create with customers, how to overcome legal and IP issues and common mistakes and pitfalls to avoid.

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