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".

We will pick up from the previous show's topic, "What is Innovation?" and talk about innovation types. There are three types that I use. These are institutional innovation, social innovation, and technological innovation.

Type of Innovation: Institutional

Institutional innovation is the type that is most commonly overlooked by organizations. Institutional innovation applies to organizations, teams, companies, industries, and governments. This type can have several applications to different industries and co-innovation opportunities within those industries.

Based on how an institution operates and covers things (like policies, procedures, structures etc.), institutional innovation tends to get overlooked because it encompasses day-to-day things that we usually take for granted.

Improving institutional innovation can have a significant impact on an organization. There are a few different ways to do it when it comes to funding institutional/organizational innovation. Firstly, you can do it through entrepreneurship, consisting of going out and finding investors or customers to provide funding. Another way is to be an intrapreneur, coming up with ideas and securing funding from your organization. These are the two funding models within institutional innovation that have the potential to make a significant impact.

Social Innovation

Driven by social priorities, social innovation has a positive social impact. Employment, quality of life, equality, or environmental efforts like providing clean water, are only some of the many goals. It is the innovator's passion that often drives these social innovations.

Funding can come from social impact investments. These investments don't seek a return on their investments. Instead, they seek to further a cause wherein they share a similar passion. Finding those who are passionate about the same thing is an effective way to fund this type of innovation.

Another way to fund is through angel investors who want a smaller return than usual due to their passion for the cause. Grants from government agencies, philanthropists, World Bank, etc., can also be a great way to fund social innovations. When working with social innovation, you have to be creative with fundraising efforts to achieve your financial goals.

Technological Innovation

The most commonly thought of the type of innovation is technological innovation. It comes in the form of new technology such as phones, tablets, software, etc. This type can also be in the form of scientific know-how, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing processes, etc.

In many cases, technological innovation comes from a unique combination of background or expertise that creates something new. The technology doesn't have to be invented from the ground up but requires the dots to be connected.

The funding opportunities for technological innovation are many. First, there are angel investors such as friends and family that invest in you. Next, there are venture capitalists that invest in companies as a profession. These two types of investors fall into the equity category, as you sell a percentage of your company to them to receive their investment.

Another option is corporate venture capitalists, which invest in areas of interest that could impact their corporate entities. There is also customer funding, where a customer interested in buying the product invests early on in it. I made many investments like this while I was at HP and got priority access to a lot of products. Lastly, there are grants such as Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants from the government.

3 Elements

When it comes to ideas, it can be hard to make them sound interesting to investors. There are three elements I teach to those wanting to pitch their ideas. Firstly, there is the "what," which should be a description of the idea. The next element is the "who," or who the innovation is for, and who the innovation impacts. There can be multiple "whos" when it comes to ideas. It could be a customer, a government, etc. The third area is "why," or why the investor should care about your idea. I get pitched hundreds of times a month with new ideas. The one area that most innovators do not think about is the "why." You need to think about all three of these elements to pitch ideas and gain funding.

 

Direct download: 3_Types_of_Innovation_-_Institutional_-_Social_-_Technological.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 12:00am PST

A term often abused through advertising, marketing, business meetings, innovation means to introduce something new. A more expansive definition of innovation is — the result of a multi-stage process whereby organizations, teams, and individuals take an idea and transform it to make an improved product, service, or process to compete in the marketplace.

Definition of Innovation

Ideas made real— that is my definition of innovation. Without execution, ideas are just hobbies, not innovation. A spark that turns into an actual product, service, or capability, innovation is about making life better.

Grouping innovation can be done in many different ways, starting with the uses/context of innovations. It can also be grouped by departments of organizations such as marketing, IT, sales, R&D, etc. Another way to categorize it is by looking at who is implementing the innovation. There are thousands of different ways to organize innovations.

I’ve spent forty years of my career in the innovation game, and there are always new academic papers trying to categorize it. We will boil it down to the uses of innovation and the impact of design to give you a simple mental picture.

