An innovation process that works!

Published – Gold Coast Bulletin, Gold Coast QLD  by Paul Mckey
23 Mar 2015

CREATIVITY, invention and inspiration are terms people associate with innovation.

While they are correct, the brilliant moment, spark or idea is just the first step on the long road to market.

When the boss says more innovation is needed in products or services, we rush for the paper and the coloured pens.

After all, brainstorming is fun.

But in business, where maintaining cashflow is the priority, most good ideas do not survive the reality of limited time and resources.

Yet some simple steps can help ensure your eureka moment is not wasted.

Innovation has at least four critical steps: intuiting, interpreting, integrating and implementing*.

Intuiting is thinking up something new, and it has a twin: informing.

New ideas typically come from years of practice and absorbing information that helps us join random dots into a new pattern.

For instance, Airbnb didn’t invent anything.

It just connected customers (who couldn’t or wouldn’t pay for a room) with spare rooms via a slick booking system.

Interpreting is when you take your idea and explain it to colleagues, boss or bank manager. If you can’t explain it, forget it. Your idea might just be a concept but you must have the ability to sell it to other people.

Integrating is when you ask the hard questions about how your product or service fits in. Who wants it? How will customers find it and pay?

These are critical tests any new idea must pass.

Implementation is putting it into practice, and it is where the fun starts. It is usually harder and takes longer than you think to put a new product into the market.

The Lean Business model teaches us to spare the cash but not the effort in the early days. Only when you are sure of a winner do you spend big on marketing and production.

So make sure you have a solid innovation process, one in which people can safely generate, share and test ideas, and success will come more often.

*4i Model – Crossan, Lane and White, 1999.

How to use content marketing to build audience – Pablo Farias – www.zenva.com – video

I recently interviewed content marketing ‘zar’ Pablo Farias of www.zenva.com where Pablo lays out the rules for good content marketing for building an online audience:

  1.  Provide high quality and regular content on various channels
  2. capture email addresses and contacts in return for exclusive content
  3. now you can sell product but continue to delight and reward subscribers

And he even spells it out in Spanish…

Startup Muster reveals shocking facts!

I love click bait :-) Some great new research into the lives and loves of entrepreneurs has recently been released.

The report is here: https://www.startupmuster.com

What ‘shocked’ me was these data below show that only 4% of startups feel they have strong design skills. Now this question can be taken two ways: graphic design or process design. And if it is the latter that is worrying. Good design is at the heart of any business, whether it is aesthetic design,  business model design, customer experience design or product design. It is an ethos that a business must develop. Business is full of challenges. Knowing how to design your way through them is critical.

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 12.04.11 pm

 

 

Schmoozing is good

People often ask me what is the best method for marketing online? – and the answer is: schmoozing! Or in marketing speak, customer referrals. Runners up were website and social.

This research by Implisit points out what many suspect but were too afraid to mention – Trade shows, paid advertising and even Google adwords are nowhere near as effective as word of mouth/keyboard.

The moral here? Luv thy customer. Even if you only have one, according to this, they will soon bring two.

https://www.implisit.com/blog/b2b-sales-benchmarks/

Is online learning learning or getting dumber?

Online learning platforms are going through a bit of a resurgence. This is timely seeing I am interested in utilising one to share my hard earned ‘wisdom’. But I keep getting disappointed. Sometimes in my wisdom but mostly with the learning platforms.

Having originally designed global learning programs in Hypercard (now reinvented as wikis) for Apple I have some minimal expectations of how these platforms should operate. I won’t go into detail here but let’s just say that of the (seemingly) hundreds I have browsed and tried only a few make it in my eyes.

A couple of starters are ruzuku.com and openlearning.com both of which have similar business models and approaches. That is they are more teaching and learning centric. In a different mode is udemy.com which is really just a presentation marketplace. So lots of different modern features like webinars, teleconference and membership sites etc. and on the surface they look good.

But when you get inside they all suffer from being undercooked. Unfortunately this trend in just enough coding combined with the dispensing of years of progress in human interface design leaves the user experience somewhat lacking. Courses are still just a sequence of text, media and activities with some discussion. You could possibly sculpt an engaging course out of this raw framework but it will be tough going.

So anyone out there got some suggestions for good online platforms that consider both the course developers and the student experience as well as having thought about the pedagogy? Please let me know :-)

Tribes, subcultures and weirdos

Some of you may know that my PhD is in organizational subcultures and this has led me to investigate tribes and how they are structured. It is a dark and mysterious world out there and tribes are a natural phenomenon that provide people comfort and meaning.

So it comes as no surprise that the three dominant subcultures that exist within every organisation – executives, operators and engineers – are really just glorified tribes. And tribes are everywhere. You and I are members of many, both formally and informally, and possibly connected in ways we don’t fully appreciate. Recently I came across this fantastic eBook from Seth Godin and several hundred other authors on how tribes work.

TribesQ&A

Godin wrote the book on Tribes  but this unique ebook goes much further and uses a crowd-source author approach to answer questions put forward by readers of that original book. And it works…

And yes organisations are just a bunch of tribes all doing their own thing so if you want to further understand their behaviour I can recommend this Q&A.

