55th R&D 100 Awards & 3rd Annual R&D 100 Conference

54th R&D 100 Awards Dinner

The Finalists for the 55th R&D 100 Awards were announced in August. The finalists include a number of the premier research laboratories and known inventive companies from around the globe, along with a number of smaller up-and-coming companies.


The 2017 R&D 100 Awards Finalists

National Lab finalists from the USA include:  Sandia, Lawrence Livermore, Oak Ridge, MIT Lincoln Labs, NASA Langley, NASA Glenn, Brookhaven, Idaho National, Pacific Northwest, Argonne, and Los Alamos.  Taiwan’s ITRI (Industrial Technology Research Institute), a perennial winner, has multiple finalist products.  If you are not aware of ITRI, give them a look.

Inventive Company finalists include:  Siemens, Hitachi, Boston Scientific, Dow Chemical, Dow Corning, PPG, IBM, Tektronix, Tupperware, Illumina, Battelle, Rust-Oleum, GM, General Cable, Southwire, PerkinElmer, and Ametek.

It is not really fair for me to cherry pick from the finalist list, but American Standard jumped out.  They have a finalist product we can all understand, the “ActiClean Self-Cleaning Toilet.”  Buckle-up for that.  Coulson, a Canadian company, has also submitted its new “Coulson Ice Blaster” product which is likely to secure a place in the industrial cleaning market.  It cleans with ice and you just wipe away the water.  As well, there are a host of 3D/rapid prototyping, MEMS, and Micro finalist products.  And, there is a “smart footwear” product for modern cities from a collaborative effort between the National Universities of Taiwan and Taipei.  All in all, it is a mind boggling range of inventions and innovations competing for the 55th R&D 100 Awards.

Three years ago, R&D Magazine switched their approach.  Finalists used to be announced in advance of the awards event.  Now, there is a great deal of suspense as companies don’t know if they won until their name is called at the Awards Dinner.  This year, that will be Friday evening November 17.  The winners will be published by R&D Magazine shortly after the Awards Dinner concludes.


3rd Annual R&D 100 Conference

Also three years ago, R&D Magazine decided that it made sense to produce a conference associated with the Awards Dinner and I became involved.  Last year, my two presentations were rated one and two and resulted in the honor of being asked to help develop the program for the third year.

The 3rd Annual R&D 100 Conference will be held Thursday/Friday November 16/17, in advance of the Awards Dinner on Friday evening.  After being at Caesar’s Palace the first year, and then the Gaylord National Convention Center in DC last year, this year’s conference and awards dinner will be at Walt Disney’s Swan Resort in Orlando.

The agenda is packed.  There are 28 speakers  The two keynotes are Jeff James of the Disney Institute and Scott Kirsner of Innovation Leader.  Scott will open-up the conference Thursday morning with a talk on “Perils, Pressures and Productivity: How R&D Needs to Reposition Itself.”  R&D Magazine will also be repeating its “Technology Transfer Forum” panel which has been a big draw the first two years.

My presentation this year will be on “Optimizing R&D Performance Through Metrics.”  Award finalists and conference-only participants are quite attentive to the sessions.  Some of the most capable innovators in the world travel long distances for this event, and they seriously engage.

Goldense Breakthrough Innovation Presentation

Above is a look from last year at a packed room for my presentation on “10 Breakthrough Innovation Techniques.”  The rooms are packed for just about every topic and the Q&A is fairly intense.


The Global R&D Funding Forecast – The Year Ahead

One of the highlights of the conference, which was simply a published report in the years before the conference began, is Tim Studt’s “Global R&D Funding Forecast.”  Tim was the Managing Editor of R&D Magazine for some thirty years until two years ago.  Now, in his not so retired retirement, Tim continues to produce this annual gem.  There is not a better source for “what is being spent where” on R&D.  A long-time colleague, GGI has used Tim’s reports in our executive education classes for years.  It is wonderful to be able to hear Tim present the Global R&D Funding Forecast and to be able to ask questions.  This presentation alone is worth the entire value of the conference.

The 2018 Global Funding Forecast will be presented in draft form at the end of the day on Thursday November 16, right before the conference reception.  The final Forecast will come out in December 2017.  If you are curious, here are the links to the 2017 Global Funding Forecast and the 2016 Global Funding Forecast.  I’ll add that macro changes in global spending and the repositioning of countries and industries becomes clear when one takes reports that are 2-4 years apart and compares the charts such as the bubble chart below (provided here in black and white to motivate you to get the full color report directly from R&D Magazine.)

2017 Global R&D Funding Forecast

The rise of China, the emergence of the Scandinavian countries as global innovation leaders, and the decline of former innovation leaders could all be foreseen by relatively straightforward comparative analysis of these Funding Forecasts.


A Good Use of Time

If your schedule can accommodate it, the 3rd Annual R&D 100 Conference would be a good use of time on November 16-17 for anyone involved in innovation and invention.  If you have never been to an R&D 100 Awards Dinner, everyone should attend one these eye-popping ceremonies during their career.  There is nothing like it.




GGI Tweets content from primary and secondary research,

good articles in trade publications,

and announcements of GGI public events.


The Six Departments of Innovation

When this “Six Departments of Innovation” article was posted to the Disruptive Innovation Group on LinkedIn, it created quite a stir.  This is a great group!!  It is actively moderated and many people regularly participate.  Some of the comments will turn your head.


LinkedIn DI Group Comments

I believe (or at least am under the impression) that corporates have by and large knowingly replaced in-house efforts to create new markets with acquisitions under the heading corporate venture capital.”

Oh my, is organic innovation dead?

I’ve seen reports of macroeconomic indicators that DI and innovation generally are down. Number of startups has declined. Little change of dominant incumbents in several sectors.

Oh my, is organic innovation passe?

Decline in patents is understandable given that within the US the environment has generally turned hostile to small inventors, with larger companies seemingly able to infringe with impunity. Furthermore, within the EU there is a drive to enshrine the German code commercial secrecy laws into European wide statue. Thus a commercially secret can be effectively protect and such have a lifespan far in excess that of a patent. With the EU Trade Secrets and Confidential Business Information Directive, EU2016/943, confidentiality agreements and contracts of employment become a more viable method of protecting intellectual property, especially for processes. As such new these new innovations do not make it into the public domain, and superficially innovation declines, but the reality is the innovation is still there but not put into the public domain via the publication of a patent.

Oh my, are some of the historical indicators that measure innovation changing?


Thoughts on DI Group Comments

Well, to my thinking, Organic Innovation has definitely taken several hits.

Yes, Open Innovation is now another source of inventions and innovations.  And, it should remain that way.  OI is a good thing.  But, too much OI results in a degradation of both internal functional competencies and internal core competencies.  Let me use a famous company that we all know as an example.  P&G went “whole hog” into OI around 2005.  An HBR article by the CEO at the time cited that some 50% of all innovations were coming from OI.  Three years later he retired.  Within a few years, P&G was underperforming and he came back as CEO.  Now, a dozen years later, after OI became a/the priority, Trian Group is pulling an activist shareholder move that will play out some time in 2017.  Trian talks about revitalizing an underperforming P&G and improving shareholder returns.  It is hard for me to say what’s real without lots of detailed research.  But, at 50,000 feet, this is unusual for P&G in my lifetime.  I conclude that a 50% reliance on OI is too great.

Yes, DI is down.  Robert Cooper (who is the creator of Stage-Gate®) continues to do great research.  In my article, there is a chart from Dr. Cooper’s research indicating that investment in “new-to” is down 30-43% depending on the category of new-to.  Instead, available monies were allocated to product line additions, extensions, and improvements.

Yes, people are changing the way they manage IP.  That was borne-out in GGI’s 2014 research which indicated that Trade Secrets, Company Proprietary, and the like are getting more attention.  As well, the change the US Patent Laws a couple years back has definitely affected Makers.  And, Unicorns are taking too great a share of available VC monies even though the VC community is now global and more total money is available.  The “little guy” is now at a disadvantage relative to big companies.  But, the premise of this comment is that “registered and/or guarded IP” define both inventions and innovations.  It seems to me that the subject of innovation is much larger than what is registered or guarded.



The truth is that innovation is down, and has been since 2001.  I’ll make three points.

First, recessions cause structural cross-industry pull back of risky items in the pipeline.  When the economy returns to strength, there is up to a five year lag before company pipelines again reflect a “normal percentage” of risky investments.  So, the 2001 recession was over in 2003.  Add five years.  By 2008 pipelines were starting to look normal again.  But, a year later, noting time-to-market is 3-5 years for most new-to products, the market crashed before the new momentum really got going.  Now, after the extended Great Recession, pipelines are just starting to get going again.

Second, there are better measures of innovation than registered and/or guarded IP.  Return-On-Innovation, Return-On-Capital, Return-On-Equity, New Product Sales, New Product Profits, and Market Share Growth will all generally be better indicators.

Third, Wall Street has never really respected nor valued Open Innovation as much as it values Organic Innovation.  As sexy and exciting as OI is, if I were in charge of maximizing shareholder value, I would not throw the Organic Baby out with the bath water.

That’s why I wrote this article. The world is likely entering its first sustained period of economic growth since the Millennium.  This is a great time to take a serious look at the pipeline and perhaps place a few bets on more risky investments than has been the norm for a dozen years.


The Six Departments of Innovation [Machine Design – June 2017] discusses six innovation organizations that exist in most companies, and explores their relative merits to produce results across the range of innovation initiatives.




TITLE:  Measuring Product Development Productivity & Performance

WHEN:  October 3-4, 2017

WHERE:  The Moller Centre, University of Cambridge, UK

MORE INFO:  Brochure




GGI Tweets content from our primary and secondary research,

140-character summaries of good articles in trade publications,

and announcements and recaps of GGI events and presentations.


Please consider following GGI on Twitter.





TRLs, MRLs, IRLs, SRLs, PRLs: An Ecosystem of Readiness-Level Indicators

The technology boom of the late 1990s, the accumulated annual doubling of computing processing power and storage, and the rapid growth of the internet achieved a critical mass shortly after the Millenium.  All of a sudden, a myriad of new possibilities became available to the designers of products and systems.  These possibilities most challenged the designers of mission-critical and life-or-death systems, products and industries where Murphy’s Law creates catastrophic problems.


Ten Years To Become A Process

If things came together in the early 2000s, that means there was a whole bunch of activity in the preceding decade that then gave rise to the boom and next-level capabilities.  Process-ware always lags technology and invention.  Companies don’t know what type of process best optimizes new capabilities until they have achieved a representative sample of experiences, then comes the process.  It is no surprise that a Technology Readiness Level assessment methodology emerged after the boom.


Ten Years To Become Widely Adopted

Its usage rapidly spread across the world.  Globalization was accelerating in that same time period and many international companies began doing business together.  Since 2010, hundreds of renditions of the Technology Readiness Levels figure below (a classical version) have existed, some in the public sector and many private copyrighted versions.


Type “Technology Readiness Levels Images” into a search engine and you are sure to find a public version that has been adapted for your needs.


A Fleshed-Out Body of Knowledge

With so many countries and industries using and refining the methodology, it was also no surprise that a family of methodologies arose to assure end-to-end management across the places that readiness applied.  Practitioners effectively voted that “readiness assessment” was a good idea.

• Technology Readiness Levels [TRLs]
• Manufacturing Readiness Levels [MRLs]
• Interface Readiness Levels [IRLs]
• System Readiness Levels [SRLs]
• People Readiness Levels [PRLs]

And the approach enabled government, defense, systems contractors, and complex systems industries to have natural places to approve, withhold, or kill funding.  And off they went.


Getting The 80-20 Benefit

Like QFD’s “Four Houses of Quality,” the increasing refinement had decreasing returns.  Most use the First House of Quality and get into the Second House.  TRLs and MRLs are the most-used outside of the mission-critical environments.  The figure below (a classical version) indicates the dovetailing of TRLs and MRLs.

As with TRLs, many analogous MRL images may be found by searching on “Manufacturing Readiness Level Images.”


