Friday, April 13, 2012

15 Ways Whoever Is Going to Disrupt Your Market Isn’t Like You

15 Ways Whoever Is Going to Disrupt Your Market Isn’t Like You

Published on 13 April 2012 by Mike Brown in Brainzooming
Whoever is going to disrupt your market isn’t like you, which makes them really hard to identify right now.
Number 1? They may not even be in business yet.
That’s a big difference, but it’s not the only one. Here are fourteen other ways whoever is going to disrupt your market isn’t like you, since they:
2. Don’t care about preserving anything about what’s made your brand successful.
3. Are happy to get a small share of the market at a premium price with a dramatically different offering.
4. Are happy to get a bigger share of your market (since it’s related to their market) at a really low price.
5. Don’t have any qualms about introducing a product/service and price point combination that’s really tough to compare to anything else your market has been doing.
6. Make decisions and move really quickly because the stakes are so much lower for them.
7. Can get away with using some, but not all, of the marketing mix to beat you at your own game.
8. Compete really effectively by looking at a couple of things (or maybe even only one thing) in a radically different way.
9. Don’t have to fund their new venture out of the dollars coming from your market.
10. Have figured out a different entry point into the customer model in your industry.
11. Don’t (or aren’t) going to look like you in very fundamental ways – size, structure, scope, etc.
12. Don’t have to have a complete offering since they’re appealing to a different market segment.
13. May have glaring weaknesses compared to traditional competitors (i.e., “you”) in areas traditional competitors think are really important but customers are willing to overlook.
14. Will not be focused on delivering the same benefit package you are.
15. Are fine with putting together parts and pieces tried and thrown out by others to compete in new ways.
And for everyone who points to Apple as the great disruptor, this story from Forbes points out that just as yesterday’s category owners can be disrupted, so can today’s seemingly invincible players.
Start looking for your disruptors. And start looking for who you are going to disrupt, because you’ll be just as hard to identify for them. - Mike Brown

