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
Walt Disney’s Plus It Approach To Better Ideas
Innovations can happen in any industry and a variety of different ways. We are going to take a deeper dive into part of the FIRE framework known as ideation. We will focus on combining individual ideation and team ideation. On this week's show, we will discuss Walt Disney's “Plus it” approach and how it changed the customer entertainment experience.
Disney's “Plus It”
Walt Disney used a concept known as “plus it” to improve his company's ideation. He would tell his Imagineers (people who design the Disney experience) to “plus it” as a way to motivate them to take their work to another level. He challenged them to see what was possible and then encouraged them to take it a few steps further.
“Plus it” is a technique to iterate on ideas without using any harsh criticism. It's about finding what is good about an idea and tweaking it to make it even better. The question is, how do you do it?
The first step you need to do is to conduct brainstorming activities and set up a quota of ideas to iterate. You need to come at the problem from different angles. Good ideas will get people excited so keep an eye out for reactions. Remember, evaluation happens after, not during this process. After brainstorming, grab some sticky notes and crank out unique ideas. Cranking ideas is when individual ideation comes in to play. Do this for about twenty minutes and come up with a minimum of twenty ideas.
The next step is to post and group ideas. Each team member posts and shares their ideas to the rest of the group. Done through a short and quick process, it involves posting a sticky note on a board. During this time, one idea may trigger another's idea. If this happens, write down the new idea and post it. If two people have similar ideas, post those ideas next to each other.
The next step is to do team ideation or “plus it”. One at a time, everyone chooses somebody else's idea that they like. Then, they ideate and build upon that idea and have others jump in.
Throughout my work, I have found that around 30% more and better ideas come from this combination of team and individual ideation. I've also found that there is an elevated collective ownership aspect to this. People feel like more of a team and are more passionate and energized through this combination.
Walt Disney focused on making ideas better for many years and made it fundamental to Disney's culture. Many other organizations have embraced the “plus it” and have applied it to their organizations. Walt Disney made breakthroughs using his “plus it” method in many different ways.
Walt applied plussing it early on at Disney with the idea of Disneyland. He came up with the idea for a Christmas parade going through the park. The financial people at Disney disagreed with Walt's idea as people were already going to the park and didn't expect anything different. Walt wanted to deliver a never-before-seen experience. Despite what the finance people had thought, the idea became a huge success and drew many more people to the park.
Another example of plussing the experience happened for Disneyland's 50th anniversary. They rebuilt the Space Mountain ride by synchronizing audio, creating a completely new experience.
The third example of plussing a product was when the Apple iPod and the iPhone came about. Steve Jobs cited the influence of Disney on his work many times. It comes down to the little things that most people overlook yet m...
Medical Innovations Amidst a Global Pandemic
Throughout the show’s history, we’ve done interviews with medical professionals and those pursuing innovations in the medical field. This week’s guest created a breakthrough product used during this global pandemic. Clive Smith, the CEO and founder of Thinklabs joins us on the show. We will discuss a medical innovation and what he’s doing to disrupt the field.
Clive grew up in South Africa. Greatly influenced by the moon landing as a kid, which showed that technology happens in the United States, he knew where he needed to be. Clive studied for his masters at the California Institute of Technology and focused on analog electronics and signal processing. After finishing school, he worked in the corporate world for a few years but realized that was not what he wanted to do. While he didn’t stay there, he is grateful for what he was able to learn.
After leaving corporate America, Clive started Thinklabs. The context was that it would be an incubator for Clive’s and other people’s ideas. He had a long-term interest in medical devices, and while at his undergrad in South Africa, he developed an electrocardiographic device with a friend. On top of that, many of Clive’s friends from school went on to become doctors. Clive’s brother was also a cardiologist, so being surrounded by the medical professionals boosted Clive’s interest.
Stethoscope Medical Innovation
Clive stumbled across an article in a cardiology journal about the stethoscope. The journal people measured the acoustics on stethoscopes and studied the original stethoscope made by Rene Laennec. They realized that the acoustics of the original was almost the same as the modern stethoscope. The device hadn’t had a performance improvement for nearly 180 years.
