Welcome!

Adobe Flex Authors: Matthew Lobas, PR.com Newswire, Shelly Palmer, Kevin Benedict

News Feed Item

Obsession With the Mythical "Perfect Idea" Is the Downfall of Most Innovation Efforts

Innovators Must Give Up the Mindset of Day-to-Day Operations -- and Immerse Themselves in Failure, Uncertainty, and Experimentation, According to New Book From Innosight

LEXINGTON, MA -- (Marketwired) -- 05/06/14 -- When trying to get their ideas off the drawing board and into the market, most innovators spend too much time, energy and money using the wrong toolkit to solve the wrong problem. They try to come up with a "perfect idea" that will disrupt the market or change the world. And they apply the wrong management skills: operating and control systems that are optimal for day-to-day execution but often detrimental to the innovation process.

In reality, "perfect" ideas do not exist. Every new idea is partly right and partly wrong. In the "first mile" of development -- i.e., going from the drawing board into the market -- successful innovators use trial-and-error experimentation to refine their ideas and business model. Learning and applying such skills is the only sure path to gaining commercial traction and turning a great new idea into a viable business, according to Scott D. Anthony, Managing Partner and head of the Asia-Pacific operation of strategy and innovation consulting firm Innosight and author of the just-released The First Mile: A Launch Manual for Getting Great Ideas Into the Market (Harvard Business Review Press, May 2014).

The First Mile gives innovators simple tools to help them avoid some of the most common pitfalls of early-stage innovation. Anthony created these tools based on his work with both venture-backed start-ups as well as some of the world's largest companies -- learning from the successes and failures of innovators in businesses of all shapes and sizes, and in a wide range of markets.

"How innovators navigate the first mile will determine whether the idea flies or fails, potentially taking the entire company up or down with it," says Anthony. "Most businesses operate on a principle of maximizing certainty and minimizing mistakes, but the innovation process is rife with uncertainty, mistakes and failure. In reality, mistakes and failure are a necessary part of the process and invaluable in pointing the way toward success -- if you are properly prepared and know how to handle them."

Without The Right Skills, Innovators Are Vulnerable to Four Key Mistakes

When innovators start with the wrong objective, or misunderstand innovation's key imperatives, they are in danger of making four common and often disastrous mistakes:

  • Running out of fuel: Money is the lifeblood of innovation. The right kind of planning ensures innovators have sufficient funding to keep the venture running long enough to get market traction.
  • Hiring the wrong driver: Not every executive has the right skills -- it takes a unique combination of customer empathy and business savvy. A leader needs both to guide the venture successfully through innovation's first mile.
  • Making a wrong turn: Innovators are often lured into empty market spaces with visions of big opportunity (e.g., "blue ocean" and "greenfield" opportunities), but sometimes these spaces are empty for a good reason and the market potential is illusory.
  • Spinning out: Too many innovative businesses make the cardinal mistake of scaling too fast, before they nail the economics and business model. To succeed, first nail it, then scale it.

To Succeed, Address Three Burning Questions

"Successful innovation is all about proving you can answer yes to three key questions, rather than assuming they are all true," says Anthony. "Does anybody need it? Can we do it? Do the numbers work? If you can't answer yes to all those questions, and prove it, then the odds that you have a commercially viable idea are quite low. But if you can, you may be on a path to something big."

Three key development hurdles every idea must cross in the first mile:

1. Is there a need? - Prove a deep customer need. Establish that the customer exists; identify the job he or she is struggling to get done; prove the job is important and unsatisfied.
2. Can you do it? - Prove the concept. Confirm that the solution solves the problem repeatedly and reliably; demonstrate that it's superior to other options; define what it looks and feels like.
3. Is it worth it? - Prove the economics. Identify the sources of revenue, as well as the costs, resources and operations required to earn that revenue; identify a viable path to commercialization.

Leading an Innovation Effort Requires Specialized Skills and Systems

Anthony argues that most organizations are short on the right innovation skills, including: a willingness to experiment for its own sake; an ability to welcome and learn from the unexpected; and comfort with rapid course corrections. Most of today's top executives and managers don't have these skills because they did not grow up with the pace of change they face today.

