In this article, Robyn Bolton guides the pursuit of innovation through various storms.
Everyone knows about brainstorms but did you know there are three other types of storms that can blow you to your innovation destination?
First introduced in The Innovator’s DNA, these storms happen at the start of an innovation effort and seek to surface all the assumptions, expectations, concerns, and actual questions currently locked in individuals’ brains.
The value of this session is that it makes the implicit explicit, removes hidden agendas, eliminates guessing games, and establishes a culture of curiosity, exploration, and learning versus demands and fear.
You run Questionstorms just like brainstorms – give everyone 3-5 minutes to silently write a long list of thoughts. Then, give everyone another 3-5 minutes to turn each thought into a question and write the question on a sticky note. For example, “We need to realize $250M revenue in Year 3 to make this work” becomes “How might we design and run an innovation function that generates $250M in Year 3?” Then, each person reads their sticky notes to the group before placing them on a wall. The goal is to ask 50 questions before you start grouping and prioritizing.
I first learned about this storm from IDEO and am genuinely surprised by how effectively they re-energize teams and propel the work forward. These storms happen after the first phase of a project, usually the research phase.
An Intuition-storm’s value comes from its ability to pull the team out of the minutiae of the previous weeks and months of work and back up to seeing the big picture. In the process, they rapidly synthesize insights that may have gotten lost in the more traditional left-brained approach of gathering and summarizing details.
Again, just like brainstorms, start by posing the big question that the project intends to answer, then give people 3-5 minutes to write down their answers. Too much time and they may dig into documents and details, too little time and you’ll get recency bias in the responses. Then go around the room and share. Once everyone has shared, discuss the elements in common and the unique ones. Be clear that this isn’t about getting to THE answer, but about tapping into the full of everyone’s experience, expertise, and wisdom.
By now, we all know what it means to brainstorm, and we’ve all probably been part of one or two brainstorming sessions. But do you know where it all started?
In the mid-nineteenth century, “brainstorm” was a colloquial term for “fit of acute delirious mania; sudden dethronement of reason and will under the stress of strong emotion, usually accompanied by manifestations of violence.” Not exactly the type of thing most businesspeople aim for.
However, in 1939, advertising executive Alex F. Osborn got so frustrated with his employees’ ability to generate creative ideas for ad campaigns that he developed a new approach dubbed “organized ideation.” This approach, later renamed to “brainstorm” by his employees, was governed by four rules:
- Go for quantity
- Withhold criticism
- Welcome wild ideas
- Combine and improve ideas
While the methods and tools for brainstorming have evolved over the past 80+ years, it’s a testament to Osborn’s approach that the rules have not.
Read the full article, 4 Storms that Accelerate Innovation, on MileZero.io.
Kaihan Krippendorff provides an article that offers a new twist on innovation development.
To keep up with today’s rapid pace of disruption, every company feels the pressure to innovate. Most of them, when trying to shift to an innovative culture, feel like they have to pursue brand new ideas. But when I was recently invited to judge an innovation competition for Macmillan Learning, I saw that there is another way.
An innovation competition without any new ideas? This was the case for Macmillan’s Innovation Tournament. The goal was to celebrate the existing innovations from over the past 12 months.
As it turns out, there was already plenty of innovation going on inside the company: 217 employees submitted 46 projects—overall representing 25% of the workforce. Sometimes innovation isn’t about coming up with completely novel ideas, but instead making room to celebrate what is already there.
What they did and why
I spoke to Kate Geraghty, VP of Communications and Training, to find out more about how the company designed and spread the word about the untraditional hackathon.
She told me, “Our Innovation Tournament required teams of two or more employees to send in a project highlighting an innovation that happened in the last 12 months or one that was currently in flight. The goal was to celebrate the work and the results, even if failure was a part of those results.”
Employees were invited to submit ideas in the following categories: What We Create; What, How, & Where We Deliver; Our Customers, Our Markets; and Our People & Culture. Macmillan brought in speakers like Dr. Linda Hill, co-author of Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation, to motivate and inspire teams. Tournament leaders sent promotional emails and opened Slack channels for participants, judges, and finalists. Weekly office hours were set up for employees to refine their submissions.
Key points include:
- Driving innovation from within
- Celebration amplifies innovation
- Launching an innovation tournament
Read the full article, An Innovation Tournament Without New Ideas? Macmillan Offers a Fresh Twist, on Kaihan.net.
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Ana Maricevic with Partners for Life. Ana is a research immunologist by training and still fascinated by all things medical. She started out at McKinsey and moved on to be an independent consultant, investor and board director in Life Science companies. She has expertise in innovation, new business development and oncology among others. Having recently arrived in Boston she is looking forward to potential collaboration.