Readiness Levels Are Far From Being A Yesterday Thing

Sandia National Laboratories’ initiative is among the most active places of ongoing refinement in the USA.   Europe’s Horizion 2020 [H2020] initiative is perhaps the most active place of refinement in Europe.  TRLs and MRLs are highly embedded in many companies and industries throughout Europe and in India; and throughout the US Government and the aerospace and defense industries.


Technology Readiness Levels Are Widely Adopted [Machine Design – May 2017] illuminates the success of TRLs and the family of frameworks that developed around TRLs, including: Manufacturing Readiness Levels [MRLs], Interface Readiness Levels [IRLs], System Readiness Levels [SRLs], and People Readiness Levels [PRLs].





GGI Tweets content from our primary and secondary research,

140-character summaries of good articles in trade publications,

and announcements and recaps of GGI events and presentations.


Please consider following GGI on Twitter.


DFI: Design for IIoT & IoT

When major new industry trends come along that affect product design and development, many companies jump quickly to create an impression of being current and with the trend.  Marketing literature, advertising, social media, and other external-facing documents and images quickly incorporate key words and icons in their messaging.  Product developers and packaging engineers are encouraged to rapidly design-in some concrete evidence of capabilities with regard to the new trend.  While these rapid reactions work well for certain trends, those of a more limited scope or another shade of gray – “open innovation” comes to mind, other trends require a more thoughtful and systematic approach.  The latter is the case for the advent of the Industrial Internet [IIoT] and the Internet of Things [IoT] and their manifestation in the physical and soft products of the future.

Industrial Internet

Thinking IIoT, this train has been on the tracks dating back to the start of designing automated factories.  Industry has been making steady progress on automated materials handling, numerical control, robotics, machine vision, M2M communication, HMI, and numerous other technologies and approaches that will some day allow the lights to be turned out and the humans removed from many factory settings.  What has been in common so far is the focus on the use of these approaches to optimize products for manufacture and delivery.  The new frontier is to not just get leverage for the manufacturer, but to get leverage from a product’s inception that will benefit its customers and users through the product’s end of life.

Internet of Things

Thinking IoT, this train is a couple decades younger.  Its domain is nearly infinite – a blue sky if there ever was one.  And, traditional norms of design that have always focused on the relationship between the customer and the producer will be blown apart as customer expectations transform to expect that all their “internet appliances” will work together and share with each other regardless of the company that designed and produced the appliance.  Before too long, both B2B and B2C customers will come to expect that a product’s history and “experiences” from birth will bring additional value to them as owners of the product.

Design Thinking

The massiveness of the possibilities, and the decisions on the avenues to choose that will maximize customer value while maximizing return to the product/appliance designer, are already challenging product planners and designers.  How many sensors should my product have?  How many transmitters?  Will those sensors/transmitters focus on optimizing producibility or serviceability for the manufacturer, or should they focus on optimizing customer experience or value?  After all, each sensor/transmitter increases a product’s cost which affects its price and margin?  What cloud capabilities must be in place?  Should the cloud capabilities be proprietary, open, or a mix?  What protocols should exist to maximize sensing and transmitting?  With whatever approach we choose, how will we assure that customers have uniform experiences regardless of where the products are used around the globe?  Phew.  Not easy.

Systems Approach

It seems logical that a systems engineering approach will be needed.  Designing capabilities into products in an ad hoc manner seems short-sighted when the range of possibilities is so large.  Just like companies have been concerned for years that their portfolio of product offerings will largely enable “one stop shopping” for customers, companies are soon to be equally concerned that their portfolio of product offerings will enable “one ecosphere” for customers.  Ad hoc design approaches cannot result in competitive advantage product portfolios.





DFI: Design for IIoT & IoT [Machine Design – April 2017] puts forth an initial business model and framework for design thinking that can help to focus and constrain the nearly unlimited choices that face product planners and designers whose products must integrate with the internet and then leverage it.  This 600-word piece is not a solution by any means, but hopefully conveys a vision for how one might approach the mother of all design challenges.






GGI Tweets content from our primary and secondary research,

140-character summaries of good articles in trade publications,

and announcements and recaps of GGI events and presentations.


Please consider following GGI on Twitter.


The 5 Risks of Product Development

The number of risks associated with setting an R&D and product development strategy and budget are large.  Choosing the projects, and the balancing of the resultant company product portfolio, has even more possible risks.  Then, too many to count, come all the risks associated with developing, testing, and launching each project investment. Lastly, there are the commercialization risks before one gets to close the loop; and actually validate if the initial investment decision was correct.  Oh, don’t forget the risks incurred with numerous “corrective actions and changes of the original decision” that are incurred as the project investments make their way from concept to the customer.  Where does one start?

If one looks at the research on Corporate Risk, aka Enterprise Risk Management or ERM, since the era of globalization, a number of studies put “strong practices”  at around 30-40% of industry.  That may be an accurate number for “best process practices,” but when one looks at the confidence in the possible monetary values of risk – or the ability to identify an imminent risk – one gets more sober.  In reality, only a few companies really have a clue about their individual risks or their collective risk.  Now, let’s go back to “R&D and Product Development Risks.”

R&D and Product Development Risk is tough subject to tackle in 600 words.  Rather than parsing the subject too finely and develop a list of ten or twelve and writing a sentence about each, you will hopefully think this is a more cerebral approach to select five “key risk types” and argue that they cover the bulk of the key business risks of product development.

1. Strategic Risk
2. Product Portfolio Risk
3. Technical Risk
4. Supply Chain Risk
5. Talent Risk

“Supply Chain” and “Talent” are new to what one might have described as the historical list.  The list one would have constructed up until the era of globalization and the advent of the software-connected world.

Historically, one would have called out Manufacturing Risk as a top five in the days of vertically integrated industries.  This risk is now subsumed into Technical Risk and Supply Chain Risk (which is also more consistent with industry’s “DevOps” direction).  The other risk that would likely have made the historical top five is Market Risk.  In a global world with product and sometimes technology life-cycles of a few years, Market Risk approaches being synonymous with Technical Risk plus the planned duration of the product in the Product Portfolio Risk.

Meanwhile, the company Supply Chain now accounts for near 80% of product costs; and the influence of that percentage on product and business success or failure. A good deal of a company’s innovation process is now at risk to the outside, including invention, execution, commodity, and currency risk.

As for Talent’s rise to a top five, the importance of Talent has been on a steady rise since the advent of the industrial revolution – and just keeps rising.  It is especially important for R&D and Product Development as it is (still) people that invent products and those people typically account for near 80% of company R&D budgets.  People used to stay with companies for years.  Now, the near stable asset that was reflected in 80% of all costs is one that must constantly be maintained or the consequences are great.

The 5 Risks of Product Development [Machine Design – March 2017] outlines some of the primary parameters of each risk area and the author’s reasons for selecting these five specific topics from among the myriads of risks.



GGI Tweets content from our primary and secondary research,

140-character summaries of good articles in trade publications,

and announcements and recaps of GGI events and presentations.


Please consider following GGI on Twitter.


The 54th R&D 100 Awards & 2nd Annual Technology Conference

54th R&D 100 Awards Dinner

The 54th R&D 100 Awards & 2nd Annual Technology Conference was held on November 2-4, 2016 at the Gaylord National Convention Center, just south of Washington, DC, in Oxon, Maryland.


R&D 100 Awards

The R&D 100 Awards are considered the most globally prestigious awards for invention and innovation.  Each year, for the past 54 years, people arrive to the awards ceremony from all over the world in hopes of winning an “Oscar of Invention.”

The leaders of R&D Magazine, the flagship publication of Advantage Business Media’s 10-magazine Science Group, coordinate the Awards contest and dinner each year. This year, 52 judges from industry, academia, and government reviewed a gazillion submissions and determined there were 275 Finalists.  Then, they culled-out the 100 Winners.  Plus, 15 Special Recognition Awards are part of the ceremony each year.  In all, some one-hundred fifteen winners are presented awards at an engaging black tie dinner event.  Every innovation professional should witness this at least once in their career.

There are six categories:  Analytical/Test, IT/Electrical, Mechanical/Materials, Process/Prototyping, Software/Services, and Special Recognition.

Examples of Special Recognition Awards include: Corporate Social Responsibility, Green Tech, and Market Disruptor.

Awards Dinner Agenda


54th R&D 100 Awards Winners

The full list of 2016 R&D 100 Award Winners is available here:  www.rd100conference.com/awards/winners-finalists/year/2016/.

It is hard to keep track of it all during the dinner.  The individual inventions are fascinating and fully captivate your attention, one after the other, and all of a sudden the evening is over.  So, here are some observations at fifty-thousand feet from putting the table from the URL in the preceding paragraph into Excel.

1)  Several organizations won four or more awards.  The following entities may be strong sources of global innovation:  Taiwan’s ITRI, MIT Lincoln Labs, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and “the Dow companies.”

2) Other than Dow, the only other industrial or high-tech company to win more than one award was PPG Industries which won two.

3)  USA’s National Laboratories also deserve comment.  Approximately 30 of the awards went to one of the National Labs or to a dedicated USA government lab.

4)  Not enough industry and high-tech companies are competing.  I’ve recommended to our clients over the years that it is really inexpensive to compete in this contest and one can’t beat the visibility, free marketing, and brand value.  If you are a big company, there is real bang for the buck to be a Finalist – never mind winning.  If you are a start-up, the visibility could accelerate the company by 3-5 years.


Innovator Of The Year Award

The Innovator Of The Year Award, this particular year, recognizes a technology that might benefit us all.  Dr. Anthony Atala, Director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and his team are making great progress on growing human organs that work.

Innovator Of The Year Award

The more vessels and “piping” that is in an organ, the harder it is to grow.  But, some major organs (such as the liver) have large areas of very similar cells that perform the function of the organ.  Dr. Atala is now within sight of being able to consistently grow the “mass areas” of several organs, possibly within this decade.


The Global R&D Funding Forecast – The Year Ahead

The 2017 Global Funding Forecast was presented in DRAFT form after the Awards Dinner concluded.  Only the DRAFT form is currently available.  The final version should be out later this month or in early February.

2017 Global R&D Funding Forecast

2017 Global R&D Funding Forecast Pie Chart

R&D Magazine is one of the best sources of R&D Spending information presented in a global business context.  Each year, a preview of the coming year is presented.  Historically, this was developed by R&D Magazine in conjunction with Battelle Laboratories.  As of last year, this is now developed in conjunction with the Industrial Research Institute [IRI].  This was a natural alliance as the IRI has been developing a similar set of spending information each year.


2nd Annual Technology Conference

Last year R&D Magazine brainstormed what else they might do, given all the accomplished people that come to the Awards each year, and they decided to wrap a “technology and technology management conference” around the Awards dinner.  The first conference, in conjunction with the awards dinner, was last year.  I was invited to speak at the inaugural conference last year at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

This year, I was invited back to give two presentations.  In my mind however, I didn’t think the location would be as much fun.  But, I was wrong.  The Gaylord National Convention Center is a specially created oasis just south of DC, right on the Potomac River.  Many government and military conferences are held at this giant convention center.  A small community thrives around this all-in-one facility/town, with plenty of entertainment for traveling spouses.

 Oxon Maryland Ferris Wheel

Like McCormick Place in Chicago, this is perhaps another location that professionals should attempt to experience at least once in their career.

The table of contents of my two presentations at the 2nd Annual Technology Conference are directly below.  There was standing-room only on the Breakthrough Innovation topic.  The highlight of the 12 Trends topic was GGI’s roll-out of the upcoming 8th generation of product development processes.  Folks that have been to our presentations will recognize the seven generations slide being projected in the picture below, and I verbally explained the 8th generation.  [The 8th generation was officially published in Machine Design in December 2016.]


10 Techniques to Achieve Breakthroughs Through Innovation

2015 marked the 20th anniversary of Christensen’s work on disruptive innovation. In 2016, GGI researched disruptive, radical, and breakthrough innovation. It was time to take a snapshot of how the body of knowledge had evolved over two decades.

