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
Innovation Isn’t Just About New Products
Innovation isn’t just about creating new products or services. While this is critical to an organization, it is also essential to look at other areas such as business model innovation, process innovation, and marketing innovation.
The Framework for New Products
We use the FIRE framework, which we have discussed many times on the show. The primary goal of this framework is to think about innovation with a full 360 view. The framework looks at three dimensions: the who (the customer), the what (the new product or service), and the how (ex., supply chain). Everybody tends to focus on “the what,” but all three are vital to successfully doing innovation.
Business Model Innovation
Business model innovation focuses on the mechanism of exchange of your product or service with the customer. One business model we have all seen is a subscription model. I pay monthly for my Adobe Creative Cloud subscription and receive many apps in return. Bundling is another business model in which a company combines various things to offer more value.
Freemium is another where mobile apps offer something for free but give more capabilities for a price. Razer and blades model is another one, where a company sells something for a low price, but a complementary good is needed to use that product. An example of this would be printers and ink. Leasing a car is another popular business model.
Lastly, crowdsourcing is where a company builds excitement around a product by offering pre-order and then manufactures the product based on the interest level.
Process innovation deals with delivering a product or service to the customer. It also deals with the sequencing, information, and communication aspects of the process. Ultimately, you need to figure out how to deliver more cost and time effectively to the customer.
How you provide the product can be just as important as the product itself. For example, the people who built the MINI cars used to keep the customer updated on the vehicle’s manufacturing process. They would also personally sign a letter for the customer that bought the car. This move created an emotional attachment for the customer and the company.
This process is what we call the “how” dimension. In today’s world, it is hard to break through the noise level and make something exciting. Packaging is one area of marketing that is a prime example of innovation. At HP, we tested our packaging a ton to make sure it arrived successfully to the customer. In one situation, we partnered with a university to have students create packaging designs. One group of students created a design that we loved, and we cut a deal with them to use the packaging for the company.
Another area is product placement, or how you get your product noticed. At HP, we did product placements on movies, tv shows, and even with the NBA. Lastly, it is essential to innovate on the pricing model and product promotion.
To know more about other aspects of innovation besides new products or services, listen to this week's show: Innovation Isn’t Just About New Products.
Are You Afraid Of Running Out Of Ideas?
When I run into fellow innovators, they often want to share their ideas with me and get advice. In many cases, they have an idea that they believe is the pinnacle of ideas. They love their idea to death and hold it close to them. While they may have a great idea, it has no value in this state.
Running Out of Ideas?
Having a mind-blowing idea without any execution is pointless. When I question these “idea hoarders,” I often discover a similarity. They are afraid they only have a limited number of great ideas in their lifetime. Fearing that somebody steals their idea, they don’t want to share it with anyone else.
The fundamental idea here is that once you succeed with that great idea, it will never happen again. This thought process is wrong. How many ideas did people like Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, and Elon Musk create? They created tens if not hundreds of ideas that have changed our lives. Some people say these people are just special, but I say otherwise. I believe we are all able to innovate multiple game-changing ideas in our lifetimes.
Let me share my own experiences. I started off developing computer-based training for Deltek and Individual Software. At Individual Software, I created a product called Typing Instructor, which was my first award-winning product. Next, I worked at a consulting company started by my mentor Bob Davis. I ended up doing software for Apple on contract and developed some software for the original Macintosh. Next, I did consulting work for HP on the HP 9000, the first commercial computing platform built on a risk processor. The project was a big breakthrough.
Next, I became president at Teraplex, where we made a supercomputer. Then I went to Thumbscan and worked on biometric security technology. Next, I went to Telligent and built a product called Imagine, one of the first web-based online billing platforms.
My Two-Step Process to Successful Ideas
All these products I listed were award-winning products. You may look at me and think I am special, but that is not the case. Firstly, I did not do all of this on my own. I had the right teams in place to aid me. So how was I able to accomplish these feats?