Robyn Bolton shares a post on where innovation happens and why.
“Innovation happens in the gaps.”
It’s a statement so simple yet so profound that as soon as my client said it, I wrote it down.*
It’s not sexy to innovate in the gaps.
Most people and companies believe that innovation must be something entirely new for the world. That innovation is all about filling a white space, thinking blue sky, or swimming in a blue ocean. That innovation must be free of constraints, that it must be pure creation.
Most people will argue that CEOs rarely get on the front page of the Wall Street Journal because their company introduced something better than what exists today. Innovators rarely win design awards for an improved version of an existing solution. Scientists and engineers are rarely celebrated for receiving improvement patents.
Steve Jobs made the front page for the iPod, an MP3 player that offered better storage and user experience than the dozens of MP3 players that existed before it.
Charles and Ray Eames were named “The Most Influential Designer of the 20th Century” by the Industrial Designers Society of America, and they’re best known for designing chairs.
Thomas Edison is hailed as the inventor of the electric lightbulb when, in truth, he significantly improved a decades-old product that was too expensive, too unreliable, and too short-lived to be commercially viable.
It’s necessary (and profitable) to innovate in the gaps.
Gaps exist because of real and perceived constraints. Innovation thrives in constraints because it is the constraints that drive creativity.
In the gap between what is and what is good enough lies a problem that needs a solution. That solution, something new that creates value, is innovation.
In the gap between what is and what is delightful lies an opportunity that wants a better solution. Innovation can deliver that solution.”
Key points include:
- Innovation through improvisation
- Identifying the constraints
- Customer engagement
Read the full article, Innovation Happens in the Gaps, on MileZero.io.
Robyn Bolton shares one simple rule that can help build a culture of innovation and a solid team.
I do. We do. You do.
My Mom taught pre-school. It wasn’t a job; it was her calling. Kids gravitated to her like she was the Pied Piper, and she greeted them with unequaled patience, acceptance, and love. Years later, her students would talk about how she changed their lives when they were only four years old. And she did it by following one simple rule.
I do. We do. You do.
Whatever she was teaching, whether it was sitting still at a table and eating a snack or writing the alphabet, she always did it first so the kids would know that it’s possible and not be afraid to try.
Then, they would do the activity together. Side-by-side, they would eat a snack or draw letters, the kids occasionally glancing to the side to mimic her and my Mom gently coaching and encouraging.
Finally, she would step back, never disappearing completely, always within sight, but no longer right there. By doing this, she created the space for them to be independent and to build confidence.
It is easy to say that she was teaching.
It is more accurate to say that she was leading.
It is precisely what executives need to do if they want to build a culture and capability of innovation within their teams and businesses.
It is not enough to encourage your team to take risks. YOU need to take risks. Ask a question in a meeting. Say, “I don’t know.” Challenge the status quo. Be the first to do something different or uncertain, so your people know that it’s possible and aren’t afraid to try.
Key points include:
- Fostering confidence
- Avoiding judgment
- Stepping back
Read the full article, Follow This 1 Simple Rule to Build a Culture and Capability of Innovation, on Milezero.io.
Robyn Bolton shares a well-balanced post that explains why 95% of new products fail and how to do the right things in the right ways at the right times to ensure success.
Most people know that 95% of new products fail within three years of launch. It’s often cited as evidence of big companies’ inability to be innovative, keep up with changing consumer demands, and respond to the nimbleness of start-ups.
Naturally, companies don’t want to fail in the market, so they try to get better at listening and responding to customers, more comfortable investing in unproven but potentially market-defining technology, and more willing to question and change their business models.
Yet, the market failure rate stays essentially the same.
“Ah-ha!” the experts proclaim, “if companies are doing everything right and 95% of innovation projects are still failing, that means that projects are launching that shouldn’t be. That means we must get better at killing projects before they launch!”
Suddenly, Fail Fast becomes the corporate mantra. More projects start because it’s ok to fail. More projects get killed, a mind-boggling 99.9%, according to one study. Fewer projects get launched.
Yet, the market failure rate stays essentially the same.
Why? Why does the market failure rate stick stubbornly at 95% if companies are doing all the right things, including killing 99.9% of ideas and projects before they even get to market?
Because it’s not enough to do the right things.
You must do the right things in the right ways at the right times.
Here are the three most important ones:
Key points include:
- Right Thing #1
- Right Thing #2
- Right Thing #3
Read the full article, 3 Things To Do in the Right Way at the Right Time for Innovation Success, MileZero.io.
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Rob Mann with MilestonCVC.