10 Techniques To Achieve Breakthrough Innovation

Goldense Breakthrough Innovation Presentation

Our work found ten distinct breakthrough strategies. They vary greatly, from competing on business-models to specific market or business strategies to technology mastery to commercialization execution. There is no common root to them, except that your company and industry will know they are experiencing a breakthrough from a new or a changing basis of competition.


12 Trends in the Science of Managing R&D and Product Development

After my presentation on Complexity at the 1st Annual Conference, R&D Magazine asked me to build off it and to make recommendations on how to manage in the decade ahead. I presented this work for the first time at a conference in Poland in April 2016 and further refined it for R&D Magazine.

12 Trends In The Science of Managing R&D and Product Development

Goldense 12 Trends Presentation

Directing and overseeing science, materials, technology, software creation-to-commercialization activities is already a good bit more challenging this past decade. Well, not to disappoint, we have another tumultuous decade to go. There will be another reset around 2025, once there are 100 billion connected devices and that becomes the new normal.




GGI’s next Metrics Summit is February 28 to March 2, 2017

A quick note to let you know that our 21st R&D-Product Development Metrics Summit is coming up.

It will be held in Norwood, Massachusetts.

Our conference facility is equidistant between the Providence and Boston airports,

and a comprehensive renovation was completed last fall.

The place is beautiful, the food is great, WI-FI is throughout.

 Metrics Summit 21 Twitter Icon

Our content is stimulating, our discussions are lively,

and the teamwork during the Workshop makes for lasting relationships with colleagues

who deal with many of the same professional issues and challenges.

Please join us.




GGI became significantly more active on Twitter in 2016.

No chit chat.

GGI Tweets content from our primary and secondary research,

140-character summaries of good articles in trade publications,

and announcements and recaps on GGI events and presentations.

A quick look.


Please consider Following GGI on Twitter.


54th R&D 100 Awards & Technology Conference 2016

54th R&D 100 Awards & Technology Conference LinkedIn

The 54th R&D 100 Awards & Technology Conference is coming right up, November 2-4.  The conference, now in its second year, will open at noon on Wednesday and continue through noon on Friday.  The Awards Dinner, where 275 Finalists are now eagerly waiting to see if they will be one of the 100 Winners this year, will be Thursday evening November 3.

Last year, at the inaugural conference, we enjoyed great learning from top scientists, engineers, managers, and thought leaders from all over the globe – and a bit of fun at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.  Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway, and the other keynote speakers participated in the conference as colleagues from beginning to end. R&D Magazine did a great job inventing a concurrent conference that complimented their renowned R&D 100 Awards. I was pleased to be invited to present at this first annual conference.  My talk was on “R&D Complexity Increases In the Decade Ahead,” the areas that will keep us on our toes from increasing complexity.

This year’s conference will be held just south of Washington, DC.  R&D Magazine guessed the place would be hopping a week before the presidential election and they were right.  It should be great fun again.  I am pleased to be invited back for the second annual conference, this time to talk on two different subjects.

10 Techniques to Achieve Breakthroughs Through Innovation

Earlier this year, GGI researched disruptive, radical, and breakthrough innovation.  2015 marked the 20th anniversary of Christensen’s work on disruptive innovation. It was time to take a snapshot of how the body of knowledge had evolved over two decades.

10 Techniques To Achieve Breakthrough Innovation


Our work found ten distinct breakthrough strategies.  They vary greatly, from competing on business-models to specific market or business strategies to technology mastery to commercialization execution.  There is no common root to them, except that your company and industry will know they are experiencing a breakthrough from a new or a changing basis of competition.

12 Trends in the Science of Managing R&D and Product Development

After my presentation last year on Complexity, R&D Magazine asked me to build off it and to make recommendations on how to manage in the decade ahead.  I presented this work for the first time at a conference in Poland in April of this year.  Subsequently, some areas have been refined and shored up.

12 Trends In The Science of Managing R&D and Product Development


Directing and overseeing science, materials, technology, software creation-to-commercialization activities is already a good bit more challenging this past decade.  Well, not to disappoint, we have another tumultuous decade to go.  There will be another reset around 2025, once there are 100 billion connected devices and that becomes the new normal.

Pleasant Surprise At The 2015 Conference Last Year

At the 2015 R&D 100 Awards Dinner last year at Caesars Palace some eight or ten different people, that had participated in either GGI’s Innovation or Metrics Summits or had been our clients, walked the red carpet to receive their individual or team member R&D 100 Award.



Please Don’t Forget

GGI’s 20th Metrics Summit is October 18-20

A quick note to let you know that our 20th R&D-Product Development Metrics Summit is coming up, October 18-20 in Norwood, MA.

Our conference facility is equidistant between the Providence and Boston airports, and a comprehensive renovation has just been completed.

The place is beautiful and the food is great.

20th Metrics Summit Icon LinkedIn

Content is stimulating, and our Summit discussions and Workshop are great fun too.

Please join us.



Recent Twitter Postings on Innovation & Metrics

GGI has become significantly more active on Twitter in 2016.

No chit chat.

GGI Tweets content from our primary and secondary research and publications; and about GGI events and presentations.

There are a number of substantive Tweets that went out October 7-9 regarding our recent work and near term plans.

A quick look.


 Please consider Following GGI on Twitter.

Innovation & Impact

Innovation & Impact Logo

“Innovation & Impact” is new scientific and business journal being launched by De Gruyter that focuses on “exciting high profile case studies concerning the process of innovation and its impact on society and markets.”

“The aim of the journal is to inspire researchers and entrepreneurs by exchanging practical examples of innovation. In particular, the journal focuses on case studies presenting routes of scientific ideas to the market. It also contains articles describing frameworks or institutions that are supporting the process of technology transfer.”

Innovation & Impact

My colleague, Dr. Grzegorz Liskiewicz, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the Lodz University of Technology in Poland, is the Journal Editor. Dr. Liskiewicz asked me to join the Editorial Advisory & Scientific Board earlier this spring at an R&D conference in Warsaw. I am pleased to participate on the board alongside a number of innovation and technology transfer thought leaders in the European Community and the United States.

Initially the journal will focus on case studies in Poland and the wider European Community, but issues are planned for 2017 that will feature innovation and technology transfer in the United States and North America.

Please take a minute to visit De Gruyter’s home page for Innovation & Impact. I encourage all my colleagues to submit papers and case studies for consideration, whether they be from Europe or the USA – or spanning both geographies.

Thank you all for taking the time to give Innovation & Impact a closer look! Please let me know if you have any questions and I will do my best to answer them. Or, I will put you in directly in touch with Grzegorz (Greg) or another member of the editorial staff depending on the nature of your inquiry.

Impact of Breakthrough Innovations on Design for Manufacturing and Assembly

The first systematic breakthrough innovation technique was introduced to the world in the 1970s, but it was not until the 1990s that the body of knowledge began to take off.  Last year, 2015, marked what numerous people have called the twentieth anniversary of disruptive innovation – introduced to the world by Clayton Christensen in 1995. During the past two decades, many companies and makers have targeted the creation of new-to-the-world products. These efforts have resulted in a number of systematic approaches that are all disruptive in their own way.

GGI performed secondary research and identified nine techniques that have emerged in the past twenty years. Our scan covered a number of notable periodicals including: Harvard’s Harvard Business Review, The Economist’s Chief Financial Officer, MIT’s Sloan Management Review, IRI’s Research & Technology Management, IEEE’s Engineering Management Review, IEEE’s Transactions on Engineering Management, ASEM’s Engineering Management Journal, PDMA’s Journal of Product Innovation Management, PWC’s [formerly Booz’s] Strategy+Business, and other publications.

Breakthrough Innovation: Nine Techniques [Machine Design – May 2016] gives a one paragraph description of each technique and provides active links to selected sources and writings for the reader to explore.  Please note that since the May issue was published, we have added “Lead User Analysis” to the list of breakthrough techniques.  Lead User Analysis preceded Clayton Christensen’s writings by fifteen years, but it is nevertheless a breakthrough innovation technique.

In this article, published in the July 2016 issue of Machine Design, GGI researchers went a bit deeper to explore the impact(s) of these breakthrough innovation techniques on the time tested practice of “design for manufacturing and assembly [DFMA].” DFMA has been integral to the effective launch of most industrial and consumer products for the past five decades.

Our goal was to learn which breakthrough techniques might increase the importance of DFMA practices during development versus those with a neutral or lessening effect on this important body of knowledge.

Impact of Breakthrough Innovations on DFMA

This article is probably not a high priority read for most folks.  But if you are involved with the design and development of “new-to-X” products, and/or the transition of these products into manufacturing and then the marketplace, there is likely something of value to be derived from taking a few minutes to consider these thoughts.

Impact of Breakthrough Innovations on Design for Manufacturing and Assembly [Machine Design – July 2016] examines the differing effects that radical, disruptive, and breakthrough product initiatives may have on DFMA over time.

Breakthrough Innovation: 9 Techniques

Last year, 2015, marked the twentieth anniversary of disruptive innovation – introduced to the world by Clayton Christensen in 1995.  Over the past two decades, many companies and makers have targeted the creation of new-to-the-world products.  This has resulted in a number of approaches that are all disruptive in their own way.  At this time, nine different techniques for achieving breakthrough innovation exist.

Breakthrough Innovation:  Nine Techniques

GGI performed secondary research to identify these nine techniques.  Our scan covered a number of notable periodicals including:  Harvard’s Harvard Business Review, The Economist’s Chief Financial Officer, MIT’s  Sloan Management Review, IRI’s Research & Technology Management, IEEE’s Engineering Management Review, IEEE’s Transactions on Engineering Management, ASEM’s Engineering Management Journal, PDMA’s Journal of Product Innovation Management,  PWC’s [formerly Booz’s] Strategy+Business, and other publications.

Breakthrough Innovation: Nine Techniques [Machine Design – May 2016] gives a one paragraph description of each technique and provides active links to selected sources and writings for the reader to explore.

South Korea & China Will Dominate TRIZ Practices

TRIZ is an innovation technique that professionals systematically apply according to a defined set of principles. Originally developed in Russia by Genrich Altshuller in the 1940s, TRIZ took a number of years to cross the ocean and become available in English. By the early 1990s, TRIZ gained a foothold in the U.S. and slowly began spreading globally from its Russia and USA “centers of excellence.” TRIZ is now practiced in at least 50 countries.

TRIZ is likely the most powerful innovation tool on the planet, and has been for the past twenty-five years. Altshuller set out to identify the common inventive principles that run across patents.  After examining a sample population of forty-thousand patents, he identified “76 Standard Inventive Solutions.”  As well, he found there are only “39 Characteristics That Technologists Seek To Optimize” and only “40 Inventive Principles To Optimize Characteristics.” Altshuller reduced many of the acts of innovating to a systematic process.

Rubbish you say?  Over the past twenty-five years others have analyzed larger sample sizes of up to two million patents. The new findings were not significant enough to change Altshuller’s published works.

Why hasn’t TRIZ become more prevalent at this time?  There are several possible reasons, and the answer is likely a combination of them.  With origins in Russia, and most of the world’s original experts coming from Russia, TRIZ didn’t hit western civilization with a running start.  The methodology is also complex.  Few westerners look at a rule-driven 39×40 matrix and want to dive in.  There is also a significant amount of time to learn the process to reasonable proficiency, about the same time it takes to become a six-sigma black belt.  And, until the past ten years, the priority across industries was supply chain optimization and operational excellence.  Innovation, in the big picture of time, is only recently at the top of the list – except for a blip in the late 1990s.

TRIZ is still not catching fire with western companies, but it is catching fire with eastern companies.  Very quietly, over the past decade, South Korean companies are rapidly adopting TRIZ.  Chinese companies are not far behind, and both groups are growing rapidly.

TRIZ Moves To South Korea and China

There are a handful of companies in the USA that each have hundreds of people practicing TRIZ.  That is a huge number.  Why haven’t we heard anything about it?  Because TRIZ is giving them a tremendous competitive advantage. Employees are discouraged to discuss the subject outside of the company, never mind to present their work at conferences.  TRIZ does not have a Jack Welsh that is going to get his company ahead first, then bring his best practices to the world.  Absent a Jack Welsh, TRIZ risks being just another tool in a long list of tools – except in Asia where its value is quickly being understood.

