Archive for the ‘Innovation’ Category

It is time to ask a better question?

Thursday, November 22nd, 2018

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

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

The IT Dilemma!

Thursday, October 18th, 2018

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

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

The mystical power of brand!

Saturday, September 22nd, 2018

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

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

So – That’s the problem!

Saturday, September 22nd, 2018

So that’s the problem – No surprise!
By Roger La Salle
www.innovationtraining.com.au
www.matrixthinking.com

As readers of this blog would know I have always expressed concern about the Open Innovation model for a number of reasons, one being the ownership of the IP. Indeed a number of companies shun ideas from outside the organisation for fear of becoming involved in IP disputes.

It can become even more complicated when possible consequential ideas result. That is, ideas not directly related to the original but perhaps one where the initial suggestion led to an inspiration for something entirely unrelated. Indeed it is for this reason that many companies won’t sign non-disclosure agreements.

The following example may put this into perspective.

Suppose somebody suggests to me the idea of a drinking straw with micro holes in the side to aerate the drink as I suck. Perhaps not a good idea, but rejected in any case. However this may stimulate me to think of drinking straws in general and conceive one with an internal wall of flavor. Clearly the latter is not the original idea, but its inspiration may have come from having me think of drinking straws in a new way. This alone may lead to a costly dispute about ownership and IP. Such disputes are always difficult to adjudicate so instead, companies simply avoid the issue altogether.

As every budding entrepreneur and inventor may know, it’s often hard to get companies to embrace ideas from outside, for various reasons. The following extract from an article I recently received puts a different light on the issue. Perhaps it’s “not invented here syndrome”, with ideas from outside being seen as a threat to the jobs of the so called internal innovators or innovation departments.

To quote from an article by Hila Lifshitz-Assaf of 1 Stern School of Business, NY

……………..” After months of observation and study, researchers discovered the core issue behind the resistance: (to external ideas) some internal scientists and engineers believed open innovation to be a threat to their identity as problem solvers for the organization.

….…The underlying problem was one of identity. ….…scientists viewed themselves as “problem solvers.” But if the problems were being solved by those outside the organization, it presented an existential issue for internal problem solver? How can a problem solver be a problem solver if they are outsourcing their innovation solutions?”

This article certainly raises an important point and one that many entrepreneurs will have faced.

The real issue is the question it leads to and one for which senior executive and Innovation Managers must be held to account. For whom are you working, yourself or the organisation?

**** 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.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

So that’s the problem – No surprise there!

Friday, August 24th, 2018

So that’s the problem – No surprise!
By Roger La Salle
www.innovationtraining.com.au
www.matrixthinking.com

As readers of this blog would know I have always expressed concern about the Open Innovation model for a number of reasons, one being the ownership of the IP. Indeed a number of companies shun ideas from outside the organisation for fear of becoming involved in IP disputes.

It can become even more complicated when possible consequential ideas result. That is, ideas not directly related to the original but perhaps one where the initial suggestion led to an inspiration for something entirely unrelated. Indeed it is for this reason that many companies won’t sign non-disclosure agreements.

The following example may put this into perspective.

Suppose somebody suggests to me the idea of a drinking straw with micro holes in the side to aerate the drink as I suck. Perhaps not a good idea, but rejected in any case. However this may stimulate me to think of drinking straws in general and conceive one with an internal wall of flavor. Clearly the latter is not the original idea, but its inspiration may have come from having me think of drinking straws in a new way. This alone may lead to a costly dispute about ownership and IP. Such disputes are always difficult to adjudicate so instead, companies simply avoid the issue altogether.

As every budding entrepreneur and inventor may know, it’s often hard to get companies to embrace ideas from outside, for various reasons. The following extract from an article I recently received puts a different light on the issue. Perhaps it’s “not invented here syndrome”, with ideas from outside being seen as a threat to the jobs of the so called internal innovators or innovation departments.

To quote from an article by Hila Lifshitz-Assaf of 1 Stern School of Business, NY

……………..” After months of observation and study, researchers discovered the core issue behind the resistance: (to external ideas) some internal scientists and engineers believed open innovation to be a threat to their identity as problem solvers for the organization.

….…The underlying problem was one of identity. ….…scientists viewed themselves as “problem solvers.” But if the problems were being solved by those outside the organization, it presented an existential issue for internal problem solver? How can a problem solver be a problem solver if they are outsourcing their innovation solutions?”

This article certainly raises an important point and one that many entrepreneurs will have faced.

