At Boeing, Innovation Means Small Steps, Not Giant Leaps

Posted by Cheryl Perkins on April 19, 2015

This is a great lesson learned for aerospace giant Boeing, who recently discovered that saving up a trove of advanced technologies for a single new project was simply too expensive and disruptive to succeed.  The WSJ has the story:

Source; Boeing, via the Wall Street Journal

After a turbulent decade, Boeing Co. is rethinking its formula for innovation.

The 99-year-old aerospace giant long has focused on developing new technologies that it reserved for big projects every 15 years or so to craft the fastest—and farthest-flying jetliners—such as its 787 Dreamliner.

Today, Boeing is centering innovation on incremental improvements that it can deliver more quickly to airlines with greater reliability and at a lower price, said Ray Conner, chief executive of Boeing’s commercial airplane unit, in an interview.

Mr. Conner is overseeing the development of seven models to upgrade Boeing’s portfolio of jets with capacities from 125 seats to just over 400 seats, plus a new military refueling tanker. The updated products are adapting some of the technologically advanced features of the Dreamliner to models that have long been in production.

“It’s not to say you don’t innovate,” said Mr. Conner. He wants engineers “innovating more on how to [design jets] more simplistically, as opposed to driving more complexity,” he said. “How do you innovate to make it more producible? How do you innovate to make it more reliable?”

Read the rest here

Innovation helps Japan’s tsunami-hit farmers bounce back

Posted by Cheryl Perkins on April 17, 2015

Here is a great example – one of many innovative approaches taken to help eastern Japanese farmers bounce back from the tsunami, modernize the region’s agriculture and increase farming output.

wikipediaSENDAI, Japan – Even before a tsunami swamped fields east of the Japanese city of Sendai in March 2011, Chikako Sasaki and her husband, a rice farmer, had dreamed of starting a business selling food made from their own produce.

The tsunami was sparked by the biggest earthquake to hit Japan since records began, killing nearly 16,000 people and wiping out villages and towns in what was described as the country’s worst crisis since World War Two.

But just two years after the disaster, thanks to government subsidies and the enterprising spirit of the Sasakis and other farming families, Chika-chan’s Riceball Teahouse began serving lunches made by local women in its open kitchen.

“There was nowhere to work after the tsunami,” explained Sasaki, standing in the first-floor dining room. “So we decided to open this cafe, and now we all enjoy working here together.”

The restaurant is just one example of many innovative approaches taken to help eastern Sendai’s farmers bounce back from the tsunami, modernize the region’s agriculture and increase farming output.

The rice used in Chika-chan’s “nigiri” balls and curry dishes, also sold in the shop downstairs, is grown by the women’s husbands. The vegetables come from their own plots, and the “miso” – a fermented soya-bean paste – is made by hand.

The company in Wakabayashi ward also has a processing facility nearby, and is planning to expand its other activity of making boxed lunches for convenience stores and public events.

Sasaki said her husband managed to get his rice output back up to pre-disaster levels three years after the tsunami hit.

Recovery from the disaster has been a tough process for farmers, whose land was strewn with debris and contaminated with seawater. In eastern Sendai, along the coast, some 1,800 hectares of farmland were damaged, most of it rice paddies.

Read the rest here

Filed Under: Innovation

No room for fear

Posted by Cheryl Perkins on April 14, 2015

Fearless free photo pixabay

You’ve heard it said, “no guts, no glory?” In open innovation, there is no room for fear.

Many companies today are averse to taking risks in this economy, and who can blame them?  When leaders are not willing to take risks, their corporate culture might seem “safe.”

But managing risks is something we can all do well, with the right culture, systems and tools in place. I tell companies to boldly embrace disruption, especially in their existing internal processes.

The goal is not to upset the applecart, but to look for more apples, in new talents, technologies, skills and partners. We also must embrace the possibility of failure, and encourage risk taking within reason. Going back to building trust in your organization, you have to encourage innovators on your team to learn from their mistakes and succeed from failure.

Building Conversations Create Innovative Ideas

Posted by Cheryl Perkins on April 10, 2015

pixabay free photoWe all want to get employees excited about innovation, especially when changes are something they themselves helped create. They want to talk about it, and they should!  And we should help, so that excitement builds across the organization and spills over to your customers and to the world.

So what’s the best way to help them have those conversations? I recently spotted a case study over on Fast Company, in which researchers studied innovation efforts at Red Hat, Rite-Solutions, KBS+, and Boston Children’s Hospital,T found three factors that led to conversational success:

  1. Provide a strong vision, but not the solutions.Management offers overall strategy guidance or poses specific problems to be addressed, but lets employees drum up ideas, both individually and in teams.
  2. Offer structured forums for discussions. To ensure that good ideas are spotted and developed, companies create discussion frameworks, such as innovation days and challenges.
  3. Empower employees who step up to affect change. Management takes on the role of keeping the conversation going by offering employees guidance, mentoring, and resources. They make sure employee ideas aren’t shut down by others and that employees who fail aren’t penalized.

Read the resulting strategy here:

Volvo’s safe night spray gets glowing reviews

Posted by Cheryl Perkins on April 2, 2015

Did you know that in the Netherlands, one out of three people consider a bicyle as their main form of transportation?  Now the Volvo company has come up with a unique way to make commuting by bike more safe, with a transparent spray that cyclists and pedestrians can apply on their clothes or bikes before heading out into the night.

Volvo collaborated with advertising agency Grey London to bring their commitment to safety outside car doors, and when they joined forces with Swedish startup Albedoo100, LifePaint was born.

LifePaint is a highly reflective spray that’s invisible during the day but shines brightly when a light source — like the glare of a headlight — hits it. The safety spray washes off, and it doesn’t change the color of the surface to which it’s been applied.

Click the image to read the story

Click the image to read the story

The Invention That Changed March Madness

Posted by Cheryl Perkins on April 1, 2015

For my basketball friends, a little something innovative to consider as we head to the Final Four. (Go Badgers!):

The NCAA’s March Madness tournament is in full swing, and in addition to the players and the coaches, our team here at WNYC Radio is watching out for the whistles on the court.

We are blowing the whistle on the most intense aspect of the March Madness competition: The Fox 40 whistle. It’s the official referee whistle of the tournament and was initially invented by a jolly Canadian businessman, inventor, and basketball freak by the name of Ron Foxcroft.

Foxcroft’s patented invention improves upon the whistle—an invention whose mother was a very terrifying necessity: Making sure a whistle blows when its needs to blow.

It’s something Ron discovered when he was refereeing the Olympic gold medal game between the U.S. and Yugoslavia.

Today, Foxcroft is the founder and CEO of the company that makes the Fox 40, along with hundreds of other products. He’s a former NCAA referee and the father of three boys whose determination has insured that no referee has to worry about not being heard ever again.

Story here:

Maximum Velocity!

Posted by Pat Clusman on March 25, 2015


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!

Posted by Cheryl Perkins on March 23, 2015

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!

Leading Game Changing Open Innovation

Posted by Cheryl Perkins on March 16, 2015


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

Posted by Cheryl Perkins on March 5, 2015

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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