Archive for June, 2011

Innovation’s “three parents”

June 30, 2011 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Innovation In The News, Uncategorized

Here’s an interesting article I saw in Business Week some time ago, but the content still poses intriguing questions for innovators today: Does innovation need a parent or two? Or three?  Notice that innovation teams are working through three stages of innovation. I would agree that this type of idea parenting needs to be a part of each of the three processes in order to inspire a customer to say, “Finally, someone listened!”  Read on:

Lightbulb Sun

Image via Wikipedia

As you will remember, we are big fans of idea parenting.

We believe the people who come up with a clever innovation idea should be the ones to shepherd it through the entire execution process and help introduce it into the marketplace. That way, the insight won’t get diluted along the way and we can make sure that the new product, service, or business model gets all the loving support it needs during development.

And we are also big believers in drawing the left and right brains of the organization. Some people are better at coming up with ideas (right brainers), and others are better at the implementation (left brainers). So it makes sense to involve everyone to make sure all the bases are covered.

Combining the two ideas, here’s where we come out: It is important to have an idea parent involved at each stage of the innovation process.

Expert Parents

To review a bit, we know that innovation occurs when: 1) There is a significant need or insight. 2) A product, service, or business model meets that need. 3) There is clear communication that connects No.1 to No.2.

From our experience, we know it is absolutely critical to create an innovation team with a “parent” for each of these three elements. These expert parents need to be deeply involved throughout the process.

Specifically, you need an insight parent whose “job” it is to make sure that the clarity of the insight she has found does not get blurred as the innovation process moves forward. You don’t have a good insight parent if:

• The team can’t answer precisely the problem they are trying to solve.

• Your customers don’t agree that your idea precisely meets their needs.

• Your insight does not remain focused on one core target that meets key criteria, e.g., a market that is growing, profitable, and open to your brand.

• You continually engage in more and more research and your instincts tell you that it is a “CYA” (cover your ass) exercise or you feel caught in analysis paralysis.

• Your concepts address multiple needs equally rather than doing a superlative job of addressing one specific problem.

An idea parent fully understands the need that the team is trying to fill and pushes for the most compelling, inventive, and appropriate new product, service, or business model to meet the need. The best idea parents know how to expand the boundaries of the idea while staying completely focused on the customer’s need.

You don’t have a good idea parent if:

• You are only producing safe, evolutionary ideas.

• The insight parent says the ideas you are producing are off base.

• The ideas don’t meet the criteria set by the leadership team.

• You are not scared by at least some of the ideas.

• You are producing too few ideas.

Parents are responsible for making sure the communication links the insight and the idea. Remember, a great idea poorly communicated is as effective as a bad idea brilliantly communicated—i.e., not very.

You don’t have a good communication parent if:

• You are not squarely speaking to the target about the identified insight.

• You are using language the consumer would not use or recognize.

• The other parents are disappointed with the less-than-evocative execution of the messaging.

The clear sign that you have a good communication parent is when your customer says “Finally someone listened to me.” It’s important to note here that there are very few renaissance people who can be a solid insight, idea, and communication parent. This is a marriage of varied skill sets and passions, where the right brain complements the left brain and the true respect of different experiences and expertise really matters. So don’t be surprised if you need three different parents to make sure your best ideas remain your best ideas as you move from idea to launch.

It’s usually easy to identify the maverick innovator in an organization, but when you dig deeper, you’ll find there’s always a doting parent (or three) responsible for the insight, the idea, and the communication. They may not get the glory, but like the best parents everywhere, they are very proud of the end result.

Coca-Cola goes green with billboard made of trees

June 28, 2011 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Green Innovation

Coke is making a bold –and green–statement about the environment in the Philippines. This billboard was launched June 23 in Makati City. The 60 x 60 – foot advertisement is surrounded by hundreds of green Fukien tea plants, which can pull pollutants from the air. The campaign is part of the Coca-Cola Philippines’ Live Positively sustainability program. Here’s more:

Genuine green advertising is not commercials promoting eco-friendly goods—to have a legitimate right to be called ‘green,’ the message should be placed in the medium made of natural elements, literally. This notion underlies Coca-Cola’s idea to construct a plant billboard in Philippines—the project was developed in collaboration with WWF, which have partnered with the soft drink giant on climate protection and water conservation in the country. Earlier this year, Coca-Cola unveiled an orange-powered Energie Naturelle advertising stand for its Tropicana brand in France, and now it has created a billboard using CO2 absorbing plants.


