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Calculating the value of an innovation

BlueCallom Equation IntroductionOne of our early objectives was to easily describe the value of our work. It is not easy as Innovation has so many moving parts and the fact that enterprises around the world are feverishly trying to find better ways to achieve groundbreaking innovation and not just improvement is a testimony for its complexity. We tried to distill our value contribution down to neuro ideation, innovation opportunity discovery, innovation-to-market method, innovation financing, reporting, Innovation KPI framework, multi-user digital canvas technology, genetic computing technology AI usage, and a few other things. One aspect recently rose very prominently in conversations with users and customers: a very close relationship between brilliant ideation and relentless execution. However, there was an inner conflict: It is described in a blog post written a few years ago: The Initial value of an idea is zero. How could something of no value sparked multi-billion dollar businesses and disrupts entire industries if it has no value? It just needed to turn on of course but what value is it then? It reminded me of something I learned in quantum mechanics, that I quantum state can be seen as having two states at the same time. Every idea can too. As we learned from neuroscience, an idea is a clearly defined “object in our brain that is composed of past experiences”.  The trick is to use it or not. Unused its value is zero and used its value turns into one. The value of one is still not a lot but multiplied with execution that leads to exponential growth makes the one incredibly valuable.  Let’s not get deeper into quantum physics as it is just an analogy but look how this concept changes our understanding of innovation.

The two key aspects, that make or break groundbreaking innovation:

  1. Finding a brilliant idea that leads to innovation

  2. Making the idea a reality and bringing it to market with relentless execution

Harnessing the duality of ideation and execution is where BlueCallom makes the biggest difference. Moreover developing the BlueCallom Equation, paved the way for making innovation predictable, creating Innovation Forecasts, calculating an Innovation Lifetime Value, and an Innovation ROI. Groundbreaking Innovation (G)  = Ideation (I) * Execution(E)².

G = I * E² 

The meaning of G

For the development of innovation processes, we needed to make a statement of what we understand by the term INNOVATION, in particular groundbreaking or disruptive innovation is not Improvement. It became even more important when trying to find a way to calculate an innovation value. There are hundreds of different definitions of what innovation means. The following definition is made to make our methods and technology clear, and also what our equation is addressing.

Innovation is the introduction of a
groundbreaking elevation in the way
people do things and ensuring
a successful global distribution.

It often results in disruption, how
industry segments conduct business.

Innovation is not the same as Improvement. For more clarity, we use Groundbreaking Innovation (G)

The creation of I

To get to groundbreaking innovation you need an amazing idea. And since we know, thanks to neuroscience, how innovative ideas get created, we can go one major step further: Making the innovation a reality. Not only by building a prototype but bringing that innovation to life in global markets. Some years ago I wrote a provocative blog post: “The initial Value of an Idea is ZERO” and that has not changed. There have been many known cases where people bought an idea for $1. With that payment, the idea had legally changed ownership. So we can assume that the buy-in of a team developing such an idea has the value of one – assume any currency. The idea is the must-have ignition to innovation, yet has no big value to anybody – yet. The value is created through execution. Every startup knows – it gets embossed in their neurons by every investor. And there is an important effect to be observed: Any successful innovation – ever created – was following an exponential growth rate. Hence the E².  But with no execution: 1 * 0 = 0 – in other words, the lack of execution makes the innovation value zero.

The significance of

  1. Innovation Timeline
    Innovative solutions take quite a while to get accepted in the market. And there is no shortcut. The larger part of the market participants is rather careful and conservative. It took a few years until the name Tesla even made it to News. It took even longer until Amazon became a household brand. The first two years, Computer 2000 and TechData had a tough start. But 10 years later both bypassed 8,000 competitors which never understood the level of disruption our business models had. Today the merged and combined company is doing nearly 40 Billion in revenue. The inflection point when the so-called “Hockey Stick” kicks in and turns the slow start is recognized as part of an exponential growth curve, it is too late for many companies to seriously compete.
  2. Innovation Management
    Managing an “Innovation to Market” process is an ART and a SCIENCE. One of the key aspects of the science part is the understanding that innovative products will never be purchased by conservative customers, which is the largest audience. One of the arts to get it to scalable results is to know when the broader audience is ready to engage. Today the function of “Innovation Management” is widely underestimated or even completely misunderstood. Innovation management could also be called “Innovation Value Management”. It is all about creating value from a disruptive innovation that has usually the DNA of a unicorn – no matter whether it is a corporate or startup unicorn.
  3. Equation
    * An idea, as a result of any kind of ideation, has a fixed initial value of zero.
    * Once a team is intending to use the idea and make it a reality, the value of such an idea becomes one (1).
    * As soon as the innovation is given to users and they see a value for them and start using the product, the value increases above 1. Here it can potentially grow exponentially based on the energy somebody puts into execution. The energy that is put into execution should become proportional to the value growth of the innovation if the execution is done right.

