Tag Archives: Innovation

Unintended Consequences

There is a new travel website focused on hotels – Tingo. You might wonder, do we really need another travel site. But this one changes the game.

Tingo allows you to book a hotel and if the price drops at any time before your stay, they rebook you at the new lower price and refund you the difference.

This sounds awesome to me. Yet I also wonder about unintended consequences. Will hotels resist reducing their prices? Will it become impossible to book a last minute rate that isn’t astronomical because hotels will lose money by offering last minute deals? Or will the rules simply have to change so that hotels can offer last minute “packages” that don’t directly correspond to the tingo rates they would have to reduce?

I’m not sure of the answers, but this is one more example that there is always room for innovation, even when it seems like everything in that industry has been done.


Innovation Ingredients

If you want to build an innovative organization, the recipe has three key ingredients.

1. Interest – Senior leaders have to ask for the ideas. Consistently. Ask about new ways of doing things in meetings, in performance reviews, on bulletin boards, in suggestion boxes. Ask for the ideas publicly and for anonymous suggestions. Just ask, ask, ask.

2. Support – Set aside budget for innovative ideas. Provide the money for the idea to have a fighting chance. Possibly more important, provide the other resources – space, personnel, talent. Maybe most importantly, support new ideas with executive sponsorship. Politics, fiefdoms, and territory battles can kill almost any new idea, no matter how brilliant. Give your innovations the support of an executive sponsor who can shield them from bureaucracy and envy.

3. Freedom – Innovation doesn’t happen in an atmosphere of red tape and/or fear. Remove the innovations from the usual red tape processes. Give the owners of the innovations greater budget and decision making freedom so they can move with speed. Perhaps most important, give innovators the freedom to offer any idea without repercussion. No idea should result in punishment. No great efficiency improvement offered should cause the innovators’ jobs to be downsized.

Stir all three ingredients together. Yields innumerable brilliant ideas.

What’d You Learn Today

If you think you learn something new every day, this guy knows it. His blog is quite simply a daily journal of the new thing he learned every day of 2010. I discovered it this week when he referenced my blog on the Kahn Academy and read back as far as day 200. My favorites were:

# 232 – About the game euchre which I loved playing when I was in high school.

# 217 – About a company called Inchworm that makes shoes for kids that expand 3 sizes. No more replacing the kids shoes 2 months after you buy them. Brilliant.

#207 – About skishing a sport in which people fish, in the ocean (really in the ocean – they aren’t in a boat), for fish large enough to drag them through the water, at night. Nothing could possibly go wrong.

So. What did you learn today? And don’t say nothing.

Ram Charan Lesson #3

On Wednesday I met Ram Charan, one of the foremost management consultants and leadership gurus in the world. Here’s the third insight I gained from my time with him.

Invention is the creation of new ideas. You need geniuses for that.

Innovation is converting ideas into revenue and margins. You need leaders for that.

Successful business relies far more on the latter than the former.

I thought this was a very interesting perspective. When we talk about innovation the conversation does usually push toward extreme examples, but business innovation, the kind that helps one company win over others, is often about incremental improvements, a cost saving here, a process improvement there.

Time after time when companies unleash the creative power of their employees (usually doing little more than asking and listening) they uncover numerous innovations. So we can leave the invention to the Einsteins. Ask around for the innovative ideas. Then put our leadership to use selecting the best innovations and converting them to positive business results.

It’s a Video World

Erin and Jeff are getting married. As most couples do, they wanted to make sure that people saved their wedding date on their calendars. So they sent out a save the date . . . video. And not just any video – an awesome, movie trailer, mashup video with clips from tons of your favorite movies along with sub-titles that I assume are meant for the Wong side of the family. Here’s the video.

[Sorry, Erin and Jeff pulled the video. You can try this one instead. Not amazing the way Erin and Jeff were, but it makes the point.]

So other than being pretty cool, what does this matter for the likes of you and me? More and more this is a video world. And the technology is breaking down any excuse you may have for not using video. My guess is most people reading this blog own a digital video camera. If not you can buy a flip video cam for under $200 or a webcam for under $50. So video is cheap, but where should you use it?
* Resumes
* Business Proposals
* Thank You Notes
* Holiday Cards
* Electronic Introductions
* Pitching a New Idea to the Boss
You name it. Video makes a presentation stand out. You don’t need Erin and Jeff’s editing talent. With almost no experience I put this video together for the launch of Be the Hero. The editing process probably took about 90 minutes.

I welcome you to write a comment on this post. Even better, post a video. Which one will we all take more notice of?