Category Archives: Innovation Networks

Opposites don’t Attract

There is some convincing research that demonstrates that opposites don’t attract. Is this a problem? From a relationship perspective, this might be alright, but from an innovation perspective it isn’t.

Scientists studied a couple of different groups, but the main one was college students. They compared student relationships in a large college (25,000 students) and several smaller colleges (about 500 students) and determined whether “friends” were more or less similar. The researchers employed a variety of personality tests and questions to come to conclusions. The research showed that the friends at the larger college were very similar in ideas, tastes, beliefs, etc., whereas the smaller college had significantly less similarity. The researchers believe that a large reason for this is that at the larger college, you’re more likely to find someone who matches you more perfectly than at a smaller school.

In another study, researchers examined the question of whether people actually “mix” at mixers. Their model was a networking party for approximately 100 people associated with a school’s business program. In similar results, the researchers found that people where more likely to associate with people who they already were familiar with or where there was a third-party connection (two strangers have a mutual friend). One interesting conclusion was that people who came to the mixer with few friends were more likely to meet new people.

From an innovation perspective, you need to be careful that you don’t create a grouping of similar people when trying to solve complex, creative problems, or else you’ll lose the dynamic range of experience and opinions. While no ones to go on a long car ride with people we don’t get along with, from an innovation perspective, it might make more sense.

Research Towards Innovation

Using research to breed innovation can be essential for your business. It is said that the more that you know, the more that you can do with what you know.

Research, unlike R&D (research and development) is more like a long term commitment whereas with R&D it focuses on the short term. Looking beyond your businessí current practices, research can produce slow and steady growth for your business.

Unfortunately, research comes with costs involved. Many companies in this economy have cut spending in all departments of their business and this may have affected or axed their budget on research. This can be a very shortsighted decision as this may save money right now but has the potential for your business to come out the loser in the long run.

Research does not have to been a huge expense. If you use customer feedback to your advantage, it is a form of research. By tapping into a consumerís wants and needs, you can find out a great deal of knowledge that can be practically applied to your business. Acquiring feedback can be as simple as a meeting with your customer, picking up the phone to call them or by sending them an email. What you learn from these interactions can help grow your business.

Changing with the Times

Recently there have been signs of an improving economy. While this is good news for us all, it can especially be good for U.S. companies. In these times it is important for a business to have the ability to be innovative by focusing on their future rather than focusing on what is going on at this very moment.

Global growth in the future will be found in emerging markets of the developing world. Businesses who do not recognize this could find that their success may be limited by their shortsightedness. Rather than focusing on where they are right now, businesses need to change with the times by focusing on where they are going.

Since the emerging markets will have a lower GDP (Gross Domestic Product) than westernized countries, it you may need to tailor your products or services to their needs. In doing so, you may find that this tailoring may offer new ideas and help in the creation of new products or services that can be applied here in the U.S.

An important thing to consider is that developing countries cannot be simply considered for the marketing of your current businessí products or services. They can be the springboard that launches your business into the future.

The Cost of Innovation

There have been many innovators we have seen throughout history, and with these innovators, there have been many of them who have failed in many different aspects of life. Even in their fields, there were more projects that have not worked than those that actually did. Although there have been many studies that have different findings, most experts say that there is a failure range of about 50-90% of projects that have failed. It takes a certain kind of person to find the drive to continually break the mold and if there were more of these types of people, the world would definitely benefit from this.

Dr. J. L. Byrd has probably defined innovation in its simplest form:

Innovation = (Creativity * Risk Taking)

The key of any innovator is the ability to take risks, something that is sort of a lost art. Basically speaking, for one to be truly innovative, they must possess a certain level of understanding that the project may fail, yet be willing to strive forward all the same.

Innovation is one of the most beautiful things in the business world and its arms even transcend that into the social realm as well, inspiring free-thinking to be just that. Even if a certain project may fail, the inspiration aspect is something that will make it worthwhile.

Google

Google has always been a leader in innovation, as being the king of all search engines. The company always has plans to stay ahead of the curve, and they usually have. With the unveiling of Bing by Microsoft, and the monster that is Yahoo, they have come up with an innovative strategy to unseat these titans.

On problem that we can agree on with Google is that they have never really had much success in the ad world. In text based ads alongside the search engines, sure, but thatís about where their success stops. After failed TV and radio spots, theyíve decided to try something a bit different.

They are taking the fight to performance ads, which essentially work as a search engine. This summer, they are really bringing out the big guns. They acquired DoubleClick last year, and they are using ad exchanges (essentially like stock in online advertisement.)

