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Managing innovation - creating value from ideas
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Managing innovation - creating value from ideas

Author: john

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Innovation doesn't just happen. It's not like the cartoons - a lightbulb flashes on above someone's head and that's it. No - it's a journey and we need to understand how best to prepare for that journey, whatever kind of value we are trying to create. This podcast is about some useful lessons we might take on board to help develop our capabilities.For more, see my website:https://johnbessant.org
109 Episodes
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Necessity may the mother of invention — but in today’s world she’s a pretty fraught mum, trying to deal with thousands of kids tugging at her skirts, pulling at her arms and wrapping themselves around her legs. All screaming out for attention. We’re not short of challenges which affect the very basics of trying to live our lives — getting enough to eat, clean water to drink, a roof over our heads and some peace to allow us to sleep at night. It might look neat and tidy to package these up into something like the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals but we shouldn’t forget that beneath those critical targets for change lie thousands of things that need improving.In other words we need to “….be bold, be revolutionary… and disrupt… because without innovation, there is no way we can overcome the challenges of our times.” Wise words and an urgent call to action from Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations. And of course he’s not alone; the case for social innovation on a global scale is clearly made every time you open a newspaper or scan a news website. The question is not one of whether or not we need innovation but how to deliver it?This podcast explores some of the ways in which social innovation is being organized to try to help deal with the major challenges facing our future.You can find a transcript hereIf you'd like to explore more innovation stories, or access a wide range of resources to help work with innovation, then please visit my website here.You can find a rich variety of cases, tools, videos, activities and other resources - as well as my innovation blog.Or subscribe to my YouTube channel here
What have ollies, decks, trucks, popsicles, cruisers and kicktails got in common? If you’d asked me that back in December I would have quietly assumed you were from another planet. But now I’m happy to say I’m in a good position to enlighten you…They are all terms used in skateboarding, a subiect in which I;ve had a crash course courtesy of taking my daughter to lessons in the art at our local skateboard park.  Turned out to be an education for me too; while sheltering from the noise of kids shouting encouragement and challenge at each other and the rumble of wheels over plywood ramps and chicanes I sipped my coffee and thought about some of the innovation lessons it was demonstrating….You can find a transcript hereIf you'd like to explore more innovation stories, or access a wide range of resources to help work with innovation, then please visit my website here.You can find a rich variety of cases, tools, videos, activities and other resources - as well as my innovation blog.Or subscribe to my YouTube channel here
Innovation is rubbish!

Innovation is rubbish!

2024-01-1417:27

Why waste recycling and reuse may represent a valuable entrepreneurial opportunity…There's a well-known piece of Yorkshire wisdom, ‘where there’s muck, there’s brass’. Waste needn’t be a problem to be hidden away — buried or burnt to get rid of it. Instead there are real opportunities in waste — as plenty of innovators have already found out. Think for example of Earl Tupper whose efforts to turn the black sludge emerging from 1940s oil refineries paid off when he created the bright shiny plastic kitchenware which bears his name.Rethinking waste in this way takes not only money but the classic entrepreneurial skill of reframing — of seeing what others don’t see. At its core, the Trash-to-Cash business model is all about reimagining waste as a valuable resource. It requires an open mindset but also a long-term vision; the changes which might make such a business model viable may take time to materialise. But somewhere in that future of uncertainty about resource availability, concern for pollution and an increasingly strong regulatory framework lie the seeds of significant opportunity.You can find a transcript hereAnd a video version hereIf you'd like to explore more innovation stories, or access a wide range of resources to help work with innovation, then please visit my website here.You can find a rich variety of cases, tools, videos, activities and other resources - as well as my innovation blog.Or subscribe to my YouTube channel here
Some seasonal thoughts to accompany all good wishes....!(You can find the transcript here)If you'd like to explore more innovation stories, or access a wide range of resources to help work with innovation, then please visit my website here.You can find a rich variety of cases, tools, videos, activities and other resources - as well as my innovation blog.Or subscribe to my YouTube channel here
Start-up success - or not?  Faisal Abid shares some fascinating insights into the do's - and don't's of trying to launch and grow a new venture, drawing in particular on his experience in founding and growing a number of businesses including AI start-up  zoom.ai  and his current work with Eirene Cremations where he is trying to disrupt a long-established and very traditional industry.You can find a video version of this podcast here.And more about Faisal hereIf you'd like to explore more innovation stories, or access a wide range of resources to help work with innovation, then please visit my website here.You can find a rich variety of cases, tools, videos, activities and other resources - as well as my innovation blog.Or subscribe to my YouTube channel here
Pathways to scale

