An award-winning podcast and nationally syndicated talk radio show that looks at the innovations that are changing our lives and how their innovators used creativity and design to take their raw idea and create they're game-changing product or service.
Phil McKinney and his guests share real-world practical advice on how to harness the power of creativity and design to create ideas that turn into innovations that radically improve your personal, career and business success.
The show is hosted by Phil McKinney, retired CTO of Hewlett-Packard (HP) and author of Beyond The Obvious.
The complete backlog of content (going back to 2005) is available at http://KillerInnovations.com. Follow Phil on Facebook at http://bit.ly/phil-facebook and Twitter at http://twitter.com/philmckinney
10 Inventions I Would Uninvent
As innovators, we should always ask ourselves what the unintended consequences of our inventions will be. Some unintentional things can be positive, but some can be very negative. Let's look at a list of past innovations that I would uninvent if I could.
The Invention of Robocalls
The first invention that I would like to uninvent is robocalls. These calls include anything from selling automobile maintenance contracts to various telemarketing campaigns. In our office, our employees get eight to twelve robocalls every day.
Robocalling is the result of telephone calls going digital and the creation of voice over IP. This technology opened up the door for the invention of robocalling. The inventors of voice-over IP did not think their invention would be this widely misused. Misuse of the technology has spread more widely as regulators haven't been able to keep up with it.
The Atomic Bomb, Speed Cameras, and Social Media
The second invention I would uninvent is the atomic bomb. Atomic energy has been very beneficial to society. The creation of the atomic bomb is an excellent example of the harmful use of good innovation. If I could, I'd keep using atomic sciences for medicine and energy but get rid of the bomb.
The next thing I would uninvent is speed cameras that clock your vehicle's speed and send you tickets. These have some positive uses, such as license plate tolls that mail a bill to your address and improved road safety.
The bad thing about the speed camera technology is that many third-party companies install cameras and split the toll money with the municipalities. With a third-party in the picture, it opens the door for many unethical practices for these companies.
The fourth technology I would uninvent is social media. I believe social media creates an amplification effect of similarities. Social media algorithms misuse and manipulate data and information and place things in your feed. I prefer to spend my time on LinkedIn and the Innovators Community, which are more professional and don't artificially put stuff in your feed.
Tobacco, Plastic, and other Chemical Weaponry
Number five on my list is tobacco, a hard one for me as the family on my grandmother's side were tobacco farmers in Kentucky. I remember helping with the tobacco harvest in the summers as a kid. The fundamental role of tobacco is damaging as it is addictive and bad for one's health. My mom was a heavy smoker, so I would love to get rid of tobacco if I could.
The sixth invention I would love to get rid of is chemical weaponry, which started with mustard gas before WW1. Many more dangerous weapons came about because of this invention. Now the world is forced to form treaties to deter abuses of these technologies.
The next thing I would love to get rid of is plastic. Plastic has had many positive uses, especially in healthcare. The early versions of plastic that never decompose are the real problems. Here's an example of an invention with unintended consequences. Innovators were encouraged to solve the problem and resulted in bio-degradable products that are very useful.
In the past, I've shared our work with Lakeside Fish Farm in Rwanda, the largest fish farm in the country. Rwanda has a stringent no-plastic policy. Packaging fish without plastic has proved a challenging task. As a result, there has been a lot of work done on creating alternative packaging that reduces the need for plastic.
Computer Viruses and Chemical Ingredients
Another unintended consequence I wish I could erase is the invention of computer viruses and malware. Many of you may not know that I was doing work around a href="https://go.gale.com/ps/anonymous?
Why Creative Expression is Important
We often wonder if people will accept our ideas or criticize them. This fear can halt us from utilizing our creative expression, which ultimately affects how we innovate. When our creativity is encouraged, it can have a positive impact.
When coming up with new ideas, early encouragement gives you the motivation to repeat them. In my seventh-grade art class, my teacher was showing us how to cut linoleum blocks. Being a boy scout, this was a natural thing for me, and I enjoyed experimenting with it. With the knife and the block, I constructed a dragon’s head that I used for stamping. The teacher liked the dragon head I created and showcased my work to the entire class.