Monday, April 9, 2012


"When all think alike, then no one is thinking."
— Walter Lippman"Capital isn't so important in business. Experience isn't so important. You can get both these things. What is important is ideas. If you have ideas, you have the main asset you need, and there isn't any limit to what you can do with your business and your life."
— Harvey Firestone"Great is the human who has not lost his childlike heart."
— Mencius (Meng-Tse), 4th century BCE"Doing the same thing over and over, yet expecting different results, is the definition of crazy."
— UnknownM. A. Rosanoff: "Mr. Edison, please tell me what laboratory rules you want me to observe."Edison: "There ain't no rules around here. We're trying to accomplish somep'n!"
— Thomas Edison"Creativity, as has been said, consists largely of rearranging what we know in order to find out what we do not know. Hence, to think creatively, we must be able to look afresh at what we normally take for granted."
— George Kneller"It isn't the incompetent who destroy an organization. The incompetent never get in a position to destroy it. It is those who achieved something and want to rest upon their achievements who are forever clogging things up."
— F. M. Young"It's easy to come up with new ideas; the hard part is letting go of what worked for you two years ago, but will soon be out of date."
— Roger von Oech"We all operate in two contrasting modes, which might be called open and closed. The open mode is more relaxed, more receptive, more exploratory, more democratic, more playful and more humorous. The closed mode is the tighter, more rigid, more hierarchical, more tunnel-visioned. Most people, unfortunately spend most of their time in the closed mode. Not that the closed mode cannot be helpful. If you are leaping a ravine, the moment of takeoff is a bad time for considering alternative strategies. When you charge the enemy machine-gun post, don't waste energy trying to see the funny side of it. Do it in the "closed" mode. But the moment the action is over, try to return to the "open" mode—to open your mind again to all the feedback from our action that enables us to tell whether the action has been successful, or whether further action is need to improve on what we have done. In other words, we must return to the open mode, because in that mode we are the most aware, most receptive, most creative, and therefore at our most intelligent."
— John Cleese"The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas."
— Dr. Linus Pauling"Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought."
— Albert von Szent-Gyorgy"To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science."
— Albert EinsteinWithout the playing with fantasy no creative work has ever yet come to birth. The debt we owe to the play of imagination is incalculable."
— Carl Jung"When Alexander the Great visited Diogenes and asked whether he could do anything for the famed teacher, Diogenes replied: “Only stand out of my light.” Perhaps some day we shall know how to heighten creativity. Until then, one of the best things we can do for creative men and women is to stand out of their light."
— John W. Gardner"To be creative you have to contribute something different from what you've done before. Your results need not be original to the world; few results truly meet that criterion. In fact, most results are built on the work of others."
— Lynne C. LevesqueBreakthrough Creativity"We shall not cease from exploration, and at the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."
— T. S. Eliot"Once we rid ourselves of traditional thinking we can get on with creating the future."
— James Bertrand"There's a way to do it better—find it."
— Thomas Edison"The essential part of creativity is not being afraid to fail."
— Edwin H. Land"Creative activity could be described as a type of learning process where teacher and pupil are located in the same individual."
— Arthur Koestler"There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns."
— Edward de Bono"Creativity is not the finding of a thing, but the making something out of it after it is found."
— James Russell Lowell (1819-1891)"The creative person wants to be a know-it-all. He wants to know about all kinds of things: ancient history, nineteenth-century mathematics, current manufacturing techniques, flower arranging, and hog futures. Because he never knows when these ideas might come together to form a new idea. It may happen six minutes later or six months, or six years down the road. But he has faith that it will happen."
— Carl Ally"The things we fear most in organizations—fluctuations, disturbances, imbalances—re the primary sources of creativity."
— Margaret J. Wheatley"Too much of our work amounts to the drudgery of arranging means toward ends, mechanically placing the right foot in front of the left and the left in front of the right, moving down narrow corridors toward narrow goals. Play widens the halls. Work will always be with us, and many works are worthy. But the worthiest works of all often reflect an artful creativity that looks more like play than work."
— James Ogilvy"The achievement of excellence can only occur if the organization promotes a culture of creative dissatisfaction."
— Lawrence Miller"When the 'weaker' of the two brains (right and left) is stimulated and encouraged to work in cooperation with the stronger side, the end result is a great increase in overall ability and ... often five to ten times more effectiveness."
— Professor Robert Ornstein, University of California"Innovation— any new idea—by definition will not be accepted at first. It takes repeated attempts, endless demonstrations, monotonous rehearsals before innovation can be accepted and internalized by an organization. This requires courageous patience."
— Warren BennisThe way to get good ideas is to get lots of ideas and throw the bad ones away."
— Linus Pauling"The uncreative mind can spot wrong answers, but it takes a very creative mind to spot wrong questions."
— Anthony Jay"Success is on the far side of failure."
— Thomas Watson Sr."You don't understand anything unless you understand there are at least 3 ways."
— M. Minsky"To have a great idea, have a lot of them."
— Thomas Edison"Companies have to nurture [creativity and motivation]—and have to do it by building a compassionate yet performance-driven corporate culture. In the knowledge economy the traditional soft people side of our business has become the new hard side."
— Gay MitchellExecutive VP, HR, Royal Bank"That so few now dare to be eccentric marks the chief danger of our time."
— John Stuart Mill“Creative thinking is not a talent, it is a skill that can be learnt. It empowers people by adding strength to their natural abilities which improves teamwork, productivity and where appropriate profits.”
— Edward de Bono"The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources."
— Albert Einstein"Anxiety is the hand maiden of creativity."
— Chuck JonesWarner Bros. animator"An inventor is simply a person who doesn't take his education too seriously. You see, from the time a person is six years old until he graduates from college he has to take three or four examinations a year. If he flunks once, he is out. But an inventor is almost always failing. He tries and fails maybe a thousand times. It he succeeds once then he's in. These two things are diametrically opposite. We often say that the biggest job we have is to teach a newly hired employee how to fail intelligently. We have to train him to experiment over and over and to keep on trying and failing until he learns what will work."
— Charles Kettering"All human development, no matter what form it takes, must be outside the rules; otherwise we would never have anything new."
