Win A Prize! Guess the Open Innovation Numbers

July 23, 2009

In a previous blog entry, I talked about the LG Electronics open innovation design competition.

LGE was kind enough to share some insights with me from that competition, and I will post some of them here on Monday.

But before I do, I want to give you a chance to win some prizes (no, sadly you will not get an LG phone).

Here are the questions I want you to answer…

  1. How many submissions were made?
  2. How many individuals made those submissions? (i.e., if each individual only submitted 1 design, then the number of submissions would equal the number of individuals. However, some individuals submitted more than one entry, so the number of individuals is lower than the number of submissions.)
  3. Of the submissions, how many were selected by evaluators to move forward to the second round (FYI, there were 3 rounds of evaluation in total)?

A prize will be awarded to the first person who is closest to the correct number for each question.

For fun (no prize awarded, since it is subjective): According to my contact at LGE, what % of the ideas submitted were considered “good?”

Good luck!


  • You have a choice between a copy of my “Goal-Free Living” book, my “Little Book of BIG Innovation Ideas,” or a deck of Personality Poker cards (including the quick start guide and an online streaming video).
  • Due to shipping costs, only entries from the United States will be awarded physical prizes.  International winners will be sent a digital prize to be determined.
  • Submit your answers as comments to this blog entry.  Be sure to include your email address (in the area where it is requested so that it is published on the site).
  • You can submit multiple entries, but only your most recent entry will be accepted.
  • In the case of a tie, the first entry will be awarded the prize.
  • This competition will end at 5PM EDT Sunday July 26th.
  • As a point of clarification, there will be 3 prizes awarded, one for each question.  There will be, at most, 3 winners.  Individuals can win more than one prize if they are closest on more than one question.
  • Anyone associated with the LGE competition, or someone who already received this information from LGE or anyone else associated with the competition can not participate.  I just want to be fair :-)

My New T-Shirt

June 25, 2009

For any die-hard Boston Red Sox fan, the New York Yankees are the evil empire.  Therefore, being a native Bostonian, this T-shirt makes me laugh.  I particularly like it because it uses the suits from poker cards.  This is perfect for me, the creator of Personality Poker.

Truck Accident Leads to Creative Ideas?

March 4, 2009

Today, while driving to New York, I sat in traffic for 30 minutes.  Why?  Because of the freakiest accident I have EVER seen in my life.  The pictures below have to be seen to be believed.  Click on the smaller version of each picture to see a blown up version.  Look at them one at a time.

In case you can’t tell…

A truck got stuck under the exit sign.  How?  I’m not exactly sure, but as you can see, the truck is “sitting on its butt.”

After posting these picture to my Facebook page, there was some interesting discussion the ensued.

Mark: I know people who park like that in Boston, not used to parallel parking ;)

Me: If it were possible to park like that, think of how much less space cars would take up in the street. We could eliminate city parking problems.

Mark: How about putting wheels on the back of the car, and have people balance on 2 wheels? we could fit 5x more traffic on the roads in a single stroke. Definitely one to be funded by the stimulus package (I think it is already in there…)

How would you continue the conversation?  What ideas do you have?  Or, if this does not stimulate a creative idea, maybe you can come up with a creative caption.

P.S.  According to WTIC radio…State police say a Mack dump truck had pulled onto the highway from the right shoulder after having dropped a load of dirt alongside the highway, but left the rear dump bed of the truck in the “up” position. The top of the dump bed struck the State Traffic Commission overhead sign for exit 63, the collision pulling the vehicle off the ground onto its rear end, with the cab extended into the air. The driver was not injured.

Funny Pictures

December 8, 2008

During my travels, I took pictures of signs with my BlackBerry.  Some are funny.  Some are creative.  And some are just plain silly.  Regardless, all make me laugh.  Click on the thumbnail to see the full size picture.

L Vaughn Spencer – Very Funny

November 21, 2008

A good friend of mine, Neil Mullarkey (yes, that’s his real name), is one of the funniest people I know.  He, Mike Myers, and a couple of other guys founded the Comedy Store Players (an improv comedy group) in London.  I have seen Neil perform dozens of times.  Always fantastic!  I even spent a day training with him.  Now I am funny(er).  His latest comedic character is the “gansta motivator,” L Vaughn Spencer, also known as L Vo.  He also has a new book based on this character (I am eagerly waiting for mine to arrive from Amazon).  I know many motivational speakers.  After a while, it is hard to take some of them seriously.  That’s why L Vo is so much fun.  The Sunday Telegraph in the UK said, “(L Vo is) the perfect antidote to the endless bogus management consultants and coaches who ply the corporate circuit.”  Hopefully they aren’t referring to me!

