Beware the overly zealous innovator?

October 29th, 2019 by Roger La Salle

                                                                                                        By: Roger La Salle

                                                                                                        www.innovationtraining.com.au

                                                                                                        www.matrixthinking.com

Define your goal and stick to it

How many times have you been involved with an innovation only to find the developers and engineers adding features that were never in the original brief? This happens all too often with the downside of increased development cost, increased product cost and increased time to market. Worse still, researchers going off on a tangent to explore some curiosity of little value to meeting original product specification?

Mitigating Risk – the market is a risky place

Time to market is critical in these days of turbulent markets, rapid prototyping and ever emerging technologies. Marketers often get it wrong with new products, so the earlier you can achieve market validation the better.

With any new product it’s usually a good idea to launch with the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). That is a product that meets the initial requirements but may lack all the possible enhancements and “bells and whistles” that usually come with extra development cost and increased time to market. These can come later to keep the market involved. Just look at Apple and Microsoft with continuous product churn with the new or updated versions always adding enhancements to the previous.

The idea is to test the market with the MVP and then use innovation “Change that Adds Value” © La Salle 1999 to continually upgrade the product with new and better applications and features. This is what innovation is all about, and one car manufactures exploit to the fullest.

Car makers release a model, then each year add features, which of course could have been added at the start but at the expense of market validation for a new model; and of course the opportunity to innovate to win ongoing market engagement.

Not only do car makers innovate features, but as time progresses, the new models grow in size and cost. Further, as the updated model grows to become prohibitively expensive for new market entrants, they release a smaller new car. They then use the same trick to migrate these people up the value chain with ongoing enhancements and size.

The Honda Accord, a micro car of the 1970’s soon grew to be a saloon with the Civic coming in under it for the newcomers. Now the Civic too has grown to be somewhat of a saloon but as the Civic grew in size and cost Honda introduced the sub-compact City, and so it continues.

What’s the Message?

Make sure your developers stick to the brief

Beware that surprise curiosities don’t hijack the agenda

Launch and test the market with the MVP.

                                                                 **** ENDS****

Roger La Salle, trains people in innovation, marketing and the new emerging art of Opportunity Capture. “Matrix Thinking”™ is now used in organizations in more than 29 countries. He is sought after as a speaker on Innovation, Opportunity and Business Development, is the author of four books, and a Director and former CEO of the Innovation Centre of Victoria (INNOVIC) as well as a number of companies, both in Australia and overseas. A serial inventor, Roger is also responsible for a number of successful technology start-ups and in 2004 was a regular panelist on the ABC New Inventors TV program. In 2005 he was appointed to the “Chair of Innovation” at “The Queens University” in Belfast.

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How do we handle an “Orphan”?

September 18th, 2019 by Roger La Salle

                                                                                           By Roger La Salle

                                                                                           www.matrixthinking.com

                                                                                         www.innovationtraining.com.au

Non-core business

How often do we come across companies who identify or develop a new product or opportunity, only to discard them as “non-core business”?

This is quite common in the world of corporate innovation. To be fair, this is understandable and typical of the way KPI’s drive executives to remain focused on trying to reach their often demanding targets.  

So the Orphan?

Technologies that are not seen as core business are often referred to as “Orphan” technologies with some businesses actually plying a trade in identifying and trying to find appropriate businesses to purchase orphans.

Alternatively, whilst many companies boast an Innovation Department that is perhaps best described as inwards looking in trying to develop innovations that may align with core business, other business have a different approach. These businesses, looking to find new fields of endeavour, actually have a full time staff position that works at looking for orphans to purchase. This is not a silly idea and is really just an “inversion” of the innovation department.

Perhaps “having your cake and eating too” may be a good approach as many companies have fallen for the trap of failing to embrace non-core innovation.

The most common example of course is Kodak and there are many others.

Many years ago a company in Melbourne manufactured and sold 28 million matches a day. It discarded research into the Butane lighter as non-core business, despite a warning from their sales manager that this was a mistake. In fact he asked the Board to open their eyes to their real business of “flame on demand”, not just matches. Alas, history told the story. They no longer exist in their own right and were taken over and merged with another brand.

Again the Outrigger!

I have mention this in recent blogs and I raise it again, this model needs to be taken seriously.

An example:   We were working with a company in Regional Victoria of late, a company that specialises in precision laser cutting that used their skills to develop a wonderful product in their own right that they could sell direct to end users. This was a great initiative in moving them from being a “dependant supplier” to an “independent supplier”. In other words, a company with a product of its own to sell, not just a service of metal cutting to companies that may come through the door.

