The Path to Innovation

In a world more globalized,  complex and interdepent there are new challenges but also opportunities. Some of the steps that can be used to identify opportunities are below.

Identify trends (you can use some of the documents described in link Understanding the World)

  • Geopolitical
  • Technological
  • Demographic
  • Economical
  • Cultural

These trends lead to new life styles:

  • Technological connectivity
  • Ecological
  • Extreme sport 
  • Tourism
  • Health care
    • Organic food and healthy life habits
    •  Senior citizen care and recreation
    • Exercise and being in good shape
  • Life Long Learning (executive education)
  • Equitable trade
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Bottom of the pyramid business
  • Pets
  • Senior citizen life styles

Retail Forward has identified 10 innovation opportunity areas that provide tremendous potential for creating new consumer benefits and stakeholder economic value:


  • Catch a wave  
  • Solve my problem  
  • Do it for me  
  •  Help me choose  
  • Come to me  
  • Enhance/enrich the experience
  • Make it easy
  • Do it my way
  • Help me connect
  • Speed it up


Now, by creating a 2×2 matrix with the life styles and services innovation we can identify places where an innovation can be created:


On top of this, the core competences needed to develop the innovation must be considered.

This post is inspired by the interesting lectures of Dr. Jaime Alonso Gómez, National Dean and Professor EGADE – ITESM, on International Business Strategy and Modeling.

Business Models for Monetizing the Internet: Surely There Must Be Something Other Than Advertising

Interesting discussion in TechCrunch on Internet advertising and Internet business models: Steel Cage Debate On The Future Of Online Advertising: Danny Sullivan Vs. Eric Clemons

Eric Clemons is Professor of Operations and Information Management and Management at Wharthon.

A quote from the article from Danny Sullivan  editor-in-chief of SearchEngineLand.

“I agree, many sites cannot sustain themselves solely on advertising. Mine certainly doesn’t. Our revenue comes from online ads, paid memberships, lead generation and conference attendance. As a veteran web publisher, I know that in my particular space, online ads alone don’t cover the bills.

There are plenty of other examples. Right now, some newspapers are reconsidering whether they should have “opened” their sites to non-paid subscribers, since ad revenues are plummeting. But even when ad revenues were high, the ads alone weren’t covering all the costs that go into producing the New York Times. Other streams such as print ads and print classifieds were helping to keep the online site going.”

This is the same topic reported by Chris Anderson My Two Cents on Charging for Content, a quote from the post: “Free may be the best price, but it needn’t be the only one.”

Therefore, I am looking forward to read Chris Anderson´s latest book, Free: The Future of a Radical Price: The Economics of Abundance and Why Zero Pricing Is Changing the Face of Business, with the concept of “fremium”,  check his blog´s post Revised: the *four* kinds of FREE

Pereira, Norvig, Halevy: The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Data

A paper from Fernando Pereira, Peter Norvig, Alon Halevy on how to deal with the vast amount of data from the Web.

From the Official Google Research Blog:

“Alon Halevy, Peter Norvig, and I argue that we should stop acting as if our goal is to author extremely elegant theories, and instead embrace complexity and make use of the best ally we have: the unreasonable effectiveness of data. See the full article here (IEEE Intelligent Systems, March/April 2009). “

Is your idea disruptive?

Christensen and Raynor in their book The Innovator’s Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth at page 49, have a three set of questions to determine whether the idea can become a new-market disruption:

First set, tests the new market potential, the answers must be positive:

  • Is there a large population of people who historically have not had the money, equipment, or skill to do things for themselves, and as a result have gone without it altogether or have needed to pay someone with more expertise to do it for them?
  • To use the product or service, do customers need to go to an inconvenient, centralized location

Second set, explores the potential for low-end disruption:

  • Are there customers at the low end of the market who would be happy to purchase a product with less (but good enough) performance if they could get it at a lower price?
  • Can we create a business model that enables us to earn atttractive profits at the discount price required to win the business of these overserved customers at a lower price?

Third set, the litmus test, answer affirmatively:

  • Is the innovation disruptive to all of the significant incumbent firms in the industry? If it appears to be sustaining to one or more significant players in the industry, then the odds will be stacked in that firm’s favor, and the entrant is unlikely to win.

Other works from Christensen on innovation can be found in my previous posts, Clayton Christensen on business model innovations and Asking the wrong questions kill ideas.

Mobile Internet becoming a reality?

In a press release of March 16,  titled Mobile Internet Becoming A Daily Activity For Many ComScore reported that the number of people using their mobile device to access news and information on the Internet more than doubled from January 2008 to January 2009. Among the audience of 63.2 million people who accessed news and information on their mobile devices in January 2009, 22.4 million (35 percent) did so daily; more than double the size of the audience last year.

TechCrunch reports that the iPhone Makes Up 50 Percent of Smartphone Web Traffic In U.S., Android Already 5 Percent.

Beware, these data and statistics are only about the US market, but they clearly show that more and more people are accessing the Internet using mobile devices.  Furthermore, developers can now create their applications on these platforms in an easier way and publish them online. I am sure we will see very interesting applications taking advantage of the fact that mobile devices can lead to location-based applications and services.


