Archive for May, 2011

Will cancer scare change the way we use cellphones?

May 31, 2011 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Health and Wellness, Technology
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 31:  A man speaks on his mo...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Today we are learning that an international panel of experts has announced that cellphones are possibly carcinogenic to humans. The International Agency for Research on Cancer issued a statement this afternoon after reviewing details from dozens of published studies and meeting with cancer researchers for the past week.

The agency is part of the World Health Organization , and the experts reviewed possible links between cancer and the type of electromagnetic radiation found in cellphones, microwaves and radar.

It’s a pretty substantial risk, from what we’re learning. This group classified cellphones in category 2B, in terms of cancer risks to humans. That is a category which also includes the pesticide DDT and exhaust fumes from automobiles.

How will this affect the way we use our phones? It’s too early to tell just yet. But for now, WHO will decide what steps, if any, should be taken to protect consumers.

We are a culture that is trending toward mobile communications as THE way to talk, watch, learn, read, play and listen. Mobile marketing is definitely a trend I’m watching right now, especially as the emerging generation comes of age.

According to Pew research numbers, young adults in the United States (18-29 year-olds) now use their smart phones to:

  • Send a photo or video (54%)
  • Access a SNS (23%)
  • Watch video (20%)
  • Post a photo or video online (15%)
  • Purchase a product (11%)
  • Make a charitable donation (11%)

One thing is for certain; Our usage of cellphones has increased dramatically since cancer research was first initiated. If these studies convince you that our mobile phones do cause cancer, how would you change your mobile habits?

Simon Sinek and an Innovation Lesson from Aviation History

May 26, 2011 Jeff Lindsay No Comments » Culture of Innovation, Innovation

Simon Sinek’s famous TED presentation, “How Great Leaders Inspire Action,” includes a valuable lesson on innovation. He discusses the race for flight between the well-funded, highly educated, and widely acclaimed Samuel P. Langley and the unfunded, unknown Wright Brothers. Langley was after fame and wealth while the Wright Brothers were pursuing a dream with all their heart, overcoming obstacles and “innovation fatigue factors” that Langley would never face. Their persistence and passion made the difference. Langley, on the other hand, gave up once he realized that the Wright Brothers had beat him to his goal. Innovation success is not about funding and education as much as it is about persistence and passion, when the idea is right and the skills are there to make it work.

Why the Cosmic and Corporate Org Charts Are Broken: Dark Energy, Dark Matter, and Intangibles

In the past decade or so, scientists have been astounded to discover that the universe that we can see represents only a tiny fraction of the matter and energy that governs the cosmos. Based on the motion of stars and galaxies, strange “dark matter” must be present, increasing the gravitational tug on celestial bodies more than can be accounted for by visible matter. Further, based on the surprising discovered that the universe is expanding, not contracting under its own gravitational pull as expected, scientists have proposed that a strange, repulsive “dark energy” fills the cosmos countering gravity. The combined effect of these unseen entities, dark energy and dark matter, are so great, that they account for 96% of the matter and energy of the universe. In other words, the visible universe that we used to think is all there is actually is only a tiny fraction of what is there. What we see in the “cosmic org chart” accounts for only 4% of what really influences the cosmos.

It’s that way in the business world. too. Companies can create tidy org charts and draft neat process maps to describe how they work, but the unseen reality outside the visible systems may be what really dominates operations. Increasingly, experts in knowledge management are learning that easily overlooked and often invisible intangibles can dominate corporate value and performance. Numerous intangible transactions may be essential to the success of a company, including casual information sharing between trusted friends, helpful exchanges of tips and best practices between employees or between external partners and internal employees, or loyalty that is gained when people are included in decision making. The invisible linkages and hard-to-observe exchanges in a company’s internal an external ecosystems may be the real engines of value creation, regardless of what is on a process map or workstream. By not understanding the value of such intangibles, corporations can easily break key linkages and crush subtle engines of value creation.

