Getting rid of those Pesky Innovators

Our special guest columnist today is C. Mudgeon III, CEO of Dumbleton & Dorfly. C. Mudgeon is an Alumnus of the Machiavelli School of Business at Screw U.

I think that we can all agree that Innovation is a tremendous waste of time. The money that we all waste on these initiatives could be much better spent on cappuccino service for the executive boardroom or cashmere toilet paper for the restrooms on the top floor. These upstart “Innovators” challenge our assumptions, threaten the status quo and upset the delicate political stagnation that we’ve worked so hard to cultivate over the decades.

So how do we shut these programs down without being tagged as an “Enemy of Innovation” (like that’s a bad thing?)

It’s actually not that difficult. I have a few sure-fire suggestions for undermining your innovation programs, destroying that pesky enthusiasm and still making it look like you’re supporting the program. Read the rest of this entry »

The Innovative iPad?

I’m in a bit of a moral dilemma. I’m not an Apple fanboi. I’ve outgrown my habit of buying tech for the sake of tech and I’ve been studiously staying just short of the bleeding edge for the past few years. The problem is that I’m really excited about the iPad and I desperately want one.

Let me back up a little bit before getting too deeply into this.

Last year, I finally succumbed to the iPhone. When it was released, I hated it. It was typical Apple. Slick, shiny, sexy and hideously proprietary. As much as I hated the cumbersome half-assed attempt at a mobile OS from Microsoft, I had gone down that path 10 years ago and I was riding it into the abyss. I had finally arrived at a decent compromise with a wonderful HTC device. It actually made Windows Mobile usable and allowed me to write code, customize interfaces, tweak the registry, poke around in memory, etc.

Then my world changed when my wife killed her phone. Read the rest of this entry »

Innovation: I know it when I see it…

It’s a sad indicator of the level of excitement in my life, but I have at least half a dozen conversations every month rehashing and debating the definition and nature of “innovation”. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who will say that they don’t know what innovation is, yet there’s an incredible amount of fuzziness and outright disagreement over the practical definition.  Whether it’s sustaining, disruptive, continuous, product, process, or paradigm, what really qualifies a change as an “Innovation” Read the rest of this entry »

Sources of Innovation

Business Innovations – Where do they come from?

Do innovations come from consumers as a demand or generated from within the company?
Surely a both, but I want to hear your opinion.

How important is it to know if an innovation is push or pull?

Gianluigi Cuccureddu

Consultant ? Marketing Strategist ? Venture Advisor

Innovation can come from any source. So it’s important to be listening and positioned to act when an opportunity arises.

Most often, an innovation will come from someone not accepting the status quo and, instead, finding an alternative solution. So it also helps to encourage rather than discourage the typical “trouble makers” and try to funnel the energy and discontent into coming up with solutions or alternatives. Problem customers, employees and vendors are usually experiencing something that they perceive as an issue with you or your company. Open feedback can often lead to innovation. If anyone has ever said “that’s really dumb”, you have a performance improvement opportunity.

Mistakes and errors are another great source for innovation ideas. Even when it’s human error, there’s often an opportunity to improve a process or even find a radically new (and hopefully, better) way of doing things.

As for identifying push or pull innovations, the main benefit of identifying a pull is that you have an opportunity to capitalize on the fact that you listen and respond to your customers and/or partners. It’s a great PR opportunity and encourages additional feedback from outside. Pulls also tend to have a more direct impact on your sales, marketing and customer loyalty. Innovation from within has a greater impact on employee morale and internal efficiencies, but may never translate to any customer impact. So, I beleive that the distinction is an important one but that they’re both valuable sources to develop.

Just my opinion, of course.

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” – Seneca

The “Chief Innovation Officer”

If you just met someone who introduced themself as ‘Chief Innovation Officer’, what would you assume they actually did in that role?

