Killer Innovations with Phil McKinney
An award-winning podcast 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 is an innovation guru who has been around for many years. Jeff DeGraff, known as the “Dean of Innovation”, is a business professor at the University of Michigan and an author and thought leader on innovation. On today’s show, we will discuss social responsibility and Jeff’s new book, “The Creative Mindset”. 


Jeff’s Background

After graduating from grad school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Jeff met a man who worked for someone who owned a twenty-million-dollar pizza company called Dominoes. He turned down a job offer from an Ivy League school to join the team. Five years later, they sold the company for five-billion-dollars to Mitt Romney. Not long after, Jeff was recruited to teach at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. He didn’t want to teach MBA’s because he thought they were dull and drab, but that is why they wanted him there. 


Two Faces of Innovation

Innovation creates concave value, things that are presently manifesting, and convex value, issues that are long-term. These types have to be measured completely differently. People tend to think about innovation from the tangible side of it. In places like Iowa State, they have huge innovation impacts, but no one sees it because it is based on research influence, not tangible products. Consumers tend to see the end result. When it comes to a COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S, many different startups and big pharmaceutical companies have been working and building off of old research to create one. Once a vaccine is made, then they have to figure out how to make billions of doses of it. It’s a lot more complicated than people think it is. Big innovation is composed of a lot of moving parts.  


The Creative Mindset

Jeff grew up in a blue-collar neighborhood and in an age where innovation was viewed as a social responsibility. There are a lot of creativity books out there nowadays that are what Jeff calls “new agey”. Jeff took what he thought was the real research on creativity and put it in layman’s terms for everyone to use. The book focuses on taking ordinary things and making them extraordinary. Jeff wants to re-install the old way of building things through developing learning and trying new things. He uses what he calls the six skills through the mnemonic device CREATE (Clarify, Replicate, Elaborate, Associate, Translate, and Evaluate). The book gives tools in a simplified form to somebody who is trying to grow and make something better. 

I got invited to do a keynote speech for Vail Resorts several years ago. I did a raise of hands asking how many people think of themselves as creative. I was shocked to see how many people didn’t raise their hands. People think it takes a special type of person to be creative, which is simply not true. We all have natural strengths that vary from person to person. The object is to recognize your strength, build on it, and find other people with different strengths. 


Advice for the Listeners

People refer to Jeff as the “Dean of Innovation”. When he went to work at Dominoes, people often threw the hard problems at him. When he got to the University of Michigan, he had some students that went on to be famous, so the name just ended up sticking. As far as advice goes, Jeff says that innovation happens from the outside in, like a bell curve. Its easier to change 20% of the company 80%, than changing 80% of the company 20%. Secondly, diversity your gene pool. All the people in Jeff’s labs are different than him. Thirdly, give as much as you can away to people. In doing this, you build your network and become a better human being and fulfill social responsibility. 


If you want to keep up to date with what Jeff DeGraff is doing, check out his website here. Check out Jeff’s LinkedIn here. Check out his new book on creativity here


About our Guest: Jeff Degraff

Jeff DeGraff is both an advisor to Fortune 500 companies and a professor at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. His simultaneously creative and pragmatic approach to making innovation happen has led clients and colleagues to dub him the “Dean of Innovation.” He has written several books, including Leading Innovation, Innovation You, and The Innovation Code. Jeff’s thoughts on innovation are covered by Inc., Fortune, and Psychology Today. He has a regular segment on public radio called The Next Idea. He founded the Innovatrium, an innovation consulting firm focusing on creating innovation culture, capability, and community. He earned his nickname, the “Dean of Innovation,” while working as an executive for Domino’s Pizza in his youth, where he accelerated Domino’s growth from a regional success story to an international franchise phenomenon. 

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


Our guest this week comes from a similar industry, and we share many mutual connections. Mo Katibeh, the EVP-Chief Product & Platform Officer of AT&T Business, joins us to discuss 5G innovation. We will talk about what is real versus what is hype when it comes to innovation in 5G, as well as some advice for the listeners.  


