225 episodes

Step into the world of relentless creativity with the Killer Innovations Podcast, hosted by Phil McKinney. Since 2005, it has carved its niche in history as the longest-running podcast.

Join the community of innovators, designers, creatives, entrepreneurs, and visionaries who are constantly pushing boundaries and challenging the status quo.

Discover the power of thinking differently and taking risks to achieve success. The podcast covers a wide range of topics, including innovation, technology, business, leadership, creativity, design, and more. Every episode is not just talk; it's about taking action and implementing strategies to help you become a successful innovator. Each episode provides practical tips, real-life examples, and thought-provoking insights to challenge your thinking and inspire you to unleash your creativity.

The podcast archive: KillerInnovations.com

About Phil McKinney:

Phil McKinney, CTO of HP (ret) and CEO of CableLabs, has been credited with forming and leading multiple teams that FastCompany and BusinessWeek list as one of the “50 Most Innovative”.

His recognition includes Vanity Fair naming him “The Innovation Guru,” MSNBC and Fox Business calling him "The Gadget Guy," and the San Jose Mercury News dubbing him the "chief seer."

Killer Innovations with Phil McKinney - A Show About Ideas Creativity And Innovation Phil McKinney

    • Business
    • 4.6 • 74 Ratings

Step into the world of relentless creativity with the Killer Innovations Podcast, hosted by Phil McKinney. Since 2005, it has carved its niche in history as the longest-running podcast.

Join the community of innovators, designers, creatives, entrepreneurs, and visionaries who are constantly pushing boundaries and challenging the status quo.

Discover the power of thinking differently and taking risks to achieve success. The podcast covers a wide range of topics, including innovation, technology, business, leadership, creativity, design, and more. Every episode is not just talk; it's about taking action and implementing strategies to help you become a successful innovator. Each episode provides practical tips, real-life examples, and thought-provoking insights to challenge your thinking and inspire you to unleash your creativity.

The podcast archive: KillerInnovations.com

About Phil McKinney:

Phil McKinney, CTO of HP (ret) and CEO of CableLabs, has been credited with forming and leading multiple teams that FastCompany and BusinessWeek list as one of the “50 Most Innovative”.

His recognition includes Vanity Fair naming him “The Innovation Guru,” MSNBC and Fox Business calling him "The Gadget Guy," and the San Jose Mercury News dubbing him the "chief seer."

    Mastering Convergent Thinking Skills

    Mastering Convergent Thinking Skills

    This episode is the second in a series on mastering creative thinking skills. Today, we are focusing on convergent thinking. Convergent thinking sharpens your mind, focusing creativity toward finding not just any solution but the most effective one. Master it, and you turn challenges into opportunities, blending analysis with imagination to unlock unparalleled potential.

    What is Convergent Thinking?

    Convergent thinking turns the chaos of ideas into the clarity of innovation. It's not just about finding ideas; it's about discovering the right ideas that become transformative innovations.

    Convergent thinking is a creative skill that enables individuals to solve problems by narrowing down multiple possibilities to find the best possible solution. Unlike divergent thinking, which involves generating many ideas in a free-flowing, open-ended manner, convergent thinking demands precision, critical analysis, and logical reasoning. Convergent thinking is pivotal in decision-making, especially when people seek clear answers.

    Convergent thinking is the silent force behind every decision, from the simplest daily tasks to the most complex projects in the workplace. Its role in shaping our lives and driving progress is undeniable, making its mastery a non-negotiable skill for personal and professional success.

    The Science Behind Convergent Thinking

    Recent research into the neural mechanisms of convergent thinking has shed light on how our brains execute this focused type of problem-solving. Studies utilizing neuroimaging techniques have identified that convergent thinking primarily engages the brain's left hemisphere, which is known for its analytical and logical capabilities. Specifically, areas involved in processing language, memory, and problem-solving tasks show increased activity during convergent thinking exercises. This suggests that the ability to perform convergent thinking is rooted in the fundamental structures of our brain, underscoring its natural basis.

    Evidence points to the prefrontal cortex's role in managing the convergent thinking process by evaluating potential solutions based on logic and known information. Researchers find that while convergent thinking relies on well-established neural pathways, they can enhance its efficiency and effectiveness through targeted training and practice. Such findings highlight the impressive plasticity of the human brain and suggest that, even though convergent thinking is a natural cognitive process, individuals have significant potential to develop and improve this skill over time.