There are TRIZ-inspired designs all around us, but no one talks about it for competitive reasons.  If you have held one of those new water bottles that has a waistline and a much smaller cap, and uses half the plastic, you are holding a TRIZ-based design.  It seems a bit flimsy because we have become used to sturdy water bottles, but it stands the drop test like the cylindrical bottle with twice the plastic.  Imagine the cost reduction if you are a bottle manufacturer.  And, less water bottles slip out of one’s hand.  This thought process is now making its way into laboratories where dropping bottles can be a real problem.  The old fashioned cylindrical beaker, with the single lip at the very top, may eventually go the way of the dinosaur.

GGI has been following TRIZ, and its several manifestations in processes and logic engines for software, since the early 1990s. By the early 2000s, enough of Altshuller’s work had been translated and TRIZ became generally available to western companies.  In 2008, GGI researched the penetration of 67 innovation tools and included TRIZ.  Next to the usage of the USPTO web site and the use of internal wikis, TRIZ was the third most used technique of the 67 techniques we researched. The CTO of Invention Machine, one of the software companies with TRIZ underpinnings, had been speaking at GGI’s Summits since 2005 which continued until IHS in England purchased IM.

The Altshuller Institute for TRIZ Studies (Worcester, MA) found out about our research and our long-time interest in TRIZ about a year ago.  They invited us to keynote the annual USA TRIZCON2016 conference which was just held March 3-5, 2016 in New Orleans.  To prepare for TRIZCON2016, we performed original research on the global adoption of TRIZ since its translation into English twenty-five years ago.  We were told at the conference that our research was new-to-the-world, and was previously only anecdotally understood by a handful of people.

TRIZ Is Now Practiced In 50 Countries [Machine Design – April 2016] focuses on the rapid global adoption of TRIZ, which grew at a compounded annual growth rate of 40%, during the past decade.

Innovation For VUCA Times: 14th Summit

While the VUCA global economy still presents challenges on a regular basis, North America and Europe are becoming more predictable and hence stable.  This past year, companies have regained some moxie to attempt higher levels of innovation.  If you have not yet been able to participate in our Innovation Summit, 2016 is likely a good year to consider doing so.

Incremental For A Decade

Robert Cooper’s research showed that spending on “New To-The-World/Market” was down 43.7% and spending on “New Product Lines” was down 30.1%, while spending on improvements and modifications was up 80.1% this past decade.  Bottom feeding will not go on forever.  Soon, your company will be increasing the risk of its new product portfolio spending.  Year-over-year cost reductions and productivity gains are no longer putting up enough numbers on Wall Street.  And, some of the new product directions will be surprising.  It is the internet age.

Last year was a banner year for the development of new metrics aimed at measuring overall levels of innovation.  New measures in this area are an indicator of the demand for innovation.  R&D Productivity and R&D Efficiency were introduced, and Research Quotient gained some momentum.  RQ is focused on measuring the right level of investment, versus measuring the results of investments.  Another good sign.

Disruptive Forces Grow

Since our first Summit in 2005, GGI has constantly refreshed our curriculum.  As we wrote you last year, only a few pages of our original course book remain today.   We were pleased that several of our long term colleagues, who attended our original Summits, registered again for our Summit last spring.  All went well.

Let’s pick one example of keeping current.  2015 marked the 20th anniversary of Clayton Christiansen’s first publication on Disruptive Innovation.  Back in 1995, we looked at cascading s-curves to describe the science of disruption.  We were left to figure out our own mechanics on how to get there.  Last year, GGI researched the evolving “how to disrupt” methods that are starting to take shape.  We don’t think every one of these techniques makes for winning products, but they all have backers and most have the potential to do so.  If an executive asked you to define a product that innovates from the bottom of the pyramid, are you ready to take the lead on that project?  How about one that produces a big bang, or a digical outcome?

•  Reverse Innovation
•  Bottom of Pyramid Innovation
•  Trickle-Up Innovation
•  Disruptive Innovation
•  Emerging Technology Innovation
•  Big Bang Innovation
•  Digical Innovation
•  Sustainable Innovation
•  Design Thinking
•  Ambidextrous Innovation

Managers Migrate Practices

Our Summit always maintains its focus on management’s ability to fund, deploy, train, implement, measure, and to get a financial result from the subjects that comprise each of the eight modules.  While we do discuss tools and tactics and the like, it is always from the perspective of a manager being able to direct and/or lead innovation initiatives.  If you manage budgets, departments, functions, people, or projects our Summits are quite useful.

Dick Power and I continue to lead the Summit.  Adam and Bill address a large module on intellectual property, focused on the ability to create the best offensive and defensive positions and on how to assess their value in dollars.  Richard takes us through the possibilities of TRIZ, perhaps the most powerful single innovation tool available.

Please join us, or suggest that a colleague join us, for an unbiased articulation of the innovation and intellectual property capabilities that are available to corporations today. Some have said, “GGI’s Summit is an executive MBA on Innovation in three days.”

Companies That Have Participated *** Comments From Summit Alumni

We hope you will join us, Tuesday to Thursday, March 29-31!  There is a Reception on Wednesday evening.  Thank you for considering our Summit!

Early Bird Rates for the 14th Innovation Summit end Friday January 29, 2016 at 8:00 PM EDT.


TRIZCON2016: An Opportunity To Further Innovation

TRIZ is an innovation tool and methodology that is based on an analysis of the inventive attributes of patents.  It is unique when compared to the some 350 innovation tools and enablers that are available to corporations.

GGI has been following the growth and evolution of TRIZ since the 1990s when its body of knowledge was first translated into English.  Originally the work of a single person, Genrich Altshuller, a low level officer in the Navy of the former Soviet Union in the 1950s, there are now some 18,000 people around the globe that have become certified in the application of TRIZ.  And, many more are practicing TRIZ without yet formally applying for certification.

As we know, for a myriad of reasons, it takes years and some times decades for techniques developed in the East to become accepted and adopted in the West.  Such is the case for TRIZ, translated from its Russian name as “the theory of inventive problem solving.”

Since 2008, the adoption for TRIZ has been growing steadily.  This growth has been driven by a combination of the power of the tool, the efforts of several non-profit and for-profit organizations that espouse its usage, the incorporation of TRIZ’s logic into several increasingly popular innovation software packages, and some large influential corporations that have made commitments to TRIZ within their company.  The companies that have allowed their interest to become public knowledge include Intel, General Electric, Boeing, DRS, Samsung, and Hyundai.

GGI’s most recent research on TRIZ was conducted late in 2015.  This “secondary research” effort involved the analysis of a number of public web-based sources and privately disclosed information to GGI.  This research built on our several previous “primary research” efforts on TRIZ during the past fifteen years.

To our surprise, after observing fairly uniform and even growth across countries in prior research efforts, our recent findings indicate that growth in Eastern Europe and especially in Asia now dwarfs the growth in most Western countries.  In fact, South Korea’s adoption is now approximately 15x that of the next nearest country on an absolute basis.  The skewing is so severe that it is necessary to remove South Korea from the data set in order to analyze the rest of the countries that use TRIZ.  Some 50 countries now have certified TRIZ practitioners, but, as you can see from the diagram below, South Korea’s overwhelming presence obscures their slivers of the pie at a global level.

 The Global Penetration of Certified TRIZ Practitioners

As a result of GGI’s unbiased research, Brad Goldense has been invited to deliver the keynote address at the largest TRIZ Conference in North America this year. TRIZCON2016 will be held in New Orleans on March 3-5, 2016 at Tulane University. Greater than half of TRIZ’s global rock stars will be presenting at this conference making it a worthwhile venue in which to learn more about this powerful innovation tool and method.

TRIZCON2016 - An Opportunity To Further Innovation

If you are interested, The Altshuller Institute for TRIZ Studies who produces TRIZCON has extended a 10% discount to anyone from GGI’s network that might like to register.  If you decide to attend, please use the code “TRIZGOLD” when registering to receive your discount.  Just so you know, GGI receives no financial remuneration for anyone registering from our network.

If TRIZCON2016 sounds too immersive to you, but you would like to learn more about TRIZ, GGI’s Innovation Summits have contained a “TRIZ Module” since 2005.  Along with some 65 other generally available innovation tools, we’ll be sure to up your awareness of what TRIZ may offer to you and to your company.  GGI will be holding our 14th R&D-Product Development Innovation Summit on March 29-31, 2016 in Norwood, Massachusetts.

The 53rd Annual R&D 100 Awards Report-Out: November 13, 2015

When a company’s innovation levels are high, or a company’s innovation levels are low and not recognized as being low, GGI has suggested that our clients and customers enter into an award contest.  In the former case, a win creates lovely price premium and brand value opportunities for several years.  In the latter case, competing can be calibrating to both management and to the members the cross-functional product development community.  Benchmarking company products provides learning opportunities up and down the ladder.

There are many award competitions around the globe each year.  Regardless of the purpose or the type of award, there are none as prestigious as the annual R&D 100 Awards – excepting possibly a Nobel Prize.  The R&D 100 Awards are now produced by Advantage Business Media [ABM].  ABM has become one of the publishing powerhouses in the scientific and engineering community with a portfolio of some twenty-five trade publications across the fields of communications, design, manufacturing, and science.  R&D Magazine is among its most prized assets and is the originator and long-time home of the R&D 100 Awards.

As a subscriber to R&D Magazine since the early 1990s, I had followed the results most years and of course when GGI’s clients competed.  But, I had never been to the actual awards ceremony.  The bottom line is that everyone should go to the R&D 100 Awards Dinner at least once in their career.

New Twists For The 2015 R&D 100 Awards

Two things were different this year.  First, ABM decided to produce a two-day conference preceding the Awards banquet on Friday evening.  The 1st Annual R&D Technology Conference had four tracks and attracted over two hundred registrants.   Tim Studt, R&D Magazine’s renowned editor of several decades and the chief architect of the R&D 100 Awards and annual R&D Funding Forecast, asked me to speak on how the complexity of managing R&D will increase in the next decade.

The second thing that was different, was that for the first time in 53 years since the awards began, the winners were not announced in advance.  You may imagine that there were a good number of people bursting with anticipation throughout the conference and right up to the end of the Awards banquet Friday evening at 10:30 PM.

A black tie event, the Awards banquet did not disappoint.  Held at beautiful Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, guests were first surprised by the entrance to the ball room.  There was immediate curiosity as to what might await as one passed through the gateway.

53rd R&D 100 Awards Entrance

As I mentioned, the R&D 100 Award winners were not announced in advance.  After a nice dinner, the lights went out and on came the spotlights.  ABM had orchestrated the event to the level of the Emmy Awards.  There were spotlight instructions identifying where every winner sat at every table in sequential order; for all 100 winners and for the approximately twenty five extra awards that were presented that evening.  The only thing missing was the TV cameras.

53rd R&D 100 Awards Event

Tim Studt and Bea Riemschneider hosted the evening.  Bea is the Editorial Director of Advantage’s Science Group. The Science Group includes R&D Magazine and ten other science and medical publications.


The 2015 R&D 100 Award Winners – Highlights

The largest group of winners were the United States National Laboratories and NASA.  Collectively, they took home over thirty awards and were listed as contributors to a dozen more companies that won.  A number of these awards, notably from Oak Ridge National Laboratories, were for advances in 3D printing technology.

The next big block of winners came from companies who all shared the word “Dow” in their names.  “Dow companies” took home seven awards.

The third big block, consisting of four awards, was from Taiwan ROC’s Industrial Technology Research Group [ITRG].  One of these awards will be seen shortly in all our fire departments.  ITRG created an impeller that goes in line before a fire hose’s nozzle and spins with the flow of water.  The spin generates electricity which is captured to power a new spotlight attached to the nozzle.  Whenever the hose is used, the light shines on the target.

