Archive for February, 2014

Could the future be beneath your feet?

February 25, 2014 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Uncategorized

I saw this a few weeks ago and found that the idea of leveraging our real estate below ground level is an intriguing one. I’ve travelled to cities around the world where, due to smog levels, governments and companies are exploring cleaner spaces below. In cities with high pollution levels, like Hong Kong and Beijing, underground complexes could make for healthier commutes to work.

The biggest drawback most people think of when looking at expanding below ground is that it won’t be visually appealing. But wait! Check out this video:

12 innovation lessons for 2014

February 20, 2014 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Innovation

FreefotoI recently shared FastCompany’s most innovative companies to watch in 2014, and along with that, there are some lessons learned that these companies have shared.  Many of these you’ve heard me talk about in the past, and as I work with clients I am continually finding new ways to hone these lessons for the specific goals each company has.  Here is that list, but you’ll definitely want to go back to FastCompany to get the full context:


    The No. 1 company on our list, Google, did not land there for the range of its activities–despite the 29 achievements we list. In fact, today’s smartest businesses tend to laser-focus on just a few goals; broad ambition can distract from the nitty-gritty required to turn goals into reality. Yet from Google Fiber to Google Glass to investing in new health technologies, Google executes at a high level repeatedly. That’s why it tops the list.


    Only a handful of companies on our list repeat year after year. That’s not because companies suddenly lose their edge; it’s because innovation ebbs and flows. As editor-at-large Jon Gertner explains in his eye-opening guide to breakthrough change at Philips (No. 50), development of LED lighting has been under way there for 50 years–but a specific 11-month deadline provided the essential innovative exclamation point.


    Great ideas are captivating, but great businesses are self-sustaining. Dropbox (No. 4) and Airbnb (No. 6) are darlings of the venture set, but they also charge real customers real money for a product with real value. Unlike the many web-based companies launched pre-2008 whose business models rely on advertising for revenue (Facebook, Twitter, et al.), these enterprises are transaction based–and are reaping the rewards.


    Remember when operating a “green” business was either a gimmick or a promise (or both)? No more. Today, energy efficiency, alternative fuels, and recycling are core advantages for successful enterprises. Brazil’s Braskem (No. 41), a $19 billion petrochemical giant, uses sugarcane rather than oil to create in-demand plastics. Levi Strauss (No. 30) produces more than 10% of its clothing with recycled materials, on its way to 100%. Companies such as FedEx and Coca-Cola are converting their truck fleets to hybrids, with the help of XL Hybrids (No. 35). You don’t have to own a Tesla (No. 20) to see the impact.


    In Kenya, a homegrown tech center called iHub (No. 38) is unleashing Silicon Valley–like potential, signing up 10,000 members, launching 152 companies, and spawning similar efforts in Tanzania and Uganda. India’s Universal Identification Authority (No. 22) combats the rampant fraud that cramps entrepreneurialism there. As an encouraging ad campaign in South Africa from Johnnie Walker (No. 31) explains: “Our future will not be written by the great strides of yesterday, but by the ones we take today.”


    Crowdsourcing may seem like old news, but tapping into a genuine fan base is powerful. SXSW (No. 12) started as a small regional gathering and now attracts 60,000 people from around the globe. GoPro (No. 39) has moved from extreme athletes to the mainstream. GitHub (No. 26), home to the geek elite, is making collaboration the first resort for software development.


    How do you make meaningful change in the face of calcified institutions? Sometimes you just have to go around them. That’s the path Charles Best at (No. 9) has taken, avoiding unions and politicos by crowdsourcing direct assistance to teachers. Bloomberg Philanthropies (No. 2) uses data to answer questions other foundations aren’t asking, while SHoP Architects (No. 33) manages to both create cutting-edge designs à la indie firms and get them built at the appropriately industrial scale.


    Uber made hailing a cab a pleasure, not a pain. But then it forgot what made it great; its pricing tactics have invited a backlash (which is why it’s not on this year’s list; see why). The mirror opposite of Uber? That’s Yelp (No. 10), which continues to reward grateful users with new features. Other companies are thriving by solving customers’ nagging problems, from Square’s mobile payment advances (No. 28) to Warby Parker’s stylish spectacles (No. 17). OTG Management has even made it possible to enjoy airport food (No. 46).


    The hoopla around the latest iPhone or the newest car obscures the fact that software is the key source of progress today. Our autos are rolling computers, upgraded remotely and managing more of our driving tasks. (See “Driverless Cars“) Even lighting, thanks to LEDs and the folks at Philips, will be seen less and less as a physical product and more as an application.


    There was a time when artisans in China were considered among the world’s finest. That emphasis on quality is returning, as a new generation of fashion and luxury brands caters to the burgeoning middle and upper classes. The pernicious idea that Chinese companies aren’t about innovation is a relic. Xiaomi (No. 3) is reinventing the smartphone business; Beijing Genomics Institute (No. 37) has become the world’s largest DNA sequencer.


    Case in point: gaming. As mobile and social gaming have exploded, we’ve gone from the Doodle Jump era to the FarmVille era, from Angry Birds to Candy Crush. Yet no new company has emerged with the profitability and stability of console-based enterprises like Electronic Arts or Activision or Ubisoft. (See why the maker of Candy Crush, King, failed to make this year’s list.) Meanwhile, (No. 14) Apple’s 2013 App Store sales topped $10 billion.


    Philips scientists calculated that LED lighting could cut total worldwide electricity use by 10%–saving some $250 billion. It’s the reason they’ve put decades into developing it. Pharma researcher Medivation (No. 16) believed it could attack cancer in a new way, and it got a breakthrough drug on the market three years faster than the norm. GE (No. 27) estimates that sensor-packed plane engines could save the airline industry $30 billion over 15 years–and that broader applications of data-driven efficiencies could increase national incomes by nearly a third. Is Tesla’s vision of a national network of electric cars pie-in-the-sky? Maybe. But without the dreams, we’ll never find our way to what is truly possible. As Jon Gertner observes in his Philips article, “The initial appeal of an innovation doesn’t predict the problems it may one day solve.”

Source: FastCompany

Good news for creatives

February 17, 2014 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Cool Inventions and gadgets

If your company depends on its “creatives,” or those who excel when allowed to exercise their talents and imaginations in perhaps more out-of-the-box ways, then you might want to make sure those team members are energized and unhampered from things that might stifle their productivity. After all, their contributions will help keep your business performing at top notch:

This year’s most innovative companies

February 16, 2014 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Consumer "Identity"

googleThe year is yet young, and already several companies are emerging as the ones to watch in innovation. Every year FastCompany publishes its most innovative companies. Some of these are well known, others may be new to you:

What do you know about bitcoins?

February 14, 2014 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Cool Inventions and gadgets

I’ve been blogging about bitcoins for a while now, and it seems that in th past few months more and more people around the world are sitting up and taking notice.  If you have not yet checked into these, take a look at this:

Should companies be more introvert-friendly?

February 11, 2014 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Uncategorized

Do you have a mix of introverts and extroverts in your company?  Here’s an article that suggests maybe it’s not introverts that need to change the way they fit into an organization, but the organization that needs to change how it treats introverts. What do you think?

Drone delivery packages

February 10, 2014 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Cool Inventions and gadgets

It sounds a little farfetched, I have to admit. But now there’s news that at least one place drone delivery could soon become a reality: the United Arab Emirates. Check out this amazing story from FastComany:

CVS to end cigarette sales: The first of many?

February 5, 2014 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Uncategorized

With more than 7,600 stores in the United States, CVS will be the first national pharmacy chain to ban cigarette sales. Will others follow suit?