    Barriers to Convergent Thinking

    There are numerous barriers to effective convergent thinking, some inherent in our cognitive processes and others arising from external factors. These include:

    * Fear of Failure: The fear of failure or making the wrong decision can paralyze individuals, preventing them from committing to a single solution even when they possess all the necessary information.

    * Cognitive Overload: Cognitive overload occurs when the brain is bombarded with too much information, leading to decision fatigue and decreased ability to discern the most viable solution.

    * Stress: Stress and emotional turbulence can disrupt the brain's logical processing capabilities, impairing convergent thinking.

    * Lack of Knowledge/Expertise: A lack of knowledge or expertise in a given area limits our ability to analyze and evaluate possible solutions effectively, making identifying the best course of action challenging.

    * Rigid Thinking Patterns: Rigid thinking patterns and reluctance to change or challenge existing beliefs can hinder our ability to apply convergent thinking to its full potential.

    • 21 min
    Mastering Divergent Thinking Skills

    Mastering Divergent Thinking Skills

    Today marks the beginning of a series of episodes introducing you to five creative thinking skills. Future episodes will explore each skill's background, steps, application, and examples. In this episode, we'll explore how mastering divergent thinking skills can transform your life, turning obstacles into opportunities and making the impossible seem possible. Remember to subscribe so you don't miss out on any upcoming episodes. Let's get started.

    The Power of Divergent Thinking

    Harnessing the power of divergent thinking is essential in mastering creative thinking. Divergent thinking is the cornerstone of creativity. It enables individuals and teams to generate multiple solutions to a problem, diverging from linear thinking, which seeks to find one correct solution. You can break free from your usual patterns and tap into your creative potential by using divergent thinking. Today, we'll explore divergent thinking and how mastering it can unlock your creativity.

    Background of Divergent Thinking

    Divergent thinking involves generating many ideas or solutions to a single problem. Imagine opening your mind's toolbox when faced with a challenge and exploring every tool, idea, and approach rather than just reaching for the usual hammer or screwdriver.

    History and Development

    Many of the world's groundbreaking inventions, from the airplane to the mobile phone, were initially dismissed as flights of fancy. Yet, it's the persistent pursuit of the impossible that turns today's dreams into tomorrow's reality.

    Psychologist J. P. Guilford first conceptualized divergent thinking in the 1950s. During this period, creativity and cognitive processes became central to psychological studies. Guilford distinguished between convergent and divergent thinking, highlighting the latter's role in creativity. While convergent thinking converges on a single, correct solution, divergent thinking generates multiple potential solutions, paving the way for innovative thinking and creativity. Over the decades, this concept has evolved and been embraced as a critical skill for problem-solving and generating novel ideas.

    Characteristics of Divergent Thinking

    Divergent thinking has several critical characteristics that drive its effectiveness:

    * Generates Multiple Solutions: It thrives on generating numerous possibilities without restriction.

    * Promotes Originality: It encourages creating unique and novel ideas, pushing thinkers to explore beyond conventional ideas.

    * Encourages Risk-Taking: It involves exploring the unknown and taking risks, seeing failure as part of the creative process.

    * Flexibility: This enables shifting approaches quickly and viewing problems from multiple perspectives.

    * Non-Linear Thinking: It allows for unexpected connections and conclusions to emerge.

    * Encourages Curiosity and Exploration: A divergent thinker enjoys exploring various possibilities, seeking understanding and multiple approaches.

    Comparisons with Convergent Thinking

    Divergent thinking thrives on quantity, encouraging open-ended exploration beyond traditional boundaries. In contrast, convergent thinking evaluates and chooses among the options generated by divergent thinking. Together, they encompass a full cycle of the creative process. Divergent thinking starts the cycle, while convergent thinking focuses on refining ideas into practical solutions. Each has its place in problem-solving and innovation.

    Importance of Divergent Thinking

    Divergent thinking is crucial in a rapidly changing world. It fosters adaptability, allowing individuals and organizations to thrive in uncertain environments.

