Posts Tagged ‘Deloitte’

Business Insight – The Innovation Agenda

Monday, April 25th, 2016

The Innovation Agenda
By Roger La Salle

The Innovation Agenda
In Australia the new Prime Minister is strong on innovation, we are to be the innovation economy. This is great news, but why don’t we actually innovate instead of just talking about it – the mind boggles, it’s always more of the same.

A Case in Point
Despite our talk of innovation, what we see in Australia like in most developed countries is that innovation is entirely lacking when it comes to solving one of the biggest problems – traffic.

Even in Australia a country with really only two well populated cities and just 22 million people, over 1.5 million new cars are sold every year, and with the life of a car running at ten plus years all we see are ever growing traffic queues.

Will roads fix that?
Of course the common and simplistic solution proffered by Government is to make car access more difficult by providing more bike lanes, seldom used to anywhere near the downside effect they have on traffic flow, or financial penalties for entering the city precinct with tolls and car parking levies.

Quite simply this is crazy stuff which does little more than frustrate workers and put them at odds with their governments.

The other tried and failed approaches include building more roads and wider freeways, or improved public transport.

Sorry to say, all of these are costly failures.

In the case of more roads, people that tire of traffic snarls turn to overcrowded public transport. Meanwhile the government widens and builds more roads, the result is that traffic flow improves, so people revert to old habits, back to road travel and the consequent log jam of traffic. It’s a never ending cycle.

As for public transport, there is simply insufficient capacity and even if there was, there is no place to park at public transport hubs and of course the traffic to these, assuming there was sufficient parking, would again be gridlocked.

What’s the Innovation?
We are told that high speed internet is the answer to the world’s problems and in the case of traffic, this is indeed the case.

If you walk into any inner city office all you will see are people perched over computers doing their jobs or speaking on telephones. The question must be asked, “why do they have to be centrally located?” Simply, they don’t.

With proper internet access and good multimedia 90% or more of these people could work from home and maybe attend the office once a week or even less to keep in social contact with other staff.

In reality, the only people that need to be in the city are those needing a personal customer interface, like bank tellers, doctors, dentists, shopkeepers and restaurateurs. The rest could be at home being much more productive and saving hours per day in travel time with a lot less energy wasted in frustration waiting in traffic queues.

So what’s lacking?
In essence what’s lacking is a proper management reporting method so people’s performance can be managed from afar with little need for personal interface.

Such reporting is easy to do, all it takes is a proper understanding of how to put metrics around job functions, a method embodied in the innovation of “The Principle of Contradictory Reporting”.

It’s that easy is it?
Yes – the answer is simple, the effect dramatic and the extra revenue to government coffers provided by restraining road works would be enormous.

If you wish to be the Innovation Economy – then for heaven’s sake – think like an Innovator?

**** END ****

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 and 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. www.matrixthinking.com

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The “Third Eye”

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

“The Third “Eye” © Roger La Salle

Too Close to see the business

Often those of us involved in business are simply too close to daily issues to see the potential for real value adding innovations and opportunities or indeed to appreciate some of the things our businesses and people do really well.

Even in the case of business plans, which seldom play-out as forecast, the so called independent “third eye” to review the plan before it is finalised is always a good idea.

The transfer “catalyst” of the “Opportunity Matrix” thinking platform asks us to see if we can transfer this so called “third eye” used on business plans to other aspects of our business.

Following this idea we may implement a formal “third eye” across the business on a periodic basis.

“The Third “Eye” innovation initiative.

Network with a group of your peers and allow them a tour of your facility to review in their own minds what you are doing and how you go about your business.

This does not have to be limited to just the physical or operational aspects of your business but can include your telephone answering technique, your staff presentation and manner, your business card presentation, your signage and even the overall presentation of your facility.

For example, would you prefer to attend a dentist or a restaurant whose premises were beautifully maintained with lovely gardens as you enter, or instead one where the gardens were a mangled mess with absolutely no interest in presentation at all being shown by the business operator?

Obviously, the clean and beautiful presented premise inspires confidence.

With your network now briefed conduct a tour of your business and ask each person to take a note pad with them and write down three things that they individually observe that you do really well.

Also ask them to write down three things that they believe are lacking or need attention and can be done better.