— Charles Kettering"Anyone can look for fashion in a boutique or history in a museum. The creative explorer looks for history in a hardware store and fashion in an airport."
— Robert Wieder"He who would be a man must therefore be a non-conformist."
— Ralph Waldo Emerson"Discoveries are often made by not following instructions, by going off the main road, by trying the untried."
— Frank Tyger"The law of floatation was not discovered by contemplating the sinking of things, but by contemplating the floating of things which floated naturally, and then intelligently asking why they did so."
— Thomas TrowardThe Dore Lectures on Mental Science 1909"Every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction."
— Picasso"If you do not the expect the unexpected you will not find it, for it is not to be reached by search or trail."
— Heraclitus"The organizations of the future will increasingly depend on the creativity of their members to survive. Great Groups offer a new model in which the leader is an equal among Titans. In a truly creative collaboration, work is pleasure, and the only rules and procedures are those that advance the common cause."
— Warren Bennis"Genius is one percent inspiration, and ninety-nine percent perspiration."
— Thomas Edison"The business world sees a measurable and growing intelligence gap - with need for intellectual expertise constantly expanding. Available talent is decreasing even though the population is increasing. Being bombarded with information - be it in Nintendo or shogi - and being able to process it, find patterns etc., is a vital skill. One way to increase this talent potential is through games."
— Leif EdvinsonSkandia at the MindSports Olympiad 1997"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats."
— Howard Aiken"Some men look at things the way they are and ask why? I dream of things that are not and ask why not?"
— Robert Kennedy"In every work of genius, we recognize our once rejected thoughts."
— Ralph Waldo Emerson"The human body has two ends on it: one to create with and one to sit on. Sometimes people get their ends reversed. When this happens they need a kick in the seat of the pants."
— Roger von Oech"Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things."
— Theodore Levitt"Innovation is the process of turning ideas into manufacturable and marketable form."
— Watts Humprey"The innovation point is the pivotal moment when talented and motivated people seek the opportunity to act on their ideas and dreams."
— W. Arthur PorterCreativity Killers:"Everything that can be invented has been invented."
— Charles H. Duell, Director of US Patent Office 1899"Sensible and responsible women do not want to vote."
— Grover Cleveland, 1905"Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?"
— Harry M. Warner, Warner Bros Pictures, 1927"There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom."
— Robert Miliham, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1923"Heavier than air flying machines are impossible."
— Lord Kelvin, President, Royal Society, 1895"Ruth made a big mistake when he gave up pitching."
— Tris Speaker, 1921"The horse is here today, but the automobile is only a novelty - a fad."
— President of Michigan Savings Bank advising against investing in the Ford Motor Company"Video won't be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night."
— Daryl F. Zanuck, 20th Century Fox, commenting on television in 1946"What use could the company make of an electric toy?"
— Western Union, when it turned down rights to the telephone in 1878"Innovation is the specific tool of entrepreneurs, the means by which they exploit change as an opportunity for a different business or a different service. It is capable of being presented as a discipline, capable of being learned, capable of being practiced. Entrepreneurs need to search purposefully for the sources of innovation, the changes and their symptoms that indicate opportunities for successful innovation. And they need to know and to apply the principles of successful innovation."
— Peter Drucker"Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions"
— Albert Einstein"I roamed the countryside searching for the answers to things I did not understand. Why shells existed on the tops of mountains along with the imprints of coral and plant and seaweed usually found in the sea. Why the thunder lasts a longer time than that which causes it and why immediately on its creation the lightening becomes visible to the eye while thunder requires time to travel. How the various circles of water form around the spot which has been struck by a stone and why a bird sustains itself in the air. These questions and other strange phenomena engaged my thought throughout my life."
— Leonardo da Vinci"Slaying sacred cows makes great steaks."
— Dick Nicolose"In the modern world of business it is useless to be a creative original thinker unless you can also sell what you create. Management cannot be expected to recognize a good idea unless it is presented to them by a good salesman."
— David M. Ogilvy"Innovation is fostered by information gathered from new connections; from insights gained by journeys into other disciplines or places; from active, collegial networks and fluid, open boundaries. Innovation arises from ongoing circles of exchange, where information is not just accumulated or stored, but created. Knowledge is generated anew from connections that weren't there before."
— Margaret J. WheatleyLeadership and the New Science"When you are completely absorbed or caught up in something, you become oblivious to things around you, or to the passage of time. It is this absorption in what you are doing that frees your unconscious and releases your creative imagination."
— Dr. Rollo May"A person might be able to play without being creative, but he sure can't be creative without playing."
— Kurt Hanks and Jay Parry"The achievement of excellence can occur only if the organization promotes a culture of creative dissatisfaction."
— Lawrence Miller"Replace either/or thinking with plus thinking."
— Craig Hickman"[I]in 1913, the first assembly line was implemented at Ford Motor Company. The process grew like a vine and eventually spread to all phases of the manufacture of Ford cars, and then through the entire world of heavy industry. There can be no doubt that a powerful revolution occurred at Highland Park—but it was not the assembly line itself that provided the power. Rather, it was the creation of an atmosphere in which improvement was the real product: a better, cheaper, Model T followed naturally. Every man on the payroll was invited to contribute ideas, and the good ones were implemented without delay."
— Douglas BrinkleyWheels for the World: Henry Ford, His Company, and A Century of Progress"Observe what is with undivided awareness."
— Bruce Lee"History can’t give attention to what’s been lost, hidden, or deliberately buried; it is mostly a telling of success, not the partial failures that enabled success."
— Scott Berkun"Imagination is more important than knowledge."
— Albert EinsteinOn Science"Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties."
— Erich Fromm"It's the same each time with progress. First they ignore you, then they say you're mad, then dangerous, then there's a pause and then you can't find anyone who disagrees with you."
— Tony BennBritish politician, in the Observer"The world is but a canvas to our imaginations."
— Henry David Thoreau"Creativity can solve almost any problem. The creative act, the defeat of habit by originality, overcomes everything."
— George Lois"If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original."
— Sir Ken Robinson"The joy is in creating, not maintaining."
— Vince Lombardi"Nothing is so embarrassing as watching someone do something that you said could not be done."
— Sam Ewing

