Archive for April, 2011

Customer loyalty programs don’t always build customer loyalty

April 25, 2011 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Consumer "Identity", Trends

Remember “green stamps?” When I was young, my parents saved them in a booklet, carefully collecting them until they had enough to send away for some great housewares or knick-knacks. S&H Green Stamps were popular in the United States from the 1930s until about 30 years ago, and were distributed as part of a rewards program operated by the Sperry and Hutchinson company (S&H). In the 1960s, the rewards catalog was the largest publication in the United States! You could get the stamps at the checkout counter of supermarkets, department stores and gas stations, and many of us still have old relics from the catalog in our attics.

These days, we all have those punch cards good toward a free cup of coffee, or a “points” card good for coupons on electronics.  It’s the same customer loyalty idea that S&H had years ago when my parents’ generation saved the stamps. For decades, companies have been trying to figure out how to engage their customers and gage their loyalty.

Unfortunately, these reward programs can backfire. It takes a lot more than a punchcard to get your customers coming back for your goods and services.  If you want to read a great article on this, check out author and business strategist Carol Roth’s article titled, Leading a New Era of Customer Engagement with Customer Loyalty 3.0. Carol discusses three levels in customer engagement, and helps companies understand how both they and their brands can make spenders feel cared for and important by taking a holistic approach.

But because not all customers have the same wants or needs, we need to know who they are and we need to listen to their conversations to understand what is important to them. Like anything, it takes time and a lot of effort to do this, but I think it is time well spent to build solid, loyal relationships.


For Corporations, Intellectual Asset Strategy Should Lead Innovation

A problem with many corporate IP management efforts is that they are reactive only. These IP systems typically focus on incoming invention disclosures and existing patent applications, leading to recommendations on which disclosures to file, which countries to file in, and which existing applications to abandon for cost control. These are vital components for intellectual asset (IA) management, but they typically fall short in providing strategy that can inform prospective inventors about what kind of inventions are needed.

Effective IA management begins not with the processing of existing documents, but with the development and articulation of vision to guide the process of IA generation and acquisition. It begins with a roadmap of what the corporation needs to own and protect, and that roadmap can then be infused into a written IA strategy statement that guides the IA-generating community to know what they need to create, and also guides IA committees to know what they should be approving.

Written strategy statements can help innovators be more successful and decision makers more disciplined, though there must also be leeway for out-of-the-strategy-box inventions that could lead to unexpected opportunities. However, most IA generating work in a corporation can and should be targeted and focused on specific objectives.

Once a clear vision is communicated regarding the IA needs of the corporation, IA generating activities can be used to supplement normal new product development and R&D. These exercises can be driven by the IA management team to achieve low-cost IA estates in targeted areas for specific objectives, such as averting a disruptive threat, laying a foundation for future IP in a potentially disruptive area where R&D investment is not yet available, weakening the IP potential of a competitive merger or acquisition, etc. At least a portion of the IA generating efforts of a corporation should be driven from the top with a clear objective in mind, rather than waiting for random invention disclosures to trickle up during the course of normal R&D activities. IA strategy should lead innovation.

‘Progress Report on Health Systems Transformation’ Conference – Morehead State University

April 13, 2011 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Event Info

Cheryl Perkins will present at the “Progress Report on Health Systems Transformation’ Conference on April 14, 2011 – a 1-day conference at Morehead State University, featuring Innovationedge and Dr.Marc Overhage, chief strategic officer and national policy adviser of the Indiana Health Information Exchange.

The conference, scheduled from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m at the Morehead Conference Center, is hosted by Morehead State University’s College of Business and Public Affairs, St. Claire Regional Medical Center, Northeast Kentucky Regional Health Information Organization and Northeast Kentucky Area Health Education Center.


The Conference on Social Product Development & Co-Creation – Phoenix, AZ

April 13, 2011 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Event Info

Innovationedge president, Cheryl Perkins, will moderate a panel session at the Conference on Social Product Development & Co-Creation, a 2-day conference on June 27-28, 2011 at Local Motors Micro-Factory in Phoenix, AZ.

The Conference on Social Product Development and Co-Creation is a groundbreaking event developed by the PDMA in partnership with co-creation pioneer, Local Motors, to bring together an unprecedented group of thinkers, makers and doers – quite literally,the “best of the best” – to help attendees understand and apply co-creative approaches that drive breakthrough results in product development and innovation. The Keynote cast will include presenters from Wired Magazine, Harvard Business School, American Express, Intuit Labs, American Express, Microsoft Corporation and more.

The conference can be followed on Twitter at #CoCreatePDMA



PDMA Conference on Social Product Development & Co-Creation

Calling all Innovators: Don’t miss this event

This June I’ll be in Phoenix to moderate this year’s Conference on Social Product Development & Co-Creation. I’m partnering once again with PDMA, and this year co-creation pioneer, Local Motors, is helping us raise the bar for this exciting, ground-breaking event. Social Product Development is making a major impact on the way companies are innovating now and into the future.

I think you’ll find this conference features the best-of-best elements and people, and we’ve designed it so you’ll be able to exchange ideas, forge new connections and fuel sustainable innovation within your organization that drives growth. Among the highlights is a how-to guide to build a co-creative enterprise from the co-author of leading business book “The Power of Co-creation.”

