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
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.
Cyril Bouquet – Better Innovation with ALIEN Thinking
Cyril Bouquet joins us to discuss “A.L.I.E.N. Thinking: The Unconventional Path to Breakthrough Ideas.” His book breaks down five keys to creating disruptive ideas called ALIEN Thinking: Attention, Levitation, Imagination, Experimentation, and Navigation.
Cyril is a Professor of Innovation and Strategy at IMD. Growing up, both of his parents were professors, but he had no desire to become one. Cyril had to do French military service, and one way to got about this was through civic service. Through his civic service, he fell in love with being a professor.
Cyril Bouquet was a professor in Canada and later came to teach at IMD in Switzerland. He has been an immigrant most of his life, to which he attributes a lot to his passion for innovation. He was raised in tropical islands, lived in France, Canada, and now lives in Switzerland. Through coming to different countries, Cyril has learned that there are many different ways to approaching the same situations.
Better Innovation with ALIEN Thinking
Through Cyril Bouquet's story, it is interesting to see how different parts of the world view things differently. This ties into the new book he co-authored called “A.L.I.E.N THINKING: The Unconventional Path to Breakthrough Ideas.”
A.L.I.E.N is an acronym for identifying the keys to being highly innovative. It is a metaphor that highlights the need to get rid of our previous assumptions. We have to think like an alien, coming from a different planet, or as I like to say, thinking outside of the box. The book explores the A.L.I.E.N acronym that applies to innovation in any field.
The A stands for attention, or how you look at the world. Sometimes we need to zoom in or out and switch our focus. In the book, Cyril emphasizes not being too focused, as it can restrict your ability to come up with new ideas. There is a balance where you need to be engaged and concentrated while being attentive to the right things. If you want to develop an innovative concept, you need more fluidity than often taught. The L stands for levitation or stepping back, separating yourself, and expanding your understanding.
Imagination and the Loss of Creativity
The I stands for imagination composed of playing with ideas and putting things together. A few weeks ago, I did a show that talked about a study N.A.S.A. did on kids and adults using their creativity test. 98% of the kids under the age of 6 passed the test, while only 18% of the adults passed it. Above all, much of the loss of imagination comes from schooling that teaches you to stay on specific paths.
Moreover, young kids are less afraid of what others think of them. They don't care what they look like and are okay being themselves. As they become older, they start to care more. As they grow older, conformity starts to creep in. This concept is the same when dealing with innovation creativity. The more we think ahead, the less we innovate as we become afraid to play with ideas.
Experimentation and Navigation
The E in A.L.I.E.N stands for Experimentation. The way we test ideas is often wrong, as we do it to prove we are correct. We use data to rationalize the story we have in mind and fail to learn from it. It is essential to be open to learning and discovery within the experimentation process.
The N stands for navigation or finding ways around things that are blocking innovation progress. Cyril believes this is the hardest part of innovation.
Do Faster Release Cycles Hurt Innovation?
Have you noticed that there is a constant cycle of new product releases? Organizational quarterly results often drive these releases. Cars, smartphone devices, home automation products, applications all follow this pattern of release cycles. I believe the fear of being left behind is what draws people to upgrades. They don't want to pull out an old generation of a phone or drive an outdated car.
Fast Release Cycles
In most companies, product managers will make incremental changes while portraying them as revolutionary upgrades. They put minor innovations into releases to get customers to buy the upgraded version nine months later. Companies have made it a standard operating procedure to launch numerous releases of the same product with minor cosmetic changes.
One example of this comes by way of Canon's cameras. Canon has a top-rated camera called the Canon Rebel that came out in 1990. Between 1990 and 2004, Canon released eleven versions of the Rebel. New versions of the product came out in 92′, 93′, 96′, and 99′. The subsequent three releases (2002, 2003, and 2004) went through two releases per year. Here, you can see Canon accelerating releases of the Rebel's next version on an annual basis.
Another example of an accelerating release cycle comes from the Apple iPod. From 2002-2007, there was a new release of the iPod every year. The iPhone updates at a similar rate.
While these are some common examples, these fast release cycles also occur in other industries. They can be attached to fashion, home appliances, automobiles, and various things besides consumer electronics.
Do Faster Release Cycles Hurt Innovation?
Inside organizations, innovators want to create revolutionary products. The pressure to pump up sales comes from shortening release cycles with recorded quarterly profits. Pumping up products becomes a drug that many organizations get hooked on. It conveys a false sense of innovation capability to shareholders and investors.
Organizations that get hung up on fast releases fail to make long-term investments into revolutionary products. They feed into the next release cycle, hurting innovation efforts along the way.
Here is a personal example of a product I was involved in that was negatively affected by fast release cycles. The product was the 2011 HP Touchpad, based on some ongoing tablet work. As the CTO, I pushed for the creation while leading the Palm acquisition's due diligence. After the 2011 HP Touchpad was released, the board of directors discontinued it seven weeks later.
Internal organizational fighting is what led to the ruin of the product. Proponents for traditional product release cycles were firmly anti-new products. They came out in force, preventing dollars from going to new products. They wanted the spending dumped into traditional HP laptop and printer products. These conventional products are low risk but don't add much value to products.
At this time, HP valued good quarterly numbers over long time growth and the transformation of lives. Ultimately, this mindset resulted in the death of many other innovative products.
Advice for Innovation Leaders
As an innovation leader, you need to avoid falling into this trap. Incremental changes to existing products are not innovation but artificial marketing. Following the discontinue of the Touchpad,
Innovating Wicked Problems
Wicked problems are problems that are extremely difficult or impossible to solve. The best example of this type of problem comes from a project I did with the Department of Education.