25 Inspiring Innovation Quotes

1. “Innovation is anything, but business as usual.” (Anonymous).
2. “In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative original thinker unless you can also sell what you create. Management cannot be expected to recognize a good idea unless it is presented to them by a good salesman”. (David Ogilvy).
3. “If at first the idea is not absurd, then there will be no hope for it.” (A. Einstein).
4. “They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” (A. Warhol).
5. “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” (George Bernard Shaw).
6. “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” (Alan Kay).
7. “There are no old roads to new directions.” (Advertisement of the Boston Consulting Group).
8. “Nothing is stronger than habit.” (Ovid).
9. “If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.” (A. Einstein).
10. “Organizations, by their very nature are designed to promote order and routine. They are inhospitable environments for innovation.” (T. Levitt).
11. “It’s tough when markets change and your people within the company don’t.” (Harvard Business Review).
12. “Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward; they may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.” (Goethe).
13. “What we’ve done to encourage innovation is make it ordinary.” (C. Wynett, Procter & Gamble).
14. “To gain customer insights, we must understand that we are prisoners of what we know and what we believe”. (Mohanbir Sawhney).
15. “He who ask a question is a fool for 5 minutes. He who does not ask a question remains a fool for ever.” (China)
16. “A discovery is said to be an accident meeting a prepared mind.” (A. von Szent-Gyorgyi).
17. “Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises”. (Demosthenes).
18. “You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” (Anonymous).
19. “People who don’t take risks generally make about 2 big mistakes a year, people who do take risks generally make about 2 big mistakes a year” (Peter Drucker).
20. “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” (R. Emerson).
21. “The impossible is often the untried.” (J. Goodwin).
22. “Care about people’s approval and you will be their prisoner.” (Tao Te Ching).
23. “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.” (D. Adams).
24. “The world is changing very fast. Big will not beat small anymore. It will be the fast beating the slow” (Rupert Murdoch).
25. “The key to success is for you to make a habit throughout your life of doing the things you fear.” (Vincent Van Gogh).

55 Quotes To Inspire Creativity, Innovation and Action

“The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanely sensitive. To them… a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create — so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, their very breath is cut off… They must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency they are not really alive unless they are creating.” - Pearl Buck

“F@*# self-doubt. I despise it. I hold it in contempt, along with the hell-spawned ooze-pit of Resistance from which it crawled. I will NEVER back off. I will NEVER give the work anything less than 100%. If I go down in flames, so be it. I’ll be back.” -Steven Pressfield

“Creativity comes from trust. Trust your instincts. And never hope more than you work.” -Rita Mae Brown

“Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution”—Clay Shirky

“I am not afraid…I was born to do this.” - Joan of Arc

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” ~Antoine De Saint Exupery

“It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies, but even more to stand up to your friends.” - J. K. Rowling

“Do not be critics, you people, I beg you. I was a critic and I wish I could take it all back because it came from a smelly and ignorant place in me, and spoke with a voice that was all rage and envy. Do not dismiss a book until you have written one, and do not dismiss a movie until you have made one, and do not dismiss a person until you have met them. It is a f@*$%load of work to be open-minded and generous and understanding and forgiving and accepting, but Christ, that is what matters. What matters is saying yes.” - Dave Eggers

“Adversity is just change that we haven’t adapted ourselves to yet.” -Aimee Mullins

“The secret of life…is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.” - Paulo Coelho, from The Alchemist

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” - Helen Keller

“Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get — only what you are expecting to give — which is everything. What you will receive in return varies. But it really has no connection with what you give. You give because you love and cannot help giving.” - Katharine Hepburn

“Far better to live your own path imperfectly than to live another’s perfectly.” -Bhagavad Gita

“I never perfected an invention that I did not think about in terms of the service it might give others… I find out what the world needs, then I proceed to invent” – Thomas Edison

“The soul should always stand ajar. Ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.” - Emily Dickinson

“To get the truth, you want to get your own heart to pound while you write.” - Robert McKee

“There is something deep within us that responds to those who level with us, who don’t suggest or compromise for us.” -Susan Scott, Fierce Leadership

“Each moment of our life, we either invoke or destroy our dreams.” -Stuart Wilde

“I don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work.” -Pearl S. Buck

“Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward; they may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.” -Goethe

“When I was in the middle of writing Eat Pray Love and I fell into one of those pits of despair that we will fall into when we’re working on something that’s not coming and we think ‘this is going to be a disaster, this is going to be the worst book I’ve ever written — not just that but the worst book ever written … So I just lifted my face up from the manuscript and I directed my comments to an empty corner of the room and I said aloud ‘ Listen you, thing! You and I both know that if this book isn’t brilliant that is not entirely my fault, right? Because you can see I am putting everything I have into this, I don’t have any more than this, so if you want it to be better then you’ve got to show up and do your part of the deal, OK? But you know what? If you don’t do that then I’m going to keep writing because that’s my job and I would please like the record to reflect today that I showed up and did my part of the job!” — Elizabeth Gilbert