Our advice to this business was to employ the outrigger model and create an independent entity and employ a young dynamic hungry entrepreneur to take charge and let them run with this as a new business, whilst they remained focused on their core business, which is already successful in its own right.

What’s the Message?

Overlooking or discarding non-core business may be seen as opportunities lost, but beware of the common trap of chasing too many rainbows, only to find none.

Think carefully about how you manage non-core assets or developments. There may be “gold” there for the taking and the outrigger model may be the best low risk approach.

                                                                 **** ENDS****

Roger La Salle, trains people in innovation, marketing and the new emerging art of Opportunity Capture. “Matrix Thinking”™ is now used in organizations in more than 29 countries. He is sought after as a speaker on Innovation, Opportunity and Business Development, is the author of four books, and a Director and former CEO of the Innovation Centre of Victoria (INNOVIC) as well as a number of companies, both in Australia and overseas. A serial inventor, Roger is also responsible for a number of successful technology start-ups and in 2004 was a regular panelist on the ABC New Inventors TV program. In 2005 he was appointed to the “Chair of Innovation” at “The Queens University” in Belfast.

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So, What now if the NDA is of little value?

August 23rd, 2019 by Roger La Salle

                                                                                           By Roger La Salle

                                                                                           www.innovationtraining.com.au

                                                                                           www.matrixthinking.com

The problem!

In seeking to disclose a new opportunity we mostly use an NDA to try and protect our interests. However, as discussed in the previous article, if all the necessary technology to resolve this opportunity is already in the public domain, perhaps the NDA is of little value as the disclosure necessarily reveals the opportunity.

Is a Patent the Answer?

One reader correctly suggested enhanced protection could be gained by first lodging a patent application, but this too may have problems.

To the surprise of many, an idea cannot be patented, you can only patent the way to fulfil the idea or implement a solution.

For example, a wonderful idea may be for anti-gravity boots that will allow people to float around the room. Indeed this is a great idea, but it cannot be patented until you can describe in great detail how to do it. With patents this is what is referred to as the “Method and Apparatus”.

Referring to the example in the previous blog for a toothbrush that alarms when the user is pressing too hard, what is the “Methods and Apparatus”?

The solution suggested was the use of a quartz crystal in the handle of the toothbrush to power an alarm mechanism in the case of excessive pressure. Of course this can be patented, but there are other ways of detecting excessive pressure. For example, a strain gauge could be used in the handle of the tooth brush. This would be equally patentable along with the suggestion of quartz crystal solution.

Indeed this is why patent attorneys have in their descriptions a number of possible solutions referred to as embodiments with the best suggested one being referred to as the “preferred embodiment”.

However, with the patent lodged and perhaps now known to the world, (depending somewhat on the stage of progress of the application) the next inventor may arrive at a solution that simply detects flex in the bristles of the tooth brush. This too is equally patentable along with all the others.

So we see that even a patent may leave one exposed with others looking to steal the high ground once the problem has been divulged. This is of course apart from those that willingly infringe your patent and tempt you into costly litigation.

New products can be a mine field

I write this article as one that has some experience in business partnerships and even in legally structured royalty arrangements.

In one case with a written royalty agreement in place it was proven that the other party was less than honest with their payments. Costly litigation ensured where we won with a formal court settlement signed by a Judge. Three years later the same fraud was repeated. The litigation this time went to the Supreme Court where again we were was successful.

All this, even in the light of Court signed documents, so what chance has an NDA?

So what’s the solution?

The bottom line, and one all in business would understand, at the end of the day, it all comes down to relationships and trust. Build relationships slowly and with care and beware the people effusive with praise; and most of all people who blithely sign an NDA without first close examination.

                                                                 **** ENDS****

Roger La Salle, trains people in innovation, marketing and the new emerging art of Opportunity Capture. “Matrix Thinking”™ is now used in organizations in more than 29 countries. He is sought after as a speaker on Innovation, Opportunity and Business Development, is the author of four books, and a Director and former CEO of the Innovation Centre of Victoria (INNOVIC) as well as a number of companies, both in Australia and overseas. A serial inventor, Roger is also responsible for a number of successful technology start-ups and in 2004 was a regular panelist on the ABC New Inventors TV program. In 2005 he was appointed to the “Chair of Innovation” at “The Queens University” in Belfast.

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Beware the NDA!