Many companies focus on their “value chains” – a term popularized by Michael Porter in his seminal 1985 work, Competitive Advantage. The value chain describes the linear chain of events as materials and products move from sourcing through manufacturing and out to the market. It is a highly useful paradigm for manufacturing and was highly applicable to much of the economy in the era when Porter was doing his research. But since that time, the explosion of the knowledge economy has changed the way we work and create value. One of my favorite authors, Verna Allee, a revolutionary expert in knowledge management, has detailed the move from the value chain to modern ecosystems and Value Networks in her book, The Future of Knowledge: Increasing Prosperity through Value Networks (Burlington, MA: Elsevier Science, 2003). Verna Allee and Associates have introduced a clever, methodical tool called Value Network Analysis for analyzing and visualizing the transactions of intangibles and tangibles that affect a business.

After my training in Value Network Analysis by Verna and her associate, Oliver Schwabe, an exciting new perspective on business and human behavior opened up. I have been highly impressed with the power of Value Network Analysis and the insights that it can rapidly deliver for a company. The Value Network Analysis work that Innovationedge has done as part of larger projects for some of our clients has been a very exciting part of my work since joining Cheryl Perkins’ exciting company. We value the tool enough that we had Verna Allee speak at the 2008 CoDev conference to introduce other business leaders to the basic concepts behind Value Network Analysis. I’m very pleased to see a community emerging of people using Value Network Analysis and developing exciting tools for it.

Here are some resources that you may find helpful in further exploring this area:

Part of the initial output in Value Network Analysis are maps, called “holomaps,” showing human entities as nodes and transactions of tangible or intangible items between them. There is much that can be learned from such holomaps – a topic for later discussion. For now I’ll show you two sample holomaps I created to illustrate simple ecosystems. One shows several external nodes around a manufacturer and the other shows some structure within part of a corporation. For simplicity, the maps lack all the labels explaining the transactions. (Click to enlarge.)

One interesting approach is to use the “holomaps” you get in Value Network Analysis as tools for “what if” scenarios to explore what new partners might do for your business model, or what new business models might do for your ecosystem. Using holomaps to explore innovation ecosystems is a particularly fruitful approach for those doing open innovation and wondering who should be in their external ecosystem.

We have further information on this topic that we’d be happy to share with you. It’s certainly something you should look at to understand how business really works.

Kindle vs. Nook: a tale of two e-readers

May 24, 2011 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Technology, Trends

Courtesy Barnes &

If you’ve been waiting to get an e-reader upgrade (or your very first one), Barnes & Noble unveiled its newest e-reader today: a smaller, black-and-white touchscreen device called the Nook Simple Touch Reader. It is selling for $139, the same suggested retail price as Amazon’s Kindle. How do the two compare?

Both devices have built-in Wi-Fi, 6-inch display screens and are priced at $139. But the Nook is buttonless, is 1.5 inches shorter and is one ounce lighter.

Another plus for the Nook is the battery longevity. You can read for two months with the Barnes & Noble model, compared to less than four weeks with a Kindle.   Additionally, you can share your favorite books and weigh in on book reviews with the Nook Friends app. The social media component helps drive recommendations in a way that regular reviews from strangers can’t touch.


One of the cooler aspects of the Nook is in how you turn pages. The Kindle screen appears to blink before the next page appears. Readers have reported seeing a lingering word or two from the previous page. But the Nook seems to turn pages smoothly and without the black screen.

Not to be outdone, Amazon announced a few hours later it is launching its new 3G version of its ad-supported Kindle for $164, called the Kindle 3G With Special Offers. If you can put up with an occasional advertisement popping up on your screen, you’ll get special offers and coupons for books and electronics.

The rivalry so far seems to be giving Barnes & Noble the upper hand, claiming it controls 25% of the e-book market.



Amazing 3-D technology illuminates Coke and other brands

More and more marketers are turning to 3D technology in a big way: Using skyscrapers as a giant projection screen. This month in Atlanta, Coca-Cola is celebrating its 125th anniversary by stationing 45 projectors around its headquarters building and projecting a thank-you message to its fans.

Much of the video shown on the building is from past advertising campaigns, but Coke is also encouraging its Facebook Page fans to submit photos for the projection show.

Lot’s of other brand owners like BMW, Hot Wheels, Samsung and others are doing likewise, but Coke’s is the largest one yet. The project began showing May 6 and will run every night through the end of this month.


