Podcast with Inventor Brooks Lambert

August 27, 2008

No guy wants a beer belly. Right? Most would rather have a “six-pack.” Of course. But what if you could have a six-pack AND a beer belly at the same time? Well, now you can. The Beerbelly is a “removable spare tire” that holds 80 oz of beer (more than a six-pack), allowing you to bring your favorite beverage into any event. A while back I spoke with the product’s inventor, Brooks Lambert.

And now, you finally get to hear the podcast.

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Download the mp3 (right click and “save target as” to download to your computer)

Brooks told me that his company, Under Development Inc, was born to help others develop their ideas. His most famous invention – The Beerbelly – started out more or less as a joke that took on a life of its own. “We let the group choose a problem to solve, and then brainstormed ideas about solutions. The next thing you know, a buddy and I are cutting up a wetsuit and stuffing a CamelBak (a hands-free hydration system used by hikers) bladder in as an example of rapid prototyping.” That day, the Beerbelly was born. Their latest invention is the female version, called the Winerack. I’ll let you guess what that is.

Although these are fun products, Brooks’ main interests lie in more “socially redeeming” ventures. One day, Brooks and some buddies were brainstorming ideas. “We thought it would be cool if we could make a surf chair for the kids who can’t hold themselves up. The next day I made some calls and we found a race car seat manufacturer who was willing to make a custom shaped aluminum seat. We then got one of our local surfboard shapers to build a custom board to accommodate the chair, crossed our fingers, and voila, the surfchair was born. It works way better than we imagined and now it gets used on a regular basis.” This invention is used as part of the Ride-A-Wave charity, a 100% volunteer/nonprofit group that takes kids with all kinds of disabilities out surfing for the day.

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3 Things on Innovation

August 26, 2008

A colleague of mine, Erik Hansen, is Tom Peters’ brand manager.  In case you did not know, I am one of Tom’s “Cool Friends.”  You can read my interview on TomPeters.com.

The other day, while relaxing after a brainstorming session, Erik whipped out his video camera and decided to interview me.  What you see below is totally unrehearsed, unprepared, and uncensored. 

Enjoy!

Press the “play” button and wait a few seconds for the video to start. It may take as long as a minute.

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Articles in Thai, Danish and Dutch

August 25, 2008

Today’s blog entry gives you three feature articles with my thoughts on innovation.  Unfortunately, I have no idea what they say! 

One article is from “Computerworld” in the Denmark (scanned in by a colleague there).  Another is from “High Tech Analysis” in the Netherlands.  And the last is the cover story from “inMarketing” in Thailand.  If you can read any of these languages, you might enjoy the articles.  If not, you might just enjoy the pictures.

Computerworld (Denmark) (pdf – scanned from original)

High Tech Analysis (Netherlands)  (pdf – click here to view original online flash version)

inMarketing - Article #1 (Thailand) (pdf)

inMarketing - Article #2 (Thailand) (pdf)

(click cover to view larger version)

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The 90 Minute Challenge

August 20, 2008
90 Minute Challenge

90 Minute Challenge

In a previous blog entry, I wrote about my “30 day challenge.” The purpose of that was to disconnect you from email. Well, today I have a new – yet shorter – challenge. It only takes 90 minutes.

I live near the ocean, and when I am home (which is not often), I like to walk the length of the beach every other day. Normally during this 5 mile walk I would have my BlackBerry and my iPod. Since taking the 30 day challenge, I have been leaving the phone at home and only bring along my music. The music is a nice distraction.

Today I decided to disconnect totally. I walked the 90 minutes without phone, email or music.

Instead, I focused my mental energies on an important question: How can I make my life – and my work – more significant? Check out my “quought of the day” for more background on this question.

For an hour and a half, I tried to only think about significance. At first, my mind wandered onto other topics. Although I don’t meditate, I am told that this meandering mind syndrome is common in those who do. Eventually my mind settled down and I started to get clarity on the topic at hand.

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The Big Idea Video

August 20, 2008

As many of you know, I was recently on “The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch.” Here is the video of my (very) brief appearance. If I were given more time, I would have discussed these 7 tips for keeping your job.  Fortunately, CNBC decided to post these tips on their website along with another article of mine.

Enjoy!

Press the “play” button and wait a few seconds for the video to start.

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B2B vs B2C Innovation

August 19, 2008

I just had a conversation with a consulting firm that specializes in B2C innovation. Now they are being asked to do some B2B innovation. They asked me, “What’s the difference between innovation in a B2B and a B2C environment?”

