September 23, 2009
I am in NYC participating as a delegate in the Global Creative Leadership Summit led by the Louis Blouin Foundation. Attending are 100 fascinating people ranging from Prime Ministers to business leaders.
Over the course of 3 days there are a number of conversations on topics related to improving the world.
Here are some of the interesting tid bits I picked up over the first day. Everything here is a paraphrase rather than a direct quote. And please forgive any inaccuracies.
- We had a value crisis, not a financial crisis. That is, there was a crisis and values
- Cyber weapons and bio weapons are our biggest threat. Bio weapons could lead to a September 11 type catastrophe every month.
- A problem of our neighbors is our problem
- If you get big bonuses when things go well, you should give money back to the company when things go wrong. We need to increase the level of accountability
Michael Chertoff, Former Secretary of Homeland Security
- Barriers to do damage have dropped
- We need to establish accountabilities (e.g., Libya with the Lockerbie bombing or Somalia with piracy)
- Bio terrorism and cyber terrorism are the greatest threats
- Global response needs to be one step at a time to demonstrate positive outcomes. Tackling things that are too big don’t move us forward.
Luis Moreno-Ocampo – Chief Prosecutor, International Criminal Court
- The challenge is how to improve global governance in places where there is no government.
- Another challenge is that we need global agreements that take into consideration local needs
Pasqual Lamy – Director General, World Trade Organization
- Investing in health care will help global trade in the long run. Because if jobs are lost due to trade, at least people have health coverage.
- There is a clash between the international and domestic agenda (e.g., cotton subsidies)
Dr. Dominique Strauss-Kahn – Managing Director, International Monetary Fund
- Peace and economic stability are intertwined. Peace is needed for growth. And growth is needed for peace.
- Expects economic recovery in 1st half of 2010. Growth will resume. But the social crisis (e.g., lost jobs) will last longer.
- 90 million people went back into poverty due to the economic crisis – mostly from Africa.
- Economic instability could lead to wars. And wars lead to economic disaster. 1 year of civil war costs on average 2.5% of GDP
- Avoiding war is the key to economic stability
Prime Minister of Netherlands Jan Peter Balkenende
- Prosperity at any price and soft living contributed to our current situation
- The crisis can be a catalyst for change if we change the culture. Self interests hurt the system.
- We must end the “get rich quick” theory of life
Stanley Bergman, Chairman of the Board and CEO, Henry Schein
- 13,000 employees participate are involved in an intrapreneurship culture.
- Philanthropy is a big part of the company’s philosophy
John Copelyn, CEO, Hosken Consolidated Investments
- To create innovation, you need a long term vision and a vision beyond your own wallet
Mark Angelson, Chairman, MidOcean Partners
- This was not a depression. It was a deleveraging
- We need to move to more preventative measures such as paying for wellness rather than sickness
- The growth areas are: 1) Healthcare, 2) Clean Tech, 3) Rebuilding infrastructure
Ali Velshi, Chief Business Correspondent, CNN
- He described the cause of the recession to a group of kids as follows… It was caused by consuming less than was made and spending more than was earned.
Lex Fenwick, CEO, Bloomberg Ventures
- New employment will come from new businesses rather than existing businesses
- Employees are afraid to bring new ideas. This stifles innovation.
- He added that “private education” is another growth opportunity area
Ted Turner, CNN Founder and philanthropist
- I read the Economist (and it sounds like that is his primary source of news)
- I drive a Prius
- If I could run CNN and the Cartoon Network at same time, Congress can deal with health care and climate change at same time
Other distinguished guests included:
- H.E. Shaukat Aziz, Former Prime Minister of Pakistan
- President Michelle Bachelet of Chile
For other quotes, go to the GCLS Twitter feed
To learn more about the event, go to the Global Creative Leadership Summit website.
My session is Friday morning…
May 1, 2009
Here’s a 1 minute video clip from a speech I gave a year ago in Denmark. It compares the movement of innovation efforts in companies to the movement of old, wooden roller coasters.
April 29, 2009
I was recently interviewed via email for a Canadian publication. I was asked 5 questions. Given the journalists deadline, I needed to provide an immediate response. Here are “off the top of my head” answers – without editing.
1. What is your own definition of an innovative business?
An innovative business is one that continually adapts and evolves to meet changing market conditions. It is not about new product, new processes, new ideas, or new services. It is about staying one step ahead of the competition.
