How much fun will your three year old child have learning to ride a bike?

Training wheels don’t work

If you have a young child who will learn to ride a bike sometime soon, you probably have recollections of the bike that you learnt on, and the awkwardness of bikes with stabilisers (also known as: training wheels). Recently, I came across this article about training wheels and balance bikes and it reminded me of the very different experience with my youngest son.

Balance bikes are much better

Balance bikes are great, as this video (not of my child) shows!

In my experience, they are obviously a better way to learn to ride a bike and it’s very surprising that anyone buys bikes with stabilisers (training wheels) any more. On a more professional note, this is also one of the best examples that I have encountered of innovation applied to learning by choosing different disclosure sequences, but that is a much bigger story.

How it started Continue reading

Innovation does not start with ideas

Innovations might come from ideas, but ideas might not lead to innovations.

Innovations enable us to make small steps, big jumps and giant leaps in the direction that we choose to go. But searching for, and realising, those innovations involves more than searching for, and developing, ideas.

An idea might be a key that fits a lock, that opens a door, on a route, through a barrier to our chosen direction. But in our search for ideas that might be keys, it is useful to know the direction, the barriers, the routes, the doors and the locks.

An idea is not the beginning of the development of an innovation. It is not even the end of the beginning. It might, however, be the beginning of the end.

Innovation strategy – where to aim?

At an inspiring BrightIdea meeting on innovation management in 2010, mentioned in a previous post, I was given, by Vincent Carbone (COO), the opportunity to present some high level thoughts.

The general upsurge in interest, activity and capability in the area of innovation management is continuing; however much of this is, as yet, tactical in nature. Now that the techniques, tools and tactics are becoming more widely available and accepted, it seems worthwhile to pay increasing attention to the strategic issues in the management of innovation.

Here is my presentation and some resulting discussion on this topic, kindly provided by Paul Tran:

The slides and notes are available here.

The meeting was superbly hosted by UBS in Zürich, Switzerland in 2010 on October 19.

Highlights of a 2010 innovation management highlight

One of the highlights of 2010, for me, was the opportunity to attend a meeting on innovation management at the request of BrightIdea who are a leading provider of innovation management products.

Through a series of “birds of a feather” meetings (you know, they flock together) around the world, BrightIdea have promulgated thinking, information and ideas on the rapid developments taking place in the management of innovation; and, at the time of writing (January 2011), the series has not been completed yet.

My opportunity to attend came about through a brief Twitter discussion with Vincent Carbone who co-founded BrightIdea with Matt Greeley who also wrote these inspiring words: Continue reading

Pull away

How often does the response reveal more than the stimulus?

There was an interesting observation in one of the comments on Robert Scoble’s recent post about Google and its difficulties with innovation. But there was an even more interesting remark in his response to the comment.

In my earlier post, I described some general observations, raised by that post about Google, about the management of innovation. But this post is specific to a technique.

In his reply, Robert refers to the observation in the comment (by webwright) as a “good trick”. What was it that was a “trick”? It was that at Amazon, according to the commenter, the development of a product begins with the writing of a press release.

Surely, this is far more important than a “good trick”!

By writing a press release, are they not capturing their vision of the product by implementing what they see as the last stage of the product development: the announcement of the product to the public?

In writing that press release, they are capturing their desired outcome for this, as yet non-existent, product. This requires knowledge to be gathered and decisions to be made about:

  • the audience for the product
  • the perspective from which that audience views the product
  • the aspects that are relevant from that perspective
  • the characteristics of those aspects that are valued
  • the attributes which contribute to those characteristics
  • and the target levels for those attributes.

Without the press release as a specification of the outcome, the product vision might take different forms in the minds of different people, it might slip and slide around over time as some ideas become favoured over others, or as difficulties arise during development.

With this specification, written from the perspective of the customer, the vision is set. This shifts the questions of product management and product from “what we can do for them?” to “how can we do that?”! This is a very important shift.


There is a name for this, it is called “pull”.