July 17th, 2019 by Roger La Salle

Beware the NDA!
By Roger La Salle
www.innovationtraining.com.au
www.matrixthinking.com
The NDA
The Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) is something all innovators would be familiar with as a document exchanged between parties that may wish to share information on the understanding that both parties will keep the information in confidence. However there is one exception, that being if the information disclosed is already known to the other party or already in the public domain. This is a great failure of the NDA. Further, I cannot recall a single event in my or any of my colleagues experience where the penalties for so called disclosure have been enforced.

The problem is obvious
In most cases inventions, and in particular innovations, are the result of two elements of thinking:

1. Identifying a problem worthy of a solution
2. Bringing together the independent parts of technology that will solve the problem.

The fact is that in almost all cases the separate bits of technology that go to make a solution are already well known and in the public domain, so what of the NDA?

What are we protecting?
Indeed the real confidential information that one wishes to protect is perhaps the problem that has been identified as well as a likely solution; with the further knowledge that there are often many ways of solving an identified problem.

A simple example of this may be found in music. Every note in the musical scale is well known and in the public domain, but what one seeks to protect with music is the arrangement of the notes to form a novel tune.

Perhaps a better example in the technical sphere, one I have alluded to in previous blogs, is that of dentistry and quartz crystals.

It is well known to dentists that people cleaning their teeth usually wear a groove in the gum interface with molar teeth on their strong or dominate side. For example, a dentist can usually look at the teeth of an older person and know if you are left of right handed.

Any savvy inventor on learning of this may see it as an opportunity or a problem worth solving and thus seek a solution.

It is further well known to engineers that a quartz crystal when distorted generates an electrical current.

Thus a possible innovation is to put a quartz crystal in the handle of a tooth brush and use the amplified electrical charge to raise an audible alarm when excessive pressure is applied with a tooth brush.

This may be a valuable innovation but how can an NDA be used to inspire collaboration in this case since both sides of the equation, the grove in the teeth and ways of detecting excessive force are well known and in the public domain. Indeed it is the combination of this knowledge that is not well known and is the nub of the idea.

It seems that the real IP here is the identification of the problem and the application of known technology to reach a marketable solution.

With this is mind, perhaps it’s time we recast the NDA to protect the application of the known problem and market opportunity with the known technology, irrespective of the individual elements already in the public domain?

Follow the Money
Above all else, it’s not the technology that is important, it’s the connection of the solution to a market that leads to profit and a sustainable business.

**** ENDS****

Roger La Salle, trains people in innovation, marketing and the new emerging art of Opportunity Capture. “Matrix Thinking”™ is now used in organizations in more than 29 countries. He is sought after as a speaker on Innovation, Opportunity and Business Development, is the author of four books, and a Director and former CEO of the Innovation Centre of Victoria (INNOVIC) as well as a number of companies, both in Australia and overseas. A serial inventor, Roger is also responsible for a number of successful technology start-ups and in 2004 was a regular panelist on the ABC New Inventors TV program. In 2005 he was appointed to the “Chair of Innovation” at “The Queens University” in Belfast.
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Innovation – Invention – Collaboration

May 14th, 2019 by Roger La Salle

Innovation – Invention – Collaboration
By Roger La Salle
www.innovationtraining.com.au
www.matrixthinking.com

Open Innovation, the term used when companies and people literally open their problems and issues to the world looking for advice and solutions is possibly the most obvious form of collaboration.

There are a lot of issues with this so called open innovation model, a prime one of course is ownership of IP. This has the potential to be a minefield if not properly understood and managed.

However, before we go too far down the path of collaboration and open innovation it may first be useful to agree on what we even mean by the word innovation. Innovation, a word that seems to have been corrupted by so many, achieving nothing more that turning the simple into the complex!

It can be argued that Innovation is the basis for all things new and better, but what inspires innovation and new ideas? More to the point, what is the link between an innovative or inventive idea and an outcome?

If we think of innovation when applied to building a business and making money, which is probably what inspires most innovators, then we need to think about the risks in business.

In most cases when an idea is being pursued and a technology development is being undertaken, whether it be an IT solution, new App, a tangible product or a new service, in essence there are only two risks that need to be considered.

The first is what we may refer to as technical risk, which means can the technologist achieve the desired outcome?

In science and technology, for the most part the technologist will deliver a solution or at least will be able to give some insight as to the risks involved. For example if we were to ask the technologist to give us anti-gravity boots they would easily be able to assign the risks associated with achieving an outcome. Of course in this case the risk would be enormous.

On the other hand if we asked a clock to be developed with hands that were in fact LED strips that were clearly visible in darkness, the answer would be that this is achievable with no technical risk.