Mo's Background

Mo's parents left Iran right before the revolution in 1978 and came to the U.K. He moved to the U.S in 1991, where his parents bought and ran some sandwich stores. From the age of 13, he was working at the stores and learned about working with customers. Fast forward to today, Mo has been with AT&T for almost nineteen years. He loves AT&T because of how diverse they are with what they do. You can do something different every single year, and you are always learning new things. For Mo, that has included managing call centers, construction, and engineering, building up the LTE network, financial planning, product management for cybersecurity, marketing, etc. Similar to Mo, I was employed at a young age. My mom managed a bowling alley and was a professional bowler, so I worked at the alley often. It was great to see what working was about at such a young age and I gained great experience from it.

AT&T has an astounding legacy and has been heavily invested in innovation. They were one of the first companies in the world to put a lot of work into a corporate research group/fundamental science outside of product development. This was done for the sake of advancing the knowledge of mankind. 


AT&T and COVID-19

Voice, arguably the oldest innovation when thinking about communications network, experienced skyrocketing growth due to COVID-19. Peak use days are usually holidays such as Mother's Day or New Years' Eve. During the beginning of COVID, that level of network usage was seen every day across the country. Humans are social beings naturally so when you're sheltering in place you tend to get lonely. Work also shifted from central to distributed locations so that added to the high level of network usage. When the movement started in China, AT&T was able to get a heads up on what was coming before it shifted into Europe and the U.S. They were able to prepare and work with their large enterprise customers to help with the oncoming challenges of COVID.



When people think about innovation in 5G, they often think of speed. Speed is a part of it, but when thinking about it from an innovation/business lens, it's important to look at the other capabilities. The first one is latency, or how quickly the network responds to a command. One promise of 5G is driving down latency from hundredths of milliseconds to sub-ten milliseconds. Another key promise is massive connectivity where you can connect a million things per access point. This technology will truly reshape the fabric of this next decade. Many people think about innovation as that next big thing, but oftentimes it's done in incremental steps. 

When it comes to 5G, there has been a lot of "hype" around it. In healthcare, a robot doing surgery on someone is something that would be hype because it is far in the future. What is available now is ways to move around large files more effectively from an MRI machine to a doctor using a cellular connection. In a post-COVID world, there are things like connected medicine boxes that track what medicine was used and recognizes the doctor using 4K video computer vision. Kids hate wearing medical bracelets at hospitals and like to take them off. 5G brings an IoT bracelet that offers peace of mind to the parent and can be branded with different fun designs. 


Advice for the Listeners

If Moe went back to the beginning of his career, he would tell himself three things. Firstly, in everything you do, look for how you drive step-function improvement. Find how to materially change the outcomes in every job tied to whatever your key performance indicator is. Secondly, make sure you communicate how you drive that improvement inside your specific role. Lastly, just be a good human being. Look out for the people you work with and share what you have learned. When you become a leader, look out for your team, and create a culture that is balanced and flexible. 


If you want to keep up to date with what Mo is doing at AT&T, check out his LinkedIn here.


About our Guest: Mo Katibeh

Mo Katibeh is the EVP-Chief Product & Platform Officer of AT&T Business. He has responsibility for the group's portfolio-wide P&L with $36 billion of annual revenue as well as its cutting-edge integrated platforms, products and solutions including Mobility, 5G, Edge Compute, Internet of Things, SD-WAN, cybersecurity, cloud connectivity and wholesale. He also oversees pricing, distribution strategy, compensation, analytics and AT&T Business's digital platforms and portals. Previously, Mo served as EVP-Chief Marketing Officer for AT&T Business, where he was responsible for marketing strategies including branding, advertising and global events. His team created the award-winning Edge-to-Edge advertising and marketing campaign, highlighting AT&T Business's ability to provide an entire range of services to business customers. During this time, Mo was named to Forbes The World's Most Influential CMOs 2019 list, citing his work around 5G in business. A 19-year veteran at AT&T, Mo draws on a wealth of experience in technology ranging from cybersecurity, omni-channel digital strategy, long-range technology and financial planning as well as deep operational expertise across call centers, field force management, construction and engineering, and customer experience improvements.


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 or you can go to 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_in_5G_Capabilities_.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 12:00am PST

This week’s show covers an area that is critical to your innovation success. Ideation is the act of generating ideas, which is part of the FIRE (Focus, Ideation, Ranking, Execution) framework that we use to help discover ideas and lead to disruptive innovations. We will break down FIRE and discuss ideation and the process of our Disruptive Ideation Workshops


In the past, we have covered the four elements of the innovation framework, consisting of focus, ideation, ranking, and execution. Focus is the area that you set up processes and ways of collecting info that identifies problem areas. Ideation is where you create a funnel of ideas and collect them. The Ranking is where you take this collection and score the ideas based on their impact and importance. Execution is where you take the best ideas and experiment to see what your outcome can be. FIRE is a framework that is used by many organizations that tailor it to their specific wants and needs. We will discuss the ideation aspect of FIRE.


