Archive for December, 2010

Crowdsourcing for bright ideas: Lessons learned from GE

Happy New Year’s Eve! On this last day of 2010, I’m looking back at where we started and finished in our own innovation projects and how we accomplished our goals. How did you do in that respect? Did you notice any trends that can help your business in 2011?

One of the bigger trends of course is our quest to understand how social media can grow and expand our business. I’ve noticed that this past year many more companies have used social media in their pursuit of useful ideas than ever before.  I enjoyed reading a report from Greener World Media about crowdsourcing when it comes to sustainability projects.

The article looks at three efforts by GE’s Smart Grid challenge, eBay’s Green Team, and a leading European retailer’s green customer foray and how those leaders used crowdsourcing to generate sustainability ideas. Check it out.

One example that stood out to me was this summer’s “GE ecomagination Challenge: Powering the Grid.”The company and other firms spent $200 million to grab ideas from society via a new website. Nearly 4,000 ideas were submitted over a three-month period, and at the end there were more than 70,000 comments to sift through. GE held a contest for the best ideas and announced the winners earlier this month.

If you want to try something similar, the article suggests three rules to make your campaign successful:

1. Be painfully clear about the results you want from your campaign.

2. Embrace transparency.

3. Link the campaign to co-value creation.

In GE’s case, it asked participants to send forth their best thinking to create initiatives that would enhance an aspect of their own lives. Making it personal was the evident key in this crowdsourcing experiment.

Groasis is greening up dry climates one tree at a time

December 28, 2010 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Biotechnology, Green Innovation, Sustainability

Photo courtesy www.groasis.com

Imagine being able to grow trees anywhere in the world–including the desert. The AquaPro company developed the Groasis waterboxx, and it has indeed turned out to be one of the most innovative system of 2010. The waterboxx allows trees to grow in dry lands by providing a reservoir for roots with a sustainable water system that can last decades. Popular Science Magazine just named the waterboxx No. 1 in its Best of What’s New in 2010, and it’s no wonder.

With just a one-time fill of four gallons of water, the system surrounds a newly-planted sapling and prevents against evaporation, pests and other elements that can kill saplings before they’ve had a chance to mature.

The system was tested in the Sahara Desert and costs only a dollar per tree, making it affordable enough for those in poor nations. Check out this video on the Groasis waterbozz:

Tummy Time keeps this brand in the pink

December 21, 2010 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Cool videos, Social Media

How can you increase your online buzz by 200 percent? Crank up your social media AND your color!

It worked for Pepto Bismol. The digestive relief medicine’s TV and print budget was drastically slashed this year, so that a new social media effort could attempt to do what the Old Spice brand did with its “Smell Like A Man” campaign.

Up until last summer Procter& Gamble spent up to 90 percent of its ad spending on traditional media, but in July the company dropped that to 10 percent to spend the bulk on digital media. You’ve probably seen the innovative ads on Facebook and web videos. The star of these ads is the actor from last year’s hit film The Hangover, and features the actor sitting inside a large stomach bringing the Pepto relief via a vibrant pink spray.

In addition to the familiar pink tonic, the ads touch on something most of us are familiar with this time of year:

Overindulgence!

The results have been comforting for P & G with increased sales and volume that the company hasn’t seen in years.

The indulgence theme doesn’t end after the holidays. The company says it will continue its social media campaign until well into 2011. Stay tuned!

New Word Lens app bridges language barriers

A new iPhone app, Word Lens, is getting a lot of attention this week. The video by its developers has been seen by millions of people (Check it out below), and many are wondering what the future will hold with this new technology. The app allows you to point your iPhone camera at a sign and interpret what it sees in your language. The app itself is free, with each language module costing $4.99. At the moment only English to Spanish and Spanish to English modules are available but more will come.

Facial recognition technology gives Facebook a one-click edge

December 16, 2010 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Innovation, Innovation In The News, Social Media

The Facebook Blog shows you how to tag using facial recognition technology.

As facial recognition technology becomes more user friendly for social media and other personal applications, we’re starting to see and hear reaction from those who have concerns and from people who think its great.

Facebook just launched a photo tagging application using the technology to help users tag photos faster. If you want to see how it works, pull up one of your Facebook albums that contain some group shots of friends you haven’t tagged yet and you will now see suggested tags.

I read an article about this last night on The Facebook Blog which says that Facebook has been working on the facial recognition platform since October.  First Facebook added group tagging, so users could type one name and apply it to multiple photos of the same person. This week Facebook announced new Tag Suggestions, making the chore of tagging multiple photos a single-click process.

Every day, people add more than 100 million tags to photos on Facebook. They do it because it’s an easy way to share photos and memories…Tags make photos one of the most popular features on Facebook.

