5 Keys to Continual Innovation

by , under , ,

A research project was done some years ago seeking to determine which was the more intelligent - flies or bees. A very large transparent glass jar full of bees and a similar jar full of flies were put up against a window pane on a bright sunny day and the lids removed. As the researchers watched they observed every one of the flies eventually escaped their jar, but every one of the bees died in their jar. From this they concluded that bees are more intelligent than flies! They deduced that the flies just flew around and eventually bounced their way out the opening, but the bees with higher intelligence were so focused on the direction of the light being the way out that they only went in that direction. Hence the open glass jar became a death trap.

The most successful companies in the world at the beginning of the 20th Century were the giant railway corporations in the USA that helped open up the prosperity of the wealthiest nation on earth. Yet these giant companies were largely gone by 1950's because they thought they were in the railway business and did not realise they were actually in the transportation business. They, like the bees, focused on what they knew, and meanwhile other companies and the public embraced air travel.

I was at a presentation recently by a very well known and successful telephone book style business directory which for the past 10 years has been quietly innovating because long ago they realised that the days of a large telephone-type-book approach to their business was drawing to an end. Today through constant innovation they have a very diverse online network with a combined total of 30 million searches per week (Australian figures only) because they have realised they are not in the telephone book business but in the people connection business.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it" may have once been a good mantra, but in this day and age, with things changing all around us all the time, it is usually those who resist innovation who will be struggling tomorrow.

5 Keys to Continual Innovation.

1. Know your core business - Jim Collins, Good to Great, discovered in analysing businesses that had been successful for more than 50 years, that they knew their core business well and stuck at it, but were willing to keep changing everything else all the time.
2. Believe there is always a way! - Keep telling yourself until you believe it. If what you are doing is not working, growth has slowed or results are starting to plateau, then try something else, and if that doesn't work, try something else...
3. Brainstorm possibilities regularly - Always be thinking ahead of the game. This involves making sure you make time and clear your headspace to be able to think ahead of the urgent day to day matters to engage in seeing where you are headed.
4. Be eager to learn new things - the day you start to think you know it all, or that no-one can teach you anything is the day to sell your business.
5. Don't be afraid to fail - Build a culture within your business which gives everyone the clear message that it is ok to fail. There is no such thing as failure, only feedback! This will build an environment in which team members will be willing to have a go without fear of recrimination.

A great question to ask yourself is: "When was the last time you did something for the first time?"

So what are you working on right now that will make tomorrow different for you?

Green Business Ideas

by , under , ,

In today's world, many people are worried about our environment. This concern is valid with all of the things that are happening in the world around us. It is key to remember that we live in the world we create. We can make a choice to be part of the solution or become a part of the growing problem. The problem that we are talking about is environmental issues.

There are two types of business. One type of business creates garbage and another type does something to improve the environmental issues. Which type of business do you want to be? Have you ever thought of starting your own business doing things that will help to reverse the harmful effects of environmental pollution? Well, perhaps it is time.

There are many business ideas that you can use to create an environmentally friendly solution. First take a look at your strong points and find out what talents you have that can be used. There are so many things that can be recycled and turned into wonderful products if you start to think outside of the box.

Let's take a look at an old car tire. What do you do with it when it can no longer be used on your car? Most people just throw it away or let the new tire place take care of it. However, it has other uses. You can make things from that old rubber. You could make a business by collecting types of rubber trash and reusing them.

You can use this rubber to make things like bags, hats and berets, gloves, jewelry, wallets and many other handy things. Rubber is not the only thing that can be recycled. You can recycle almost anything with the same unique business idea.

Here is another idea for you that could start a great business. Harvest rain water run off. They do this in places where water is not readily found. You could create a rain water storage system and sell them. Place them around the town and show people how to use them.

You can use things like old wood that people throw out to create things. These created items can be put up for sale with ease. Many people love to buy stuff that looks old. Here is another one for you to consider, rebuild old bikes and toys. Take parts from one and add them to another to create a new bike or toy idea. It is just another spin on re-cycling.

You do not have to throw out something like a bike just because it does not work in its current condition. You can use these other parts to mend it and get it back on the road to being useful. By starting your own green friendly business you are doing your part to help correct the environmental issues that many people want to help fix but don't know how. Think about how we are taught to throw things away. Did you ever notice that no one teaches us how to recycle? Perhaps you could with your new business. You have the opportunity to become part of the solution and not part of the problem.

What's the Potential of an Idea?

by , under , ,

What if you could imagine just how far your idea could go? What if you could see its full potential?

I was interested to read in the press the other day that the Chinese have just created the world's newest and faster super computer. It can perform 2750,000,000,000,000 calculations a second. That's 2750 trillion! It's called Tianhe-1, which means 'Milky Way'.