Thus we now have 3 plus 3 innovation initiatives we can explore in an endeavour to innovate or improve our business.

The cost is nothing

A “Third Eye” tour need only take a few minutes and will provide invaluable third party or “independent third eye” insights. More importantly it will assist in identifying your strengths and weaknesses.

This simple third eye can be a real innovation eye opener and can be done at no cost at all.

Roger La Salle, is the creator of the “Matrix Thinking”™ technique and is widely sought after as an international speaker on Innovation, Opportunity and business development. He is the author of four books, Director and former CEO of the Innovation Centre of Victoria (INNOVIC) as well as a number of companies both in Australian and overseas. He has been responsible for a number of successful technology start-ups and in 2004 was a regular panellist on the ABC New Inventors TV program. In 2005 he was appointed to the “Chair of Innovation” at “The Queens University” in Belfast. Matrix Thinking is now used in more than 26 countries and licensed to Deloitte, one of the world’s largest consulting firms. www.matrixthinking.com

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What’s this years plan?

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

What’s this year’s plan?
© Roger La Salle

Who’s winning in this economy?

With the new financial year upon us, we are now looking back at the years end results and seeing how we tracked in business compared with past years.

Despite assurances from the Federal Government that all is well with the economy, in fact all but the mining States are doing it tough, very tough indeed.

In this economy, again if we remove the mining States, the businesses that are prospering are the lawyers overwhelmed with litigation, receivers and administrators trying to make sense out of failing businesses, accountants trying to make 2 minus 3 equal plus 1 and the child care sector as more mums move into the workforce in an attempt to make ends meet.

The age care sector is also doing well as more people move to retirement or nursing homes, but then again, many people are deferring the retirement decision courtesy of the world economy, economic uncertainty and general fear of the future.

In fact if your business is down in real dollars terms compared with the past realise you are not alone.

Many business operators are 40% and more down and they see no immediate “light at the end of the tunnel”.

Some that may have had done well in the past are now wondering whether to close up shop and call it a day, especially if they have a secure nest egg put away after years of hard work. Why now throw good money after bad in such an uncertain environment? The answer for many is simply, don’t.

Three vital questions need to be addressed

1. How are you tracking compared with last year?

2. Are you going to weather the storm or simply “shut up shop”?

3. If you are in for the long haul what are you going to do differently in the coming year?

The Business cycle

If we look at any business that is at some stage extremely profitable, unless there is protection of sorts or huge barriers to entry others will enter the market in competition. You can be sure over time as more competitors enter a lucrative market that profits will soon be eroded to make the business just an “also ran”.

Petrol stations, convenience stores and coffee shops may fall into this category.

Indeed as profitability falls with market saturation, one thing is sure, when the tough times come, only the fittest survive. Further, when the good times inevitably return, the landscape is far more hospitable as the weak have disappeared and are no longer competitors. In this regard there is definitely “light at the end of the tunnel”.

Going the Distance

If you have made the decision to stay the course and be around for the good times, then questions one and three above need to be addressed?

Question 1 Compare your results and assess the weak areas and decide how to address them, if indeed you believe they are worth saving

Question 3 Ask yourself, “What are you going to do differently this year in order to get a better result?”

We all know the old saying, if you keep doing what you have always done you will keep getting the same result. Perhaps it may be time to embrace a new approach and look at the opportunities afforded by systematically innovating your offering and searching for the next opportunity for your business.

Some Examples

Take Microsoft for example. Ten year ago who would ever have thought Microsoft would be in the hardware business with mobile phones and gaming machines. Who would have thought Nokia, formerly in the lumber business would have become the number one cell phone maker until quite recently and can you imagine an Apple phone – never.

These companies have embraced innovation on a grand scale and so far been extremely successful.

How about You?

The “big boys” if you like, had the financial capacity and brand presence to take some risk, but what of your business? The small local foundry, the machine jobbing shop, the powder coating service or even the suburban Milk Bar, what of these micro businesses, what can be done for these?

The simple answer is Innovation.

Find out what people are doing that is working and do it better. Not everybody in your industry is “going to the wall”, some will be great survivors. What is it they have that you don’t, what are they doing differently or better?

