Archive for March, 2015

Maximum Velocity!

March 25, 2015 Pat Clusman No Comments » Conferences


Denise Couture and I recently had the opportunity to meet with students from the Velocity Academy, a project-based learning program at Shattuck Middle School. The curriculum is designed to provide hands-on learning opportunities for seventh- and eighth-graders. The program coordinator Kyle Popp invited us to speak to the students about Innovation.

VelocityWe shared information about discovery, invention and innovation, and conducted an exercise where students ideated around two products, a tablet computer and a student backpack, and one service, the school lunch service. Needless to say, there were some very creative ideas.

As a follow-up activity, I was invited to be one the “Sharks” that reviewed the Velocity Entrepreneurs and their inventions. We heard about pre-sliced lettuce; a backpack that opens from the bottom for easy cleaning; a beanie clip to hold your hat in place; an “Amousement Park“ to entertain your pet mouse; a couch modification to prevent lost remotes; a six-in-one alarm clock; a redesigned shoe box called shahbox; a new basketball shoe super grip; a squishbook that prevents being poked by the spiral wires on notebooks, especially handy for left-handed people; and a plan to provide clean water to a thirsty population. Again, all very creative ideas developed by these seventh- and eighth-grade entrepreneurs.

I applaud the efforts of Kyle and the other teachers as they engage, empower and motivate students by exploring the topic of innovation in their middle school curriculum. You can follow Velocity Academy on Twitter @VelocityAcademy and visit their FaceBook page – Velocity Academy.

Pat Clusman is the Chief Operating Officer at Innovationedge. Follow Pat on Twitter @pclusman

Creating a culture that fuels repeatable success!

March 23, 2015 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Uncategorized

Unleashing Innovation Summit

I’m excited to be among over 100 like-minded strategy leaders for this year’s Unleashing Innovation Summit in New York, March 25 and 26. I’m on the speaking roster for the first day, as we together tackle real problems faced by every innovator. This year we are talking about Creating a culture that fuels repeatable success!

Our team is looking forward to both structured and informal networking with bold, forward-thinking companies and speakers who are as excited as I am about groundbreaking approaches to innovation.

If you join us, this is what you can look forward to:

  • Cross sector learning – find out how solutions adopted by other sectors can add value to your business; What can you learn from other industries and vertical sectors? What can innovators learn from marketing and R & D and vice versa?
  • Save time and money – concentrated industry knowledge in two intensive days
  • Case studies – listen to case studies outlining the pros and cons of new and existing projects
  • Networking and interactive – Learn from your peers and build new relationships in our break out and networking sessions
  • Discussion groups – industry-specific roundtable discussions for you to focus on the key issues that affect your business

And, you’ll meet reps from these companies:

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  See you in New York!

The next 18 months hold much promise for Open Innovation

March 17, 2015 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » IE Media

crystal ballConsumer Goods Technology recently asked me to share my outlook for the next year and a half for Open Innovation trends and best practices. That report has just been published in CGT’s Prioritizing For Growth: 2015 Review and Outlook Report. I join several other industry leaders and forward thinkers. You can read their reports here.  I’ll share my part:

This year I see three areas that CG Companies need to focus on in order to outperform their competitors, increase revenue and operating margins and capitalize on adjacent opportunities.

First, senior leaders must move beyond status quo measures of success.  If you’re not willing to take on higher levels of uncertainty and risk, you won’t grow. It might take completely reframing your businesses to identify underserved and new segments, and then building new innovative frameworks, planning tools and new capabilities to accelerate the pipeline.

Next, if you think you already have a dynamic and diverse culture, step up your game. Engage as many external partners and business functions as you think are necessary to help bring a diverse array of new ideas into your team’s innovation processes. Consider adding team members from a wide variety of backgrounds, experiences, attitudes, personalities and ways of thinking to develop a robust knowledge bank and spur innovative thinking. “Soft skills” or people skills are important components of a progressive organization and an innovative culture.   Successfully finding and engaging the right partners is not easy, but time and again we see benefits from reaching out and creating collaborative relationships to deliver growth.

Lastly, if you want to get somewhere, you have to know where you are. And if you want to know how you are progressing, you need measurements. Sadly, innovation is widely under-measured in many organizations. Metrics not only help you stay on track, what gets measured gets done.