Having worked across the globe, Rob has over 20 years of consulting and industry experience focused on growth and innovation, product development and related operations. He previously worked at McKinsey as a Senior Expert in Product Development & Design. He led North Highland‘s Growth & Innovation Practice which became an ALM Top 10 practice under his leadership. While working at PwC (PRTM), SapientRazorfish and Kearney, his work entailed growth and innovation, digital enablement, and strategic sourcing. In addition to advisory services, approximately half of his consulting career entails interim management roles where he’s conceived, developed and launched new products and businesses for mature brands and start-up companies.
Along with his consulting work, Rob taught in the Marketing Department at the Wharton School for nearly 20 years, where he served as the Director of Consulting and Strategy in Wharton’s GCP. He was the Global Conference Chairman for the Product Development and Management Association where he led events and seminars. Known for immersive consulting experiences mixing fun and learning, Rob is a sought-out mentor enjoying long, deep developmental relationships with trusted clients, colleagues and students. Rob travels the globe with his family, enjoys baseball, teaches Bourbon design/development and is an avid hiker.
Peet van Biljon shares a white paper on the benefits of ethics-driven innovation.
Is your company innovative? No doubt, you would like to say yes. Everyone wants to be innovative, which is why the word “innovation” appears frequently in annual reports and press releases. However, there can be a large gap between saying we are good at innovation and being truly good at it. How to close this gap is the topic of a multitude of publications on innovation management, and keeps many innovation consultants busy.
Is your company a force for good in society? Again, yes is probably your answer. Claims about how a company’s business activities benefit society are quite common, as evidenced by the promotion of corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives in glossy publications, press releases, and well-produced videos. But again there can be a gap between words and reality, as seen in corporate scandals and day-to-day business actions that contradict claims of caring for stakeholders and communities.
Now let us combine these two questions and ask a third one: Do your company’s innovations contribute to the greater good of humanity? This is an important question that needs to be asked more often, because innovation and ethics are deeply intertwined.
While it is possible to be “innovative” without serving a positive social purpose, and conversely possible to be “socially responsible” without being innovative, most companies strive to be both. So how can a company achieve these values? This paper introduces Ethics-driven Innovation®[i], an innovation process designed to meet this challenge. The good news – as we shall see – is that knowing why you want to innovate, and whom you want to serve in society, will make you better at both innovation and ethics.
Key points include:
- The inadequacy of traditional CSR
- Portfolio of initiatives
- Constraints-based creativity
Access the white paper, Good at Innovation or Innovating for Good, on EthicsDrivenInnovation.com.
With Mother’s Day comes memories of small moments that had a big impact. Robyn Bolton shares a wholly amusing, moving, and inspirational story on innovation found in unlikely places.
My Mom was a nursery-school teacher. It was more than her profession, it was her gift. Long after my sister and I were grown and out of the house, my mom chose to spend her days with 4-year olds, teaching them everything from the ABCs to how to use the WC.
Like all moms, she was an innovator. She was constantly creating something different that had impact. Admittedly, sometimes “different” was just weird and “impact” wasn’t always ideal, but it’s only just recently that I’ve realized how much my mom (probably accidentally) role-modeled the traits of a world-class innovator.
The genius of stealth prototyping
In an effort to save a bit of money, I spent the summer before business school living with my parents. One day, while folding the laundry (it took less than 20 minutes!), I found one of my Dad’s white athletic tube socks. But it wasn’t like the other white athletic tube socks. This one had three circles drawn on the bottom of it in what appeared to be black Sharpie.
“Mom, what’s up with this sock?”
“Oh, I needed a ghost puppet for school so I just used one of your dad’s socks.”
When my dad got home from work, I showed him the sock and asked if he had noticed the black circles on the foot. He had not.
Key points include:
- The infectious nature of optimism
- The life-changing power of empathy
Read the full article, Mom: Innovation’s OG, on MileZero.io.
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Berthold Hannes with Dr. Hannes Consulting. Berthold spent 15 years with A.T. Kearney in the Munich and Duesseldorf offices, leading A.T.Kearney’s Utility practice in Germany, Switzerland and Austria for many years. He was also a member of the European and global Utility practice leadership team. From 2006 until 2013 he was a Bain & Company partner in the Duesseldorf office, leading the Utility practice in GSA. In 2014 he started his own consulting business, based in Cologne.
Berthold works with medium-sized and large Utility companies, investors in the energy space and innovators. He has particular expertise in corporate and business unit strategy, business model development and innovation. For investors he is working on CDDs. He is invested in an Energy start-up in Zurich.
Berthold lives in Cologne, Germany, with his family. He has become an enthusiastic runner and finished his first half-marathon in 2019. Berthold is happy to work on projects in the German speaking region.
