Posts Tagged ‘La Salle’

Over the Horizon

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Over the Horizon vision
Roger La Salle
Which Horizon?

McKinsey’s sometime ago defined what they referred to as the three horizons of growth in business. In summary we may call these Horizon 1, or what we are doing now and in the very near term.
Horizon 2 refers to what are going to be our actions for the medium term and Horizon 3 refers to the long term future. This is what I prefer to call “over the horizon” activities.

Although the first two horizons occupy most of our time in many businesses, Horizon 1 gets by far the greatest attention.

The Facts

Indeed recent studies have shown that in fact Horizon 3 attracts less than three percent of executive time. In many businesses of course one wonders if Horizon 3 gets any attention at all, especially in these days of tight economies with many businesses literally fighting for survival.

Of course embracing innovation is one way to work to continually move your customers products and services to a better place and the formation of innovation teams is the best way to implement this. However such teams usually focus on Horizon 2, that is what we can be doing in the short to medium term.

Horizon 3

Horizon 3 is the one that the senior executives of a business need to pay more attention to; but like it or not the distractions of the office environment are not conducive to Horizon 3 development.

Most businesses of course from time to time have off site executive retreats. In most cases these focus on reports from business units and discussion of the issues and problems of the day and what can be done in the short to medium term to enhance the business and overcome any immediate issues at hand.

Perhaps had KODAK being looking to the longer term several years ago its ongoing business demise may have been somewhat different.

So too with the US auto industry that suffered in the wake of the Japanese attention to quality and cars more appropriate to the times than the oversized, overpowered all too heavy typical US built autos. Of course the list goes on of businesses that have failed to see the longer term big picture and have subsequently gone to the wall or been forced to take emergency corrective action to avoid catastrophe.

Exploration of over the horizon activities at such retreats is however where much of this valuable executive time should be spent. If you are in fact doing this it is quite unlikely your competition will be doing the same.
Use proper tools

There are several tools that can be employed to good effect to explore long term predictions. These are not the abstraction of the so called “Futurist” but deliver quite a rigorous process that can be plotted on a graph and used to good effect to anticipate the future and allow you to best position yourself to be at the right place at the right time.

What now?

The bottom line is to recognise that too little attention is paid to over the horizon planning with day to day reactive tasks taking most executive time.

Put your executive team to work and look at the longer term, few business are doing that.

To do so will put you in a commanding position.

**** 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
Regards,

Roger La Salle
Innovation – Opportunity – Inspiration
Conferences – Key Notes – Workshops – Facilitation

www.matrixthinking.com
Twitter @rogerlasalle
Mobile 0418 370 828
Office + 613 9842 7267
Fax + 613 9842 2260
Sponsor – INNOVIC Next Big Thing Award

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Innovation Metrics – Made simple

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

Innovation Metrics – made simple
Roger La Salle
ROI is the name of the game!
Just ask any chief executive, businesses are about profits. Make no mistake about that.

Consequently decisions and new initiatives need to be implemented with a mindset of returning value to shareholders. This is one of the prime responsibilities of company Directors and management alike. All significant investment decisions should be made with the mindset of the return on the investment they will deliver.

The Innovation initiative
Many companies these days employ people to develop and manage innovation within the business. Some do it for the right reason, to increase shareholder value, others perhaps because it may be the “done thing” to be seen to have an in-house innovation capability.

If the innovation initiative is not retuning on its investment within 18 month to two years at the most, then like all investments, its ongoing funding needs to be seriously questioned.

In the case of research the drivers are little different, especially pure research where outcomes may take a great many years to mature, if indeed they do at all. However, understanding the difference between innovation and research and the different risk profiles is not the subject of this article..

The trusted and true business axiom
There is an old axiom in business and management, “if you can’t measure it, don’t change it”. This is so true and any business that makes changes without some metric to test the effect is simply flying blind. The same can be said for innovation.

Keep it Simple
In simple terms the measurement should be based on the simple equation as a figure of merit:

Outcome = Output / Input

Where:
• Outcome should be greater than 1
• Input is most often dollars spent in real terms in funding the innovation initiative and bringing new initiatives into the business as well as the time cost expended in dollar terms
• Output is revenue earned or costs reduced as a result of the innovation initiative.

No doubt many would argue, especially those charged with implementing innovation, that the above is too simplistic. However one must ask, “why are we doing this if it’s not to improve business outcomes”? I suggest this is the question that really matters. Further, many will argue that if we persist with the innovation initiative long enough it will surely one day produce that gold nugget.

On the contrary, the longer the innovation initiative goes without producing a valued tangible outcome the less likely it is, as people lose confidence and the initiative loses vigour and enthusiasm.

Some Real Metrics
Below is a list of measures that can be gathered as fact, not opinion:

• Number of ideas submitted for evaluation
• The ratio of the number of ideas submitted to ones actually implemented
• Rate or Trajectory of idea submission (you can be sure this will decline over time unless the innovation initiative is producing results and rewards)
• Number of different people submitting new ideas over time (again the diversity of submitters will decline if there are no perceived positive outcomes)
• Cost trajectory of the innovation department or initiative within the business (you can expect this to increase over the first two years as the initiative gathers momentum. However, this must be curtailed if it is not delivering measurable outcomes).

What Now?
The statistics cited in a research paper some years ago are striking and highlight the necessity for innovation. Indeed the paper noted that whereas the life expectancy of a company in the 1920’s was 65 years, today it is less than 10 and those that fail to innovate fail to survive.

Innovation is an imperative, do it once and do it right and don’t be blindsided by some idealistic vision of innovation as some mystical pursuit for the specially gifted. This is business and business is about delivering real outcomes and real profits. This must be the overriding consideration.
**** 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
Regards,

Roger La Salle
Innovation – Opportunity – Inspiration
Conferences – Key Notes – Workshops – Facilitation

www.matrixthinking.com
Twitter @rogerlasalle
Mobile 0418 370 828
Office + 613 9842 7267
Fax + 613 9842 2260
Sponsor – INNOVIC Next Big Thing Award

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

The Business of Business

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

The Business of Business
© Roger La Salle 2012
Maintaining the theme
The last business insight drew an overwhelming response. Continuing on the theme of the picture being worth a thousand words, below is a link to the first of a series of 13 short sessions done with the Deloitte Innovation Academy.

This may seems like basic stuff, but hang in there and learn the only one way to really build a business.

“The business of business is fundamentally simple”! Have a product, sell enough at the right price and you have a sustaining business, the rest is just how you go about achieving that. This is where this video series is heading.

I hope you find this introduction of interest and please feel free to pass it on or publish in any form you may wish.

Regards
**** 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
Regards,

Roger La Salle
Innovation – Opportunity – Inspiration
Conferences – Key Notes – Workshops – Facilitation

www.matrixthinking.com
Twitter @rogerlasalle
Mobile 0418 370 828
Office + 613 9842 7267
Fax + 613 9842 2260
Sponsor – INNOVIC Next Big Thing Award

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

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

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

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

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

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

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend