Are Mad Men Making Open Innovation Jump the Shark?


jumping_the_sharkOkay, okay, we all know that “jumped the shark” jumped over itself several years ago, but there has not yet arrived an adequate replacement for the tired phrase.  But the question remains, has Open Innovation (OI) reached the level of maturity (or maybe “saturation point”) where it starts to become obscured by attempts to apply it outside of it’s original boundaries?

Case in point, I submit the following article: “How Ad Agencies Can Make the Shift to Open Innovation,” which appeared on Bloomberg’s website on March 20.  Jumping on the opportunity to piggyback on the mainstream promotional saturation for the upcoming season premiere of the A&E hit TV show, Mad Men, which I am, in turn, doing myself by writing this post, the article examines the crowdsourced Superbowl ad for Doritos as an example of OI in advertising.

While it’s clear that the Internet and social media have forever changed the way companies interact with markets, there really is nothing that revolutionary about what Doritos did.  Of course, the same can be said for all of Open Innovation, as many like to point out that all it does is put a new spin on the strategic partnerships and alliances that have been part of the business world forever.  Having customers create and vote on marketing campaigns is an age old technique, it’s just that Facebook and Twitter now provide greater reach and efficiency than print ads and broadcast commercials.  The methods remain pretty much the same, it’s the tools that change.

The many public successes of Open Innovation will likely keep it as an active term for product development techniques that involve one or more parts of the value chain as an integral player.  After all, the attractiveness of OI is what drives it being borrowed to describe other similar activities such as in the ad world.

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Look who’s jumping on the “Death to Facebook” bandwagon…


We are going to take the highroad.  We won’t even mention that we’ve been posting about Facebook being a temporary phenomena since well before the IPO fiasco (whoops, ok, we lied).  So it’s very interesting now that the shiny new social media toy has begun to show frayed edges and the novelty is wearing off, just how many people are starting to echo the drumbeat we joined about a year ago.

This week some analysts have decided to chime in, bringing the muscle of metrics to the cause and citing studies that show “one third of Facebook users report declining usage over the past 6 months,” and facts like GM pulling $10-million of advertising from the site.  FB is an easy target now that we have recently witnessed their biggest stumble as their share price has fallen 32% since going public.  Where were these analysts with these bold predictions back when everything was still unicorns and rainbows?

Here are the latest articles from those late to the lynch mob:

The Facebook Deathclock remains at 5 minutes to midnight (because I can’t find a good graphic that show 4 minutes to).

Quirky Recap – S01 E06 – “Very Messy, Very Fast (Season Finale)”


It’s the end of Quirky’s debut season on Sundance and so here is the final Quirky recap…possibly forever, who knows?  To close out the season, Ben reminds us all just how cool the Quirky concept is, with its democratization of innovation.  The piece de resistance of course being that they make some of the world’s best products that solve real world problems. Gosh they’re like superheroes!

We’re on to the 111th Eval meeting.  111?  What was 100 like?  I hope they at least had cake.  So that’s 111 brand new products in less than 2 years.  That’s really impressive.  We learn that 111 is focused on barbecue accessories, so here’s the first inventor, Chad from Houston.  Chad’s “Skew-tisserie” gets your kabobs off the sticky grill and rotates them for even cooking.  Gaz likes the concept but thinks the spinning motor is overkill. He just hates the idea of barbecue meats having any kind of fun at all. Continue reading

Quirky Recap S01 E05 – “Hell Yes”


The show has apparently moved to Friday nights, but that doesn’t work with my schedule, so here I am still publishing the recap on Wed, I hope you don’t mind, all two of you reading this….me and my mom.  Ok that’s a lie, my mom’s not great with a web browser.  When a show gets moved to Friday nights, that’s typically not a good sign in TV land.  So fingers crossed that Ben and Gaz get to continue their hissy quarrels and not be banished to the dungeons in the basement of the Nielsen offices.  Next week is the season finale, do you want more Quirky?  Well make sure you tell Sundance.

Time to see who will be this week’s Quirky inventor and have their dreams realized.  It has better odds than the lottery, so get over to quirky.com and start inventing, you people inspired by the tuna and peanut butter in your garage.  At this week’s Eval, they have changed it up a little and are entirely focused on gadgets for coffee pod machines like the Keurig.  The whole single cup brew category has exploded in recent years, partly due their ability to economically customize beverages for individuals, so everyone in the office can have something different rather than all drink out of the same pot.  I’m sure men buy this at home too so their wives can have vanilla latte while they drink roasted mud. Continue reading

App-athy and the Value of Information


digitalarcheologyIn the early to mid-nineties, I became enamored with the idea of lean information systems.  This was back when software applications were getting bloated and trying to be all things to all people but were unsatisfying to just about everyone. At the same time, enterprise applications were being set up to try to control all kinds of business processes in the name of cost control and efficiency. Multimillion dollar installations of enterprise systems employed countless consultants setting up, implementing and maintaining these applications that cast a generic set of industry specific best practices in the silicon equivalent of wet cement.

Lean manufacturing pundits mocked the wave of MRP/ERP implementations as a poor substitute for actually improving the flow and productivity of the manufacturing facility, while technology enthusiasts envisioned seamless integration across all business functions. Continue reading

Is Facebook the new Windows?


Is Facebook trying to become an operating system like Windows or just look and act like one?  Something happens to companies that start off small and then become successful giants.  Often, they lose their ‘mojo’ and eventually become something that barely resembles the original.  When you move from the garage to the office campus, your spirit often doesn’t make the move with you.   Just ask the scores of Dot-com companies that crashed and burned, Icarus-style, at the turn of the century.

In the beginning, Facebook started off very simply, you put in your data, you accepted or declined friend connections and then you maybe updated your status.  That was about it and it was elegant and simple.  Fast forward to today and Facebook holds large scale developer conferences like the big boys at Apple and Microsoft, and rolls out features at a maddening pace.  They have also tried and failed several times with things like adding their own email and Groupon type discounting. Continue reading

Quirky Recap – S01 E04 – “I Crush It”


It’s another week and a chance to crown another Quirky inventor.  We’re at Eval again and the Quirky employees get their chance to chime in on the top ideas chosen by the online community.

First up is Joe from Portland with his idea for a piece of plastic that piggy backs on your roll of toilet paper giving you, Voila! – TWO rolls of toilet paper, so you don’t run out as often.  “Wiping your a** like no other,” jokes Ben.  One designer points out that it lacks the “wow factor” (ok, name a toilet product with wow factor, what, you can’t either?).  Ben asks who likes it and hears crickets (insert standard Ferris Buehler/Ben Stein attendance joke here).

Now we go to Marnie in Seattle with her “Ziploc Rolodex,” which seems like a very OCD product for OCD people who have just simply lost control of their storage bag inventory.  One Quirky staffer comments that he doesn’t believe in the problem this idea solves despite the fact that it got a lot of interest from the online community.  Popular doesn’t necessarily mean good, so there’s a good lesson for you kids out there. Continue reading