“We should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality. It cannot lead; it can only serve” -Albert Einstein

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can chagne the world.” - Margaret Mead

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking, and don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart,…you’ll know when you find it.” — Steve Jobs

“Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.” -Soren Kierkegaard

“I thought how unpleasant it is to be locked out; and I thought how it is worse, perhaps, to be locked in.” -Virginia Woolf

“People who don’t take risks generally make about 2 big mistakes a year, people who do take risks generally make about 2 big mistakes a year” -Peter Drucker

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” -Maya Angelou

“It’s not about breaking the rules. It is about abandoning the concept of rules altogether” - Paul Lemberg

“Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people.” -Leo Burnett

“You can make mistakes, but you are not a failure until you blame others for those mistakes.” -John Wooden

“There’s only us, There’s only this, Forget regret, Or life is your to miss” - Mimi, Rent

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” -Marianne Williamson

“Don’t hire a dog, then bark yourself” -David Ogilvy

“Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance. Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion.” - Martha Graham

“The only thing all successful people have in common is that they’re successful, so don’t waste your time copying “the successful strategies” of others.” -Seth Godin

“…before a dream is realized, the Soul of the World test everything that was learned along the way. It does this not because it is evil, but so that we can, in addition to realizing our dreams, master the lessons we’ve learned as we’ve moved toward that dream. It’s the point at which most people give up. It’s the point at which, as we say in the language of the desert, one ‘dies of thirst just when the palm trees have appeared on the horizon.’” -Paulo Coehlo

“Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark place where it leads.” - Erica Jong

“Bold action in the face of uncertainty is not only terrifying, but necessary in the pursuit of great work. ” - Jonathan Fields

“The only thing I fear more than change is no change. The business of being static makes me nuts.” -Twyla Tharp

“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” - George Bernard Shaw

“Everything we say signifies; everything counts, that we put out into the world. It impacts on kids, it impacts on the zeitgeist of the time.” -Meryl Streep

“What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Before you agree to do anything that might add even the smallest amount of stress to your life, ask yourself: What is my truest intention? Give yourself time to let a yes resound within you. When it’s right, I guarantee that your entire body will feel it.” -Oprah Winfrey

“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” — Aristotle

“Never allow a person to tell you no who doesn’t have the power to say yes.” - Eleanor Roosevelt

“Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.” - Mark Twain

“I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.” – Diane Ackerman

“It’s easy to come up with new ideas; the hard part is letting go of what worked for you two years ago, but will soon be out of date.” — Roger von Oech

“We all operate in two contrasting modes, which might be called open and closed. The open mode is more relaxed, more receptive, more exploratory, more democratic, more playful and more humorous. The closed mode is the tighter, more rigid, more hierarchical, more tunnel-visioned. Most people, unfortunately spend most of their time in the closed mode. Not that the closed mode cannot be helpful. If you are leaping a ravine, the moment of takeoff is a bad time for considering alternative strategies. When you charge the enemy machine-gun post, don’t waste energy trying to see the funny side of it. Do it in the “closed” mode. But the moment the action is over, try to return to the “open” mode—to open your mind again to all the feedback from our action that enables us to tell whether the action has been successful, or whether further action is need to improve on what we have done. In other words, we must return to the open mode, because in that mode we are the most aware, most receptive, most creative, and therefore at our most intelligent.” -John Cleese

“The things we fear most in organizations—fluctuations, disturbances, imbalances—re the primary sources of creativity.” — Margaret J. Wheatley

“Too much of our work amounts to the drudgery of arranging means toward ends, mechanically placing the right foot in front of the left and the left in front of the right, moving down narrow corridors toward narrow goals. Play widens the halls. Work will always be with us, and many works are worthy. But the worthiest works of all often reflect an artful creativity that looks more like play than work.”— James Ogilvy

“In my experience, if you steer clear of dogma and muster up more love than you thought you had to give, then your vitality increases, satisfaction sets in, sweetness surfaces. I believe in the creative power of good feelings. I’m convinced that the desire to be real is everyone’s divine imperative.” -Danielle LaPorte

“Don’t worry, be crappy. Revolutionary means you ship and then test… Lots of things made the first Mac in 1984 a piece of crap – but it was a revolutionary piece of crap.” -Guy Kawasaki

“Clarity of painting comes from clarity of vision. A painter has to be emotionally right out there and present, both to perceive and to express.” -Kate Palmer

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Seven startup sins to avoid

Seven startup sins to avoidSeven common mistakes have led to the demise of thousands of startups, says Ben Parr. Here's what not to do.

by Ben Parr |March 21, 2012 4:05 PM PDT
Twitter and Square founder Jack Dorsey is a man who knows what causes most startups to fail.

I've seen thousands of startups fail, but they almost always fail for the same reasons. Most entrepreneurs fall into the same traps over and over again, despite how easy they are to avoid.

