Futurist Magazine recently released its Top Ten Forecast for 2012 and Beyond. Here are just two examples of things that should be on our radar today:
• Commercial Space Tourism will grow significantly in this decade. By 2021 there will be 13,000 suborbital passengers annually.
• Robotic earthworms will gobble up our garbage. Tiny agile robot teams will extract anything of value and then digest the rest into quality topsoil.
Anticipating strategic change is a key component of a repeatable process for innovation. A lack of attention to signals of changing economic, market and political dynamics has doomed companies throughout time. With globalization, the sheer volume of market signals makes it even more important to integrate strategic change scenario planning into your innovation process. Emerging trends and market disruptions create game changers that reshape industries and the rules of competition. We have more control than we think to stay ahead of the curve. But if we’re not paying attention to signals we’ll definitely get caught off guard – with potentially serious ramifications.
Take the time to read all ten forecasts. There are many more fascinating predictions that have implications for the future of business.
The central concept of open innovation is that in today’s networked world, firms can achieve greater success by looking for new ideas and innovations from external sources – outside the walled garden of traditional R&D.
An interesting place to visit to see open innovation at work is www.challenge.gov.
It’s completely open. Anyone can participate – create an account, develop a submission to a challenge, comment on a blog post, or engage in forum discussions. It’s rare that we have the opportunity to watch open innovation in action, but you can witness it firsthand here.
An article I wrote on Challenge.Gov was recently published in Wire Rope Exchange Magazine. The article opens with a challenge posted by the U.S. Air Force for the development of a Fast Rope Glove Device to maintain a fast but safe descent in hostile situations. I used this challenge to illustrate the substance of the collaboration occurring within the challenge.gov environment.
Launched in 2010, Challenge.Gov has amassed some very impressive results: 1,515 solutions submitted and $38 million in prize money awarded. Its purpose is to encourage collaboration between researchers, entrepreneurs, private industry and citizens to solve tough challenges.
I happened to be in the Apple Store in Clarendon, Virginia buying an iPad2 when Steve Jobs picture appeared on a computer screen. Throughout the store, we experienced the slow, startling understanding that Steve Jobs had passed away. It was an unsettling moment, but now I consider it to be a precious coincidence that my lifetime memory will include such a direct connection with his incredible impact and legacy.
Many memories have been flashing through my mind: That unforgettable commercial in 1984; a personal encounter at an Apple reception in the Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC; the iPod – and the iPod commercials, which really did make you want to dance
But what I want to share most are two episodes I keep coming back to – two episodes that for me, capture the essence of why Steve Jobs was the greatest innovator of our time:
The question he posed to John Sculley, when he was recruiting Sculley to come to Apple:
“Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?”
Richard Rumelt’s description of an encounter with Steve Jobs in 1998 from an interview with McKinsey Quarterly, published in November 2007:
After giving Jobs his assessment of Apple’s long-term chances in the personal computer market, he posed he question, “So what are you trying to do? What’s the long term strategy?” And Steve Jobs reaction? “He just smiled and said, ‘I am going to wait for the next big thing.”
The French have a saying, “La Rentrée” - when August turns to September and summer vacations have come to an end. It’s time to get back to work, refreshed and motivated for the new season. We’re launching into September with the Myutiq Word Game, where we explore innovation in multiple ways through the use of words.
And, in the spirit of “La Rentrée” we here at Myutiq thought it would be fitting to choose a word that is – hopefully – less known and a little bit challenging. Let us know what you think about our selection.
Today’s Word: Scotoma (sco·to·ma [skoh-toh-muh])
Word Thoughts: In day-to-day living, the concept of the scotoma is important. We naturally filter what we focus on and pay attention to – especially in this world of information overload. Unfortunately, when it comes to operating a business, blindspots can prevent us from seeing changing market dynamics that have significant implications for the growth or demise of our business model.
Research in Motion is in the news this week for all the wrong reasons. As more and more people trade in their blackberries for the latest smartphone – they’re not migrating to another RIM product. There is no trajectory like the one Apple has created from iPod to iPhone to iPad. Apple’s ability to create overwhelming demand to add each new product to the cadre of “must have” technology tools is already legendary. There are plenty of competitors who refuse to be daunted by Apple’s success. These companies are aggressively working to keep their companies in the mix of the current move to smartphones and tablets. RIM isn’t one of them.
The market evidence makes it clear that RIM has lost its innovation edge. And perhaps I owe RIM a debt of gratitude for providing an incredible example that innovation once does not equate to innovation forever. Repeatable, sustainable innovation is hard work but the alternative is much worse. Thank you RIM for providing a compelling case for the need to keep innovation front and center in the business strategy and in the operational model of every company that is passionate about growth.