This also explains why some of the innovative products are perceived as “Overhyped” in the eyes of normal observers.  Only after carefully analyzing the innovation’s growth path and rate, capital markets react and may look unrealistic. This was experienced with almost every Silicon Valley IPO and afterward, those technological advances became the new normal and ever more often dominating entire markets. The   in the BlueCallom Equation can now also explain that behavior of seemingly hyped values that turned out to be valuable over time. The BlueCallom Equation is represented in the BlueCallom Deep Innovation Design model as well as in the architecture of the BlueCallom Innovation Management Software (code name ‘deep’).

 

Debunking 100+ Innovation Methods

G=I E² is more than just a formula for groundbreaking innovation, describing the duality between ideation and execution.  It is describing the foundation of any successful innovation effort or process.

* Innovation Team Structure

Brilliant innovation and relentless execution is not a job that a person can do on the side. It’s the opposite – innovation development is one of the most demanding engagements in any business anywhere in the world. The equation also makes clear what the innovation management’s responsibility is.

* Execution – Execution – Execution
It demonstrates the value relation between the idea itself and the execution process after the idea was created. It’s all about execution and that has never been even a consideration in innovation management.

* Time is of essence

It shows the importance of the factor time in the execution from zero to the max. In conventional innovation playgrounds, teams had infinite time. The outcome was zero. Unicorns ran like crazy and that made a huge difference.

* Innovation KPIs
How innovation teams achieve probability calculations, ROI, etc. to develop more robust innovation plans.  Only robust KPIs can indicate performance. The number of idea contributions, the value of the contribution, market validation, innovation confluence data, timelines, budgets, degree of disruption, adoption rates, growth pattern, and more. The number of projects can’t be one of them.

* The end of Innovation Kindergarten
The equations expose why empirical experimentation, pivoting, random brainstorming, and other “exercises” just could never lead to groundbreaking innovation. Lego games and dancing, meditation, and other relaxation is really nice – but cannot be the core of the top job of any industry leader.

 

Innovation is an extremely counterintuitive business.

For most people outside the innovation space, Innovation means radically new or significantly improved products. Interestingly enough, product innovation is the least successful model. There are various ways to innovate. Highly successful and radically disruptive innovations today come from business model innovation. For instance, in my old company, Computer 2000, we changed the business model for tech distribution from the ground up. With our tiny startup in the 1980s, we took on competitors of multi-hundred million dollars in revenue. It looked like the chance to survive is exactly 0.00%. Today it is a $37 billion business leading the tech distribution in the world. And still, most competitors did not notice the difference and why we could become a global market leader. It was a business model disruption that went unnoticed. Another example is Airbnb. The company caters to travelers’ needs to stay in a more individual apartment or house instead of a small room in a hotel. Hotels, however, perceive the competition as a price war since there are less expensive apartments too. The hotel industry managers, who never understood the competition, fought back with legal acts, and did not compete on the service. As a result, they never brought their services in alignment with customer needs. Zappos, an online shoe dealer, changed both. Their business model and committed to organizational innovation. Soon thereafter, they also started an experience innovation project and became a great example of multi-facet innovations.

Big Five Innovation Types

 

Obviously, the topic can split even further. Still, we realized that these five innovation types need different approaches, different methods, have different financial or operational impacts, and call for a different innovation team composition.

P a r t – 1

In this first of five posts, I will share experiences, concepts, and product innovation definitions.