From memory, I think Tim said from the podium that the winners came from twenty countries.  Some of the more recognizable winning companies included: Waters, Millipore, Ethicon, Thermo Electron, Milliken, Agilent, Qualcomm, IBM, Boston Scientific, Adelphi, MSC, Mitsubshi, Toyota, and Shimazdu.

Several universities also won awards. Another possible game-changing product came from the University of Central Florida.  They have patented an electrical power transmission cable that transmits power, that also has an outer concentric cable that acts as a battery to store power.  The power cable and the battery are one unit.  There are implications for many industries.

Finally, and please pardon me for this, but I counted roughly twenty companies as the night proceeded that had participated in GGI’s Innovation or Metrics Summits some time in the past 5-8 years.  My thought was that many of these innovation-hungry companies must do a methodical assessment of what was available to be learned on the subject as part of their effort to innovate.  GGI’s next Summit is December 8-10, 2015, the 13th R&D-Product Development Innovation Summit.


The 2015 R&D 100 Award Winners – List

Lindsay Hock, Editor of Product Design & Development Magazine [PD&D], published the list of the 2015 winners on November 18.

2015 R&D 100 Award Winners


The 2015 Inaugural Technology Conference – Summary

Bea Riemschneider, Editorial Director for ABM’s Science Group, published an article on November 19 that summarizes the first annual science and technology conference.

R&D Industry Leaders Explore the Innovation Process at Inaugural Science and Technology Conference

The Journey to Mastering Innovation

Let’s consider for a moment the corporate journey to improve innovation that has taken place, and where we are now.

Productivity improvement was driven into logistics in the ’70s and ’80s, into manufacturing and operations in the ’80s and ’90s, and into the supply chain in the ’90s and ’00s. As a result of those efforts, companies that create and commercialize products achieved the lion’s share of their improvement entitlements in the “downstream half” of the company.

Improvements in R&D and product development, beginning in the ’80s and extending to the ’00s, similarly focused on productivity via improved execution by striving for faster time-to-market and speeding-up product life cycles. By the early ’00s, companies could foresee that the opportunity for big improvements was also nearly exhausted. The only place to look for the next big opportunities was further upstream in the company.

In the early 2000s, companies began focusing on pushing the best possible portfolio of products through their fairly well optimized development and operations pipelines. The quest for higher-value, more-innovative portfolios began.

But alas, one commonality among the past three decades of improvement initiatives was that they primarily focused on improving the bottom line. Profit is no small thing, granted, but 30 years of corporate focus on the bottom line left many companies challenged to attack top-line initiatives with the same vigor and expertise.

The Journey to Mastering Innovation [Machine Design – November 2015] makes the case that the next great source of competitive advantage will accrue to those companies that master the ability to innovate, not innovation=execution but rather innovation=creation.


Physical vs. Virtual Colocation, and the Effects of Interruption

Officially, “colocation” is the proper spelling, but “co-location” and “collocation” are also recognized spellings. Regardless of how you spell it, it boils down to the science of communication probabilities and qualities between individuals.

Tom Allen, at MIT in the late 1970s, put the first benchmark on the table. He found that the probability of communication depended on whether any two people had any common organizational bonds, such as working in the same department or on the same team. He called this “intra-group” communication; otherwise it was “inter-group.”  If people sat more than 10 meters from one another, there was only a 5% chance of inter-group communication and a 10% chance of intra-group. Unless people sit close to each other, they rarely communicated.

By the early 1990s, while videoconferencing, the Internet, and email were emerging, a study conducted by GGI found 300 companies examining roughly 50 distinct approaches to simulating colocation. A new industry was developing to facilitate effective colocation regardless of physical distance. Since then, a myriad of “solutions” have entered the marketplace.

Alas, the enabling technology has advanced more quickly than its target audience’s behavior. If one examines the relationship of individuals to their work assignments and locations, individuals have not changed significantly since 1930 studies driven by unionization efforts. Individuals without systemized and policed corporate policies still largely behave as they did 80 years ago with regard to the task in front of them.

Physical vs. Virtual Colocation, and the Effects of Interruption [Machine Design – October 2015] discusses several studies conducted in the past ten years that explore the differing workplace environment for physical versus distributed workers and the effects of interruptions on individual and corporate productivity.

TRIZ: A Best-In-Class Innovation Tool

TRIZ, a systematic innovation technique developed in Russia, whose acronym is loosely translated as “Theory of Inventive Problem Solving,” is based on an analysis of the inventive attributes of several hundred thousand patents.  Evolving since the 1950s, the body of knowledge was codified and documented by the 1980s.  It was first translated into English in 1992.

Like mathematics, where two plus two always equals four, the inventive attributes of patents are timeless.  Several companies, in very recent times, have repeated and expanded the analysis of the original inventor without any significant changes to Genrich Altshuller’s original findings.  Now deceased, several global organizations continue to nurture and espouse his TRIZ frameworks.

GGI researched some 300 innovation tools that are available to practitioners today.  Not a surprise, the USPTO web site was the most cited tool being used by companies in North America. TRIZ emerged as the second most popular innovation tool in use today.

TRIZ Plus – A Modern Tool for Enhancing Design Innovation , was written by Doug Hoon in his blog on Machine Design’s web site. He describes some of the key attributes and benefits of the methodology, and cited some of GGI’s research findings on TRIZ.

Planning For Intellectual Property Revenues

Not too many years from now, business and program planners will have a new challenge when preparing a product or business plan.  Since the dawn of the Industrial Age, the state of practice has been to estimate an ROI by forecasting product revenues and profits.  Soon, product and business plans will contain two forecasting spreadsheets.  There will be the section on product revenues and profits that we are all familiar with.  And, there will be revenue and profit forecasting for IP.

Work on financial liquidity and monetization of IP began in the 1990s.  Baruch Lev at NYU is often credited with lighting the torch.  Let’s define financial liquidity as the ability to more easily transact IP in the marketplace as a commodity.  Let’s define monetization as the ability to assign a dollar value to a block of IP, and the rate that the initial value depreciates over time.  Liquidity and monetization are different challenges.  One requires a marketplace(s) capable of transacting assets, commodities.  The other requires the ability to assign a recognized value that can be generally agreed.  Just to pronounce the point, some day we might see certain types of IP traded like gold, silver, and soybeans.  The market would have much less volume, but the principles would largely be the same.  So how do we get there?

Financial Liquidity:  Markets are already in development [Figure 1].  There are a number of them and they are all emerging.  Who knows the ones that will stand the test of time.  And, the new ones are certain to emerge.  Right now “scouting firms,” “innovation intermediaries,” “ip auctioneers,” and “crowdsourcing companies” all stand to be market makers.  There are a handful of others.  The front half of industry is engaged in testing the waters at some level.  It typically takes about half of industry to be active before software developers start generating applications to manage new activities.   Software began to emerge at an increasing rate the past couple of years.

Figure 1
Percentage of Companies Currently Utilizing One or More IP Markets

 Percentage Of Companies Currently Utilizing IP Markets

Monetizaton:  Quietly, over the past twenty years, there have been committees and groups studying the merits of actually putting IP assets into financial statements.  A partial list reads like alphabet soup, but you’ll probably recognize them:  SEC, COMEX, FASB, and NAA.  Their goal is to be able to assign a value to a block of IP such that it can be treated like a new furnace or truck or mainframe and placed on the balance sheet as an asset and depreciated.  To meet generally accepted accounting principles, both a depreciation rate and a liquidation value would have to be determinable.  It is not necessary for all this to be worked out before the market can become liquid however, but some level of progress is necessary to determine ranges of salable values.  The accountants are currently paying attention to transacted values today that are agreed by a selling and buying entity.  After thousands of transactions occur in the years ahead, there will be enough data to assign some standard values.  There is great argument however.  Many do not want standard values.  Companies may lose their ability to negotiate premiums for their prized jewels.

Planning for Intellectual Property Revenues [Machine Design – July 2015] discusses the inevitable advancement of IP into the everyday business planning and decision making processes associated with new products. The article concludes with a bit of stretch thinking.

Measuring Product Development Vitality

One of the things that satisfy engineers and product developers the most is to see their newly released products sell like hotcakes.  It goes right to the core of why they pursued careers in science and engineering, to create things that better the lives and capabilities of others.

One of the things that satisfy finance and business professionals the most is to see the products they decided to invest in become successful.

One of the things that satisfies investment bankers and brokers the most is to see companies with a continual stream of winning products year after year.

Perhaps these are the reasons why a metric that did not exist before 1988 is now the number one corporate R&D performance metric in North America.

Most of us know the metric as “New Product Sales,” or “Revenue Due To New Products,” along with a myriad of other names.  What they all strive to measure is the “newness” of annual revenues.  The actual value of this key performance indicator [KPI] differs greatly by market, by the length of product lifecycle, and by the age of the company.

Published on Product Design & Development Magazine’s Product Design & Development website, Measuring Product Development Vitality examines the evolution and the industry adoption rates of this metric since its inception in 1988.  The article explores differing definitions of the metric, differing definitions of how companies classify a product as being “new” or “old,” offers benchmarks for industry values when a new product is defined as being less than three years old, and discusses consequences when companies try to game the value of the metric.

Press Release: 12th Summit To Focus On Advances In Corporate R&D Innovation & Intellectual Property Strategy

NEEDHAM, Mass. — (BUSINESS WIRE) — February 23, 2015 — Corporate demand for specific strategies, tactics, techniques, tools, and software to bolster Corporate Innovation have steadily increased for fifteen years.

As corporate demand grew, large think tanks and research firms studied what was working. Solutions providers, Makers, and service firms entered the market as money could be made. Like all emergent markets, many initial offerings had a high fall out rate. While still the case, certain approaches are producing financial results and initial patterns of success are apparent.

Intellectual Property [IP] strategy and management, both by itself and aided by the pull from increasing levels of corporate innovation, has also matured. Starting a few years earlier than innovation, circa the technology boom of the 1990s, companies sought to trade, barter, license, purchase, and sell IP at greater levels than any prior time in history. As the IP market grew, suppliers emerged to meet the increased demand.

Successful IP enablers are also beginning to sort themselves out. Corporate abilities to identify, value, and transact IP will soon approach corporate abilities to identify, price, and sell winning products.

The R&D-Product Development Innovation Summit, last held in 2012, offers an update on the evolution of the Corporate Innovation and IP bodies of knowledge. Much changed during the Great Recession. Companies really had to focus to generate good business results in an increasingly normalized, globalized, and economically challenged competitive landscape.

This fact driven and data intensive event, targeted to CXOs and corporate leaders, draws on findings from over fifty secondary research sources along with primary research sources on both subjects.  GGI’s sixth industry study since 1998, found notable shifts in the strategic management of R&D and in processes for Organic InnovationOpen Innovation is on the rise.  Patent and Trade Secret practices are changing.  The ability to determine the value of, and then to monetize IP, is maturing.  And, the metrics corporations use to measure R&D and IP output and productivity are now primarily focused on business results.

Produced in conjunction with The Management Roundtable of Waltham, MA, this Summit holds the content to empower executives with the state-of-the-state knowledge needed to lead innovation and IP improvements in their companies.

The Difference Between Research and Development

The already unclear lines separating research from development are getting even blurrier as more companies allocate some part of their R&D budget to take on riskier projects, and invest in the necessary infrastructure to manage these riskier activities.

New products are now being launched out of recently formed “Innovation” organizations”, and more are coming from existing “Advanced Development” organizations.  “Product Development” is no longer the only organization that launches new products.

Several factors have complicated matters for industry observers trying to stay abreast of what might be coming to market by simply paying attention to product development pipelines. These factors include:

  • The changing corporate approaches described above.
  • The desires of developers to bring solutions to market, not just pieces of a solution.
  • The globalization of R&D that has, in effect, decentralized R&D.
  • Naming conventions for organizations that differ by industry and country.

The jury is still out as to whether today’s approaches to R&D will prove more productive than historical approaches. Historical approaches to “pre-product development” generally restricted the scope of activities to reduce uncertainty and improve the predictability of key enabling features, capabilities and technologies—and then turned those enablers over to product development.