You can you embrace Innovation by changing products to add improvements, “Channel Enhancement” by leveraging your existing customer relationships, “Complementary Products” by fulfilling the entire customer needs or by adding Accessories to platform products you have already sold.

There are huge opportunities available if you are systematic and strategic in your search.

Further, do you have a systematic opportunity search mechanism? An opportunity is simply and “An Observed fortunate set of Circumstances”. Do you know how to position yourself to find this set of circumstances?

Is it all doom and Gloom?

Most definitely not, embrace innovation and opportunity capture and remember only the fit survive the bad times, after that, good time always follow. If you are a survivor the way ahead will soon be clear for you to prosper like never before.

**** END ****

Roger La Salle, is the creator of the “Matrix Thinking”™ technique and is widely sought after as an international speaker on Innovation, Opportunity and business development. He is the author of four books, Director and former CEO of the Innovation Centre of Victoria (INNOVIC) as well as a number of companies both in Australian and overseas. He has been responsible for a number of successful technology start-ups and in 2004 was a regular panellist on the ABC New Inventors TV program. In 2005 he was appointed to the “Chair of Innovation” at “The Queens University” in Belfast. Roger also chairs two Syndicates of the National organisation, “The CEO Institute”. Matrix Thinking is now used in more than 26 countries and licensed to Deloitte, one of the world’s largest consulting firms. www.matrixthinking.com

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Reduce you advertising spend and Build the Business!

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Reduce you advertising spend and Build the Business!
© Roger La Salle 2011

Innovation and Marketing!

Constantly revitalising paid advertisements is one way of maintaining audience attention, but perhaps there are other ways, that may be far more cost effective, if we apply some innovation to our strategic marketing approach.

These days the classic four “P’s” of marketing are a “bit old hat” since the latter “Promotion” once seen in effect as advertising, can now be conducted in many different cost fee ways, courtesy of the internet, the ubiquitous cell phone and of course the social media.

Perhaps these days the 4 P’s should be 3 P’s and an “A” for “Awareness”

• Product
• Price
• Place
• Awareness

Building your market

Few would argue with the proposition that advertising is a somewhat hit and miss business. No doubt the reader would be aware of the old adage that 50% of your advertising spend is wasted. The problem is which 50%?

Without doubt the best way to win customers is by referral or creating a Word of Mouth (WoM) message. This approach will lead to huge customer churn to your business, indeed approaching 100%, far more than the 8% often attributed to advertising.

Developing a WoM Message

As will most things, the fundamentals are simple once you break them down to the basics.

When you service a customer request there are only three possible take away messages that can be delivered:

• Bad News – “I won’t do that again, better tell my friends”

• Indifference – neither a memorable or forgettable experience. No WoM message is created

• Good News – “I loved it and must tell my friends.”

Win your customers – don’t punish them

What is quite amazing is the multimillion dollars businesses spend on television and print media advertising. More amazing is that these companies do not devote a single cent to providing a gift or forgiving a customer error. Sometimes even an error on the part of the business itself. Banks are a great example of companies that run multi-million dollar advertising campaigns to inform people of how wonderful they are yet banks are almost universally hated because they usually punish you with a penalty payment if you make the slightest mistake. I wonder what might happen if banks actually rewarded their customers from time to time?

But let’s not single out banks, many large organisations have become too remote from their customers and perhaps too wedded to the concept of mass advertising to consider the low cost alternative, WoM and winning customers by referral, as a formal business growth strategy.

A Systematic Approach

One of the Matrix Thinking Seeds is called Comparison, and two of the thinking catalysts are “Tracking” and “Transfer”.

Comparison means to compare yourself with others in a similar business, ideally the best; the ones people talk about. The catalysts then ask you to “track” the people using that business to learn why it is talked about. Once you have learned that, can you “transfer” it to your business?

Some examples that have generated great WoM:

1. A local supermarket has attracted a huge WoM following.
In a case when a customer has purchased a large basket of good and an item does not scan properly, rather than holding you up whilst they do a price check, they simply ask you to take it as their gift. The approach has developed a huge positive WoM message and the word is spreading. This is a unique talked about and rare customer experience, and the cost to the supermarket is trivial, especially when compared with their advertising spend.

