Archive for October, 2015

Aha: 8 Habits of People Who Always Have Great Ideas

October 30, 2015 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Innovators

Schoolgirl Flickr freeImagine being able to come up with fantastic ideas and solutions to challenges at the drop of a hat. Are you that kind of thinker?  It turns out that most ideators have cultivated daily habits that lend themselves to thinking up great ideas.   over at Fast Company has a pretty good idea about how this happens:

Eureka moments are rare. The backstory behind great ideas is often more complex and winding than having an apple fall on your head. But the best part is that creative ideas aren’t reserved for a special group of people; they can come to anyone if you change your mind-set.

“The fact is, almost all of the research in this field shows that anyone with normal intelligence is capable of doing some degree of creative work,” Teresa Amabile, professor of business administration at Harvard Business School and author of The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work, told Fast Company in 2004. “Creativity depends on a number of things: experience, including knowledge and technical skills; talent; an ability to think in new ways; and the capacity to push through uncreative dry spells.”

Whether they’re coming up with an innovative new product to launch, finding a solution to a universal problem, or picking a cool new place to grab lunch, people who consistently have great ideas have formed habits that help them think. Here are eight simple things those “creative geniuses” do that you can do, too:

1. They Look For Inspiration In Unexpected Places

Instead of staying focused within their industries, people who have great ideas look elsewhere, says Sooshin Choi, provost at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit.

“Many professionals go after information in their industry, but once you get that information, it’s too late—everyone has it,” he says. “Even if you get that information faster than others, what kind of real difference can you make?”

Instead, Choi suggests looking outside your field. “Car designers might look at furniture designers for inspiration,” he says. “There are endless examples of different areas where you can find inspiration.”

Read the other 7 habits here.

Looking to Asia to innovate

October 26, 2015 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Culture of Innovation

Asia WikipediaI do quite a bit of travel to China for speaking engagements as well as other Asian innovation hotspots, and I can tell you that some of the most forward-thinking innovators are blazing trails that corporations in the West will soon follow.  Forbes recently highlighted the innovative culture and opportunities there, in a new article titled, “Why Should Companies Look To Asia For Innovation?”

Here’s an excerpt:

Large companies may find that the best place to look for these ingredients is Asia. Here are three characteristics which make Asia a fertile ground for innovation.

Constrained Conditions

In developed economies, which enjoy a high standard of living, people innovate from a position of sufficiency. In many of parts of Asia, people still struggle to live without electricity or clean water. The continent is home to 70% of the “Base of the Pyramid” population which lives on less than $8 per day. Business people in these markets are attuned to the issues faced by the local population. They understand the struggles of daily life firsthand. Entrepreneurs in these locales innovate from a position of need. They build and invent to shift the living standard in their society, while operating within very difficult constraints. This forces creativity and ingenuity. Reliability, efficiency and renewability are automatically part of the mindset and design process because excess resources simply don’t exist.

Diverse Customers

Asia has a diverse mix of people who observe different religions and speak different languages. Coming from over 25 countries, people have different income levels, value systems and daily routines. This diversity is reflected in consumer choices. Diverse buyers force a product or service to work in several settings. Products and services in Asia must be able to cross borders and function in multiple settings. By default, product development in Asia means that language requirements, pricing issues, service teams and other localization issues must be dealt with upfront. This level of adaptability is baked into the innovation process, making other market adaptations easier down the road.

Read the entire article here.

How do you face down disruption?

October 22, 2015 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Disruptive Innovation

Flickr free photo - Zen Disruption

One thing I’ve learned as an entrepreneur and business consultant: Nothing ever stays the same. What succeeded for your company five years ago most likely is no longer working today. Why? Because the playing field has changed while you were basking in success. And it always does. My friend Robert Tucker writes about facing down disruption:

As disruptive forces press down upon almost every business and industry sector, we’ve all got to objectively assess the new playing field, and use creativity to go on offense.