He outlines four leadership mandates that are essential to navigating innovation's first mile:

  • Piercing through the "fog of innovation" - Bias action over analysis to avoid "analysis paralysis"; focus more on learning than quantitative targets; use small diverse teams; and task decision makers with experimentation (i.e., don't let them just be "arm-chair innovators").
  • Encouraging smart risk taking and not overly penalizing failure - Evaluate people more on successful behaviors than "objective" outputs; use asymmetric reward systems (i.e., large rewards for success and small penalties for failure).
  • Knowing how and when to disengage, and ending the plague of "zombie projects" - Stop escalating commitments when you clearly hit a dead end; "shut it down, extract the lessons and celebrate the learning."
  • Fostering connections to external experts, customers, and employees - Build formal and informal networks; leverage the "wisdom of crowds"; increase opportunities and avenues for collaboration.

As examples of successful innovators, Anthony points to companies like:

  • W.L. Gore & Associates, maker of Goretex, puts experimentation at the heart of its culture: incentivizing teams to self-form around new opportunities, but also regularly giving out "sharp shooter" awards to those who "put down" dead-end projects.
  • Netflix built its disruptive technologies and business model through a rigorous and disciplined approach to experimentation -- not just in moving from DVD rental to streaming video, but also in original content production.
  • Adobe smartly managed the risk behind transforming its business model from prepackaged software to a software-as-a-service model by testing key assumptions in Australia before spreading the new model globally.
  • Citi launched a global collaboration hub that brings together employees from around the world -- its first global challenge in 2011 generated 2,300 hundred ideas from 45,000 employees across 13 business units in 97 countries.
  • Unilever maintains a "street" at its Indian headquarters in Hindustan where new product teams pitch ideas to employees.

The First Mile Imperative: Maximize the "Trial," Learn from the "Errors"

"All innovation ventures go through multiple course corrections before finding the exact right path," says Anthony. "In this process, one's arch nemesis is uncertainty in all its forms -- especially assumptions and rosy predictions that the innovator fails to question or verify."

Anthony urges innovators to follow a process called "DEFT" to test their assumptions and prove the commercial viability of their ideas:

  • DOCUMENT: Identify hidden assumptions using tools like questionnaires, a single-page "idea resume" or "business model canvas."
  • EVALUATE: Appraise the idea from multiple angles using role play scenarios, pattern based analysis and financial models like reverse income statements.
  • FOCUS: Narrow and prioritize uncertainties using "certainty tables" and "impact assessment" to focus on the risks with the greatest potential impact.
  • TEST & ADAPT: Design in-market and thought experiments that help maximize learning and apply the lessons, so you can refine your business model and strategy and reduce your risks.

He invokes many case studies to illustrate the tools and process steps, including:

  • Procter & Gamble's use of computer simulations -- running nearly 10,000 market scenarios -- helped them sharpen their approach to developing in-market trials for a new probiotic product.
  • Godrej & Boyce's spot sensitivity analysis to test consumer purchasing power and price points for its successful battery-powered refrigeration system "chotuKool."
  • Medtronic carefully crafted pilot programs at a handful of hospitals in India, to develop a disruptive business model that brings pacemakers to patients who sorely needed them, but historically couldn't access or afford the technology.
  • U.S. Navy's early testing protocols for radiation shielding in nuclear submarines.

"Great ideas and businesses are forged in the heat of the marketplace, and they never survive their first contact with the market totally intact," says Anthony. "Companies and entrepreneurs need to get past the myth of the 'perfect idea' and focus on trial-and-error experimentation, which is the true test of innovation. If you are systematic in breaking down your assumptions and proving your idea in the market, then you and your idea stand a fighting chance at disruption, and maybe even changing the world."

For a copy of The First Mile or to speak with Scott D. Anthony, please contact Katarina Wenk-Bodenmiller of Sommerfield Communications at +1 (212) 255-8386 or [email protected].

ABOUT SCOTT D. ANTHONY
Scott D. Anthony is the Managing Partner of Innosight. Based in the firm's Singapore office, he leads its expansion into the Asia-Pacific region as well as its venture capital activities (Innosight Ventures). He has worked with clients ranging from national governments to companies in industries as diverse as healthcare, telecommunications, consumer products and software. He is the author of The Little Black Book of Innovation (Harvard Business Review Press, January 2012) and The Silver Lining (Harvard Business Review Press, 2009). He is the co-author with Clayton Christensen of Seeing What's Next (Harvard Business Review Press, 2004), The Innovator's Guide to Growth (Harvard Business Review Press, 2008) and Building a Growth Factory (Harvard Business Review Press, 2012).

