Web content distributor Studio One Networks has partnered with Procter & Gamble’s Bounty brand to launch Ideas That Spark, an original editorial package aimed at women looking to bring creativity to everyday household projects.
So you've finally finished developing your product or service, flushed out your business model, and you're ready to dive head first into your new business venture — but how the heck do you raise enough capital to get started?
How many times have you been in a meeting and someone says to you, “That’s a great idea, you should take the initiative and make it a reality.” What typically happens?
Once a year, there is a mass migration of the intelligentsia to Long Beach, Calif. here, inside the Long Beach Performing Arts Center, a block from the Pacific Ocean, they gather for four days to share ideas and score gift bags at the TED Conference. Sold out a year in advance, the conference has scholars, scientists, musicians as speakers. They are boldface names: Bill Clinton, Steve Jobs, Jane Goodall. And as for any A-list party, an invitation is required. The price to get in: $6,000. Unable to meet the growing demand for access to TED, its organizers decided to democratize. They imagined a new conference that was TED but not TED, organized by local groups like schools, businesses, neighborhoods, even friends — at an unTED-like price: free.
People often credit their ideas to individual "Eureka!" moments. But Steven Johnson shows how history tells a different story. His fascinating tour takes us from the "liquid networks" of London's coffee houses to Charles Darwin's long, slow hunch to today's high-velocity web.
After mapping humans' intricate social networks, Nicholas Christakis and colleague James Fowler began investigating how this information could better our lives. Now, he reveals his hot-off-the-press findings: These networks can be used to detect epidemics earlier than ever, from the spread of innovative ideas to risky behaviors to viruses (like H1N1).
The fact that Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, the new agency on “Mad Men,” has landed the Pond’s cold cream account is not the only ad news to come out of “Mad Men” this week. AMC, the cable channel that presents the series about the ad industry — and America — in the 1960s has made a deal with a giant marketer, Unilever, for a season-long sponsorship agreement. The agreement, for undisclosed terms, is centered on six commercials being created in the “Mad Men” vein for six Unilever products. Brands like BMW, Canada Dry and Clorox have previously tailored commercials for the show, but this is believed to be the first deal to involve multiple products from the same marketer.
The Devil's Advocate is a regular staffer in most offices. "Let me play Devil's Advocate" is a socially acceptable way to shoot down an idea. It's a guise that allows anyone to criticize an idea without offering an alternative. It's far easier (and safer) to tear down than to create. You can undermine what someone has just proposed without actually challenging them directly.
Starbucks plans to make Wi-Fi free in all its coffee shops, which at this point is about as revolutionary as letting people use the restroom if they buy a scone first. Wi-Fi is increasingly becoming the sort of thing that people expect for free at cafes — like napkins, coffee stirrers and listening to people discuss where their relationships are going. I’d love to play the standard “too hip for Starbucks” card, but the fact is that I’ll occasionally drive through one when I’m in a strange town and don’t want to brave the coffee at some intentionally misspelled place like Kountry Koffee or Coffee Dee-Lite. Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I have my choice of places that can provide a better latte and a reasonably fat pipe, so free wireless isn’t enough to pull me into a Starbucks for an afternoon of reading MetaFilter while absorbing enough caffeine to kill lab mice. But then I heard that Starbucks is upping the Wi-Fi ante by providing internet content that you can only get at its stores. It’s like Starbucks is turning into a series of little inverse Chinas, keeping out the rest of the world so that only Starbuckians have access to the coffee chain’s proprietary websites.
"Live in the market, not in a spreadsheet" Cheryl McKinnon Noah defines three separate roles (which might be fulfilled by a single person) in the innovation process: the capitalist who provides the money; the inventor who creates the idea; and the entrepreneur who adapts the idea, brings it to market, and commercialises it. Each role is a different task, requiring different skills.
Spend a few days around the world stopping over in Shenzen, Shanghai, Mumbai and Seoul and you know what’s really happening out there. Companies are getting desperate and now reaching out to suppliers and customers for ideas. Some even go to the extreme of sourcing ideas from the everyone - the crowd. There’s this naive belief that the crowd is smarter than individual. This is a dangerous theory. Engaging suppliers, advanced users and front-end employees are good practices, but not letting them do your job.
I have been putting a lot of thought into why some people succeed and others fail. It’s easy to put success down to luck or natural talent, but while there will always be an element of that, it does not seem to be “the answer”. There seem to be some ingredients that a lot of folks miss. Education is important, but not in the formal qualification sense but more in the continuously learning sense. We tend though to focus just on the knowledge, there is a gap there that needs to be filled and that is where I think the big gains are made.
