Tag Archives: Innovation

How A String Can Build Your Business

“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.” – Shel Silverstein

Does your company’s “suggestion box” collect dust and largely go ignored? Have the same problems plagued your company or team without resolution? Do you work for or lead an organization that struggles with innovation? Do you or your employees feel like you have great ideas for the business but they never get recognized or moved forward?

I believe that many companies and organizations are challenged with effective collaboration, problem-solving, and innovation. It’s no grand revelation. In fact, one or several of these common business obstacles may have you nodding your head in recognition. And, ironically, these are some of the very things that help businesses succeed and thrive.

One of my previous posts was about the importance of conversation to drive sales and marketing alignment. The reality is that conversation is important across the business, both internally and externally, but it can be difficult to effectively orchestrate in a way that is truly meaningful for your business. There are technology tools to instigate, facilitate, drive and track these conversations. However, many of the existing tools being utilized were either built as externally-facing tools to ultimately drive revenue or are bi-lateral in nature, which can be limiting.

Yesterday, the firm that I work with (TechCXO) launched a two-day “Be Heard” event that I believe will have dramatic impact on the business, the partners and our clients. This event is being held on a powerful, interactive technology platform called ideastring. (Disclaimer: I know the CEO of this company, but she does not know that I am blogging about her company today and the only upside I get from blogging about ideastring is to help other teams and organizations achieve their potential.)

Here’s the beauty of the ideastring platform: Ideas get shared and heard, built on, and prioritized. Problems get addressed – if not solved – by tapping the breadth of expertise and ideas across the team. Direction may be shifted or re-defined. Insight about partner expertise and passion is revealed. Collaboration happens. Pretty powerful, nest-ce pas?

I, for one, am enthusiastic about the potential of this tool to help facilitate meaningful dialogue and engagement. Perhaps your company or team could benefit, as well? Check it out: ideastring.com.

What A Violinist Can Teach Us About Business

Last night, we went to see David Garrett perform. If you don’t know who David is, you should check him out on YouTube. He is a master of the violin, and a pure delight to listen to and watch. Here are some of my favorite videos:

Mozart’s Turkish March https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJNvpvq7xxk

Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbHwYazHiLI

He’s a Pirate (from Pirates of the Caribbean) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGuBYvURSZw

On-stage, David did several things that relate to my philosophy of business. Trust me, I did not think about business during the concert – at all, in fact – but, in reflecting on what made the concert so enjoyable, the business takeaways were crystal clear:

Alignment has lots to do with overall performance: Throughout the concert – despite being on the road touring 300+ days out of the year with the same line-up – David went over to each musician and made eye contact. They were synchronizing and communicating with their gestures to make the performance the best it could be. This is how a business should operate: Keeping a finger on the pulse of each division and team to drive optimum alignment. Constant, interactive, “human” communication is at the crux of alignment success.

Content is king: David is a master violinist, an artist, a maestro. But he is also a master marketer, as evidenced by the diversity in the audience and his content. Where else can you hear artfully arranged and performed live music by ACDC, Chopin, Michael Jackson, Tchaikovsky, Coldplay, Mozart, Nirvana, Beethoven, Queen and Metallica? He showcased his breadth and depth while appealing to wide range of fans. He implements a thought-through, diverse and engaging content plan based on a common theme to engage and astonish his audience.

Everything old is new again: David performed several classics, but with an innovative twist through new arrangements and modern instrumentation. He had been thinking about how to arrange Hava Nagila for the past six years as a tribute to his manager, about how to create something new from a song that is solidly rooted in tradition. He *innovated* but did not re-invent the wheel. In fact, the majority of pieces performed in the concert were highly familiar, but presented in a fresh, innovative way, not the least of which was using a violin as the voice. When you think of innovation, do you consider current assets? You should, just like David Garrett.

(Of note, a review of the Forbes Reinventing America conference: “America’s Greatest Inventors Don’t Dream Up Novel Ideas — They Execute On Old Ones”
http://www.forbes.com/sites/danalexander/2014/03/28/americas-greatest-inventors-dont-dream-up-novel-ideas-they-execute-on-old-ones/?utm_campaign=forbestwittersf&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social)

I am a fan – not just of David Garrett, but of everything his amazing performance delivered. What other artists do a good job of alignment, content and innovation?

Chef Gusteau on Innovation

gusteauChef Gusteau

Chef and Author of “Anyone Can Cook”

In the Pixar and Disney film, Ratatouille,  the masterful chef, Rémy (who just happens to be an extraordinarily talented rat living in Paris) takes to heart Chef Gusteau’s famous motto, “Anyone can cook.” Taking some broad literary liberties that I hope Walt will graciously pardon, I propose: “Anyone can innovate.”

Everyone in your organization can be an innovator. It may be that not everyone *is* an innovator, but they *could* be. In fact, I’d contest that many people in your company are innovating each and every day, often without even knowing it. Like Ego, the insipid food critic in the movie, stated in his review of the rat’s gastronomic artistry, “Not everyone can become a great artist [innovator!]; but a great artist [innovator!] *can* come from *anywhere*.”

Every time they think about a problem and come up with a solution, they are taking the first steps toward innovation. Granted, solving problems does not equate to disruptive, ground-breaking, revenue-generating business ideas, but identifying and addressing issues – or seizing opportunities – happens daily in your business, at all levels and in all departments.

It sure happens in marketing and sales. Each and every day, your marketing and sales teams are breaking down barriers to drive adoption of your product or service. Sometimes their approach is methodical, often it requires creative thinking and communications. How is your organization capturing and acting on the insights garnered by sales and marketing? Because these insights can become the seeds of innovation for your business if you have the right process and perspective.

 

“Creativity is about thinking up new things.

Innovation is about doing new things.”

– Thomas Levitt

For example, if your marketing team does a survey to gauge pain points for your customers, with the right process and perspective, you may derive opportunities for product or business extensions to address their pains, and – voilà! – innovation potential. Like Terry Jones (founder and former CEO of Travelocity.com, Chairman of Kayak.com and CIO of Sabre, Inc.)  said at the Technology Association of Georgia Technology Summit today, innovation is about experimentation. “It’s like baseball: if you fail 70% of the time, you are actually quite good.”

So, innovation does not necessarily need to come from top-down, or from a dedicated innovation team – their role should be to nurture a culture of innovation, harvest the best ideas and create an environment and process to nurture them. Everyone can contribute to innovation! Keep your eyes and ears open for innovation opportunities through your business interactions with customers, prospects, influencers and competitors.  Marketing and sales are a great place to start.