How Big Companies Innovate at the Speed of Startups

waveoffutureThe wave of the future is here!  If a big iconic company like Caterpillar is partnering with Uptake, Forbes-named ‘hottest new startup of 2015,’ shouldn’t your company be thinking twice?

 “…we are partnering with companies who want to be part of the solution and not disrupted by it. It’s challenging for the biggest companies to innovate at the speed of an entrepreneurial organization,” Uptake CEO Brad Keywell told Forbes magazine’s Brian Solomon.

Here’s the full story:

While co-creation between large established firms and entrepreneurial organizations is one of the quickest paths to market-winning innovation, it isn’t always smooth sailing.  Different cultures, processes, and priorities must be aligned.  Mike Docherty’s acclaimed book, Collective Disruption, describes a proven framework;  Mike will be leading an exclusive How-To session on January 21 in Chicago. Several seats still remain.


5 Signs Your Organization is Stuck – And What to Do About It

car-stuck-in-snowEver feel like you’re spinning your innovation wheels? That the more your company does to generate growth, the more things stay the same?  How do you deliver the results your CEO is looking for?

‘Stuckness’  – and plateaus – are pretty common. This brief self-quiz (excerpted from Collective Disruption) lists some typical signs and causes.  See which ones are true for you – and then what you can do about them:

  1. You may be turning out the same number of new products every year, but that method of innovation is just keeping you at base level. It’s preventing a backward slide, but it’s not growing your margins, and it’s not growing your top line. There’s no point blaming the slow economy or some other outside force for this stasis you’re in. Lack of growth is often a sign you are stuck in incremental mode.
  2. You’re identifying needs to support today’s business but are missing the major shifts with your customers and new segments of customers that you could have captured.
  3. You’ve been surprised too often by disruptive solutions, sometimes introduced by your major competitors but increasingly by new players you’ve never even heard of.
  4. Funding is over-allocated to incremental ideas at the expense of breakout ideas. Others may argue that you have some truly breakthrough projects on the drawing boards. Look, for a moment, at which projects in your innovation portfolio really get the support to come to fruition. Do you find that incremental ideas get a lot of support quickly while the breakthrough ideas stall, stay in a zombie state with no real financial support, or get killed off outright?
  5. Management talks about innovation but doesn’t really want it to happen. This can be a problem as high up as the C-suite. If company leaders are talking about transformative innovation but making no change in process or policy to support the new behavior, then it’s just talk.

If any of these are true for your company, you’re not alone. Big companies are terrible at risk taking and disruptive innovation, and they need much more than theory on how to innovate in this new world. They need partners—partners who run toward risk with arms open wide, partners who haven’t been around long enough to develop a cannon of behavior that favors optimization over innovation. Big business needs to partner with entrepreneurs, and do it in new ways.  One of the best ways to get unstuck is having a strong young team to push your metaphorical car out of the snowbank.

For more on this approach, read this excerpt from Collective DisruptionMichael Docherty, the author of Collective Disruption, will also be leading an intensive ‘How-to’ session, Collective Disruption to Accelerate Growth, on January 21 in Chicago. (Details here – call 800-338-2223 or 781-891-8080 or sign up online; note there is a $300 discount through Dec 15.)  Stop spinning, get moving!

Start-Ups Take Note: Amazon Launchpad Just Announced

While different than Quirky, lo-and-behold, look what just popped up: Amazon’s Launchpad!  Its concept is not unlike Quirky’s, but it goes much further.

The main categories are Body, Food, Gadgets and House. What’s cool are the featured categories which include Connected Products, Health & Fitness, ‘Funded on Indiegogo’ and ‘Coming Soon.’  All very trendy. I have no idea how if or how Launchpad will take off (pun semi-intended), but for product developers it’s an array of new ideas — and/or competitors — to consider.  For consumers, it’s a way of choosing products that feel more unique.  Launchpad is also cleaner-appearing than the rest of Amazon, and has a number of investors backing it.  This could be the start of something big. I would be curious to hear your thoughts.

Here’s the story:

Amazon Launchpad makes it easy for startups to launch, market, and distribute their products to hundreds of millions of Amazon customers across the globe

Benefits include a streamlined onboarding experience, custom product pages, a comprehensive marketing package, and access to Amazon’s global fulfillment network


(NASDAQ: AMZN) – Amazon today announced Amazon Launchpad, a new program that makes it easy for startups to launch, market, and distribute their products to hundreds of millions of Amazon customers across the globe. The program offers a streamlined onboarding experience, custom product pages, a comprehensive marketing package, and access to Amazon’s global fulfillment network, all geared toward helping startups successfully launch their innovations and share their stories. With Amazon Launchpad, startups can overcome many of the challenges associated with launching new products by using Amazon’s retail expertise and infrastructure to create awareness and drive sales.

This Smart News Release features multimedia. View the full release here:

Quirky – You Will Be Missed

Holy moly, wow, no?! !  I just didn’t know what to think when I stumbled across this Fortune video: ‘The company’s CEO Ben Kaufman sits down with Fortune Editor Alan Murray to explain why Quirky’s business model didn’t allow the innovation platform to succeed.’

Quirky failed? How could that be?

Ben has been the bold and eminently likeable poster child for innovation, entrepreneurship and commercialization – helping bring inventors’ dreams to life for six years.  In fact, just the other day I saw some Quirky plug/wire organizer thingamajigs at TJ Maxx and smiled to myself.  Cool, I thought.  Ben was someone I invited to keynote a conference (though logistics didn’t work out); I was glad to see the Quirky label in a popular store.

So when I saw that Quirky, the company, failed, I was both stunned and bummed.  After watching the video, it makes more sense.   Check it out:

While the combination of razor thin margins and price perception/limitations of the Quirky brand is tough, I still believe there are ways to do what Quirky attempted.  And I am certain that Ben Kaufman, like all resilient entrepreneurs, will get back on the horse and succeed.

As for Quirky, I wish I knew what the better business model would be.  Its absence leaves an important void to fill.  What do you think?

NPD Bytes Video: What is a Roadmap & How do I use them?

NPD-bytes™ is a series of quick video clips on product development topics focused on the practices, processes and strategies behind product development operations.  In this video below, Kathy Morissey, founder of Strategy 2 Market, walks us through an illustration of how roadmaps are used to link technology and product strategies for greater coordination among cross-functional groups.

For more in-depth information on creating a strategic framework for cross-functional product development teams, starting April 17, 2015 Strategy2Market will be leading a new 4-part online series of training webinars where participants can conveniently participate remotely from their offices with other team members.

IGS_2015_BannerUse code LI50 and take $50 off your registration fee for this course.


Infographic: Anatomy of a bad R&D metric

If you haven’t noticed, infographics are all the rage on the intertubes these days.  They seem like the equivalent of those posters they had on the walls of elementary schools 20+ years ago imploring good nutrition and hygiene, and the ones at the eye doctor’s that show what diseased corneas look like.

Please enjoy our stab at an infographic to help promote our ongoing workshop series on R&D metrics with Wayne Mackey of Product Development Consulting, Inc. and co-author of Value Innovation Portfolio Management.

R&D Metrics: Quantifying Portfolio Decisions, Projects and Profits – 2-Day Workshop

Do Sweat the Soft Stuff

Last year* I was at a conference focused on technology and processes for global product development. In the hallway a representative from Lucent Technologies offered me his latest revelation:

“Ya know, sitting in all these presentations, it’s really clear to me what the problem is. It’s not network security or the limitations of current collaboration software…it’s the cultural issues. Every speaker has said that’s a problem. How do you get your people to embrace such big changes? You should do a conference on those issues.” Continue reading