Indranil Ghosh takes the pulse of the future and delivers it through the podcast Powering Prosperity Weekly. This week, he interviews Louis Ferro, vertical farming entrepreneur, on vertical farming and the inevitable transformation of agriculture.
You know by now that I’m passionate about companies that are addressing the planet’s major issues, including the climate crisis, population growth and food and water scarcity.
My book, Powering Prosperity (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Powering-Prosperity-Citizens-Shaping-Century/dp/1642933082), outlines my thoughts on these matters – as do my vlog and newsletter (https://www.tigerhillcapital.com/powering-prosperity#thinking2).
One company I feature in my book is called Empire State Greenhouses, a semi-rural vertical farm in the Catskills in New York. It’s the largest completely closed-loop vertical farm system I’ve seen and, based on my experience in sustainable infrastructure investing, I believe it’s a model that could transform agriculture.
One company I feature in my book is called Empire State Greenhouses, a semi-rural vertical farm in the Catskills in New York. It’s the largest completely closed-loop vertical farm system I’ve seen and, based on my experience in sustainable infrastructure investing, I believe it’s a model that could transform agriculture. National Geographic estimates that the global population will pass 10bn by 2050, which current agricultural systems could not feed. Vertical farms are yet to solve this issue, but with ESG, we think we have a key solution:
Key points include:
- Water use
- Carbon emissions
- Volume of produce
Access the podcast and read the full article, Large Scale Vertical Farming comes of Age, on LinkedIn.
Robyn Bolton draws innovation inspiration from the Princess Bride to illustrate how the innovator embarks on a hero’s journey within a corporate setting.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post using quotes from “Moneyball” (the movie, not the book) to describe the experience of trying to innovate within a corporate setting.
It was great fun to write, I received tons of feedback, and had many fascinating conversations (plus a fact check on the year the Red Sox broke the Curse of the Bambino), so I started searching for other movies that inadvertently but accurately describe the journey of corporate innovators.
The Princess Bride
If you have not seen The Princess Bride, stop reading and immediately go watch it. Seriously, there is nothing more important for you to do right now than to crawl out from the cultural rock you’ve been under since 1987 and watch this movie.
If you’re reading this, you’ve clearly watched the movie and know that it is packed with life lessons and quotable quotes. It also captures the reality of innovation within the walls of large companies
“You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.” – Inigo Montoya
A company’s focus on Innovation usually begins the moment a senior executive, usually the CEO, declares it to be a key strategic priority and promises Wall Street analysts that significant investments will be made.
It then trickles down to business units and functions, with each subsequent layer told to “be more innovative” and “come up with more innovation.”
Then, one day, the responsibility for innovation lands in someone’s lap and stays there. To be honest, it’s usually an exciting day for the person because they’ve been asking questions, suggesting ideas, and pushing for innovation for a long time, and now the powers that be have permitted them to do something about it. They may even have been given a title and budget specific for innovation.”
But “innovation” was never defined.
The CEO may think it is an entirely new business, something flashy and new that rivals anything coming out of Silicon Valley.
Key points include:
- Defining the expectations of innovation
- Supporters and champions
- Courageous innovators
Read the full article, What “The Princess Bride” Teaches About the Corporate Innovation Experience, on milezero.io.
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Derek Robinson with Renegade. Derek is a hands-on Strategy advisor with a track record of developing high-impact new business ventures. Derek trained at Bain, Coca-Cola and Cox Media Group before launching Renegade – a boutique collective of ace consultants, built to drive explosive growth for their clients.
He lives in Atlanta with his husband, Eric, and can’t wait to travel again once the dust clears. Derek is always up for a collaboration, either in Atlanta or remotely, and is especially keen on the consumer goods + media sectors. Learn more about Derek (and his team) at www.renegade.llc.
Susan Meier asks us simply to think about love and how it works when we want to bring positive and productive energy into play.
“Think about love.
In the early days of running my own company, I was feeling nervous about a pitch meeting with a potential new client. My friend suggested matter-of-factly, “Just think about love.” I laughed at first, because love seemed like an odd thing to be thinking about while discussing digital media strategies in the pharmaceutical industry. But I decided to give it a try. I took a deep breath as I sat down to the meeting and called the word ‘love’ to mind. I felt my chest broaden and my shoulders release. It wasn’t romantic love, but rather the sensation of pure joy that comes when you hug your puppy, the feeling that anything is possible when the sun shines on your shoulders. I nailed the presentation and won the work.
It worked because love is what you bring to your very best work – the passion you feel for something you truly care about, the sense of integrity that comes with fulfilling your purpose, the patience and tenacity that get conjured up when you are determined to make good on a commitment.