The Uses of Innovation

The uses of innovation break down into a couple of different groups. Firstly, institutional innovation deals with organizations focused on changing their policies, processes, business models, regulations, etc.

The second area is technological innovation: the scientific know-how, expertise, chemistries, and anything that involves technology. The last area is social innovation, which focuses on improving how we respond to social needs in an organization, affecting employment, ecology, social purposes, and quality of life.

The Impacts of Innovation

The impacts of innovation fall into three categories. Firstly, incremental innovation is a series of improvements made to a company’s products or services. These are typically low-cost and low-risk innovations but can have a significant impact if done correctly.

Next, there are breakthrough innovations, which create new markets and value networks, and disrupt established markets. These get the attention of the marketplace and set a new player as the market leader.

Thirdly, there are disruptive or killer innovations, which are technologies or any form of innovation that significantly affects the way a market or industry functions, typically involving some element of technology, science, or materials that people build on top of. These are things that significantly alter what you or your competitors will be using going forward.

An example of a killer innovation would be the invention of silicon microprocessors. People have created software, browsers, and AI on top of these processors, but the processors themselves are the killer innovations. To qualify as a disruptive or a killer innovation, you have to create a barrier of entry.

Your competitive success is somewhat based on the fact that you have created a foundational position difficult for others to compete. When it comes to innovation impacts, you will most often see incremental innovation. Breakthroughs are much less frequent, riskier, and have a higher investment level but yield a higher reward. For most of us, it is more useful to build on top of these breakthrough innovations and take advantage of what they offer.

The Relation of Innovation Uses and Impact

I think about the relation of innovation uses and impact in a 3x3 format of what I call the “innovation matrix.” The innovation matrix breaks it down horizontally into social innovation, institutional innovation, and technological innovation. Going vertically on the left-hand side, I label it as an incremental, breakthrough, and disruptive/killer innovation. Now, to use this matrix, take your pipeline of innovations and place them in the grid, you think they fit in. This may challenge you to think differently when it comes to making innovation investments.

Another way to use the matrix is by taking a new idea, placing it into the matrix, and narrowing down the impacts and uses it has. I have also used this innovation matrix to break down investment spend on each of the areas. The innovation matrix helps put the uses and impacts of innovation into context. I use the innovation matrix for my organization and coaching or mentoring CEOs and CTOs.

 

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

Consumer Electronics Show 2021 (CES) will be held virtually due to COVID-19. Despite this change, the show will be available virtually and in seventeen different languages. On top of that, if you are registered, you get thirty days to view all of the content available. Karen Chupka, the Executive Vice President of CES will be joining us to discuss what to look forward to at CES 2021. 

Physical to Virtual

Transitioning from a physical show that’s been in Las Vegas since 1978 to a virtual show has been interesting, to say the least. The decision to go digital was made in July 2020 after the pandemic started to pick up. Over a year, there has been a ton of innovation going on, so CES 2021 had to go on. Everybody who is in the online collaboration space has seen such an explosion in usage due to COVID. These collaboration tools are now being used for things like doctor’s appointments, family visits, schooling, etc. A year ago, nobody would have thought this would be a reality. Consumers were able to adopt all of these virtual technologies a lot faster than they would have without the pandemic. 

CES 2021 Trends

The traditional technologies that are always at CES will still be there this year. As far as new trends, there have been a lot of digital health advancements in the area of wearable technologies that help people better monitor themselves. On top of that, there is a lot of new diagnostics equipment that will help doctors have more effective tele-visits. Advancements in driverless technologies and AI technologies have been popping up as well as desktops, laptops, television, and gaming technologies. In my organization Cable Labs, we went to working from home in March and recently announced that all of our staff will be doing so until May. With innovation being done virtually, the productivity and R&D has increased. That being said, there is a loss in the area of collaboration, and it is harder to fix certain problems virtually. Even with the increase in technology, there is a decrease in group creativity. Karen believes the trend of improving the work from home environment will continue, but we need to get back to working in-person to achieve the best results.