Unknown to me, she submitted one of my prints to a local art contest, and I placed towards the top of the competition. I still have that linoleum block on my bookshelf, and it continually reminds me of that first level of encouragement I received. What she did can be applied to putting innovative ideas out there.
The Power of Encouragement
The question of today is how to encourage creative expression. Showing people that linoleum block I made was risky, as students could have laughed at it. However, I am glad my teacher showcased it because it encouraged me in a way that I didn’t think it could. I would love to go back to jr. high and thank my teacher for her encouragement, but unfortunately, I cannot. I can, however, pass on what she did for me by paying it forward to others.
When you see someone being highly creative and coming up with ideas, be encouraging to them. It would help if you were an encourager of others as it holds a lot of value. People don’t often realize that words go a long way. However, keep in mind that you should refrain from false platitudes as they decrease the value of your encouragement.
When giving an encouraging word, remember to explain why you are giving this encouragement. Ask questions such as how they came up with the idea. Please provide feedback on how they can do it better but do so in a positive way. Don’t be afraid to spread awareness about other people’s ideas as well.
While encouraging creative expression is essential, being able to receive it also holds importance properly. Many people suffer from imposter syndrome, which makes it hard for them to receive encouragement. People with this syndrome are afraid of taking any credit for their successes. These people feel as if they just got lucky and don’t deserve any of their accomplishments. In this occurrence, our irrational mind tries to credit something else with our success.
I am a big sufferer of imposter syndrome and gave a TEDx talk on the syndrome years back. The experience is where I draw my knowledge on this topic. When people encourage your creative expression, it is crucial to avoid this pitfall. It would be best if you assumed people have positive intent when encouraging you. Ask why they responded the way they did about your ideas and use it as a learning experience.
At this point in my career, I am not the one coming up with many ideas. I build teams and encourage those teams to come up with ideas that turn into innovations. My role is attracting the right talent, creating a solid funding base, protecting from outside antibodies, and being an encourager to my team.
You may think of me as an extroverted person. I’ve done speeches,
What is the Biggest Killer of Creativity?
We all struggle with being creative from time to time. We may feel like we have lost something, and nothing seems to spark that creative flow. What is killing your creativity? Your ego is the biggest killer of creativity. The struggle tends to become an issue for people in the middle and later years of their career.
The Biggest Creativity Killer
When you are called upon to be highly innovative and creative, the fear of failure can often step in and stump you. You might subconsciously have a bias towards making yourself look good and feel good. This bias feeds your ego and vanity and turns into a vicious cycle. I have seen many people get caught in this cycle and eventually get stuck in a rut.
If you look at highly innovative individuals, they tend to be most prolific in their early thirties. This cycle happened to breakthrough artists and inventors such as Ansel Adams, Thomas Edison, Nicola Tesla, and many more.
As you achieve success, it becomes more challenging and more problematic as it feeds the ego. Naturally, you will act in ways that fit into how you want to be perceived by others, resulting in a creativity killer. For example, if you are a top innovator, you will fall into the trap of keeping that specific image or brand. When this happens, your lifestyle, identity, social status, reputation, etc., will impact the creative risks you are willing to take.
You may wonder how I came across all this knowledge of the topic. The knowledge I have comes from what I experienced in my own life. I had great success in the innovation space early on in my career.
In my mid to late twenties, I won two best product of the year awards two years in a row. Three times I led teams that won Fast Company’s “Most Innovative Teams” awards, I did numerous products, had a radio show, and now a podcast. Looking back at how I used to be versus how I am now, I realize I am completely different. I now have a brand, a reputation, accolades, and an ego. I recognize that I have let that get in the way of things and hold me back in the past.
Everyone wants people to like them and to keep giving them positive feedback. The more we build up those accolades, the fewer risks we start to take, opening up room for a killer of creativity. To achieve creative success, you need to be aware of your vanity and let go of your ego. Disconnecting your ego from creativity enables you to take risks, which opens up the opportunity for outside success.