Pathways to scale

2023-11-2519:03

Taking an innovation from a small-sized success story to something which delivers value at scale is not an easy one.  The Holy Grail of impact has a lot in common with that elusive quest pursued by King Arthur’s knights, taking them along strange paths, meeting with dragons and disasters and lasting a long time.  Similar odds of success too. Having spent a long time focused on the challenges facing start-ups the innovation spotlight is now moving to the question of scaling – and there’s a helpfully growing body of knowledge and codified experience around this theme. Including the important decision about which route to take for the journey to scale.  Choosing your preferred pathway to scale is a key first stage on the journey; fortunately there’s a wealth of experience available from previous attempts and some important lessons on which we can build.  In particular we need to see the choices available as lying on a spectrum where we trade off additional external involvement with giving up a degree of control. This podcast explores some of those options and their respective strengths and weaknessesYou can find a transcript hereAnd a video version here If you'd like to explore more innovation stories, or access a wide range of resources to help work with innovation, then please visit my website here.You can find a rich variety of cases, tools, videos, activities and other resources - as well as my innovation blog.Or subscribe to my YouTube channel here
Growing up fast

Growing up fast

2023-11-0930:00

 We talk a lot about learning by doing in the agile innovation process, especially in the context of start-ups.  But it’s hard to capture that learning as you go along when so much else is happening as you desperately try to find your way through the fog of uncertainty.  Which is why it’s really valuable to have someone who runs a successful start-up which is now scaling well to share their insights . And even more so if they’ve managed to capture it in the form of a book which carries some really valuable lessons which have been learned the hard way!  This podcast features Zach Rattner, founder and CTO of Yembo and author of ‘Grow up fast!’, a great book which captures some powerful learning about innovation and entrepreneurship You can more about his book hereAnd the video version of this interview hereIf you'd like to explore more innovation stories, or access a wide range of resources to help work with innovation, then please visit my website here.You can find a rich variety of cases, tools, videos, activities and other resources - as well as my innovation blog.Or subscribe to my YouTube channel here
Innovation is all about trying to convince others — people to help develop your idea, sponsors to back you, markets to buy in to your great new thing. So it makes sense to spend time and effort crafting a tale which will draw them in, intrigue them, capture their attention. Of course you don't want to oversell but as long as you've done your homework and the foundations are firm you’ll benefit from creating your particular version of a castle in the air….Which is the message I’m trying to get across in the latest instalment of my long-term project to capture the key lessons of innovation and entrepreneurship in the form of a song….You can find the lyrics hereAnd watch a video version hereIf you'd like to explore more innovation stories, or access a wide range of resources to help work with innovation, then please visit my website here.You can find a rich variety of cases, tools, videos, activities and other resources - as well as my innovation blog.Or subscribe to my YouTube channel here
Prove it to me!

Prove it to me!