2. A local caravan park that also have lovely two bedroom units always welcomes
their guests with fresh flowers within minutes of their arrival. On departure they always provide a small gift and thank you for staying. The cost of this is insignificant, the message it sends is overwhelming.

3. The local electrician when called always goes the extra mile when he does a job, maybe puts in a new power outlet, then says, whilst I’m here, maybe I should check your smoke detectors, as a courtesy. This costs nothing, but what a message it sends. You can be sure he will be recommended.

Divert just a small percentage of your advertising spend to a strategic WoM campaign and watch the result, the business will grow as advertising spend plummets. Further, if you are a business with a restricted budget for advertising, then there is little alternative.

Where to Now?

Workshop your business with your staff and perhaps your customers, track your customers, learn what delights them and devote some promotional spend to fulfilling that delight and watch the word spread and the business grow.

Develop and implement a systematic WoM strategy. The results may surprise you.

**** END ****

Roger La Salle, is the creator of the “Matrix Thinking”™ technique and is widely sought after as an international speaker on Innovation, Opportunity and business development. He is the author of four books, Director and former CEO of the Innovation Centre of Victoria (INNOVIC) as well as a number of companies both in Australian and overseas. He has been responsible for a number of successful technology start-ups and in 2004 was a regular panellist on the ABC New Inventors TV program. In 2005 he was appointed to the “Chair of Innovation” at “The Queens University” in Belfast. Roger also chairs two Syndicates of the National organisation, “The CEO Institute”. Matrix Thinking is now used in more than 26 countries and licensed to Deloitte, one of the world’s largest consulting firms. www.matrixthinking.com

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Solution to the Clever Country

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

The Clever Country – if only!
© Roger La Salle 2011

Australians are indeed clever

Australian engineers and scientists are indeed world class, much like New Zealanders we “punch much above our weight”. Numerous examples could be cited including the Interscan Microwave aircraft landing system of the 1970’s that beat all comers, including the USA and Germany in demonstrating the best technology. Cochlear and Resmed are other examples and it is pretty well accepted that we excel in the biomedical sciences.

Australians are great technologists but still our economy relies on the recourses sector and with the decline in our manufacturing base, a growing emphasis on tourism and services in general.

The Governments part

In an endeavour the inspire innovation and investment in the sciences and “brain work” the Government over many years has provided accelerated investment allowance in the form of tax claims as R&D incentives. One may well ask if this is working as a real research incentive? Further, one may well ask just how easily it can be rotted by unscrupulous would be entrepreneurs?

The problem with the present system is that it comes at a great cost to Government whether successes are generated or not. Further, if you do happen to success with a new endeavour, you get punished.

Yes, in Australia we pump money in to the front end at great risk, then if you do succeed you get punished with a tax on your profits.

A Better Alternative

The search for an alternative should be made with the mindset of SME’s, not that of big businesses, these should not need incentives to research and innovate.

The system embraced should strike at the very heart of business by rewarding success and encouraging profit.

Thus a better system may include the following attributes:

• No cost to government
• Ultimate reward to Government with taxes on wages if the innovation is an export success that creates employment
• Clearly focuses innovation at export markets
• Can be readily audited

Such a system may seem like “snake oil”, but perhaps could be implemented with the following guidelines:

• No government money is used in seeding new initiatives and there are no accelerated investment write offs
• A tax holiday will be provided for a period, (suggested 3 years) for all income generated from exports where sales have been made to places where patents or formal IP protection is claimed (This could include registered designs, copyright and plant breeders rights)

If such a system were to be introduced I believe the shift in the mindset of SME’s and entrepreneurs would be almost instantaneous, focused and profound.

In short they would be saying – “Find me an export opportunity that I can protect with IPR and let me at it”.

The Naysayers

Doubtless there will be an endless stream of critics to the above suggestion, but one may question if the present system really works? Is it achieving its aim, what is the cost to Government and for what return and finally, is it being rorted?

Where to from here?

Let’s start the debate!