New Yorker writer Jill Lapore’s well-publicized takedown of Clayton Christensen’s Theory of Disruption misses the point. Fifteen years ago, the Harvard professor pointed out how low-cost upstarts like steel producer Nucor, Southwest Airlines and others disrupted existing industry players with stripped down, “good enough” products and services, to upend markets. Lapore challenged the theory by questioning whether certain incumbents that Christensen wrote about were really overtaken after all. Both miss the larger point. Today, disruption is a broadly-inflicted phenomenon whose origins range from regulatory, technological, social, geopolitical and demographic. Whatever causes the malady, its only commonality is that it is often fatal to businesses that don’t respond boldly. To wit:

  • The iPhone disrupted Nokia and Blackberry, not with a stripped down, lower-cost product, but from the high end with exciting style and functionality. Uber and Lyft disrupted the taxi industry, not by offering a lower price, but by introducing “surge pricing.”
  • A regulatory disruption has hobbled hundreds of small banks in the USA, as they struggle to cope with a complex new financial restrictions (Dodd Frank) passed by Congress.
  • The cemetery and funeral industries are undergoing a lifestyle disruption. As cremation gains favor fewer people buy burial plots, and fewer people opt for expensive caskets, and expensive funerals. The golf industry has been disrupted as millions of golfers have given up the game, citing “lack of time” as their key reason. And so it goes.

Fending Off Disruption

Here are several ways to respond to disruptions that may be looming in your industry:

Read the full article and Robert’s tips here.

The Best Leaders Are Constant Learners

October 19, 2015 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Blogroll

Free photo pixabayI completely agree with the notion that leaders must always be learning new things. If a leader is not learning, he or she is not leading – and certainly not innovating.

Of course there are many ways to continually feed your mind: reading, seminars, online courses, going back to school, etc.  How are you feeding your mind, and what have you learned this week? Here’s something to consider:

To find their way in societal shifts, leaders cannot rely on static maps, nor can they hope to manage complexity through fixating on the details. To do so would be to fall into the trap described by Jorge Luis Borges and Adolfo Bioy Casares in their 1946 short story “On Exactitude in Science,” in which empire cartographers draw up a map so detailed – the scale is a mile to a mile – that it ends up covering the whole territory and leads to the downfall of the empire. It’s a story of absurdity and unintended consequences, surely two things leaders today can appreciate.

Reinvention and relevance in the 21st century instead draw on our ability to adjust our way of thinking, learning, doing and being. Leaders must get comfortable with living in a state of continually becoming, a perpetual beta mode. Leaders that stay on top of society’s changes do so by being receptive and able to learn. In a time where the half-life of any skill is about five years, leaders bear a responsibility to renew their perspective in order to secure the relevance of their organizations.

As we attempt to transition into a networked creative economy, we need leaders who promote learning and who master fast, relevant, and autonomous learning themselves. There is no other way to address the wicked problems facing us. If work is learning and learning is the work, then leadership should be all about enabling learning. In a recent Deloitte study, Global Human Capital Trends 2015, 85% of the respondents cited learning as being either important or very important. Yet, according to the study, more companies than ever report they are unprepared to address this challenge.

Read the rest here.

Is the Corporate Communications paradigm shifting?

October 17, 2015 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Financial Trends

corporate communications free use photoLike just about every corporate sacred cow, the idea of companies always needing a corporate communications department has been questioned – and re-thought. One reason might be headcount, another might be social media trends. But Wendy Marx over at Fast Company says the rules are changing because the challenges communicators face are very different than they were a decade ago:

To put it bluntly, corporate communications is the spurned stepchild of the C-suite. In many organizations, the function hardly gets the attention it deserves until the moment crisis hits. But undervaluing the importance of powerful communication is a mistake, and it’s costing some companies dearly.