Social product development is key, and you’ll discover how communities can be used to solve some of your toughest innovation problems, as well as how to build your business around an existing crowd of passionate people. In other words–crowdsourcing for real results.

It all happens on June 27 & 28, and I hope you can join us as we bring together an unprecedented group of thinkers, makers and doers to help you understand and apply co-creative approaches  to your work. This event is for anyone who wants to drive breakthrough results in product development and innovation.

We’re featuring more than 20 keynote speakers across a variety of industries representing companies like LEGO Group, InnoCentive, Harvard Business School, Wired Magazine, American Express, Kimberly-Clark Corporation, Hallmark Cards, Intuit Labs and Microsoft 
Design Studio, plus many more.

Be sure to register by May 20th for a huge savings. See you in June!

Helping Clients Generate IP: Preparation is the Key

At Innovationedge, one of our favorite activities is working with a team in what we call an “Edge Session” to create new intellectual assets. It’s not not brainstorming, where a flood of bad ideas are welcome, but an iterative process in which the goal is enabled, good concepts that are fleshed out enough to support drafting of a meaningful invention disclosures. A key part of the Edge Session is refining problem statements, moving from broad, vague questions to more specific problem statements that guide inventors on what is needed. We introduce stimulus elements that are coupled with the problem statements to stimulate thinking. The stimulus elements can be used in addressing a problem directly or as associative thinking tools to change the way people look at the problem–all part of the steps along the way to creating records of an enabled invention that, in turn, can readily support IP generation such as drafting a patent application, documenting a trade secret, or preparing a defensive publication.

Preparation has been the key for success. A big part of the preparation is ours as we dig into the literature, patents, and competitive intelligence. Sometimes we conduct pre-workshop interviews to get a landscape of what the client already knows so that we can better begin with that starting point as we help them create and document more.

The preparation by the client is also critical. One key part of their preparation is the selection of team members. Groups of about 5 to 25 people work well, with maybe 7 to 15 being the preferred range. The group works well if there is sufficient diversity in experience and background. For example, even in dealing with highly technical problems, I like to have at least one marketer in the team, someone with great hands-on experience dealing with consumer insights or other sources of marketing information. The perspective a good marketing person can bring is often vital for the success of an IP-generation project.

Teams also can be more effective when the prepare by reading the materials we provide on the prior art, competitive efforts, etc. We recognize, though, that many times team members won’t have had adequate time or motivation to prepare other than showing up. We can still squeeze good information from the unprepared, for much of what they have to contribute creatively is already in their heads. It just may take a little more effort to get it out and documented,

TiE-VISTA – Venture & Innovation Summit 2011 – Atlanta, GA

April 8, 2011 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Event Info

Cheryl Perkins will present a “Innovation for the Enterprise” session at the TiE-VISTA Venture & Innovation Summit on Wednesday, April 13, 2011 in Atlanta, GA.

TiE-VISTA is the the Largest Entrepreneurial Summit in the SouthEast. VISTA 2011 will focus on two key component tracks of Entrepreneurship – Innovation and Venture. The conference aims to bring ten high powered panels with industry expert speakers to provide you with the most powerful Entrepreneurial Summit experience in Atlanta. Regardless of the business you are in, the key to winning and transforming industries always remains the same – people with an Entrepreneurial Spirit. Come and listen to the experts and engage in panel discussions with your questions.


TiE VISTA Innovation in Atlanta

The Rise of Street Food: Whole Foods Turns to the Street to Find Popular New Foods

I recently met Nick Davis, Regional Executive Chef for Whole Foods out of Colorado. He handles Whole Foods cuisine for a large portion of the West. For quite a while Nick has been pushing and approving new products and services based on street food. In my experience, the street is where some of the heartiest and most economical food can be found, and Nick agrees. From marvelous Oaxaca-style tamales in Mexico to crème brûlée in San Francisco, the “peasant food” offered by street vendors has increasing appeal to many people. Now several Whole Foods locations such as the Trolley Square Whole Foods in Salt Lake City are offering “street eats” as a restaurant-style service in the store as well as street food packages you can take out. Nick has been working on the menus for these products. Kudos to Nick and all the innovators at Whole Foods for recognizing the need to bring the street into the store. One more example of innovation based on understanding consumers and trends.

Whole Foods is a great place to go for market research in addition to enjoyable, quality food and other products. One can learn a lot about green packaging trends, innovations in flexible pouches, self-care products, organics, ingredients, and international cuisine. For many innovative areas, Whole Foods is consistently on the edge.

April 6, 2011: Cheryl Perkins blog featured on San Diego Zoo Biomimicry website

April 6, 2011 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Media Coverage

Cheryl Perkins’ blog on her recent biomimicry teachings/ learnings at the San Diego Zoo was featured on the San Diego Zoo’ Biomimicry homepage.

Biomimicry is a new discipline that studies nature’s best ideas and then imitates these designs and processes to solve human problems, also known as “innovation inspired by nature”, according to the Biomimicry Institute based in Missoula, Mont.

