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					                                                 May 2006
   Editor –Terry Williams, Discovery Training CC email discover@secunda.co.za Website discoverytraining.co.za



.                                        CHOICES
Welcome to the May issue
                                         When we are considering innovation we are faced with
of Discover.
                                         choices; just as we are in all aspects of our lives.
Here on the Highveldt in                 Fundamentally we have three options, we can take a positive
South Africa Autumn is                   or negative option, or do nothing at all. The choices we make
drawing to a close and                   establish our reputation.
Winter is fast approaching.
We will have some cold                   Imagine a situation where we notice something wrong at
weather and bright clear                 work. It may be a problem with one of the work processes.
blue skies.                              We must now decide what we are going to do about it.
All over the world we get
four seasonal changes a
                                         The easiest option or choice is to ignore it and do nothing.
year affecting the weather,
the clothes we wear, sport               We may think it’s not our responsibility and that someone
and many other things.                   else will sort it out. Why should I bother?

Perhaps     we      should               Another choice is to begin to blame others for it. It’s
consider ways of making                  Management’s fault. They could not organize a party in a
“seasonal” changes to the                brewery! It’s the fault of another department or another
Innovation Process within                person. It’s the fault of the system. Quite often we then
our companies so we do
not get bored and stuck in               tell everybody else whose fault it is and gloat over their
routines.                                discomfort.

We could get different                   The third, and more pro-active choice is to decide that
people involved in the                   we will take action to solve the problem using our
process. We could set
different challenges for                 innovative talent. We have to have the courage and the
which we need innovative                 willingness to do this. It means we may have to do a bit
solutions. We could change               more work. It means we have to communicate with
the posters on the notice                others as we find out more information about the
boards. We could renew                   problem and, perhaps, seek help in finding the solution..
the communications about
innovation.
                                         What choice do you make - do nothing, criticize or take
Innovation,   like the                   action?
seasons, needs to be
regularly renewed and                    To be innovative you only have one option. But, of
refreshed.
                                         course, the choice is a very personal one and only you
Please send any comments,                can decide.
suggestions or questions to
Terry Williams
Email
discover@secunda.co.za


                                                                                                                1
INNOVATION
ALPHABET                    THE BEETLE
                            You remember the old VW Beetle. Of course you do!
ENVIRONMENT                 Great car!
A critical factor for
innovation. It must be
supportive and there        There is a new connection between Beetles and motoring
should be no fear of        now. A combination of old newspaper, grass cuttings and real
failure.                    beetles can provide some of the fuel for your car.
EVALUATION                  A USA company, Xethanol, uses a recently discovered a form
A system that examines
the potential of raw
                            of yeast found in the digestive juices of a beetle, to cheaply
ideas with the goal of      convert old newspapers, grass cuttings, corn stalks, stale
selecting the best.         sweets, garbage and sludge from paper milling into ethanol as
                            an additive to petrol.
EXPLORE
To be innovative we         With an oil price of $30 a barrel they will make money. At
should explore beyond
the obvious and search
                            $60 a barrel they will make a fortune!
for new combinations
and possibilities.          I wonder if those beetles ever get indigestion. Could this
                            affect the petrol?
ENCOURAGE
We should encourage
each other to use our
innovative potential.       WIFE’S COMPLAINTS
                            Paul Bone’s wife often complained about the brown patches
EXPECTATIONS                he made on the lawn when he spilled petrol when filling the
When we embark on the       lawnmower.
journey of innovation our
expectations should be
                            Fed up with the complaints he decided to do something about
realistic. We will not      it and invented a “total control fuel can” that allows the
solve all of the problems   operator to dispense fuel as required at the touch of a button
overnight. Expectations     without spillage. It can dispense 5 litres of fuel within 12
must be managed.            seconds.
                            Not only did he remove the cause of his wife’s complaints, he
ENERGY
Innovation requires the     also scooped first prize in “Innovention 2005”, one of UK’s
commitment     of    our    top awards recognizing significant new inventions.
energy,     enthusiasm,
passion and persistence.    Do you hear complaints from your partner, your customers or
                            your colleagues? Why not pay attention to them and use your
ESCAPE
We need to escape from
                            innovative skills to find ways of overcoming them?
the existing boundaries
of our thinking to find     (Annoyance, frustration and complaints often act as a major
innovative     solutions.   stimulus to innovation. The Dyson Vacuum Cleaner, the
Creative thinking tools     Dandy Paintbrush Cleaner, Sliced Bread, Disposable Nappies
and techniques help with
this.
                            and Potatoe Crisps are just a few examples of innovations that
                            were triggered and initiated by frustration.)




