Archive for the ‘Tools & Techniques’ Category

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

Friday, May 30th, 2014

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

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

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.]

R U an Open Innovator?

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

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!

Friday, January 17th, 2014

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?

Friday, December 13th, 2013

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-Enabling Tools and Software for Individuals and Product Pipelines

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

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

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

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

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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

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

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

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

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

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

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.