Product Innovation

Focused on the product side. This is the classic way to innovate and the most obvious to be recognized by the market. However, it is also the easiest to copy and to outperform quickly. Product innovation offers room for different degrees of innovation like a profound improvement of a product that changes the way users work or introduces a radically different product that may change a whole industry segment. Competing with product innovation is oftentimes done by starting a price war, and very quickly, the innovator may be forced to reduce pricing, increase marketing effort, or take a much longer time to grow market share. Alternative products as such innovation can quickly substitute product innovation is the most obvious, the most visible, and the fastest to understand. In the past 20 years, business model innovation, experience innovation, or organizational innovation continuously won over product innovation. Probably one of the best examples is the automobile industry. Companies fight on the product level: electric motor or combustion engine. One company, Tesla, does not lead on the product level but uses one of the hardest nuts to crack, multi-facet innovation.  On the surface, it is, of course, the electric car. But when looking under the hood, not literally speaking, it is the business model innovation, the organizational innovation, and the experience innovation that makes the company the market leader despite having a much smaller production volume. While the global awareness for Tesla was achieved with its super fast and wide-ranging electric car plus its early engagement in autonomous driving, the whole wide-angle view of the Tesla management, including building the charging stations and the gigantic innovation on the battery side, came from an organizational innovation thinking, the way the cars can be configured and ordered and how easy it is to understand what a user gets is part of the experience innovation, the whole pricing pressure, initial losses and ways the cars get sold is part of the business model innovation. No other car manufacture in the world was so innovative on all fronts and took the automobile no longer as a single product – but a part of holistic user experience. Another example is Microsoft. It’s no news that Microsoft never invented a single product. The operating systems, DOS, and Windows have been acquired, and so were all the office products, the SQL server, and other tools acquired. So one could say Microsft is the least innovative tech company in the world. All they did is integrated all the products and sold them under their own brand. Many are still not fully integrated – 30 years later. Instead of putting all the resources, time, and money into building the solution, they needed to fulfill their vision they acquired them. Microsoft’s real innovation is to create a user experience through integration and seamless exchange of data that nobody else saw as important. Nobody else did as well as they did. The experience innovation did not need a product but an architecture. The other innovation was a business model innovation. From the very early days, they committed not to build their own computers but pushed computer manufacturers to use their software. The non compete commitment from Microsoft was compelling enough to get an exclusive commitment from the computer vendors. And knowing that all the office apps will need their operating system was good enough to give the OS away for peanuts. Business model innovation and experience innovation were strong. Understanding how the company operates and what they offer was so confusing for most competitors that nobody cracked their dominance – till today. As we will discuss other innovation types in the following posts, you will see the difference of those innovation types relative to the ‘good old’ product innovation. You will see that product innovation is not going away – it’s still an important part of an innovative business. Product innovation is becoming a commodity – but is no longer a differentiator.

#ProductInnovation

In the next parts, 2, 3, 4, and 5, we will go into the other innovation types’ details. Here just a quick snapshot to put the above in context.

Experience Innovation

The most effective way to innovate, only recognized by users, and communicated through advocacy. Experiences include general customer experience all the way to entire entertainment solutions such as theme parks or highly interactive restaurant types, and lately, space travel. Experience innovation is very hard to copy and very hard to compete with. Usually, it takes highly creative minds to piggyback on a concept and develop a different model that makes the experience unique.

#ExperienceInnovation


Business Model Innovation

The most successful way to innovate with a big impact on the industry. Typically, business model innovation goes hand in hand with experience innovation. It is the hardest innovation type for any competition to copy, even to compete with. Changing a business model is hard enough for a business to develop – it takes years for the competition to emulate and follow. Business model innovation has been the most successful type of innovation in the past 20 years. The biggest number of business model innovations emerged from the US.

#BusinessModelInnovation


Organizational Innovation

Innovation within the organization, mainly for process acceleration, customer experience, resulting in increased profitability. It is tough to copy (if not done by consultants), making it very hard to understand from the outside and even the inside. Organizational innovation often requires a deep injection of new processes, different employees, and often a different management team. In large organizations, hundreds or even thousands of people may be affected by organizational innovation when they cannot unlearn and learn new ways of conducting their work. One question quickly rises to the top: “Is innovation killing jobs or the wrong team killing innovation?”

#OrganizationalInnovation


Structure Innovation

Supra-Enterprises, companies bigger than 25,000 employees, seem to have the hardest time to create truly ground-breaking innovation. In particular, in the western world, Top Executives, Board, Investor representatives, Unions, Industry associations, local government representatives, and maybe more have to agree on creating a new leadership structure to bring innovation forward. Inventing disruptive solutions often require major changes in the current teams as skills and experiences may shift significantly. Disruption in the automotive, energy, food industry requires knowledge and deep experiences in those industries not only on the enterprise side but also in external structures. A startup as a small company can go under the radar – a public company cannot.

#StructureInnovation


 

THE QUEST FOR MORE INNOVATION

In the last five to ten years, pretty much any business and any government was pushing for more innovation. But if somebody was asked “How do I innovate? Tell me step by step”, there was no tangible answer. When I was asked that very question, in particular the “step by step” part, it daunted to me, that there was simply no answer that could satisfy this question. Tens of thousands of consultants help people to “open their mind”, other use the “design thinking” model to process ideas – actually very well. But the question remains: “How do you CREATE those innovative ideas” in the first place – so you can then process them in any of the models!