There is no one set of metrics that works for every CPG company, but these are among the most common:

  • Annual budget invested in projects with external partners
    • Number and quality of patents or trade secrets assessed from outside partners
    • New product sales
    • Number of external ideas selected and then commercialized

Yes, these initiatives are risky in an uncertain future. But as I look forward into the next 18 months, it’s going to take tenacity and a bold commitment to embrace new ideas, the right skillsets and analytics to survive and succeed.

Leading Game Changing Open Innovation

March 16, 2015 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Conferences


One of the most important questions we get from clients is, “how do I create an Innovative Culture?”  It’s a great question and one that requires some time defining goals and determining how to incorporate open innovation into your business strategy and how it will help your team succeed.

Tomorrow Pat Clusman and I will be leading a University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh MBA Leadership event in which we will share best practices of some of the top innovators in the world. We want to make sure participants leave with the tools and techniques needed to have open innovation and collaboration in their own companies.

The event is Tuesday, March 17 from 8 – Noon at the UWO Green Bay Executive Education Center. Join us!

The UW Oshkosh MBA Leadership Series provides exceptional continuing education for business professionals. These programs give you the opportunity to learn from renowned speakers while engaging with business professionals, entrepreneurs and executives in your community. Continental breakfast and beverages are also provided.

Step up your game by creating an innovative culture, and learn how to do it here!

Register here.

Cyborg Roaches to help rescue disaster victims

March 5, 2015 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Cool Inventions and gadgets

Most people think of cockroaches as pests. Not these innovative “creatures”:

Fleets of cyborg cockroaches could someday roam into damaged nuclear power plants or collapsed mines to carry out reconnaissance or locate survivors.

A team of researchers implanted live cockroaches with electrodes that stimulate the nerves in the insects’ antennae, enabling the scientists to steer the creatures around like remote-controlled toys.

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The future of Open Innovation looks bright!

March 1, 2015 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » CoDev, Conferences

Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 4.45.05 PMThanks to all of you who came to CoDev2015 last week in Scottsdale! It was a truly collaborative and forward-thinking gathering of innovators, with an extraordinary amount of knowledge and willingness to share. We came away with many new insights, and we greatly appreciate everyone’s openness.

As Rosemary Pennington of J.M. Smucker Company, put it “the networking was extremely beneficial…we shared with peers and competitors in a non-threatening way, became each other’s coaches and mentors in the process. There were roughly 15 different presenters and I came away with at least 1 nugget from each, so I got 15 nuggets. Most conferences I get one—total. CoDev was well worth my time and investment.”

For those of you who missed it, I’d like to share a brief recap of the highlights and invite you to join us next year.

Throughout the three-day event, we discussed the key OI success factors for today’s global business climate — from strategic alignment, culture, processes, and impact measures to managing collaborative networks and creating healthier ecosystems.

We learned:

Strategy: It is critical to have a clear ‘need’ definition process, with a prioritized list of scoutable needs aligned to business strategy. Needs must be written for both confidential and non-confidential use.

Culture: Leverage early ‘wins’ to drive change. Involve cross functional perspectives early on. Be sure to include HR, Legal and Procurement. Use a trial and scale-up approach to build capabilities. Communicate often, both internally and externally.

Processes and Tools: Tools and processes are enablers, not an end in themselves. Implement a flexible process from need identification into your stage-gate development process. Establish market potential and feasibility assessment criteria, approval & funding checkpoints, and pathways for dialog. Monitor and adapt as needed.

Ecosystems: Having “know-who” is far more effective than just having “know-how,” and new channels yield new solutions.  But that’s not enough.  Finding and implementing new solutions requires thoughtful planning, communication and willingness to take risks. Collaborative networks are more dynamic and interconnected than traditional hub & spoke structures.  –

We then integrated our learnings and mapped out action steps to apply back at our organizations. Overall there was a positive energy among the 130+ participants — that Open Innovation has reached a turning point which will result in much higher returns going forward.  Steve Franz, VP Global R&D,Rich Products summed it up: “Since the last time I attended ten years ago, an amazing transformation has taken place. Back then the discussion was around barriers preventing Open Innovation from happening. Now we have figured out how to manage the barriers and have success stories.  We are getting into the value proposition.”

The future of OI looks bright indeed and we hope you will join us at CoDev 2016 in sunny Scottsdale next winter.  Watch our website, LinkedIn group and Facebook page for news and updates.