The real issue is the question it leads to and one for which senior executive and Innovation Managers must be held to account. For whom are you working, yourself or the organisation?

**** 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.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Innovation , Invention and Collaboration

Tuesday, August 14th, 2018

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.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Big outcomes from simple Changes!

Wednesday, July 11th, 2018

Big outcomes from simple changes!

By Roger La Salle
www.innovationtraining.com.au
www.matrixthinking.com
A game changer on a “dime”
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, “You don’t have to put a man on the moon to be a great and successful innovator!”

Too many people try too hard to make innovation seem difficult when in fact it’s not that hard if you have the right approach and the right tools. Really, you do have to wonder what benefit people see in making the simple seem complex.

The perfect example and it’s so obvious
A company with whom we work has develop a breathtakingly simple solution to a problem nobody even thought existed and they’ve changed the game. The inspiration of course is founded on the “Opportunity Matrix” – the notion not of asking people what they want, since they seldom know, but simply watching what they do and observing.

Posting a poster!
When a paper poster or certificate is to be sent by post or courier of course it needs to be protected, so of course we put it inside one of these round hard cardboard tubes with the nice little plastic end caps. That’s how we’ve done it for years.

But watch and learn the problems:
• Stacking them is impossible
• They roll everywhere in vans and crates
• They are next to impossible to reliably position for bar code readers
• They do not “nest”.

In fact if you pack four cylindrical tubes together for shipping a full 25 percent of the shipping volume is fresh air, air that you pay to ship. (I cannot recall how many times we have pointed this out to food and wet wipe tissue companies that insist on using round containers.)

Well finally the problem has been addressed by a Melbourne based company, Kebet Packaging. They have developed and are now shipping triangular shaped tubes, much like the famous “Toblerone” chocolate packaging.

Not only does this work but the customers love it with hugely reduced shipping volumes, much easier handling and packages that actually sit in on the spot as they are conveyed past bar code counting stations.

See the difference? It’s obvious. But as we always say “The obvious once made obvious is always obvious”

What’s the message?
• Embrace the art of “Opportunity Capture”
• Learn the art of observation
• It’s not rocket science but it sure leads to innovation.

**** 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

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

It’s happened again!

Saturday, June 9th, 2018

Don’t be fooled!
By Roger La Salle
www.innovationtraining.com.au
www.matrixthinking.com
The changing landscape
The world of business is changing at an alarming rate and we need to move with the times.

Many of us are now open for business 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We are mobile connected, you just never know who may be calling you. A missed call may be a missed opportunity.

In marketing, social media seems to be all the go these days so much so that television advertising is now extremely cheap, except for the few top rating shows. Of course many print publications that relied entirely on advertising are now downsizing, closing or moving to the e-space as they struggle to find relevance for paying customers.

Is it that simple?
All good, but don’t be fooled. Blasting the social media space does have its downsides including the cost, over exposure and money wasted on inappropriate channels.

For example, whilst is may be appropriate to promote and have others wholly endorse a new fitness craze on Facebook, Instagram and some of the other more casual social media sites, the same would not likely apply to a new surgical scalpel, or blood sampling syringe.

The fact is, we need to look at where the market we are targeting clusters. What is appropriate for one is not necessarily the case for the other.

It’s obvious
Many experts would say the main purpose of social media in business is to drive people to your web site.

For some products and services this may be so, in which case a lot of work needs to be done to ensure your site is easy and fast to open and grabs the reader’s attention at a glance. SEO of you web site in this case is essential, but properly thought through, this can often be done at for next to no cost.

Many use AdWords to be near the top of Google and BING but this can be very expensive. Further, in many cases people ignore AdWords as it may send the message that you on top, screaming for attention, not because you are good, but because you‘re paying. Beware, the downside of AdWords.

Ideally, if you can identify the most common search term for your business activity and register a URL including that term you are well down the path of being number one without ever paying.

In some cases a web site is not so important or even necessary if the sales process can be made directly from the social media channel. Again, we must ask, where does our market reside and what is the most cost effective interact?

Engaging Social Media?
Whilst some engage social media experts who blast the e-space at a monthly cost, which may be far less than a full time hire, make sure that you are properly targeting your market. You are the experts, so focus your social media people.

For example, we all complain about the traffic these days, but let’s look at the upside. People with long commutes listen to the radio, now more than ever. Use this to advantage, but again, think of your audience. A millennial may listen to a rock station whereas a senior executive, CEO or Board Chairman will be listening to an entirely different station.

