April 2012

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.