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".

Today’s guest stands as one of the top inventors and scientists of our time. Dean Kamen has been innovating for decades and is known for his invention of the Segway, the infusion pump, the iBOT wheelchair, and many more game-changing inventions. This week on Killer Innovations, Dean Kamen joins us to discuss inventions and what he is currently doing to help change the world.

 Helping People Live Better

Dean is continuously trying to invent things to aid those in need. He has worked on taking technologies developed for broad markets and using them to meet the needs of patients. Many of Dean’s products help those with rarer issues, such as veterans who’ve lost limbs, or those with genetic disorders. Dean wants to reach the point where medical patients can live comfortably at home and still have access to the latest medical technology to keep them healthy. These inventions will not only save a ton of money but gives the patients more independence and dignity in their lives.

Hope for Future Inventions

When it comes to future inventions, Dean wants to create better alternative solutions to his dialysis invention as well as his infusion pump. He wants to continually enhance his products to make them more convenient for users. Through his company Deka Research and Development Corp, he tackles the world’s most complex problems, solving and innovating to improve our lives. In the “Near Future Series: “A Better Place”, Dean and the team are working towards opportunities in these areas.

The Next Generation Inventors

As an innovator on a mission, Dean’s passion is unchanging, and many see him as the Thomas Edison of our time. While we face our biggest challenges, such as the environment, healthcare, transportation, etc., a question remains: Who will be the next Dean Kamen? Dean says that there is a culture problem in our country rather than an education crisis. The abundance of things clouds kids from having creativity. Kids want to become movie stars and professional athletes rather than inventors of lifechanging products. Kids would instead want to be celebrities due to the recognition and glorification of those positions. To fix this problem, Dean decided to make inventing a sport, to encourage kids to work hard at something more impactful. That is where FIRST comes in to play. Dean founded FIRST, an international organization that hosts robot building competitions. FIRST gives kids an opportunity at a future and sets them up to become changers of the world.

Dean is an innovator with a passion and a mission to change the world. He continually strives to help others by creating and enhancing products that aid them. Finding success in what you are doing is vital to have an innovation mission on lockdown. What is your innovation mission?

If you want to get more knowledgeable about the future of invention or innovation, hop on over to the show to get more expert insights and advice.

About our Guest: Dean Kamen

Dean Kamen is a top American scientist and inventor known for his inventions of the fusion pump, the iBOT, and the Segway. His futuristic inventions have revolutionized the world of healthcare, personal transportation, and numerous other areas. Dean’s passion for science and helping others has driven him to great success. Dean Kamen has received a vast number of awards throughout his career, but most notably, the Heinz Award for his contributions to the medical world, and the National Medal of Technology, for his innovative endeavors. In 1989, Dean founded FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). FIRST is an organization that hosts annual robot-building competitions between different youth teams. FIRST seeks to encourage kids to get excited about technology and their part in it. Dean currently resides in New Hampshire and his devotion to his work is unwavering as he continues to strive to make the world a better place.

Let’s connect; I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. If we do connect, drop me a note and let me know. The email address is feedback@philmckinney.com, or you can go to PhilMcKinney.com and drop me a note there. If you are looking for innovation support, go to TheInnovators.Network or want to be challenged to develop the next big idea, check out our Disruptive Ideation Workshops. Don’t forget to join our Innovators Community to enjoy more conversations around innovation.

Direct download: Making_Life_Better.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Artificial intelligence is quickly growing in the technology world today. Google and Microsoft have invested heavily in AI. Does AI live up to the hype around it? Will the building blocks of AI transform from hype to reality?

Today’s guest stands at the forefront of artificial intelligence advancement. Steve Guggenheimer has been with Microsoft for 26 years and has been heavily involved in the company’s AI ventures. This week on Killer Innovations, Steve Guggenheimer joins us to discuss the progress of AI, the transition into “the cloud,” and what he and his team at Microsoft are doing to advance technology.  

