Posts Tagged ‘reserve bank of australia’

Do You Connect the Dots?

Monday, November 9th, 2009

Do you Connect the Dots?
© Roger La Salle 2009

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.

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Rising interest rates, maybe ‘tightening of belts’ – is this an opportunity?

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

With inflation in Australia above the Reserve Banks targets, interest rates have risen yet again in an attempt to slow the economy and dampen demand. Is this a “show stopper” for business, or can it be viewed as an opportunity?


The Reserve banks uses interest rates as a questionable means of dampening demand and so slowing the economy, but in the last “sledge hammer” approach to economic control under Paul Keating when interest rates reached the dizzy heights of 17% and more, our balance of trade remained in the negative and consumers were still spending. Eventually, after many businesses “went to the wall” demand did damped and inflation slowed – but at what cost?

The ready availability of credit cards and the “must have it now” culture is one of the reasons that the impact of rising interest rates has little immediate effect on slowing the economy.

Notwithstanding the above, one thing is certain; as interest rates rise people do become more discerning with their expenditure. For the first time in perhaps more than a decade people now look twice at bills and purchases and compare alternatives with a little more rigour than before. Churn in now on the increase, and this is where the opportunity lies. Now is the time to win customers from competitors and increase market share.

Innovation is not the only answer.

Many companies embrace innovation (best defined as “Change that Adds Value”© La Salle 1999) of products, processes and services as a means to drive change and as a way of ever improving their offering and moving both their customers and businesses to an ever better place. Opportunism is perhaps another way of thinking, a way that is seldom even touched on by traditional innovation initiatives.

What is an Opportunity?

The dictionary defines the word opportunity as a fortunate intersection of events” or something similar, unfortunately such a definition is not a call to action for it fails to show one how an opportunity may be found.

Perhaps a better definition is:

“An observed fortunate set of circumstances (© La Salle 2002).

This simple definition underpins an entirely new search endeavour for business development and has the effect of moving the mindset of staff from that of merely operators to opportunists.

Make Opportunity your opportunity!

There are five important search criteria for finding an opportunity. People need to be skilled in the use of these and to work through the simple opportunity stimulants to find new unthought of initiatives. Not only does this work for businesses, it is equally valuable for personal, job and career development.

Be assured, opportunities are abundant, perhaps more so now in times when people are reviewing spending patterns.

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