Friday, June 26, 2009

CI in innovation

Today I attended an "ideation" session sponsored by BioStart and led by John Fox of John Fox Marketing here in Cincy. BioStart is a local incubator funded largely by state funds. Most attendees came from local bioscience space (drugs, devices, diagnostics, biofuels, etc.).

But, it left me wondering whether organizations of all kinds are using CI enough in the innovation space. Innovation in so many industries has stalled and knowledge is doubling at shorter and shorter intervals. The deluge of websites, social media, subscription services, consultant niches is overwhelming. But this is our world many ways...finding/filtering within this onslaught.

Our knowledge within specific markets and industry of mega trends, external influencers, new technologies, unmet customer and consumer needs, and comprehensive sources of information across functions/boundaries gives CI professionals perhaps a unique role. Scientists know narrow bands of journals, IP, network, scientific meetings and networks often in related or adjacent scientific disciplines. But often we can also provide financial perspective, marketing perspective, competitive perspective, case studies, search tools, etc. to help guide the thinking of technical innovators. While this is especially true in the entrepreneur space, it is also true in my experience in big time R&D groups. Some things I think we need to encourage more of and do more of as CI professionals are to:

1) In an intentional way draw more innovators through relevant 3C assignments where they learn more about consumer, customer and competitive issues. CI professional often work along the entire value chain, whereas many other functions are localized along it. CI can help lead the charge in this space.

2) Encourage your innovators to hang with small entrepeneurs in potentially related technology clusters to better understand, experience and be stimulated by their resourcefulness and the (un)structure of local/national resources available to them. Volunteer at the local incubator. Teach a graduate class. Join presentations at the local VC or angel investor events. If you are in healthcare, hang around other parts of healthcare or witness delivery in a different culture or country. CI can lead the way to finding diverse models.

3) Greater use of ideation approaches to bring multi-disciplinary thinking together at the same time to bring full left and right brain input together. Within this make sure you invite vendors, consultants, agencies, former competitor employees, etc. to make it comprehenisve and keep it real. Also invite proven innovators who have no knowledge of your industry. CI folks can help find those. CI can lead some of these sessions in the same way we often lead scenario planning.

4) Hang out a research institutes and grad schools that are intentionally teaching in a more multidisciplinary fashion (bus+engineering+fine arts) to get the whole brain engaged.

5) Develop and deliver more mega information filters to simplify staying current and leading technologies, website trackers, new social media search engines, etc.


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