Monday, March 16, 2009

Ready, Set, done

In the first chapter Carroll write, “The rate of change today – whether with business models, product lifecycles, skills and knowledge, marketing methodologies or customer support concepts – is speeding up. We live in a world where being faster is better than being fast.

That is why innovation is the most important word that you need to be thinking about. Innovation is all about adapting to the future – and if the future is coming at you faster, then you need to innovate faster. Innovation shouldn’t be about trying to survive the future – it should be about thriving.”

The book is organized into 37 short chapters in six sections – Introduction, Velocity, Agility, Innovation, Activity, and Closing. Each chapter is easy to read in a short sitting, an advantage. But, I found that I lost the continuity easily.

If the future is coming at us faster, how do you keep up? It’s really very simple. You listen in. “The globe has become one massive idea generation machine, with new ideas being created instantly everywhere, on a continuous non-stop basis.”

“You do that by developing a culture that supports a highly tuned radar, radar that listens to the global infinite idea loop … the future is being developed all around you, and your success comes from your ability to plug into it! How can you do this? By participating!”

“Devote 15 – 20 minutes per day to catch up on the new ideas which are emerging.”

“That simple activity – learning to tune in – will provide you with insight and ideas, which are themselves the fuel for innovative thinking.”

(Please read A Market Intelligence System for specific ideas on how to this and to create a market intelligence system for a team.)

In Chapter 7, Carroll asks the question, “Is your brand from the olden days?” He uses the recent history of Sony as a cautionary tale. Sony has gone from being perceived as a leader in innovation to one that is slow to act. He analyses the history and decides that they fell behind because:

• “They failed to keep up with the rapid growth and demand for flat panel TV’s and other hot new technologies – they failed with market agility
• They decided that going to war with customers in order to prevent music piracy (by slipping destructive software onto the CD’s) was more important than developing great technology that caught the next wave of consumer electronics, particularly MP3 players
• They dropped the ball on the necessity for continuous operational excellence, as evidenced by a disastrous recall of laptop batteries”

To assess your own brand, he suggests the following self evaluation:

• You are out of tune with your customers
• Customers see a lack of innovation
• Lousy, ineffective customer service
• You don’t know that your customers know more about your brand than you do
• A lack of purpose or urgency
• A lack of market and competitive intelligence

Some quotable quotes:

“Innovation is critical, yet you must approach creativity and innovation with an understanding that your every move will be analyzed and instantly subjected to a global up or down vote.”

“Success is not defined by how long a product will last in the market place, but by how quickly you can get a new product out there before it’s out of date.”

“From an innovation perspective, you’ve got to constantly assess whether you’ve got the depth and scope of skills that you might require as the world goes high velocity.”

“Just in time knowledge: a form of continuous learning that is instant, fast and urgent. The right knowledge at the right time for the right purpose for the right strategy.”

“Innovation is about everything an organization does and how it does it.”

“There is no more debate about the need to break down silos; they are gone. What remains is a desire to learn from each other, and build on common insight.”

Carroll identifies nine key elements of a successful innovative culture:

• Growth orientation
• The ability to cost-manage and grow at the same time
• A translatable vision
• Time to market is critical
• Internal collaboration
• Transition at top from managers to leaders
• At every level, there is a tactical to strategic conversion
• A partnership orientation
• Global skills access is a key success factor

This book is full of insights and check lists to help you assess and plan a change to a more innovative organization.

Ready, Set, Done: How to Innovate When faster is the New Fast
Jim Carroll
Oblio Press (2007) 182 pages

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