Eight Ways to Rethink Your Business Model

Posted by Cheryl Perkins on September 15, 2014

4283684892_f7fe5f80af_bIn my book, Conquering Innovation Fatigue: Overcoming the Barriers to Personal and Corporate Success, we discuss some of the ways our corporate efforts have gone stale. One of those ways is embedded in our corporate cultures that tell our people, “Not Invented Here.” Those three little words ought not be!  There is a whole lot of re-thinking many corporations need to do in order to reshape their cultures and bring those services and products to market in a way that is sustainable. That’s why I enjoyed this article, “Eight Ways to Rethink Your Business Model,” over at my friend Robert Tucker’s site, The Innovation Resource.  Enjoy!

Eight Ways to Rethink Your Business Model

Many businesses today are stuck in a commodity mindset. You hear them say things like, “All customers want is the lowest price.” Or, “This is a mature market.” Or, “You have to move manufacturing to China to survive.”
Whether you’re a small operation, a startup, or a large multinational, it’s easy to adopt the prevailing assumptions. Often they’re industry assumptions. Sometimes they are company assumptions (“we don’t have the capability to pull that off”). And sometimes, they are personal assumptions (“I’m not creative” or “An individual like myself can’t impact an organization as big as ours”).

Regardless of type, my company’s research with industry groups shows consistently that winning firms are those that don’t buy in to conventional wisdom. Their leaders make it job one to challenge assumptions. They take time regularly to rethink. Use this list below to start a rethinking revolution in your firm:

1. Rethink what everybody in your industry knows to be true (but may not be)

A decade ago, if you were a furniture manufacturer in the United States, the assumption was: “You have to move manufacturing to China or face the inevitable.” The industry was hard hit, but not everyone caved. Bassett Furniture, based in Virginia, got busy rethinking its options. They cut costs, partnered with their workers, and invested in cutting edge equipment. Then they rethought what their dealer network needed most for it to survive. Today, Bassett ships custom orders in 24 hours, retailers carry less inventory, and favorable financial terms. Meanwhile, the China Price differential is disappearing as wages, raw materials and shipping costs continue to rise. “Many companies that offshored manufacturing didn’t really do the math,” says Harry Moser, founder of the Reshoring Movement.  “As many as 60 percent of the decisions were based on miscalculations.”

Read more here:

Running on rubbish: Supermarket comes off grid, powered by food waste

Posted by Cheryl Perkins on September 10, 2014


Imagine a grocery store sending zero waste to the landfill. That’s what is happening in the UK with Sainsbury’s stories. “Last summer Sainsbury’s achieved its 20×20 sustainability target of putting all its store waste to positive use – and diverting it from landfill.  All general waste from stores is recycled or turned into fuel. Surplus food that can’t be used by our charity partners to feed vulnerable people is now processed into animal feed to support British farmers or used to generate energy through anaerobic digestion,” says the company.

Sainsbury’s is already the UK’s largest retail user of anaerobic digestion, generating enough energy to power 2,500 homes each year. According to its website:

Industry partners Biffa and Sainsbury’s are today celebrating an innovative facility that will allow Sainsbury’s Cannock store to run on power generated solely from the supermarket’s own food waste.

Using Biffa’s advanced anaerobic digestion (AD) facilities and a unique power link up, Sainsbury’s Cannock store will be powered using electricity generated using food waste from Sainsbury’s stores across the UK.

This ground-breaking project helps to close the loop on food recycling and Sainsbury’s to continue to send zero operational waste to landfill.

An inexpensive and humorous ad helps customers see the light:

Big data solution allows business leaders and data scientists to collaborate

Posted by Cheryl Perkins on September 7, 2014

Adatao is offering a more comprehensive solution that lets business leaders and data scientists work together more easily by enabling businesses to use one single tool across the organization with real-time collaboration across departments:

The service is split into two layers — pAnalytics, which is designed for analysts, and pInsights, which lets anyone create interactive visuals based on data. The first uses Apache Hadoop datasets and an API to enable data scientists to put information into applications that are easier to understand for colleagues in other departments. Using pInsights, those employees can then build charts, data maps and interactive elements to help put the data into context. As well as enabling multiple users to collaborate on a single visual document at the same time, non-technical staff can also communicate with analysts through the same platform. pInsights users can find real-time data using natural language searches, but are able to consult with data scientists if they need help.

