Monthly Archives: December 2017

85. The Science of Small-Win Innovation

Inertia is the enemy of innovation. We all know how hard it is to change personal habits. Even New Year’s resolutions last, on average, only 15 days. And, replacing weak corporate habits with robust ones can also be daunting.

What are small wins?

Small wins are progress points on the way to a goal, or mini-accomplishments that add up to a big goal. The big goal can be vague and intimidating, like “Prepare the house creatively for holiday guests”. To tackle it, the science of small wins suggests:

  • Start anywhere and then the bigger vision and innovation will emerge and crystalize
  • See how many 2-minute, clean-up actions you can do in a row
  • Say “YES!” upon each completion for a dopamine spritz to the brain
  • State out loud what your next deliberate action will be
  • Just keep moving
  • Spontaneous micro-choices spark accidental micro-innovations, and some take off!
  • Little chunks done in one room add to a room that is done well-enough
  • Move to the next room
  • Repeat
  • Working with a teammate multiplies both joy and grit

Continue reading 85. The Science of Small-Win Innovation

84. Kickstart Your Innovation: Knock Off Amazon’s Pitch Process

Distributors sell products and react to supplier and customer needs. Innovation is not their long suit. But digital channel disruption is here, and if a company doesn’t change as fast or faster than its environment, its future is grim.

To boost your company’s innovation game, why not borrow and simplify a key technique from Amazon.

2004: Jeff Bezos kills PowerPoint presentations       

Over a decade ago, Bezos concluded that PowerPoint presentations should be banned. He felt that presenters were speaking extemporaneously from their bullet points, their communication lacked clarity, breadth and depth, and attendees were confused. The big-boss, data-free opinions always won, unswayed by a PowerPoint, and time was wasted.

The new meeting format began with everyone reading a document (6 pages max.) thoroughly prepared by whomever wanted to champion something new. These narratives were not assigned in advanced to be read unevenly and forgetfully. At the meeting, each participant was expected to take the time (5 to 30 minutes) to thoroughly read and digest the information at their own speed and in their own way.

Next, the presenter(s) answered attendees’ questions, as if they were defending a dissertation. The subsequent page-by-page review evoked questions and discussions that were informed and focused and contention was substantive, not political bickering.  After the reading, all attendees had a fresh, shared, in-depth understanding of the topic.

The presenter took notes, and sometimes asked for a re-do, usually to get more data. If the presenter pressed for a decision, the only responses allowed were: “Yes”, “No”, or “I disagree and commit”.

So, why is this better?

The innovation presenter, or team, is forced to do deep research and present clear thinking. The document should stand on its own and include:

  • An imaginary future PR statement describing a successful outcome for all stakeholders
  • Sufficient research facts
  • A proposed roadmap with assumptions, experiments, milestones and required resources
  • All anticipated questions from all potential stakeholders with well thought-through answers

This process levels the playing field between introverted champions of innovation and glib, popular politicians. The process simply delivers better collaborative plans and decisions with less total time invested.


Writing these narratives is tough. Most distributors don’t have MBAs adept at writing or reading such documents. So, simplify the process to fit your firm. You can perform an experiment. Go to Skim the “scripts” (Exhibits 60 – 63) and pick one to read with your team. Then, discuss, improve and possibly pursue with funding from a champion.

83. The Innovating Eight: Action Verbs for Innovation

Want to increase your innovation rate? The global consulting firm, McKinsey, has been conducting extensive research into the prerequisites for innovation. Their findings can be simplified and conveyed with eight verbs:

First there are the strategizing and creative actions that must be taken:

#1 Aspire
#2 Choose
#3 Develop
#4 Evolve

Followed by implementation:

#5 Accelerate
#6 Scale
#7 Extend
#8 Mobilize Continue reading 83. The Innovating Eight: Action Verbs for Innovation

82. Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast

What’s your culture?

My title is a quote that had 83,000 Google hits. The quip – attributed to Peter Drucker – is business mainstream. Have you defined your culture? Have you tested your culture against present realities?

To help, search Google for “how to define your culture”. It’s tedious, but worthwhile. Uncovering what you already suspect you are guilty of is the first step towards a culture of innovation and being able to execute well. Like fish, we don’t know we are in water, and getting out of your own pond can lead to great things. As humans, our familiar pond includes cognitive biases like group-thinking and informational obeisance (Google “Emperor’s New Clothes” to learn more).

Continue reading 82. Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast