Why do some disrupt, while others observe?

It is evident that change continuously and relentlessly disrupts our structured lives built on optimistic illusions of stability. So if we know this, denial of the obvious cannot be the only factor that holds us back from reconfiguring the way in which we live. There are many reasons why people are resistant to change and they differ from situation to situation and setting to setting as we will discover throughout the book, but there is one all-encompassing and pervasive reason why a symbiotic relationship between us and the phenomenon of change does not exist – a lack of knowledge as to what change really is.

Dealing with consumers, customer, clients, patients, subscribers, guests…

I had another call this morning from a call center doing “outbound sales”. For the uninformed: you either use a list of names you bought from an information distributor, or you mine your own customer base. When you buy a list it normally contains people that have left their e-mail addresses or mobile numbers with their fav motor dealer, retail outlet, competition forms, etc. You would normally not supply information like your annual income, full address details, details of your spouse, and all the other information deemed personal. So, there is an excuse for outbound sales call centers to get some things wrong for example, not knowing where you live or how much money you earn.

But, when your financial institution calls you via their up-sell and cross-sell campaigns, they should know some of the basics about you and hopefully a lot more than the “list sellers”. Now, this is where it gets to me. Selling me a credit product (a personal loan of some insignificant amount) because you looked at my life insurance policy bought some 15 years ago will not help your sales efforts. You have all the correct details for what is needed to sell an insurance product for example, my address and related information and my beneficiary’s name and details. To effectively use this to sell me a banking product is not going to work. To add insult to injury the call center agent then attempts to sell a “long story” before getting to the point. I guess “long” means if you have to spend 2 minutes telling me what I’m getting it’s too long, let alone 5 minutes of rambling off the features and benefits.

Engaging with people over various channels need to be crafted a lot more carefully than what is happening at the moment. Here are some points to ponder:
1. Consumers are faceless users of branded products, and typically are not interested in being sold product. They will however respond to concepts like competitions and free testers.
2. Customers are more involved with you and might participate in basic question/answer conversations. They get quite upset when you want to cross the boundary of selling something they don’t want or need right now.
3. Clients know you and your reputation. They have a problem and needs it solved. You can have meaningful conversations if they trust you.
4. Patients needs empathy. They might expose some deeply rooted issues that you are expected to respond to. Selling them something while in consultation will create animosity.
5. Subscribers use you mostly because you are cheapest and might have most reach. You sold them access to a service. Don’t now try and breach this engagement by trying to sell all the “value added” services that in most cases people search for when they need it.
6. Guests came to you because they heard about you, they searched for you and people they don’t know recommended you, or they were told to stay with you by their company or travel agent for example. People are typically educated as to what they need to buy and why. Trying to make a buck on internet access in your hotel for example will push them to another institution.

There is another take on this. You could crowdsource ideas from people, for those that are interested in conversing with you, that can help shape the types of products and services that should be for sale versus what is seen to be free.

From workshop to action: making innovation work!

At SystemicLogic we’ve developed approaches to get innovation implemented through Reframing. Different situations require different solutions. Innovation should not be trapped in a division, process or some part of the business where its seen as the “solve all our problems” concept. We promote the philosophy where innovation is seen as a cultural initiative that’s underpinned with strong empirical work and integrated systemic approaches (the ecosystem of innovation). There are differences between NPD (New Product Development), Improvement, Innovation, etc.

Consider this cycle:
Reframe -> Reconfigure -> Reframe -> Reconfigure

Sounds simple? Well, it is a lot more difficult than you think. In order to Reframe you will need some of these tools:
– View of the Landscape
– Understanding of Paradigms
– Competence Profiles
Dominant Idea
– Measures and Health Checks

In order to Reconfigure you will require:
Social Networks as Platform for Transformation
– Business Architecture
Innovation Portfolio
Product/Service Platform

These are some tools needed to facilitate the conversations as you progress from that first innovation workshop onto the cyclical actions needed to institutionalize innovation. Financial and other benefits need to be quantified and used to guide initiatives.

Can banks really re-invent banking?

Social banking models are set to create some disruption on the banking landscape. But, can traditional banks solve the “Innovators Dilemma” challenge that is so prominent in the world of changing business models? I have yet to find an alternative to Clayten Christensen’s model/s – it provides clear guidelines as to the landscape issues when trying to re-invent an industry.

Is the innovator’s dilemma also applied to the Service Dominant Enterprise. Largely, Christensen’s model is about tech dependencies and component level disruptions. Service based businesses have entirely different issues to deal with when trying to re-invent a service offering. Are banks trapped in a traditional model of dealing with money? Are they really able to cannibalize their money making machines? Who will cause the disruptions in an industry driving towards consolidation, globalization, local relevance, and strong global legislation riddled business models?

Community money systems – is it the future where we rethink the value of currency?