**** END ****
Roger La Salle, is the creator of the “Matrix Thinking”™ technique and is widely sought after as an international speaker on Innovation, Opportunity and business development. He is the author of four books, Director and former CEO of the Innovation Centre of Victoria (INNOVIC) as well as a number of companies both in Australian and overseas. He has been responsible for a number of successful technology start-ups and in 2004 was a regular panellist on the ABC New Inventors TV program. In 2005 he was appointed to the “Chair of Innovation” at “The Queens University” in Belfast. Matrix Thinking is now used in more than 26 countries and licensed to one of the world’s largest consulting firms. www.matrixthinking.com

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ROI for Innovation – The low hanging fruit!

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

ROI for Innovation – The low hanging fruit!
© Roger La Salle 2010
Business Units need to provide a return

In my previous article I challenged innovation practitioners to examine the return on their innovation investment. If your innovation initiative is not providing returns greater than its cost, then the very existence of the program needs to be questioned.

Having said that, one may well ask what is an appropriate time scale to obtain this return? Months, years or maybe even a decade as we wait in vain hope for the breakthrough initiative that seldom ever comes!

So let’s examine the possibilities and find the low hanging fruit.

If you can have an early win with innovation then you can be sure more budget will be forthcoming and still greater achievements can be obtained.

Where to start?

Essentially there are just four ways in which innovation may be tackled:
• Product innovation
• Service Innovation
• The broad landscape of systematic opportunity capture
• Process Innovation

The first three above mentioned approaches herald the introduction of innovated products, services and perhaps the implementation of a new captured opportunity. Without doubt it is with these that we can build the top revenue line of a business. Put simply, this is really the only way to build a business. Businesses grow on increased revenues and by no other means.

Having said that, the implementation of any of these involves some degree of risk, technical in the development phase, but much more significantly, risk in the market place. Will the market be as large as you forecast? Interestingly if you embrace proper innovation practices market risk can also be largely mitigated, but of course never completely removed.

With the above in mind, perhaps the early innovation initiative should be focused on the one with the least risk, Process Innovation.

What is Process Innovation?

Process Innovation is about finding better ways to do whatever we are doing. Process innovation, unless it means tinkering with the sales process or sales model really carries little if any risk and in my experience I have found that there is almost always room for process improvements.

Further, any improvement in a process translates dollar for dollar to the bottom line, thus measuring the gain compared with the cost or perhaps the ROI is relatively easy.

Governments both state and federal push process improvement, Lean, Continuous Improvement, 5S and Six Sigma as their way of encouraging innovation in businesses. They do this I believe because these are somewhat tried and tested methods but also because improvements can almost always be made and cost benefits determined with little downside risk. Furthermore the benefits of process improvement are easier to understand and articulate.

However, even so, these extremely simple methods are still somewhat shrouded in a mystique that makes them unnecessarily complex, much more so than they need to be.

For many large multinationals with subsidiaries in Australia, unfortunately there is neither the opportunity nor appetite for innovation except in processes. Consequently this is where the bulk of attention is paid.

In the case of utilities such as water, gas and electricity where this is little scope to actually “innovate” the product there is still scope for service innovation and opportunity capture. In such organisations that are largely process driven and with many people doing the same thing, the gains possible from process innovation are almost unlimited.

Keep it Simple

I like to keep things really simple and in process innovation there are really only two things that need to be addressed:

• Costs – how much does each and any activity cost in cold hard cash, from telephone bills to rents, interest, labours and raw materials, including the cost of work in progress?

• Cycle Time – how long does each activity take? This includes the process of getting an incoming order into the system right though to collecting the money from the customer.

If the above two are addressed in a systematic manner, consistent with the maintenance of quality, the process innovation business is pretty straight forward. It simply commences with an activity that maps and measures where you are now with each process and then works to make improvements in the two above mentioned places.

This is not rocket science and is very low risk.

So what’s the time scale?

With process innovation leading your innovation initiative it should be possible to make real cost benefit gains within six months at the most and, of course as stated, any savings go straight to the bottom line.

But I emphasise again, removing costs or improving processes does not build the revenue line, however the extra funds provided by such improvements can now be applied to where the real business building action can take place, product and service innovation and of course “opportunity capture”.

That’s where the real game is.