Clive decided that he was going to fix the issue and started prototyping in his garage. He came up with a unique sensor for the stethoscope. After talking with cardiologists and comparing his medical innovations to others, Clive started talking with HP medical. They ended up funding his product, but while they were funding it, another company bought the healthcare division.
Due to Clive’s contract, he could leave and put all the technology out on the market himself. The first version of the stethoscope came to the market in 2003 and manufactured in China. In 2013, the production of the product moved from China to the U.S.
Manufacturing and Product Use
Clive made himself more vertically integrated when he moved from offshore manufacturing to onshore. He did this because he wanted to be able to innovate quickly. Outside manufacturers like the ones in China want to crank out a product efficiently and keep things moving. It’s not that easy to make changes with all of that. Another part of it was 3D printing. 3D printing offers flexibility because it is mostly software.
Moving onshore wasn’t mainly for the cost nor “for American manufacturing”. Many of the suppliers in the U.S had a hard time making high-quality products that Clive wanted. He ended up with a global supply chain as he does assembly in the U.S but gets some components from Japan, China, etc.
With regards to Clive’s digital stethoscope, some physicians are particularly interested in listening to sounds. Many people still use conventional stethoscopes, and if they hear something that sounds weird, they pass it on to a specialist. Users of the digital stethoscope use it to get a more thorough read upfront. On top of that, regular stethoscopes are known to carry diseases and pathogens and not useful in infectious situations.
Called on to help doctors in 2014,
5 Questions Every CEO Should Answer About Innovation
For the first time, we are recording a show in the mobile studio in Austin, Texas. Once we get past COVID, we plan to travel a lot more and visit different innovators in various areas of the country. This past week, I interviewed three CEOs of billion-dollar companies for a virtual event online. I asked them a set of questions and on today’s show I am going to ask and answer those same questions.
The Invention Question
The questions will get people to think and share things that they usually wouldn’t share. I’m going to run through and randomly pick these questions out of a notebook I have. This notebook contains creative and exciting questions that I have collected over the years.
The first question is: What is the most important invention in the last five years? I think electric car vehicles are fascinating, and I’ve had the benefit of spending some time with Elon Musk. An invention has a massive impact if it has become something that is commercially available. I think electronic vehicles fall right into this category. There are also a lot of spinoffs that have come from the development of these vehicles. The spinoffs include “battery technology,” which is very important. With products like electric cars, there will be a push in the battery industry to create more improvements.
The next question is: What is your dangerous idea? The answer to this question pertains to an idea that is disruptive and turns everything on its head. My dangerous idea is to rethink education on a global scale. It’s no longer about memorizing formulas, facts, or figures. It is about teaching future generations how to think, solve, and have a passion for lifelong learning. Whatever skill we’re teaching in the classroom today won’t apply in five or ten years due to the rapid change of technology. There needs to be some rethinking done on traditional education structure to promote teamwork, collaboration, empathy, ideation, experimentation, etc. That’s the work environment students will be entering into when they join the workforce.
Years ago, I did some work with the Singapore government and the state of Ohio building textbooks that included innovation and creativity. Some school districts wanted to treat innovation the same as reading, writing, and arithmetic. We must think of innovation as creative reading and apply it to those topics. Innovation and creativity need to go across all the subject matter.
Step two is to create school environments where there are team projects, creative problem-solving, and experimentation. The key with experimentation is that not all experiments are successful. Whatever the result, you have completed the work and learned in the process. The mindset that you passed or failed needs to be changed. We have to develop ways to experiment and fail while still getting an A in the classroom because you learned from it.
The third question is: What are you optimistic about? During the time of this recording, there are many uncertainties. Examples of this would be COVID, the election, social unrest, etc. Despite these issues, there is still a lot of optimism. As humans, we can come together and get through these times using our ingenuity. Look back at the time of the polio epidemic. There was a consorted effort on the issue, and scientists came up with a vaccine and tamed the disease. I think the same thing will happen with COVID.
