Archive for March, 2010

Audio: Cheryl Perkins on Inventors Digest’s “Got Invention Radio”

March 30, 2010 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Media Coverage

Inventors Digest Got Invention Radio

March 25, 2010: Inventor’s Digest’s Got Invention Radio

Cheryl Perkins shares her experiences in corporate innovation, assisting inventors with preparing ideas & business plans, the definition of an idea to commercial success, and knowing your potential customer prototypes.

Listen to the show

Apple iPad a game-changer

“The Internet is supposed to be all about freedom and choice—yet here comes Steve Jobs with an Internet that is a completely closed system. Apple not only sells you the device, but also operates the only store on the planet that sells software for it.” Newsweek

For all its coolness, the iPad  is making for some interesting discussion about what the future holds for computing. A Newsweek article out last week promises the purse-sized computer will transform the way we use the Internet and herald in a new era of computing. I myself would love to have one, as I’ve seen how the intuitive touch screen will probably change my expectation by raising the bar on what I want my computer to do.

The Newsweek article also predicts a time when we will all have a persistent online connection along with a 24/7 link to whatever impulse purchases we’re inclined to make. “The iPad could eventually become your TV, your newspaper, and your bookshelf,” the author predicts. Or warns. Click here to read the article. Do you agree?

Seven Degrees of Separation: Innovation Lessons from Airline Disasters

For connecting one human to another, it’s been said that any two people can be connected by acquaintances in six steps, hence the concept of “six degrees of separation.” The term “seven degrees of separation” occurred to me when reading Malcolm Gladwell’s discussion of airliner accidents in his outstanding book, Outliers: The Story of Success. He observes that extensive studies of airliner crashes show that the fatal tragedies often require a combination of seven things going wrong, any one of which might just be an inconvenience or minor problem by itself, but in combination with the others can lead to disaster. When it comes to connecting skilled humans to the very disasters that they have been carefully trained to avoid, there are seven degrees of separation to disaster.

While mechanical defects, fatigue, and bad weather are often involved in the seven degrees of separation, these airliner disasters almost always involve flaws in interpersonal communication. For example, there may be a copilot who is afraid to speak up and challenge the pilot when an obvious mistake is being made, or there is a lack of clarity in communicating a problem to the air traffic controllers. When trouble is brewing, success often requires extensive communication between the flight crew, other crew members, ATC staff, and sometimes others. Plans must be made, checked, implemented, revised, clarified, conveyed, and so forth, at many levels to handle an emergency properly. When crew members keep their mouths shut and don’t share what they know or sense, when courtesy or fear stops urgent information from being shared, or when there are cultural or linguistic barriers to effective communication, multiple mistakes and miscues can accumulate, whittling away at the separation between survival and disaster. It’s that way in the world of innovation as well.

Superior IQ and innovative genius is often far less important than the ability to communicate. Disasters in innovation and new product development are often due not to lack of intelligence among the innovators and corporate leaders, but gaps in communication. Launching a product and safely navigating it through the storms of the market can be much trickier than flying an airplane. The flight of a new product always involves malfunctions and emergencies that require communication skills above all. Information from the market must be effectively shared with the developers. Plans must be shared and communicated with external partners and internal teams. Benefits and features must be effectively communicated to end-users. Expectations must be clearly conveyed to suppliers and service providers. A plethora of data must be handled and shared in ways that inspire, motivate, drive action, and keep all parties aligned.

As in an airplane emergency, “yes men” are not the people you need around to help. You don’t want devil’s advocates either or professional naysayers–you need people willing to share what they know and challenge directions and assumptions that may mislead the project or the company. You need people who can help you confront and conquer the brutal facts of your present reality, as Admiral James Stockdale has famously said.

More than words alone are involved in the communication relays that are essential for a successful new product flight. Intangibles related to trust, loyalty, and common agendas must be in place. It’s all about relationships, and these take time and effort to build and maintain. Unreliable or misleading communication can break those relationships and jam navigation systems, as can abusing or taking advantage of partners and employees. Bonds of trust and mutual respect inside and outside the corporation are essential to maintaining effective communication and bringing about the alignment and common purpose needed for innovation to succeed.

As Gladwell notes, the seven errors that tend to accumulate in major airline disasters “are rarely problems of knowledge or flying skill. . . . The kinds of errors that cause plane crashes are invariably errors of teamwork and communication.” Ditto for the risky, high-flying adventure of innovation, where crashes are the rule rather than the exception. It’s not that the team wasn’t skilled or clever, but fundamental gaps in teamwork and communication resulted in the product launch smashing at full speed into barriers they failed to notice or attempting landings on runways that weren’t there. These disasters are always going to be far more likely than airplane disasters, but improved communication and teamwork across your innovation ecosystem can do much to bring you safely home.