 

  • The Growth of AI – Will AI transform from hype to reality? AI, as Steve says, is in the “grind it out” phase, and is being crafted for real-world application. While it hasn’t had a “Ta-Dah” moment yet, it will be another year of progress for AI as it builds upon itself.
  • Transitioning into the Cloud – With the recent transition of big things into “the cloud,” the focus has become all about accessibility. Whether it’s AI or the cloud, it’s about being smart with the technology in creating solutions. It’s about having adaptable services and experiences.
  • Into Rural America - Around 14-15% of homes in America don’t have broadband. The lack of subscriptions is not only due to internet connectivity but also from the lack of a connection shared by the people and tech companies due to culture and livelihood. How do we, as the tech community, help these rural areas? It takes individual efforts that eventually expand.

 

If you want to be more knowledgeable for the new year on AI, the cloud, and rural America’s broadband issues, hop on over to show to get more expert insights and advice.

 

About our Guest: Steve Guggenheimer

Steve Guggenheimer, the Corporate Vice President of Microsoft’s AI sector, is responsible for creating groundbreaking AI technology and advancing its global presence. Throughout his 26 years at Microsoft, Steve has been involved in key leadership positions, building Microsoft’s hardware and software systems as the head of the OEM division and Developer Evangelism. Steve has also been in product teams for Microsoft’s Windows, Application Platform, Visual Studio, and much more. Before coming to Microsoft, Steve worked on developing and marketing products in the field of lasers at Spectra-Physics Inc. Steve attended the University of California, Davis, where he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Physics and received a Master’s Degree in Engineering Management from Stanford University. Steve and his wife run the Guggenheimer Foundation, and he is on the board of directors of Muzik.

 

Let’s connect; I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. If we do connect, drop me a note and let me know. The email address is feedback@philmckinney.com, or you can go to PhilMcKinney.com and drop me a note there. If you are looking for innovation support, go to TheInnovators.Network or want to be challenged to develop the next big idea, check out our Disruptive Ideation Workshops. Don’t forget to join our Innovators Community to enjoy more conversations around innovation.

 

 

Direct download: Accelerating_AI.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 12:00am PST

When you are going to reform something, the goal is to change it to something better. It is to reshape or correct something. It comes in cycles. We see it in the financial industry through Wall St. and the many government regulations. Policies, rules, regulations, laws, etc. all drive reform. What is the cataract to reform? To go in the opposite direction by deregulating, removing regulations to let the market take over. On today’s show, I am going to be discussing and explaining what innovation reform is.

Innovation Reform

Does innovation need reforming? Can something as nebulous as innovation be changed? The reason that this issue bothers me is due to the misuse of innovation, done in a whole variety of ways. Innovation tends to have minimized support financially. What is the proper role that innovation plays in our daily lives? We tend to view innovation as the new shiny gadget from Apple, Dell, or HP. The reality is that innovation plays a much more significant part of our daily lives. It’s the continuous role of innovation solving issues such as healthcare, education, politics, etc. It allows us to share ideas globally uniting us rather than dividing us. Back to my fundamental question. Does innovation need reforming? If so, what approach should minimize? Should more regulation or other incentives be applied? Or is there another completely different approach?

3 Key Areas of Innovation Reform

What is wrong with innovation that requires reforming? I believe there are three critical areas that we, as innovators need to be thinking about:

  1. Unethical Innovation

 

  • Presenting Misleading Information – people have presented innovation in a misleading way to investors and the public. Ex. Theranos promised to do blood tests with a single drop of blood. They were installed into Wallgreens’ stores and provided false information misleading their customers.
  • Academic Research Retracted – there has been a growing number of retracted academic research in the last few years. It is so common that somebody created a website to track retractions for the public’s use.
  • Knowingly Faulty Products Released – Innovators releasing products they know are faulty. Ex. Boeing knew that their 737 Max had issues and still released it.
  1. Stolen IP
  • Small to Large Companies - I’ve seen this happen from small startups to large companies. Rather than doing their R&D, they take an idea from another company. It’s all about avoiding the need to do R&D and to save money.
  • Employees misappropriating IP – people have downloaded IP from a previous employer and take it to a new employer.
  • Lack of Transparency – there is an apparent lack of transparency when it comes to investment returns. Instituting GAP created a balance and to compare companies. The balance does not exist in innovation. This issue of a lack of transparency has been one of my most frustrating areas. How a company looks at it is entirely different from company b. It becomes hard to attach intangible value related to innovation.