Ideation needs to consist of a type of idea that is being targeted. There are killer ideas, which are breakthroughs and create an advantage that makes the entire marketplace react. These are giant leaps forward and will shock the existing market. Incremental ideas are improvements in product quality, new features, etc., and happen over time. You need to be clear with your team where your focus will be on the type of idea.

I like to use tools that help trigger ideas. We use the Killer Questions Card Deck that focuses on questions based on the who (customer), the what (innovating product), and the how (organizational transitions that need to be made). Think about the questions you want to ask in ideation activities. You need to prepare for this and come to it from multiple different angles. There is feature versus function ideation. An example of a feature is to design a better cup. An example of a function is to design a better way to carry liquids. It would be best if you focus on coming up with complete ideas.

Ideation Workshop Process

Let’s walk through the exact process I take people through during our ideation workshops. Firstly, we start with individual ideation. We use sticky notes and put one idea on each sticky note. We spend about twenty minutes working on this, and you want to get 20 good ideas. Next, we use a process called SCAMPER (Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to another use, Eliminate, Reverse). Search SCAMPER under Google for more info or check it out on

At this point, it is still an individual activity. Done for about ten minutes, you will want to come up with five more ideas here. Now, you take your twenty-five ideas and briefly explain them to everyone else in your group or team. If there are two similar ideas, clump them together. If someone’s idea triggers a new idea, add it to the group of ideas. Now we move on to team ideation. One at a time, someone chooses another’s idea that they think is important and exciting. Then, they build upon that person’s idea and help improve it. The process should be done quickly and without any form of criticism. 


At this point, you should have a collection of good ideas grouped by similarity. When you combine a tool like SCAMPER (individual ideation) with team ideation, you will generate around 30% more ideas out of your ideation- as compared to doing team ideation and individual ideation separately.

If you are interested in learning more about ideation or want information from previous shows, check out all the free downloadable material I put together here

If you want to host a disruptive ideation workshop for your organization, check out the website here


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

This week’s guest offers some excellent knowledge about productivity and having your priorities in place. Steve Glaveski, CEO and Co-Founder of Collective Campus, joins us to discuss prioritizing high-value work. We talk about his view of the 6-hour workday, and how it helps to better innovation.

Steve’s Background

Steve went through the motions of getting his degree and climbing the corporate ladder, chasing what society associates with success. He worked for companies such as KPMG and Ernst and Young and found himself miserably comfortable while in his late twenties. Despite reaching these levels of success, but Steve felt it wasn’t doing what he was called to do. He decided to give it all away and pursue entrepreneurship, which led him to co-found Collective Campus, launch other ventures, and write multiple books. The inspiration behind the work he does is helping organizations and people unlock their potential to create an impact in the world and lead more fulfilling lives. 

One of his ventures is a company called Lemonade Stand that donates a license to children from socioeconomically disadvantaged areas for every license they sell to the developed world. It works as a software service platform that walks kids aged 10-15 through the entrepreneurial life cycle. When it comes to licenses, they work with schools, governments, and individuals. 

More Done in Less Time

Steve has a lot on his plate with all the ventures he runs. People often say you can’t do more than one thing if you want to do it well. According to Steve, it is based on how you go about doing things. If you are intentional about getting rid of unnecessary tasks and focus on the high-value work, you will get a lot done and innovate better. Steve reflects monthly and quarterly on how he spends his time whether it’s his daily tasks or products he’s working on. A couple of years ago, Steve and his team ran a 6-hour workday experiment to get more done in less time. The shorter timeframe forced them to do away with meetings/outsource and focus on the high-value work. After the experiment, they discovered that productivity was the same if not higher and people had more time to do things outside of the office. 


Time Rich: Do Your Best Work, Live Your Best Life

Steve’s book is about changing the 8-hour workday. This workday traces back to the last eighty years or so and has acted as a baseline. As the recent times, the nature of work has changed. Work has shifted to more of a cognitive work over a purely physical work. A recent study on scientists found that the ones who worked 20 hours a week were twice as productive as their peers who worked 35 hours a week. Even less productive were the scientists who worked 60 hours a week. You might think more hours equals more output, but in reality, you aren’t able to recover and recharge to innovate better. There are many distractions these days such as social media, which tends to distract us and hinder our productivity. At CableLabs, we have an unlimited vacation policy for our staff. With this option, people can manage their own time and schedules so they don’t get burned out and lose focus. 


