David Kelley, the founder of IDEO and the Stanford D-School, and his brother, Tom Kelley, a partner at IDEO and the author of two innovation books, have just published a new book, Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All.
They make some provocative and suggestive assertions; here is my take on several of them.
Everyone has creative potential – everyone.
Creativity is not reserved for those few with the right genes. The key is to attain creative confidence, a belief that you are indeed creative and an optimistic way of looking at what is possible. That confidence comes in part from trying, doing, accepting failure and creating small successes. …Continue reading
How the blood industry can inspire our thinking
Businesses in healthcare are facing a problem. In such a diverse, complicated and innovative field, determining how to pursue growth can be overwhelming. From political influences and new technologies to cultural changes and economic shifts, where to spend your resources is a challenging question. The problem lies in considering all aspects of the industry simultaneously. Businesses are attempting to react to all the changes, opportunities and competitors in the industry. But taking too wide a view is leading to muddled solutions and slow progress.
The solution lies in narrowing our focus on just a few aspects of healthcare to understand where the tide of change is turning. In this three-part series, we hope to explore new perspectives on existing structures and innovative approaches that are redefining the system. By focusing our attention on singular aspects of the market we will discover that opportunities for growth are highly achievable.
To start let’s look at an oft under-considered player in the field: blood. …Continue reading
Last month, we visited Chicago for an amazing week of inspiring lectures, workshops and conversations. It was Chicago Ideas Week, and it was fantastic. Prophet’s Curator and Provocateur, Andy Stefanovich was invited to host one of many sessions – his focusing on the future of work. Andy’s role in looking towards the future of how we work has been decades in the making. For more than 25 years, Andy has been helping companies think differently about how they do the work they do with a combination of energetic inspiration and grounded strategy. While many organizations talk about unique culture, the way we work is far more nuanced and complex. As brands seek growth in an economy dominated by digital and increasingly driven by millennials, thinking about how work is changing is vital. Encouraged by Andy’s inspired storytelling, five talented speakers brought to life a highly engaging session. …Continue reading
We often draw thick lines between verticals of expertise. Someone is an analyst or an insights generator, a marketing expert or a brand specialist, a designer or an innovative thinker. It’s useful to have these titles and silos of talent. When a particular job needs to get done, with all of the constraints of time and money, it’s best to go with the experts. However, in this habit of specification, we might be missing the opportunity to blend our practices and re-imagine the potential within them.
Consider innovation and design. These areas have been the 21st century’s ascending stars. In the last decade, innovation has become the businessman’s core motto and it’s still the golden ring of nearly every industry. The tenets of innovation have pushed us to envision a process of regularly producing newness in the world. This has led to experimental approaches in workspaces, novel management styles and an increased focus on collaboration. The creation of innovation as a staple business practice has moved companies in some amazing directions.
Likewise, design has seen an explosion of popularity, both graphically and industrially. Thanks to companies such as Apple and Google, which have applied long-revered design principles to consumer electronics and digital interfaces, our eyes have been opened to the power of design and its ability to drive growth and profitability. While both innovation and design attract very different practitioners, it is when we consider the underlying tenets of both disciplines that we realize the need to blend them more thoroughly. There are three foundational similarities between design and innovation. These foundations can serve to inspire our thinking for what could be a powerful partnership. …Continue reading
Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, is provocative. He makes several points about mismatched contests. Although he does not use any business or brand examples, many of his points could have been drawn from the world of business strategy.
Firstly, the “giant’s” advantages can also be a source of weakness. Goliath was huge and strong but the size he was blessed with caused him to be slow and have bad eyesight. The giant firm is really good at their business model; they are financially successful and make incremental improvements each year, which apparently make them even more formidable. As a result, there is no incentive for them to change. The current system is working very well, but that “stick-to-your-knitting” concept makes them vulnerable. Another giant firm advantage is size and the resulting clout in the marketplace. The problem is that an innovative offering or way of doing business will at the outset be just too small to be material. Why bother with a small irritant? Just ignore it. That kind of thinking has held McDonald’s, Microsoft, and Coca-Cola back over the years. …Continue reading
LEGO is one of those brands most brand zealots use as an example of a brand that others aspire to be. With its iconic look, non-stop line of innovation success and its ability to capture the imagination with figures built stories high, LEGO has Disney-like magic surrounding it. In fact, next years’ The Lego Movie, with Will Ferrell, Jonah Hill, Morgan Freeman and Channing Tatum is one of the most anticipated movies of 2014.
With all of this success, you would never have thought that LEGO actually provides one of the great examples on how not to innovate, living on the brink of self-destruction just a decade ago.
You hear the success stories. But you hardly ever hear the precautionary tales. Even if you did, you’d never expect that LEGO – the venerable children’s toy company that built an empire around a simple, yet ingenious plastic brick – would have an important one to share.
It’s hard to escape a prevalent theory that businesses intending to grow and succeed should aggressively sharpen their innovative edge. Among the best practices that abound: Foster an innovative culture. Be customer driven. Look to disrupt. Make sure you practice “open innovation.” LEGO had none of this. LEGO is a fascinating story about innovation run rampant. And it very nearly paid the price with failure. But instead, LEGO used the experience to figure out where it went wrong, change course and transform itself in the process. …Continue reading
Taco Bell, Ad Age’s Marketer of the Year, was recognized for their brand’s incredible turnaround. In 2011, Taco Bell sales declined by 1.4% in part because of a January lawsuit alleging that their beef taco was not really all beef. In 2012, the brand came roaring back with store sales up an astounding 8% and the momentum continued in 2013. How did they do it? The answer is threefold: wildly successful product innovation, a radical new brand position around “live mas” (live more), and a creative social media program with a host of tentacles.