**** END ****

Roger La Salle, is the creator of the “Matrix Thinking”™ technique and is widely sought after as an international speaker on Innovation, Opportunity and business development. He is the author of three books, Director and former CEO of the Innovation Centre of Victoria (INNOVIC) as well as a number of companies both in Australian and overseas. He has been responsible for a number of successful technology start-ups and in 2004 was a regular panellist on the ABC New Inventors TV program. In 2005 he was appointed to the “Chair of Innovation” at “The Queens University” in Belfast. Matrix Thinking is now used in more than 26 countries. www.matrixthinking.com

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Big “I” or Little “i” – What’s it to be?

Friday, June 4th, 2010

Big ‘I’ or little ‘i’ – What’s it to be?

© Roger La Salle 2010

A revealing statistic!
In a recent book called “Creating Wealth” by Lester Thurow some interesting statistics are cited.

“…..In the 1920’s the life expectancy of a publicly listed company in the USA was some 65 years, by the 1990’s this figure has fallen to less than ten years. Of the companies forming the original list of the Standard and Poor’s Index, only one, General Electric still survives today, and to do so GE has had to constantly re invent themselves to remain relevant.”

Innovation versus Invention
Interestingly, some of the less initiated in this business often use the word innovator interchangeably with inventor. This is often done in a polite and misguided endeavour to differentiate the person in question from the classic stereotypical inventor, represented as some excentric weirdo with fuzzy white hair wearing a white dust coat.

In fact innovation and invention are different.

Whereas innovation may be defined as “change that adds value”, invention may be perhaps best defined as something “new, novel and without precedent”.

Notwithstanding the above, most inventions are in fact created by making improvements to existing things. Indeed there are few totally new inventions.

However, whereas novelty is an essential part of an invention, novelty is not an essential part of an innovation.

Big ‘I’ and Little ‘i’
When it comes to understanding innovation further, some texts refer to so called big ‘I’, and little ‘i’.

The former refers to big or disruptive innovations that totally change the landscape of a business, its products or the dynamics of the market. In contrast, little “i” refers more to incremental changes or improvements to businesses and products.

In theory, or more likely with the benefit of hindsight, many thinkers and writers on the subject refer to big ‘I’ as essential for businesses to survive for the longer terms. The push is for businesses to “disrupt” themselves and radically change for the better following in the footsteps of companies cited as case studies that have successfully done so.

Rear Vision is a wonderful thing!
NOKIA is one exceptional example of a company that successfully migrated its core business from timber to electronics. They did this after they saw the growing resistance to the use of the dwindling natural timber resource and the emergence of the new mobile phone business with almost unlimited market potential. This is a wonderful success story operating on the big “I” model.

General Electric is another company that has reinvented itself to become strong in the financial sector. However, in doing so GE took the safe option in that whilst creating its new enterprise it did not turn its back on its traditional engineering business, instead it used its brand strength to underpin the new endeavour.

Many texts refer to these case studies as a blueprint for the future and an endorsement of big “I” as the means to renewed riches as companies model themselves on the NOKIA style of rebirth. Unfortunately, all of these case studies are just that, studies in hindsight of a few “stars” that have successfully crossed the bridge to new horizons.

Rear vision is a wonderful thing, but if one looks at the history of disruptive pioneers you will find the path littered with the corpses of those who dared to be first with disruptions but failed, as is so often the case. The problem is that these pioneers are seldom heard from.

Consider some of the so called disruptive technologies that have either failed, or undergone a very difficult and expensive birth.

The ill fated COMET jet passenger airliner, a revolution in its day, plagued with technology problems whose ultimate solutions enabled Boeing, untarnished by the pioneering COMET failures, to win the world market for passenger jets. Concorde is another example of a technology before its time. Ultimately supersonic passenger transport will become commonplace, but not to the benefit of the Concorde pioneers.

Even the ubiquitous computer took many years to be adopted by the greater community. Indeed had it not been for the development of both word processing and spreadsheets, computers today would be little more than scientific novelties and platforms for games.

So too the computer mouse which was a complete novelty when first conceived in 1968. In fact it was some 13 years before this disruption in the way we use computers was actually commercialised.

Similarly for the internet, this was possibly one of the most disruptive technologies of the 20th century and has revolutionised the way business is conducted worldwide. But it was the application developers, not the creators, who have won the rich spoils offered by this disruption.

Failure is more the norm
There are countless examples of pioneers who failed with disruptive ventures and seldom rate a mention in the end game. Unfortunately, too often we are encouraged to follow the path of the very few successful winners who steal the limelight, as they should. But be warned, these people are few and far between.