2. Why is it so important for a business to invest in innovation during recession time?
Innovation can be used to reduce costs as well as grow a business. You can either slash your business, or be creative about how to do more with less. But investing in growth during troubling times is important too. Given that everyone else is cutting back, for every dollar invested in innovation, you get a larger return than you would have in the past. Regardless, the economy will rebound. Innovation is more like a marathon than a sprint. If you are not prepared, when market conditions improve, you will be behind the curve.
3. Do you believe that each recession leads to a changing of paradigm in the way people buy and live, and if yes, what can we expect after this crisis?
During a crisis, buying habits certainly change. People focus more on eliminating their pains than they do on pleasure and growth. Therefore, if you solve someone’s pain, you will continue to thrive even in tough times. We also see people looking for affordability and accessibility. After a crisis is over however, the market in general (although not necessarily individuals) return to their old ways. After the recession of 1970, consumers eventually returned to old habits. After a while, we forget the pain.
4. What are the worst innovation mistakes to avoid during recession time?
Stopping innovation altogether is a mistake. But investing in the “wrong” innovation is an even bigger mistake. Albert 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 organizations spend 60 minutes finding solutions to problems that don’t matter. Doing this wastes your money and the energy of your people.
5. How can a business boost its creativity during a recession when money is in short supply?
Here are several ideas 1) Instead of developing new products, adapt existing products/services to make them more affordable/accessible, 2) Use Open Innovation to reduce costs while gaining valuable marketing insights, 3) Use process improvement techniques to reduce costs, 4) Find ways of solving your customer’s pains, 5) Use a “build it, try it, fix it” approach to innovation enabling you to fail cheaply.
April 9, 2009
According to a recent study by Chuck Frey at innovationtools.com, 47% of companies say that the climate for innovation has “improved slightly or significantly” since the onset of the global recession. In fact, only a quarter of the respondents felt that the climate for innovation has deteriorated.
Surprisingly, only one third of the companies say they cut investments in innovation. 37% have kept funding steady while 29% have increased funding.
However, as I suspected, those innovation investments are now being channeled into things other than new product development. The top 5 innovation strategies are:
- Looking for creative ways to improve or extend your existing products (50.9%)
- Looking for opportunities to improve collaboration (47.2%)
- Increasing focus on changing customer needs (39.8%)
- Focusing on service innovation (38.1%)
- Focusing on process innovation (36.4%)
Most of the innovation dollars are being funneled into getting more out of existing products, while increasing efficiency and service levels.
The one thing I did not find in the study is if companies, as part of their efforts to “improve or extend” existing products are using “simplification” as method of increasing marketshare. To learn my perspectives on this, read about the “innovation bell curve.” This is an overlooked opportunity to gaining marketshare by leveraging your existing offerings.
You can read the full report on innovationtools.com. This is an interesting report and offers hope for those who believe that innovation is the answer.
Having said that…
It is important to point out that studies like these are inherently biased and are not statistically accurate as the respondents are not randomized. The companies who participate tend to be connected to the surveyors in some (albeit indirect) way. Therefore those organizations are thinking about innovation more than others.
When I was recently asked what morale was like at my clients, I said “challenging yet optimistic.” But my client list is not representative of the norm. Anyone who hires me is clearly still investing in innovation and continues to see its value.
Therefore, when reading this, focus more on the qualitative aspects rather than the hard, cold numbers. There are interesting insights to be found. And maybe there is even a ray of optimism shining through the cloudy economy.
March 10, 2009
In a previous blog entry on the innovation bell curve, I presented a bimodal distribution curve rather than a bell curve. I did this because I wanted to clearly show the contrast between the existing model and the emerging model. I also did this because I am “graphically challenged” and I could not find a way of illustrating the movements in one chart. However, the changes are more subtle than a total shift to a bimodal curve. After working with a talented graphic designer for the past week, we finally have a more accurate depiction of the movement taking place.
You see the 3 main movements:
- Value brands are increasing their quality (including ease of use) and are moving into the Mid-Market area
- Consumers are increasingly buying value brands (e.g., store brands) as a way of saving money
- Premium brands are reducing prices while also offering different, lower-cost products.
The result is pressure on the Mid-Market brands that is squeezing many of these companies out of business.
Be sure to read all of the articles on the innovation bell curve to get a better understanding of the shifting dynamics.