The Continuum™ of Research and Development

The Continuum of Research and Development

Published on R&D Magazine’s Research & Development website, The Difference Between Research and Development discusses historical approaches to The Continuum™ and contrasts them with the changing corporate practices that are occurring today.  The available alternatives for the navigation system of a robotic lawn mower are used to illustrate the key points.

Why The Innovation Revolution?

Just about every company, since the Industrial Revolution began in the late 1800s, has wished to improve its level of innovation.  How to be a better innovator has been a subject of study for decades.

It was not until the early 2000s however, that collective industry demand for “better innovation” reached a level so as to spawn a revolution in the slowly evolving body of knowledge.  Why then?  Many factors contributed.

In the early 1980s, industry began shifting from a focus on manufacturing and operations excellence to a focus on R&D and Product Development excellence.  The first articles on competing through product development excellence appeared in 1983.  In 1986, Robert Cooper introduced the first “Stage-Gate” framework in his book “Winning On New Products.”  Initially designed to improve “over the wall” from engineering to manufacturing, the framework rapidly evolved to be an end-to-end process from concept to customer.  With an end-to-end framework now available to all industries, the time compression and/or Time-To-Market quest began.  By the late 1990s, some companies were moving so fast that they were losing potential ROI by replacing their own products too quickly.  As a result of the extreme time emphasis, the design communities had even less time for free thinking. Having less time ran contrary to many of the fundamental values as to why engineers, scientists, and designers went into their profession.  There was no longer as much time or budget to innovate.  A “push back” began to emanate from design communities.

Two other major industry initiatives, Six Sigma and Lean for product development, affected development communities in a similar manner.  Lean resulted in fewer people to do the same work, and had some overhead to measure and monitor capabilities.  Six Sigma resulted in many additions to the requirements of executing a product development process, while focusing efforts to eliminate all sources of unnecessary variation.  Experimentation and variation are necessary for innovation and invention.

Globalization across industries also contributed, for good and not so good reasons.  When products could get knocked off without the ability to enforce the intellectual property, companies had to improve their cycles of innovation and learning to get and to stay ahead.  At the same time, there were now many more competitors addressing what once were largely captive geographic markets.  New entrants wished to be better than the current market players.  Current market players wished to be better to stave off new entrants.

The ability of just about anyone to develop Software, combined with the advent of the Internet, was also a giant driver.  Many classic industries were under siege by companies that either delivered their products or services in a different way, or that added additional value into products through software and/or internet connectivity.

The confluence of Time-To-Market, Six Sigma, Lean, Globalization, Software Emergence, and Internet Emergence during the 1980s and 1990s were the primary driving forces that lead to an innovation revolution in the 2000s.

The 12th R&D-Product Development Innovation Summit, April 7-9, 2015, offers a current snap shot of the progress in the development and maturation of the Innovation Body of Knowledge during the past fifteen years.  GGI espouses no methodology of our own at the Summit.  Our sole goals are to look at what has taken place, to cull out what works, and to identify what companies are adopting into practice. The Summit, a defined three day curriculum targeted to decision makers and thought leaders, will address innovation and intellectual property strategies, tactics, processes, techniques, tools, and software.


Which Comes First: Invention or Innovation?

Does one attempt innovation, and then one invents something?  Or, does one invent something and innovation on the invention occurs subsequently?  Both perhaps? Surely this question has been discussed in your network of creative professionals at some point in your career.

As founder of the Society of Concurrent Product Development [SCPD], this discussion occurred many times in our collaborative sessions over the years. Opinions were strong and debate was heated.  I have since retired from SCPD’s Board, but the discussion increasingly crosses my path as the importance of intellectual property continues to grow in our society.

The subject has become additionally blurred by the ability to “manufacture patents,” practically at a moment’s notice, these days.  A patent used to define an invention. Today, many patents are the result of a few hours of brainstorming sessions to put protection around a base or primary patent. Little is invented, but much is innovated, in these brainstorming sessions that result in additional bonifed patents.  Corporations, not just patent trolls, are increasingly adopting the practice.  The nuances of these “paper patents” are beyond one’s ability to succinctly capture in a short article.  But, they illustrate the increasing difficulty in our society to discern invention from innovation.

From an R&D or Product Development perspective, versus an intellectual property or legal perspective, the discussion is perhaps a bit easier to codify in a brief article.

Which Comes First: Invention or Innovation? [Machine Design – November 11, 2014] discusses three different product development scenarios that are experienced every day in corporations.  Is the product New-To-The-Company, New-To-The-Industry or Market, or New-To-The-World?  It seems, for two of these cases, that innovation precedes invention.

Podcast: Is ‘Open Innovation’ Just Another Word For Outsourcing?

In this ten minute podcast, Brad Goldense discusses the progress that organizations are making in the area of ‘Open Innovation.’ Lee Teschler, Executive Editor at Design World, leads the conversation.

Discussion Questions:

1.  What is Open Innovation [OI]?

2.  What are the biggest differences between OI and ordinary R&D efforts?

3.  Why should design engineers in the trenches care about OI?

4.  Does it cost more to do OI than ordinary R&D?

The Is ‘Open Innovation’ Just Another Word For Outsourcing? podcast focuses on questions that designers, engineers, and managers may have as open innovation initiatives are introduced to their organization and to their projects.


A Note About The Publisher and Discussion Leader:  Design World is a relatively new trade publication in the field of design and engineering. It is published by WTWH Media, LLC, 6555 Carnegie Avenue, Suite 300, Cleveland, Ohio, USA. Lee Teschler’s experience includes twenty-three years at Machine Design where he was Executive Editor.

What’s The Difference Between Research and Development?

With many more companies allocating a small part of their R&D budget to take on riskier projects, and the growth in corporate infrastructure to manage these riskier activities [Machine Design – July 17, 2014], the lines are starting to blur between two terms that historically were well differentiated. New products are now being launched out of “innovation organizations” and “advanced development organizations,” and not just product development organizations. As of now, research organizations are not yet launching products to market.

Due to a combination of the changing corporate approaches described above, the desires of developers to bring solution to markets and not just a piece of a solution, the globalization of R&D that has decentralized R&D, and naming conventions for product organizations that differ by country, one can no longer just pay attention to product development pipelines to stay abreast of what might be coming to market. The jury is still out as to whether today’s approaches will prove more productive than historical approaches that restricted the scope of projects to reduce uncertainty and improve forecastability of key enabling features and technologies – and then turned these enablers over to product development.

Research and development is a continuum, and highly analog rather than digital in construct (Figure 1). Historically, R&D could generally be segmented into four categories: Basic Research, Applied Research, Advanced Development, and Product Development. “Skunk Works” is perhaps a fifth category, a discussion for another day.

 Figure 1

The Continuum™ of Research and Development

The Continuum of Research and Development

What’s The Difference Between Research and Development? [Machine Design – October 9, 2014] discusses historical approaches and the evolving corporate practices taking place today.

Note:  The URL for the October 9 Machine Design issue will not be active for a few more weeks, but the article is posted.

Making Product Development Processes More Innovative

Applied Research & Advanced Development Come Of Age [Machine Design – July 17, 2014] discusses corporate efforts to beef-up pre-product development processes and management infrastructure.

Making Product Development Processes More Innovative [Machine Design – August 14, 2014] discusses ways that corporations can build more innovative thinking into their product development processes.

Corporate Practices and KPIs In Organic, Open, and IP Innovation – Research Results

The era of corporate innovation began roughly fifteen years ago, started by industry leaders in the mid-1990s with successful targeted disruptive innovations and chasm crossings.  Today, most companies have now tried out many new approaches and at least changed some of their historical innovation practices to lead, compete, or to just keep up.

John Stark, noted author on the subjects of Product Data Management and Product Lifecycle Management and Director of John Stark Associates which is a research and consulting firm based in Switzerland, has collaborated with GGI on various projects for the better part of the past thirty years.  John Stark Associates publishes a bi-monthly newsletter entitled the “2PLM e-zine” that focuses on the subjects and issues of importance to product development and lifecycle management professionals.  Each time GGI publishes the results of our primary research studies, John Stark runs a six-part series in the 2PLM e-zine.

The first article of the six is a general announcement to the 2PLM readership that alerts them to the upcoming five content pieces.  This first 2PLM article was published yesterday July 7, 2014.  The remaining articles will occur over the next two and one-half months as each bi-monthly issue is published.

The GGI study, entitled the “2014 Product Development Metrics Survey”, was conducted by sending questionnaires to a wide range of companies developing products throughout North America. Participating companies had headquarters throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia, but their response was for North American R&D-Product Development operations. Complete data sets were received from 200 companies. Consumer, industrial, medical, chemical, and automotive/vehicular products were the top respondent industries. Participants completed 31 questions detailing their demographic information and practices in the following five research areas: R&D Operating Environment, Organic Innovation, Open Innovation, Intellectual Property, and the Top Corporate Metrics used to measure R&D and Product Development. The research period was September 2012 to October 2013. The results were published March 3, 2014. This research is statistically valid and provides a Margin Of Error for each research question.

The pages at which 2PLM is published are:

Current Issue

Main 2PLM Portal

12th R&D-Product Development Innovation Summit – April 7-9, 2015

This Summit will provide participants with a comprehensive look at the Innovation Body of Knowledge for product strategy, marketing, R&D, development, and commercialization functions.  There will be an emphasis on top management enablers and techniques to create and embed systematic corporate innovation.  Primary and secondary industry research on innovation and measurement tools, techniques, and metrics are used throughout the Summit.

Our first goal will be to codify the current management science of innovation in corporations for our participants.  The Summit will synthesize both what is known and what actually works in companies.  Our approach will be as factual and quantitative as possible for the subject matter.  We constantly refresh the Summit and its Coursebook.  There will be four interactive exercises so everyone samples some key techniques they might some day oversee that will be lead by GGI staff and several guest speakers.

Our second goal will be to take a look at the likely corporate innovation knowledge, capabilities, and changes in the coming decade.  Organizations will evolve to accommodate IP, as they did with globalization and supply-chain.  Business processes will change as early-stage inventions are increasingly transacted in dedicated markets before they are commercialized.  Functions that define and create products will have a “make vs. sell” decision at every step of the way, a change analogous to the introduction of simulation tools to their practices.

Our third goal will be to alert you to categories of tools and systems that will enter the work place.  When “industry demanded better innovation” back around 2004 it created a market for it.  Suppliers to this new product category got busy.  Thought leaders saw it coming in the late 1990s, so some had a running start.  Well, after ten years now, a number of tools, techniques and technologies are withstanding the test of time.  Constantly improving research exists on the ones to think more seriously about.  Little is mainstream yet, but what to do or try and and what not to do or try is becoming clearer.

At the conclusion of the Summit, participants will be current with industry management science and will have a glimpse of the future. Professionals wishing to put themselves and their fellow company leaders in a better position to lead, nurture, stimulate, and drive innovation and invention should consider this venue.  Numerous participants have said, “GGI’s Summit is an Executive MBA on the subject of Innovation.”

Finally, and this is not true of all GGI Metrics Summits, GGI published our 6th North American study of R&D and Product Development practices in the areas of R&D Operating Environments, Organic Innovation, Open Innovation, Intellectual Property, and the Top Corporate R&D Metrics In Use on March 3, 2014. Two-hundred companies from the USA, Canada, and Mexico participated in numbers that represent the relative R&D spending of the North American countries. It will be difficult to find information that is more current to augment the practical nature and usable outcomes of this 12th Innovation Summit.

Please visit our Summit web site for additional content and registration information.

Trade Secret Practices Changing Due To First-To-File Legislation

Organic Innovation, Open Innovation, Intellectual Property, & CXO Corporate Metrics Practices, July 23, 2013, described primary research that GGI conducted in 2013. The results were announced March 13, 2014 in a Business Wire press release. Here we address a piece of what we found on the subject of Trade Secrets.