Features of the Virtual Show

With the show being held virtually this year, a lot of people that normally couldn’t make it now can. Over the years, CES has wanted to hold the show digitally and physically, so now they will be better prepared for that. As a new virtual feature, CES 2021 offers the ability to opt in to an attendee directory so people can communicate back and forth with others at the show. CES is partnering with Microsoft to power the show this year and create the best possible experience. They created product showcases for exhibitors to show off their products in various capacities. About 1,800 companies are attending the show and about 100 different conference sessions will be going on during the show and covering many different topics. This year, there will be a live anchor desk for two days broadcasting product announcements, hot topics, and interviews with different executives. On top of that, the digital platform will be available for thirty days to those who are registered, offering opportunities to see more content from the show. Closed captioning will also be available in seventeen different languages. 

About Our Guest: Karen Chupka

Karen Chupka is executive vice president, CES for the Consumer Technology Association (CTA). She oversees the sales, marketing, conferences, operations and management of CTA’s events including its annual tradeshow, CES. Under Chupka’s leadership, CES has been named as the largest annual North American tradeshow by Tradeshow Executive Magazine and Tradeshow Week since 2001. Chupka has been with CTA for 30 years and has held numerous roles within the organization including vice president of business development, director of industry relations and education, and director of marketing for CES.

Direct download: CES_2021_-_A_Virtual_Innovation.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Building a library of inspiration in your innovation studio is what ensures you have a ready source of ideas. This can come in the form of a collection of innovation books. I am a visual learner, so reading books is where I often find my inspiration. I am going to walk you through some important books I have and explain why I value them. The first book is “Frank Lloyd Wright: A Visual Encyclopedia”. I grew up in Chicago where Frank Lloyd Wright started and was very popular. Personally, this book reminds me to create my own style. This is where Frank Lloyd Wright separated himself from others. He created his own style and put a different spin on the design of his buildings. The next book is called “A Pattern Language” by Christopher Alexander, a professor at UC Berkeley. This book breaks down patterns that are found through building houses, cities, and various types of other buildings. This book was used by the developers of the original Sims games. While you can’t take what is in this book and apply it directly to a product or service, the book does teach an important idea. You can generate a certain feeling or experience through the patterns and designs that you use.

 

The third innovation book is “Designing Interactions” by Bill Moggridge which focuses on designing experiences. The book offers important insights into the origins of Google and others. The next book is “The Universal Principles of Design” by William Lidwell. This book touches on what to do with design, where problems can occur, and how to avoid them. The fifth book is “Thinker Toys: A Handbook of Creative-Thinking Techniques” by Michael Michalko. In my opinion, this is a book that every innovator should have. The book brings together all of the tools, approaches, ways to brainstorm, uses of SCAMPER, etc., that are very useful for innovators. Pretty much anything that Michael puts out, I buy. Another book is “Six Thinking Hats” by Dr. Edward de Bono”. I got introduced to the innovation/creativity space by watching a TV show he put out on PBS back when I was a kid. Over six or seven shows, Dr. de Bono taught about unleashing your creativity, which sparked something inside of me. The book is a great reminder to change your perspective and keep a fresh mind and is a great piece to have in your library of inspiration.

Fun Books I Keep

Now I’m going to share with you some fun books I keep that make me laugh. The first one is “The World’s Worst Inventions: The Craziest Gadgets and Machines Ever Made” by Jack Watkins. This book discusses some inventions that have been deemed stupid by many. Ironically, some of these inventions have gone on to be successful after this book was published. The next book is “Fail Harder: Ridiculous Illustrations of Epic Fails” by Failblog.org Community. This book humorously discusses human failings and reminds us of our human nature. 

 

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