Advice for the Listeners

Money can always be earned back after it gets spent, but time cannot. When you say yes to something, you are saying no to a whole lot of other things. We need to be frugal with how we spend our time. A lot of people say yes to everything which causes them problems. The key to saying no is based on what you truly value and what your goals are. Stay aligned with your values and goals in order to be successful and innovate better.


About our Guest: Steve Glaveski 

Steve Glaveski is an entrepreneur, author, and podcast host whose mission is to unlock the latent potential of people so that they can create more impact for humanity and lead more fulfilling lives. He is the CEO of Collective Campus, an innovation accelerator based in Melbourne and Singapore. He also founded Lemonade Stand, a children’s entrepreneurship program, and edtech platform, and during COVID-19 lockdowns, established NOFilter Media. Steve is the author of multiple books and hosts the award-winning podcast the Future Squared. 


If you want to keep updated with what Steve and Collective Campus is doing, check out his website here. Check out his book here

Direct download: 6-Hour_Workday__Better_Innovation.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 12:00am PST

This week's guest applies AI innovation to an industry where you usually wouldn't think it can be possible. Micah Hollingworth, the CEO & Co-founder of, joins us for a discussion. On the show, we will discuss AI in the theater industry and what Micah and are doing to change the game. 


Micah's Background

Micah grew up in rural Massachusetts and had a passion for theater at a young age. He ended up attending UMass Amherst, which was the total opposite experience that he grew up in. His time here set him up on a path to entrepreneurship and the technology field. The program wasn't focused on performance but took a more generalist approach, which was similar to starting a startup. You have your initial idea, you raise capital, and you work to find your audience. Working together as a team is very important because even if one show isn't successful, you never know if the next one will be. Everyone always thinks there is a secret formula to success, but in reality, there isn't. You never know what your audience will think about your product until you put it out there. Look at the famous show Hamilton for example. If someone pitched it to investors in an elevator, they would probably have no interest in it. That's just how the industry works. Being comfortable in uncertainty is key. 


Innovating in the Theater Industry

Differentiating the experience is key to drawing in crowds. When the theater industry looks to innovate, they are often stuck with a lot of constraints. They have limited space and often have old, worn-down buildings. They focus on creating a special experience that is deep and powerful so that the fan is willing to accept things like waiting in lines to get tickets. There is a lot of competition for live events. People only have so many hours in the day and a limited attention span. You have to be where your fans are. It's not as simple as just putting up a website. 


Shows are typically not selling their shows directly. They often rent a property like a stadium and use a ticketing system that they don't have full control over. helps partners find what they are looking for in tickets and at a specific price-point in a personalized way. In most cases, the partner is the event producer of a show. They aren't a ticket reseller or broker, they are just facilitating the sale and generating data for the event producer to see what most people are looking for.

Micah never thought he would end up in the tech field given his background. His last employment opportunity was with Jujamcyn Theaters as the VP of Company Operations. During this time, he met a company called Satisfi Labs that pitched them an idea for an AI product in large arenas. This product would use location services to help people find things near them or ask questions if needed. They didn't have much of a use of this product, as Broadway theaters are generally very small. His current partner Jon Scott asked what would happen if they used this approach for selling tickets. Micah jumped on the idea and got to work. He brought it up to his owner and was encouraged to take the steps to do it. Micah and his team branched off and raised funds to launch their own company and invested some of the funds into Satisfi and their partnership. 


Advice for the Listeners

Micah says that any good idea will take time. You have to be patient. You're never done with the process in the tech world. You need a long-term focus to get to where you want to be. As innovators, we can often see the end result. However, the path to get there is never straight. You need to work with people that are smarter than you and often challenge you to keep up. 


If you want to keep up with what Micah is doing, check out his LinkedIn and Twitter. Check out his website here


About our Guest: Micah Hollingworth 

As CEO and Co-Founder of and two decades of experience in creating, operating, and marketing live events, Micah is an innovator in the entertainment space. With, Micah has recreated the audience experience, moving the customer conversation to the web from the box office window.


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