So I began pondering the evolution of the computer.

I began by boring my kids with how I once owned a Microbee computer and when I first left school sold Vic 16's, which had 16k of memory (that's not a misprint by the way it is 16 kilobytes not megabytes) and Commodore 64's (which held a massive 64k of memory). At the time of course, these were the newest and faster personal computers.

I worked out that my MacBook Pro has a hard-drive, which would hold the equivalent of somewhere around 5 million Commodore 64's! No, that's not a misprint either, (320gig divided by 16kb).

The world's first supercomputer was built in 1949 and called ENIAC and it is said to have been able to make 5000 calculations in just seconds.

What's interesting is that I don't think the team who designed ENIAC 61 years ago had any understanding of where their creative endeavors would lead. How could they? And if you project yourself another 61 years who knows just how advanced supercomputers will become.

As new technologies develop they open the door to newer ones. As new ideas are conceived they open the door to others. To achieve such an amazing thing as Tianhe-1 (Milky Way), it has taken over six decades (not for that project itself of course) of incremental improvement, of learning from what's gone before, massive quantum leaps of faith, who knows how many failures and dead ends, a heap of perseverance, masses of new ideas, experiments, and exploration? The designers of it are certainly extraordinary people who are extraordinarily clever and innovative. But let's not forget those who were extraordinary before them.

So what's my point? Well there are two.

Firstly we need to understand that where we begin with an idea is not where we finish. More importantly, we need to understand that sometimes our ideas have the potential to become more than we can ever possibly imagine.

I think we need to start a movement called 'Milky Way Thinking' in honor of the Supercomputer. Not its evolution but it's potential. So next time you have an idea ask yourself, what's the 'Milky Way' version of that. In other words, how big can you imagine it's potential to really be? How big can your vision ultimately be? That's important because it helps open up possibilities and stretches your creative mind to see greater potential and achieve greater results.

But here's my second point - and it's the kicker.

If you had been one of the designers of ENIAC back in 1949 and your boss asked what the potential was and you had answered 'oh I don't know, potentially, given a bit of time, about 2700 trillion calculations per second' there's a very good chance you would have been ridiculed or sacked. And if I had said to a customer back when I first left school that one day I would have a computer that could hold the equivalent of 5 million Commodore 64's I would most likely have been ridiculed and sacked as well.

Yes it's important to think 'Milky Way' but it's more important to encourage it and nurture it in others. So don't kill the galaxy! Next time someone in your team comes up with a totally out there idea or concept, don't ridicule them, congratulate them, because there's potential and opportunity in there somewhere. And when someone has an idea, don't play safe and just accept it as it is, help them see it's full potential by asking 'what's your Milky Way version of that? How big and audacious can you get it?'

The Real Story Behind Inventions

by , under , ,

Sometimes we humans can come up with some fantastic ideas. Take the now cliched, sliced bread, or Velcro, the zipper, buttons, self-lighting charcoal, box cutters, scissors, washers, dryers, and all those little things. What would life be like without them? What would life be like if we never had any of our little inventions? Paper clips, safety pins, slippers - all gone.

We take for granted all these little things, and some of the big ones, like telephones, electricity, indoor toilets, television, coffee makers, microwaves, and computers. The aging baby boomers know what life is like without some of these things, but the generations of the last twenty years don't have a clue.

Then, there are the bad inventions. These either aren't useful or just break. And some inventions need constant attention despite all our technology, or aren't good for the environment. Lots of stuff was invented before we understood all the problems that would result.

Like asbestos, lead pencils, crappy tar roof shingles, and things like that. Some of this stuff obviously wasn't meant for us to live with despite their function. Either they will make us sick, or in the case of the tar shingles, you have to call out your local Sacramento roofing contractor to get things fixed every eight years of suffer the consequences of moldy, leaky roofs or lose heat because it's letting all the air out.

So, what's this all about really? Just thoughts about inventions - what works, what doesn't, the effect on our lives - good or bad, and feeling both the awe of the amazing ones, and the bewilderment of the ones we keep using even though they aren't worth it.

Entrepreneurs with Innovative Spirit - Why Service Business Models Make Sense

by , under , , , , , , ,

The other day, I was talking with a small business entrepreneur who had been successful in a number of businesses in his life and always garnered a six-figure income. Today, he's looking for a new venture, something that would satisfy his entrepreneurial and innovative mindset. Okay so what sort of business might be wise for such a person in the present economic circumstances you ask?

