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Thinking About Innovation

A talk I gave to a VCU class on innovation in March.

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Thinking About Innovation

  1. hi
  2. hi, i’m noah
  3. Let’s start with three quotes.
  4. "What part of this don't you understand? If two blades is good, and three blades is be er, obviously ve blades would make us the best fucking razor that ever existed. Comprende? We didn't claw our way to the top of the razor game by clinging to the two-blade industry standard. We got here by taking chances. Well, ve blades is the biggest chance of all." - "Fuck Everything We’re Doing Five Blades” ( e Onion, 2004)
  5. "Gille e Fusion [the company’s new ve-blade razor] is 'the future of shaving,' James M. Kilts, Gille e's chairman and chief executive, told analysts and reporters who had gathered in a Manha an auditorium to hear the latest news. Not to be outdone in hyperbole, Peter K. Hoffman, president of Gille e's blades and razors unit, de ned fusion for the crowd - 'a nuclear reaction in which nuclei combine to create power' - and intimated that the Fusion system's 'breakthrough technology' lives up to the analogy." - “Gille e Is Be ing at Men Want an Even Closer Shave” (New York Times, 2005)
  6. "Inventors, scientists, engineers, and academics, in the normal pursuit of scientific knowledge, gave the world in recent times the laser, xerography, instant photography, and the transistor. In contrast, worshippers of the marketing concept have bestowed upon mankind such products as new- fangled potato chips, feminine hygiene deodorant, and the pet rock…." - "Managing Our Way to Economic Decline." (1980)
  7. What is innovation anyway?
  8. 1. Invention (Creation of a new idea or process) 2. Innovation (“Arranging the economic requirements for implementing an invention”) 3. Diffusion (Adoption and imitation) Library of Economics and Liberty: h p://
  9. 1. Invention (Creation of a new idea or process) 2. Innovation (“Arranging the economic requirements for implementing an invention”) 3. Diffusion (Adoption and imitation) Library of Economics and Liberty: h p://
  10. Innovation is essentially a business affair: e commercialization of a new idea or process.
  11. " e reason why Schumpeter stressed this difference [between invention and innovation] is that he saw innovation as a speci c social activity (function) carried out within the economic sphere and with a commercial purpose, while inventions in principle can be carried out everywhere and without any intent of commercialisation. us, for Schumpeter innovations are novel combinations of knowledge, resources etc. subject to a empts at commercialization (or carried out in practice)." - “A Guide to Schumpeter”, Jan Fagerberg
  12. Let’s talk about invention versus innovation.
  13. So for now let's de ne innovation as the adaptation of an existing invention, idea or process for the purpose of commercialization.
  14. (1) e introduction of a new good-that is one with which consumers are not yet familiar-or of a new quality of a good. (2) e introduction of a new method of production, that is one not yet tested by experience in the branch of manufacture concerned. (3) e opening of a new market, that is a market into which the particular branch of manufacture of the country in question has not previously entered, whether or not this market has existed before. (4) e conquest of a new source of supply of raw materials or half- manufactured goods, again irrespective of whether this source already exists or whether it has rst to be created. (5) e carrying out of the new organization of any industry, like the creation of a monopoly position (for example through trusti cation) or the breaking up of a monopoly position.
  15. Can something be innovative but not commercially successful?
  16. If commercial viability is the main measure of innovativeness than innovation is an effect, not a cause: A measure of success, not a part of the process.
  17. Innovation = Invention + Adaptation to the market + Diffusion
  18. Agency Report Card Diffusion
  19. Agency Report Card Diffusion A+
  20. Agency Report Card Diffusion A+ Adaptation
  21. Agency Report Card Diffusion A+ Adaptation C-
  22. Agency Report Card Diffusion A+ Adaptation C- Invention
  23. Agency Report Card Diffusion A+ Adaptation C- Invention D-
  24. Agency Report Card Diffusion A+ Adaptation C- Invention D-
  25. Bank of America “Keep the Change”
  26. Fiat eco:Drive
  27. Fiat eco:Drive
  28. Domino’s Tivo
  29. Domino’s Tivo
  30. Got some other good examples?