Taking risks is essential for innovation success. Without it, you are not going to make progress. Taking risks open up previously unconsidered areas. When you stop caring about what people perceive to be true about you; then you will see success. While this concept is simple, it is not an easy thing to do.
Keeping Your Ego at Bay
The most significant way to keep your ego at bay is to stop comparing yourself to others. Each of us is on a different creative journey. The path I’m on is not the path you should be on, as no two paths are the same. If you keep comparing yourself to others, you are feeding that ego and will end up disappointed.
In my opinion, social media hurts a lot in this area, primarily through how it impacts your ability to be creative. Social media is not reality, and often give us the idea that we are not as good as others. Don’t try to be somebody else, rather be the best version of yourself. Don’t shy away from your natural gifts and talents because you will get into a state of self-doubt if you do. Once this happens,
5 Tools I Use for Innovation and Creativity
I enjoy reading as well as listening to podcasts and audible books. With all the information I come across, I have to capture, organize, and recall to use them. I'm currently working on a new book as well as some disruptive innovation courses and workshops. The real challenge for me is finding a single tool that solves the issues stated.
The Importance of Utilizing Tools
Over the last six months, I challenged myself to find the right tools for innovation. I combined them in a way that I can capture the input, organize it, and make it easy to retrieve. The criteria I emphasized was usability on a mobile phone and desktop. I carry an Android, iPhone, and laptop on me, as well as an iPad Pro.
I need tools to collect from books, podcasts, websites, magazines, and emails—information collection with minimal manual steps. The tools also need to adapt as the content focus shifts.
As of late, ethical innovation is my focus. Sometimes my focus shifts to discussing the digital divide and other things. I also need to be able to find information without remembering exact wording. I need tools that create the serendipity effect.
The 5 Tools I Use
* reMarkable 2 tablet
* Kindle Oasis
* Roam Research
Tools for Information Collection
The first tool I have used for innovation is the Moleskine notebook, which I have thousands of. Recently I have shifted to the reMarkable 2 tablet. Using the tablet is like writing on paper but better. There is a pen for writing and erasing, and it stores and exports all my information to my mobile phone and desktop. I actually wrote out the entire script for today’s show on my tablet.
On top of my writing, I read a lot of information from RSS news feeds. I am a big user of Feedly— for access to its AI engine. Very trainable, it interprets sentences to see what concepts are being talked about. I scan through 500-600 articles a day and save different feeds that I like to the Pocket app. The Pocket app is a collection of things that you save to read at a later time.
Another tool I get information from is through my Kindle Oasis. In the Kindle, I can highlight things I like. They are automatically fed into my workflow for future inspiration.
Podcasts are also things that I capture content from. Using an app called Airr, I use their podcast snippet that can capture interests with a touch of the screen. Otter.ai is another tool I am experimenting with to help me capture ideation sessions.
Organization/Combination, and Serendipity Tools
One tool that I found recently was Readwise. It collects and combines everything from my Pocket, podcasts, Kindle, hardcover books, articles. It also points out things in your collection that you might not have picked up. Readwise may trigger serendipity.
While Readwise is great, it only prepares information for what I am looking for. I also found an impressive tool called Roam Research.
Transcribing Your Brainstorm with Otter.ai | Interview with Sam Liang
Sam Liang is one of the key innovators behind the scenes in Silicon Valley. He is one of the founders of Google's location services and is on the Google Blue Dot patent. He is the co-founder and CEO of Otter.ai, which specializes in live transcription services.
Sam Liang's Background
Sam Liang earned his Ph.D. at Stanford in hopes of becoming a professor. While in school, he met many smart people working on startups, which influenced him to go that route. He went on to work at Cisco, worked on a startup, and then joined Google for four years.
While at Google, Sam and his team created the Blue Dot and started the Google location server project, which became location services. While we use these services daily, we often don't think of the behind the scenes work that goes into them. When the technology first started coming out, everyone was so amazed by it. Now the market has matured to the point where it is an intrinsic part of daily life.
While Google maps have gone through this process, AI and speech recognition is currently going through it. Even though voice recognition and automatic transcription systems have advanced a lot, there is still more to come.