There is a two-step process that I use. The first step is, whatever idea I have, I either execute on it or share it with others. I don’t hoard ideas for myself. Elon Musk is someone who also does this. While he was in the middle of dealing with SpaceX and Tesla, he came up with the idea of a hyperloop, which he shared with the public. As a result, we saw an explosion of hyperloop companies.
It would be best if you wanted to inspire others with your ideas as Elon did. If your motivation for innovation is solely money, then you have the wrong idea. My view is that if you do innovation for the right reason, the rewards and recognition will come.
The second step of the process is that when you’ve given them all away, then you’ve made room for more ideas. Your creativity will fill the vacuum you created by giving away and sharing ideas. I have found that when I give away ideas, its result is similar to exercise. When you work out, your muscles get bigger each time. The more ideas you give away, the better your next idea produced becomes. This practice becomes a never-ending cycle that leads to success.
To know more about creating successful ideas, listen to this week's show: a href="http://traffic.libsyn.com/philmckinney/Are_You_afraid_of_Running_Out_Of_Ide...
9 Leadership Behaviors for Innovation Leaders
While innovation leaders have the same core behaviors all great leaders have, they carry crucial additional behaviors. Let’s discuss the leadership behaviors for innovation leaders, inspired by an article on Forbes by Jack Zenger. Applied to the topic is my own forty years of experience in the innovation space. These behaviors are foundational for innovation leadership success.
Fundamentals of Any Leadership Activity
Let’s start with the two fundamentals of any leadership activity. Every leader is there to bring together the right people to achieve an objective. Typically, a leader brings in people with different skills and abilities like finance and software engineering. When it comes to innovation, you’re bringing in people with different perspectives and thinking styles. It is critical to understand how to build teams to generate the next great idea.
The following fundamental comes from a quote I often use, “Leaders deserve the teams they get based on the worst actions they allow other team members to get away with.” If you allow your team members to get away with things like disrespect or not being a team player, it will infiltrate the rest of your team. The negative result of this will be your fault as a leader.
9 Leadership Behaviors for Innovation Leaders
For the first behavior, innovation leaders have a vision of the future, not just the goals of the present. You have to look at both the short and long-term goals and convey a vision that gets people excited. Secondly, innovation leaders establish trust in their team. Building trust is paramount when it comes to innovation. The need for trust is because of how risky and scary innovation can be. Without it, a team will not take the risk of putting their ideas out there.
Thirdly, innovation leaders challenge the status quo, refusing to rely on what is safe and comfortable. As an innovation leader, you need to try new things instead of sticking to the same processes. For the fourth behavior, innovation leaders are curious. They ask intelligent, strategic, thoughtful, and targeted questions to gather input. Spending the extra time to craft better questions will lead to uncovering many ideas. They also listen carefully to responses to questions.
For the fifth behavior, innovation leaders set aspirational goals or BHAGS (Big Hairy Audacious Goals). In this position, expect the delivery of breakthrough achievements and ideas. It is essential to challenge your team to do better by giving more autonomy. If you are a micromanager, either break that habit or don’t be an innovation leader.
Behaviors Six through Nine
The sixth innovation leadership behavior is that innovation leaders move quickly. Studies have shown a clear correlation between the speed of execution and the degree of innovation. The 10% fastest leaders were also in the top percentile of innovation effectiveness. The seventh behavior is that innovation leaders crave information. They need input and things where they can let their conscience work. For me, I am always reading blogs, magazines, books, etc. I find that the things I read help me connect dots to things that I come across at different times.
The eighth behavior is that innovation leaders excel at teamwork. They put their self-interest to the side and focus on creating collaboration. One challenge I’ve seen within organizations is competition between different groups. Avoid unnecessary competition needs to have success as an organizatio...
How to Avoid Innovation Burnout
What comes to mind when you hear the term innovation burnout? Webster's dictionary says that burnout is the physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive or prolonged stress. Burnout occurs when we feel overwhelmed, drained, and unable to meet that constant demand.