In short, technical risk is something we can generally measure and assign a degree of risk.

However, assuming I did achieve the technical outcome with my innovation, the real questions to be asked, and the ones that too many innovators and even large companies get so wrong so often are “can I sell it?” – “will there be a market?”

Market risk is without doubt out the single biggest risk in bringing new products to market.

With this in mind we may be able to coin a definition of innovation that has the effect of reducing market risk and with that we can explore the opportunity landscape to hopefully create successful innovation.

When we look at some products from the past, Google, the i-Phone, MasterCard and Visa, Nokia, Seiko, the IBM PC and Windows, one thing these all have in common is that none we first to market. Indeed all were followers of some prior art and yet all these were great successes. In short the secret to mitigating market risk is to find a product or service that everybody is buying and simply change it in some way to add value.

Thus a definition for innovation can follow.

The common synonyms for innovation are improvement or advancement. Further, if we take it that people buy things because they see value for money, then perhaps the best definition for innovation is “Change that Adds Value”. Indeed this derivation and definition was coined in my book “Think New” many years ago. This definition has now been adopted by many organisations and innovation practitioners worldwide.

Whereas innovation may be about making changes for improvement, inventions are more about novelty. Novelty of course is an essential ingredient to a successful patent application. Having said that, there are many innovations that do contain elements of novelty and are thus also patentable. Indeed one may argue that there are few absolutely new inventions, though a few that may fall into this category might be the electric light bulb, the transistor device, the atomic bomb, RADAR and the LASER.

Given that we may have a better understanding of innovation the task now falls to the creation of innovations. How does one do that and why is collaboration so vital to successful innovation outcomes?

The secret to this comes from three elements, all essential ingredients that underpin successful innovation:
• Observation
• Knowhow borne of experience
• Connections or collaborations

Observation
The key to finding opportunities for innovation lies in observation. That is, looking at the way people interact with the world, with products and services and finding the gaps and value added opportunities. Of course the idea embodied in the relatively new concept of Design Thinking asks one to look at the customer. However the fact is that from my reading of this methodology, what it fails to do is to ask how one looks at the customer. Furthermore it should also ask you to look at the customer’s customer. For example, is the retailer your customer or the purchaser and user of your product? The packaging industry seems to have worked that one out, for example in attending to supermarket shelf storage space and customer convenience in opening and storing products!

Indeed there are five things that Design Thinking seems to miss in exploring customer behaviour and the way people interact with products and the world. These are in my book “Think Next” published over a decade ago.

• Predictable activity
• Widespread activity
• Repetitious activity
• Comparative activity
• Trends

If we explore our customer with these five, what I refer to as “seeds” of opportunity, the game gets a lot easier. It’s further made easier if you then use the eight thinking triggers I refer to as “Catalysts” to stimulate thoughts about these seeds.

This is what I refer to as “opportunity Capture”.

Knowhow borne of experience
Young children are often very good at seeing what to them appears obvious, whereas people who have been doing the same thing the same way for too long often seem prone to overlook the obvious.

The young, the uninitiated and those untarnished with tradition are often very good at seeing what may be possible, but what they lack is knowledge and experience in looking at how such opportunities may be addressed and what seems sensible and may be possible.

This is where experience and an older head is so valuable in innovation outcomes.

There is a great saying, “knowledge is not wisdom, wisdom comes from experience and experience comes with age.

Below are some examples that may illustrate the point of why knowledge borne of experience is so important.

• The inventor who correctly realised that the lead on a hairdresser’s hairdryer was a problem is a case in point. His solution was to have a battery operated hair dryer. What his lack of knowledge failed to identify was that even a car battery would not have had the capacity to run a hair dryer even though the idea may have had merit. As it happened the inventor did toil away at this innovation for far too long and spent quite a lot of money before acquiring the knowledge that at this point in battery development, his idea was simply impractical.

• A building company with very large innovation teams, in fact four separate teams, which were trying to find ways to identify if scaffolding that had been put in place and certified as safe was subsequently moved by subcontractors, and perhaps rendered unsafe. They had been wrestling with the problem without a solution. When the problem was put to an older head the answer was simple, something the inexperienced innovation teams had never even heard of. Tie the scaffolding to the building with “Tamper Tape” that fractures on movement. This was a great solution, but one that the young innovators were simply too inexperienced to have even considered.

