ZenStorming

Where Science Meets Muse

Posts Tagged ‘business innovation’

There’s More to Hot Sauce than Meets the Tongue – How to Jumpstart Business Idea Generation

Posted by Plish on March 7, 2018

Hot sauces

They’re everywhere.  From mild to scorching, these heat packed condiments can perk up almost any dish – if perky is what you want.

How do we come up with new ways of growing a hot sauce business?

There are multiple ways to come up with new business ideas.  One of the processes I use for generating multiple ideas quickly is illustrated below.  It’s based on a simple process.

  1. List the traits/attributes of a specific product/service (I use VUE) Those are shown in purple in the concept map below. (Color coding helps tremendously in keeping track of ideas.  I could even do more color coding by group)
  2. Think of ways of enhancing or changing the attributes.  These are the ideas. These are shown in green.
  3. Let one idea lead to another – don’t censor yourself!

Hot Pepper Ideas-copy.pngThe PDF of the above document is here

 

This use of Attributes can be even further structured. While I just took traits as they popped into my mind, there are other tools that I use that are slightly more structured and they can be used to guide idea generation.

(In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m actually using these additional frameworks, it’s just second nature and I don’t think about it as much.)

It’s about POEMS

Not poetry, but POEMS. This acronym was developed by the folks over at the Illinois Institute of Technology-Institute of Design. The POEMS framework is not actually an idea generating tools per se.    It is a research framework. It provides a memorable way to code/categorize observations.  However, I use it  as a way to jump start ideation.

POEMS is an acronym for:

People

Objects

Environment

Messages/Media

Services

For each of the above, list everything you know about each one and then subtract, add or change the attribute.

People – Who uses this?  Using the Pepper Sauce example, people typically think of hot sauce as geared towards adults.  What about making a hot sauce for children?

Objects – What are the objects that people interact with?  Bottles, the sauce itself which is made up of vinegar, spices, sugar, peppers, etc.  Eliminate the bottles.  Eliminate an ingredient.

Environment – Where are the products or services used?  Where are hot sauces used? Kitchens, at the meal table, in a car.  Where can the use of hot sauces be extended?  Can where they’re made be changed?  

Messages/Media – What messages are typically conveyed?  What do labels and other media look like? For Hot Sauce, why do labels always using scary, intimidating images?  Can a container label be inviting and gentle?

Services – How are products delivered?  How are they sampled? How are they bundled?  What places have hot sauces?  There are health values to the capsaicin, what about selling that idea/product at boutique spas?  What about developing medicinally spike pepper sauces?  What could you add to give them more nutritional value?

If POEMS isn’t fruitful try AEIOU.

It’s similar to POEMS, but AEIOU gives a slightly different twist. Each framework can give you new ideas.

Activities – What do people want to accomplish, what needs to get done
Environments – The setting and context
Interactions – Are between people/people, people/objects, objects/objects
Objects – The things in the environment, things people use
Users – The people using the product, trying to accomplish something

So, there you have it.  What do you do to jump-start new ideas?

NOTE: If you actually want to try out a hot sauce idea, let me know 😉

Posted in brainstorming, Creative Thinking Techniques, creativity, Design, Disruptive Innovation, idea generation, innovation, Innovation Tools, product design, Service Design, Workplace Creativity, ZenStorming | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Dear RadioShack, It didn’t have to end this way…

Posted by Plish on February 5, 2015

It’s official.

RadioShack has filed for bankruptcy.

Call me naïve, but I really don’t think this had to happen.  I realize I’m ‘Monday Morning quarterbacking’ (Why DID Seattle throw that pass on the one yard line?!?!  I digress….) but RadioShack had made some bad choices.

RadioShack’s bankruptcy, which has been expected for months, follows 11 consecutive unprofitable quarters as the company has failed to transform itself into a destination for mobile phone buyers. Its sale agreement with Standard General could spare it the fate most retailers suffer in Chapter 11 – liquidation.

A destination for mobile phone buyers.  Seriously?  You can get a cell phone at WalMart for pete sakes!

RadioShack made multiple attempts at rebranding, as if a logo or name change was going to pull them out of obscurity. It wasn’t enough.

As someone who has literally gone to RadioShacks my whole life, the one thing that RadioShack fell away from was what made it famous in the first place.

RadioShack was trailblazing as a Maker store long before people even used the term “Maker.”   Yet, as the years passed, the only things that qualified as maker-esque were buried in the far corners of the store, literally collecting dust.  Most employees, it seemed, liked techie stuff, but weren’t that well versed in maker-esque components that were on their shelves.

I went over to Google Trends and looked at a few search terms to see how often people were Googling certain terms since 2010 (I didn’t put these all on one graph because there were scaling issues)

3dprinting

3D Printing

ardui

Arduino

diy

DIY

makerspace

Maker Space

raspberru

Raspberry Pi

 

Every trend is going up.