At the London Web Summit earlier this week, I told an audience of European entrepreneurs the seven mistakes I believe most often destroy promising startups.

These are my seven startup sins. Avoid these common mistakes at all costs:

1. Losing focus: If you're like the typical entrepreneur, you probably have hundreds of new ideas for your startup. But you must resist the urge to build lots of features, rather than focusing on the few that will actually take your product forward.

Giving users many choices and features may seem like a good idea, but it just confuses them until they abandon a product in frustration. Simplicity and focus are the keys to building a great company. Google became a $100 billion-plus company with a text box and not much else. Square became a leader in mobile payments by not trying to do too many things at once.

Jack Dorsey
✔@jack Happy 3rd Birthday @Square! I'm so proud of all we've accomplished, & all we decided not to do.
11 Feb 12 ReplyRetweetFavoriteDon't start building every idea that comes into your head. Make everything as simple and streamlined as possible, and don't build everything the customer wants -- you will simply end up with a bloated product nobody will use.

2. Ignoring cashflow: In the early days of a startup, cashflow is far more crucial than revenue or profit. Your job as an entrepreneur is to find ways to extend your company's runway for as long as possible.

It doesn't mean you have to be a penny-pincher, but make sure that every purchase you make will deliver greater benefits than its cost. My company buys the fastest MacBook Pros possible for our engineers because the increased productivity more than makes up for the upfront costs of the computer.

3. Obsessing over competition: Many startups worry too much what Google or another startup may be building. If you obsess over what they're building, you're going to start building products based on your fears. There will always be competition, but the best companies focus on user experience instead of focusing on the competition.

4. Failing slowly: Your first product is most likely going to fail. Whether it takes you weeks, months, or years before you realize your product is a dud is entirely up to your flexibility.

Find out quickly whether your idea will succeed or fail -- research, build, test, and iterate as quickly as you can. Don't be discouraged by setbacks, but if you can see the writing on the wall, don't ignore it -- figure out why your product isn't gaining traction and fix it. Tools like Google Analytics, RJMetrics, and Optimizely are great for gathering the information you need to make decisions quickly.

5. Ignoring company culture: It's easy, especially in the early days, to make company culture a lower priority. But much like plaster, once a company culture is set, it becomes very tough to reshape.

"Zappos sells shoes and apparel online, but what distinguished us from our competitors was that we'd put our company culture above all else," Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh famously said after the company was sold to Amazon. Zappos used that strong culture to successfully recruit employees and customers.

The most important job of a founder is company culture and recruitment. Most successful founders stop coding as their companies scale, but their example sets the tone for the work ethic, priorities, and morals of the companies they created.

(Credit: James Martin/CNET) Mark Zuckerberg understands the importance of company culture better than almost anybody. He famously takes engineers Facebook is trying to recruit on a walk in the woods of Palo Alto to build a relationship and explain the company's vision.

You should have a strong idea of what kind of company culture you want to build long before you hire your first employee.

6. Being complacent: No company is immune to catastrophic failure -- just ask Yahoo, Digg, MySpace, RIM, and Friendster. Don't confuse traction for victory, because that is what leads to a startup becoming complacent and getting blindsided by an upstart competitor.

7. Not building: You can worry about competitors and fundraising until you pass out, but there's no bigger sin than not building. Ideas are easy to come by -- it's execution that separates successful companies from thousands of could-have-beens.

At some point, you just have to build and see how it goes. That's the beauty of entrepreneurship -- it's democratic. The people, rather than investors or competitors, will ultimately decide your startup's fate.

Innovation Is About Arguing, Not Brainstorming. Here’s How To Argue Productively

Innovation Is About Arguing, Not Brainstorming. Here’s How To Argue ProductivelyWritten by: Daniel Sobol

At Continuum, innovation’s secret sauce is deliberative discourse. Here’s how you do it.

Likes Turns out that brainstorming--that go-to approach to generating new ideas since the 1940s--isn’t the golden ticket to innovation after all. Both Jonah Lehrer, in a recent article in The New Yorker, and Susan Cain, in her new book Quiet, have asserted as much. Science shows that brainstorms can activate a neurological fear of rejection and that groups are not necessarily more creative than individuals. Brainstorming can actually be detrimental to good ideas.

But the idea behind brainstorming is right. To innovate, we need environments that support imaginative thinking, where we can go through many crazy, tangential, and even bad ideas to come up with good ones. We need to work both collaboratively and individually. We also need a healthy amount of heated discussion, even arguing. We need places where someone can throw out a thought, have it critiqued, and not feel so judged that they become defensive and shut down. Yet this creative process is not necessarily supported by the traditional tenets of brainstorming: group collaboration, all ideas held equal, nothing judged.

So if not from brainstorming, where do good ideas come from?