• A fellow who proposed a warning device that alerted parents if a child had unfastened their seat belt. This was nice in theory, but what was overlooked was that many cars already have a “person sitting on the seat but seat belt unfastened” alarm. Perhaps an easier solution could be a seat belt clip latch that requires stronger hands to undo, or maybe a two handed operation action much like a safety interlock on a power tool. We refer to this as “re-question”. It asks you to explore the real issue and decide what is really the ideal or best question to be asked in addressing a problem?

In my world we refer to the type of connections from problem to solution as “connecting the dots”.

One of the great skills of clever entrepreneurs and innovators is to see the linkages between seemingly unrelated issues. This is where broadly skilled technologists and open minded thinkers come to the fore.
For example, suppose I run a lumber business, the business of cutting up trees to provide timber for the building industry. What possible connection does that have with mathematics? Perhaps none you may think, or certainly the old fashioned timber manager may have thought. But in fact linear programming, quite an old science these days, when employed in that industry can optimise the way timber is cut to provide massive additional profits. But in the closed non-collaborative model, such knowledge may never be acquired.
Similarly,
• The technologies developed in putting a man on the moon. How could that possibly connect to the business of pots and pans? The answer – Teflon coating
• Clocks and radio paging, is there a connection? Indeed there is. Imagine having a clock equipped with a radio paging receiver to receive time signals and thus keep perfect time and even update for Summer Time changes. Such clocks were developed in Australia long before we had cell phones with perfect time
• The packaging business and home insulation? Of course, use bubble wrap as the ideal insulator. It’s light weight, cheap, easy to install and with fire retardant grades also available.
• Optics and home insulation? Of course, use a reflective coating on one side of the bubble wrap to reflect radiated heat.
• Physiotherapy and the reduction of carbon emissions?
• The tooth brush and ceramic crystals?
• Extruded plastic “core flute” sheeting and aluminium extrusions?

The reader can ponder the latter three, but the connection in each of these cases has spawned real businesses.
There is an endless list of these seemingly unrelated disciplines that can be connected with appropriate knowledge and collaboration between disciplines
Indeed this is why the new paradigm of “Opportunity Capture” is now emerging as the preferred approach to the more narrow discipline of traditional innovation.
There are endless examples like this which goes to show that perhaps inexperienced people may have great value in identifying possible innovation opportunities but really fail to deliver when it comes to real and viable outcomes.

Connections and Collaborations
There are few cases where one individual or even one organisation can solve all the problems and go from mind to market with an idea without assistance, or perhaps better said, collaboration.

Possible the best example is in the auto sector. Auto makers are really just assemblers of parts made in most cases by third parties. No auto maker can make all the chassis components, the body work the paint or the rubber, the bushes, shock absorbers, alternators, windscreen wipers, the complex electronics, the air conditioners and even something as simple as the seats and the seat belts. Of course tyres, bearings even engines parts are provided by collaborating third party suppliers.

Collaboration and finding the best parties to assist you on your innovation journey is essential whether it is in the design, the engineering, the manufacture, the business planning and even the sale and marketing. Indeed even the very largest manufactures from food to cosmetics usually outsource their packaging and even advertising campaigns. Collaboration at its best.

Collaboration is definitely the name of the game when I comes to successful innovation outcomes.
**** ends ****

Roger La Salle, trains people in innovation, marketing and the new emerging art of Opportunity Capture. “Matrix Thinking”™ is now used in organizations in more than 29 countries. He is sought after as a speaker on Innovation, Opportunity and Business Development, is the author of four books, and a Director and former CEO of the Innovation Centre of Victoria (INNOVIC) as well as a number of companies, both in Australia and overseas. He has been responsible for a number of successful technology start-ups and in 2004 was a regular panelist on the ABC New Inventors TV program. In 2005 he was appointed to the “Chair of Innovation” at “The Queens University” in Belfast.
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Avoid the big company trap!

March 26th, 2019 by Roger La Salle

Avoid the big business trap!
By Roger La Salle
www.innovationtraining.com.au
www.matrixthinking.com

Most recent experience
I have just returned from almost two full weeks of workshop sessions in Colombia, (despite what many people may think, this is marvelous country I often visit and a place where I could happily live).

What became most apparent to me in many of the sessions with major companies in Colombia on this trip came into sharp focus. I have also observed this elsewhere including Australia.

Big Companies are mostly poor at innovation
Whilst many big companies extoll the virtues of innovation and many have entire stand-alone innovation departments which too often become a bureaucracy in their own right. These departments usually deliver little and seldom provide anything even approaching a return on the investment they represent. Indeed in many cases these departments simply morph into departments for special projects.