Disruptive Innovation Meets Higher Education: Review of The Innovative University by Clayton M. Christensen and Henry J. Eyring

Disruptive innovation is underway in higher education. While many will benefit, gaining access to personalized education at lower cost, some institutions will suffer if they fail to change now. Insights into the innovations coming to the university of the future is found in The Innovative University: Changing the DNA of Higher Education from the Inside Out (John Wiley & Sons, 2011), a monumental book by Clayton M. Christensen of the Harvard School of Business and Henry J. Eyring, Vice President of Academics at Brigham Young University-Idaho.

Henry J. Eyring kindly allowed me to interview him about this forthcoming book that is scheduled for release in August. He displayed great enthusiasm for taking the blessings of education to more people at lower cost, and applying new tools and business models that can make this possible without sacrificing quality. Henry is concerned that the cost of a 4-year college degree has increased by 2 to 3 times since the 1980s while starting salaries for graduate have remained essentially flat in real terms, leaving universities vulnerable to disruptive innovation in which a once easy-to-ignore “inferior,” low-cost alternative improves gradually to the point where it can become a serious threat.

Online course content, once viewed as inadequate, is now generally accepted by students and can result in better educational performance, especially when used in hybrid models with face-to-face elements and with adaptive tools that respond to what and how students learn. “Existing universities must view online learning as a sustaining innovation for their models,” Eyring says. Failure to embrace the potential of online learning will leave universities vulnerable to disruption, both from competitors and from budgetary pressures. “Even the best universities will be pressed to show better ROI.” They may need to become less universal, no longer offering the same graduate programs in all fields as they do in science and engineering. There is a need to change the very DNA of the university, the thrust of The Innovative University, a remarkable fruit of the collaboration between Henry Eyring, who began writing about the BYU-Idaho experience in 2008, and Clayton Christensen, who teamed up with Henry to add the framework of disruptive innovation and further insights from the Harvard perspective to complete this scholarly but highly readable work.

Like many of the best books about the future, this one is based upon a great deal of history. Much of the book explores the stages of development in education and business models for two very different schools, Harvard and Brigham Young University-Idaho (initially Bannock Stake Academy, then Ricks College and more recently BYU-Idaho). The scholarship is outstanding, the writing crisp and clear, and the stories told interesting and instructive. Some readers may not wish to grasp the historical foundations of these universities and the currents of change that have brought us to our present state. Fortunately, the book is organized to allow the impatient to turn to the latter portions of the book (say, Parts Four and Five) to access major conclusions and recommendations.

The authors chronicle the rise of BYU-Idaho from its humble rural Idaho roots to a bustling campus of over 22,000 students. Rather than ascend the traditional “Carnegie ladder” of adding ever more expensive programs and costly benefits, BYU-Idaho recently embarked on a path aimed at getting the most from the heavy investment in the physical campus and staff, while offering more students an enhanced education at lower cost. Much of this was driven by a Dr. Kim Clark, who came to BYU-Idaho after serving as a noted and respected Dean of the Harvard School of Business. Clark built on the foundation of major reforms already in progress under the previous president, David Bednar. The resulting innovations include:

  • a new trimester schedule that keeps the campus in heavy use year round;
  • dramatic revision in course offerings such as modular majors and carefully tailored GE courses making it easier and less costly for students to switch majors or to customize their education;
  • strengthening of internship program to better prepare undergraduates for employment;
  • elimination of expensive inter-collegiate sports programs;
  • combining online content and face-to-face instruction to reach more students and improve education (with many innovations on the path to high-quality online content);
  • augmentation of faculty teaching with peer-to-peer assistance in which students who understand the material efficiently help their peers;
  • extension efforts in several cities where online content is coupled with face-to-face mentoring to reach more students;
  • establishing a common “Learning Model” for education, with emphasis on learning experiences and case studies that can be enhanced with peer-to-peer interaction and supplemented with online content; and
  • elevating faculty pay to above-average levels to compensate for the additional effort required of the faculty to make the more intense BYU-Idaho system succeed.