And if you are worried you are a little weird don’t be – just form a tribe with other like-minded weirdos and you’ll look normal.

Mobile has legs in *Digical disruption

I have always pondered when discussing mobile digital strategies with developers and vendors why the obsession with reducing the whole experience to a device. Yes any mobile access to a service or product should provide full functional access yet trying to squeeze the physical experience and amenity into an app as well is like trying to convince a cat to bark. Cute but inferior would be the cat’s response!

Yet it doesn’t have to be all or nothing, particularly  between physical and online stores. In fact I suggest the best use of digital during a cultural transition, such as online shopping offers, is to help build bridges. Customers want the experience of physical but with the convenience of online. How do we provide for that? Simple just remember that mobile has legs.

What if the design, instead of trying to recreate your store, brings them to your store by helping find stock, your location, parking, transport, support and so on? Or helps them leave your store better equipped and better informed by downloading and personalising your app? Or leads them to your partners or access, drop off and pick up points that increase convenience? You see mobile by definition has legs, wheels and wings plus a general desire to include the intangibles of physical experience and human contact in the purchase. It does not just have to mean reducing the experience to a hand-held screen.

If you want to discuss your digical strategy just let me know. We can also discuss cats.

* See the latest HBR for a great article on how to get the mashup between digital and physical right. They use the CBA’s investment in bridge building digital functionality as their case example. While other banks were building glorious but limited websites and closing ‘dumb’ branches CBA built functional bridges between the two that allows an either/or approach without any loss of amenity.

 

RiverCIty Labs Brisbane – Implementing great ideas

As a new mentor at Brisbane’s River City Labs I attended my first lunch and learn event yesterday. The food was good and the short histories, from the room full of enthusiastic entrepreneurs, were fantastic.

From international education to electronics switching systems there were some pretty innovative ideas being churned through the process of turning them into real businesses. The big issues – finance, talents and customers – were always present but in the discussions I had the issue of implementation continually arose. Implementation may include several elements such as motivation to use an idea,  its distribution and then its adoption. It is a weakness of most startup strategies and plans in that it typically uses the Underpants gnomes’ business model:

  1. Collect underpants
  2. ?
  3. Profit

While this is a terrific plan you might be able to spot the flaw. Step 2 is partly addressed by a Lean Business approach but there is more to it than meets the eye and hence this is why so many companies ignore and/or fear it. Implementation is complex and time consuming and can’t be dismissed lightly. No matter how great your idea if people don’t get it (concept) , can’t get it (distribution) or won’t get it (adoption) it fails.

So replace the Gnomes’ step 2 with implementation and learn to love it. And if you need help with an implementation plan for your product or service please call.

 

The Collaborative Economy [video]

I have just been browsing Brad Feld’s tome on Startup Communities   and picked up on one of his classical problems. Firstly I ignored his advice on avoiding old white guys (but maybe you shouldn’t) and totally agreed with his stop whinging about there is never enough money. There is always plenty of money for a good idea, a great team and smart execution.

Yet the ‘problem’ that stood out was about making only short-term commitments to startup communities. Now this one hit home. I have been involved around entrepreneur/startup/brave-new-world communities for many years. Many like myself travelled to the holy grail – Silicon Valley – and then brought some of that ‘magic’ back home to other regional cities in the USA or to Canada, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Europe etc etc. to start other communities. Yet as I watch the ebb and flow of these communities over the years I have noticed an extremely high attrition rate. For a number of reasons obviously yet this one point that Feld makes possibly captures the core problem. A lack of commitment, not only from the entrepreneurs and visionaries but also from universities, government at all levels and particularly from a public that has never been really educated in the whole economic development thang!

Most Australians, and I sense this applies to a larger and lesser degree in other countries , still think economic development means roads and bridges. We humans are sometimes slow to adapt. The average punter still thinks the Internet is magic or just takes it for granted.  Hence things like startup communities are so abstract they struggle to get ‘real’ funding and commitment. Once initial enthusiasm and the venture capitalists have left many just collapse.

And so as the nature of work changes from the big projects and big corporations of the industrial age back to a more local and immediate economic model that is based on the collaborative economy startup communities are something that we all need to understand and support. To see what that might mean have a look at this short video and then tell me what you think…

Mentoring is good

for both the Mentor and the Mentee.

I have just reintroduced Mentor services on my website at www.redbean.com.au. I enjoy mentoring as working with people to solve problems and pursue opportunities is the fun stuff that keeps us alive. And I know from feedback over the years that the mentees enjoy it too.

Being an advocate of social learning there is just some stuff in this world that we have to learn from each other and by doing. While a book or course can provide a framework we know that learning sticks when it is real and immediate. Hence all my programs are action-based and provide valuable lessons in addition to tangible outcomes. And when the topic is starting, growing or running a business you want to be assured of your ROI.

But I love working with teams as well, particularly around innovation and change issues. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a team grow and mature and deliver great projects and have the skills and confidence to do it over and over again. It brings a tear to a consultant’s eye!

So if I can guide, advise, help, coach or mentor please let me know. And it should be worth both our whiles.

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