The fact is that even if the innovation people and staff suggestion schemes discover and advance new ideas, senior management is always far too busy to be engaged in change. Senior managers have bonus dependent KPI’s to reach with little or most often absolutely no regards to embracing new ideas and ways. Of course who can blame these managers? Their work is demanding and with no provision in their duties to deliver on innovation the very notion of such managers taking their “eye off the ball” to be distracted by change is simply a bridge too far.

The message is repeated
Too often after my sessions in Colombia staff approached me with the same story. “We have ideas but nobody listens.”

In speaking at a major bank in Colombia last week I pointed out the wonderful revenue stream banks are starting to lose as savvy developers create Apps that allow international money transfers to happen in seconds whilst taking only a tiny “snip” of profit from the transaction. Gone are the commissions and gone are the exchange rate margins that are 10% and more. No longer will banks have the cash cow of the “International money clearing house in the sky” they have long been hiding from us.

Like the taxi industry and UBER, the banks have been sitting on their hands for far too long and will now suffer the consequences with many alternative monetary products coming on line and with Apple reportedly now about to launch their own total financial transfer package App.

But let’s not “beat up” on banks. This is just one industry that has been too slow to change.

What can be done?
One very large organisation we have worked with in both in Singapore and Malaysia is a major company, indeed a bank, where we conducted dozens of workshops with senior managers in attendance. The reason such busy people attended was simple. They all have delivery on innovation as one of their five major KPI’s. Their metric being that 10% of each successive years revenue shall come from a new product. The company demands it and they deliver on it.

What’s the message?
Demand innovation as a job dependent deliverable and it will happen. The alternative may ultimately be oblivion.

**** ENDS ****

Roger La Salle, trains people in innovation, marketing and the new emerging art of Opportunity Capture. “Matrix Thinking”™ is now used in organizations in more than 29 countries. He is sought after as a speaker on Innovation, Opportunity and Business Development, is the author of four books, and a Director and former CEO of the Innovation Centre of Victoria (INNOVIC) as well as a number of companies, both in Australia and overseas. He has been responsible for a number of successful technology start-ups and in 2004 was a regular panelist on the ABC New Inventors TV program. In 2005 he was appointed to the “Chair of Innovation” at “The Queens University” in Belfast
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The butterfly effect – Innovation

February 22nd, 2019 by Roger La Salle

The butterfly effect!
By Roger La Salle
www.innovationtraining.com.au
www.matrixthinking.com

A tiny change – can make a big difference!
The butterfly effect is the term used to describe often huge consequences that can follow a seemingly trivial incident. Just like swiping a fly away whilst driving with the distraction causing a serious accident. Or as many have experienced, checking a text when driving, only to realize that we have lost concentration on the road, sometimes with catastrophic consequences. Thankfully, I have learned, but too few have yet to get the message – excuse the pun.

Some examples of seemingly somewhat trivial events paying out with terrible consequences can be seen everywhere. Adolf Hitler being denied entry as insufficiently talented to study art in Vienna probably led him to instead follow his passion to rebirth Germany.

Or the tiny software enabled light that told the operator of the Three Mile Island Nuclear reactor when a “Valve Close” signal has been correctly sent. Unfortunately this did not indicate the valve had actually closed. It hadn’t, with the catastrophic consequences now known as the Three Mile Island Nuclear disaster.

The list of such minor issues leading to big outcomes is endless.

So what with Innovation?
In my last post I suggested that innovation does not necessarily have to be a risky business if done properly and given the right tools. I then gave many examples, but critics of incremental innovation often suggest that such small improvements are not disruptive and thus industry or world changing innovation is not an outcome of increments.

This is not to say that innovation or small changes necessarily have to be easy, but small changes can and do create and change industries.

There are many examples
The electronic or battery wrist watch when first developed took a little engineering, but in essence it was a simple innovation. Replace a spring that needed winding with a small battery and motor. The Swiss ignored this innovation at their peril. When these watched were first launched during the 1970’s there were over 1600 Swiss watch companies making mechanical watches. Soon after the electronic watch took hold, the number was just 600.

The mere observation that the natural occurring magnets, called loadstone, when suspended by a string or floated on a straw bed always pointed north led to the birth of the reliable navigation.

Galileo’s observation that the period (time to swing) of a pendulum was unchanged even as its swing stroke diminished led to the creation of proper clocks.

These tiny observations changed the world.

When we think of innovations of addition, or increments, think no further that Airbnb, the simple increment of connecting a home owner to a person wanting accommodation, or Uber, the simple idea of connecting a person needing a lift to a car owner available to carry them.