“Innovative ideas have long been inspired by what we observe in nature, and I believe that what we can observe from animals in particular can give us insight into brand new inventions and technology,” says Perkins in her post.

To read the full blog posting, click here.

To see Perkins featured on the San Diego Zoo Biomimicry website, click here.

Perkins also wrote a column for the Appleton Post-Crescent regarding biomimicry. To view the article, click here.

April 1, 2011: Plastics News

April 1, 2011 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Media Coverage

Protect Intellectual Property

By: Cheryl Perkins and Jeff Lindsay

Read Full Article

With the expectations of sustainable products a growing concern for consumers, bioplastics are becoming an increasingly important part of the plastics industry. Just like auto companies are searching for alternative sources of energy for transportation vehicles, chemical companies are searching for alternatives in the manufacturing of plastic materials. Fossil fuels won’t be available forever, and currently billions of pounds of plastics are being produced and consumed annually, just in the flexible packaging industry alone.

Bioplastics currently represent only a small fraction of this emerging area of development, but usage is growing. Not only are the resources used for production renewable, but some companies are also claiming that the production process has a smaller carbon footprint. There is great potential for collaboration with startups and universities to help overcome challenges and realize the commercial and environmental potential of bioplastics as replacements for the less-sustainable oil-based plastics.

However, although startups, young companies and universities are progressive in their approach to bioplastic technology, protecting innovations through intellectual property is not always a priority. These companies are anxious about bringing their products to market and are often overlooking important intellectual-property opportunities. Intellectual property matters to the success of bioplastic products, and may determine the future landscape of the industry. In fact, the number of current patents for bioplastic products has increased sharply since 2006, when the amount of pending patents also skyrocketed.

Patents are necessary and important, but often are not enough for exuberant startups. Take Vonage, for example, which was sued by Verizon in June 2006 for allegedly using Verizon’s patented technology that allowed voice calls to be transferred from the Internet onto the traditional telephone network. Although Vonage claimed its services were developed with its own proprietary technology along with technology licensed from third parties, its lack of intellectual property rights led to it losing the case. In November 2007, Vonage was ordered to pay Verizon $120 million due to patent infringements.

My speculation is that Vonage, along with many other companies, didn’t realize all of the opportunities to protect its intellectual property, intellectual assets and intellectual capital. Companies and inventors must always assume that nothing is protected, especially before the patent process is complete.

First, it’s important to understand that the terms “intellectual property,” “intellectual capital” and “intellectual assets” are often used interchangeably, but they are really not the same.

Intellectual capital generally refers to knowledge-based assets of an organization and related resources that create value and competitiveness. Intellectual property refers to items that can be legally owned, such as patents, trademarks, trade secrets and copyrights. When intellectual capital becomes codified in some way — preserving it for the future — it becomes an intellectual asset.

Intellectual assets are broader in scope and, in addition to intellectual property, also include publications and other documents and agreements. Intellectual assets may pertain to many aspects of a company’s know-how, including unpatented products, designs, formulations, processes and the collective skills, creativity and experience of staff or inventors. Some intellectual assets can be low-cost complements or even alternatives to patents that still help in protecting a company’s designs, slogans, names or new products.

The most successful companies are utilizing defensive publications, digital intellectual assets and trademarks in their intellectual asset strategy. Digital intellectual assets and defensive publications are often the two most understated and widely neglected of the three strategies. Here’s an overview of all:

c Trademarks are a type of intellectual property that may be a word, name, symbol or device that is used by its owner to identify or distinguish goods or services from those of other entities. Rights in trademarks and service marks, unlike patents and copyrights, arise as a result of use of the mark in commerce to identify the source or origin of goods and service. Trademarks are often the go-to sources for protecting intellectual assets. There are also many non-traditional trademark opportunities as well.

c Digital intellectual assets aren’t new to companies or individuals that have been using e-mail accounts and Web domains as proof of ownership of company or product names. Today, branding YouTube channels, Twitter avatars and Facebook pages with the name of a company or product is an easy, legitimate and incredibly traceable way to begin an intellectual asset estate.

c A defensive publication is used to prevent another party from obtaining a patent on a product by distributing a description or drawing of the product to the public so that it becomes prior domain or prior art. Strong publications start with thoroughly documented invention disclosures. The publication also discloses details related to how to make or use the product, discloses embodiments and variations, cites technical references and includes drawings. The most successful are also crafted with specific objectives in mind and are reviewed by technical and legal experts prior to distribution. A defensive publication could also include publicity generation, such as news articles, about your product. For a relatively small fee, your document can be published on a site like Your document is almost instantly published and time stamped, archived, and made searchable by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and other patent offices, providing a lasting and secure record that the information disclosed was part of the public domain at that time.

Now is the time to increase your awareness and expertise in intellectual property rights for bioplastics products that could shape your business in the next five years. When you’re developing your proactive intellectual property strategy, use intellectual property to build bridges to partners, making it a driver of, not a barrier to, innovation. It may be the key to overcoming some of your challenges with disruptive innovation.

Cheryl Perkins is president and Jeff Lindsay is solution development director at Neenah, Wis.-based management consulting firm Innovationedge LLC.