Well, this is my question of the day too, and without further delay, let me explain what my first choice would be. I like service businesses because they are generally the last hit, and first to recover - and easily adaptable by modifying processes. Also the easiest to innovate or find additional niches - in other words, customers have needs, and if you can fulfill them and turn a profit, there are lots of needs to service which to me = nothing but growth, - if you can handle the rocket ship, and have a team in place that is of a "take no prisoners" based mentality, while maintaining absolute customer service.

Service businesses can grow faster, take less investment, and you don't have to sign a 10-year lease to get a building to do business in. These are some additional pluses. The challenge with entering a business where you sell a product is if you innovate too fast, you end up with massive amounts of unused inventory, or you have to make small batches and thus your per-unit cost goes up. Perhaps it is this dilemma that has most inventors selling their innovation, inventions, and concept to other companies who have a distribution chain set up and a marketing plan already in place.

Yes, Server Businesses are wonderful, and I can say this from experience. I always find it so very interesting that so many people don't think about service businesses when it comes to innovation - they should. And with that, I'd like you to sit back and think about this too. If you have something else to add, please contact me by email. Good day.

Ideas to Income - Driving Top Line Growth

by , under , , ,

One of the biggest challenges facing organizations these days is translating IDEAS into INCOME. Most organizations (both large and small) are fully aware of the need to come up with big ideas and many have sophisticated systems, processes and techniques for doing just that. Unfortunately, this is often where creativity and innovation meet a roadblock. Organizations, both large and small, don't always know what to do with those ideas that are generated. They don't know how to translate those ideas into income - into results and outcomes. They don't know how to bridge the gap.

As a leader in a large organization, or as an entrepreneur/small business owner, your success lies in knowing how to close that gap. So, then, you ask, how exactly do I do that?

Here are a few suggestions and questions to get you started:

• First, define your challenge - the problem - you are trying to solve or need you are trying to meet. Be clear on the challenge and what success looks like, including a big goal that will compel you to make a change and inspire creative thinking and action.

• Then, check how you are going about the process of getting insights. Secondary research is important--statistics--about what people like or don't like about your products/offerings. It is equally important to observe your clients, watch them in their natural environment, and spend time understanding them to come up with fresh, novel ideas with value.

• Check your idea generation processes. How are you generating ideas? How do you challenge those in your organization to come up with big, bold ideas - different from what your competition down the street comes up with? Remember to be aware of your beliefs that don't serve you or limit you from taking risks.

• Once you've determined that your idea generation process is most effective, what system and tools do you have in place to capture those ideas, and vet them? As well as approve them and find sponsorship - that is, someone who is willing to go out on a limb and support the ideas?

• And finally, gain success and momentum by piloting or testing your ideas on a few or a limited population. Through some trial and error you will help to realize your success more quickly if you test (prototype) your ideas and then work out the kinks before a full-scale launch© Copyright 2010 Andrew Pek and Jeannine McGlade. All rights reserved.

The Blender Innovation Theory Revealed

by , under , , , ,

So, you ask what is the Blender Theory of innovation, well it wasn't anything until 5-minutes ago when I was making myself a home-made Frapuccino, no the Frapuccino wasn't perfect, close to the real thing, but it saved me a trip to the local Starbucks today. Nevertheless, whereas, I didn't get my authentic White Mocha Frapuccino, what I got instead was a new innovation theory and concept, namely this new coined phrase; The Blender Theory of Innovation, which is indeed an innovation creation in itself right?

Now then, what do I mean by blender innovation theory? Well, what I mean to say is that if an inventor, creator, or innovator wants to come up with new and exciting concepts, often it pays to take information, experience, know-how from many different areas of the human endeavor and mix them all up. In fact, as we teach, train, and program Artificial Intelligent computer systems to become creative, this is exactly what they must be able to do.

They must be able to cross-pollinate, mix and mingle, combine unique data and information, and look for similarities, differences, adaptations, and then couple it all together in different ways. Just like a human might borrow information from various sectors and combine those with the individuals experience, education, observations, discoveries, etc. To do this one has to ask questions, lots of them, and then mix it all up, mix it together like a blender does when making a customized Frapuccino at Starbucks.

It's relatively a simple concept to imagine when you think about it. When you order your drink, they ask you what you want, and how you want it, then they blend it all up and give it to you. Well, if you are doing your own blending of your own concept, perhaps you will begin to see why this technique and innovation strategy works so well - because it sure works for me.

I hope you will please consider all this, and if you have new thoughts on how best to program future AI software to be creative, or a technique you have used to innovate, then please shoot me an email, let's talk, compare notes, and see if we can take creativity to a higher level. Until then, please consider all this and think on it. Blend it all up, and see what you come up with, and be sure to try out my new theory too; The Blender Innovation Theory, that is.