What about little “i”
The “incrementalists” are the little “i” operators and there would be no better example than the car makers. Incrementally these people release face lifted new models with perhaps just one tiny added feature almost annually. They do this for no other purpose than to render your current model obsolete and to keep you continually upgrading to the newer one.

The cell phone and computer games companies are also wonderful exponents at this art, and what abut Microsoft? None of us can even use all the features of Windows 98, yet we still get a new, non backward compatible supposedly more featured version every couple of years. Indeed Microsoft even today, still owns this market and drives it through incremental innovation.

There can be no doubt that little “i” is far easier to manage than big ‘I’; and little ‘i’ carries far less risk.

So what is it to be?

For my money, little ‘i’ wins pretty well every time. However, if you do wish to have a go at investing in a disruption, use the tried and tested “outrigger model”, as discussed in my previous insight, as this certainly mitigates much of the risk.

**** END ****

Roger La Salle, is the creator of the “Matrix Thinking”™ technique and is widely sought after as an international speaker on Innovation, Opportunity and business development. He is the author of three books, Director and former CEO of the Innovation Centre of Victoria (INNOVIC) as well as a number of companies both in Australian and overseas. He has been responsible for a number of successful technology start-ups and in 2004 was a regular panellist on the ABC New Inventors TV program. In 2005 he was appointed to the “Chair of Innovation” at “The Queens University” in Belfast. Matrix Thinking is now used in more than 26 countries. www.matrixthinking.com

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Open Innovation! – Is this simply “Opportunity Capture”

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

Open Innovation! –  Is this simply “Opportunity Capture”

in another guise?

                                                                                                   © Roger La Salle 2010

 Background

Some months ago I sent out an article that mentioned “Open Innovation”, finally this is starting to get some traction, and it’s about time. However let’s not let the boffins turn this into “rocket science” as so many have done or attempted to do with innovation.

Keep it simple, that’s the message.

I recall speaking at a number of conferences and repeating that in reality innovation is really pretty simple, only to later be asked to stop saying that. If it’s simple, we can’t charge enough I was told.

Nice one I thought, but why make something that is fundamentally easy seem difficult?

 On Open Innovation

Open innovation is about looking beyond your own horizons and connecting with parties where the sum of the two is far greater than the individuals. However, in some cases people are wary of this model, and maybe for good reasons that may include:

  • Loss of control
  • IP and ownership disputes
  • Risk, both financial and career

These risks can be managed if there is first awareness and a collaboration model plainly laid out in advance. Too many collaborations can end up in disaster if the rules of engagement are not first well though through. Just ask many who have started a business as a partnership only to see it later fail in bitter dispute.

I also refer to a previous article I wrote on “Connecting the Dots”. May I suggest this is simply open innovation in another guise, so too is “Opportunity Capture” a subject I have been speaking on for years.

I include a brief extract from the article on “Connecting the Dots”. I wonder who may have connected these dots, as each connection is a business opportunity just waiting to be grabbed:

Physiotherapy and the reduction of carbon emissions?

  • The tooth brush and ceramic crystals?
  • Extruded plastic “core flute” sheeting and aluminium extrusions?

Going Forward

Even if the dots are marvellously connected many initiatives still fail in the gestation and commercialisation phases.There three ways of going about this most important phase:

  • One party takes the lead role
  • Joint venture
  • The “Outrigger” model.

Especially for large organisations it’s this latter model that I see as the one that works the best. Indeed IBM was a great exponent of this model when it decided to move from just “Big Blue” to developing and selling PC’s.

Ownership of a project, direct responsibility, fast nimble action and competent management is the ideal model. Further, this is a model where so called “disruptive” innovations can be tested without serious risk to the host body.

The Input

As with data processing, rubbish in equals rubbish out.

The key to success is first a good idea, all successful businesses start with a good idea.

This is where “Opportunity Capture” comes right to the fore. Call it open innovation if you like, but I have still yet to see a formal open innovation model that actually provides a structured search mechanism for an opportunity.

May I suggest “Opportunity Capture” is just that!