Don’t think about robots.
While we may worry about machine learning and artificial intelligence taking jobs and dehumanizing work, we need not. It’s true that machines and algorithms have quick computing power and no pesky egos to contend with. However, the unique gifts of the human heart – empathy, vulnerability, emotional literacy – can’t be replicated.”
Key points include:
- Working without fear
- Aligning with passion
- Intrinsic motivation
Read the full article, How Love Works, on SusanMeierStudio.com.
Barry Horwitz explains why he believes industry experience is overrated and provides examples from Ford, Staples, and health organizations to back up the claim.
“In September of 2006, Boeing executive Alan Mullaly was named the new CEO of Ford Motor Company. Not only did he have zero experience in the auto industry, he drove a Lexus (shocking!).
The hiring decision was widely panned by industry experts and “regular people” alike. But Mullaly wasn’t fazed. When asked how he was going to tackle something as complex and unfamiliar as the auto industry, particularly given the financial shape Ford was in at the time, he replied, “An automobile has about 10,000 moving parts, right? An airplane has two million, and it has to stay up in the air.”
In the end, Mullaly was credited with having led a significant turnaround of Ford, which was also the only major auto manufacturer that didn’t require a government bailout during the great recession.
Industry Expertise is Overrated
When speaking with prospective clients, I am often asked whether I am an expert in their particular industry. While there are a few industries in which I have spent a number of years (e.g., retail, consumer products, health & human services, disease-based nonprofits), there are many more in which I have not.
In practice, however, lack of industry-specific experience is not usually a limitation. While it’s true that some understanding of the industry is critical, an outside resource can draw on the expertise that resides within the client organization, and from speaking with industry participants and analysts.
The truth is, if you are seeking creative and innovative ideas, they often come from looking at things from a different perspective — a perspective that is more likely in the possession of those with experiences across multiple and different industries.
There are many examples of this…”
Key points include:
- The benefit of a broad experience
- The intersection of industry innovation
- Hiring strategically
Read the full article, Respect the Unexpected, on HorwitzandCo.com.
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Guilherme Bcheche. Guilherme has already dedicated more than 12 years to supporting leaders and teams in complex strategic and organizational challenges. Having worked for several years at McKinsey & Company leading projects for large corporations around the world, Guilherme is focused on supporting leaders and their businesses in their transformation journeys. He is a professor at Fundação Dom Cabral Business School, where he teaches leadership and strategy. He is a psychoanalyst, executive coach, specialist in entrepreneurship and innovation from Stanford Graduate School of Business and has his masters degree in Consulting and Coaching for Change from Insead with distinction.
He lives in Sao Paulo and spend the weekends in the countryside close to the nature. Guilherme is happy to collaborate on organizational transformation and leadership development projects worldwide.
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Willem Koelewijn. Willem is an independent healthcare services entrepreneur. After several years in management consulting (McKinsey) and telecoms, marketing 3G equipment to operators in Europe, Willem set a several Ambulatory Surgery Centres in the Netherland under the Alant Medical brand name. These clinics were merged with Bergman Clinics to become the largest chain of private clinics in the Netherlands. He served on the board as COO. He subsequently became an independent healthcare entrepreneur working in various parts of the Dutch healthcare system: from pain clinics, to midwife led maternity care to developing assisted living facilities for seniors.
In this article, Robyn M. Bolton illuminates how our personal bias comes into play with the co-creator syndrome and how it can affect innovation.
When I was a senior in college, I took a pottery class.
One of our assignments, before learning to throw on the wheel, was to create a functional piece using slabs of clay. I designed an Alice in Wonderland-inspired vase and built something that somewhat resembled the design.
Obviously impressed by my innate talent, the instructor offered to teach me a special glazing technique that used highly toxic chemicals to create…well…I stopped listening as soon as I heard “toxic chemicals.” It was dangerous, so I was in.
The result was a rather misshapen (not Alice in Wonderland-inspired) vase that looked like it was made out of chunks of rusted metal.
I loved it!
My roommate hated it.
She declared it the ugliest thing she ever saw and forbid me from placing it anywhere in the apartment where she might have the misfortune of laying eyes on it.
To this day, she swears it’s the ugliest thing she’s ever seen.
I display it proudly on the bookshelf in my office.
It would be easy to explain our different reactions to my work of art as simply the result of different aesthetic preferences. And while there may be some truth in it, I suspect the better explanation is the IKEA Effect.
Key points include:
- The Ikea effect
- Meatballs and lingonberries
- Objective governance
Read the full article, The IKEA Effect is Creating Zombies. Here’s How to Fight Them, on the MileZero website.
