Tag Archives: ideation

P&G expands Connect & Develop – very significant

P&G has always been my “pin up” company, as it has pioneered ideation not only internally, but with customers and suppliers in a way that has been transformational for the company. It is therefore especially interesting for me to learn that Procter & Gamble is stepping up efforts to find new ideas – wherever they might originate. The wave of Open Innovation continues to build, but some skeptics feel that it is a bubble. Well, not for P&G.

P&G wants to triple the revenue it earns from working with outside sources, including competitors, universities and entrepreneurs. In five years, P&G wants to earn $3 billion in sales from its partnerships with outside companies and researchers, tripling the impact of a program that began in 2000 to find and adapt new ideas from small firms, inventors and others.

“Connect and Develop has created a culture of open innovation that has already generated sustainable growth, but we know we can do more,” chairman and CEO Bob McDonald said. “We want the best minds in the world to work with us to create big ideas.”

In a company that once took years, even decades, to bring new products to market relying on in-house research, the program has helped P&G quickly get new products on store shelves.

Examples of products found through Connect and Develop include Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, which came from technology licensed from German chemical company BASF, and Swiffer Dusters, adapted from a Japanese competitor called Unicharm Corp. P&G negotiated the rights to sell the product outside of Japan.

P&G will continue to look for similar opportunities, but will also step up its work with small- and mid-sized entrepreneurial companies, said Bruce Brown, P&G’s chief technology officer. The company plans to increase its work with universities, research institutions and government laboratories around the world, including “innovation hotspots” like California’s Silicon Valley, Boston, Israel and China, Brown said.

P&G employs dozens of international technology entrepreneurs whose job it is to find new products and technologies. The company already employs a small office in Silicon Valley and has employees working inside venture capital firms researching new businesses that P&G could invest in or even purchase outright.

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Filed under Innovation, Open Innovation

Tata, Innovation and Ideation

Most of us will have heard about the low cost car that is set to revolutionize travel in India. Many of us will have heard of its innovative model of distribution throughout the country. But not many of us have linked the innovation by Tata to ideation.

But it is.

An executive of an Indian conglomerate credited a corporate culture that encourages innovation with the creation of the world’s cheapest everyday car, a fuel-efficient, $2,500 four-seater that the company plans to export to Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia.

Sunil Sinha, an executive in Tata Quality Management Services, told a Harvard audience Tuesday (Oct. 12) that the car was the result of an unlikely — but public — promise that the company’s leader made in 2003, setting to work a team of engineers charged with rethinking how cars could be designed and made. The result, which went on sale last year, is the Tata Nano, a tiny, two-cylinder model that gets 55 miles per gallon and meets all of India’s vehicle emissions and regulatory requirements.

So where does ideation fit in? Sinha described a culture of innovation at Tata that includes employee-awards programs for both successful and unsuccessful ideas. What’s important, Sinha said, is that employees feel comfortable in bringing forward ideas, even ones that don’t pan out, and that they feel they work in a place that values fresh thinking.

The innovation culture has produced several notable products, he said. One is a water purification system that costs just $20 and produces enough water to keep a family of four supplied for more than a year.

Read the full article here. If I find a video of the talk, I will post it.

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Filed under Globalization, ideation

Bosses should definitely NOT kill ideas

Bob Sutton, Professor of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University, posted a blog on Harvard Business Review entitled: If you are the Boss, start killing more ideas.

His point is that in order for some ideas to flourish and become disruptive, many others need to be killed, and we are not good at doing that

I don’t have a problem with the concept of killing ideas, but I do have a problem with any “Boss” killing any idea.

I posted the following on the blog:

I don’t think any boss should ever kill any idea. The challenge is to have a filtering process that is set up properly to filter all of the ideas, and sort them appropriately. And it should be both the “crowd” that does the sorting, as well as a cross-functional team. In the work that I doing in Innovation at Cisco, we have both – and the ideas that percolate up through either the crowd or the cross functional team are the ones that are considered for progression, with the others being potentially incremental, not disruptive innovation.

I have a problem with any one individual “killing” anything. If an idea is floated, and an individual, especially of a “higher rank”, tries to squash it, I push back enormously. Killing of ideas by an individual on qualitative bases is a recipe for innovation destruction. With proper filtering by the crowd and a cross-functional team, the discussion becomes focused on those ideas that really have potential, and the only reason they are “killed” is that further research demonstrates that they are not viable – and this becomes obvious to all.

And certainly, ideas should never be killed by anyone because they have a higher “rank” than the idea originator – the thought of that makes me exceptionally anxious

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Filed under Culture of innovation

The Benefits of Incorporating Ideation in an Open Innovation Strategy

Ideation has recently become very popular. Many companies are looking to ideation as a tangible starting point for implementing an open innovation strategy. I continue to be involved in ideation projects. Indeed, I have now become very familiar with the WebStorm product from BrightIdea Inc, and like it a lot.

But is ideation worthwhile? Does it deliver value? It certainly appears to on the surface. However, in my experience, it all comes down to a robust strategy – not just for idea collection – but a strategy that determines how ideas will be handled, evaluated and funded in the back-end.

The road to success must include:

  • CEO sponsorship of the ideation process – the launch email should come from the CEO (or someone very high up in the organisation)
  • Strong governance – Innovation Board ideally
  • Well defined back end structure – not just a few ppt slides, but every aspect thought through
  • Dedicated funding put aside in the budget for those ideas that look to show promise
  • A structure to enable business-case development for promising ideas – this is an excellent HR opportunity for high-potential team members
  • Constant reporting back to idea generators as to progress
  • The definition of categories for the ideas as they are posted
  • Ensuring that the evaluation of the ideas is not centrally focused, but spread around to people who have no baggage in properly evaluating the idea
  • The ability to distinguish between disruptive and incremental ideas, and deciding on how each type will be managed – end to end

You might like to read an interesting paper by Cesar Castro who worked at Innocentive as VP of Business Development. It sheds some light on this interesting Innovation practice.

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Filed under ideation, Innovation