    • 24 min
    Mastering Creative Thinking Skills

    Mastering Creative Thinking Skills

    Are you ready to unleash your full creative potential and take your innovation skills to new heights? In today's fast-paced world, creativity and innovation are essential for success. That's why I'm excited to launch a new series on “Mastering Creative Thinking Skills.” This series will explore techniques to help you become a better problem solver and idea generator. Remember, creativity is not limited to a select few; it's a skill anyone can learn and hone over time with practice.

    Exploring Creative Thinking Skills

    Despite the inherent ability within all of us, most people tap into less than 10% of their full creative potential throughout their lives. Unlocking our creative thinking skills can propel us to achieve our dreams and redefine the boundaries of what's possible.

    Imagine having a powerful toolkit that transforms every challenge into an opportunity for innovation. From breaking down complex problems with Systems thinking to sparking your motivation with Inspirational Thinking, we will dive deep into skills that will make you more creative and dramatically increase your effectiveness. Let's explore the five creative thinking skills together:

    Divergent Thinking

    Divergent thinking is the capability to generate multiple solutions to a problem, exploring as many avenues as possible. Casting a wide net when fishing for ideas prioritizes quantity with the mindset that there will be a few gems worth refining among the many ideas. The optimal time to employ divergent thinking is at the onset of problem-solving processes. Before any attempt to narrow down solutions, it's crucial to explore all potential ideas.

    Convergent Thinking

    Convergent Thinking is the mental process of focusing on a single, optimal solution to a problem from a pool of possibilities generated during divergent thinking. This thinking style involves logical reasoning, critical analysis, and the application of existing knowledge and rules to arrive at a definitive answer. Engage in convergent thinking after exploring various possibilities through divergent thinking.

    Aesthetic Thinking

    Aesthetic thinking goes beyond mere appreciation of the visual; it involves a holistic perception of aesthetics, recognizing the harmony between form and function. Applying aesthetic thinking is critical in areas where the user experience is paramount. This includes, but is not limited to, product design, architecture, digital interfaces, and art.

    Systems Thinking

    Systems thinking helps us see how different parts of a problem or opportunity are connected. It's about understanding that changing one thing can affect many other things, too. Using systems thinking is crucial because it helps us make better decisions. For example, if a school is trying to improve students' health, systems thinking would consider physical education classes, cafeteria food options, mental health resources, and even how much time students spend on screens.

    Inspirational Thinking

    Inspirational thinking is the spark that drives creativity. It involves imagining the best-case scenarios to find a new way to solve a problem. This thinking is critical in keeping us excited and passionate about what we're doing, whether in school, as a hobby, or even when working on a challenging project.


    Future episodes will focus on one creative thinking skill at a time, providing tips on cultivating and using these skills effectively. With practice, you can learn to use the right creative thinking skills at the right time and in the right way to overcome challenges, generate new ideas,

    • 12 min
    5 Steps to Overcoming Creative Block

    5 Steps to Overcoming Creative Block

    The creative process often seems elusive, with the best ideas striking at the most unexpected moments. That magical spark can be exhilarating when an idea materializes seemingly out of nowhere. But how do you harness that creative energy at will rather than waiting for it to strike spontaneously? Many would argue it's impossible, blaming their struggles on the creative block. However, overcoming creative block is achievable and more straightforward than you imagine. In the following sections, I'll share five actionable steps to help you overcome creative block and tap into your creativity whenever needed.

    Understanding Creative Block

    Creative block is akin to writer's block—that feeling stuck when faced with a blank canvas, page, or screen, unable to generate ideas. It's frustrating when your creativity seems to vanish when you need it most. The prevailing myth suggests you must wait for creativity as if an external force controls it. However, the truth is that your creativity never truly leaves you; it's always there, waiting to be accessed.

    The Root Causes of Creative Block

    Several factors contribute to creative block, including fear of failure, perfectionism, burnout, and a lack of routine. Fear of failure often prevents people from starting a creative endeavor, while perfectionism leads to procrastination as individuals wait for ideal conditions. Burnout can result from prolonged creative efforts without adequate rest or relaxation, while a lack of routine makes it difficult to sustain creativity consistently.

    Five Steps to Overcome Creative Block

    Step 1: Establish a Routine

    Establishing a structured creative routine is crucial for maintaining consistent creativity. Set aside specific times for creative work and prepare your workspace to minimize distractions. Treat your creative time as non-negotiable, blocking it on your calendar to ensure uninterrupted focus.