The emerging OI and IP marketplaces, corporate enablers to monetize soft assets, continued to grow. Scouting and innovation intermediary firms achieved 15% penetration. Joint innovation ventures are reported by more than a third of respondents.  These collective data indicate the ability to monetize IP is growing.

If registered IP is increasing in value, and the ability to monetize it can have no other outcome, it stands to reason that unregistered IP is also increasing in value.  And, the value of a company’s Trade Secrets increases at a rate that is related to the growth rate in the ability to monetize IP, and the growth rate in value.  Now there is a deep subject, and we will certainly leave that for another day.

So what happens in the next few years?  GGI research shows that over a third indicate they have formalized processes for monetizing IP already.  Three quarters indicate that the financial impact of IP is positive, none indicated negative.   Seventy percent indicate that IP will be more or much important in the next five years. It perhaps is too casual a way to describe the landscape ahead, but it appears that a critical mass of companies currently exists and the next third of industry is about to get on board.  This is reinforced by our findings on the emerging marketplace of Open Innovation.

It is no wonder why thirty percent are changing their Trade Secret practices, now that First-To-File has become law in the United States.  Why not focus on the seventy-percent that are not changing, the clear majority?  In our global world, foreign companies have been practicing First-To-File patent processes for years – and now do in the U.S. too.  Implied by our findings is that there is a great deal of change for companies that do not have global roots or have not yet achieved a certain size, small and medium businesses.  Certainly some of the big corporations replied they are tightening as well, wishing to protect their appreciating asset.

Trade Secret Practices Changing Due To First-To-File Legislation? [Machine Design – April 10, 2014], summarizes selected GGI research findings in the area of Trade Secrets; and offers nine steps that companies may take to further protect and secure their Trade Secret assets.  [The article was posted March 18.  The URL for the magazine issue will be available April 10.]

Corporate Innovation Practices Align With Business Results

NEEDHAM, Mass. — (BUSINESS WIRE) — March 13, 2014 — Goldense Group, Inc. [GGI] announced the completion of its sixth primary research initiative on the strategies, processes, practices, and metrics used in North American R&D and Product Development Innovation. This study focused on R&D Operations, Organic Innovation, Open Innovation [OI], Intellectual Property [IP], and the Top 100 Productivity & Performance Metrics used by corporations.

Two hundred companies from the US, Canada, and Mexico participated in equal proportion to the relative R&D Spending of these three countries, representative of North America. The response rate was 6.5%. A typical respondent company had US$ 4-5B in revenues.

While the relative corporate activity in Basic Research, Applied Research, Advanced Development, and Product Development remained largely constant for the past five years, the infrastructure in these areas experienced significant growth. Growth will continue. Two-thirds indicated innovation will be more important in the next five years than in the past five. Half indicated the same for OI.

The emerging OI and IP marketplaces, corporate enablers to monetize soft assets, continued to grow. Scouting and innovation intermediary firms achieved 15% penetration. Joint innovation ventures are reported by more than a third of respondents. Corporate abilities to track revenues and profits lag abilities to track costs, this is especially true for OI.

Seventy percent indicate that IP will be more or much important in the next five years. Three quarters indicate that the financial impact of IP is positive, none indicated negative. Over a third indicated they have formalized processes for monetizing IP. Thirty percent are changing their Trade Secret practices, now that First-To-File has become law in the United States.

After fifteen years of little change in corporate metrics for R&D and Product Development, there has been a sea change in the use of metrics to focus on business results in the past five years. The “R&D sand box” is almost gone. Twenty-three of the Top 25 metrics now measure pipeline attributes, productivity, and results.

These findings are excerpts from two available reports on GGI’s 2014 Product Development Metrics Survey. Findings are also located in Driving Product Development™ and Tangible Innovation!™, and will be discussed at the 17th R&D-Product Development Metrics Summit being held April 15-17, 2014 in Norwood, Massachusetts.

R U an Open Innovator?

Organic Innovation, Open Innovation, Intellectual Property, & CXO Corporate Metrics Practices, July 23, 2013, describes primary research that GGI was conducting in 2013.  We have now concluded the research period and are currently analyzing the results.  Here we address a piece of what we found on the subject of Open Innovation [OI].

Product developers have been practicing “make vs. buy” analysis for decades.   Typically, the focus is on  whether to outsource the manufacture of components or subassemblies that have already been designed and developed in-house.  Since the early 2000s and the publishing of “Open Business Models:  How to Thrive in the New Innovation Economy” by Henry Chesborough, the make vs. buy considerations have been moving upstream into design and development activities.  This is what industry now refers to as “Open Innovation [OI].”  Should our company invent a needed new product feature or capability, or has another company already done it?  Can we acquire it or license it if something already exists that meets our needs?  Is partnering or allying with the company our best alternative if what they have is close but does not exactly (yet) meet our needs?  Or, should we put the investment in and incur the likely time-to-market penalty for doing it all ourselves from scratch?  What is the best way to achieve our design intent?

Many companies are beginning to wade into the waters of OI.  Clearly there are mixed results across industries in this early market.  Only Procter & Gamble has publically touted their financial successes via more open approaches.  As of now, the infrastructure within companies enabling scientists and engineers to quickly locate appropriate alliances or find ready to go plug and play solutions is still in the nascent stages. The train is on the tracks however.

Like any new market opportunity, demand has to reach a certain level before suppliers invest to develop a solution.  And, like any new market, different suppliers will offer different solutions.  For OI, the evolving offerings range from making it easier to access university-based research and prototyping to bartering intermediaries to outright brokers who attempt to put buyers and sellers of solutions together.

The OI categories that our research focused on are:

  • Crowdcasting/Crowdsourcing
  • Scouting Firms
  • Venture Capital and Entrepreneur Forums
  • Innovation Intermediary Firms
  • Private Industry Consortia Groups
  • Private Industry Business Portals
  • Targeted Proprietary Networks
  • University Contract Agreements
  • Supplier Co-Development
  • Non-Competitor Joint Ventures
  • Competitor Joint Ventures
  • Intellectual Property Auctions
  • Focused IP Search/Purchase/License

Certainly the number of different OI approaches will grow over time.  As well, some of the current categories will become more refined and be described as similar but differentiable approaches in the future.  For instance, “Innovation Intermediary Firms” will likely evolve to those that specialize in identifying companies with components that already have part numbers versus identifying companies that just have intellectual property rights but have not yet developed part numbered components.  Boutique intermediaries may specialize in one area and full service intermediaries will eventually provide one stop shopping.

What is for sure is that the demand for OI has achieved critical mass over the past decade and a new industry to service this demand is actively developing.  The advent of social media was not without resistance.  It had to overcome inculturated values dating back to the Pony Express in the 1800s.  NIH also has deeply seated values, but these too will be overcome in the years ahead.

R U an Open Innovator [Machine Design – March 6, 2014], summarizes selected findings in the area of Open Innovation from GGI’s 2013 primary research initiative.  GGi’s final report containing our complete findings is soon to be available.

Lead Users Generate Innovative Ideas & Great Returns!

Innovation-Enabling Tools & Software for Individuals and Product Pipelines, August 15, 2013, discusses the decade-long growth of the innovation body of knowledge that has lead to new software and other tools that are achieving penetration across industries in this early market.

There are only a handful of “official” innovation tools and techniques that preceded this boom of the past decade.  Edward DeBono’s “Lateral Thinking” and wearing “Six Hats” techniques have been used by many companies around the globe since the 1960s, and have stood the test of time.  Roger Von Oech’s “Creative Whack Pack,” a mix of analogous and stretch thinking via a deck of cards, has also stood the test of time.  There are at most three or four more oldies but goodies.

Just from the high level description of these techniques in the preceding paragraph, one can intuit that the “thought patterns implicated by the two techniques” might lead to different product ideas.  One tool that has also stood the test of time, “Lead User Analysis [LUA],” is specifically devoted to spurring thinking in the direction of products that no one has yet thought of.  Every company has some level of a risk portion of its portfolio.  This technique helps to identify products that are New-To-The-Industry or New-To-The-World.

Are the chances of “New To” success the same of buying a lottery ticket?  Hardly.  It is therefore harder to understand why a technique that has been around since the 1960s, and was nearly fully documented by the early 1980s, is not more widely and systematically used.  To paraphrase W. Chan Kim’s book Blue Ocean Strategy, Blue Oceans are where products do not yet exist and Red Oceans are where competition is currently taking place. In any given year, only 14% of new products are launched into Blue Oceans. Yet, this 14% generates 38% of all corporate revenues and an unbelievable 61% of all corporate profits.

Bose Corp., for example, can trace its meteoric rise in the stereo equipment industry to a Lead User Analysis that showed in the 1960s there was a large market of high-end audiophiles that would pay thousands of dollars for speakers with accurate sound reproduction. Sony used LUA in developing the WalkMan, a product that kicked off the wearable electronics movement in the early 1980s. MiniMed’s wearable insulin pump in the early 1990s, now a Medtronic product, was also developed in part due to LUA.

LUA has been around for several decades. Yet, companies continue to center on focus groups, data mining, emotional intelligence studies, and the like to identify products that cover the the entire range of the portfolio. That’s probably because these techniques are familiar and do not require something different be done for every portfolio segment; and management readily accepts them. However, they rarely result in New To products that are now tending to be a higher percentage of many corporate portfolio goals.

Lead Users Generate Innovative Ideas & Great Returns [Machine Design – February 13, 2014], summarizes Eric von Hippel’s key role in bringing LUA to a level of practice and gives the reader a feel for the basic tenants of the Lead User Analysis approach.  [Please note that these two URLs may not be active until February 13, 2014 when the MD issue is published.]

More R&D or just more processes?

Innovation is Changing Pre-Product Development R&D [Machine Design – September 5, 2013], discusses the some of the changes that are occurring in advanced research and development stemming from industry’s decade-long focus on innovation.

Our 2008 North American study on Organic Innovation indicated that industry leaders and early adopters were actively focusing on improving pre-product development activities. Our 2013 study more deeply investigated these findings.  We focused on the types, purposes, usage, and changing importance of research, advanced development, and product development processes.  Two-hundred companies from the USA, Canada, and Mexico participated in numbers that represent the relative R&D spending of the North American countries.  The findings discussed here emanate from participant responses on their approaches to Organic Innovation, one of the five topic areas in our research.

The 2013 findings affirm a ten year trend.  Most companies now have multiple, approaching “numerous,” specifically-purposed processes.  Design engineers, program managers, and organizational leaders are likely seeing an increase in the processes used to guide research and/or product development on a wide scale. There is a new wave of them the past five to ten years years.  This is spurred by the need for western companies to improve their overall innovation levels, and their consistency of execution to these higher levels, to improve their global competitive position. These new processes are starting to enter the second quartile of industry penetration. Processes that precede product development are increasing notably. The number of variations and flavors of “mainstream” product development processes are also increasing, but at a lesser rate.

For pre-product development processes, the change is pronounced. Over the past five years, there has been a tripling in formal Basic Research processes and a near quadrupling of formal Applied Research processes. Advanced Development processes have risen 30%. A number of companies have “combination processes” used across several categories and those numbers have also risen.

The change is not as pronounced for Product Development processes. In 2008, 76% of companies had one or two processes to guide development projects. Forty percent of companies used one process and 36% used two. This year, companies running with a single process decreased to 35% as companies added more processes. Most notably, the number of North American companies using four or more processes nearly doubled.

More R&D or just more processes? [Machine Design – December 12, 2013], shares additional findings from the 2013 initiative and offers insight as to what is happening on a macro scale to industry’s next generation set of product development and innovation processes.

Innovation is Changing Pre-Product Development R&D

Innovation-Enabling Tools & Software for Individuals and Product Pipelines, August 15, 2013, discusses the decade-long growth of the innovation body of knowledge that has lead to new software and other tools that are achieving penetration across industries in this early market.

The nature of innovation tools and software is quite the opposite of the deterministic practices that have been the rage since the mid-80s. You may expect that there is hesitancy and resistance. You may be right. But, gradually, corporations are realizing that “innovation in the pipeline” cannot solely mean “execution.” A typical product pipeline will contain perhaps a hundred sets of “design tools” across the value creation process. An inventory of those tools in most companies today will find them to be nearly 100% deterministic.