6 Innovation Metrics (KPIs) Every Organization Should Use
This week, we look at an old show that has recently come up. It is a show I did in February of 2012 about innovation metrics. We'll discuss the core set of innovation metrics that every organization should use.
Before we get started, I want to address one thing: bad metrics. They are very prevalent and extremely popular in areas such as Wall Street and publicly traded companies. These metrics get defined by analysts who have never run any innovation efforts or businesses.
The most popular bad metric that Wall Street has is the percentage of revenue spent on RND. They try to rank organizations based on this metric. I have run tests and trials, collected data from public companies coached and mentored CEOs, and CIOs worldwide from various industries. This is a bogus metric that is not predictive of future success. If this metric was true, if I spent 50% of my RND revenue, I should be two times better than somebody who only spends 20% of their RND revenue. False. It varies by industry and company. I spent a lot of time trying to convince the board of directors at HP that this is a bogus metric and not useable.
When it comes to good metrics, I look at it from input, output, outcome, and impact. I spend the most time on input and impact. When it comes to innovation, the impact your innovation is making, and the input you are investing in is key.
Innovation Input Metrics
Let's look at what innovation input metrics you should consider having as part of your success measurement. The first one is the number of new ideas in the funnel. It would help if you kept the funnel full of ideas. This metric is about keeping your organization focused and continuously developing new ideas. At my current organization, we sit down twice a year and look at everything in the funnel. You want to find ideas that are reasonable for your organization.
The next metric is the acceptance/idea kill rate. Acceptance is the number of ideas that make it to the funding phase. You want that acceptance rate to be anywhere from 10-30%. The idea kill rate is when you decide to kill an idea rather than move it forward. At HP, we had a four-phase funnel to managing ideas and turning them into products. At each phase, there was about a 55% kill rate. We would start with ten, go to five, go to two or three, and finish with one. You need to look at your current acceptance and kill rate and set a target, possibly putting it into your Objectives and Key Results (OKRs).
The third metric is a balanced investment. This metric is how you will use your innovation spend to influence your organization. This metric has products and services across the bottom, and vertical is your customers and markets you serve. 70% of the innovation spend should be in the core. The 20% should be in new products to existing customers and existing products to new customers. And lastly, 10% in new customers, new markets, new technologies, etc.
Innovation Impact Metrics
The first one is the 3M metric, which is the percentage of revenue from new products. 3M has an innovation metric they have tracked for decades. The metric is what percentage of their revenue that comes from products produced within the last three years. The revenue percentage forces them to come up with new ideas constantly.
The second metric is the quality of your patents, which differs from the number of patents. When I first went to HP, Carly Fiorina was the CEO. She pushed us hard to ramp up the number of patents. Organizations get ranked based on how many awarded patents.
7 Must Have Features of Your IMS – Idea Management System
This week, we will continue the discussion on the FIRE framework and expound upon it. We will discuss a technology that will enable your FIRE framework, known as an Idea Management System (IMS).
Idea Management System
The Idea Management System supports everything from the focus, ideation, and ranking, to managing your funnel for the execution phase. I deployed my first IMS in 2008 while I was CTO at HP. Not known as IMS yet, we chose a particular platform back then. Every IMS system has its built-in assumptions as part of its basic platform. They have to work on enhancing their platforms due to competition continuously.
If you have procured an IMS, are building one, or are integrating one with other systems, there are seven must-have features you need. The first feature is known as the ease of idea capture. This consists of getting all of your ideas captured and putting them into your IMS. The key here is to get every idea you have into this system. It is also important to track who came up with each idea for legal reasons.
Support for Innovators
The second feature is all about the support for your community of innovators. Especially critical for IMS because it brings all of your innovators together in a common system. It becomes a back and forth communication process between innovators. Most IMS systems don’t grasp the idea of bringing people together. People often take it as a passive process, observing but not engaging. A common feature needed is the ease of how you “plus an idea.” When someone creates an idea, you want other innovators to build on it. You want a way to communicate feedback on ideas as well. An IMS is also a great way to celebrate an idea, whether it got funding or ended up stopped.
