Monthly Archives: February 2016

Google, Marketing and Innovation

Google deserves its reputation as one of the most innovative companies in the world. As I sometimes share when I present to groups of entrepreneurs, a tiny company can become huge on the strength of valuable insights and well-designed solutions.

According to Lorraine Twohill, SVP of marketing at Google, the company still relies on these same ingredients for its growth. When it comes to online behavior, no one knows more about customers than Google does. When it comes to applying data to design effective solutions, Google is the acknowledged leader.

As innovators, we should use the same approach. My second principle of successful innovation states that “Exponential growth comes from new ideas. The best new ideas meet real needs.” To understand real needs, we must acquire deep knowledge of customers. To truly excel, we should know more about customers than they are able to tell us about themselves.

My fourth principle of successful innovation is that “Informed innovation produces the best results.” This means simply that innovation should be based on data. We obtain data by observing and experimenting. Without observation and experimentation, we are left with only hunches (intuition), guesses and assumptions. Those inputs seldom produce successful innovation.

To grow like Google, we must know our customers well enough to discover insights that reveal openings for wealth creation. We must test our conclusions with well-designed experiments that generate valid data. Then, we can build and launch our innovative solutions with confidence that they will produce the kind of results we seek.

Related reading: How Google breaks through

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Posted by on February 29, 2016 in Uncategorized


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Who Innovates Better: Start-Ups or Big Business?

Entrepreneurial start-ups have to be innovative. That’s how they survive and grow. But are smaller, newer companies more innovative than their larger, more established cousins? Some may think so, but I disagree. It’s not size nor newness that makes some companies more innovative than others. Here are the factors that I’ve found to be most important.

Factor One: Pressure to Perform

Any new entrant to a market, or any company that wants to introduce a new solution, must differentiate itself from existing players. The company must persuade customers to switch from their current suppliers and solutions. This forces the entrepreneur to innovate effectively. By contrast, larger firms can often coast for years on the strength of their current offerings, their client base and reputation.

Factor Two: Mindset

Large organizations tend to draw individuals who are risk-averse and happy as followers. Entrepreneurs embrace risk and often swim against the current. Therefore, innovators are often attracted more to self-employment rather than to steady employment.

Factor Three: Resources

Here, the advantage lies with large enterprises. Entrepreneurs may get ideas, but corporations have the ability to conduct research, to experiment, to attract top talent, to turn ideas into workable solutions, and to implement or sell innovative solutions.

No matter how large or small your organization, you can put pressure on yourselves to innovate; you can foster an innovative, risk-tolerant environment; and you can apply your resources intelligently to the task of innovation.

Linked Resource: Anthony Ferrier’s white paper compares small and large companies and offers suggestions for fostering innovation.

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Posted by on February 15, 2016 in Uncategorized


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Take Your Brain on a Tour

What makes some innovators more successful ideators than others? It may be the ability to project yourself to a different place in your imagination.

A recent article pointed out why this kind of projection is important in successful creativity and innovation. If you want to understand relativity, you should be able to imagine how two boys throwing a ball on a moving train would look from two different vantage points. If you want to invent a better bird feeder, you should be able to imagine yourself as a bird looking for food.

In world-class innovation, we apply design thinking, which is driven by empathy and creativity. Empathy is a habit of the heart. It involves sharing the feelings of others. Creativity often requires sharing the thoughts of others.

Success in innovation requires both empathy and creativity, as well as one additional input. That is insight. An empathetic person without insight won’t know which feelings to address. A creative person without insight won’t know what sort of solution to imagine. Insights come almost always from observation.

As you assemble your innovation team, look for people who have the ability to project their minds externally, and to imagine fresh points of view. Then, send them out to observe customers and users. This combination of insight-driven imagination produces breakthrough innovations.

For more on the subject of projecting the mind externally, click here.

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Posted by on February 1, 2016 in Uncategorized


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