Executives at Allstate, known, after their famous slogan, as “the ‘good hands’ people,” are looking for a few good advertising ideas — and are making that clear in attention-getting fashion. Three top managers of the Allstate Corporation came to New York from the company’s Northbrook, Ill., headquarters to make a presentation to senior sales executives from dozens of major media companies. They were joined by a surprise guest: Dennis Haysbert, the actor and Allstate spokesman. The message, delivered by the Allstate leaders on Wednesday under the title “The New State of Allstate,” was this: Help us advertise more effectively by developing, for all types of media, better ways to tell consumers that Allstate sells protection, not just insurance.
Home runs are fun to watch, but the nearly great plays are more illustrative and instructive. We marketers tend to focus on successes, holding them up as proof of what’s possible, whether in conference presentations or new business pitches. "Show me an example" is the litmus test of ideas that deserve to get shared and mimicked; go-forward plans are based on what we learn from standouts and exceptions. This has been true since brands ran their first newspaper and radio ads. The most glorious social media campaigns of 2009 will yield a bevy of flattering copies in 2010.
As The DMA dissects the state of direct marketing in San Diego, we have a solution behind which the industry can rally right now: re-inject creativity. Creativity is both ideas and innovation -- creative ideas which will persuade and modern experiences through which customer relationships will thrive. It comes from looking at challenges differently, imagining not what is, but what can be. Creativity will free the work (and remember, it's about the work) from the "prison of the proven" in which too much direct is currently stuck. Creativity will help our brands get on our customer's short list, motivate action, and earn a deeper and longer-lasting relationship. Creativity also will return us to an industry with guts, and frankly, that will help us attract the young and smart. Don't we want that? Don't we need that? This is no small feat. This takes rethinking how direct marketing should work.
What is design? It's art and commerce, fashion and environment. It's industrial and digital, graphic and experiential. What is design? It begins with ideas--ideas based in purpose. It requires a plan or a process. It yields innovation, invention or creation. It is successful if it elicits response--attention, desire, interaction or purchase. Design is as much a process as it is an end product. The process should be simple.
It's amazing to see and hear a CEO understanding the massive consumer change that's going on and re-orienting his company around this shift. The CEO is Andy Bond of UK grocery store, Asda (owned by Wal-Mart). To bring home his point Asda organized a media event where they invited political strategist, Philip Gould to explain the change.
To make an electronics company, you need a lot of people: executives, managers, accountants, marketing, manufacturing, and on and on. But somewhere inside that cloud of administration, there are always a few anonymous geniuses, the heart of the company, the ones who keep the whole thing going: the people who actually come up with the ideas. How do they do it? How do they come up with enough new features to keep us excited, year after year? I don’t know how they usually do it, but I know how they should do it: by crowdsourcing.
In 1999, Whirlpool's (WHR) then-Chief Executive David R. Whitwam set a goal: He wanted the leading maker of big-ticket appliances to be No. 1 in innovation as well. Whitwam's pronouncement kicked off a flurry of ideas. Not all of them were sensible. "There were some wacky ones—bicycles, tennis shoes," recalls Moises Norena, director of global innovation. Whirlpool needed a system to evaluate and screen ideas, advancing promising concepts and culling out those that were better forgotten.
"Nobody's Perfect" is the title of Doris Willens' new book on Bill Bernbach and the golden age of advertising. And just to make sure you get the point of the title, the book explores every imperfection she could find in the career of perhaps the most famous person in the history of advertising.
PSFK recently asked our global network of experts, The Purple List for their thoughts on the future of journalism. We received answers that imagine a variety of possible scenarios, though a common theme emerged which points to a system that combines crowd-sourcing with some kind of editorial curation and professional reporting.
The central premise of the Sputnik project is that everything is connected to everything else, and that topics and ideas that may seem fringe and even heretical to the mainstream world are in fact being investigated by leading thinkers working in fields as diverse as quantum physics, mathematics, neuroscience, biology, economics, architecture, digital art, video games, computer science and music. Sputnik is dedicated to bringing these crucial ideas from the fringes of thought out into the limelight, so that the world can begin to understand them.
If you want to understand why some companies lack innovative ideas, think about the man who can’t find his car keys. His friend asks him why he’s looking for the keys under the lamppost when he dropped them over on the lawn. “Because there’s more light over here,” the man explains. For too many companies, that describes their search for new ideas, and it pretty much guarantees they won’t go anywhere fast. While such a company can marginally improve what it’s already good at, it misses out on the breakthroughs—those eureka moments when a new concept pops up, as if from nowhere, and changes a company’s fortunes forever.
As leaders of UX organizations, we want our teams of designers and researchers to design products that change the world—to engage in strategic design. Often, though, UX designers and researchers get stuck with incrementalism—designing minor new features for which another functional group has provided the requirements, expecting UX to design them—regardless of whether the UX team agrees with the product direction. Perhaps we find ourselves immersed in organizations or work routines that do not provide space to think differently. This column reveals some tools that can help your team to innovate.