The Birth of Otter.ai
When using Alexa or Siri, you ask a question or give a command, often taking little time. When using Zoom or similar platforms, there are multiple speakers engaged in a potentially more extended interaction. People often have different accents, speaking styles, and background noises. The technology doesn't handle complicated conversations effectively.
In 2010, we started transcribing the Killer Innovations show using an offshore transcribing service. Even though a human was transcribing it, they couldn't get it right. Human involved transcribing required a lot of effort to go back and clean up the mistakes on my team's part. After a while, we stopped using this service for the show.
For Sam, he realized this was a problem when he always forgot things from meetings. Eventually, he brought a team together to find a solution to this problem. He surveyed the top transcribing technologies of the day and was disappointed by their low quality. The survey opened up an opportunity for his team to create something better.
Transcribing your Brainstorm
I am a customer of Otter.ai and am impressed with the transcription accuracy no matter the environment. I use it while in my studio as well as on my phone for capturing notes. Otter offers a system that adapts to people's natural speaking styles automatically. It works in the background no matter how many people are speaking or the speed of their words. Many people use Otter when they are in restaurants, driving a car, or walking their dog. Otter.ai has created a new feature that allows the software to hook up to Zoom when used automatically.
When using the software, you can highlight important things that were said to remember them. For those wanting to skip meetings but still get the information, Otter offers that chance as well. The software also identifies the speakers at the end of the session to connect them with what was said. Otter has released a product that allows people to experience it for free. There are also pro and business versions of Otter for those interested in regular usage.
From what I've observed, people these days are hesitant when being recorded. As being recorded becomes more common,
3 Types of Innovation – Institutional – Social – Technological
We will pick up from the previous show's topic, “What is Innovation?” and talk about innovation types. There are three types that I use. These are institutional innovation, social innovation, and technological innovation.
Type of Innovation: Institutional
Institutional innovation is the type that is most commonly overlooked by organizations. Institutional innovation applies to organizations, teams, companies, industries, and governments. This type can have several applications to different industries and co-innovation opportunities within those industries.
Based on how an institution operates and covers things (like policies, procedures, structures etc.), institutional innovation tends to get overlooked because it encompasses day-to-day things that we usually take for granted.
Improving institutional innovation can have a significant impact on an organization. There are a few different ways to do it when it comes to funding institutional/organizational innovation. Firstly, you can do it through entrepreneurship, consisting of going out and finding investors or customers to provide funding. Another way is to be an intrapreneur, coming up with ideas and securing funding from your organization. These are the two funding models within institutional innovation that have the potential to make a significant impact.
Driven by social priorities, social innovation has a positive social impact. Employment, quality of life, equality, or environmental efforts like providing clean water, are only some of the many goals. It is the innovator's passion that often drives these social innovations.
Funding can come from social impact investments. These investments don't seek a return on their investments. Instead, they seek to further a cause wherein they share a similar passion. Finding those who are passionate about the same thing is an effective way to fund this type of innovation.
Another way to fund is through angel investors who want a smaller return than usual due to their passion for the cause. Grants from government agencies, philanthropists, World Bank, etc., can also be a great way to fund social innovations. When working with social innovation, you have to be creative with fundraising efforts to achieve your financial goals.
The most commonly thought of the type of innovation is technological innovation. It comes in the form of new technology such as phones, tablets, software, etc. This type can also be in the form of scientific know-how, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing processes, etc.
In many cases, technological innovation comes from a unique combination of background or expertise that creates something new. The technology doesn't have to be invented from the ground up but requires the dots to be connected.
The funding opportunities for technological innovation are many. First, there are angel investors such as friends and family that invest in you. Next, there are venture capitalists that invest in companies as a profession. These two types of investors fall into the equity category, as you sell a percentage of your company to them to receive their investment.
Another option is corporate venture capitalists, which invest in areas of interest that could impact their corporate entities. There is also customer funding, where a customer interested in buying the product invests early on in it. I made many investments like this while I was at HP and got priority access to a lot of products. Lastly, there are grants such as Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants from the government.
When it comes to ideas,