Monthly Archives: May 2010

Insights – IBM 2010 Global CEO Study

IBM Has recently released its 2010 Global CEO Study. An excellent document that should be read by all, as it summarizes what is on the minds of CEOs around the globe, and, for those organizations that are looking to be more customer-centric (and that has to be every organization) understanding what the customer is thinking about is paramount.

Highlights of the executive summary are below, but I have also developed a PowerPoint summary of the document that I prepared as bedtime reading for all of us.

Today’s complexity is only expected to rise, and more than half of CEOs doubt their ability to manage it. Seventy-nine percent of CEOs anticipate even greater complexity ahead. However, one set of organizations — we call them “Standouts” — has turned increased complexity into financial advantage over the past five years.

Creativity is the most important leadership quality, according to CEOs. Standouts practice and encourage experimentation and innovation throughout their organizations. Creative leaders expect to make deeper business model changes to realize their strategies. To succeed, they take more calculated risks, find new ideas, and keep innovating in how they lead and communicate.

The most successful organizations co-create products and services with customers, and integrate customers into core processes. They are adopting new channels to engage and stay in tune with customers. By drawing more insight from the available data, successful CEOs make customer intimacy their number-one priority.

Better performers manage complexity on behalf of their organizations, customers and partners. They do so by simplifying operations and products, and increasing dexterity to change the way they work, access resources and enter markets around the world. Compared to other CEOs, dexterous leaders expect 20 percent more future revenue to come from new sources.

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Can we mix Rivalry and Innovation? McKinsey says we can.

In a world full of talk about collaboration, why would we consider rivalry? Interesting thought. McKinsey have just released a document around innovation and rivalry that is worth reading.

The notion is that we can learn from the past – in this instance, the use of rivalry. Indeed, McKinsey argues that rivalry does not preclude collaboration, but we should try and integrate rivalry and collaboration. Three principles are discussed:

  1. Forming Teams: competing teams are set up from different divisions, including a diverse array of experts, taking different approaches ot the same problem.
  2. Appreciating differences: The various solutions should be held up next to one another, with the opportunity for ideas from one to be integrated into the other.
  3. Conducting “market tests”: this involves bringing the solutions to an internal jury or group of customers to let them weigh and contrast the different solutions.

The article continues with a case study on GE, and how competition and collaboration has been used successfully to stimulate innovation in GE without disrupting a culture of collaboration.

In an era where collaboration is the catch cry, it is interesting to read and contemplate a hybrid model, especially one that has been pout in practice successfully.

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Obama offers $1m in prize money for Innovation

The Obama administration is offering up to $1 million in prize money to entrepreneurs that can come up with innovative ways to commercialize new technology.

The U.S. Department of Commerce Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship’s i6 Challenge is offering the prize money to six winners who invent what judges think are the most innovative ideas to drive technology commercialization in their respective regions, according to a White House blog post attributed to Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke.

The challenge is part of Obama’s Strategy for American Innovation, which calls on government agencies to use prizes, challenges, and awards to help create new technologies that will make American industry more competitive globally.

“How well America moves ideas out of the research lab and into the marketplace will help determine whether we remain the most competitive and vibrant economy in the world,” Locke said in the post. “And we want to hear the best ideas from entrepreneurs, investors, universities, foundations, and non-profits across America.”

Entrepreneurs have up to July 15 to submit an application, and there will be a conference call on May 17 to provide more information about the challenge. The EDA Web site also has information about the award program.

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Steve Jobs – taking customer centricity to a new level

Lots of companies talk about customer centricity. And many companies use multiple mechanisms to attempt to tap into the customer’s brain and way of thinking. One of the best examples is Procter and Gamble. They use a range of processes to understand the customer by watching, listening and observing their customers’ behavior.

Steve Jobs does it differently. Steve Jobs has, I believe, the unique gift of being able to see into the future – to predict what the customer will want 2-3 years out. And of course, what is uncanny about his ability is that, if he asked the customer today what they wanted, the customer would not be able to articulate it. Would anyone have asked Apple to create a device that would revolutionize the music industry? No way. Would a customer have been able to describe the iPhone interface for Apple to build? No way.

I am a firm believer that a very very deep understanding of customer behavior is a necessary condition for the success of any business. We are fortunate to live in the same era as Steve Jobs, who can, I believe, project the customer’s expectations into the future in a way no one else can do. And that is significantly amazing.

There is a great article on Steve in the magazine Seeds of Success. It’s worth a read.

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Five forces reshaping the global economy – from McKinsey

The core drivers of globalization are alive and well, but executives are still grappling with how to seize the opportunities of an interlinked world economy.

In this sixth annual survey asking executives about the forces shaping the world economy, there is little change in how respondents view the importance of global trends compared with previous years—either for business in general or for their own companies’ profits. Clearly, the financial crisis and economic downturn have not shaken these key trends. Continued faith in the positive effects of globalization combined with a move away from short-term planning likely reflects rebounding optimism about global economic prospects and is consistent with the findings of other McKinsey surveys on the economy.

Read the complete report.

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Models of Innovation

I really like the work of Professor Mohan Sawhney. He is the author of the book The Global Brain. It is one of the few books that provides concrete models of innovation, powered by collaboration.

It is interesting to see this work quoted in this article. Worth reading.

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