2023-10-1619:04

Why evidence is so important for scaling innovationA good idea will sell itself, right?  Unfortunately not – Emerson was spectacularly wrong when he suggested that all you needed to do was build that better mousetrap to have the world beating a path to your door.History is full of examples of innovations that, whilst being good and proven solutions, more than just a gleam in their inventor’s eye, stubbornly refused to scale.  There are plenty of them in the world of commercial innovation – and in the field of social change, innovations designed to have an impact and change the world, it’s even more difficult.One of the challenges is around the role of evidence.  At its simplest we adopt new things because we see some benefit in them, they make our lives easier, more comfortable or better in some way.  That’s what gives rise to the S-curve shape which you can find associated with any innovation – it isn’t a case of all or nothing, adoption takes time.  And one of the key influences on that is the role of evidence.You can find a transcript of this podcast hereIf you'd like to explore more innovation stories, or access a wide range of resources to help work with innovation, then please visit my website here.You can find a rich variety of cases, tools, videos, activities and other resources - as well as my innovation blog.Or subscribe to my YouTube channel here
I'm running a course on entrepreneurship and was looking for a way to help students remember some key milestones on the journey - value proposition, minimum viable product, prototyping, business model development, etc.  So trying it out in the form of a song....You can watch it on my YouTube channel here, complete with lyricsIf you'd like to explore more innovation stories, or access a wide range of resources to help work with innovation, then please visit my website here.You can find a rich variety of cases, tools, videos, activities and other resources - as well as my innovation blog.Or subscribe to my YouTube channel here
Unlocking creativity

Unlocking creativity

2023-09-0720:45

For our ancestors, creativity was a matter of survival. Not being big, strong or fast meant that if we couldn’t think our way out of a problem (like an approaching predator), then we’d not be around for long! Dealing with the daily struggle to survive required us to be innovative, and the key to that was the ability to imagine and explore different possibilities.And it’s pretty clear that creativity — the ability to come up with novel solutions to problems — is going to be even more in demand as we approach the future. The word is everywhere — creative industries, creative people, creative leaders, creative organizations and so on. But it’s not just a fashion label — in a world where we face some pretty tough challenges, it’s a truism to say we need all the creativity we can get. Whether we’re a solo start-up entrepreneur, a member of a team tasked with helping the organization to think ‘outside the box’, or someone trying to change the world through social innovation this creativity stuff is going to be needed.So it’s good to know that we already have the most important resource to help deliver it — the 1.5 kilos of pinky-grey stuff between our ears. It comes as standard equipment with any human being and our brain — and the amazing ability it has for imagination — is the key.Trouble is that creativity, whilst really important, is also shrouded in myths which cloud our understanding of this key resource.  This blog - and our new book - explores what we know about creativity and how we might sharpen our skills in deploying it.You can find a transcript hereIf you'd like to explore more innovation stories, or access a wide range of resources to help work with innovation, then please visit my website here.You can find a rich variety of cases, tools, videos, activities and other resources - as well as my innovation blog.Or subscribe to my YouTube channel here
 How creating experiences for underserved markets can be a key innovation strategy It’s summertime, at least here in the northern hemisphere and chances are that August is a holiday month. Which might well see you sitting somewhere and watching an exotic sunset, glass of something suitably refreshing in your hand. As you see that golden disc slip below the horizon and the wonderful display of red shifting colour begins to settle towards nightfall you might spare a thought for the memory of Tom Gullick who died this month. Because for many of us jetting away to our exotic location might not be happening were it not for his innovation efforts….An avid bird spotter (he held the record for the most birds (over 9000) spotted by an individual) he was a bit of a Don Quixote figure, not least because he took up residence in La Mancha in Spain and pursued a conservationist crusade during