Do Patents Help or Hinder Innovation?

May 31, 2008

I just received a newsletter that had 10 wacky patents.  Here’s my favorite:

Apparatus for Facilitating the Birth of a Child by Centrifugal Force: With this invention, the mother-to-be is strapped down to a table that is then is spun to allow centrifugal force to take its course and aid in childbirth. This invention by a husband and wife team was patented in 1965, but surprisingly hasn’t caught on in maternity wards around the country.

This raises an interesting question.  Do patents help or hinder innovation?

The intent of patents was to protect those who make large investments in innovation.  For example, a pharmaceutical company that spends billions of dollars on drug development and testing needs protection.  Clearly these patents help innovation.  No one would invest that much money if someone could come in and replicate their idea.

But what about patents that protect ideas; concepts where no real investment has been made, other than the expenditure of a few brain cells. Do these patents help or hinder innovation? 

I have a patent pending for my “Innovation Personality Poker.”  My investment to date has been thousands, not millions of dollars.  The main cost has been the design and manufacturing of the cards (and legal fees).  But the patent is a process patent; it is the methodology I am protecting.  Therefore, the investment I am protecting is my time.  Is this really a proper use of patents? 

What about patents where no investment has been made. 

I have an idea that I may patent.  It could save the planet through reduced landfills and reduced reliance on petroleum.  My investment in this has been limited to thinking.  If I pursue the patent, it might stop others from developing a similar invention.  Wouldn’t this stifle innovation?  If this idea is so great, shouldn’t we stimulate its development?

What are your thoughts?  Do patents help or hinder innovation?

P.S.  I will probably not patent my idea, but instead will find a manufacturer to partner with.

New Media Marketing

March 7, 2008

Last night I attended an event where three presenters shared examples of how “New Media” has become a powerful marketing tool. Here are my three favorites.

The best video series award goes to the “Will It Blend” videos. Done as a viral marketing campaign, Blendtec, a small blender manufacturer, developed dozens of 90 second videos. What do they do? They put random objects, like marbles or glowsticks, in their blender. They are hilarious and they definitely convince you these blenders will pulverize anything. What I particularly like is that these videos are developed on the cheap. Click the video above to see them blend an iPhone.

The best “spoof” award goes to the “rap” videos developed by Smirnoff Raw Tea.

The best use of New Media award goes to the “Stay Smart” campaign by Holiday Inn Express (done by Digitas). My favorite piece is the “See what the candidates could’ve saved by staying at Holiday Inn Express.” They went through the public records of hotel expenditure of each Presidential candidate during their campaign and then estimated how much they could have saved had they stayed in a Holiday Inn Express. This campaign was timely, funny, and created a splash. Even Mike Huckabee was asked about his hotel expenditures on Fox & Friends. You can’t buy that kind of publicity!

A Fun Innovation Diagnostic

March 3, 2008

Innovation can be, and should be, fun. Here is a 16 question “diagnostic tool” I published back in 2001 in my first book, 24/7 Innovation. It may help you assess just how innovative your organization is. It is, admittedly, quite tongue in cheek and not a serious diagnostic. But who knows, you might just learn something. Send this to your colleagues and see if they agree with your answers! International readers: Apologies for the American references and idioms.

1. You overhear two people talking about your company at lunch. They say:
A. “The people here are about as creative as a brick.”
B. “If we have one more brainstorming meeting, I’m going to go crazy.”
C. “They have come up with a lot of good ideas here.”
D. “Not only do they develop great ideas here, but they actually do something with them.”

2. When someone comes up with an innovative idea at your company, they…
A. are called into the boss’s office and told that that sort of thing isn’t done around here.
B. receive quite a few askance glances, but people think about their ideas in private.
C. are regarded with the same serious decorum that would be afforded any contributor.
D. are publicly recognized for their efforts.

3. If your organization were the Three Musketeers, what would your motto be?
A. One for one
B. One for all
C. All for one
D. All for one and one for all

4. You propose to your department head that you schedule a two-day idea-generation session for an important business need. S/he:
A. Says (after s/he has stopped laughing), “How’s that again?”
B. Explains, “We didn’t plan for that in our budget or workplans. But if you can find the time on your own, let me know how it goes.”
C. Says, “I think that’s a great idea. We have a small contingency budget set up specifically for this type of thing.”
D. Says, “That’s a great idea. Not only will we give you some seed money, but we will also assign a VP who will sponsor and drive the change.”