INNOVATION ON DEMAND

Innovation, was an accidental event – a combination of many instances, experiences and the brain pushed out an idea. In some cases, those ideas have been big enough to warrant starting a whole new business. But today, we have a situation where we don’t want to have an accidental brain flash leading to a possible innovation. In times where we have a crisis we actually would want to have solutions on demand.  But as long as we don’t even know how ideas are created, we are far away from creating ideas on demand.

MAYBE THE BIGGEST SHIFT IN INNOVATION HISTORY

Neuroscientists helped me understand that human beings are not really creative – we can only COMPOSE ideas from past experiences, from whatever we saw, heard, felt and so forth. All our daily experiences are actually get associated with existing experiences and create some interesting IDEAS of which we actually don’t really know. The biggest idea machine is our mind when we sleep. There is much to explain but the net of it is: We are not creative and we create ideas by the millions. So what is the problem?

Our historic evolution, our culture, our education and our brain itself poses a problem: It is conditioned to allow only the most obvious and the least demanding ideas to pop up. Only one in a trillion or less is actually making it from our right brain to the left and stimulates a communication between the two, that forms a “thought” that may break through all the other barriers. And once we understand that process, we have the foundation for creating innovation on demand, like we create a house or bridge or something as simple as a paper plane.

DEEP INNOVATION DESIGN – PoC

in 2016 we began our first careful attempts to help startups to come up with disruptive business models. What was thought to be a “one of a million” chance, turned out to be better than 50%. Half of the startups in that, for us historic batch, were creating a disruptive model – on demand. They created what we call a “Disruptive Moment”. Disruptive moments are the part in a business model that will push competitors to change their course in order to catch up with these startups. It was the first version of a Prove of Concept (PoC). In the past two years we went deeper into the “mechanics of our mind”. We learned what we needed to actually DO to play with our billions of neurons and synapses to form those innovative ideas. After two years of work we found an early concept that works well enough to come up with an innovative solution, whenever we want. It was in itself a innovative concept to create innovation. We called it the “deep innovation design method”.

Four ‘T”s, one “M” of Deep Innovation Design

1) TALENT
We need people who have a “talent” in creating innovation. Very much like others are talented to play music, paint pictures, drive race cars, cook amazing meals, create fashion, help others or simply entertain people. The talent is the ability to play with ideas, seek experiences, are least pre-conditioned, reject conformity, create their own rules. We have millions with that trait. Almost any toddler has that talent until we press them into a societal system that unknowingly suppresses that talent, but it is still there – hidden. Do you remember: “Don’t be so childish”, “you are a dreamer, be more realistic”, “Focus, learn your lessen, you need to repeat it tomorrow in class”…
2) TEAM
Like a music band, or a football team, innovation is a team sport – if you do it alone you end up waiting for accidental ideas. And one of the most important player in the “Innovation Play”, are the affected people: Customers, users, victimes. If you start the game without them you are doomed to lose. And if your actors (innovators) are all of the same trade, you will lose as well. Diversity is the magic formula. Understanding that part, makes it also very obvious why enterprises CANNOT be innovative. They try to surprise the customer with their ideas instead of co-creating an experience. And their ideas come from a mono culture called R&D center, engineering teams or other experts. And finally the decision maker, who may not be able to ‘experience’ the idea in their mind will need to reject the idea. It almost couldn’t be worse. We learned that ‘innovation’ is one of the most counter intuitive activities humankind is conducting – yet mother nature is pushing it out wherever she can.
3) TRAINING
Our brain is an old machine with lots of upgrades. More upgrades than any other organ in our human apparatus. It is also the most adaptive body part. To overcome some of the 300,000 year old habits and some even go back 5 million years, we need to train our brain. I often wonder how long our children would crawl if we never help them to walk. We need to train our bran in opening a treasure chest that is heavily guarded by about 200 million nerve strands or Axons, our so called Corpus Callosum.
With good talents, a great team and well defined techniques we actually can. And that is the beginning of “Innovation on demand”.
4) TOOLS
You know the saying: “I think my head explodes”- right? And that is always when you reach your capacity limits of learning or thinking, or comprehending – or – innovating. In an interesting way, it’s all the same. Since the last 12,000 years we experience this more and more often and we built more and more tools and ever bigger teams to deal with exactly that problem. We have yardsticks to measure distances much easier than computing it in our brain. We build cranes big enough to lift the weight we need to lift without architecting it over and over again. And today we developed tools, methods and finally technology that shall help us to go through this rather demanding process called innovation. And guess what – it is no different from what athletes perform in their contests, musicians on stage, race driver on the street or on the water, and so forth. Both, athletes and innovators, can easily loos one or two Kilo of body weight, during such processes. When I processed complex ideas or learned entirely new things rather fast, I fall asleep, equally exhausted then after a 20 km run (12.4 miles). Our brain can consume massive energy! That energy consumption is of extreme importance to know, when we try to get ground breaking ideas out of it.
5) MARKET
Here is when the rubber meets the road. There are an estimated 100 Million patents in drawers that have been never used. It shows that the initial value of an innovation, evenpatended is exactly ZERO. The value is only and exclusively created when an idea gets executed, brought to life and into the market. The value then grows with the size of its distribution. We can be as innovative as we want – if we cannot make it available to a market or the market is not interesting, the value remains to be zero. In the end, sales channels, creative marketing, service and support organizations, transport (and if it the Internet) are key to the success of any innovation. This success is seen best, when we look through the macroeconomic lense: A company creates a product. It is sold through distribution and dealer channels, it is shipped across all oceans, it is serviced locally, maybe education organizations provide training, maybe consulting companies help apply the product. At the same time new ideas pop up from companies that build add-ons to that product and create even a market extension. All of a sudden a company with 5,000 employees actually creates 50,000 indirect jobs. That innovation is clearly valuable. The worst of all versions is to create a valuable idea, get a patent and then not only not use it but prevent anybody else from creating it. It is a crime on society – stealing an advancement, just based on self interests.

