As you read this I'll be on the beach at Bald Head Island off the North Carolina coast - an annual opportunity to be with our kids and their families. I'll be back in the office soon, but reachable until then for urgent matters.
I have to share with you a great article about innovation, which everyone considers the holy grail of growth (with which I agree) and which few know how to accomplish routinely, or ever. This article may just offer a successful recipe. I also want to reprise one of my incredibly insightful presentations on improving your due diligence initiatives. Finally, a fine recommended article to help improve your presentations.
|Innovate Within Your Comfort Zone
Innovation means brainstorming with your work mates, right? Well maybe not. Drew Boyd and Jacob Goldenberg, a couple of marketing profs, suggest otherwise in their WSJ piece entitled "Think Inside the Box."
The classical approach is to focus on a known problem (preferably one of your customers' common problems), then come up with possible solutions - basically anything and everything that comes into your collective heads. Someone writes down these ideas without critique. That's the first step of this model of innovation. How's that been workin' for ya? I didn't think so.
Boyd and Goldenberg have a different idea: Don't start with a known problem. Rather, start with solutions that are already familiar to you, then modify those actual solutions by addition, subtraction, multiplication, rearrangement and division. They cite numerous examples of their technique. Here are a few:
- Take the bank employee out of a cash transaction and you have an ATM.
- Redesign the backpack such that greater weight actually yields more stress relief.
- Multiply the number of blades in a razor to achieve a better shave.
- Redesign your medical sales training program around relevant diseases and conditions.
This seems to me a better technique because you're starting with a known solution and making small conceptual changes as you move into innovation territory. Worth a try, I think. Give it a go for your next brainstorming encounter.
Get Better at Due Diligence
This is old news, but I revisited my prior presentation on this topic a few weeks ago. It still applies and, in all modesty, I think it's pretty good guidance.
The presentation itself is designed with a tool called Prezi, which provides some visual dynamics that, for some purposes, would be an extra attention-grabber. When I developed the presentation several years ago, Prezi was brand new and I wondered about its future. Now it seems to be catching on in some circles. Have a look.
I've had a long-standing interest in how I can best communicate. I read a lot on the subject, including articles on the use of various presentation tools and techniques. The great majority of my own presentations are intended to report the findings of consulting engagements to small groups. I make very few sales pitches, and I never present live to large audiences, so most of my communications are in the "reporting" category.
But I think I may have discovered the best article there is on presentations: "How to Give a Killer Presentation" by Chris Anderson, the curator of the famous TED conferences. While my primary interest is in reporting to our clients, Anderson held my interest as he covers the territory from reporting to story-telling and everything in between. He also offers a minor plug for Prezi, which I mentioned earlier.
If you present - and really, who doesn't? - you should have a look at his article.