5. If you were to schedule an idea-generation session tomorrow for your company, what equipment would be readily available?
A. Flip-charts and pens
B. Audio (to play CDs to set the tone for the meeting)
C. Digital imaging (to capture ideas in their creative context)
D. A conference room specifically designed for idea-generating sessions

6. You have conceived a very innovative idea for your company. Your cynical friend starts a pool that tracks the odds of a successful implementation. The resulting odds are:
A. One in a million
B. One in a hundred
C. Even money
D. Sell your Google stock and put it here

7. Your work area is like:
A. An assembly line
B. A library
C. A bakery
D. A design studio

8. You have just walked out of an innovation meeting at your company and bump into a co-worker you haven’t seen for a while. S/he asks, “So how did you get picked for this?” You reply:
A. “I screwed up on my last deliverable, and this is my penance.”
B. “I was standing by the water cooler one minute too long.”
C. “I was selected from a list of volunteers.”
D. “They liked my idea so much, they wanted me to lead the effort to flesh it out.”

9. If you had a question about innovation, who would you talk to?
A. Yourself
B. The goofy guy with the scented markers and koosh balls on his desk
C. The designated innovation leader or innovation core team member
D. Anyone, because everyone is well versed in innovation and creativity

10. Select the phrase that best describes the level of creativity skills within your organization:
A. Brainstormed a few times
B. Know a few good creativity techniques to spark new ideas
C. Have a lot of tools and know when to apply them
D. Know how to integrate creativity techniques into other process techniques (i.e., the two are not separate)

11. Within my organization, innovation is …
A. non-existent.
B. performed by members of an innovation/R&D team (typically in a back-room somewhere).
C. part of occasional brainstorming sessions that include a variety of employees.
D. embedded in our daily work.

12. Which 1960s TV show best illustrates how innovation is used on your project?
A. The Three Stooges
B. I Dream of Jeannie
C. Gilligan’s Island
D. The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

13. How do you know when you have a good idea within your organization?
A. Insufficient data to respond to this question.
B. If it looks just like our last good idea.
C. Everyone (or the boss) thinks it sounds good.
D. We used quantitative analysis tools including simulations and pilots to rapidly (and accurately) prototype solutions.

14. Which TV character would be most comfortable in your work environment?
A. Sergeant Joe Friday (“Just the facts, ma’am”)
B. Sherlock Holmes (“Whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”)
C. Columbo (“There’s just one more thing I’m not quite comfortable with . . .”)
D. MacGyver (“Have you got a paper clip so I can defuse this bomb, program the auto-motion tracker, and cook dinner?”)

15. What kind of tools do you regularly use to support innovation?
A. Flip-charts and pens for brainstorming supports by Powerpoint and Visio
B. Creativity software/products, such as mind mapping and idea generation tools
C. A home-grown intranet portal with a suggestion box and data sharing tools
D. Commercial collaboration software such as Idea Central or InnoCentive

16. You are conducting a man-on-the-street interview with a random selection of people from your company. You thrust your microphone into each person’s face, and aggressively ask, “What is the role of innovation on our project?” Most of them say:
A. “Huh?”
B. “We talk about it, but it’s primarily lip service.”
C. “There are pockets of innovation but it is certainly not pervasive.”
D. “We make it a part of all we do.”


I am sure some of the more curious of you (and if you got this far, you must be curious) are wondering what your IQ (Innovation Quotient) is. Here’s how to figure your score: Each “A” is worth 5 points; each “B” is worth 10 points; each “C” is worth 15 points; each “D” is worth 20 points.

If you scored less than 100 points:
Check yourself into innovation Intensive Care.

If you scored between 100 and 160:
The books and articles on this website might be just what the doctor ordered to get your company into better health.

If you scored between 160 and 240:
You are quite advanced, but could still learn a trick or two. Maybe it’s time to bring in Steve Shapiro for a speech or workshop to help you get to the next level.

If you scored more than 240:
Give Steve Shapiro a call. He wants to include you in his next book!

Some Creative Inventions from Asia

January 31, 2007

I love creative ideas. And although these pictures have been floating around the internet, I still find them very amusing. Click on the thumbnail to get the full size image. Enjoy.

Creative AsiaCreative AsiaCreative AsiaCreative AsiaCreative AsiaCreative AsiaCreative AsiaCreative AsiaCreative Asia

« Previous Page