  31. "As long as they are not carried into practice, inventions are economically irrelevant. And to carry an improvement into effect is a task entirely different from the inventing of it, and a task, moreover, requiring entirely different kinds of aptitudes. Although entrepreneurs of course may be inventors just as they may be capitalists, they are inventors not by nature of their function by by coincidence and vice versa. Besides, the innovations which it is the function of entrepreneurs to carry out need not necessarily be any inventions at all. It is, therefore, not advisable, and it may be downright misleading, to stress the element of invention as much as many writers do." - Josef Shumpeter, e eory of Economic Development
  32. So agencies really want to work more on this stuff, how do they make it happen? And is it really something they should be doing and are good at?
  33. And now back step one: Invention.
  34. Got any good examples of agency invention?
  35. Magnetosphere
  36. Magnetosphere
  37. Skimmer
  38. Qapture
  39. Tap Project
  40. Tap Project
  41. Basecamp
  42. Lead user innovation
  43. " e greater the bene t a given user can obtain from a needed novel product or process, the greater his effort to obtain a solution will be. ... I therefore reason that users able to obtain the highest net bene t from the solution to a given new product (or process or service) need will be the ones who have devoted the most resources to understanding it."  - Eric Von Hippel, “Lead Users: A Source of Novel Product Concepts”
  44. "Sometimes lead users may have developed complete new products responsive to their need."
  45. Google News
  46. "Since around 2000, we let engineers spend 20% of their time working on whatever they want, and we trust that they'll build interesting things. A er September 11, one of our researchers, Krishna Bharat, would go to 10 or 15 news sites each day looking for information about the case. And he thought, Why don't I write a program to do this? So Krishna, who's an expert in arti cial intelligence, used a Web crawler to cluster articles. He later emailed it around the company. My office mate and I got it, and we were like, ' is isn't just a cool li le tool for Krishna. We could add more sources and build this into a great product.' at's how Google News came about. Krishna did not intend to build a product, but he accidentally gave us the idea for one. We let engineers spend 20% of their time working on whatever they want, and we trust that they'll build interesting things." - Marissa Mayer, “Marissa Mayer’s 9 Principles of Innovation”
  47. Behance Action Book
  48. What need do agencies have that they might be able to invent a solution to that they could bring to market?
  49. What about turning your process into a product?
  50. IDEO’s Human Centered Design Toolkit
  51. Interbrand’s Best Global Brands
  52. e best place to get started making things is to solve your own problems.
  53. "We teach kids to do all sorts of things, but we don’t teach them to think about things in the inventive way — and why don’t we? It’s something you should be alert for from earliest childhood. You should be conscious that when you do devise something, when you ll a gap, you have invented. I’d love to see kids thinking in that way, and growing up to be adults that think in that way… that solve their own problems, and acquire stuff for themselves that they want, whether or not it can be bought off the shelf. e process of doing it is absurdly easy… it’s ridiculously easy to get a machine shop to build you a gizmo. You sketch it, they’ll help you make it, you try it, and if it doesn’t work, you make another. You can’t imagine how much fun that is." - Garre Brown, inventor of Steadicam
  54. My First Tweet
  55. How Much Does it Buy?
  56. Parting thoughts (aka I wanted to nd somewhere to t this stuff in but I wasn’t sure where)
  57. Never stop noticing.
  58. e value of serendipity.
  59. Iterate, iterate, iterate.
  60. Find the inefficient market
  61. Making stuff ma ers.
  62. "And let it be noted that there is no more delicate ma er to take in hand, nor more dangerous to conduct, nor more doubtful in its success, than to set up as a leader in the introduction of changes. For he who innovates will have for his enemies all those who are well off under the existing order of things, and only lukewarm supporters in those who might be be er off under the new. is lukewarm temper arises partly from the fear of adversaries who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of mankind, who will never admit the merit of anything new, until they have seen it proved by the event. e result, however, is that whenever the enemies of change make an a ack, they do so with all the zeal of partisans, while the others defend themselves so feebly as to endanger both themselves and their cause." - Niccolò Machiavelli, e Prince
  63. the end
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A talk I gave to a VCU class on innovation in March.


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