How do we address these innovation reform issues? What are the best ways to address these issues? What do we as a society do to encourage innovation to solve the challenges we are facing?

How to Initiate Innovation Reform

How do we reform unethical innovation, stolen IP, transparency?

 Here are my proposals:

Unethical Innovation

  • Establish a Code of Ethics - I propose that we establish a code of ethics similar to what the medical field has. Define an oath for innovation so engineers and project managers etc. recognize that the use of innovation for good or bad is just like medicine. The hypocritic oath for innovation would be 1. Do no harm. 2. Protect IP as an employee and employer. 3. Be transparent with research and test results.
  • Disincentivize Investing in the Unethical - What happens when someone violates this oath? When doctors break theirs, they lose their license to practice medicine. For innovators, there needs to be more than the standard issued punishment. So how would you keep investors from backing violators of the oath? For innovators, there is a need for money to create products and services. The best way to deal with this is to punish investors by taking away their tax benefits, such as capital gains. Use whatever mechanism that applies to where you live to disincentivize investors from backing unethical people. Another privilege I would take away is the option to declare bankruptcy.

Stolen IP

  • Loss of Tax Credits – this would incentivize organizations to boost their R&D spend, rather than stealing IP. If you do the right thing, the government should encourage you to increase your R&D.

Transparency

  • New Set of GAP Reporting Requirements – these would give insight into the value of innovation created by the organization. These would include bad patents canceled/retracted, innovation premium, and intangible value of innovation. We want to encourage innovation investment through transparency. We need more innovation. Are there areas you would like to see reformed? What are those areas?

Five Minutes to New Ideas

My grandfather had an old saying when I was growing up, “never burn a bridge.” At the time, I thought it was a strange saying, but only later did I realize what he was saying. No matter how bad someone treats you, don’t get angry or retaliate and destroy that relationship. Great leaders keep cool even when the attacker makes it personal. A president of a large corporation was confronted by an angry employee who stormed into his office and poured out his complaints. The president calmly listened and when the employee stopped, the president said thank you. The president had wisely remained cool like the writer of Proverbs, Solomon. He said, “A gentle tongue is a tree of life.” The person who winds up in charge is someone who can remain calm through intense stress and pressure. Stillness is the most universally outstanding quality of great leaders. Leaders don’t make the best decisions when in the heat of anger. Earlier in my career, I was overseas and saw two truck drivers who came face to face in a narrow street. Neither backed up to let the other go and they yelled and honked at each other. After a few minutes of watching this, I went on to a meeting. After a few hours, I returned to see them in the same place doing the same thing. Nothing happens when anger and emotion overcome reason. Nothing constructive happens. We need to recognize when we are in the wrong to avoid burning bridges.

 

Let’s connect; I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. If we do connect, drop me a note and let me know. The email address is feedback@philmckinney.com, or you can go to PhilMcKinney.com and drop me a note there. If you are looking for innovation support, go to TheInnovators.Network or want to be challenged to develop the next big idea, check out our Disruptive Ideation Workshops. Don’t forget to join our Innovators Community to enjoy more conversations around innovation.

Direct download: Innovation_Reform.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Organizations are always trying to create the next big thing. What drives these organizations to create something new to bring to the marketplace? These are solving problems, creating opportunities, removing barriers, etc. What do all these things add up? They create value. How do you find out what people value? Look at who is going to benefit from what you are creating. You may think you know who they are, but odds are, you’re wrong. I’ll bet you are wrong. Why? You are too close to what you are creating. On today’s show, we will walk through perspectives and the value of innovation.

Identifying the Customer’s Wants

When I was at HP, there was an engineer who was pitching new features for a product line. At the end of his pitch, I asked him what the customer asked for the specific function. Did it come from a feedback form, a customer care call, or user surveys? The engineer replied, “I came up with this idea because it is a feature that I would really want.” Why did I ask this question? Because of the complexity that the feature would add to the product. It would take an HP engineer to figure out how to use the feature. The engineer mistakenly put himself in the position of the target customer.