For innovators, it's that constant demand for coming up with new ideas. Being in the innovation game for some forty years, I have often gone through the burnout stage. Burnout can kill your creativity that drives innovation. Over the years, I've learned that there are things you can do to avoid it.
If you face burnout, it is essential to talk to somebody about it, whether your spouse, boss, or friend. If you don't address burnout, it can impact your career, family, and even happiness.
Dealing with Innovation Burnout as a Leader
The first thing you can do to deal with burnout as a leader is to eliminate time wasters. While at HP, when I asked my team to update me on something, they would often lose weeks of productivity preparing to present to me. Included in this time was preparation, meetings, etc., all leading up to a one-hour session with me.
In my organization now, when I ask someone for something, I have a conversation with them that does not need wasteful preparation. This meeting helps my team avoid burnout and keeps them focused on their projects, collaborations, etc.
The second thing leaders need to do to avoid burnout is to establish priorities. In my organization, I am a big believer in utilizing OKRs (Objectives and Key Results). Having set priorities helps people know what order they need to do things in.
Thirdly, leaders need to encourage and, at times, force downtime. By taking breaks, you replenish that energy required for the next project. At CableLabs, we offer unlimited paid time off (PTO) to our employees. If our managers see an individual struggling or just came off a big project, they often force them to take PTO.
We also shut down our teams periodically, allowing them to rest and avoid innovation burnout. By disconnecting, I found that my teams come back with better solutions to problems. The fourth thing leaders need to do is allow employees time to disconnect at the office. Employees shouldn't have to be on call at all times. Having stress from their boss constantly messaging them will fuel their burnout.
Leaders also need to set boundaries for their employees. When you are outside of work, you should disconnect from work. While this is not realistic with all jobs, it makes a big difference when implemented. When a leader does these five things, it gives their team time to recharge and avoid innovation burnout.
Avoiding Burnout as an Individual
The first thing you can do is invest in your physical and mental health. You are an innovation athlete expected to perform at a high level. Athletes exercise physically and mentally to stay in shape and get more vital and more innovative. As innovators, it is essential to eat well, exercise, and do things that feed your creativity. This podcast is one of my creative outlets as I do it outside of work.
The second thing you need to do is take ownership of recharging your batteries. Don't wait for your boss to force you to take a vacation. Even as a startup guy, it is essential to take breaks to recharge. If you are struggling, don't be afraid to share your struggles with your leaders. If you are feeling this way, other people in your organization are probably feeling the same.
The last thing you can do as an individual is to find a community of ...
3 Tips to Innovating with a Co-Innovation Partner
Co-innovation is a common term used in the innovation space. It describes two organizations of any kind that come together to innovate in an area of common interest. I am not only talking about collaboration. Co-innovation seeks to deliver a result such as a product or service. There is a 50-50 contribution with this model, whether that’s money, people, labs, etc.
Co-Innovation Partner: Corning
During my tenure at HP, co-innovation played a vital role in the company. The amount of money it took to accelerate acted as a barrier to innovation. Corning was the co-innovation partner in this case.
The project we did with Corning was around gorilla glass, which we improved and expanded for more uses. Next, we worked on bending glass displays to limit eye strain. We built a frame and figured out how far we could bend the glass before it would break. This project led to the curved displays, which are now commonly used. With the constant acceleration of time and costs, finding partners with the knowledge you don’t readily have is key to fueling innovation.
Innovating with a Co-Innovation Partner
The first tip is to choose a partner with strong cultural alignment. During this time, you will be working very closely with your co-innovation partner. By alignment, I mean how they manage, oversee, and support their teams and what they expect from them.
It is also essential that both organizations grant similar autonomy to their teams. If one organization gives a lot of independence and the other micromanages, there will be unneeded friction.
Beyond people, you need to look at how the potential partner treats their customers and sells them. At HP, there is a very relaxed selling approach, but not all organizations are like that. You need to think about these things and figure out if you are willing to align with a company that approaches customers differently.