    Step 2: Embrace Imperfection

    Learn to embrace imperfection and be willing to accept that your first attempts may not be perfect. Perfectionism can be paralyzing, hindering your creative process. By embracing imperfection, you free yourself from the pressure to produce flawless work and allow yourself to experiment and grow.

    Step 3: Seek New Experiences

    Break out of your routine and seek new experiences to stimulate your creativity. Engage in activities outside your comfort zone, travel to new places, or join clubs and communities that expose you to different perspectives. New experiences feed your subconscious mind, sparking fresh ideas and insights.

    Step 4: Practice Self-Care

    Prioritize your mental and physical well-being to support optimal creativity. Take breaks, engage in hobbies unrelated to your creative pursuits, and incorporate exercise into your routine. Recharge your creative energy by taking time to relax and rejuvenate.

    Step 5: Collaborate and Share

    Collaborate with others and share your work to gain valuable feedback and insights. Join online and offline creative communities where you can connect with like-minded individuals and exchange ideas. Sharing your work fosters collaboration and provides opportunities for growth and learning.


    Overcoming creative block is not about waiting for inspiration to strike; it's about committing to the creative process and taking action. By establishing a routine, embracing imperfection, seeking new experiences, practicing self-care, and collaborating with others, you can overcome creative block and unlock your full creative potential. Remember, your creativity is always within reach—now go out and create something amazing!

    • 19 min
    80 Attempts at Innovation by Acquisition: Lessons Learned

    80 Attempts at Innovation by Acquisition: Lessons Learned

    In the competitive landscape of business, innovation isn't just a buzzword; it's the driving force that fuels growth, sustains relevance, and pushes companies into the future. While many organizations focus on cultivating innovation from within, there's an alternative path that's often overlooked—innovation by acquisition. During my decade-long stint as CTO at HP, I was front and center for over 80 acquisitions, all in pursuit of innovation by acquisition. These experiences ranged from roaring successes to cautionary tales, shedding light on the intricate dynamics of integrating innovative ventures into established corporate ecosystems.

    The Wall Street Conundrum

    The challenge? Aligning traditional valuation metrics with the intangible benefits of innovation-driven acquisitions. When companies are acquired for their innovative potential, their valuation often hinges on a ‘future promise'—a projection of how their innovations will contribute to new revenue streams, market differentiation, and competitive advantage. This speculative nature makes it tough for investors to gauge the true value of these deals, leading to market skepticism or overenthusiasm.

    The Complex Dynamics of Integration

    Achieving a return on innovation through acquisitions requires more than just integrating new technologies or products. It involves merging distinct corporate cultures, teams, and visions—a task that's easier said than done. Traditional Wall Street valuation models, adept at evaluating tangible assets, often fall short in these complex scenarios. This gap can result in volatile investor reactions, from inflated stock prices to sharp declines.

    When Innovation by Acquisition Works

    What sets apart successful innovation acquisitions from missteps? Clear objectives, defined metrics, and organizational alignment. Pursuing an acquisition with a clear goal of injecting innovation, backed by concrete metrics and aligned with organizational goals, smoothens the integration and value creation process. Yet, achieving this clarity is a challenge. Many leaders, enticed by quick innovation fixes, dive into acquisitions without fully understanding their motivations or exploring alternative paths.

    The Road Less Traveled: Alternatives to Acquisition

    Before diving into acquisitions, leaders should consider less risky, more efficient alternatives. Collaboration forms, like patent licenses or cross-licenses, can offer access to desired technology with lower risk and financial outlay. These approaches also shield companies from Wall Street scrutiny, allowing for more freedom and flexibility in pursuing innovation.

    Navigating the Acquisition Maze

    For those committed to innovation by acquisition, success hinges on understanding what makes these ventures thrive. It's about delving deep into organizational cultures, values, and future visions. It requires meticulous post-acquisition planning to ensure the acquired company's innovative spirit isn't stifled by bureaucratic hurdles or cultural resistance.

    Steps to Successful Innovation Acquisition

    * Identify Strategic Alignment: Ensure the acquisition aligns with long-term strategic goals and innovation objectives.

