Don’t Let a Corporate Bully Destroy Your Tech Company

Robert and I had been working on a new project for barely a month when I received a frantic phone call from him.

“We’ve been sued for patent infringement by Acme!”

Acme was a large corporation with very deep pockets.  This was Robert’s worst nightmare – a potentially deadly lawsuit right after starting his new job with the company.

Note:  Obviously the company names and product names have been changed to protect the actual parties involved in the litigation.

I started working with Robert’s company (Awesome Corporation) a month before that phone call.  Awesome was growing quickly and getting rave reviews of its new line of flux capacitors.  Many satisfied customers were enjoying excellent results using the capacitors.

Awesome had a great team of creative people who were

The Fun and Easy Way to Create an Innovation Culture

“Not another brainstorming luncheon!”

“I should have called in sick today.”

Is your company’s idea of creating an innovation culture to simply schedule a few brainstorming luncheons scattered throughout the year?  I’ve seen this tired approach at dozens of companies.

Predictably, companies schedule a mandatory brainstorming meeting with their engineers and developers.  The team members are “rewarded” with pizza and soda and asked to come up with creative ideas.

Unfortunately, most of these ideas are specific to the projects the engineers and developers are currently working on.  This approach does not solve big problems or generate disruptive innovations.  Instead, it’s merely an opportunity to think about the team’s current projects.

These traditional brainstorming sessions are usually limited to the engineering/development team members, which misses out on

3 Secrets to Creating a Profitable Innovation Strategy in Any Tech Company

It was John’s first day on the job as VP of Product Development for a mid-sized technology company in San Jose, California.  During an introductory meeting with his team members, John asked “Tell me about the company’s idea pipeline.”   The room went silent.  There was no idea pipeline.

John had recently left another technology company with a system for generating a steady flow of new ideas that enabled his team to keep the company’s products fresh and competitive.  By the end of the meeting at the new company, John discovered that the company lacked any significant systems for identifying, developing, or protecting innovative ideas.

John knew from previous experience that, without a constant flow of new ideas, the company would lose customers as well as its most talented team members.  John himself had left a previous employer because he wanted to work in an environment that encouraged and rewarded innovation.  The lack of an idea pipeline was a serious concern.

John understood that losing his team’s brightest minds would stall the idea pipeline and allow the company’s competitors to create better products and steal the company’s customers.  He saw the threat

Top 3 Innovation Tips for 2017

If you want your company to stay ahead of the innovation curve, you must develop innovative ideas on a continuous basis.  For technology companies, innovations are a critical part of creating successful new products that maintain a competitive edge.

If you don’t maintain a steady flow of innovative ideas, one of your competitors will develop the next “must have” product in your industry and steal your customers.  Don’t let this happen to your company in 2017.  Start taking action right now to develop an Innovation Strategy that produces a constant stream of new ideas that generate competitive new products and position your company as a market leader.

Here are 3 tips you can start using today to foster more innovative ideas in your organization.

1. Create An Innovation Group – Attempting to launch a company-wide innovation program often triggers a strong protest because it might cause disruptions to the operation of the business.  Employees are already overloaded, so a new innovation program is typically met with resistance.  But, I have successfully used Innovation Groups to

Top 4 Innovation Challenges Facing Companies In 2017

Business innovation in 2017I work with many companies in the technology industry and recently conducted an informal survey. The survey asked people working for these companies to identify the biggest challenge regarding innovation in their organization.

Understanding the top challenges facing my clients helps me provide better services to those companies and help them stay ahead of the innovation curve. I’m sharing a summary of the survey results with the readers of this blog so you can understand the common challenges faced by many companies.

Since we are approaching the end of the year, it’s a perfect time for you to look ahead and make plans for 2017. Consider these survey results when planning your 2017 business activities.

Based on my survey, the top four Innovation Challenges facing companies today are:

  1. Fostering new innovations
  2. Protecting innovative ideas
  3. Launching competitive new products
  4. Attracting top quality employees

I see companies struggling with

A Unique Innovation Plan is Critical to your Company’s Success

Edited Innovation Plan imageYour innovation plan is the first step to igniting a creative fire within your organization that produces innovative ideas which are vital to your success.  In a recent blog post (A Proven System for Successful Innovation), I summarized the eight steps in my Innovation Success Blueprint system.  The first step is to create a unique innovation plan for your company.

A recent Fortune Magazine article states, “According to PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP), almost 80% of the world’s most innovative companies have a well-defined and thought-through innovation strategy.”

You can start developing your unique innovation plan by starting with a specific goal for innovation in your business.  Example goals include:

  1. Identify new products or product features to maintain business growth and stay on the leading edge of your industry.
  2. Develop new products or services that allow your company to enter a new market segment.
  3. In preparation for an upcoming round of financing, create innovative ideas and protect those ideas to exhibit a strong intellectual property portfolio to potential investors.

Once you have set an innovation goal and begin developing an innovation plan to achieve the goal, it is important to

A Proven System for Successful Innovation

Image for blog post - jpegFor the past 25 years, I have been fortunate to work with more than 1000 innovators and business leaders at a variety of technology companies.

A common question I ask innovators is “How did you come up with this idea?”  The answers to those questions have provided a deep insight into the way in which innovative ideas are developed.

I have recently assembled the many pieces of “innovation knowledge” I have collected over the past 25 years into a system that allows companies to identify, develop and protect innovative ideas.  I call the system “Innovation Success Blueprint” and provide a brief summary of the system below.  Organizations that use this system can increase revenue, create a competitive edge in their market and develop an innovation culture that produces a steady flow of new ideas.

