Sunday, January 29, 2012

Weekend: Personal Focus--8 Nations of Innovation

Rick Warren is a spiritual leader, author, and philanthropist.  This is a great TED talk on how to innovate your own life. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Role Of Innovation in Competitiveness

We now live in an innovation economy in America.  As Dean DiBiase says, When old solutions are applied to new challenges, the results are never good. 

While America cannot rely on its old place in the world, innovation keeps us moving ahead of the rest of the world!  Innovation is a word that many today believe is hard to define.  It seems it is akin to Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart who said he couldn't define pornography but would "know it when I see it."

Here is one definition of innovation to help you know it when you see it:

  1. 1  The introduction of a good (product), which is new to consumers, or one of higher quality than was available in the past;
  2. 2  Methods of production, which are new to a particular branch of industry. These are not necessarily based on new scientific discoveries and may have, for example, already been used in other industrial sectors;
  3. 3  The opening of new markets;
  4. 4  The use of new sources of supply;
  5. 5  New forms of competition, that leads to the restructuring of an industry.

Michael Porter of Harvard, one of my favorites on competition and innovation, defined innovation well:
  1. to include both improvements in technology and better methods or ways of doing things. It can be manifested in product changes, process changes, new approaches to marketing, new forms of distribution, and new concepts of scope . . . [innovation] results as much from organizational learning as from formal R&D.

What I am reading about innovation today:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tech Tuesday: Shale Gas

Not all technology innovation is in computers and smart devices. 

In live in western New York State.  The Marcellus and Utica shale deposits are big news in our area. As an investor, one of the most interesting companies I am looking at is AbTech, a company whose polymer technologies developed for oil spills are being adopted by the fracking industry.  Once their smart sponges absorb wastes they permanently bond and cannot be squeezed out.  The fracking water problem is able to use this technology to clean and re-use water on site at wells.  

I think  one of the arguments against shale gas innovation just got silenced.

View AbTech Corporate Video

From MIT Technology Review

Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday Startup

Mondays are the day we get our brain back in gear for another week of racing with rats to find new cheese.  Yes, I did read "Who Moved My Cheese!" 

  • This week Apple  said they are going to change the textbook industry.  I don't know about you, but with two kids and a spouse in college, every time I pay over $100 for a textbook I say to myself, "This is such a racket.  There has to be a better way."  Is the Apple initiative a better way?  Since Apple likes to control the user experience--something I detest about Apple--I can see how Apple is trying to build a dependency on their devices in the textbook market.  (FastCo.Exist)
  • Last week, here in the Rochester, NY area where I live and work, Kodak finally went bankrupt.  A friend wrote me and asked why this happened.  Here is how I responded:
    • Kodak was the king of film and then invented digital. As other industries and companies began to envision how they could use digital technology in personal computers, photography, and mobile devices, Kodak hesitated on putting themselves of out the old film based business. We call this cannibalization--put yourself out of business so someone else doesn't. That opened the door for competitors like Canon and Sony to leverage digital technology in cameras and mobile devices. Kodak then fell behind the curve and never caught up. There were also a bunch of financial decisions they made that Wall Street analysts punished them for. Stock options for employees dropped in value. Good managers then started leaving and the death spiral began.  Let this be a lesson about hesitation in company strategic planning and innovation!

Saturday, January 7, 2012


What I am thinking about today...

  •  Where Good Ideas Come From--(Ted Talk by Steven Johnson)
  • What is An Idea Connector and Are You One?  (The Grindstone)

    This is the "open" innovation model.  Creative people are often stifled in organizations led by non-creative, non-innovative managers or owners.  Creative people are looking for a place to share their ideas and most often hang out outside of work with other creative people.  Think about your organization or company, find your idea connectors, and get connected!  It may just help you develop the next big idea!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Why Small Businesses Fail

Had to share this one via Barry Ritholtz--click this link or the graphic , then click again to enlarge

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Charitable Entrepreneurship

As a CFO for a non-profit in my full-time day job, and President of a smaller non-profit in my spare time, I am a student of capital campaigns and charitable giving.  John List of The University of Chicago is a leader in studying donor giving to charities.  Read, comment, and build your organization!

Charitable giving is an increasingly important component of our national economy comprising over 2% of GDP in 2008. However, relatively little is known about what drives people to give to charities. This line of research includes large scale field experiments to investigate charitable giving.

Farming Innovation To Feed The Growing World

After all the holiday eating, I am getting back in the reading and writing saddle thinking about the economics of food.  Some of my readers may not realize this, but I am CFO for a non-profit organization that is the producer of the fifth largest branded sliced bread in the Buffalo-Rochester-Erie, PA market, and a regional player in New York, New England, and Pennsylvania market.  We also have a 1400 acre farm operation.  

  • Agricultural R&D, technology, and productivity (The Royal Society
  • Global Food and Farming Futures (Foresight).  This is some heady research, but for those who want to take the time to dig in, a feast of information.  
  • Innovation in farming technology--two interesting videos.