We are proud that we have brought to life the first plant billboard in the country. It is an embodiment of our company’s Live Positively commitment to making a positive difference in the world by incorporating sustainability into everything that we do. With this, we hope to inspire Filipinos to join us in our journey, because we know that together, we can make a positive impact,” stated Guillermo Aponte, president of Coca-Cola Philippines.

Each of the 3,600 trees on the billboard can absorb up to 13 pounds of CO2 a year, commented botanist Anthony Gao. “This billboard helps alleviate air pollution within its proximate areas as it can absorb a total of 46,800 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, on estimate,” he added.  The light-weight potting mixture includes organic fertilizers and industrial by-products, the stable pots for the trees are made of recycled bottles of Coca-Cola’s drinks. Now the plants are small, but since they are placed not very close to each other, the can grow sideways and make the billboard greener and yet more powerful in terms of air cleaning.

Hopefully, the plants will live the long life on the billboard thanks to the clever and well thought out eco-friendly mechanism, which provides proper water treatment. “A drip irrigation system, also known as trickle irrigation or micro-irrigation, was especially installed for efficient water distribution. This irrigation method saves water and fertilizer by allowing water to drip slowly to the roots of plants, through a network of valves, pipes, tubing and emitters. The system is operated on a schedule to distribute water with nutrients to the plants,” states the press release. Is it a new trend? Will natural billboards replace plastic stands? With Coca-Cola’s dedication to sustainable life-style it really can happen (at least for the company’s drinks).

Enjoy the article here.

New report shows we use our phones more than our computers

June 22, 2011 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Technology, Trends

I’ve reported before that mobile applications are increasingly becoming the go-to platforms for our information, the way we connect and how we navigate. Mobile usage will continue to increase as more and more of us use smartphone technology.

Here’s a great chart that shows us how we are now spending more time using mobile apps than we do on our desktops or laptops:

Chart courtesy of

The chart comes from an analysis firm, according to Flurry, a company that breaks down mobile usage in the U.S. Notice that from June of last year to this June, both mobile app usage and computer internet usage have increased–just not at the same rate.

“For the first time ever, daily time spent in mobile apps surpasses desktop and mobile web consumption,” Flurry reports.

Flurry says most of the time we spend using the mobile apps is in gaming or social networking. These two activities alone take up about 80 percent of our time online, leaving the other 20 percent on entertainment and news. I find that very interesting, don’t you?

How does this chart square up with your own mobile usage?

Consumers think green with high-tech buys

Wiki Creative Commons photo

Electronics manufacturers are making a lot of progress in improving energy efficiency, and that’s good news for those of us trying to leave a smaller eco-footprint in our energy usage wake.  In my weekly column published yesterday I wrote about how manufacturers aren’t only improving the energy efficiency of electronic gadgets when they are on, but also looking to make sure that when they are off, as little power as necessary is used:

The next time you head to the electronics store to get that flat-panel digital TV you’ve had your eye on, will you be thinking about the environmental impact this set will have?

Typically when we buy a new gadget to make our lives more productive or more fun, we usually look at the capabilities and price first. But the Consumer Electronics Association says more of us are beginning to look at environmental attributes as important too.

The first thing many of us would look at when thinking about environmentally friendly electronics is energy usage…

Enjoy the rest of the article!

Cash-strapped consumers still expect quality with food

Example of an American grocery store aisle.

Image via Wikipedia

Even in this tough economic reality we live in, rising food prices aren’t souring our hunger for food that is healthy, satisfying and tasty. I’ve been writing about grocery shopping trends and some innovative consumer solutions from the food and beverage industry. Here’s more consumer insight from an article I published yesterday:

Several trends in the food industry are prompting innovation leaders to serve up new ways to appeal to shoppers feeling the pinch at the checkout aisle.

While grocery retailers are still struggling in this down market, we’re seeing a new kind of consumer who demands a great value. But if you think it’s all about the bottom line at the checkout line, you might not be getting the full flavor of what grocery shoppers really want.

Value in today’s economy is not just about price. We’re finding that consumers aren’t willing to sacrifice quality and taste just to squeeze a few more dollars from their grocery budget. That’s good news for private label food manufacturers, as grocery shoppers are eating up brands that deliver value.