In Conquering Innovation Fatigue, our chapter on the Horn of Innovation is devoted to illustrating the importance of including the innovation team in feedback loops that bring data from the marketplace to the innovators to allow them to make rapid on-the-fly adjustments for iterative innovation. Cut off that communication, and your innovators are flying blind. Blind innovation is what fills the convention “innovation funnel” with numerous abortive attempts that need to be weeded out. Keeping innovators inside the loop with clear and instant communication gives them a more clear map and helps them work with your team to develop the right flight plan for success.

Innovation success is all about abundant communication and teamwork, not hand-offs that isolate those with the vision from those at the helm. Innovation is disaster prone enough when everything is running well–no need wiping our a half-dozen of your degrees of separation from disaster by your own communication and relationship mistakes from the beginning.

At Innovationedge, we are committed to helping your team build the processes, systems, and culture that can translate outstanding skills into outstanding success. We are ready to work with you to review your internal and external ecosystems, strengthen your innovation flight plans (or your innovation roadmap), and help your build healthier approaches to new products and innovation systems that are far more likely to succeed. Give us a call today!

“International Thought Leaders” Webinar

March 23, 2010 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Event Info, Speaking Engagements

Cheryl Perkins and other thought leaders will participate in the ‘International Thought Leaders” webinar on June 9, 2010 in conjunction with the Innovation Management Course, which will be held in Toronto on June 16 & 17, 2010.

PaperCon 2010

March 23, 2010 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Event Info, Speaking Engagements

Join Cheryl Perkins in Atlanta, GA from May 2-5 at PaperCon 2010.


Cheryl Perkinst o appear at PaperCon 2010

Half Day Management Seminar: Sheboygan Area SHRM

March 23, 2010 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Event Info, Speaking Engagements

Cheryl Perkins will provide a strategic workshop to Sheboygan Area SHRM human resources professionals at their half day workshop on April 15, 2010.

Stretegic innovation management seminar

NESTA Open for Business Conference

March 23, 2010 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Event Info, Speaking Engagements

Cheryl Perkins and other thought leaders in innovation joined to discuss open innovation at NESTA‘s Open for Business Conference panel on April 8, 2010 in London, UK.

The entire morning session can be viewed here.

Innovation speaker at Open for Business Conference, UK

Are You a Brand Fan or Follower?

March 21, 2010 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Consumer "Identity", Trends

Why do consumers follow brands on Twitter or Facebook?  It depends on which social media they’re using, according to a new study out this month.

According to the report published by market research firm Chadwik Martin Bailey, Facebook users were more likely to show their support for a company they liked by becoming a fan of the brand on the social network while Twitter users were more likely to follow a brand to receive real-time information and exclusive offers.

It goes on to say that consumers were nearly 70 percent more likely to recommend or buy products from a brand after following them on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.

Consumers said that their number-one reason for becoming a fan of a brand on social networking sites was to receive discounts from the companies. Other reasons for following a brand included previously purchasing a product from the company, wanting to show others they supported the brand or to gain access to exclusive content.

The Circuit of Innovation™

The Circuit of Innovation™ from Innovationedge

The Circuit of Innovation™ from Innovationedge

This image from Innovationedge is used in our book, Conquering Innovation Fatigue, to describe the relationship that needs to exist between intellectual assets and the marketing plan to complete the circuit that connects the power of the market to inventors. Leave out either a sound IA strategy (holistic or 360 IA™) or the marketing plan, and you’ve short-circuited your chances for success. Ideally, your intellectual assets are in synch with your marketing plan, meaning they reinforce the marketing story and tell a marketable story of their own, in harmony with the marketing plan. The strengths you sell to the market had better be reflected in some way in the intellectual assets (think more broadly than patents alone, of course). This will be part of our conversation tonight on Brian Fried’s hit radio show, GotInvention radio at, broadcast at 7 pm Central Time.

Be sure to tune in next week on March 25 to hear Cheryl Perkins, CEO of Innovationedge, share more about what it takes to achieve innovation success.

Innovation and Games Galore On Display

A lot of game-playing going on in San Francisco this past weekend, as thousands of game designers, programmers and executives attended the Game Developers Conference. The attendees gather each year to exchange ideas and shape the future of the industry.

From an innovation standpoint it was interesting to note the top buzz was around motion controls and social gaming.  (I confess I personally don’t spend a lot of time on gaming apps for my iphone, but I think it’s important to keep up on trends in an industry so pivotal to the emerging generation!)

Sony introduced its PlayStation Move, a new wand-shaped PlayStation 3 motion controller system that will rival Nintendo’s popular Wii. Move’s system includes a PlayStation Eye camera to detect players’ movements. As designers and developers discover more capabilities with the hardware, they will no doubt find new applications for the games.

Social gaming was also a huge draw. With the success of games like Facebook’s “FarmVille” and the role-playing “Mafia Wars,” several conference sessions were dedicated just to these popular venues.

Then there is the VirtuSphere, a huge hamster ball-like virtual reality machine that allows users inside to control a character by walking around inside.