There is another important storyline in the news about RIM’s plans to cut 2,000 jobs – and it’s the job creation storyline. Innovation is fundamental to job creation. When companies lose their innovation capacity they also lose their ability to create and maintain jobs. That is why innovation capacity should be at the heart of any conversation about strategies to create jobs. Need I say more?
Yesterday’s announcement that Google Labs will be shutting its doors set off a major flurry of conversation and speculation. This announcement is a big deal in the context of innovation. It remains to be seen what the impact will be on Google’s growth trajectory – and we may not have a clear picture for years. But, this announcement also adds fuel to the discussion about how innovation gets funded. Google Labs was unique because so few companies today are as bold as Google has been about the need for the free reign of ideas and imagination.
When CEO Larry Page uttered the words “…we’re very careful stewards of shareholders money” in explaining the rationale for the new direction, he no longer sounded like the Google visionary that wowed the world. He sounded like the typical CEO explaining an earnings report to investors.
Google Labs was also one of the BIG things that made Google “cool”. I will especially miss the annual list of the “10 coolest experiments from Google Labs”. Each experiment made the mind race with expectation about the next possible revolution that Google would unleash. Today is a sad day for innovation.
A commonly asked question during the summer is, “What are you taking to the beach to read?” At the top of my list is Fareed Zakaria’s new book, The Post American World Release 2.0. I had already planned to do a future blog post on the book, but once I saw last week’s NPR interview, “What Does a ‘Post-American World’ Look Like?” I knew the lead paragraph from the interview was too priceless not to share:
“Thirty years ago, the United States dominated the world politically, economically and scientifically. But today?
‘The tallest building in the world is now in Dubai, the biggest factory in the world is in China, the largest oil refinery is in India, the largest investment fund in the world is in Abu Dhabi, the largest Ferris wheel in the world is in Singapore,’ notes Fareed Zakaria. ‘And … more troublingly, [the United States is] also losing [its] key grip on indices such as patent creation, scientific creations and things like that — which are really harbingers of future economic growth.’ ”
You won’t want to miss the entire interview. Here’s the link.
I hope the interview – and his book – will spur increased dialog about the competitiveness debate that I’ve blogged about previously. I welcome your thoughts and comments.
The article reinforces the important point that all Americans need to understand: The U.S. is losing ground in innovation and the job growth that comes with it. We are no longer a global leader in comparison with other countries on important measurable factors, which we referenced in a previous blog post: Competitiveness: How Do We Get More of it?
Zakaria only had to use the word “politicized” one time to spark an important point for me. The role of the government in supporting and participating in the “ecosystem that encourages technological breakthroughs” was not debated earlier in our nation’s history. But it’s a heated debate today. How do we take politics out of the decision process and learn again how to rally around promising areas for technological advancement? We did that with the development of the Internet and we did that in the race to the moon.
We have even more daunting challenges due to the deep hole our nation’s economy is still in today. It’s not new news that corporate America seems to be climbing out of the recession, but unemployment is very likely to remain at unacceptable levels. This is especially troubling with no clear job creation solutions in sight.
Zakaria summarizes on a critical point: that the need to find new ways to rebuild American education, revive high-end manufacturing and rebuild our infrastructure may be the most important innovation of all.
All of these things mean that innovation is more important than ever to growth and prosperity in the U.S. Thanks to Fareed Zakaria for keeping front and center two important questions that remain to be answered: Where do we focus innovation? And, how do we fund it?
Today’s post is the second installment of the Myutiq Innovation Word Game where we explore innovation in multiple ways through the use of words. Our first post explored the word commodity.
Today’s word: Curiosity. I picked this word so we can think about the “fun” part of innovation: discovering new great ideas that can generate business growth.
Definition: The definition of curiosity, from a search on www.dictionary.com - Curiosity is the desire to learn or know about anything; inquisitiveness.
Innovation is hard work, but it’s also important to have fun along the way. It’s in the spirit of combining hard work and fun that we decided to create the Myutiq Innovation Word Game. We’ll use this game to explore innovation in multiple ways through the use of words. So, I took a walk this morning and came up with 25+ words. That seems like a good start. Whether we’ll play weekly or more frequently is yet to be determined… but come back from time to time and engage with us about the meaning and opportunity behind our innovation word game.
Today’s word: The first word I’ll throw out is commodity. Ha – the exact opposite of innovation! But even great innovations move toward commodities over time.