Wednesday, July 8, 2009

CI and innovation

In the past 24 hours I have had a couple of conversations with organizations that provide innovation services to small and large companies or to individuals. A common dilemma is how to accelerate innovation productivity - or the rate at which real value can be attached to inventions (selling them to customers, licensing them to someone else)... see Michael Lanning's description of what is "value" at(

In industries where an increasing amount of knowledge and expertise is being contracted out or outsourced, this means that innovation processes must be built around all experts - internal and external. While I had been thinking along the same lines, I came across an example today worth sharing. One Fortune 100 company is already doing this. Over about 1-2 days with significant pre-work they bring together chosen internal and external experts around a specific technical problem or unmet need in the market and through a structured multi-disciplinary process (e.g. ideation & analysis & scenario planning - this includes coincident access to on-line relevant data like Derwent patents, market research, etc.). The end result is usually a couple of judged most promising ideas which can be made into resourced projects (or companies).

Apparently a key part of the success of the process is to use a night-before event to help get folks more intimately acquainted in a way that cause hierarchy and egos ("I know more than you!") to be left at the door. Yes wine and spirits are sometimes important.

So what does this mean for CI:

1) We need to be at the table in these processes both to add perspective about competitor technologies, thinking processes, and current views of the issue.
2) Add the technical intelligence which is only available in viral, word-of-mouth format that many of our scientist colleagues didn't find in journals, meetings, networks of their own.
3) Provide benchmark insights into the most productive innovation processes being used across industries which your colleagues may not know about
4) Just be there for the experience so that when you are engaged in the subsequent more rigorous market assessment, you know the background, unspoken questions, strengths and weaknesses of the viewpoints and data.
5) CI tends to have a very multi-functional focus. You can likely add perspective that will help direct the conversations productivity across disciplines.


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