After revamping the formula that made DoubleClick famous, they are hoping that this will possibly help them take the advertising crown. After streamlining the software that DoubleClick utilizes, they are hoping that advertisers will buy ads more quickly. When ad space, price and demographics that match the criteria of an advertiser, these spots will run instantly, something unheard of in the market.

Amazon

In this every propelling world to the paperless office, there has been much advancement made to make this true in societies across the world. With this said, there are few people who have not read at least one e-book in their lives, and there are many people who are foraying into the world that is the electronic book. Amazon unveiled the Kindle a few years ago, an e-book reader.

The Kindle was something that caught on quite rapidly with its use for education and professional applications, so they gave it another go with the Kindle DX. The newer version is under $500. This can actually be pretty good buy, considering the upgrades they have made on the previous model. Itís newer screen is more than three times the previous offering by Amazon, something that will make the people who bought the last one a bit happier, if they specifically enjoyed it.

Undoubtedly, the most innovative aspect of the Kindle is the fact that it can display PDF files without any conversion whatsoever. Amazon specifies an address for conversion, and at a low rate, they will deliver the Kindle formatted document back to the reader, without any formatting differences.

How Innovation can Help the Economy


Writers Chris Trimble and Vijay Govindarajan, authors of Ten Rules for Strategic Innovatorsófrom Idea to Execution, recently made the point that innovation is all about optimism and ambition, but with optimism as the first ingredient in the desire and ability to innovate. Of course, failure is possibility. A company that invests into the research and development necessary for innovation could fail in that project. That’s a necessary risk that comes with innovation and one that can’t be avoided. And only companies that avoid trying to blame others for their failures and instead learn the lessons available are the ones who will keep succeeding and moving forward.

Trimble and Govindarajan believe that those lessons need to be applied to the current state of the economy in order to succeed and keep moving forward, out of the current recession and beyond. Instead of placing blame and looking for scapegoats, as a country we simply need to learn the lessons of the recent economic failed experiments in the US that we’re all painfully aware of now (housing bubbles, subprime lending) and move on. Optimism is a key ingredient to doing so, and the spirit of innovation can also help the economy heal by letting the country decide exactly what went wrong and how to avoid it again in the future.

Networking with Other Businesses

Many people have discovered the benefits of networking with other businesses to find innovative solutions to problems. Not only will you be getting a chance to take a look at how other businesses handle the same issues that you have, but you will be offering up the solutions that you have found as well.

Sharing with other businesses might seem counter-intuitive, but it is truly a wonderful way to help each other out and make both businesses the very best that they can be. Most people only look at other businesses as the competition, but when you gather together to discuss the issues in your industry, it is a great opportunity for collaboration.

Join some networking groups and organizations that will bring the leaders in your industry together. You donít have to give out your trade secrets, but you can learn a thing or two on how to manage your business in a more efficient and effective way.

Look for an organization that you can join to gather together with others in your industry. This is one of the easiest ways to get some fresh ideas for your business. To carry on in a tough economic climate, it is important to take every opportunity that comes your way.

Can Your Business Grow in a Recession?

Most businesses today are worried about surviving the recession and not about ways to grow their business. However, now is actually a good time to prepare your business for massive growth and change that can come out of a recession.

During a recession, strong companies have an opportunity to become stronger as the weaker companies are weeded out. Of course, this might mean spending a little more money on advertising during the recession. Spending money on your business during a recession is not something that most people consider, but if you are creative about the way that you manage your advertising budget, it can be a perfect time to increase your business.

Many businesses find that at the end of a recession, there is an increase in market share because of the demise of the less strong businesses that didnít survive the recession.

Consider changing your approach to advertising and donít be afraid of seeking to grow your business during this tough economy. It will be the businesses that are not afraid of innovation and change that survive and grow. Make sure that your business is one of those companies and take your share of the market during this difficult economy.

Solve a Customer Problem in an Innovative Way

Just like individuals, many businesses are cutting costs on anything that appears unnecessary or is discretionary.† The exceptions to this trend are items that create solutions and solve problems.† To stay ahead of the ball, give your creative team the challenge of finding ways to make your products irreplaceable and solution-focused for customers.

Instead of creating an entirely new product, it may be possible for you to repackage or create a new perception of your products in a way that creates a new perception about how helpful your products are or how they can help customers with already-existing problems.† For example, if your product can reduce their costs or improve employee productivity, you can use this as a selling point to draw in new customers.† For example, a new commercial for The UPS Store touts the fact that they provide small business solutions for people working out of their homes or who do not have an office staff available to help them with business presentation materials.

By providing customers with a new perception of your business and products, you have the opportunity to create new customers and even potentially break into new markets.