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KevinMcFarthing's blog

Innovation Trumped

Mon, 11/28/2016 - 09:46 -- KevinMcFarthing

Apologies in advance if any of the content in this article offends political sensitivities and affiliations; it’s certainly not the intention.  Judging by the press and social media, to most people in the UK and probably in Europe as a whole, it appears that the election of Donald Trump as president of the USA is beyond surprising.  But digging beneath the shock, and of course looking from the outside, there are lessons to learn for innovators.

What is Your Innovation Ambition?

Sun, 09/25/2016 - 19:16 -- KevinMcFarthing

As Oscar Wilde said, “We are all in the gutter; but some of us are looking at the stars”.  To me this phrase says a lot about ambition.  It starts with a vision, a dream, an inspiring view of where we want to be in the future.  Of course the bit about being in the gutter is a bit dramatic; suffice to say that many companies are in si

Neglecting Innovation Impacts Growth

Sat, 07/23/2016 - 08:46 -- KevinMcFarthing

I’ve been neglecting my blog lately, as a result of some intensive consultancy projects and some personal time.  Now that I’m back, refreshed and raring to go, the first thing that struck me was the analogy to innovation itself.  It’s easy for companies to be distracted and take the eye off innovation.  In many cases, it does indeed

Innovation and Control

Mon, 06/06/2016 - 11:52 -- KevinMcFarthing

Most of what is done in business management today is about control. Most organisations have a military-style command and control structure showing hierarchy and reporting lines; although people in business don’t have to salute each other.

When Innovation is a Moving Target

Mon, 03/21/2016 - 16:41 -- KevinMcFarthing

When I was growing up in the UK of the 1970s, there was a TV game show called The Golden Shot. The final part involved a member of the audience guiding a blindfolded cameraman to line the crossbow sights up to the bullseye. “Left a bit, right a bit, up, down a bit – FIRE”. If they were lucky, the bolt would hit the middle of the target and they would win a prize.

Innovation should always have a target.....

What Innovation Is and Isn't

Mon, 02/29/2016 - 11:06 -- KevinMcFarthing

Are you confused about what innovation really is? If so, it’s probably not surprising. It’s widely written about in many different contexts, but with different impressions and about different things. So in an attempt to get a few things off my chest……

Is Experience Good for Innovation?

Sun, 02/07/2016 - 14:03 -- KevinMcFarthing

Experience is what you get just after you needed it.  Or so the saying goes, suggesting that if only you had known beforehand what you learn afterwards, you would have avoided mistakes and achieved a better result.  That’s largely true (in my experience!) but it isn’t a blanket statement that’s applicable in all cases.

Design the Right Open Innovation Project

Thu, 10/01/2015 - 11:54 -- KevinMcFarthing

Open Innovation is now widely recognized as a way to enhance options for innovation by accessing external assets. However it can mean many things to many people; from running a crowdsourced idea scheme like Lego Ideas or MyStarbucksIdea, through to large co-branded initiatives like Senseo.

In the middle of this spectrum lie Open Innovation joint development projects. Put simply, these are projects where two or more companies work together to launch a product or service, usually exploited in the market place by one of the partners. But these can take many forms.

What Innovation Can Learn From Science

Wed, 08/26/2015 - 10:51 -- KevinMcFarthing

In a recent conversation, I remarked that I used to be a scientist.  Thinking about it afterwards, I realised that was wrong.  A more accurate description was that I used to practice as a scientist, first with basic science, then the discovery and development of science-based products.  But I am still a scientist, in other words I take a scientific approach to many aspects of my work; I think like a scientist.

Why Henry Ford Was Wrong

Mon, 06/01/2015 - 15:36 -- KevinMcFarthing

’m sure many of you will have read or heard the famous quote attributed to Henry Ford, “if I’d asked people what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse”. This is usually quoted in the context of radical or breakthrough innovation, justifying an approach that doesn’t rely on customer feedback.

Don't Fail with Innovation Failure

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 12:13 -- KevinMcFarthing

It is generally accepted that innovation involves risk. In the more enlightened organizations it is also clear that failure should be accepted as a consequence of playing the innovation game. It’s a bit like sport. You can’t win all the time, but it doesn’t mean that you change the whole team if you lose one game. Equally, embracing failure is going too far.

Opening up innovation at Tata Steel

Tue, 04/07/2015 - 11:18 -- KevinMcFarthing

Open Innovation (OI) is a well-established way to increase options for innovation.  It is quite prominent in areas such as Fast Moving Consumer Goods (CPG), but much less so in manufacturing industries.  That’s why I took the opportunity recently to find out more from Pete Longdon, who runs the OI programme at Tata Steel.

Tell me more about Tata Steel

Innovation Management Systems - Master or Servant?

Mon, 03/30/2015 - 11:06 -- KevinMcFarthing

Very few management systems or initiatives start with a blank sheet of paper.  Every sizeable company already has ways of managing supply, quality, finance etc – and innovation.  When the realisation comes that innovation needs to be strengthened, the temptation is often to import a system that will solve all your problems.

ISPIM Grand Prize 2015 - recognising excellence in Innovation Management

Fri, 02/06/2015 - 15:38 -- KevinMcFarthing

Why is innovation like a swan?  Of course, the picture is elegant and graceful.  But below the surface there is a lot of management legwork going on that you just don’t see.  Many companies achieve remarkable things with innovations that add tremendous value to the daily lives of customers and the companies that help them; but the emphasis is almost always on the output, whether that be product, service or business model, not on the work that delivered them.

What large companies want (from small ones).

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 16:31 -- KevinMcFarthing

In the film, “What Women Want”, Mel Gibson’s character has the ability to read women’s minds and understand what they’re thinking.  In the real world, we often need to second-guess what our existing or potential partners want.  This is the case for Open Innovation (OI), when smaller companies with something to offer try to understand just exactly what large companies need, and whether there would be complementarity between the two.

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