Although in many respects, the innovation efforts are similar, there are quite a few differences which are worth noting. Yes, B2B can invest in collaborative product development and other more sophisticated methods/technologies. However, in this entry, I want to focus on the “softer” and less quantifiable differences between them. These mainly have to do with what your customers really want. Business buyers have different motivations than consumers.

Businesses Want You to Improve Their Business
Quite often, businesses buy from you because they want you to improve their business. You can reduce their costs, improve their effectiveness, or increase their business in some way. This requires a different mindset when studying customer needs. Although focus groups and discussion boards may be helpful in designing a new toothbrush, they are not as practical in a B2B environment. Instead, you need to observe their business. Back when I was a leader in Accenture’s business process reengineering practice, I discovered something interesting.  The most valuable use of reengineering is not to improve your processes, but rather to improve your customer’s processes. Observe your customers. Map their processes. See how your products/service can improve their business. And don’t forget to reengineer the interface between your business and your customer’s business.  As Michael Hammer (the father of Business Reengineering) used to say, “Make yourself ETDBW – Easy To Do Business With.” (the graphic above shows the three levels of process improvement)

Businesses Want You to Help Them Provide Better Product/Service to Their Customers
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My Quought of the Day

August 18, 2008

My friend, Rajesh Setty, has been collecting “Quoughts.  He describes these as questions that provoke thought. In particular, he wants to know, what is one question that you wish someone had asked you when you were young…and why?

My response will be posted on his site soon – along with his commentary.  But I thought I would share my response with my readers first.

My Quought is:

“What matters most?”

Why did I choose this quought?   There are two reasons:

  1. Einstein once said, “If I were given one hour to save the planet, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute resolving it.” From my personal experience, most people (and organizations) spend 60 minutes finding solutions to problems that don’t matter. So relevance is one aspect of “what matters most.”
  2. Recently, I have been asking myself, “Is what I do significant?” I know my work changes organizations. And I like to believe that it also changes lives. But is the change significant? Lately I have been restless. I think the reason is that I want greater significance in my life.

The second point, significance, is something I am wrestling with right now.  In fact, I have decided that this will be my theme for the rest of this year.  As we move into the last third of the year, maybe it is time for you to revisit your theme.  If you are not familiar with my concept of themes, please read my article on the topic.

Maybe it is time to ask yourself, “What matters most?”  What matters most to your organization?  What matters most in your personal life?  What matters most to your family?  When you focus on the things that matter most, you have more time.  And you can spend that free time on more things that matter.

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Resolutions That Work

August 18, 2008

Making Resolutions That Work

Goal-Free Living and New Year's Resolutions

Like dinosaurs and gas-guzzling SUVs, is the traditional New Year’s Resolution rapidly becoming a thing of the past?

According to a survey by Stephen Shapiro, the answer is a resounding “Yes.”

In a survey of 1012 Americans, only 45% of Americans now say they write up New Years Resolutions down from 88% of Americans who did so in the past. The random telephone survey was conducted by Shapiro, author of “Goal-Free Living,” with the assistance of Opinion Research Corp. of Princeton N.J. The survey has a margin of error of 3%.

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Why Innovation?

August 13, 2008

Yes, innovation can help you develop new products. But it can also be a useful tool for helping you:

  • recession-proof your business,
  • reduce costs,
  • increase service levels to customers,
  • increase overall employee performance – and retention, and
  • de-commoditize a commodity business. 

Innovation can help your organization adapt, evolve and grow so that you don’t become irrelevant. When the pace of change outside your organization is greater than the pace of change within, you will be out of business. 

Please read our innovation articles and other resources to help you get started with your innovation efforts.

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The Biggest Winner!

August 7, 2008

A few years back, I helped the Quill Corporation (a division of Staples) launch their innovation efforts. To introduce innovation to the employees, we kicked things off with a competition – “The Quillionaire” – based on the reality TV show, “The Apprentice.” You can read about the work we did then in an article published in the European Business Forum (pdf).

Since then, Quill has done a great job of keeping innovation alive.

“Across the organization, associates have contributed to Quill’s growth by providing innovative ideas and solutions for challenges and opportunities,” said Larry Morse, President of Quill Corporation. “We launched a program a few years ago to facilitate our ability to become a company of ideas. It is this wellspring of ideas coming from all over the company that is helping fuel our growth and will assist us in remaining competitive into the future,” he added. [Read more]

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