“The creative process isn’t supported by the traditional tenets of brainstorming.” At Continuum, we use deliberative discourse--or what we fondly call “Argue. Discuss. Argue. Discuss.” Deliberative discourse was originally articulated in Aristotle’s Rhetoric. It refers to participative and collaborative (but not critique-free) communication. Multiple positions and views are expressed with a shared understanding that everyone is focused on a common goal. There is no hierarchy. It’s not debate because there are no opposing sides trying to “win.” Rather, it’s about working together to solve a problem and create new ideas.

So we argue. And discuss. And argue. A lot. But our process is far from freeform yelling. Here are five key rules of engagement that we’ve found to yield fruitful sessions and ultimately lead to meaningful ideas.

Breaking down hierarchy is critical for deliberative discourse. It’s essential to creating a space where everyone can truly contribute. My first week at Continuum, I joined a three-person team with one senior and one principal strategist. A recent graduate, I was one of the youngest members of the company. During our first session, the principal looked me in the eye and said, “You should know that you’re not doing your job if you don’t disagree with me at least once a day.” He gave me permission to voice my opinion openly, regardless of my seniority. This breakdown of hierarchy creates a space where ideas can be invented-- and challenged--without fear.

It’s widely evangelized that successful brainstorms rely on acceptance of all ideas and judgment of none. Many refer to the cardinal rule of improv saying “Yes, AND”--for building on others’ ideas. As a former actor, I’m a major proponent of “Yes AND.”

But I’m also a fan of “no, BECAUSE.” No is a critical part of our process, but if you’re going to say no, you better be able to say why. Backing up an argument is integral in any deliberative discourse. And that “because” should be grounded in real people other than ourselves.

We conduct ethnographic research to inform our intuition, so we can understand people’s needs, problems, and values. We go out dancing with a group of women in a small Chinese village; we work in a fry shack in the deep South; we sit in living rooms and listen to caregivers discuss looking after a parent with Alzheimer’s. This research informs our intuitive “guts”--giving us both inspiration for ideas and rationale to defend or critique them.

During ideation, we constantly refer back to people, asking one another if our ideas are solving a real need that people expressed or that we witnessed. This keeps us accountable to something other than our own opinions, and it means we can push back on colleagues’ ideas without getting personal.

We’ve all heard of T-shaped people and of multidisciplinary teams. This model works for us because deliberative discourse requires a multiplicity of perspectives to shape ideas. We curate teams to create diversity: Walk into a project room and you may find an artist-turned-strategist, a biologist-turned-product designer, and an English professor-turned-innovation guru hashing it out together. True to form, my background is in theater and anthropology.

On a recent project, I realized the best way to tackle a particular problem was to apply a text analysis tool that actors use with new scripts. I taught this framework to the team, and we used it to generate ideas. Another time, a team member with a background in Wall Street banking wrote an equation on the whiteboard. It was exactly the framework we needed to jumpstart our next session.

When we enter deliberative discourse, arguing and discussing and arguing and discussing, we each bring different ways of looking at the world and solving problems to the table.

Deliberative discourse is not just arguing for argument’s sake. Argument is productive for us because everyone knows that we’re working toward a shared goal. We develop a statement of purpose at the outset of each project and post it on the door of our project room. Every day when we walk into the room, we’re entering into a liminal play space--call it a playing field. The statement of purpose establishes the rules: It reminds us that we are working together to move the ball down the field. As much as we may argue and disagree, anything that happens in the room counts toward our shared goal. This enables us to argue and discuss without hurting one another.

We work on projects ranging from global banking for the poor to the future of pizza and life-saving medical devices. Our work requires intensity, thoughtfulness, and rigor. But no matter the nature of the project, we keep it fun. It’s rare for an hour to pass without laughter erupting from a project room. Deliberative discourse is a form of play, and for play to yield great ideas, we have to take it seriously.

But we don’t brainstorm. We deliberate.

[Images: Kazarlenya, aboikis, and Jakgree via Shutterstock]

Monday, March 26, 2012

Beyond Stage Gate – Repeating Disruptive Innovation

Beyond Stage Gate – Repeating Disruptive InnovationPosted on March 18, 2012 by Jose A. Briones, Ph.D.

Existing methods for the management of innovation projects have a low probability of success in the development of radical of disruptive innovations. A new spiral approach has been developed that provides the balance of flexibility and control needed for a repeatable and successful approach to disruptive innovation.
Product innovation has been described as the way out of today’s difficult business environment. However, the rate of success of development projects, in particular white space and disruptive innovation projects, remains low.

This low success rate can be attributed in part to the erroneous application of methods designed for incremental innovation to projects with high levels of uncertainty. Common approaches to the management of innovation projects, like Waterfall or Stage-Gate, follow a linear approach that does not provide the flexibility needed for disruptive innovation to be successful.

The key to success in disruptive innovation is the use of a strategy that reconciles opposite needs: flexibility and control. A framework of controlled iteration can provide the right level of flexibility while at the same time give management the information required for proper allocation of resources. It’s time for an innovation in innovation itself.