Ship telescopes of old are well known, but it was the mere connection of two such devices to make binoculars that led to a revolution in optics, stereo vision and the more accurate measure of distant objects, all by simply combining two readily available telescopes.

The simple idea to leave vehicle lights on during the day, now referred to as Day Time Running Lights are reported to have reduced pedestrian fatalities by as much as 27%. A simple innovation with profound consequences.

Yes indeed, incremental Innovation can change the world.

**** ENDS ****

Roger La Salle, trains people in innovation, marketing and the new emerging art of Opportunity Capture. “Matrix Thinking”™ is now used in organizations in more than 29 countries. He is sought after as a speaker on Innovation, Opportunity and Business Development, is the author of four books, and a Director and former CEO of the Innovation Centre of Victoria (INNOVIC) as well as a number of companies, both in Australia and overseas. He has been responsible for a number of successful technology start-ups and in 2004 was a regular panelist on the ABC New Inventors TV program. In 2005 he was appointed to the “Chair of Innovation” at “The Queens University” in Belfast
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It is time to ask a better question?

November 22nd, 2018 by Roger La Salle

Is it time to “Re-Question”?
By Roger La Salle
www.innovationtraining.com.au
www.matrixthinking.com

Despite the Chief Scientist saying that nothing we do in Australia will make a scrap of difference to the world’s climate, whether you like it or not it, coal, or in fact anything that is combustible seems to be off the agenda for electrical power generation.

So what should we do?

Household solar panels are still very inefficient but sometime in the future they are sure to be much better, so too will be household batteries that are needed to make solar a real viable alternative.

In the short term, without subsidies solar still has a long way to go and no real solution has yet been suggested for the disposal and recycling of batteries. The fact is, the science is not yet there.

Wind and vast solar arrays are an alternative but in the absence of a storage facility they too are questionable unless we can build huge dams as batteries, but that too seems unlikely.

As we ponder this it seems the thinking is that science in the long run will provide answers with improved batteries, better solar panels and improved power management. Whilst we look to science for renewable answers perhaps it may be time to reconsider nuclear power?

The safety of nuclear plants has always considered to be a problem, so too the disposal of waste, but with an estimated 500 nuclear plants in the world today, accidents have been few. Indeed the most tragic of manmade accidents was the terrible catastrophe in the Union Carbide facility in Bhopal India in the 1984. The death toll was reported to be as high as 16,000 souls. This was a pesticide facility, yet despite that there has been no push to ban pesticide manufacture, so why nuclear?

The answer is probable because of waste disposal, but let us again look to science.

Space travel is almost upon us as a “bucket list” item of many of the rich and famous, but you can be sure that within the next 50 years, the typical lifetime of a nuclear reactor, space travel will be as common as a domestic flight. Science will see to that. If indeed this is the case, can’t we simply blast our nuclear waste into space to ultimately be burned up by the big nuclear furnace in the sky, the sun?

Yes, science does have answers and perhaps it will ultimately have the answer for nuclear waste?

Innovation at its best.

**** ENDS ****

Roger La Salle, trains people in innovation, marketing and the new emerging art of Opportunity Capture. “Matrix Thinking”™ is now used in organizations in more than 29 countries. He is sought after as a speaker on Innovation, Opportunity and Business Development, is the author of four books, and a Director and former CEO of the Innovation Centre of Victoria (INNOVIC) as well as a number of companies, both in Australia and overseas. He has been responsible for a number of successful technology start-ups and in 2004 was a regular panelist on the ABC New Inventors TV program. In 2005 he was appointed to the “Chair of Innovation” at “The Queens University” in Belfast
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The IT Dilemma!

October 18th, 2018 by Roger La Salle

The IT “dilemma!”
By Roger La Salle
www.innovationtraining.com.au
www.matrixthinking.com

I was recently at a conference at RMIT where a young lady, Ms. Juliana Proserpio, gave a great presentation on the Four Degrees of Design. I must say I sat there prepared to be bored but it was really engaging and well-presented, with an interesting end point.

The first degree is design by nature, where nature does all the work and the scenery is our gift.

The second is where nature does the work modified by man, this it typically a farm.

The third is where man does the design and man does the build, for example, a toaster.

The fourth is where the man made machine, an intelligent robot, does the design of yet another robot machine. Man and nature are eliminated.

Fascinating stuff, but this leads into a classic paradox, as the IT dilemma.

Suppose a robot designs the software for a new autonomous vehicle such as a car. The software is intelligent and can make decisions for itself as it manages the car.