Check out this video to learn more:

Learn more here.

Nanotechnology creates world’s darkest material: absorbs 99.9% of visual light

Posted by Cheryl Perkins on September 5, 2014

A company in the UK is using nanotechnology to capture light, and achieve new levels of range and sensitivity in a breakthrough “super black” material.  Check this out:

Vantablack – created by Surrey NanoSystems – is revolutionary in its ability to be applied to lightweight, temperature-sensitive structures such as aluminium whilst absorbing 99.96% of incident radiation, the highest level ever recorded.

“Vantablack is a major breakthrough by UK industry in the application of nanotechnology to optical instrumentation”, says Ben Jensen, the company’s Chief Technology Officer. “It reduces stray-light, improving the ability of sensitive telescopes to see the faintest stars, and allows the use of smaller, lighter sources in space-borne black body calibration systems. Its ultra-low reflectance improves the sensitivity of terrestrial, space and air-borne instrumentation.”

Vantablack is the result of applying a low-temperature carbon nanotube growth process. The manufacture of “super-black” carbon nanotube materials has traditionally required high temperatures – preventing their direct application to sensitive electronics or materials with relatively low melting points. This, along with poor adhesion, prevented their application to critical space and air-borne instrumentation. Over a period of two years, the development and testing programme by Surrey NanoSystems successfully transferred its low-temperature manufacturing process from silicon to aluminium structures and pyroelectric sensors. Qualification to European Cooperation on Space Standardisation (ECSS) standards was also achieved.

Vantablack has the highest thermal conductivity and lowest mass-volume of any material that can be used in high-emissivity applications. It has virtually undetectable levels of outgassing and particle fallout – thus eliminating a key source of contamination in sensitive imaging systems. It can withstand launch shock, staging and long-term vibration, and is suitable for coating internal components, such as apertures, baffles, cold shields and Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS)-type optical sensors.

“We are now scaling up production to meet the requirements of our first customers in the defence and space sectors, and have already delivered our first orders. Our strategy includes both the provision of a sub-contract coating service from our own UK facility, and the formation of technology transfer agreements with various international partners”, added Jensen.

As a spin-off from its work in applying nanomaterials to semiconductor device fabrication, Surrey NanoSystems’ manufacturing process also enables Vantablack to be applied to flat and three-dimensional structures in precise patterns with sub-micron resolution.


Read more here

Free Webinar: “Small business is Big Business”

Posted by Cheryl Perkins on September 1, 2014

small biz banner

Join us for the live online webinar for free!

Thursday, September 4, 2014, 8am China Standard Time (Wednesday, September 3, 2014, 8pm EDT)

Check your local time for the webinar here.
Enhance your business in China and learn about resources and opportunities
available for your company

The conference will focus on promotion of trade support in China and the U.S. forsmall- and medium-sized enterprises interested in expanding into the China market and will be broadcasted live as an online webinar for small- and medium-sized enterprises across the United States. Attending the online webinar will be free of charge.

Tune in to learn about:

  • Tried and proven methods to expand your business;
    How the U.S. and Chinese government can help your market-entry to China;
    Insights from expert panelists on industry-specific things you need to know;
    Ways to success from entrepreneurs and business owners

Join us to gain insights on the challenges and opportunities for SMEs in the ever
growing China market!

Join the webinar by going to the conference web page at http://sme.amcham-shanghai.org/conference on the day of the conference and filling out the stream registration form.


Save the date for CoDev 2015!

Posted by Cheryl Perkins on August 29, 2014

As Open Innovation goes mainstream, the players are doubling down on exciting new market expansions, creative crowdsourcing and higher returns! But how will you embrace these cutting-edge methods without risking everything?

Find out why the big winners in Open Innovation are going beyond just choosing the right partners. The pioneers are moving forward – but where? How do we follow them to success?
Join us for CoDev 2015 this February 9 – 11 in Scottsdale, Arizona!
CoDev 2015 is the place to be, and the people to meet to deliver the OI “must-haves” that you can take home right now! (Registration coming soon!)