Susan Hamilton unlocks the beautiful paradox hidden in the boundaries that constrain us, whether physical, intellectual, or emotional, and reveals a few obstacles that have stimulated creativity.
At the moment, many of us are encountering more constraints than we have ever experienced in our lifetimes. Options and freedoms of all kinds are limited. Your summer vacation plans? Canceled. Back to school in the fall? Not so sure. Even a simple trip to the grocery store has become a somewhat complicated maneuver.
But there may yet be reason to rejoice. We might just be entering the most energized and accelerated period of innovation in recent history.
It may seem counter-intuitive that constraints spark innovation. It flies in the face of the traditional approach to strategy. With the classic SWOT analysis, for example, you identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats an organization faces in order to exploit the strengths and opportunities and mitigate the weaknesses and threats.
But those weaknesses and threats may, paradoxically, be what activate your imagination and unearth opportunity. Constraints encourage idea generation by applying focus and urgency to the task at hand. Through the lens of constraints, you can think about how your limitations can be turned to your advantage.
Artists do this when they choose to work exclusively within a particular structure or medium. Theodore Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) famously wrote Green Eggs and Ham after Random House founder Bennett Cerf bet him that he couldn’t write a children’s book with just 50 different words. Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein when she found herself trapped indoors during an unusually cold and stormy summer near Lake Geneva with nothing else to do.
Key points include:
- The Great Depression
- Video conferencing apps
- Core incompetencies
Read the full article, The Beauty of Constraints, on SusanMeierStudio.com.
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Bart Sichel with bps Captura. Bart is President of bps Captura, which provides independent advisory and consulting to corporate senior leaders, private equity firms, and boards across multiple consumer facing industries. Bart has hands on experience driving growth, and provides expertise in Marketing, Digital Transformation, Ecommerce, Innovation, Format Renewal, and Customer Loyalty.
Bart was Chief Marketing Officer at Burlington Stores, leading Marketing, Ecommerce, and Corporate Strategy, and he was part of the dedicated executive management team that turned the business around under private equity ownership, took the company public, and increased shareholder value over ten-fold.
Prior to Burlington, Bart was a Principal at McKinsey & Company where he co-led McKinsey’s North American Retail Marketing Practice among other leadership roles. Before McKinsey, Bart was involved in several startups, and was a Vice President at Chemical Bank. Bart also teaches graduate classes on the topic of leadership at NYU, and serves on the National Board of Directors for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Bart holds a B.A. in Economics from Vassar College, and an M.B.A. in Marketing and Finance from Columbia University.
In this article, Dan Markovitz identifies the problem with striving to be on the leading edge and why focusing on achieving lean operations is a better strategy.
Don’t be seduced by the siren song of the leading edge. While it’s a nice concept, it’s not nicknamed “the bleeding edge” for nothing. All too often, companies that strive for first mover advantage bleed their products—or their entire organization—to death.
Peter Golder and Gerard Tellis’s seminal study of 500 brands in 50 product categories reveals that almost half of market pioneers fail. In fact, the greatest long-term success belongs to companies that enter a market and become leaders about 13 years after these first movers. MITS introduced the first personal computer in 1975. Bell Labs brought out the first color TV in 1929. 3M had the first copy machine in 1950. Good luck finding any of those products today.
In follow-up work, Tellis shows that even now there’s little evidence to support the idea of first mover advantage: MySpace and Friendster were ahead of Facebook, Books.com was online before Amazon, AltaVista (among others) beat Google in search, and Sony, Blackberry, and others hit the shelves before Apple in mobile music, smartphones, and tablets. That’s quite a collection of corporate carcasses.
Forget about the leading edge. Instead, focus on becoming faster and more nimble, so that you can get to the head of the market quickly, when the timing is right. That means eliminating the bureaucratic barnacles that encrust so many organizations. Here are a few areas that are probably creating lethal operational drag on the corporate ship.
Key points in this article include:
- The hoshin kanri solution
- Assessing the skills and traits
- Misaligned decision rights
Read the full article, Want To Be On The Leading Edge? Forget About It., on Markovitzconsulting.com
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Agnes Allotey with Stratosphere. Agnes is a Strategy, Innovation, Product and Organizational Development expert and a Management Consultant with 19 years of experience at firms including McKinsey and Company, Bloomberg L.P., Dow Jones & Company and Milvik (BIMA). She has exposure to multiple industries and functions including the development of Public-Private Sector Partnerships, Insurance, Mining, Banking, Sustainable Enterprises and Media. She is currently the Founder and Executive Director of Stratosphere, a management consulting firm focused on serving companies with interests in Africa. Some of her recent work include working on a transformation for a sovereign wealth fund and helping a large international foundation decide on which sectors to invest in. Agnes is also a Project Manager for CGAP, a think tank housed at the World Bank focusing on financial inclusion.