Traditionally, new product development has been a linear process. The "new product" team creates many alternative versions of the core idea, winnows them down in various stages of testing and re-development until a winner emerges and gets launched. Things are changing. Great ideas are not only coming top-down; they're coming from interns, they're coming from customers sharing their best ideas out of love for your brand (like Dell Idea Storm), from ethnography in third world countries. Innovation is about inspiration coming from continuously listening for the unexpected which can come at anytime from anywhere; nothing linear about that!
No project is conceived in a vacuum, no decision in isolation and no negotiation with a clean sheet of paper.
Yesterday's Influx Curated was a complete over-stimulus fest. If you ask for short-bursts of information, this is the result. It's great chaos, but now is the time to try and make sense of it all and ask some serious questions about what it might mean. Here are 10 themes that came across loud and clear to me and some of the people who raised them.
Brainstorming sessions have led to important innovations at Kaiser Permamente. Here's how the managed-care company did it.
A decade ago the ability to generate ideas for businesses was a terrific and unique offering, and often a good business. Many companies and consultants were conducting workshops aimed at coming up with ideas, hundreds of ideas, and getting paid handsomely to do it. Today, it seems most of the businesses I deal with have more than enough ideas, it's determining the right ones to invest time and energy into that is the trick.
Pick up any of the trade papers or read any of the marketing blogs recently and you’re likely to notice Amara’s law at work: “we invariably overestimate the short-term impact of new technologies while underestimating their long-term effects”. We read a lot about the rush to do something ‘on’ the next tech phenomenon - do something on Facebook, have a presence on Twitter or (yes, still) launch a viral marketing campaign. But there is precious little conversation about the impact technology is having long-term on culture, and how this might challenge some of the assumptions we have built marketing programs on for the last few decades.
By now, virtually everyone has chimed in on how innovation is the only way out of the recession. So instead of adding more theory, let’s have a look at actual B2C innovations from recession-defying entrepreneurs and brands around the world.
Although it's been nearly six months since he left his post, these days, Jim Stengel, the 53-year-old former global marketing officer at Procter & Gamble, is as busy as ever. Stengel is working on a book, Packaged Good, due out next year, and is a marketing consultant to clients in the healthcare, retail and food industries. (Stengel didn’t name names, but since he signed a three-year noncompete agreement with his former employer, they don’t conflict with P&G.) On top of that, he recently joined the advisory board of marketing analytics firm MarketShare Partners and has access to more than 350 designers at his office (within LPK) in Cincinnati. Now a free agent, Stengel was able to speak freely on P&G’s competitors, other brands he admires and the state of the industry.
I've been excited lately to see that the idea of crowdsourcing has caused such a stir. You know a paradigm is about to shift when lines start getting drawn in the sand. When I was writing about co-creation in Beyond the Brand back in 2003 I couldn’t even imagine how the open source movement would radically change so many businesses.
Campbell Soup Co. has created a new Web site called “Campbell’s Ideas for Innovation” where scientists, entrepreneurs and inventors can easily submit their ideas for evaluation.
SXSW Interactive wrapped up last week, leaving the new-media mavens who attended a little more sober about the future despite the usual whirlwind of events and parties. Often dubbed the Sundance of new media, SXSWi is the bellwether for what lies ahead for digital culture. Here are seven unthinkable ideas from SXSWi 2009. Savvy marketers should consider these the tremors that lead to trends.
To generate new ideas, many companies are going beyond traditional R&D groups and in-person focus groups to tap into a new generation of connected consumers through online communities that help generate massive quantities of new ideas.
Best Buy, Whirlpool, and others sequester workers to live and think together in hopes they'll hatch ideas for the real (corporate) world.
If you’re interested in trends and ideas and how to use them in your work then you have to add the writing of anthropologist Grant McCracken to your must-read list.
The wisdom of the crowds has already been put to work to improve product design, provide personal style advice and resolve marital disputes, so why not use it to tackle the economy, too? In Ireland, a new grassroots initiative is aiming to do just that through a campaign to solicit ideas for economic recovery.
Things are looking pretty bleak right now. But, the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. So BusinessWeek asked several futurists, including Futurist.com's Glen Hiemstra, consultant David Zach, and author Howard Rheingold, to describe what they'd like to see arise from the current downturn. Notably, our experts didn't think of innovation merely in terms of products or services. These ideas will change the way humans interact with the earth—and with each other.
Welcome back to the Year in Ideas issue. For the eighth year in a row, we have compiled an alphabetical digest of ideas, from A to Z (almost), that helped make the previous 12 months, for better or worse, what they were.