It is vital that you, as the creator of a product/service, get out and observe what the customers want. During my years at HP, I frequented Best Buy on my weekends. If a customer looked at an HP laptop and ended up buying another computer, I’d hand them my business card and ask them a simple question. What caused you to look at this product and buy another? The answer to that question showed me what they valued. In today’s show, I am going to be discussing what the value of innovation is.

Understanding the Value of Innovation

How do you find what the customer values? You need to know their perspective. Their perspective has a significant impact on their decision making. An excellent example of this is my wife. My son Logan was a fencer back around 2009, and we were in Las Vegas at a two-day competition.

Logan was doing well and advancing in the tourney. That was great, but it also made us tight on time to get to the airport. After the competition, we raced to the airport. The person informed us at the check-in counter that there has been a delay in our flight to Phoenix. I corrected her, saying it must be a mistake because we were going to San Jose. She said that our ticket was Las Vegas to Phoenix to Los Angeles and then to San Jose. A typical flight from Phoenix to San Jose takes about one hour, but this one took 6 hours. I called my wife, and she said that booking the 6-hour flight saved $20. I thought she was kidding—at the time, I was the CTO at HP. She didn’t value my time the way I did.

Why does my wife think that way? My wife is the most frugal person in the world. Why? Because of her upbringing. She was one of six children, and her family struggled to say afloat. Her father worked double shifts in the steel industry, seven days a week, to provide for them. During this time, her family lost their home multiple times, and she was often forced to live with other family members. When she looks at the value of money, her experiences shaped her perspective. When you’re thinking about the value innovation, you may think you’ve got it all figured out. That doesn’t matter. What matters? The perspective of the person buying your product. It doesn’t matter what you think, but what they think. Do you know the “who” and what they value?

 Creating Enhanced Value

Beyond understanding how people make decisions and what they value, let’s look at how we create enhanced value. I remember, there was a social media meme that showed an iron bar: An iron bar costs about $5. If you pound out that iron bar into horseshoes, equates to $12. It’s the same amount of iron, but making the bar into horseshoes created six extra dollars. Now take that bar of iron and put it through a manufacturing process and make sowing needles. That $5 bar of iron turned into needles gives you $3,500 worth of needles. Take that same bar of iron and turn it into springs for watches, and it will be worth $300,000. That is the power of innovation.

This instance is the creation of the value of innovation. Take the raw goods and produce something that the “who” values, and they will pay the premium for it. Take birthday cakes for example. My grandmother would make my birthday cakes from scratch when I was a kid. Each cake probably cost around a dollar. When she passed, my mom started making my birthday cakes with cake mix, which probably cost around $3. It was much easier than making it from scratch. When my mom started working full-time, she would get my cake from a bakery. What began as a $1 homemade cake, was now around a $15 bakery cake. The value of the convenience was hugely valuable.

Today, with my grandkids, it has to be an experience. You go to a trampoline park and pay a couple of hundred bucks for pizza, cake, and games. Why do you do this? It’s all about the value creation brought in by innovation. People will reward you with an innovation premium because of what they value.

 “Me Too” Innovation

How do you earn the innovation premium? By conveying value uniquely and differently. If you’re an avid listener of the show, you know that I tend to rant about the “me too” innovations. Look at bottled water. There are thousands of brands of water bottles. There was a handful of them in the 70s. In the 70s, there were four types of milk and 19 in the 1990s. Today, there are hundreds of types of milk. How many different types of water bottles or milk do we need?

I was in the store the other day getting some Lays potato chips for my grandkids. I realized there were a ton of different flavors of chips. All this created complexity, and for what? The unnecessary complexity is the problem with “me too” kind of innovations. When talking about the value of innovation, you need to create something unique. Look at who your customers are, how they make decisions, what is the perspective that fuels that decision, and what is the unit of value that will convey a premium. Is what you are selling unique?

Let’s connect; I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. If we do connect, drop me a note and let me know. The email address is feedback@philmckinney.com, or you can go to PhilMcKinney.com and drop me a note there. If you are looking for innovation support, go to TheInnovators.Network or want to be challenged to develop the next big idea, check out our Disruptive Ideation Workshops. Don’t forget to join our Innovators Community to enjoy more conversations around innovation.

Direct download: Value_of_Innovation_Know_What_is_Important.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 12:00am PST