Simon Stapleton

Commercial Director at Webventur

I’d assume that the board spent too much time reading “Wired” magazine and thinking about titles to make the company look progressive. 🙂

Innovation has to be pervasive in the culture, not driven by an individual. While I applaud companies for realizing that innovation is important, assigning an “individual” to that role would make me assume that they “don’t get it”. This would be especially true if the title was in a non-engineering company.

Innovation initiatives need to be separated out from the mainstream projects, administrativia and organizational politics. But the drive and sponsorship needs to come from the entire leadership team and not an isolated individual. In short, the Chief Innovation Officer needs to be every “C” level executive, every manager and every individual in the company.

If it was a development or engineering company, I would assume that the CInnovationO it’s just the head of R&D with a shiny new “cool” title.

I’ve met quite a few very impressive individuals with titles like these. But it doesn’t stop me from cringing when I see them printed on business cards. They’re so nebulous, that they could mean anything from “head of coffee flavour selection” to “Right hand to the CEO”. If the title comes with the underlying organizational commitment and culture, that’s a whole different ballgame. However, all too often it’s just a bandaid for a company that simply doesn’t get it.

The Most Valuable Corporate Training….

What is the most valuable professional course that you’ve taken and why?

Please share your experience with training in the professional environment. What is the most valuable class or course that you’ve taken? Why was this experience so impactful?

Bill McDade

President at Arcella Global Corp.

I’ve taken a lot of professional courses and I have a spew of alphabet soup after my name with the various certifications that I’ve received. However, the most valuable training that I ever received was when i worked for a company called CableData.

As part of the “on-boarding” process, they ran a multi-month program called CDIT (CableData Intensive Training). It included the standard “this is our product and how to use it”, but it also included working in every department throughout the company to understand how everyone fit together in the overall process. You didn’t spend a lot of time in each role, but it gave you perspective that’s impossible to get any other way. In a given day you might find yourself working with the people on the loading dock, running the collators that stuffed the bills and flyers into envelopes or taking customer calls on the help desk. At the end of the process, they actually arranged for you to work on a customer site and cycle through the jobs that their tools impacted. (that included riding with cable installers and seeing what kind of customers *they* encounter in a day. It was an enlightening and somewhat humbling experience.)

This was about 20 years ago, so I doubt that they still do the same sort of training today. But it’s an experience that stuck with me. I learned that no job is inherently more valuable than anyone elses and that it takes a lot of different gears to keep the machine rolling. Knowing it intellectually and experiencing it first-hand are radically different things.

What is “Innovation” for IT?

Picture the Monday morning meeting that you have to attend after coming back from Symposium. It’s you and your CIO and SVPs. The Topic: What is one innovative/mind blowing idea should we (WE MUST!) start doing/implementing now.

For years we’ve heard about such topics as Real-Time Infrastructure, Server Virtualization, VOIP, Service-Oriented IT, ITIL and others.

I would submit that these topics are NOT innovative. To borrow a term, these topics are “birthright services” for I&O.

For some companies there are significant benefits to be gained by improving their implementation of some of these topics but you are not success in today’s game if you’re not doing this stuff! Every CIO has heard (heard the words but maybe not gotten the message) about these topics. Rehashing these same themes is not going to make an impact.

What’s innovative these days?

(Question from “capstick” on the Gartner Symposium Forums)

Honestly, I don’t believe that there’s anything really new. But there are a lot of “old” opportunities that a lot of IT groups aren’t exploiting.

The biggest one that I can think of is true collaboration with the business and a sense of partnership at all levels of the business and IT. At the top, that includes making sure that IT has a seat at the table. There needs to be a continuous dialog concerning what opportunities the business has and how IT can help to exploit them. Tools that provide the visibility (both ways) and facilitates that communication are part of that. But the behavior is the most important thing. Everything else is just an optimization exercise to squeeze out more work at less cost.

There are a few “game changing” technologies, but the real Innovation comes from process and culture changes, not from the tools themselves. IT should be a facilitator of Innovation and should be engaging the business to find the application and business value in the tools. To do that, we need to get out of the commoditization mindset and back into one of business partnership.