Killer Innovations with Phil McKinney
An award-winning podcast and nationally syndicated radio show that looks at the innovations that are changing our lives and how their innovators used creativity and design to take their raw idea and create game-changing products or services. Phil McKinney, retired CTO of HP and the creator, and host of Killer Innovations has been credited with forming and leading multiple teams that FastCompany and BusinessWeek list as one of the “50 Most Innovative”. His recognition includes Vanity Fair naming him the “The Innovation Guru”, MSNBC and Fox Business calling him "The Gadget Guy" and the San Jose Mercury News dubbing him the "chief seer".

Great ideas come and go, but what makes an idea into something bigger?  How do you develop your idea into a product that will attract venture capitalists and scale your business?  Is the idea sustainable beyond one or two seasons of growth? Can the idea bloom into a niche market and then cross pollinate?    Patrick Henry, QuestFusion founder and CEO, shares his framework for cultivating ideation that reaps success.  He calls it smart ideation.

Steps to Smart Ideation

Smart ideation is a five-step process for entrepreneurs and business owners building a growth company.  The process focuses on business factors rather than simply developing the product.  Patrick’s book, Plan, Commit, Win: 90 Days to Creating a Fundable Startup, lays out the framework for smart ideation.

The steps are as follows:

  1.  Customer Problem Solution Test

This test answers three questions:

  • Is it a big and important problem for the customer?
  • Is the customer desperate to solve the problem?
  • Is my solution superior to alternatives?
  1.  Sustainable Competitive Advantage Test

Once you answer yes to the questions in #1…

  • How do you sustain business growth over time?
  • What is your innovation roadmap for the next five to ten years?
  • Can your core technology penetrate adjacent product market segments?
  • Can you build layers of competitive advantage?
  1.  The Intersection Test

Facing the challenges to scale your business, you need an intersection of

  • Passion
  • Domain expertise – specialized product and market knowledge
  • A big customer problem
  • A team who can execute
  1.  The Market Size and Growth Test

Applies to businesses funded by venture capital

  • Success or failure hinges on this
  • Must determine growth opportunity in your target market
  • Penetrate a defensible niche, then conquer adjacent markets
  • Have a big long-term vision to scale your business
  • VCs looking for upwards of $100 million in annual revenue
  1.  The Idea Refinement Test

Three ways to refine your idea.  

  • Through intimate customer engagement
  • Through a technical and business advisory board that will provide unbiased feedback
  • Through teaching customers willing to provide feedback early on in exchange for some exclusive benefit


Qualities of a Successful Ideator

Along with the smart ideation process, consider what makes a successful ideator.  Patrick sees the successful ideator as one with a unique perspective and perpetual curiosity.  They are the tinkerers, gadget users, early adopters who come up with new ways of doing things.  These people are disciplined, hardworking, and passionate.


Are you ready to scale your business, to bring it to the next level?  For more information on smart ideation, go to  For a detailed guide to smart ideation, go to

Find Patrick on Twitter: @questfusion, Facebook: @questfusion, and Instagram: @plancommitwin.

Five Minutes to New Ideas

How do you address customer complaints?  Are they an annoyance to dismiss and be done with?  Don’t make the mistake major companies have made minimizing or ignoring complaints.  It may come back to haunt you. Be proactive in addressing customer issues. Listen to this week’s Five Minutes to New Ideas for insight on this important topic.

I’m getting ready to head out in the Mobile Studio in search of interesting innovators.  I’ll be east of the Mississippi this Fall and west of the Mississippi the first of 2019. If you know somebody who would be a great guest on the show, drop me a note at


  • Find out about my book, Beyond the Obvious, at  Get a copy through Amazon or wherever you get your books.
  • Pay it forward.  When I wanted to repay my mentor for his investment in my career, he told me to pay it forward.  Help me pay it forward. Give us a rating where you get your podcast. Help spread the word. Tell others about the show.  
  • Be part of the conversation between the shows.  I hang out at The Innovators Community on Slack.  This private community of vetted innovators helps each other succeed.


The Killer Innovations podcast is produced by The Innovators Network.

Direct download: Smart_Ideation_to_Scale_Your_Business_S14_Ep18.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 6:02am PDT