The next feature is to enable an open innovation opportunity. This feature consists of allowing people outside of your organization to contribute. It includes things like public competitions for the best idea and rewarded with a prize.
Another feature that I am a big believer in is university joint ventures. These are opportunities where you fund PHDs or grad students who work in your focus research area.
Workflow and Life Cycle
The next feature on my list is what I call a flexible and powerful workflow. In many cases, designed enterprise applications have a particular philosophy in mind. While not intentional, they inherently create a step of workflows that enable the feature set within that IMS.
In reality, you want an Idea Management System that adapts to you, not the other way around. It would help if you defined the workflow for your innovation framework and all the tools and processes you use to build upon it. When selecting your IMS, make sure you allow for the system to be easily updated.
Next is a must-have feature; the management of the entire idea life cycle. Ideas get touched by many people and may get funded, stopped, or even resurrected in the future. An example of managing the idea life cycle revolves around the selection. We talked about this on some previous shows on ranking. In your IMS, you want to capture the answers from the process of ranking. Years later, the scoring for these ideas could be completely different due to innovations.
Protect and Recognize
The next vital feature is protection or how you protect your catalog of ideas. This feature can be basic security and encryption, which is very important. In this case, however, I am talking about patents.
Innovation Lean Canvas – A One Page Innovation Plan
This week's show is a follow-up to the Execution show where I did a one minute intro to the Innovation Lean Canvas. If you haven't listened to that episode, make sure to click here. The innovation lean canvas is a structure that we teach in all of our Disruptive Ideation Workshops. It is an innovation plan that offers an overview of your best idea all in one place.
The Innovation Lean Canvas
The lean canvas replaces a typically created business plan. We print this out on a huge poster-sized paper and tack it to the wall in our workshops. It allows you to look at your best idea and the critical areas around it, all in one glance. Updated as you acquire more learnings, you'll be able to see these ideas and critical areas on the paper. I would encourage you to customize your lean canvas to your own organization's needs. Don't be afraid to try something different that fits you.
Let's walk through my lean canvas so we can get a feel for it. Starting, we talk about the problem statement, and what makes this idea different. We discuss who the customers are and what the key metrics are. The steps and activities that are needed, as well as the resources needed, are discussed. With this framework, you get a perfect snapshot view of the problem, the solution, and how it all works. It helps you pinpoint areas that need work.
Breaking Down the Lean Canvas
The problem statement: you may have different variations of this, and you want to put them all on your lean canvas. Next, you want to discuss the solution. This statement is your idea that was ranked the highest, and you and your team feel it is ready to go forward. Now, you want to define who the customers are and discuss their personas. Everything must be crystal clear, and if not, you may need to investigate and validate the customer segment.
Next is the unique value proposition. Why is the customer going to find value in this? Why is it going to be unique compared to what is already out there? It would be best if you define why your idea is better and why the customers will want it. The problem, the solution, and the customer are tightly linked and foundational to execution. You have to be able to answer these areas.
At this point, you need to define some key metrics. What are the criteria for success? What constitutes you're making progress? An example of this would be asking five questions to twenty-five customers and bringing those answers back. The questions get tied to the key activities. The activities would be preparing the survey of questions for the customers to answer.
I challenge you to spend some time thinking about improving your idea to create a sustainable advantage. Once you launch, you will have many copycats if you don't have a barrier to entry. The fast rise of copycats is due to low-cost manufacturing. It would be best if you found a way to have an unfair advantage that is defensive.
Patents are costly, averaging around $30,000-$35,000, including the legal work and working with the patent office. There are other ways for you to create barriers to entry, such as trade secrets. You need to find out what resources you need. Find resources in technologies, expertise, access to a sales channel, etc. You will have to pitch your idea, so you need to be crystal clear on what resources you will need to make it happen.
Next, focus on funding requirements and costs. When most people a href="https://killerinnovat...
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