In conclusion

An extract from a past article on this very subject a few months ago:

Opportunity – the Next Wave

In addition to innovation, a new wave is starting to build, that of Opportunity capture and the systematic search for opportunities.

In this domain opportunity is defined as: “An observed fortunate set of Circumstances” ©RLS 2000

You can teach your people to become opportunists, teach the important things to observe and move your people from being mere operators to become opportunists.

There is little doubt the wave of “opportunity” is gathering momentum.

                                                   **** END ****

 

 

 

Roger La Salle, is the creator of the “Matrix Thinking”™ technique and is widely sought after as an international speaker on Innovation, Opportunity and business development. He is the author of three books, Director and former CEO of the Innovation Centre of Victoria (INNOVIC) as well as a number of companies both in Australian and overseas. He has been responsible for a number of successful technology start-ups and in 2004 was a regular panellist on the ABC New Inventors TV program. In 2005 he was appointed to the “Chair of Innovation” at “The Queens University” in Belfast. Matrix Thinking is now used in more than 26 countries.  www.matrixthinking.com

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Do You Connect the Dots?

Monday, November 9th, 2009

Do you Connect the Dots?
© Roger La Salle 2009
www.matrixthinking.com

How do you operate?

Have you ever worked in a company where the boss or your manager hordes information? Unfortunately this is not all that uncommon. The old saying goes that “Knowledge is Power”, and those of us that are insecure in our abilities or feel threatened by those around us try to remain in control by hording information.

In fact I know of one company where the Managing Director actually leaves notes lying around with incorrect or inaccurate information. The aim of this of course is to retain power by keeping the troops in the “dark” or better still, confused. Can you believe that?

The question is: what’s your modus operandi?

Many businesses have embraced innovation and opportunity capture as an essential business tool to survive and win in these days of ever increasing information flow, market intelligence, and speed to market. There are many innovation/opportunity models including that of so called “Open Innovation”, and what is best described as internal or “Closed Innovation”.

Closed Innovation

In this case the company has all its innovation endeavours conducted and held tightly within, there is little sharing of knowledge and little interest in eliciting the assistance of outsiders to enhance their innovation initiative. Indeed the managers of these tightly controlled programs use their skills to drive the innovation program. Unfortunately, they may be missing a lot.

Open Innovation

In this case, though the business remains in control of its destiny and direction it enhances its innovation initiative by making connections to a seemingly disparate groups of outsiders and companies all looking to expand their horizons by building on combined know how.

These days, there are so many diverse technologies and specialties that it is simply impossible to have a grasp on what is happening on all fronts, thus the connected model has great merit.

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 in the open innovation model, broadly skilled technologists and open minded thinkers come to the fore.

For example, suppose I run a lumber business. That is 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 model, such knowledge may never be acquired, or if it is, only by word of mouth with other operators who may have long since acquired the technique.
Similarly, the technologies developed in putting man on the moon. How could that possibly connect to the business of pots and pans? Teflon coating is the answer.

• Clocks and cell phones or radio paging, is there a connection? Indeed there is. Imagine having a clock equipped with a radio receiver to receive time signals and thus keep perfect time, and even update for Summer Time changes. Such clocks are now available in Australia.

• The packaging business and home insulation? Of course, use bubble wrap as the ideal insulator, it’s light weight, cheap and easy to install and fire retardant grades are 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 an open innovation approach that encourages a wide search horizon.

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.

What’s the Message

Managers in the open innovation space do not need to be great technologists, as perhaps with the closed model. Instead they need to be great net-workers, able to build bridges between people and companies. This is quite a different skills set to that of the managers operating in the closed model.

Thus, stay open minded, expand your horizons and embrace the art of formal opportunity search, where the reach is unlimited.

**** END ****

Roger La Salle, is the creator of the “Matrix Thinking”™ technique and is widely sought after as an international speaker on Innovation, Opportunity and business development. He is the author of three books, Director and former CEO of the Innovation Centre of Victoria (INNOVIC) as well as a number of companies both in Australian and overseas. He has been responsible for a number of successful technology start-ups and in 2004 was a regular panellist on the ABC New Inventors TV program. In 2005 he was appointed to the “Chair of Innovation” at “The Queens University” in Belfast. Matrix Thinking is now used in more than 26 countries. www.matrixthinking.com

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