While tags are an essential tool for sharing important moments, many of you have said tagging photos can be a chore. (Like that time you had to tag your cousin and her fiancé over and over and over again in 64 different pictures of their engagement party, and then go back and tag the guests.)

(Click the photo to read the full article)

That means that when your friends upload photos of this year’s holiday party, your face will automatically be recognized. According to The Facebook Blog, you can opt out of this by visiting your Privacy Settings, choose Custom, then change the setting for “Suggest photos of me to friends.”

Strengtening Innovation Systems and Culture: Helpful Guidance from Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire by Braden Kelley

Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire by Braden Kelley (John Wiley & Sons, 2010) is a highly readable, helpful book about the practical side of innovation, including guidance on building a culture and processes that support innovation in a corporation. Braden Kelley writes with the benefit of not only having many years of experience in supporting innovation, but with the insights that come from one of the best innovation networks on the planet. Braden’s Blogging Innovation effort has brought together numerous innovation thinkers around the world to share and contribute their insights on innovation success. Braden has many minds he can tap and the collective wisdom of many stars to guide his thinking.

Braden’s experience in innovation shows, for example, when he discusses the different innovation needs companies have depending on their innovation maturity level. Trying to run an open innovation program for a company just getting started on innovation could be a mistake–especially if internal systems for gathering and evaluating innovation concepts aren’t yet in place.

He also recognizes the need for long-term innovation strategy, not just short-term reactive strategy, to help a company survive in a world of disruptive innovation threats. Yet a focus only on long-term innovation bets could leave a company crippled by missing the short-term gains that are needed to still be thriving when the long-term bets pay off (if ever). His thoughts remind me of the Ascent of Collaboration™ model that Innovationedge uses in helping corporations decide where they are in terms of innovation maturity relative to open innovation and external collaboration. Guidance to the corporation must always be tailored to their level of development in innovation.

A strength of Kelley’s book is his use of numerous examples, mostly from large, well-known companies like Apple or Amazon. One of my favorite case studies occurs early in the book (pp. 14-16) and deals with the rise of General Motors and how they overtook Ford through the vision of Alfred Sloan, who saw the need for market segmentation, good design, and innovation in the business model by offering financial assistance to dealers and customers through GMAC.

Kelley provides practical guidance on some of the basic of innovation within a corporation. He offers, for example, an idea evaluation checklist (pp. 69-70) to assist in screening ideas from a brainstorming session. He also gives the very important lesson that innovation often must proceed slowly, and that a company must be prepared to pursue “slow innovation.” Companies must evaluate where they are on the innovation curve and determine when they must be prepared for many years of slow progress before a technology will be ready for commercial success. Such discipline in thinking and planning is essential to avoid rapid disappointment and premature abandonment of potentially successful concepts. Apple’s iPod is one of several case studies of slow innovation considered.

Kelley also addresses the major issues of organization, culture, and processes that are crucial for innovation success. Breaking down internal information and innovation barriers can be essential for improving innovation in a modern company. Creating a system that can manage innovation and maintain the flexibility needed for innovation success is a demanding challenge, but one that leaders need to face and embrace. Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire can help with that challenge. For both leaders and champions of innovation at all levels, Braden Kelley’s book is definitely worth the read.

2011 Consumer Trends: How will we shape innovation?

December 9, 2010 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Consumer "Identity", Trends

From healthier choices to improved relationships, we all want the things we buy to make our world a better place.  How are we as consumers going to shape the coming year for companies striving for innovation success?

There are dozens of consumer trends we’re watching for 2011, and soon you’ll see some brand new lists of projections from the futurists and news articles about how corporations need to adjust and embrace these new trends.

One particularly interesting list I found on Consumertrendwatching.com covers everything from pricing, coupons and country of origin to how kind we are to our customers.  Check it out and let me know which ones resonate with you: (more…)

Trend: Will your retirees take their learnings with them?

I read an interesting article over at InventionMachineBlog about a trend we’re seeing as our workforce ages. Did you know that half of our workforce today is eligible for retirement in the next 18 months?

The  Bureau of Labor Statistics says as our US labor force grows older, our percent of 55+ workers will be four times that of the overall labor force.

I see this happening in the corporations of many of our Innovationedge clients and certainly in many of our Fortune 500 companies. It’s projected to be the largest generational turnover we’ve ever seen in our job force.But hopefully those companies are heeding the statistics and making sure their retiring Baby boomers aren’t taking their years of knowledge and subject matter expertise with them.

What does this mean for companies continuing their focus on growth and innovation?  How is your company retaining knowledge and capturing best practices for future generations?

Photo courtesy NasaImages.org