How to start from here

On April 23, the BlueCallom Group who worked on the Deep Innovation Design Model for four years is providing a free online seminar (webinar) and explaining how the Deep Innovation Design Model works, where you can get trained and how you get involved in this new model. www.society3.com/webinars/. The World Innovations Forum is providing the training programs and support in emerging countries and is able to provide stipends for talented innovators to learn how to be extremely innovative.

The Innovation Challenge

Corporations of all sizes, older than 15 years are in jeopardy. It is NOT LACK OF INNOVATION as such, it is lacking the UNDERSTANDING HOW TO INNOVATE. TEST: Tell your teams to be more innovate. The response to the question may be: “Yes, we’d love to do that, but please teach me what I must do to be innovative”. Your team learned to handle machines, compile algorithms, develop strategies and business plans, how to sell and how to market, create a long term financial forecast or how to hire talents. They never learned how to innovate or how to create a disruptive business model. Most even set innovation equal to invention. The real challenge is:
1) We need to understand how one creates ideas in the first place?
2) How these ideas may turn into an ‘innovation’?
3) How do we know that those ideas are actually something the market will buy?
4) When do we invest in such an innovation and how much?
5) How do we organize an innovation process from idea creation to market success?

Not lack of innovation but lack of understanding how to innovate

 

IN SEARCH OF INNOVATION

Most businesses are seriously challenged and try all kinds of ways: Creating an innovation lab, investing in startups, trying to observe young innovators, hire teams to be creative and innovate – and all kinds of random actions in the pursuit of “finding innovation”. This already went on for decades with no serious success. Young businesses continue to disrupt entire industry segments. Whether it is the car industry, the taxi industry, the hotel industry, the mobile communication industry, the micropayment industry, the mobile payment industry, and on and on and on. Who is next: the insurance industry, the airline industry, the food industry, the waste industry, the ITC industry, the automobile industry, the mechanics parts industry, the legal advice industry…  Every industry will experience major disruption in the coming years. And this is NOT because some come up with some crazy ideas and think differently. 200 to 500 out of 1 million startups make it. So that is not much . But those 200 – 500 disrupt any available industry. And will not wait for anybody.

LEARNING TO INNOVATE

Each and every corporation has its own innovations paradigm. Most don’t even know. The innovations paradigm is the entire complex from idea development in an R&D center or innovation lab to successful market entry. Today this is all experimentation, trial and error. And we apply the mechanisms that we know to find out. Yes we need to think very differently – but not how we try today. Funny enough we need to follow age old rules:

  • We need to find out how ideas are actually created and processed
  • Once we understand how our brain works, we can apply strategies to use it.
  • We then will need to dive far deeper into our business ecosystem than ever before
  • And finally develop radically different solutions that unfold an ideal way for customers
  • Leadership in this entire process can make it a repeatable process so one can continuously innovate

Implementing such a “Innovations Paradigm” into the enterprise is far less difficult as it may look, yet it is not done over night and requires the buy-in of the C-Level. When anybody says we need to think like a startup, WE is all of the company. And the key driver is always the CEO – Startup or Global Enterprise. Carl Benz, Henry Ford, Robert Bosch, Graham Bell, Robert Noyce, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos were all young crazy entrepreneurs when they started. And many of that league are just about to get disrupted from people who think and act different – but that thinking is no secret any more and not unique.

You may want to join our webinar series of how to innovate and how to get your team to true innovation.
https://www.society3.com/webinars/

@AxelS