For the moment, compartmentalization of innovation tools and software is the general management style. Most are used in pre-pipeline creation activities, very early in the pipeline, or after launch to add value or to revive a commercialized product.  And, usually only in special circumstances as a last resort.

The body of knowledge of value engineering is pretty mature and the capabilities provided by most innovation tools today are quite incremental, except for the most complex and expensive ones. The same applies for early product design and development.  Triz-based tools have caught attention though as they have lead to the creation and/or redesign of many consumer products, such as the non-cylindrical water bottle.

Relatively speaking, pre-product development stands to be the area that will benefit the most from the initial generation of innovation tools and software. There are currently less formalized tool sets at this stage of product creation.

Applied Research and Advanced Development organizations are growing as CEOs shave off small percentages from Product Development and allocate them earlier in the quest for innovation. Industry leaders started this in the late 1990s and kept it under their hats. Many more are doing it now. As such, the definition and formalization of “advanced” organizations is a hot management topic.

Perhaps the thorniest issue is to determine the “advanced strategy.” The availability of a separated resource pool of highly technical folks is very tempting to leaders that control resources.  Product roadmaps get intermixed with technology roadmaps.  Throw in a little short term convenience, a few problems that need an expert, and a perception of underloading because the output is different.  The result is pre-product developers that are juggling activities of very different durations, across the spectrum of raw creation to emergency problem solving.

Innovation is Changing Pre-Product Development R&D [Machine Design – September 5, 2013], discusses the growth and maturation of Advanced Development organizations and then offers a definition and thoughts on an appropriate strategy and staffing for advanced capabilities.

Innovation-Enabling Tools and Software for Individuals and Product Pipelines

The Makers Movement Spurs Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship, July 18, 2013, discusses a competitive landscape that might induce some established companies to redouble their efforts regarding systematic innovation.

The triad of global competitors and Makers and small onshore companies that nowadays have access to most of the same innovation enablers as the big corporations have, together are raising the bar for what large companies must do to be regarded as innovators.

Savvy entrepreneurs, social and clinical psychologists, hard science scientists and engineers, software development companies, and a host of other individuals and firms who all have an angle on what it takes to be innovative, have been busy creating innovation-enabling tools and software for more than a decade now. Some 300 different techniques, some in the form of software, are now available at prices just about everyone can afford. Some are proving themselves to be better than the rest. Industry is beginning to recognize the ones that add the most value.

Innovation-Enabling Tools and Software for Individuals and Product Pipelines [Machine Design – August 15, 2013], discusses the rapid growth of the innovation body of knowledge along with some of the tools and software applications that have achieved the most industry penetration during this early market phase.

Organic R&D-Product Development, Open Innovation, Intellectual Property & CXO Corporate Metrics Practices

The name of this post is the title of a primary research project that GGI has been quietly, or maybe not so quietly, conducting. There are 31 questions. It takes 30-35 minutes according to our beta test of thirty companies. We are not seeking anything confidential, all beta companies agreed. To be sure though, your responses will be 100% confidential.

Until the writing of this blog, there have been no web postings except in the research portal on GGI’s web site. We have been conducting the research by phone or in person; and there was a limited email sent out by us. To best randomize our sample, enabling even more confidence in Margin of Error calculations, several companies have also graciously sponsored controlled samples to companies in their network.

Since 1998 GGI has done statistically valid primary research every few years. Our 2008 research on “CXO Corporate Metrics Practices” is still the best information available for R&D-Product Development on the web, look for Business Week or Industry Week TOP 10 R&D Metrics. McKinsey, BCG, Booz, Kearney, ADL, Accenture and others do research metrics, but GGI has a fifteen-year body-of-knowledge on R&D and Product Development metrics that is hard to beat. Several of these consultancies have purchased our several thousand dollar research report over the years, the same report you will receive to show our appreciation for a half hour of your time. The report will come in pdf format with a “corporate license” to post it on your company intranet for all employees to reference.

Each research effort since 1998 contains five sections. The first four sections investigate strategic and tactical “things” we see leading companies testing out that are not yet generally adopted by industry. The goal is to try to see what is going to become mainstream in the coming years. We have a pretty good batting average if you look at prior GGI research topics. Without asking anything confidential, we are going to inquire about:

1) R&D Operating Environment
2) Organic Innovation
3) Open Innovation
4) Intellectual Property

The last section is always to determine the R&D-Product Development Metrics that have the greatest current industry usage and penetration. We research only the metrics, “corporate metrics,” that are of possible interest to the CEO to maximize the company’s investment in R&D, Engineering, and Product Development-Commercialization. There are 101 metrics in this questionnaire. Simply check off the ones that your company uses.

5) CXO Corporate Metrics Practices


Not everyone can participate. We apologize. We are going to qualify the appropriateness of your company before distributing the research questionnaire and/or URL to you. The company must develop new products; and have staff and operations in the US, Canada, or Mexico. It must have $20 million in revenues at minimum; there is no upper revenue limit. It matters not if the parent or headquarters of the company is US or outside the US. Product development in North America is the focus. Finally, the address and domain name of your correspondence with us must be the same as your company, no gmail or other generic domains please. Confidentiality cannot be otherwise assured. These are easy hurdles for most we hope are reading this blog.

If you are interested, or know a colleague that might be, please contact us through the link we have set up for folks that might wish to “opt in” to this research project.

My company qualifies, I’d like to opt in.

We are nearing the end of our research effort and ask that you submit a completed questionnaire by September 30, 2013 please.

The Maker Movement Spurs Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship

The Revolution In Innovation-Enabling Tools, April 18, 2012, discussed the emerging market in innovation tools and software.  The collective demand for “innovation” from corporations has lead to many new market segments to provide services of one form or another.  It has also lead to arms-length providers of off-the-shelf tools and shrink wrapped software providers.  The most sophisticated software tools require service assistance to install and configure them, as one would expect.

GGI first researched these emerging tools privately in 2001 and 2002.  Two companies that we would all agree are leaders with longevity, were also early market adopters of these emerging tool sets.  One company made tractors.  The other company made diagnostic instruments.  Over the past decade, GGI has researched the subject several times on our own account.

By 2004, we found about one-third of first-to-market companies had gone out of business.  Their offerings however shaped more useful solutions now offered by new entrants with better business models.  Clearly, this tools and shrink-wrapped software segment had all the attributes of an emerging market.

In 2008, we statistically researched the industry penetration of some 67 tools out of about 300 we identified.  These 67 were determined to be “generally available,” meaning any professional that went looking (with a bit of zest) for tools and software touted to facilitate innovation could find them.

In 2013, we are not seeing that corporations are institutionalizing innovation into the principles and practices of research and product development in the same manner or rate that lean and six sigma tools have been institutionalized.  The activities and procedures required in invention and innovation-related company processes are overwhelmingly deterministic.

The Maker Movement Spurs Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship [Machine Design – July 18, 2013], discusses a competitive landscape that might induce some established companies to redouble their efforts regarding systematic innovation.

The Revolution in Innovation-Enabling Tools

GGI has selectively released results of our 2008 research on innovation-enabling tools these past few years.  With the global recession, the rate of development and change in innovation-enablers slowed significantly.  While there has been movement since 2008, we feel the results are still largely accurate and probably still unknown by most professionals and companies that are looking to improve their ability to create and innovate.

The survey investigated “generally available” Innovation Tools, and their penetration and degree of usage in corporations. This research subject contained a list of 67 Innovation Tools that GGI staff members categorized as being generally available out of a list of over 250 tools that we track. Replies to GGI’s 2008 Product Development Metrics Survey were received from 209 companies across a range of industries including industrial and medical products, aerospace, defense, electronics, chemicals, and pure software companies.

Innovation tools are a quite diverse group. An Innovation Tool could be a simple stand-alone enabler, such as Yoga or Meditation, to extremely complex multi-module integrated software suites and on-line web portals. People or groups of people use them, individually or in large groups, in-person or virtually, as tools in the workplace. Most of them help people to get out of the box to mitigate daily distractions that might reduce a creative outcome when an innovative solution is clearly required. Many of them also have applications to writing, and to personal life as well.

In 1970 few existed. Yoga, Meditation, Alex Osborne’s “Brainstorming,” and Edward de Bono’s “Six Thinking Hats” were among the few. As the demand for innovation has increased during the last 3-4 decades, so has the number of offerings increased to meet the demands of the market place.  An explosion in the development of tools began in 2004 when the first cross-industry rankings of “the most innovative companies” began to appear in trade press and fueled a new market.

GGI researchers have categorized these generally available tools into 5 groups: outliners/sketchpads/text manipulators, self-help/group-help, sharing information, sharing and structuring information, and increasing domain knowledge. All five groups of tools have value. The value depends on the specific environment and needs of the corporation.

Without regard to the categories described above, collectively these tools are still in the nascent stage as the market for them grows and matures. Of the 67 tools, excluding the innovative applications features of Microsoft Word and Microsoft Powerpoint, only five tools have exceeded a 15% penetration rate including the tools that are free of charge. The top 5 tools are: USPTO Website, Wikis, Triz, Blue Ocean Strategy, and MindManager.

“Penetration” means that they are “internally available and/or owned by” companies. “Usage” is different. GGI researchers investigated two levels of usage, used occasionally versus fully embedded. The free tools get the most usage. But it is interesting that some tools that have only penetrated a small amount rise up when one looks at usage. The outliners/text manipulator/sketchpad tools, “Mindmanager” and “MINDMAP” and “Brainstorm” if owned are used. Self Help/Group Help tools also get used if owned, especially tools that do “storyboarding.”

Clearly the market is in its early stages. Only five tools have penetrated more than 15% of the market. Only five tools are used occasionally by more than 8% of the market. Only five tools are used frequently and are fully embedded by more than 2% of the market.

In summary, proceed cautiously when selecting specific innovation tools. If the tool is free or has a low acquisition cost and a short inexpensive training period, it can’t hurt to try it out. If the tool is expensive and/or has a long and possibly expensive training period, make sure you are committed to giving the tool a full exercise to discover its usefulness. In all “early markets” such as this market, many of the initial entrants will not be the long run survivors.  Many have already gone by the wayside.

For general information in this subject area please visit www.goldensegroupinc.com.

For information more specifically directed at “overall R&D productivity,” please visit our Driving Product Development™blog.

The Mission of GGI’s Blog

I would like to welcome readers to GGI’s innovation-centric blog. After twenty-five years as a corporation with a few hundred published articles and citations in trade press and media, and a recognized blog that is focused on overall R&D productivity, it seems appropriate to author a second blog more purely on the subject of innovation. In the coming months and years ahead, we hope to capture your intellectual curiosity and expand your creative horizons. Readers can expect to encounter thought leadership, thought provocation, facts and data, and occassionally some humor requiring very little thought.

In the near term, GGI’s founder, Brad Goldense will be penning most of the content. Over time, we expect to find ways to integrate some of the themes of our decade-long company newsletter, “GGI RapidNews,” into this forum; including book reviews, key trends, and essential news items for professionals in leading positions.

The initial purpose of GGI’s Tangible Innovation™ blog is to explore the rapidly evolving Innovation Body of Knowledge as it grows and matures.

Industry began demanding more innovation in the early 2000s.  Practitioners and vendors alike rose to fill the demand.  A myriad of new strategies, techniques, practices, tools, and software are now available and being tried by corporations.  Some are working.  Some are not.  The jury is still out for most “new to” innovation enablers.

As well, numerous comparative studies exist that rank companies, states, and even countries on the subject of innovation and/or respect for intellectual property.  Most likely, a company with high innovation goals would not wish to put a new facility in a state or country with a low innovation ranking that also rates low on intellectual property protection.

Hopefully this blog will help readers to better choose what might work better for them and/or their companies.

For general information in this subject area please visit www.goldensegroupinc.com.

For information more specifically directed at “overall R&D productivity,” please visit our Driving Product Development™ blog.