The need for effective approaches to the management of innovation projects led to the development of the Spiral System for disruptive innovation management. This method applies an iterative, agile approach to market and business development. Development projects are classified based on degree of uncertainty and managed along project tracks appropriate to the level of uncertainty. Finally, appropriate innovation tool sets are employed based on the best fit between information available and decision making needs.

The Spiral System offers a balanced, agile approach to innovation management. It preserves the metrics needed for measurement of project progress, but also provides the flexibility needed for high uncertainty innovation projects to succeed.

Problem Statement

Recent examples such as Blockbuster, Borders, Kodak, Nokia and Blackberry show that innovation has become a matter of life and death for companies today. But innovation may be costly.

Dr. William Strauss of FutureMetrics has documented that the ratio of R&D needed per unit of GDP output has gone from 1:1 in the early 90’s to ~3:1 in 2009. This increase can be attributed to the fact that the rate of success of innovation projects, particularly radical or new market innovation projects rarely exceeds 20% and may be as low as 2.5%.

Referring to classical innovation management processes such as Stage Gate, Clayton Christensen, author of the book “The Innovator’s Dilemma”, has stated:

“The Stage-Gate system assumes that the proposed strategy is the right strategy; the problem is that except in the case of incremental innovations, the right strategy cannot be completely known in advance. The Stage-Gate system is not suited to the task of assessing innovations whose purpose is to build new growth businesses, but most companies continue to follow it simply because they see no alternative.”

Christensen’s observation reflects the need for new management approaches that increase the probability of success, but at the same time preserve the metrics required for measurement of progress and resource allocation. The challenge is then to reconcile a formal management framework with the flexibility that is needed for innovation to thrive.

The Need for Iterations:

To develop disruptive innovations, 1 round of voice of the customer is not enough to be the cornerstone of a project. This is because customers cannot say that they want what they do not know, and can only provide feedback on incremental modifications on what they do know. As the American industrialist Henry Ford famously said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

The Spiral Solution

The solution to this challenge consists of 3 parts:

1. Classifying projects according to the degree of uncertainty

2. Adopting a controlled iterative process to discovery

3. Using the right analysis tools that correspond to the level of uncertainty at each iteration level

The practical framework that incorporates these solutions is show in Figure 1 below

Time is the X axis, resources is the Y axis. Center = 0 for both, thus they both grow from the center. This is visual way to indicate that time and resources allocated should be low for level 1 projects and grow as more information is obtained and uncertainty is reduced.

Keys to the Process:

•Time and resources required are low when uncertainty is high, but increase as the project advances through each iteration and likelihood of success increase.
•The analysis is repeated at each level, but the tools used for each level are different.
•The first iteration at level 1 uses tools more suitable for high levels of uncertainty, i.e. Discovery Driven Planning, Probabilistic Decision Analysis
•The 3rd level of iteration uses more conventional management tools, i.e. Linear Stage-Gate, Agile, NPV.

Benefits of the Spiral Approach:

The use of this framework offers the following advantages compared to traditional linear innovation management systems:

• For disruptive innovation projects iterations are needed where customers evaluate a prototype and a new cycle starts, complete with a new VOC, market and business analysis. This framework allows for the iterations to occur in a controlled manner;

• The use of this framework, combined with the right analysis tools, allows for effective financial forecasting even in the early stages of the innovation project where uncertainty is high.

• The initial iterations, where uncertainty and risk are high (represented by the inner spirals on the chart) can be completed quickly and at low cost. Ideas can be rapidly promoted to the next iteration – or discarded. Because initial resource allocation is minimal, resources are made available to focus on projects that have entered iteration 3

• The controlled iteration approach provides a way to properly define the right value for the product or offering, leading to more accurate price estimates.

• In this framework, allocation of time and resources starts at low levels. These increase as the levels go up and the uncertainty is reduced, thus minimizing risk.

• This approach does not compare incremental innovation projects to radical innovation projects in the early stages, a classical mistake made by established leaders which results in the early kill of radical innovation projects.

This framework for the management of innovation projects provides the flexibility needed for successful innovation projects in any industry and the metrics needed for proper measurement of progress and resource allocation. By utilizing this approach, managers insure that radical and disruptive innovation projects have a chance to prove their benefits and create the innovative products and services that companies need to remain competitive.

This method has been used to successfully introduce a disruptive innovation to the construction additives market in Europe. Compared to conventional innovation management approaches, this framework led to the switch from an incremental innovation goal to a disruptive innovation technology with an identified profit potential of 25 MM$/yr.


A short video that summarizes the Beyond Stage Gate framework for innovation

“Beyond Stage Gate” Framework Presentation

Stage-Gate® is a registered trademark from Stage-Gate International’s Product Development Institute Inc.