The importance of online content as an element of disruptive innovation is emphasized in the book, which offers numerous valuable insights into the business models and applications of the technology that have brought success to BYU-Idaho, as well as the foundations for Harvard’s success and leadership in education. Those interested in either school or in higher education in general should appreciate the historical development and insights. Many other innovative schools are also highlighted in case studies throughout the book.

The authors use the theme of DNA throughout the book, and argue that successful educational reform requires changing the DNA of a university. “Genetic reengineering” is needed to build new models and systems that will be sustained over time and grow. The book is aimed at identifying and spreading the new genes that will result in healthier, stronger education. For those that resist and cling to the old DNA, disruptive innovation could one day overtake the universities and leave them unable to compete and unable to serve, saddled with shrinking resources, higher costs, and fewer students willing to endure their increasingly less competitive programs.

The learnings from the journeys of BYU-Idaho and Harvard University are extended to the broader challenges faced by institutions of higher education worldwide. How can they adapt their programs to be more efficient, to better serve more students at lower cost? How can they provide education without requiring students to take on a mountain of debt? How can education be more personalized, more customized, to help students better prepare for the careers or graduate educational experiences they desire? How can universities better achieve the missions of teaching and research? What tasks do universities really need to focus on for the future? The authors offer valuable guidance, based on extensive research and insights.

Though higher education has remained relatively immune from the pressures of disruptive innovation for years, the power of new business models and technologies coupled with social and financial pressures will lead to change that may surprise and even pummel many universities now on the traditional path of making education more expensive and elite. Christen and Eyring offer a monumental guide to avoiding the pain of disruption and capitalizing on the promise of positive disruptive innovation for those institutions with the courage and vision to become an innovative university. For educators, policy makers, parents and students, I recommend The Innovative University for breakthrough thinking that can help transform education.

Allergan’s Eye on Innovation

Allergan (NYSE: AGN), the major multi-specialty pharmaceutical company with expertise in ophthalmology and beauty, has been on a tear in the stock market, driven at least in part by its bold approach to innovation. The market cap, now $25 billion, has roughly doubled in the past year. I heard CEO David Pyott speak to Jim Cramer on Mad Money last night and am impressed with the financial commitment to innovation. I am also impressed with the new product development work that is done in extending great products to new fields. For example, Botox® (Botulinum Toxin Type A), used so successfully for cosmetic surgery, also has potential to modify hyperactive bladders or juvenile cerebral palsy. Their expertise in neuroscience is also being applied to migraine headaches, where a promising product is in Stage 3 clinical trials.

The Botox® approach to skin beauty is being enhanced with Juvederm® hyaluronic acid (HA) dermal filler formulation, a material that can be injected into the skin to fill some wrinkles. They are also dealing with the challenge of obesity with their laproscopic band, a less invasive approach to bariatric treatment. In ophthalmology, one of their most profitable segments, a host of products treat eye conditions such as glaucoma or dry eye.

Allergan’s products are well adapted for the needs of the aging baby boomer population and appear to be riding a wave of technical success well matched to a demographic wave. Many growth opportunities still exist, and with the heavy investment in innovation and research, Allergan appears poised to continue growing, something that is unusual for many large pharmaceutical companies these days.

The company began in 1950 when chemist Chemist Stanley Bly developed anti-allergy nose drops and got the help of his friend, Gavin S. Herbert Sr., who owned a pharmacy. Two years later, after listening to advice from a pharmacist about patient needs, they developed an eye drop with anti-histamine, the first such eye drop in the United State. Sales skyrocketed and Allergan became a major player in ophthalmology, which today makes up almost half of their business still.

Listening to market feedback and acting on clues and suggestions from knowledgeable people like a pharmacist allowed Allergan to quickly shift its focus and its product array in the early days to address an important unmet need. This led to eye products, not just nose drops, and the opportunity in ophthalmology that will continue to be huge for Allergan, now at nearly 50% of sales, if they keep an eye on innovation. Taking outside advice and reacting nimbly to new market opportunities is what put Allergan on the path to success. It’s the kind of thing that outside eyes and minds here at Innovationedge can help you do in your company as well.