“Like many other soft skills, [communication] is undervalued in corporations because it’s difficult to measure,” says Dorie Clark, author and adjunct professor of business administration at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. The skill “requires a high tolerance of ambiguity, contradiction, and subtlety (i.e., softness),” communications expert Walter G. Montgomery writes on Knowledge@Wharton, and many senior leaders prefer to reserve that kind of thinking for strategy decisions. And it doesn’t help that business schools tend to squeeze corporate communications in among heavy-duty statistics and accounting courses, even though it encompasses everything from media and community relations to internal and investor relations as well.

The truth is that the way an organization communicates can be the difference between success and failure. By now, we’re already familiar with the damage an out-of-place tweet by a CEO can do in the age of social media.

Managers need exposure to communications, especially now,” Tim Andree, executive chairman of Dentsu Aegis Network, “The communications model changes every six to seven months. There’s media convergence, new technology, and new analytics. It affects how you need to communicate and how people get their information.”

Read the entire article here.

3-D printing technology allows the blind to “see”

October 13, 2015 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Alpha Moms

One of the most exciting moment for expectant parents is when they see their baby months before the baby actually arrives, and the newest ultrasound shows incredible images. These days you can do more than just see your baby, thanks to 3-D printing.  Leave it to Kimberly-Clark’s LAO team to bring this technology into a heartwarming story of a mom who sees her baby for the very first time. A video posted on YouTube by the “HuggiesBrasil” channel a few months back shows the emotional moment when a blind woman got to “see” her unborn son for the first time, thanks to 3D printing technology.

The backstory: “30-year-old Tatiana Guerra lost her sight at the age of 17. In the video, she arrives for an ultrasound during her 20th week of pregnancy. At first, the doctor describes what he sees. Then a 3D printer converts the ultrasound image into a relief sculpture of the baby’s face, and Tatiana dissolves into tears as her fingers trace the features of the son she plans to name Murilo.”

Bringing Science to the Art of Strategy

October 10, 2015 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Blogroll

This is an inspiring article, and challenges all of us to think outside our innovation box:
Many managers feel they are doomed to weigh the futile rigor of ordinary strategic planning processes against the hit-or-miss creativity of the alternatives. We believe the two can be reconciled to produce creative but realistic strategies. The key is to recognize that conventional strategic planning is not actually scientific. Yes, the scientific method is marked by rigorous analysis, and conventional strategic planning has plenty of that. But also integral to the scientific method are the creation of novel hypotheses and the careful generation of custom-tailored tests of those hypotheses—two elements that conventional strategic planning typically lacks. It is as though modern strategic planning decided to be scientific but then chopped off essential elements of science.

The approach we’re about to describe adapts the scientific method to the needs of business strategy. Triggered by the emergence of a strategic challenge or opportunity, it starts with the formulation of well-articulated hypotheses—what we term possibilities. It then asks what would have to be true about the world for each possibility to be supported. Only then does it unleash analysts to determine which of the possibilities is most likely to succeed. In this way, our approach takes the strategy-making process from the merely rigorous (or unrealistically creative) to the truly scientific. (See the exhibit “Seven Steps to Strategy Making.”)

Rad the entire article at Harvard Business Review:

Homework for Health: About your cholesterol…

October 6, 2015 Pat Clusman No Comments » Health and Wellness

Cholesterol12Innovationedge has been working with Ann Liebeskind, a Fox Cities physician in northeast Wisconsin specializing in the Lipids (Cholesterol Management) field. Through Ann, we learned that the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, and the American Academy of Pediatrics updated their guidelines and recommended screening all kids for cholesterol problems.

The guidelines are a step in the right direction but Ann saw the need for more cholesterol education that was simplified, engaging and appealing to kids and families.

The new pediatric guidelines, along with the lack of family-friendly materials, inspired Ann to start Homework For Health, a kid and family-friendly website. To learn more about Homework For Health, go to the website at We encourage you to visit the site and provide feedback by completing a short survey.