She also contributed to articles for the McKinsey Global Institute, carrying out key pieces of research into South Africa’s economy and McKinsey Women where she studied gender imbalances at work and the effect on company EBITDA. She has also published hundreds of articles on the Bloomberg Terminal for consumption by traders in real-time and edited copy for the Wall Street Journal as a National Copyreader for Dow Jones & Company.
Agnes is also a career coach and served on the Boards of the Kuenyehia Prize for Contemporary Art and Unryddle, a technology-enabled educational development agency for university students. She has an MBA from NYU Stern School of Business where she specialized in Finance and Strategy and a Bachelor of Arts from Bryn Mawr College in English Literature with a minor in Physics.
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Przemek Czerklewicz. Przemek worked as a specialist consultant focused on end-to-end support for M&As in the strategy practice at McKinsey. In 2017 he started his independent consultancy, advising on transactions, technology strategy and innovation.
Przemek has been responsible for over 30 due diligence and acquisition screening studies, both for financial and industrial buyers. Most of his Clients are healthcare institutions, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, as well as high tech and social sector organizations. He has also managed pro bono projects in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, helping rising startups, local producers and farmers.
In a recent interview on The Transformative Leader Podcast, Susan Meier discusses the importance of integrating creativity at work even, and especially, in jobs not traditionally considered creative.
I always had these two very strong, for a long time, parallel and separate tracks of things that I was interested in. I was always interested in the arts, both in making art and studying the history of art, and then I was also really captivated by the problem solving analytical thinking piece that drew me into consulting. And that was my first job as an undergrad at the Boston Consulting group. So I loved the nature of my work, but that job by itself didn’t activate that visual piece for me, so for many years I had these two parallel worlds where I would go to my art studio, I would paint, I would exhibit my work, inhabit a space with a completely different set of people from this other world where I was in management consulting and working with Fortune 500 companies, making spreadsheets, thinking about operations and logistics. And then I discovered branding.
Key points include:
- Merging the creative with the analytical
- Why activating both sides of the brain is key to unlocking creativity
- How integrating creative and artistic practices into standard business processes can prime the brain for innovative thinking and solutions
- How creativity and fulfillment are related, at home and at work.
Listen to the podcast, “Embracing Creativity in the Workplace” on the Ghannad Group website.
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Elias Boustani. Elias is a Strategy Consultant with 13 years of experience. He has led the design and implementation of Tech entrepreneurship programs for the World Bank, General Electric, the American University of Beirut (AUB), Expo 2020 Dubai, MCIT KSA, and Beirut Digital District among others.
Prior to that, Elias was a Senior Associate for Strategy& (previously booz&co) working in the Telecom practice on Corporate strategy, Marketing strategy, Demand analytics, Business Planning, Human Capital and SME strategies across clients in K.S.A., Indonesia and India.
Prior to Strategy&, Elias was a Consultant for Accenture France, where he worked as a system integration consultant for major French companies in different industries: Louis Vuitton Malletier and Shiseido in the luxury industry, Faurecia in the automotive industry and Paris City Hall in the public sector.
He is happy to collaborate on projects involving Strategy, Tech, Innovation and Entrepreneurship in France or the Middle East
Alex Sharpe takes a look at where we are, where we’re going, and why history can help us identify possible opportunities.
The CORONA Virus is rocking our worlds – no doubt. It is a scary time with lots of uncertainty. Fortunately, times like this cause a disruption which also means opportunity. For many of us that is not easy to hear as we watch businesses struggle and industries change. It is even harder as we hear about the loss of life and we watch the stress placed on the healthcare system. Business owners and entrepreneurs are starting to ask questions like
‘What opportunities will exist that did not exist before?’
‘What voids can I fill for customers in a post-pandemic world?’
‘How do I keep my staff engaged if this goes on for another 2 months?’
‘I just started a new business. Should I stick with it?’
Spoiler alert, history tells us situations like this, afford a great opportunity.
Do not miss out. Opportunity is knocking.
Included in this article:
- Isaac Newton
- Warren Buffet
- Apple, Microsoft, Disney
Read the full article, Disruption – What a Great Time to Pivot, on LinkedIn.
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Sean O’Toole with Forge. Sean O’Toole is a Partner at Forge > Outcomes, a growth innovation firm to F1000 companies. Sean specializes in deploying coaching leadership teams through change, building innovation capabilities, and launching new businesses.