                                                                                    2
                                    JUST NOT BIG ENOUGH
    QUOTATIONS                      A couple of our Club Members have told me that their companies
                                    have systems for people to submit ideas but that the ideas received
    “Ideas are like babies,
                                    are always minor ones that have only a small impact in a limited
    they’re     born       small,
    immature and shapeless.         area. Whilst these “small” ideas accumulate to make contribution
    They are promise rather         to the bottom line, many companies would like to see
    than             fulfillment.   “breakthrough” and “bigger” ideas being put forward that would
    Particularly in their initial   create new products, quantum leaps in revenues, and huge
    stages they are fragile.        competitive advantage.
    They have to be carefully
    fed,       nurtured      and    Breakthrough innovation is, by its very nature, often revolutionary
    protected”                      and disruptive. It can totally change an industry, for example –
.
                                    digital photography. Many senior decision makers are not willing to
           Peter Drucker
                                    take the risk involved in breakthrough innovation as they know that
    “Every fool can see what’s      a large percentage of such innovations fail. However, some
    wrong. See what is good in      business leaders such as Richard Branson realize that the potential
    it.”                            returns can be enormous.
         Winston Churchill
                                    How do we get “breakthrough” innovation? If I knew the answer I
                                    would not be writing this newsletter; I would be a retired multi-
    “Don’t worry about other        millionaire.
    people stealing your ideas.
    If your ideas are any good,     Here are a few questions that may get you thinking about
    you’ll have to ram them
                                    breakthrough innovation –
    down people’s throats!”
                                        • Do you really want revolutionary ideas?
          Howard Aiken                  • When did your company last implement a really
                                            revolutionary idea?
                                        • When did your competitors last implement a revolutionary
    “Given the underground                  idea?
    resistance to change … the          • Does the climate encourage submission of revolutionary
    new idea either finds a
                                            ideas? How do you handle the rebels that keep challenging
    champion or dies.”
                                            the status quo?
           Donald Schon                 • How much risk are you willing to take? How much money
                                            and time are you willing to invest in ideas with
                                            breakthrough potential?
    “The engines of innovation          • How much do you know about what your customers and
    are human beings!”                      the market really want? What will they want in future?
                                        • Are you monitoring trends in technology and market
       Daniel V. De Simone
                                            expectations?
                                        • Many new innovations will fail. How do you deal with
    “A new idea can be easily               failure? (Fail fast – fail cheap, do not keep putting money
    and quickly killed by a                 into ideas that will not work)
    sneer or a frown on the             • Do you have cross-functional teams searching for
    right man’s brow.”                      opportunities?
                                        • Are you using all of your innovative resources all the time?
         Source unknown
                                        • Does your idea evaluation system automatically kill off
                                            revolutionary ideas because of the risks?
                                        • Do you have a “stage” implementation process that allows
                                            you to abandon ideas as soon as you see they are not
                                            viable?



                                                                                             3
ELIMINATE WORK?                  A COUPLE OF BEERS HELP
Many years ago a very
wise man told me that the
                                 On a cold blustery day in December 1979 Chris Haney and
best thing to do with work       Scott Abbott got together in Montreal, Canada, for a couple of
was to eliminate it. This        beers and a game of Scrabble. They found that some pieces of
principle certainly helps        Scrabble set were missing. So to pass the time they started
get rid of all those things      playing around with developing a game of their own. Once
we do that are not really
necessary.
                                 they had developed the game they realized its potential and
                                 that they needed more help and money. Chris brought in his
One recent development           brother John and his friend Ed Werner.
will help eliminate work.
                                 They formed a company to produce and market their new
Michael       Neff        has
developed a genetically
                                 game, Trivial Pursuit. They invested all their money in the
engineered “dwarf grass”         business but needed more. They convinced friends and
that will grow much more         relatives to invest, (probably a few more beers needed for
slowly than ordinary grass.      this).
Neff and other scientists
have isolated a gene that
limits the growth of plants.
                                 The first prototype production test market run was a failure.
It has the potential to limit    Each game cost $75 to produce and they sold it at $15 with
the height of grass to less      retailers selling it at $29.95. They did not give up!
than 40mm.
                                 Trivial Pursuit was shown at the American International Toy
No more mowing the lawn
at weekends! Hurray!
                                 Fair in New York in February1982. They expected to sell
                                 thousands but only sold a few hundred. They did not give up!
Along with creating a dark
green lawn that hardly ever      In October 1982 they appointed a Canadian distributor and
needs to be mowed, Neff          early in 1983 a manufacturer and distributor in USA. A PR
said that the dwarf gene
could lead to pint-sized
                                 consultant launched an unusual direct mail promotion to 1800
fruit trees.                     top buyers and to Hollywood stars, and the game took off. By
                                 the end of 1983 3.5 million games had been sold. In 1984 20
Of course, there are other       million games were sold in USA alone.
scientists that say it is not
possible. The pessimists
are always ready to
                                 Over 100 million Trivial Pursuit games have now been sold in
criticize!                       19 languages and 40 countries. Chris, Scott, John and Ed are
                                 now multi-millionaires and the other 30 original investors
Are there pieces of your         have made a fortune.
work that are accepted as
being necessary that could
be eliminated? I bet there
                                 What’s the message behind this story? There are two – first a
are!                             couple of beers can help with finding innovative ideas. And
                                 secondly, if you really believe an idea can work then you
Why not look around, find        must persist and not give up in spite of all the barriers,
them, eliminate them and         difficulties and obstacles.
make your life easier.

                                 Cheers!


For more information on Innovation and for details of Discovery Training’s Innovation courses,
please contact Terry Williams, Senior Partner, Discovery Training –
Email discover@secunda.co.za
Tel/Fax 017 634 2082 or Mobile 082 335 6681                                              4

				
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