Consider now this car driving down a road making all the decisions for itself. It detects a problem ahead with a crash inevitable.

The car detects a young lady with a baby in a pram. Separately it also detects a group of perhaps a dozen old age pensioners standing by the road side ready to cross; as well as it detects a solid brick was supporting a bridge structure ahead.

In this situation the “driver”, actually the robot controlling the car, has to make a decision.

Shall I drive into the brick wall and spare everybody, but kill the car occupant? Shall I drive into the group of old age pensioners, no doubt killing them all, albeit at the twilight of life? Or shall I run over the young lady with a child in a pram, killing them both.

This is the classic paradox that IT designers need to face as they design intelligent machines able to make “reasoned” decisions and ultimately build machines that themselves build machines.

No doubt intelligent machines are the thing of the future, but as machines begin to design machines, who can forecast the end game? One wonders if Isaac Asimov forecast this many years ago when he postulated the design rules for robots?

**** ENDS ****

Roger La Salle, trains people in innovation, marketing and the new emerging art of Opportunity Capture. “Matrix Thinking”™ is now used in organizations in more than 29 countries. He is sought after as a speaker on Innovation, Opportunity and Business Development, is the author of four books, and a Director and former CEO of the Innovation Centre of Victoria (INNOVIC) as well as a number of companies, both in Australia and overseas. He has been responsible for a number of successful technology start-ups and in 2004 was a regular panelist on the ABC New Inventors TV program. In 2005 he was appointed to the “Chair of Innovation” at “The Queens University” in Belfast
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The mystical power of brand!

September 22nd, 2018 by Roger La Salle

The mystical power of “Brand”
By Roger La Salle
www.innovationtraining.com.au
www.matrixthinking.com

In a previous blog we defined this most difficult of words, “marketing”.

If you ask somebody to define this word the general response would be ways of marketing, such as digital, the 4 P’s and so on. But this are not a definition. These are just some of the methods.

The best definition of marketing I ever heard and have now embraced, courtesy of a colleague, a professor in Medellin Colombia is”

“The art of winning the minds of people to have unconditional love for your offering”
Ref: Prof Paola Podesta, Colombia

If we look at this definition two companies seem to excel at achieving this: McDonalds and Apple.

Brand?
The mystical power of brand is amazing and hard to quantify.

There is an old saying, “Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM”. There is a lot of truth to that and for good reasons.

When large companies look to purchase equipment that may be vital to the functioning of their business what they want, apart from “fit for purpose” is surety.

This surety takes a number of forms:
1. These are the biggest with a history of survival and success
2. It’s a safe decision
3. I am protecting my job in selecting one of the “big boys”
4. They will still be here tomorrow to support me.

These brand decisions are powerful and perhaps justifiable drivers.

A good example of this was in Australia when the last National Census was undertaken. The contract to deliver the IT services was given to one of the major software providers. From all accounts, on census night despite the best assurances, the internet was clogged and the outcome was a reported disaster. But most likely the choice by those in Government to use a major brand may have saved their jobs.

Valuing Brand?
There have been many studies on this subject but nothing concrete emerges.

For example, how do you value a ROLEX mechanical watch when a $5.00 quartz watch from the local service station most likely keeps better time and never needs to be serviced?

Mercedes Benz was once a statement of wealth. Mercedes has now commoditized its range and brand with models now affordable by most. Mercedes are trading on their brand equity, only the future will tell if this dilution of their status will ultimately be for the good.

Finally, airlines.

Reportedly, American Airlines saved 643,000 liters of fuel annually when they switched to a light weight paper for their in-flight magazine. Yet for many years American Airlines aircraft were largely unpainted, now they are almost universally painted all over adding more than one ton of weight to each, just to signal a Brand?

QANTAS and pretty well all airlines do the same.

Brand is vital. Protect it carefully and make sure that every customer experience is a good one.
Word of mouth marketing is the most powerful brand builder you will ever find.

**** ENDS ****

Roger La Salle, trains people in innovation, marketing and the new emerging art of Opportunity Capture. “Matrix Thinking”™ is now used in organizations in more than 29 countries. He is sought after as a speaker on Innovation, Opportunity and Business Development, is the author of four books, and a Director and former CEO of the Innovation Centre of Victoria (INNOVIC) as well as a number of companies, both in Australia and overseas. He has been responsible for a number of successful technology start-ups and in 2004 was a regular panelist on the ABC New Inventors TV program. In 2005 he was appointed to the “Chair of Innovation” at “The Queens University” in Belfast
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