A former McKinsey consultant, Sean has over 15 years P&L experience with American Express, Progressive Insurance, and Western Union. founded and sold a fintech company; and is an EIR
Sean is happy to collaborate and provide input on projects relating to innovation, growth, and strategic change.
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Surbhee Grover with Steel & Graffiti Strategy consulting. With 18 years experience in consulting and brand management, Surbhee Grover provides growth strategy, innovation, digital and marketing advice to leading companies across consumer oriented industries (incl. food & beverage, beauty/ cosmetics, education, hospitality, luxury and digital media). She gained considerable experience during her six year tenure with Booz & Company (2004-2010). Her work has included projects such as the development of an innovation strategy & processes for a global beverage firm; creating a digital strategy for a leading educational entity focused on its international markets; determining global sales capabilities and Go-To-Market strategies in emerging markets for a leading consumer electronics company; and developing a growth product roadmap for a leading European food player.
In addition to this, Ms. Grover honed her product management expertise with firms such as L’Oreal and Marico Industries (Asia) and Colgate Palmolive (N. America). Finally, in partnering with clients across Asia, North America and Europe (UK, Denmark, Netherlands, and Ireland), Surbhee has developed a nuanced understanding of the challenges and opportunities that confront global businesses. Apart from advising senior leaders at global corporations, Surbhee advises several early stage start-ups. She is also a freelance travel writer for the Forbes (Asia).
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Uma Sethi. Uma was a Founding member and Principal at BCG Digital Ventures, where she led multi-disciplinary teams to innovate and launch new startups, digital products or experiences.
Prior to that, she was at McKinsey for nearly 10 years. She served as the America’s Retail Practice Manager for 4 years and the remainder as a classic strategy consultant. Uma was also a Founding Member of globalgiving.com.
Uma currently lives in Redondo Beach, California with her husband and 2 young boys. Uma is looking to collaborate on innovation or strategy projects.
Kaihan Krippendorff takes a left turn off a straight road to discover the benefits of not planning as a fundamental benefit to innovation.
Twenty years ago, long before we had children, my wife and I decided to spend Valentine’s Day weekend in Tuscany. We were living just a two-hour flight away in London at the time, so leaving on a Friday and returning on a Monday would still mean two days and three nights of rolling hills, wineries, and amazing cuisine.
We booked our flights and rented a car, but our search for a hotel revealed nothing really inspiring within our budget. We narrowed our choices down to a property a little larger than a bed-and-breakfast on the outskirts of Lucca. But we still felt it was a “plan B,” our fallback plan.
We had dreamed of a hotel that would be truly memorable, not necessarily luxurious, but that would give us an authentic and memorable experience of the Italian countryside. So we set out, without confirmed accommodations, in the hopes of stumbling upon our ‘plan A.’
In this article, Kaihan explains:
- The limitations of data to predict outcomes
- The benefits of flipping your mindset
- Engineering luck
- Discovering Plan A
Read the full article, For 2020, Consider the Wisdom of not Planning, on Kaihan’s blog.
With New Year in the rear view mirror, are you driving forward with your resolutions?
Robyn Bolton provides five ways to improve your resolve.
According to research by Strava, the social network for athletes, most people will have given up on their New Year’s Resolutions by Sunday, January 19.
While that’s probably good news for all the dedicated workout enthusiasts who will be glad to get their gyms back, given that the most common New Year’s resolution is to exercise more, it’s a bit discouraging for the rest of us.
But just because you’re about to stop hitting the gym to drop weight and build muscle (or whatever your resolutions are), it doesn’t mean that you can’t focus on improving other muscles. May I suggest, your innovation muscles?
Innovation mindsets, skills and behaviors can be learned, but if you don’t continuously use them, like muscles, they can weaken and atrophy. That’s why it’s important to create opportunities to flex them.
In this post, Robyn shares what you can do to build and sustain innovation:
Read the full article, 5 Resolutions to Make 2020 the Year that Innovation Actually Happens, on Medium.
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Ricardo Fernandez to our community. Ricardo Fernandez spent 10 years in consulting in BCG, Accenture and KPMG focusing on strategic projects, due diligences, innovation, integrations and business plans.
The last 8 years he has been focusing on digital growth technology companies where he has experience in Growth, Sales, Marketing Operations and mostly in Financial Services. He recently left Prodigy Finance a Fintech marketplace that has originated $1B to lend to international students going to the top masters around the world.
Ricardo was CSMO and led up strategic partnerships for the company while sitting on the executive committee. Ricardo is based in Madrid and has 2 kids. He is an Engineer from UC Berkeley (with Honors) & MBA from INSEAD with a scholarship from Fundación Rafael del Pino.
Ricardo is happy to collaborate on projects focused on growth, sales and strategy in Europe