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Business Innoation Confernce Day 3 by John Forsberg

| On 11, Oct 2010

Praveen Gupta

The morning Keynote session was scheduled for 8:30, and I walked in at 8:15 and met the planned speaker, Steve Shapiro. Steve immediately was friendly and quickly talked about his three weeks on the road, the components of the Human Brain, how kids can freely play until we adults spoil it, and about water proof paper to use in the shower in case you get an idea. Clearly a free thinker with a big sense of Humor!

Steve is the Vice-President of Strategic Consulting for InnoCentive and the Author of “24/7 Innovations”. Once Introduced by Praveen Gupta, Steve started his talk. He said “I am not big on slides” and “I have 3 points of view, 3 quotes, and two pictures!” He asked the audience to define innovation and received responses. Steve makes the point that Innovation is a response to an event or problem. Adaptability is very important and you need to have a portfolio of challenges, then determine which matter the most, and then go fix them.

Steve then talked about several types of Innovation:

– Open Innovation where outside resources are used and leveraged and Inside Innovation within an organization using their methods, people, and tools. An example of the BP spill website was used for Open Innovation. Ideas were asked for and entered on a website. BP received 80,000 suggestions of which they evaluated 20,000. Of the 20,000 only a handful of ideas were feasible. Steve tied this to the “Signal to Noise” ratio in Audio equipment. It’s how many good ideas you get out of all the ideas. So an idea system can be quickly overloaded. Steve then carefully talked about the importance of phrasing the question so that solutions become higher quality.

An exercise was done with the audience. Steve pulled out a foam brick and asked “what can you do with a brick? And people stated with a range of random suggestions, “use it in your patio, throw it, fix a table that rocks, etc.” Steve then asked the audience to pair up and use the brick example, but to have the first person in the pair bring up a random item that the brick would be used with, then after several minutes switch and have the other person do the same. My partner was given “refrigerator” and then he rattled off ideas for the brick like “hold up a broken shelf, separate items on a shelf, prevent a bottle from rolling, and so on. Steve polled the audience and all clearly felt their most creative ideas were in the second case where a connection is made between the brick and a random item.

Steve concluded by showing several product examples that used this approach and then answered questions. An enlightening and fun keynote for all.

Next there were breakout sessions. I attended “Whats Constraining Your New Product Growth” by Mike Dalton, Managing Director and Chief Innovation Coach for the Guided Innovation Group. He is also the author of “Simplifying Innovation”.

Mike indicated that companies spend 30% of their net income (3% – 5% of total) on Research and Development and they expect a return. To do that Mike introduced the “Guided Innovation System TM” as a framework for innovation improvement. The system is based on the Theory of Constraints and seeks to find and eliminate the constraint or bottleneck. Mike summarized a 5 step process to resolve any constraint in the Product Development process. Those steps were Identify, Exploit, Subordinate, Elevate, and then start Again.

In the First step Mike suggested that you process map your Innovation process. It should also be measured on Sale Throughput and Cycle Time. Focus on the constraints that offer the most leverage.

In step 2, Exploit some key points were to: Only allow the best opportunities into the innovation pipeline. In the top 20% performing companies Mike has worked with, only 1.1% of their innovation projects were cancelled after all the detailed design work was done. In the remaining 80%, on average, 19% of their projects are canceled after the detailed design. Also, clearly understanding what the Customer is hiring you to do and seeing how your Innovation helps them increase sales throughput, working capital, or reduces expenses and what is that value to the Customer. Then run it through your company’s financial model.

Step 3 Subordinate; engage the rest of the organization to get the most help on the Innovation bottleneck. Step 4 Elevate; add capacity to your constraint. Suggestions included hiring top talent, training, and development of the Innovation Team. Also using open innovation methods are useful. And finally, Start again at continually use the steps to evaluate your Innovation Process.

Overall, Mike summarized a very useful and systematic approach to evaluating and improving an Innovation Process.

The next Keynote was with Chris Galvin CEO Harrison St. and former CEO of Motorola. Chris was introduced by Martin Swarbrick, CEO of Bison Gear. The presentation was titled “A Business History: The Galvins”

Chris sited Devotion to Innovation, Leadership, and Culture a primary drivers and motivators for him and his Father and Grandfather. They had a goal of creating 1 – 2 new industries each decade. This was confirmed in a review of 75 years of history. Starting with several failures at Galvin Manufacturing and then succeeding with the first car radio. Other firsts included the portable two way radio, key semiconductors, paging, automotive controls, the cellular phone, Six Sigma, and the first Malcolm Baldrige award.

Chris talked about the importance of the CEO investing in innovation and that complexity and diversity in innovation are your friends. If it’s easy, all your competitors will do it. Innovation includes surprises, volatility, requires patience, and you have to have an Innovation Culture.

Chris talked much about the importance of People and that Culture is the application of Principles and Values. A company must be highly principled and the Galvin’s wanted to grow the future. A phrase Chris used was “Identify the impossible and make it possible”.

Finally Chris talked about how the performance of Motorola was up until his departure, how the culture that was there has been removed and changed and contrasted the performance of Motorola since the Galvin era was gone. Quite a dramatic financial change to the negative, not to mention the many jobs lost.

Chris finished by talking about “Trust” and “Essence” and took many questions from the audience. From my perspective and that of other attendees, a great presentation and discussion was seen.

The final session I attended was “Relationship Capital: Accounting for your Success” by Rob Peters, Principle Leader, Banking and Financial Services Business, Development Global Direct Services.

Rob talked about a project he is involved with where using a Social Networking tool to profile yourself and your team. A profile can be completed and you can also work to complete a certification on relationships. The profile will account for others in your network for your meeting commitments and their perceptions. This important information can be used for improving yourself in work or social groups to perform effectively.

Rob talked about seven principles that are used including: Accountability, Boundaries, Honesty, Respect, Responsibility, Support, and Trust. Each of these principles were touched on and are core to the future of an Interconnected Social Network environment that we will be living in or are already in.

Rob supplied information on the Relationship Networking Industry Association and www.RNIA.org. An interesting and futuristic presentation that had me thinking differently.

John Forsberg is 25 year veteran of the Quality Engineering and Management Fields as well was a ten year Leader in the Customer Service, Technical/Sale Support functions. John is an ASQ Certified Quality Engineer, a senior member of the ASQ, and a certified Six Sigma Black and Green Belt.