But, not this one: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in 3D Printing, Brands, culture of innovation, Design, innovation, Maker Movement | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Fostering Organically Grown Innovation – Insights From the Art of Bonsai

Posted by Plish on March 16, 2014

I just got done trimming some of my bonsai trees.  What always fascinates me is how branches seem to show up in the most unlikely places.   Yet, while the origin of a particular branch baffles me, to the branch growing out of the tree, it made sense.

Somehow, the protobranch saw an opportunity.

Somehow that tree responded to the amount of light being received, the overall stress levels, temperature, soil conditions, nourishment demands, and it sent out branches in the most unlikely, and sometime unwanted(!), places (at least for the artist). Not all these branches will become large, at least without some eventual outside help. But, these branches spring up and, while they take up resources, they also contribute to the overall health of the tree as they leaf, flower and sometimes, even bear fruit.

From a bonsai perspective, these branches are sometimes pruned away so they don’t take energy away from other parts of the tree that, at least in the bonsai artist’s mind, need more.  But, many times, these rogue branches are left – precisely because of the reason mentioned in the previous paragraph – they contribute to the well-being of the tree.  These fledgling branches, while pulling nourishment from the tree’s roots, also send nourishment back to the entire tree.  In the process they contribute to building up the vascular system of the tree and ‘fattening’ up the trunk and all the rest of the branches.   They help make the tree more robust and able to withstand lean times, or environmental stressors in the future.

Innovation efforts in many companies are like these branches.  They pop up, seemingly without rhyme or reason, and often avoid detection until someone finds out about them and then wants to eliminate them.

Don’t!

These budding innovation efforts are organic – it’s not an accident that they showed up inside a specific company at a specific time! They should be welcomed and examined, not elicit shock and disdain (“What are you working on this for!?”).  After all, they came from the company’s roots.  Somehow these proto-innovation efforts sensed an opportunity.  Due to internal or external stressors, market dynamics, serendipitous inter-employee communications, or any combination of myriad variables, a person sensed that now was the time to start making an idea manifest in the world.

An innovation branch is born…

What’s next?

Leave it alone and let it grow for a while where it started.

Again, it’s an organic growth in a specific time and place, trying to mature where it started.  Try and put more light on that dark nook where the tiny branch is budding, try and cut it off and transplant it somewhere else, trim too much of the surrounding foliage, and it’ll die, or start growing in a different manner.  Same thing with new innovation efforts.  Shine corporate spotlights on it, try and move it somewhere else, put other people on it, change the corporate structure and it could very well die.  If nothing else, it will stumble.

New efforts need to grow where they start, at least for a while.  They will contribute to the corporate whole in subtle but real ways. The knowledge being obtained from the budding effort, the synergies being developed, these all feed back into the organic whole and contribute to its growth – if they’re allowed to.

Another reason to let these innovation branches grow for a while is that the world is unpredictable.  A sudden storm, intense winter, drought, animals, a move to another location, or a combination of many other issues, can cause severe damage to a bonsai tree.  After the dust clears, often those branches that played the main role are damaged beyond repair.  Those little branches in the sheltered nooks, that grew in the shadows, they are the ones that survive and enable the tree to continue its life. Will it look like the old tree?  Most likely not, but, the tree will survive.

So too with innovation efforts.  When market dynamics change, sometimes quickly, a company can’t adjust quickly enough and it’s the little innovation efforts that are well poised to take the corporation into the next era.  Those little, pesky, organic, innovation projects, that were perhaps unwanted, are the very projects that will enable a corporation to survive.

There are times and places to trim back branches, sometimes heavily.  But, if you want innovative diversity, resiliency and robustness, pay attention to those new little buds popping up.  They are a sign of life, a sign that the company is interacting with the world around it, a sign that people are thinking, interacting, and dreaming.

Then…

…leave them alone for a while…

Posted in Creative Environments, culture of innovation, Design, Disruptive Innovation, Funding Innovation, innovation, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

A Review of ‘Creative Milwaukee at Work’

Posted by Plish on September 30, 2012

“If you want a creative life, do what you can’t and experience the beauty of the mistakes you make”

“Cheating outside school is called collaboration”

On Friday, September 21, friend and colleague, Natasha Lyn Wier, went to the first Creative Milwaukee at Work summit.  Sponsored by the Creative Alliance Milwaukee, it was held at the MIAD (Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design).  The following are some of her thoughts, for which I am extremely grateful!  My thoughts on her thoughts will be in italics.  Based on what I heard and saw in pics, this is a must see next year.  

Just walking into MIAD to register and attend the opening of Milwaukee at Work, you could feel the attendees’ energy and eagerness to learn and share.  Attended by Milwaukee educators, creatives and business professionals, the one day conference was filled with panel discussions and breakout sessions geared towards the growth of creative professionals.  The variety of artists, designers, educators, and business professionals took part in 4 sessions of their choice, and an all-conference panel discussion.  With speakers ranging from successful start-ups to corporate company directors, sessions and panelists provided information on resources and tools to inspire growth, provide development and highlight thought-provoking issues specific to local Milwaukee Creatives. 