ABOUT INNOSIGHT
Innosight is a strategy and innovation consulting firm that helps organizations navigate disruptive change and manage strategic transformation. We work with enterprise leaders to identify new growth opportunities, accelerate innovation initiatives, and build capabilities. Innosight is based in Lexington, MA, with offices in Singapore and Lausanne, Switzerland.
www.innosight.com.

More Stories By Marketwired .

Copyright © 2009 Marketwired. All rights reserved. All the news releases provided by Marketwired are copyrighted. Any forms of copying other than an individual user's personal reference without express written permission is prohibited. Further distribution of these materials is strictly forbidden, including but not limited to, posting, emailing, faxing, archiving in a public database, redistributing via a computer network or in a printed form.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Software AG helps organizations transform into Digital Enterprises, so they can differentiate from competitors and better engage customers, partners and employees. Using the Software AG Suite, companies can close the gap between business and IT to create digital systems of differentiation that drive front-line agility. We offer four on-ramps to the Digital Enterprise: alignment through collaborative process analysis; transformation through portfolio management; agility through process automation and integration; and visibility through intelligent business operations and big data.
There will be 50 billion Internet connected devices by 2020. Today, every manufacturer has a propriety protocol and an app. How do we securely integrate these "things" into our lives and businesses in a way that we can easily control and manage? Even better, how do we integrate these "things" so that they control and manage each other so our lives become more convenient or our businesses become more profitable and/or safe? We have heard that the best interface is no interface. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Co-Founder & CTO at Octoblu, Inc., will discuss how these devices generate enough data to learn our behaviors and simplify/improve our lives. What if we could connect everything to everything? I'm not only talking about connecting things to things but also systems, cloud services, and people. Add in a little machine learning and artificial intelligence and now we have something interesting...
Last week, while in San Francisco, I used the Uber app and service four times. All four experiences were great, although one of the drivers stopped for 30 seconds and then left as I was walking up to the car. He must have realized I was a blogger. None the less, the next car was just a minute away and I suffered no pain. In this article, my colleague, Ved Sen, Global Head, Advisory Services Social, Mobile and Sensors at Cognizant shares his experiences and insights.
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) irreversibly encoded. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, will look at how this identity problem can be solved and discuss ways to use existing web identities for real-time communication.
Can call centers hang up the phones for good? Intuitive Solutions did. WebRTC enabled this contact center provider to eliminate antiquated telephony and desktop phone infrastructure with a pure web-based solution, allowing them to expand beyond brick-and-mortar confines to a home-based agent model. It also ensured scalability and better service for customers, including MUY! Companies, one of the country's largest franchise restaurant companies with 232 Pizza Hut locations. This is one example of WebRTC adoption today, but the potential is limitless when powered by IoT. Attendees will learn real-world benefits of WebRTC and explore future possibilities, as WebRTC and IoT intersect to improve customer service.
From telemedicine to smart cars, digital homes and industrial monitoring, the explosive growth of IoT has created exciting new business opportunities for real time calls and messaging. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Ivelin Ivanov, CEO and Co-Founder of Telestax, will share some of the new revenue sources that IoT created for Restcomm – the open source telephony platform from Telestax. Ivelin Ivanov is a technology entrepreneur who founded Mobicents, an Open Source VoIP Platform, to help create, deploy, and manage applications integrating voice, video and data. He is the co-founder of TeleStax, an Open Source Cloud Communications company that helps the shift from legacy IN/SS7 telco networks to IP-based cloud comms. An early investor in multiple start-ups, he still finds time to code for his companies and contribute to open source projects.
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to create new business models as significant as those that were inspired by the Internet and the smartphone 20 and 10 years ago. What business, social and practical implications will this phenomenon bring? That's the subject of "Monetizing the Internet of Things: Perspectives from the Front Lines," an e-book released today and available free of charge from Aria Systems, the leading innovator in recurring revenue management.
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges.
There’s Big Data, then there’s really Big Data from the Internet of Things. IoT is evolving to include many data possibilities like new types of event, log and network data. The volumes are enormous, generating tens of billions of logs per day, which raise data challenges. Early IoT deployments are relying heavily on both the cloud and managed service providers to navigate these challenges. In her session at 6th Big Data Expo®, Hannah Smalltree, Director at Treasure Data, to discuss how IoT, Big Data and deployments are processing massive data volumes from wearables, utilities and other machines.