I’ve worked with many companies that execute a few of the eight parts of the system.  But, to get valuable results from your unique innovation plan, you must execute all eight activities to generate an “end-to-end” innovation system.  Companies that focus on all eight activities see powerful results and develop an innovation culture that produces a flood of innovative ideas.

Over the next few weeks, I will be posting eight additional articles with details about implementing each of the eight parts of the system.

Here’s a brief summary of the Innovation Success Blueprint:

  1. Create a Unique Innovation Plan for Your Company – Ignite a creative fire within your organization to produce innovative ideas that are vital to your success.  This activity includes determining goals for your innovation plan, getting company leaders “on board” with the innovation plan and start developing innovation teams.
  2. Discover Innovation Opportunities – Learn to identify “innovation seeds” that grow into valuable business assets.  These innovation seeds are the starting point for brainstorming and ideation sessions.  You can find these seeds in customer feedback, market commentator articles and industry trends.  As you develop an innovation culture within your company, employees will begin to automatically identify innovation seeds on a regular basis.
  3. Consistently Generate a Flood of Innovative Solutions – When you begin discovering innovation seeds, your team begins developing innovative solutions that may include new products or enhancements to existing products.  These innovative solutions distinguish your company’s products in the marketplace giving you a competitive edge.
  4. Capture and Track Every Innovative Idea – Capture every idea so nothing slips through the cracks.  You need a simple system for employees to submit ideas – something they can do quickly when they have a “flash of brilliance.”  If people cannot easily submit ideas, they may wait until a later time and possibly lose the idea.
  5. Evaluate and Implement Key Innovations – Prioritize and implement the best innovative ideas to increase revenue.  Some ideas are not commercially feasible, or should be deferred to a later time.  It is important to consider multiple factors when evaluating innovative ideas.  And, your innovation review group needs to have a diverse membership to fully evaluate the innovative ideas.
  6. Protect Innovative Ideas – Secure intellectual property protection for key innovations to prevent others from copying your unique product features.  You should evaluate key innovations to determine which forms of intellectual property are appropriate for the ideas.  And, be sure your company agreements have the proper intellectual property clauses.
  7. Systematize the Innovation Process – Make innovative thinking a daily habit throughout your organization.  Consider adding innovation-related tasks to checklists and process lists so the topic of innovation becomes an integral part of all business activities.  Make innovation part of the company goals and individual goals to emphasize the importance of innovative thinking.
  8. Create an Innovation Culture – Build team engagement while developing profitable ideas.  An effective innovation plan creates an innovation culture throughout the organization.  Innovative ideas come from all parts of the company, not just the research and development group.  When you celebrate and reward innovative thinking, employees are encouraged to make innovation a daily habit.

By following the Innovation Success Blueprint system, your company can develop market-leading innovations that provide a strong competitive advantage.  If you want to talk with me about developing a Unique Innovation Plan for your business, click here to contact me and we can schedule a conference call.

5 Critical Events that Require Innovation Analysis

A successful Innovation Action Plan must include a system for identifying key innovation-related events and evaluating innovations prior to those events.  In some situations, you can lose the opportunity to protect your innovative ideas by making a public disclosure of the idea.  Here are five types of events that should trigger an innovation analysis in your organization.  Prior to each of these events, check to see if you are going to disclose key ideas that are not yet protected.

  1. Trade Show Participation – Will you be demonstrating or discussing innovations (including Intellectual Property) that is not protected?  If so, consider taking steps to protect those innovations prior to the trade show.
  2. Article (or White Paper) Publication – Check for any innovative ideas that are announced publicly in any articles or documents.
  3. New Product or Service Announcements – Any type of public announcement, such as press releases and broadcast interviews, should be evaluated for innovative ideas that have not yet been protected.
  4. Advertising Campaigns – Do any of your advertisements disclose company innovations?
  5. Sales Presentations – Will the sales presentation discuss innovative ideas contained in your products or services?
In my work as an Intellectual Property attorney I have seen many companies accidentally “give away” innovative ideas because they publicly disclosed the ideas before they were properly protected.  You can avoid this problem by identifying innovative ideas that will be disclosed during any of these five events.  Then, decide whether any steps are needed to protect those ideas prior to public disclosure.
If you have any questions about protecting innovative ideas in your own business, please click here to contact me.

Launching Your Innovation Action Plan

In this video I discuss three important steps you must take when launching an innovation action plan.  These steps will start a strong innovation program in your business that can increase revenue and provide a competitive edge in your market.

Watch this 5 minute video to start igniting a creative fire within your company.

Innovate by Streamlining Business Procedures

Line design. Project processMany businesses focus their innovative activities on product innovation, which can produce valuable company assets.  In addition to developing new products and new product features, businesses should look for ways to streamline business operations by innovating business processes.

Here is an approach to business process innovation:

1. Big Question:  Is the process necessary? The first question to ask when evaluating a business process is whether the process is necessary.  What is the purpose or end result of the process?  Is it still needed – does it provide value to the business?  You would be surprised how often I see clients with internal procedures that are followed because “that’s the way we’ve always done things” or “that’s what the ‘policies and procedures manual’ says”.  Before you attempt to improve an existing process, make sure it needs to be performed.  If not, don’t spend time “optimizing” the process, just eliminate it.

2. Identify the desired result of the process. Ask questions to determine the goal of the process.  Why was the procedure originally developed and