The home-run product platform was introduced early in 2012 in the form of the Doritos Locos Tacos; over 100 million were sold in just the first ten weeks, and the brand extensions, Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos and Fiery Doritos Locos Tacos have been winners as well.
The core idea came out of a creative thinking session with Frito-Lay and involved leveraging the Doritos brands with its Mexican lineage, leadership in flavored tortilla chips, energy, personality, customer base, and distinctive taste and texture. The final product took some three years, 45 prototypes, and the joint resources of Frito-Lay and Taco Bell to get it right. The shell had to have the Doritos look, feel and taste, which was not easy, and it had to be made in real quantity.
The success of the Doritos Locos Tacos provided energy and momentum to the Taco Bell brand but was not the only product innovation. The brand also introduced the Cantina menu with healthier ingredients in order to gain relevance to women and other segments that were rebelling from unhealthy fast food fare. The goal was to neutralize the veto effect where one person in the group refuses to patronize a restaurant that lacks a healthy option. Although it made up less than 5% of Taco Bell volume, Cantina had an important impact on quality perceptions and increased relevance by appealing to the health-minded. …Continue reading
How does an emerging market brand break into the US and other major markets? Try diaspora marketing, advise Nirmalya Kumar and Jan-Benedict E. M. Steenkamp in an October Harvard Business Review article. Diasporas are groups living away from their birth countries such as first-generation immigrants. The idea is to market your brand to a group that is familiar with and has an affinity for offerings that come from their home country. When that group provides a sales base, it gradually expands to people connected to the diaspora and finally to a broader market. This strategy avoids the often unfeasible attempt to build a brand on foreign shores from zero.
The diaspora strategy not only provides a solution to a tough problem for many brands. Firms attempting to engage in brand extensions can learn from these ideas. Look first to customers who are already using your brand in another context and let them provide a base business and build from there. Furthermore, diaspora marketing may signal another form of Clayton Christensen’s market disruption whereby a new competitor gets a foothold that goes unnoticed until its brand builds a wider following. In any case, it’s a strategy worth understanding.
The Mexican beer brand, Tecate, built US sales by reaching out to first-generation Mexican-Americans and now has 20% of that segment. India’s Reliance MediaWorks has tapped into the US Indian population that watches Bollywood films by setting up quality theaters aimed at this market. Dabur, a manufacturer of herbal medicines, also from India, secured a foothold in the United Arab Emirates by focusing on the Indian segment—some 5 million Indians who live in the Gulf Region. Bangladesh’s food brand, PRAN RFL, set up distribution channels where the Bangladeshi diaspora exists, such as East London. …Continue reading
Recently we were inspired by a piece from the ever-provocative Seth Godin. His thoughts on thinking harder about diverse customers has us reflecting on how we think about our work.
In the busy work of brand strategy consulting, we can often lump things together to save time. Including people.
There are times when we look at the client as one mass of similarly minded individuals, lumping them into one category of recipients of our work. How many times have you said “they” or “the team” instead of referring to unique individuals? We do the same with our teams internally. Lumping them together as “the team” instead of identifying the key differences between teammates beyond our level or class.
We do this because it saves time. We do this because we are working hard to find the best answers to challenging problems. Often in seeking these solutions we don’t allow the time to consider each individual on the client side or in our own teams. Of course we try, but to be efficient it’ s easier to lump.
However, if we find ways to utilize the differences of our teammates, what could we gain? In a post on the blog “Lean Medicine,” Moyez Jiwa offers a little food for thought. Back in the 90s, Jiwa made a move to conserve crucial resources at his general practice and family medicine office. He installed a phone consultation system.
Let’s set the scene. The practice was facing a major problem: During certain seasons requests for same day, in-person appointments shot through the roof. This was a trackable, measurable and reliable phenomenon. During these seasons patients were increasingly frustrated with being squeezed into schedules and doctors were short tempered because of the increased stress. However, instead of accepting this situation as “the way things were” the hospital decided to come up with a creative solution. They began to offer telephone consultations. …Continue reading
This week’s news of Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia’s mobile device unit and Samsung’s exciting advance of the “smartwatch” category with its Galaxy Gear offers up a Marketing 101 course on how companies that follow and live their positioning consistently and aggressively thrive, and those that don’t, flail.
Lets talk flail first. Microsoft MSFT +0.84% is spinning its $7.2 billion deal to pick up Nokia NOK +0.08%‘s wireless phone business as a new beginning for both companies. It’s a chance to revive Microsoft’s ailing mobility business. And one to make Nokia viable and relevant again (despite the fact that most Nokia devices are powered by the lagging Microsoft Windows Phone operating system).
I’m not buying it. The news caused Nokia’s shares to soar for good reason, yet dissipated most of the $18 billion surge in market cap Microsoft experienced on CEO Steve Ballmer’s retirement announcement less than two weeks ago. This was no surprise given Microsoft’s ongoing struggle for relevancy versus Apple AAPL -1.42%‘s and Google GOOG -0.64%‘s mobile operating systems. And despite its considerable success with the Xbox, it’s more often progressed with fits and starts on devices like Zune (iPod killer), Kin (smart device killer) and Surface (the company recently took a $900 million write-off for unsold units of this iPad killer).
Quite simply, Microsoft continues to be a software company trying to reposition itself as a device and services company. It is confusing the market, consumers, employees and of course, investors. …Continue reading