his later years, saving at least one species of duck from extinction.But he has another claim to fame — as one of the founding fathers of the low-cost travel experience. His bird-watching abilities gave him good observational skills and led him to spot an opportunity in classic entrepreneurial fashion — and then to go after it with a passion.This podcast explores his experience as an innovator and the underlying idea of what can be called 'position innovation' - changing the market context in which an inn ovation is placed and the stories we tell about itYou can find a transcript here If you'd like to explore more innovation stories, or access a wide range of resources to help work with innovation, then please visit my website here.You can find a rich variety of cases, tools, videos, activities and other resources - as well as my innovation blog.Or subscribe to my YouTube channel here
An interview with Hannes Erler, Strategic Director for Innovation Ecosystems, SwarovskiThis wide-ranging interview looks back at how a major European company grew over a hundred-plus years from a small engineering start-up to become a global player in the fashion, jewellery and accessories business through constant attention to innovation.If you'd like to explore more innovation stories, or access a wide range of resources to help work with innovation, then please visit my website here.You can find a rich variety of cases, tools, videos, activities and other resources - as well as my innovation blog.Or subscribe to my YouTube channel here
There comes a time in innovation when you realise you might have taken on something a bit too big. No matter how hard you throw yourself into the challenge, creating value from your idea is going to need a little help. Changing the world, or even a small piece of it, takes a lot of push. That’s the moment when you realise you need ‘complementary assets’ – the ‘who else?’ and ‘what else?’ pieces of your innovation jigsaw puzzle.It's a challenge at the very beginning – how to put together a network of people and resources to bring your idea to life? But it’s an even bigger challenge when it comes to scaling innovation – how to get widespread adoption of your ‘best thing since sliced bread’ innovation.That's going to involve a multi-player game. We’ve learned that to create value at scale needs a network – but importantly one which goes beyond the sum of its parts. Systems have ‘emergent properties but these only emerge if there is an organizing energy to enable the process.This podcast explores some of the challenges involved in putting such a 'value network' together - and , once you’ve found the partners, getting them to work together to create and deliver shared value.You can find a transcript hereAnd a video version hereIf you'd like to explore more innovation stories, or access a wide range of resources to help work with innovation, then please visit my website here.You can find a rich variety of cases, tools, videos, activities and other resources - as well as my innovation blog.Or subscribe to my YouTube channel here
 It's hard to disagree with the idea that innovation-led growth is of paramount importance, but how often do we associate it with taking risks and learning? This episode offers an enlightening conversation with Robyn Bolton, founder and ‘Chief Navigator’ of Milezero, a consultancy specialising in helping organizations think through their innovation challenges.  Her core beliefs capture their approach well:  Innovation is something different that creates valueInnovation requires curiosity, courage, and commitmentAny organization can innovate, and any person can be an innovatorPeople (even your customers and your boss) decide with their hearts and justify with their headsIdeas are a dime a dozen.  Decisions are priceless.  Action is perfection.Drawing on her extensive experience working with amongst others Procter and Gamble, Boston Consulting Group and Clayton Christensen we explore a wide range of topics including the often misunderstood concept of failure in innovation, the role of innovation labs in fostering a controlled environment for experimentation and the significance of shifting our language from failure to learning.  We look at the challenges that established organizations face when navigating disruptive shifts and we speculate the future of innovation in a constantly shifting context and stress the importance of cultivating a learning mindset.   You can find a transcript of the interview here.And a video version here If you'd like to explore more innovation stories, or access a wide range of resources to help work with innovation, then please visit my website here.You can find a rich variety of cases, tools, videos, activities and other resources - as well as my innovation blog.Or subscribe to my YouTube channel here
Time for innovation