A model for understanding your innovation portfolio

Much has been written on the subject of innovation portfolios. I’ve found that there is a difference between models used in the service sector versus the industrial sector (stating it like an assertion). Innovation portfolios need to be managed over time to ensure optimal leverage of initiatives driven by innovation campaigns.
Innovation projects affect two major areas of the business namely; the offerings presented to the world and the capabilities needed to deliver. An offering is the combination of key elements that include; product and service, actors involved in acquisition and deployment, time of the presentment of the offering, and the location of where the offering is delivered. Capability includes; people and their abilities, talent and genius, processes and practices.

A key challenge is to determine the measures needed to polarize the “new” from “existing”. Existing capabilities, when enhanced, will result in a slight shift in execution capability. But, when capabilities are renewed an entirely new model might be required, that includes challenging the dominant paradigms in the existing organization. Offerings in well established industries shift at a slower rate than those in emerging industries. This shift might require a rethink of the capabilities needed to monetize new ideas.

…to continue…

Innotown: the best experience you’ll ever have!

I attended two Innotown Innovation conferences in Alesund, Norway. This year they moved the conference to Stavanger. It is by far the best innovation conference with great speakers, energetic intellectual spirit and a real innovative feel to the proceedings.

The best part of the conference is the networking. People from more than 20 countries interact and they are all there to listen and share their ideas. Diversity of cultural backgrounds and opinions about innovation makes this a must.

Heritage products and the link to innovation

Heritage products are everywhere and we can’t live without them. We become even more dependent when our taste buds or emotions are influenced. Take products for example chocolates, beer, soft drinks, deodorants, toothpaste, etc all have an element of stickiness and brand loyalty that span across generations. The challenge of launching a new product with a different taste is quite a risky affair, let alone messing with its branding.

In contrast look at electronic products. There is some degree of loyalty, but most people will defect if another great design comes along that is more feature rich or cool. Does this mean that there is no heritage component? I visited a number of interesting companies in the last two weeks (part of my project portfolio) all with different products, services, and all operating from different geographies. Well, I’m writing this from a train traveling from Zurich to Baar in Switzerland – arrived from London a few hours ago where I visited some clients.

Spending time with a global software company based in Durban, South Africa opened my eyes once again as to the level of expertise available in the region. Innovation is driven architecturally and strategically in cycles that need to coincide with trends and shifts in the ways your product will be used. Software businesses that execute their products on the Internet actually don’t sell products. They provide access to participants in the platforms they produce. Software businesses often see “heritage and legacy” in a negative light; or see it as a constrain in moving into a next era.

When you operate in a mature industry, innovation takes on a different shape than the fast paced digital, telecommunications, media, etc industries. Are there different models of innovation for fast paced versus slow paced industries (making the assumption you can use as one of the definitions of “pace” as rate of product introduction). What is relationship between heritage product and the maturity of the industry? Are the lessons learnt in high tech industries applicable to more traditional industries? Look at Jack Daniels for example, the entire company and product positioning story is about heritage. You buy the product because it has not changed in the last 100 years – would you accept this from Microsoft or Apple?.

The specificity of the implementation of the “model of innovation” is always under debate. Which generic models can be transported between industries? Look at the “innovation funnel concept”, a model that has been used since the 80’s. I would reason that service industries have very different needs when ideas need to be ranked and rated. The concept of the funnel needs to change quite considerably seeing that ideas develop differently when the dependency of heritage is strong?

“Keeping the ground solid while continuing to grow” is used by Toyota to show the ability in keeping heritage and traditional product brands alive (Corolla) while experimentation with new technologies and brands (Scion) push the company ahead. By using an innovation portfolio concept you can allocate project/initiative priorities based on the current context. This can be done in contrast to what needs to be done in the future to keep the business growing.

Case of KickApps: Reinventing the social media platform?

Social media is moving…
KickApps is a great application where you can design your own social platform and on-line community to share video’s, blogs, etc. It is a really great example of SaaS (software as a service). It will take you all of 30sec to create your own community on-line (this blog entry talks about: Using Social Media in the Real World with Results), check this example SystemicLogic Research page.

If you want to see a quick overview of how to configure KickApps, check this…

The social media platform is an emerging concept making great inroads. MySpace is looking at moving onto the Google OpenSocial platform. Does this mean that the platform will be dominated by one major vendor? Will Google with “open” approach really embrace all the other potentially competing platforms?

These sites implement Google OpenSocial: Engage.com, Friendster, hi5, Hyves, imeem, LinkedIn, MySpace, Ning, Oracle, orkut, Plaxo, Salesforce.com, Six Apart, Tianji, Viadeo, and XING. Looking at KickApps from the outside it seems that a business like this will be great acquisition option for any of the competing major players.

If you want to see a quick overview of Google OpenSocial, check this…It is much more technical and more complex for the non-technical person.

Something that concerns me – how big is the on-line advertising market really as social media companies all rely on this component of their business models? There are so many competing views as only a few really big players make money through this model as micro content companies all rely on the success of this approach.

Managing economies of scope (some lessons for small players):
1. Know the hype curve behind a business concept (separating the Participating Customer from the Economic Customer)
2. Identify the leaders and key players and define your context
3. Craft a clear competitive landscape where you are the leader
4. Focus on surprise by out-innovating the big players
5. Wait to be acquired OR become the next platform