Next, it’s crucial to discover what the mission objective of the organization is. If one organization is all about numbers and the other is about improving lives, there is no alignment. If you don’t have a strong culture alignment with your co-innovation partner, your chance of success is slim to none.
The second tip is to define the area of focus carefully. There needs to be a substantial overlap of focus. Think of this as a Venn diagram, where your business has an area you want to focus on to achieve success. Your partner also has an area of focus where they want to achieve success. The area where these two spheres overlap is the general area of focus for this co-innovation effort.
Both organizations must have a committed interest in the common area and aware of each essential contribution. Co-innovation partners need to bring value and combine them to create a breakthrough.
The third part of tip two, which I can’t stress enough, is the need for mutual dependency. It would be best to find an area of focus where you need each other to solve problems. If one can do it on their own, then it is not a co-innovation effort.
My Final Tip
Tip number three is to secure proper sponsorship and support. The key here is to create a true partnership built on trust. In the HP and Corning co-innovation effort, I was the executive sponsor and Wendell Weeks, the Chairman and CEO at Corning, was their sponsor. I can tell you that Wendell and I talk regularly and are good friends even to this day. This level of trust and relationship was built from this project and led to...
Dr. Whitney Snider on Collaborative Campuses That Fuel Innovation
Whitney Snider is the Head of Alexandria's LaunchLabs and the VP of Alexandria Venture Investments. Alexandria Real Estate Equities is a real estate investment trust that provides housing and labs for life science and tech companies. Whitney will share what ARE is doing to fuel innovation through collaborative campuses.
Whitney works at Alexandria Real Estate Equities and is involved in venture investment activity growing the life science cluster in New York City. Focused on collaborative campuses for life science, technology, and agTech companies, Alexandria brings companies together. They help grow collaborative ecosystems that fuel better innovation.
The concentration of Alexandria's portfolio is in some of the most innovative cities in the U.S. This includes Boston, San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle, and New York. Alexandria started with a vision to create a new kind of real estate company focused on the life science industry. Unique team collaborations contributed to their success as an established leader in the industry.
Alexandria uses four elements to fuel innovation through its collaborative campuses. The first is vocation, where they're at locations with quality housing, good transportation, etc. The second is innovation, where Alexandria evaluates and searches to find opportunities no one has jumped on yet. Then there is talent, where Alexandria focuses on building a solid pipeline to grow the company. Lastly, there is the capital, which is needed to fuel and fund innovation at all levels. You need these elements to support your ideas.
Alexandria's collaboration campuses range from some of the world's biggest pharma companies to top-tier upstarts. With this diversity, there is a co-mingling of talent and energy that allows for more growth.
Alexandria's venture and investments arm focuses on funding early growth stage companies through a built platform. This venture expands its reach and providing mentorship and capital to cultivate innovation that will improve human health.
Fueling Innovation with LaunchLabs
Alexandria has LaunchLabs sites on many of their major U.S campuses. LaunchLabs looks for up-and-coming companies in their regions. Then, they identify which ones could use their lab and mentoring infrastructure to become a new star. Alexandria tailors what they do to the specific region they are operating in. They work with teams, pinpoint their needs, and find the necessary resources to improve them. They work to push companies into the next stage of growth.
Currently, over one hundred of Alexandria's tenants and investments are working on COVID-19 solutions. Due to COVID, they had to adapt their buildings and launch initiatives to enhance their tenants' safety measures.
Alexandria formed a dedicated COVID-19 advisory board to improve and provide insights on the pandemic. As I've learned, there is no playbook when it comes to things like COVID. Having good processes and knowing when to change the process is vital to succeeding in times of disruptive shock.
The Future of ARE
Currently, there are 10,000 diseases known to humankind, with only 10% having some available treatment. Alexandria believes they are on the edge of a biology revolution. They want to find innovative ways to treat the world's major health issues.
Through COVID-19, it has been amazing to see the development of successful vaccines under high levels of pressure.
Great show. Listened to all 16+ years of episodes
Excellent practical useful
Great to listen to to spark creativity.