Use an Opportunity Matrix to find how your customers behave. The rest will come naturally but don’t be fooled into thinking that blasting on social media is necessarily money well spent.

**** 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

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Too quick to protect

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018

Too quick to protect
By Roger La Salle
www.innovationtraining.com.au

When we meet with inventors, entrepreneurs and innovators with what they believe is the “next big thing” it seems what they most often think they need is money.

More to the point, the money they want is for protection, with this most commonly being for patents.

A Provisional Patent with its International 12 month priority date protection, followed by a PCT application and then the National Phase (where patents are sought in every place imaginable) seems to be the order of the day.

The fact is, only a tiny percentage of patents ever return a cent to their creator, but notwithstanding this, too many people see patents as the panacea. Unfortunately, apart from the risks and uncertainty in obtaining strong defensible protection, it’s the costs involved in patenting that most often brings inventors to their knees, even before they have a final working prototype.

The reality is quite different
In the first case, what is not widely understood is that a patent does not so much protect an idea, what it protects is the particular way a problem has been solved. This is why patents are best referred to as “Method and Apparatus”.

Indeed the inventor’s ideal way of solving the problem is normally referred to in patents as “the preferred embodiment”. Of course in many cases there are other ways to solve the same problem.

Good protection is best obtained in narrow fields where there is little room to manoeuvre with few other possible embodiments.

For example the helix thread would be a great invention to protect because of its fundamental simplicity. So too the Star or Phillips head screw, again with the simplicity being the key to a strong patent. But then of course some “bright spark” may see the Phillips head screw as a stimulus to create an Allen key drive head, or a triangular recessed drive head.

The other issue with a patent is that it discloses the problem and of course the solution. Indeed this is one reason, often after a great deal of research, expense and effort, sometimes patents are not sought. Simply the knowhow is retained in-house as a “trade secret”.

Remember the contents of a patent eventually become public knowledge.

It is said that Coca-Cola and Kentucky Fried Chicken retained their IP as well kept trade secrets with no public disclosure.

What does a patent really offer?
Good patents that you are prepared to defend can really work. The KODAK versus Polaroid case of many year ago proved that and there are many other examples.

But understand the risks. In reality, and we have said this before, a patent is only as good as your willingness and ability to defend it.

**** 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 panelist 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.innovationtraining.com.au

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Tesla – Let history be the judge!

Monday, March 26th, 2018

Tesla – let history be the judge!
By Roger La Salle
www.innovationtraining.com.au
www.matrixthinking.com
We must be ahead of the curve?
There can be no doubt that being first to market with a new initiative may demonstrate great leadership, but just how important is that, or perhaps more importantly, how risky is it?

Innovation Defined
Our definition of innovation, “Change that Adds Value”, that we first coined in the late 1990’s was derived for a special reason. It’s all about mitigating market risk, without doubt the single biggest risk with new products.

This definition suggests that instead of being first, it’s a lot less risky to find something that is a big success in the marketplace and then to innovate it. Change it in some way to make it better and go to market with an improvement on what you know people are already buying.

Amazing examples
None of the following success stories were first to market.
• Boeing 707 passenger jet
• I-Phone
• VISA and MasterCard
• Facebook
• Google
• PayPal
• NOKIA Cell phone

The British COMET aircraft was the first passenger jet but it had some technical difficulties that enabled BOEING to learn and develop the BOEING 707, an aircraft that took the world market by storm.

DINERS Card was the first true credit card, but its followers VISA and MasterCard were the real winners.

Motorola virtually created the cell phone but NOKIA took the world market with the best phones only then to be displaced by Apple with the first tablet phones. Samsung are now challenging APPLE with similar featured phones at a much reduced price.

The list of first to market failures is extensive. Of course this is not to say that being first is taboo, simply that being first carries a lot more risk.

History will be the judge!
The most current example of this may be the TESLA all electric vehicles. Certainly TESLA have in essence created a paradigm shift with their marvellous first to market products, but in doing so they have in effect, “poked the hornets’ nest”.

The big auto makers like FORD, GM, Hyundai, TOYOTA, NISSEN and the like have now been stirred into action. By now these giants would have reverse engineered every TESLA model, learned some “new “tricks” and will soon be flooding the market with even better versions of electric cars, most likely at an even lower price.

It will be interesting to see is how TESLA will fare in the face of relentless competitors that will have learned so much from the pioneering work of TESLA.
**** 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

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend