The role of experimentation in innovation management

This time around, there have been some unusually clear trends among the major innovation blogs. These include The Apple iPad, Business models for online content, Location based business models, Creativity management, The role of experimentation in innovation management and Customer driven innovation. This week’s favorite describes cutting edge research about idea generation in groups in an easily accessible way.
Marcus’ favorites this week for actionable knowledge: Distributed Idea Generation Outperforms Team Brainstorming.Most inspirational: 14 ways to quickly stifle creativity.

The Apple iPad has generated an incredulous amount of buzz among the innovation blogs. The discussion can be roughly divided into two major themes (some would say three): Making strategic sense of the product and Implications for online media.

So how to make sense of the strategic choices behind the iPad? Internet guru Umair Haque claims there is a natural trade-off between services and products and that the iPad is handling the trade-off poorly. In a way, his post is similar to the stuck in the middle argument by Michael Porter. Although I’m not sure I buy into either argument. After all – innovation can often be about eliminating trade-offs!

What is the iPad’s niche: Could the iPad become a laptop killer? And here is some sober advice Jobs might have to listen to: Don’t bet against the web. You’ll lose. Look here for some other posts worth reading if you’re interested in understanding the implications of the iPad’s business model.

…incredulous amount of buzz among the innovation blogs.

Several authors have ventured to opine about the iPad’s implications on online media.  Here are some of extra interest to the business model innovator: Why Is Time Charging $5 for Its iPad App?, Here Is Why The iPad Won’t Save The Magazine Industry. Europe’s Biggest Publisher Disses The iPad, Embraces The WePad.

Which brings us to the second theme of the last weeks: business models. I personally enjoyed this provocative text about why old businesses won’t be able to adopt to the Internet in time to surive. Of course, not everyone agrees, in particular not The Times who claims that the Future of Good News Is Not Free.

On a related theme, if you’re into libraries, you might be interested in this attention-grabbing preview of possible future business models for libraries online. And if you haven’t seen the fascinating graphs about what makes the economics of digital technology so different from all older sorts of technology, I strongly suggest you head over to HBR and have a look. And by the way – here are some ideas of how to escape the internet commodity trap.

these should be compulsory reading for people in the telecom business

A recurrent theme of April has been location based business models. Admitingly, it is a theme that feels like it has been just around the corner for many, many years now. However, for the first time it feels like it is more about today than about tomorrow as many of the services discussed are up and running. Personally, I am fan of the Foursquare application, and was thus happy to see that the fashion industry has started using it for it’s location-based marketing. Here are some useful thoughts about the state of the industry. As per usual, Robert Scoble offers some extremely insightful thoughts about how this new phenomenon might play out in terms of technological developments. I think these should be compulsory reading for people in the telecom business.

Turning to creativity management, you might enjoy some of these useful links. First, I am sure you’ll all recognize some of your own behavior in this excellent 4-minute slideshow of 14 ways to quickly stifle creativity. Actually, you should show it to your whole department. Really. And if you want more, have a look at How to Boost Creativity, Productivity and the Morale in the Workplace: Let your Employees Play and Avoiding creativity suicide.

14 ways to quickly stifle creativity

Here is a most useful blog post about innovation management! In fact, it is based on some recently peer-reviewed research about idea management in large firms. As you are all no doubt aware, when it comes to ideas, innovation is all about the best ideas (most extreme in terms of quality). In fact, the worst and the average ideas don’t really matter at all. Thus, applying some simple statistical assumptions (such as a normal distribution in the quality of ideas) we can arrive at the following conclusions: The quality of the best ideas in the upper tail in a normally distributed set of innovative ideas is determined by the number of ideas, the variance in quality and the average quality. Distributed brainstorming increases the number of ideas and the average quality (but surprisingly not the variance). Check out the details here: Distributed Idea Generation Outperforms Team Brainstorming.

Although always a relevant field in academic research, experimentation in innovation had a real surge in the blogs during late March this year. Here are some goodies that everyone could learn from: Don Sull recaps Karl Poppers experimental loop. HBR offers three posts on the theme: Are You Squandering Your Intelligent Failures?, The Failure of Failure, Innovators: Become Active Experimenters. Meanwhile Tim Kastelle offers a practical guide of How to Experiment to Support Innovation in two posts.

The perils of corporate organizational life

As for the last theme, I would be amiss in my duties to browse the innovation blogs if I did not report the recent discussion about user-centered innovation, spurred by Italian professor Verganti’s skeptical post at HBR on the topic. Without taking sides in the debate, I think it is fair to say that a case can be made for listening to your customers to at least some degree also in the case of radical innovations. For example, here is an amazing video from 2006 in which normal people clearly express their spontaneous opinions of a service like Twitter – insights that arguably came as a surprise to many Internet business professionals when Twitter suddenly made it big recently. On a related note, here are Three Models For Applying Customer Feedback to Innovation and an interesting case made for the utility of empathy in innovation work.

Finally, I will end today’s text with some practical advice you might be able to use in your day-to-day routine working with innovation. InnovToday gives some concrete and brief advice on how to dress up your business idea in a story telling fashion in order to make it survive the perils of corporate organizational life.

Your comments are welcome!

Do you have any comments on the links presented here? Are some of them broken or not accessible from your network? Would you like more focus on peer-reviewed journals or more focus on pure blogs? Do you know of a blog post that you would like to see here next time? Feel free to send an email to [email protected]

About Marcus Linder

Marcus LinderMarcus Linder researches environmental innovation among industrial firms at Chalmers University of Technology. Focus areas include strategic rationale and the practical how-to of including environmental aspects in the innovation process. An important starting point is that profitable environmental innovation often requires more than just “quick-fixing” a firm’s existing offers. Theoretically, Marcus is grounded in the problem-solving perspective on management, a subset of the knowledge-based view of the firm. In terms of applied innovation management, his main passion lies in business model design. He is currently employed as a PhD student at Center for Business Innovation at Chalmers University of Technology. Before starting his PhD studies, Marcus successfully performed a business innovation project at CBI culminating in a new product concept now planned for market introduction by Göteborg Energi.

  • Gisela Jönsson

    Att våga och bygga utrymme för experimentation tror jag är en absolut nyckelgrej i innovation. Verkligen mycket länkgodis i den här posten, jag puffar den vidare. :)

  • Marcus Linder

    Hej Gisela! Kul att du gillade länkarna den här gången!

    Jag håller med om vikten av experimenterande i innovationsarbete. Det är viktigt att ledare inser att misslyckanden i sig inte är ett problem utan att problemet är om sådana tillåts bli allt för dyra.

    Jag kollade in din presentation (här: Jag tyckte den hade många bra och vettiga poänger kring vilka förutsättningar som krävs vid sidan av formella system för att få nytänkande att fungera.

  • Bengt-Arne Vedin

    This piece was brimming with goodies! Thanks a million.

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