    * Conduct Thorough Due Diligence: Assess the target company’s culture, technology, and market position beyond financials.

    * Involve Key Stakeholders Early: Engage leaders and employees from both organizations to foster alignment and address concerns.

    * Define Clear Metrics and Goals: Establish concrete metrics for success and guide the integration process.

    * Plan for Cultural Integration: Address cultural differences to avoid clashes post-acquisit...

    • 33 min
    STOP Performing Innovation Theatre

    STOP Performing Innovation Theatre

    The term “innovation theatre” has become increasingly prevalent in today's competitive landscape. It refers to the superficial acts organizations undertake to appear innovative without genuinely committing to the hard work of genuine innovation. This misleading facade often leads to wasted resources, missed opportunities, and damaged reputations. So, how can you spot this illusion, and what can you do to foster real innovation?

    Misleading Motivations

    Innovation theatre stems from a desire for quick wins and external validation rather than a genuine commitment to innovation. Organizations often invest heavily in flashy innovation labs, prime locations, and top facilities, prioritizing appearance over substance. This focus on the exterior rather than the core innovation process is a telltale of innovation theatre.

    Common Signs

    * Flashy Innovation Labs with No Substance: These labs serve as mere showpieces, lacking the foundational research and development needed for true innovation.

    * Hackathons with No Follow-Through: While hackathons generate excitement and publicity, they often lack a concrete plan for implementing the ideas generated.

    * Premature Product Announcements: Some companies announce groundbreaking products that never materialize, creating buzz without delivering value.

    * Frequent Rebranding of Innovation Initiatives: Constantly changing the name and logo of innovation projects can signal a lack of focus and commitment.

    * Adopting Buzzwords Without Strategy: Incorporating trendy terms like blockchain, AI, or quantum without a clear implementation plan is another form of superficial innovation.

    * Treating Innovation Funding as Optional: Viewing innovation as a discretionary expense rather than a strategic investment can hinder long-term success.

    The Pitfalls of Innovation Theatre

    Engaging in innovation theatre can have several negative consequences:

    * Wasted Resources: Organizations spend money on appearances rather than genuine innovation efforts.

    * Lack of Sustainable Progress: Short-term gains fail to translate into long-term success.

    * Damaged Reputation: A lack of substance can lead to skepticism from stakeholders and the public.

    * Missed Opportunities: Focusing on the facade of innovation means missing out on genuine growth opportunities.

    * Cultural Impact: Innovation theatre can foster a culture that values style over substance, leading to cynicism and disengagement among employees.

    The Benefits of Authentic Innovation

    In contrast to innovation theatre, authentic innovation offers numerous benefits:

    * Sustainable Success: Genuine innovation creates a pipeline of ideas that fuel long-term growth.

    * Industry Leadership: Authentic innovation allows organizations to lead rather than follow, setting industry standards rather than chasing them.

    * Better Resource Allocation: When we focus on genuine innovation, we allocate resources more effectively, which leads to higher productivity and greater employee satisfaction.

    * Cultural Impact: A culture of genuine innovation fosters critical thinking, continuous improvement, and trust among employees.

    Choose Authenticity Over Illusion

    Innovation is not a strategy; it's a survival tactic. Organizations must move beyond the illusion of innovation theatre and commit to the hard work of genuine innovation. By doing so, they can unlock sustainable success, industry leadership, and a culture of continuous improvement. So, the next time you encounter an organization engaging in innovation theatre, ask yourself: Are they truly committed to innovation or me...

    • 29 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
74 Ratings

74 Ratings

ArlieLP ,

Killing it! 🎸

Phil and his wide variety of knowledgeable guests are truly rockstars! Truly can’t believe such high quality conversations are available for free. The excellent insights they provide and the relatable way they deliver it had me hooked from the very first listen. Thanks for putting out such a stellar show, Phil - keep up the great work!

Adarcus ,


No matter the topic, you’re guaranteed to gain something from every episode - can’t recommend Killer Innovations enough. 🙌 This show is a listening MUST!

malfoxley ,

Great show!

Phil, host of the Killer Innovations podcast, highlights all aspects of innovation and more in this can’t miss podcast! The host and expert guests offer insightful advice and information that is helpful to anyone that listens!

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