All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices – computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors – connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades. With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo in Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be!
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Erik Lagerway, Co-founder of Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services to the modern P2P RTC era of OTT cloud assisted services.
While great strides have been made relative to the video aspects of remote collaboration, audio technology has basically stagnated. Typically all audio is mixed to a single monaural stream and emanates from a single point, such as a speakerphone or a speaker associated with a video monitor. This leads to confusion and lack of understanding among participants especially regarding who is actually speaking. Spatial teleconferencing introduces the concept of acoustic spatial separation between conference participants in three dimensional space. This has been shown to significantly improve comprehension and conference efficiency.
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, will discuss single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example to explain some of these concepts including when to use different storage models.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in software-defined storage (SDS) purpose-built for Windows Servers and Hyper-V, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Gridstore™ is the leader in software-defined storage purpose built for virtualization that is designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Using its patented Server-Side Virtual Controller™ Technology (SVCT) to eliminate the I/O blender effect and accelerate applications Gridstore delivers vmOptimized™ Storage that self-optimizes to each application or VM across both virtual and physical environments. Leveraging a grid architecture, Gridstore delivers the first end-to-end storage QoS to ensure the most important App or VM performance is never compromised. The storage grid, that uses Gridstore’s performance optimized nodes or capacity optimized nodes, starts with as few a...
The Transparent Cloud-computing Consortium (abbreviation: T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data processing High speed and high quality networks, and dramatic improvements in computer processing capabilities, have greatly changed the nature of applications and made the storing and processing of data on the network commonplace. These technological reforms have not only changed computers and smartphones, but are also changing the data processing model for all information devices. In particular, in the area known as M2M (Machine-To-Machine), there are great expectations that information with a new type of value can be produced using a variety of devices and sensors saving/sharing data via the network and through large-scale cloud-type data processing. This consortium believes that attaching a huge number of devic...
Innodisk is a service-driven provider of industrial embedded flash and DRAM storage products and technologies, with a focus on the enterprise, industrial, aerospace, and defense industries. Innodisk is dedicated to serving their customers and business partners. Quality is vitally important when it comes to industrial embedded flash and DRAM storage products. That’s why Innodisk manufactures all of their products in their own purpose-built memory production facility. In fact, they designed and built their production center to maximize manufacturing efficiency and guarantee the highest quality of our products.
Can call centers hang up the phones for good? Intuitive Solutions did. WebRTC enabled this contact center provider to eliminate antiquated telephony and desktop phone infrastructure with a pure web-based solution, allowing them to expand beyond brick-and-mortar confines to a home-based agent model. Download Slide Deck: ▸ Here
All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades. Over the summer Gartner released its much anticipated annual Hype Cycle report and the big news is that Internet of Things has now replaced Big Data as the most hyped technology. Indeed, we're hearing more and more about this fascinating new technological paradigm. Every other IT news item seems to be about IoT and its implications on the future of digital business.
BSQUARE is a global leader of embedded software solutions. We enable smart connected systems at the device level and beyond that millions use every day and provide actionable data solutions for the growing Internet of Things (IoT) market. We empower our world-class customers with our products, services and solutions to achieve innovation and success. For more information, visit www.bsquare.com.
With the iCloud scandal seemingly in its past, Apple announced new iPhones, updates to iPad and MacBook as well as news on OSX Yosemite. Although consumers will have to wait to get their hands on some of that new stuff, what they can get is the latest release of iOS 8 that Apple made available for most in-market iPhones and iPads. Originally announced at WWDC (Apple’s annual developers conference) in June, iOS 8 seems to spearhead Apple’s newfound focus upon greater integration of their products into everyday tasks, cross-platform mobility and self-monitoring. Before you update your device, here is a look at some of the new features and things you may want to consider from a mobile security perspective.