Interesting new videos from Authors@Google series:

  • Authors@Google: Donald Knuth discusses the interactions between faith and science.
  • Authors@Google: David Thomas A Harvard Business School professor and a recognized & award winning thought leader in the areas of cultural diversity in organizations and strategic human resource management.
  • Authors@Google: Gerd Leonhard The End of Control & The Future of Content:The tough issue of control emerges, again and again, as the key contention point within TV companies, publishers, record labels, and broadcasters: How can a commercial venture that is based on so-called intellectual property thrive and prosper in an environment that seems to continuously and progressively remove control from the creators/owners/providers of content, and hands it over to the people formerly known as consumers (aka the users), effectively making them more powerful every single day? 
  • Authors@Google: Susan RoAne E-mail, texting, BlackBerry, MySpace: more and more, technology dominates our communication. We are often tuning out those around us — to the point of e-mailing the person at the next desk or surreptitiously checking our BlackBerrys during a meeting. Bestselling author, communications expert, and popular keynote speaker Susan RoAne shows that face to face encounters are still paramount to both career and personal success.
  • Authors@Google: Earvin “Magic” Johnson discusses his book “32 Ways to Be a Champion in Business.” 

How to thrive in the current economic crisis? With Innovation

The current financial crisis is really global and has affected all the countries and industries. It seems that nobody is exempt by this crisis, but there are some exceptions…
Apple has announced the financial results for its fiscal 2009 first quarter ended December 27, 2008 and reports Best Quarterly Revenue and Earnings in Apple History iPod Sales Set New Record.

Tata Motors has unveiled a prototype of its Nano microcar at the Mumbai Auto Show in January 2008 while the auto industry is collapsing. BusinessWeek has a nice article about it, What Can Tata’s Nano Teach Detroit?

What do these two companies have in common? Innovation!

Apple has produced a breakthrough with its iPods and iPhones, Tata Motors with its Nano has created engineering and supply-chain breakthroughs to make a car that is to be sold for $2,500. 

In the BusinessWeek article there is a nice quote from Vijay Govindarajan, a professor at Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College and chief innovation consultant at General Electric (GE):

“Great companies are built on creating new markets, not increasing market share in existing ones.

Layoffs: Evidence on Costs and Implementation Practices

In a series of blog posts at the  HBR website, Bob Sutton (Professor of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University) talks about layoffs and their implications on a company performance.

An excerpt “Although workforce reduction persists at a fairly high rate (especially involuntary staff reductions), the evidence that these practices actually help improve organizational performance is weak. ”

The posts are: 

Other important readings on this subject that I recommend are:

Jeffrey Pfeffer is the Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University.

Joseph Nye’s “Leadership: A Dozen Quick Take-Aways”

At the end of  his new book,  The Powers to Lead: Soft, Hard, and Smart Joseph S. Nye, Jr. (professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and author of  Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics and The Paradox of American Power: Why the World’s Only Superpower Can’t Go it Alone) provides a summary about leadership.

Smart power refers to the ability of a leader to combine hard power (e.g. coercion) with soft power (e.g. persuasion) in proportions that differ depending on the context.

Here is Nye’s list of leadership qualities/strategies:

  1. Good leadership matters. Good = effective and ethical. Luck matters for success, but good leaders can help shape their luck.
  2. Almost anyone can become a leader. Leadership can be learned. It depends on nurture as well as on nature. Leadership can exist at any level, with or without formal authority. Most people are both leaders and followers. They “lead from the middle.”
  3. Leaders help create and achieve group goals. Thus effectiveness requires both vision and interpersonal/organizational skills.
  4. Smart leaders need both soft and hard power skills: co-optive and command styles. Both transformational and transactional objectives and styles can be useful. One is not automatically better than the other.
  5. Leaders depend on and are partly shaped by followers. Some degree of soft power is necessary. Presence/magnetism is inherent in some personalities more than others, but “charisma” is largely bestowed by followers.
  6. Appropriate style depends on the context. There are “autocratic situations” and “democratic situations,” normal and crisis conditions, and routine and novel crises. Good diagnosis of the need for change (or not) is essential for contextual intelligence.
  7. A consultative style is more costly in terms of time, but it provides more informationcreates buy-inand empowers followers.
  8. Managers are necessarily leaders, but effective leaders usually need both managerial and organizational skills. They create and maintain systems and institutions. Leaders are not mere deciders; they help a group decide how to decide.
  9. Leadership for crisis conditions requires advanced preparation, emotional maturity, and the ability to distinguish the roles of operationalanalyticaland political work. The appropriate mix of styles and skills varies with the stage of the crisis. Experience creates tacit knowledge, but analysis also counts. A cat that sits on a hot stove will not sit there again, but it will not sit on a cold stove either.
  10. The information revolution and democratization are causing a long-term secular shift in the context of postmodern organizations – a shift along the continuum from command to co-optive style. Network organizations require a more consultative style, both men and women face this change and need to adapt to it. Empowered followersempower leaders.
  11. Reality testing, constant information seeking, and adjusting to change are essential for good consequences, but emotional intelligence and practical knowledge are more important than pure IQ in judgment.
  12. Ethical leaders use their consciences, common moral rules, and professional standards, but conflicting values can create “dirty hands.” Three-dimensional ethical judgments require attention to goalsmeansand consequences for those inside and outside the leader’s group. Creating identities in intergroup leadership is difficult but crucial.