To start off my day I joined the first discussion panel of the morning: “The Role of Creative Education in Talent Development”.  The panel was comprised of department heads and educators from surrounding colleges: Alverno, MIAD, Marquette University, Mount Mary, and UW-M.  The topic presented for discussion originated from a talk given by Sir Ken Robinson and animated for the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce): Changing Education Paradigms.  The world-renown education expert, Sir Ken Robinson, raised the question on the structure of formal instruction: How do we educate children for the 21st century?  He argued that the weakness of the current model is that is suits the time of the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution, all the while pointing to the challenges that need to be addressed for an economy that is ambiguously defined.

The question is not local, but the solutions envisioned by the Milwaukee area institutions were.  The Panelists each presented changes they’ve made to programs based upon their efforts to, “Try to solve Sir Robinson’s problem in Milwaukee”, as Associate Dean at the Peck School of the Arts of UW-Milwaukee, Scott Emmons, Ph. D put it.  Several locally conducted studies revealed that among employers, the number one item required was the ability to problem solve. (!!!) Discussion then followed on what changes to education can foster a creative society that not only meets the demands of today’s workplace, but defines how Milwaukee’s educational institutions could benefit today’s pupil’s, future professionals and employers.  This dialogue from the first session Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in creativity, Creativity Leadership, culture of innovation, Design, innovation, Innovation Tools, problem solving, Social Innovation, Social Responsibility, Start-Ups, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

An Innovative Model for Fundraising and Fomenting Change

Posted by Plish on October 5, 2011

This week I’m sharing a guest blog post (with a video showing some of their work) from Jimmy Lee, a co-founder of CreatePossible*.   He’s an inspiring dynamo of a person whose words, vision and innovative perspectives will surely inspire you.  So, without any further ado…

***

It has been almost four years since I left the White House in Washington DC and three years since I decided to run for the United States Congress in the State of Illinois. Since that time I decided I would come alongside strategic leaders in communities around the world to help them fulfill their vision of making a difference in communities they are a part of.

Two years ago my brother and I came together to start a company called CREATE POSSIBLE  to do just that . Together we were able to help numerous organizations/leaders raise $22 million dollars last year through three core values we believe in: relationship building, sustainability, and also partnerships.

As I’m learning from those around me (who are doing this so much better than myself) I thought I would find a way to share those lessons with you.

Each of you have been someone I have worked with in the past and I know your heart is to help the organization you are a part of to be strategic and innovative.

First lesson: What are some questions your organization should be asking in relation to your donors/investors?

1.) How is a donor/investor/corporation growing and reaching their own “personal” goals through their partnership with you?

2.) Is your organization measuring success by the number of givers/investor you attain or by funding amounts? What should success for the work you are doing be measured by?

3.) Do you only communicate with your givers/investors when you need money or when you are fundraising? How else can you be caring for them, communicating with them, and building a relationship with them?

4.) Do you still value your friendship and relationship with potential givers/investors even if they decide not to give to me? Is your relationship with these people based primarily on that?

5.) Do you have opportunities for givers/investors to donate outside of financial means – what does it look like for them to donate their time, their skills, their relationships, their network, etc…

6.) If you wanted a giver/investor to be an advocate for you to their network and their friends- would they be able to do that? What does it mean for someone to be an advocate of the work you are doing? Are we providing opportunities for that and coming alongside so they are successful in being able to share with their friends?

7.) Are you learning to be innovative as an organization in the different areas of development – or are you just copying from other models because it works and you assume it will work for us as well too?

8.) Are you too broad in what you are doing – do you need to be more specific and focused as you are looking to be more strategic in utilizing your resources?

9.) Are you learning to take steps one at a time – valuing the journey you are taking with your giver/investors and helping everyone in your network learn and learn through your partnership together?

10.) And finally, do you have too much staff and not stewarding your resources wisely? Are you raising money for the sake of raising money and quite honestly need to be cutting instead of adding?

What do we believe:

Old Model of Fundraising/Development

Organization —— Network —— Fundraising

In the old model of fundraising an organization accesses their network for the purpose of fundraising.

Success is defined by the number of donors attained and the amount of money that is raised.

New Model of Fundraising/Development

Organization —— Network —— Advocates —— Investor

We believe there is a more strategic model where success is defined by mutually beneficial relationships, partnership, and accountability. Here an organization accesses their network so they can become advocates of the organization and eventually investors to the organization. We look for opportunities where the network is valued for more than just their financial resources but valued for their own personal network, their skills, time, etc….The goal of the model is to create investors who are accountable and deeply involved in helping the organization fulfill the vision it was created for.

 

*- The CreatePossible site is glitchy in IE v9, but runs beautifully in Chrome.

Posted in Entrepreneurship 2.0, Funding Innovation, innovation, Social Innovation, Social Networking, Social Responsibility, Society, Start-Ups, Sustainability | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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