Enjoy the rest of the article here.  Are you part of the trend to put quality and taste over price?


Innovation stories to unfold at the Sustainable Innovation Summit

Every company has a unique story to tell about their innovation journey. As I’ve partnered with innovation trailblazers all around the world, I’ve been inspired by so many incredible, thought-provoking insights from those who have faced and overcome daunting challenges in their industries. That’s why I’m so excited about a brand new innovation convergence happening this summer in the food and beverage industry.

It’s called the Food & Beverage 2011: Sustainable Innovation Summit, and it’s happening in Chicago August 9Food and 10. This invitation-only event will bring together the top 100 innovation leaders from a multi-national audience of Chief’s, VP’s, Directors, Heads, Senior Directors and Managers of Innovation, R&D, Product Development, Open Innovation, Customer Management, and Manufacturing. My company, Innovationege, is proud to team up once again with the outstanding leaders at the Management Roundtable for this exclusive event.

We’re going to talk about everything from our changing regulatory landscape to the search for new market channels. We’re going to hear from leaders about those amazing innovation journeys, like how H.J. Heinz developed an interesting approach to honing their capability to deliver growth by identifying, developing and acquiring a continuum of incremental and disruptive technologies! Or how the J.M. Smucker Company quadrupled in size via a strategy of growth through acquisitions, and the choices they needed to make as a result.

And we’re going to challenge current thinking and approaches, set the stage for new trends in sustainable innovation and create a senior level networking community for ongoing support and dialogue. There are 100 spots open, and if you’d like to be a part just let me know. You’ll find all of the information about our keynotes, candid case studies, facilitated Q&A, networking sessions and a post-conference workshops on our Sustainable Innovation Summit site, where you can register and check out the facilities at Chicago’s Allerton Hotel.

I’ll see you in Chicago!

Consumer Goods Technology- Review and Outlook 2011

June 7, 2011 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Media Coverage

Cheryl Perkins, one of Consumer Goods Technology’s board members, joins the rest of the board to examine big changes to come in consumer goods.

Click here to read the full article.

Business Model Innovation: E-Lynxx Makes Procurement Transparent with Automated Auctions

Ask the leaders of a business how much they spend on printing. The response can be interesting, even hilarious. It’s an expense that is easily overlooked yet can be substantial. Few companies know if they are being overbilled. Decisions may be handled by cloudy processes where influences other than quality and value sometimes hold sway. Indeed, the fundamentals of the procurement process in many companies leave inefficiency if not outright abuse. The problem isn’t just in printing, either. Many parts and services handled through standard procurement systems can result in excessive costs. Enter an interesting business model innovation: E-Lynxx. For added spice, we’re talking patented business model innovation. Yes, E-Lynxx has a business model enhanced with the aura of two US patents.

William Gindlesperger is the founder and CEO of E-Lynxx. My source tells me he has over 25 years of experience in the printing industry, where found that the decision making process was antiquated and left companies vulnerable in many ways. He pursued business model innovation to come up with a system that could make the process transparent and more efficient. Under his business model, be provides software and services up front at not cost, getting paid only when the client saves real money from his work. Then he gets a cut of the savings. Low risk.

When a company turns to E-Lynxx, they receive software and training in how to use E-Lynxx’s open auction system. Bids are offered to a large array of qualified vendors who then bid on the deal. The vendors can see the competitive bids and so can the client. This transparency helps bring costs down substantially, often reducing print costs by 25-50%. E-Lynxx gets part of the savings. What’s not to like? Well, those who aren’t getting as much gravy might not like it, but if it’s your business, these kind of cost savings should be welcome news.

E-Lynxx has three granted US patents and another pending. The granted patents are US 6,397,197; 7,451,106; and 7,788,143; all by the CEO and founder himself. Business method patents are still alive and can play important roles in some companies. Whether they are needed or not for this company, I like the innovative approach that E-Lynxx is taking to bring the procurement process into the light where more efficient transactions can occur with large costs savings.

May 2011: Insight Magazine

June 1, 2011 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Media Coverage














May 2011, Insight Magazine

If your office employs a diverse array of age groups, chances are you experience a clash of temperaments now and then. To shed a little light on the issue, Insight invited Innovationedge President Cheryl Perkins to lead a discussion with a group of regional thought leaders. To hear Cheryl’s insight on making the most of generational differences, watch her video interview here.