Future of flying

Posted by Cheryl Perkins on August 29, 2014

Ever wondered what the future of flying will look like?  Futurists say that by 2039, flying halfway around the world will change even more.  Even now, what was once a 13-hour journey has become a seven-hour flight.
Take a look at this:

Read more by clicking here:

Largest man-made swarm ever – but it’s not bees!

Posted by Cheryl Perkins on August 27, 2014


This tiny swarm is not thousands of bees, but thousands of robots called Kilobots.  I saw this via Harvard University in a study that is quite amazing.

The swarm can self-assemble into any two-dimensional shape, and can have all sorts of interesting applications.  What we’re looking at is actually the first steps toward an entire new type of technology that can form bigger structures and even bigger robots. But for now this will be used to help scientists understand collective behavior that you will often find in nature – especially among animals.  (think flocks of migratory birds or schools of fish.)

Where will this lead?

Read more here, and check out this video:

Does your brand use Snapchat?

Posted by Cheryl Perkins on August 17, 2014

For those of you who have never heard of Snapchat, a social media platform that is here today and gone…today, there might be a gem or two you can glean for your business with this app. Did you know that more than 400 million messages are received on Snapchat every day? That gets my attention.

According to Business Insider

  • Snapchat has about 60 million total installs, making it larger than Instagram when it sold to Facebook for $1 billion.
  • Of those 60 million installs, Snapchat has about 30 million monthly active users.
  • Fifty-five percent of monthly active users use Snapchat daily. That’s 16.5 million people.

Here’s some more interesting stats from Fast Company:

A recent Comscore report found that Snapchat was the third most popular social app among 18-34-year-olds (behind Facebook and Instagram, but ahead of Twitter, Pinterest, and Vine). And if you look at just the 18-24-year-old base, the app has 50% penetration. The company is said to have about 30 million active users and claims that people send and view more than 700 million pictures and 500 million “stories”–which allow brands to create longer narratives that last 24 hours–a day.

Fast Company recently featured the brands that have tapped into this market with unique and game-changing Snapchat advertising, such as McDonalds, Taco Bell and General Electric:

GE Tweet

Check out more here.

Five hottest innovation tools

Posted by Cheryl Perkins on August 15, 2014

20060513_toolbox wiki commonsMy friend Robert Tucker has put together what I think is a great list of the top innovation tools trending now, from ideation tools, commercialization tools, idea management tools, selection tools, and so forth. I like these because he includes case studies and real examples of how these tools are working in our current climate.

I’ll share the first one here, and let you browse the list over at his Innovation Resource blog:

1. Lean Startup Movement: Taking Silicon Valley by Storm

General Electric’s recent adoption of this tool is reported to be the biggest new movement in the company since Jack Welch embraced 6 Sigma in 1995. This hot tool originated in Silicon Valley, as a process mapping system for tech startups. Today it is increasingly being adopted by larger multinationals to decrease time to market and bloated budgets. Similar to the business model canvas tool, it addresses the most pressing question innovation practitioners face: How do you get new things done faster and cheaper in today’s world of strangulating bureaucracy, rising costs, and 6 Sigma controls? The answer, according to Lean Startup evangelists, is: instead of heaping money on ideas, be stingy. Encourage everybody to think like a startup. Dole out very limited budgets, form cross-functional teams, and streamline development of new products and services that have the potential to disrupt markets because of differentiated value propositions.

GE’s program, called FastWorks, has given the movement a tremendous boost. Already, 40,000 employees have been trained after CEO Jeffrey Immelt green-lighted the biggest internal movement since Jack Welch adopted 6 Sigma  in 1995. Each business unit has a “growth board,” which meets to give thumbs up or down to potential projects. Thus far, some 300 projects have been approved. Before, a development team might have spent four years building a new product based on marketing surveys. FastWorks promises to cut development time in half. What’s the right value proposition? The Lean Startup method suggests constantly taking your prototypes before customers throughout the development process to get real world feedback, and course correction in half the time and at half the cost.

Read the next four innovation tools here.

Filed Under: Innovation