Creativity and Innovation are All About Taking Risks

One of the key traits of creative people is that they are risk takers. They are not afraid to put something new out into the world that might be laughed at. Creative people don’t mind being dismissed as crazy or unusual. These types of people often generate the most innovative ideas. If you want to be a more creative person, this is a personality trait that you need to foster in yourself, and it’s easy to do.

First, take a moment to consider that without risks there are no rewards. You may have a few failures but if you can keep your failures from discouraging you, the next attempt might be a huge success. If you have what you believe are good ideas, but you’re afraid to take the plunge and put them out into the world, here are some ideas for changing your mindset.

The Worst That Can Happen

What’s the worst that could happen when you present a new idea? You might face criticism or doubts, but that’s all. In fact, you might face Continue reading

Innovation Tips to Grow Your Business

Successfully leveraging innovation can affect all areas of your business.  Learning and applying innovation skills can help you develop new products or services, solve problems, and improve the efficiency of your business operations.  Here are a few tips for using innovation to your advantage.

1. Distinguish your Business from Competitors.  Businesses (regardless of size) can distinguish themselves from others in the marketplace by identifying and developing creative ideas.  Rather than simply following “industry standards” and creating more of the same products, apply an Innovation Strategy to develop products that set your company apart from everyone else.  Look for ways to make your products faster, more efficient or more fun to use.  Set a goal to identify problems faced by your market and create solutions to those problems.  When you implement a solution to a problem faced by everyone in your market, you will stand out as a market leader.

2. Get Free Advertising.  When you distinguish yourself as an innovator (or innovative company), you attract media attention.  Think about all the free advertising today’s most innovative companies receive.  When you develop innovative products that solve industry problems or simply improve the lives of individuals, you will receive Continue reading

Did You Set Your 2018 Innovation Goals Yet?

It’s time to set your Innovation Goals for 2018.

As you plan your business activities for the coming year, consider adding some innovation activities to your plan. Here are a few tips that can help your business discover innovative ideas and turn them into profit.

1. Schedule time for innovation activities. You can start by scheduling a 10-15 minute block of time for creative thinking or brainstorming. This can be done alone or with a group of people. During this time, turn off your phone, email notification, and other distractions. Dedicate this block of time to thinking about solutions to current problems or thinking about how to further improve your current products/services.

2. Find your innovation environment. Find the environment that stimulates your creativity. Some people find energy walking outside or going to a quiet place. Others are inspired in Continue reading

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 Continue reading

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 Continue reading

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 Continue reading

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 Continue reading

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 Continue reading

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 Continue reading

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.