This project aimed to innovate kindergarten through 12th-grade education in the U.S. We ran a series of workshops in our attempt to transform education. The project turned out to be an extremely frustrating endeavor. Looking back, I realize that this qualified as a wicked problem.
This type of problem is something that is inconsistent and changes over time. People's opinions on the problem also change over time. The ecosystem of people interested in education, such as policymakers, teachers, unions, and students, have different opinions and think theirs are superior.
A wicked problem also has a sizeable economic burden or risk. If you mess up education, you impact a generation of people and how they compete in the marketplace. Entangled with other problems by nature, wicked problems are complex.
Wicked problems can often be overwhelming due to their size and complexity. The complexity of the problems comes from these entanglements. For example, if you look at the poverty problem, it is linked to education and linked to nutrition.
Each wicked problem has a set of organizations that are trying to solve the problem. Some try to solve poverty, education, nutrition, economic disparity, etc., from their perspective. Each group believes their approach is the right one. This process becomes part of the overall challenge in finding innovative solutions to these wicked problems.
Wicked problems are unique, and everyone frames them differently. Other things that challenge the solving of wicked problems are restraints and limited resources. These can come in the form of laws and contracts and limited finances and time limits.
Wicked problems are never entirely solvable. The education problems today are just different than the issues that existed when I was in school.
Strategies and Keys to Success
There are two keys to success when finding innovative solutions to these types of problems. Firstly, there is multi-disciplinary collaboration. There need to be experts in many different fields involved in these efforts. If you want to solve education, you need parents, nutritionists, economists, educators, etc.
The second key to success in this area is to have perseverance. Wicked problems are never done and require continuous improvement.
There are a few strategies to tackling wicked problems. The first strategy is an authoritative strategy, which gives a group or individual the responsibility of making decisions. This process simplifies the complexity problem, but some perspectives of the problem are left out.
The second strategy is a competitive strategy that puts opposing points of view against each other. This way presents many different solutions but creates a confrontational environment that reduces knowledge sharing.
The third strategy is collaborative, which consists of getting people to discuss and share their knowledge. The con here is that a collaborative approach takes a lot of time. Remember, don't think about solving wicked problems. Instead, seek to find the proper intervention that will improve them and continue that cycle of improvement.
Let's recap the discussion on wicked problems. The first element to innovating this type of problems is to recognize that there is an adaptive vision. It's not about finding a solution but applying that intervention.
Is Creative Thinking Based on Nature or Nurture?
Is creative thinking based on a born ability, or can you learn it like any other skill? Is it nature or nurture? There is research that argues both cases, and I believe you can do both. I would say that we are all born highly creative.
Creative Nature vs. Creative Nurture
Children use problem-solving and their imagination every day. Here's some insight into this creative transition from child to adult. In 1968 George Land tested 1,600 kids to analyze their creative transformation. He focused on three-five-year-old kids and used a creativity test developed by NASA. This test helped identify highly creative engineers, thinkers, and problem solvers. It had proven to be incredibly valuable in NASA's recruiting process.
George Land tested the same kids when they were five, ten, and fifteen years of age. 98% of the five-year-old kids passed the test, 30% of those same kids passed the test at ten years old, and 12% of them passed the test at fifteen years old.
Two hundred eighty thousand adults took the NASA creativity test, and only 2% of them passed. The result of the study was the realization that non-creative behavior is learned as people age.
Unlearning Non-Creative Behavior
Non-creative behaviors fall into two categories: rules and regulations. The educational model that we use today originated in the Industrial Revolution. The purpose of schooling during this time was to produce good workers who followed instructions.
The question then becomes, can you teach creative thinking? I believe you can teach and learn creative thinking. However, you cannot use traditional learning methods like lecturing, reading, testing, memorization, etc. There are many “creative thinking” courses out there that I would call traditional such as one-day courses, talking head on a YouTube video, or a “guru” speaking on stage.
When it comes to creative learning skills, you first must unlearn by breaking old habits and patterns. Intensify the breaking of old habits by creating new muscle memory. Getting out of the comfort zone is also a big part of this, and it starts with humility. People often come into my workshops with an ego problem stemming from prior successes. Ego is one of the most significant barriers that leaders have when trying to rediscover their creative thinking. Overall, it's an unlearning process, not a learning process.
Unlocking Creative Potential
You don't become a Marine by reading a book. Instead, you go through intense boot camp experiences. Likewise, you don't learn to be creative. You become creative from intense experiences. Becoming creative entails various challenges and tests that put you under stress. Remember the military model and how you can apply it to teaching and learning creative thinking skills.
You should also hang out with creative people that have experience because it creates community. In the Innovation Boot Camp course, we give those who complete the course a callsign— which signifies the experience they went through and achieved. The callsign is a symbol to wear. When we run into someone who has taken the course, we share that common experience of creating community.
The Innovation Boot Camp is a great way to unlearn bad behavior stemming from rules, regulations, and assumptions. The boot camp puts every student into a very intense experience. We start with a blank sheet of paper on Monday and a fini...
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?
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Whether you’re well established as an innovator, or just getting started carving out a profitable niche that’s ready to grow - this is a must-listen podcast for you! Phil does an incredible job leading conversations that cover a huge breadth of topics related to the ins and outs of unlocking creative energy to build a thriving business - and life you can be proud of - with leaders who’ve actually experienced success themselves. Highly recommend listening and subscribing!