Time for innovation

2023-06-1417:51

Time plays a surprisingly important role in innovation, both as an enabler and as a shaper of the process and its outcomes.   For example, the early development of reliable timepieces allowed accurate navigation which opened up the possibilities of global trade; without that the whole Industrial Revolution might have been a much smaller affair because the 'workshop of the world' would only have been able to trade in local markets.Or the role played by time-and-motion studies which underpinned the development and spread of mass production as a model for manufacturing and service organizations during the early 20th century.   The focus on saving wasted time also provided a key input to the development of 'lean thinking' which has had a huge impact on productivity.But we shouldn't be too preoccupied with saving time; sometimes we need to spend a little more of it to enable good ideas to emerge and flourish.  That's a lesson which organizations like 3M and Google have learned to their advantage - giving people time and space is a key innovation enabler.This podcast explores the key role which time plays in thinking about and working with innovation.You can find a transcript hereIf you'd like to explore more innovation stories, or access a wide range of resources to help work with innovation, then please visit my website here.You can find a rich variety of cases, tools, videos, activities and other resources - as well as my innovation blog.Or subscribe to my YouTube channel here
These days innovation spaces have become something of a fashion accessory; no large organization can afford not to be seen without having one. And start-up spaces have followed a similar trend; there’s been an explosion of support to try and tap into this potential source of local economic growth. On the surface these look like a welcome developments, innovation finally moving centre stage. But the reality is that very often these ‘adventures’ are little more than physical spaces with a slogan, perhaps brightened up by a few coloured bean bags on the floor or a chic location in a converted factory or warehouse.What we know from research is that providing such space can make a huge difference — but we need to have an operating model which is geared to providing support and creating a mechanism to repeat the innovation trick. We need operating ‘routines’ which help foster and support various aspects of the innovation process and which create a community of practice for organizations who take up residence inside them. Managed well innovation hubs, labs or whatever else you want to call them can operate as ’boundary spaces’, creating an environment for shared creativity, connection building and continuing interaction across different communities.This blog looks at an example of a successful innovation space, the Instituto Caldeira, in Brazil and explores how it has helped create a vibrant community for start-ups and established organizations to progress their innovation ideas.You can find a transcript hereIf you'd like to explore more innovation stories, or access a wide range of resources to help work with innovation, then please visit my website here.You can find a rich variety of cases, tools, videos, activities and other resources - as well as my innovation blog.Or subscribe to my YouTube channel here
We know today that smart companies who care about innovation invest in the capacity for innovation — R&D and market research, future scoping, etc. Organized innovation, buying themselves options on the future. All good — but maybe only focusing on the formal means potentially missing out on what might be happening underground. Because by their nature people are innovators, prone to experiment and tinker around, frustrated with aspects of their work which they think a little hacking around the edges might help them with. Why not tap into this as another source of innovation?It’s not just the benefits in terms of the possible product and process innovations which it might lead to. It’s also a powerful motivator, something which can help retain and inspire employees. Allowing people time and space to explore communicates a core company value — — it’s an invitation to tinker to hack things, to play around. And it has certainly paid off for 3M and many other companies - as this podcast explores.You can find a transcript of this podcast hereIf you'd like to explore more innovation stories, or access a wide range of resources to help work with innovation, then please visit my website here.You can find a rich variety of cases, tools, videos, activities and other resources - as well as my innovation blog.Or subscribe to my YouTube channel here
Sustainability matters - of course.  You'd have to be living in a bubble not to be aware of the wide-ranging conversation on this theme.  But how to translate the rhetoric - whether it be the UN or EU's sustainable development goals or the aspirational strategies of businesses - into something practical?That's the focus of the IMPACT project which is exploring new ways of putting stakeholders’ values into action and showing how sustainability challenges can unlock innovation.This podcast is an interview with Professor Henning Breuer, project leader of IMPACT and explores the origins and achievements of the programme.You can find out more about IMPACT hereand a transcript of the interview here.If you'd like to explore more innovation stories, or access a wide range of resources to help work with innovation, then please visit my website here.You can find a rich variety of cases, tools, videos, activities and other resources - as well as my innovation blog.Or subscribe to my YouTube channel here
Mexico City, Olympic Games, 1968. The stadium is packed, the wider world looks on via TV coverage. Everywhere there’s an air of expectancy but also an awareness that at such high altitude it’s going to be hard for athletes to beat their best. Records are there to be broken, you have to hope for something special.And in the high jump event they weren’t disappointed. The record for men’s high jump had hovered around 2.23 m for several years. But a young 21-year-old was about to change that; Dick Fosbury, representing the USA broke this with a height of 2.24 m and won the gold medal.  The ‘Fosbury flop’ as it quickly became known opened up new possibilities for the sport; within ten years it had become the dominant mode for all jumpers and helped move the world record to 2.45 m which was set in 1993 by Javier Sotomayor. These days anyone attempting the high jump has come to resemble the ‘fish flopping on the deck of a boat’ as one newspaperman described Fosbury’s Mexico model.What Fosbury’s feat reminds us of is the power of reframing in innovation. Innovation can take place anywhere along a continuum from doing what we do better — incremental — to doing something completely different — radical. And it can cover what we offer the world — product or service — and the ways we create a deliver that offering — process. That gives us plenty to keep us busy in our innovation day.But sometimes we can reframe, look at what we’re doing in a different way, identify novel approaches.You can find a transcript of this podcast hereAnd a video version hereIf you'd like to explore more innovation stories, or access a wide range of resources to help work with innovation, then please visit my website here.You can find a rich variety of cases, tools, videos, activities and other resources - as well as my innovation blog.Or subscribe to my YouTube channel here
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