Saturday, March 31, 2012


I always wanted to invent something that would move around & make funny noises & would change the world as we know it & I forgot all about that until we had kids & now I see I came pretty close.”
― Brian Andreas

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Will Obamacare Help or Hurt Innovation?

Today, I am going to try and catch up.  I have missed blogging because I am a CFO in my day job and it is annual board meeting time which has kept me busy for the past few weeks.  

First today, in the coming weeks I am going to delve into some mechanics of innovation.  By day, I work as CFO for a food producer.  The need to innovate in the grocery store aisle is intense right now, and over the past few years we have been honing our innovation process.  Over the next week I will sharing some of the things we have learned along the way.

No matter what side of the Obamacare debate you come down on, it is big news this week as The Supreme Court hears the arguments for the single payer mandate, commerce clause regulation, and whether the government in the future can make you buy a cell phone or broccoli! 

No matter how you slice it or dice it, we have a problem in American health care.  In our employer based system, many small entrepreneurial startups cannot lure in talent using the health care benefit because they cannot afford it.  This in turn stifles new business growth. 

In addition, the uninsured expect to be able to get health care at the hospital when they need it with no responsibility to pay.  Those costs are rolled into the fees charged the insured!  So, the argument goes, wanting privilege without responsibility needs to end by mandating that people get their own coverage.  This will increase the number of insured which helps health insurance companies. 

All of this sounds good, BUT.  What about the constitutional issues and the relationship between a government and its people, freedom, individual rights, and so forth?

I am not making this article partisan.  In my research, I found constitutionalists are writing much more on the issue of how Obamacare will effect innovation, so there are more articles here from that perspective.  I would appreciate it if anyone can provide more arguments for innovation from the pro-Obamacare point of view. 

No matter how this turns out, there is much room for innovation in the way we do health care in America. What do you think--will innovation be helped or hindered by Obamacare?

    Before we go today.. I love books of lists!  I loved this and hope you do too!

    Tuesday, March 20, 2012

    Seth Godin on Bread and Innovation

    In my day job, I am CFO of a parent company to a commercial bakery called Monks' Bread.  It is made by real monks.  Lots of people talk about Monks' Bread because it is a remarkable product.  It is not made by some global conglomerate, but by a community of Roman Catholic monks of the Trappist order at The Abbey of the Genesee.  I think a lot about innovation in the grocery store where our bread is sold, and the qualities we need in our team to be innovative.  Pulling all of these together is what this week's "Monday Startup" is about. 

    Enjoy Seth's talk, and learn about innovative marketing!

    • 40 Reasons Why We Struggle With Innovation (Innovation Excellence) 
    • Seth Godin's Famous TED Talk on Sliced Bread--I put it up again five years later because I think his message got lost in the Great Recession, and because I am CFO for a sliced bread company--Monks' Bread.
    • Redefining The Local Grocer (BusinessWeek)
    • 20 Qualities of Innovators (The Heart of Innovation)

    Saturday, March 17, 2012

    The Biggest Innovation Heist in History? Shanghaied!

    Economic and industrial espionage has a long history.  Oddly enough, what is considered one of the earliest cases of industrial espionage was against China. In 1712, a Jesuit priest named Francois Xavier d'Entrecolles infiltrated Chinese manufacturers' system of making porcelain and then revealed it to European manufactures via a detailed letter. You can read all about it here.  Today, the tables are turned against us, and the traitors are our own people with a greed motive.

    China is once again showing that the only business innovation they have a core competency is how to be thieves.  The Chinese economic espionage campaign has been in full operation mode  for years and "targets a swath of industries: biotechnology, telecommunications, and nanotechnology, as well as clean energy (Bloomberg).

    Northrup Grumman's report to The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission  details the extent of risk the USA currently faces.  "Death By China: Confronting The Dragon" is also a good treatment of the subject. 

    So, this raises the issue of innovation.  What opportunities exist to develop counter-measures to the threats we face in a cybernomic war with China? Counter-security, and counter espionage are obviously ongoing.  What we need to develop more is technology security so that when the Chinese try to hack and steal trade secrets, the code or device they are working with erases, releases counter-code, and becomes non-functioning. 

    We certainly do not want Iran or China sending more model airplanes to our Presidents mocking our requests to please not steal our innovations. 

    Tuesday, March 13, 2012

    Monday Startup: Stifled Innovation

    I have worked with several organizations over the past 20 years that stifle innovation.  I aim to be a visionary leader.  For as long as I can remember I have been the one in a group who asks, "Why do we do what we do?  Why this way?  Why not another way?  Is there a better way?"  In order to create value for owners I have worked for, or accomplish the mission of non-profits I have led, I tend to see the big picture of where a strategy (or lack of one) is leading and then challenge the status quo.  

    Right now, I am involved with two non-profits and both struggle with growth because of leaders who are unwilling to engage in creative destruction.  They are not willing to cannibalize their own outdated models and structures.  Both are doomed to die unless they change. 

     In many cases, I have seen two main reasons for this. 

    First conservative agent/managers who do not want to rock the boat or fail in the eyes of their owners, thus they do not take risks which could add value to the owners in order to protect themselves instead.  Leadership that resists innovation and change out of fear and self protection develops a culture of non-innovation around them.  Other "yes men" who want to preserve their jobs do not have the courage (stones, balls, etc.) to challenge their bosses, thus group-think takes over. 

    Second, ignorant decision makers who do not understand markets, market forces, or the competitive environment believe myths. I have observed owners who think consumers should buy their product or donate to their cause because they always have.  As long as there is money, people will want to see value associated with investment.  Risks must be taken to keep making things better whether profit in a business or a better world in the case of charities and non-profits.

    Most often, organization and companies that resist change plateau and then experience a long slow decline.  Why do these change management issues occur?

    Tuesday, March 6, 2012

    Monday 3/5 Startup Cleveland Clinic Innovation

    It's Monday.  Time to start up our thinking for another week ahead!

    Last Friday, I spent the day at The Cleveland Clinic with a family friend whose wife was having vascular surgery. What an experience OF WELLNESS!  This is the hospital you want to be treated at.  

    The excellence oozes everywhere.  Logic Junction's Wayfinder Touch Screen Avatar Kiosk was very helpful placed right on 2P at the entrance from the parking ramp.  Everyone who works there has clearly been trained to take care of people not only medically, but as ambassadors.  I had a nurse and a lab tech ask me if I needed directions when wandering around looking for which way to go to my destination.  We ate very healthy food in the building P lobby.  I wandered into an area where there was literature about their emphasis on 2012 medical innovations--I share them below. 

    Friday, March 2, 2012

    Does Branding Still Matter--To a Five Year Old--Yes!

    Startups Stuff... Word Press for Startups (How To), A Treasure List of Startup Links, Romney and VC Evil?

    What I read today was first a great treasure list of startup links by Ty Danco. 

    Also, since my wife is working on a startup business, here is a great link for startups on how to use Word Press to get your business rolling. 

    In case you are not interested, however, I am posting a great article on venture capital jobs.  Since Mitt Romney is taking such a beating in the liberal wing of media-politics, the question is, should he be demonized for his time at Bain Capital? I would love to hear from you and have opened up the comments to make it easy to leave one!

    Also, I am adding links in my blogroll to other great resources I find, so keep coming back for updates, and if you are a blog about innovation, entrepreneurship, or startups, send me an email.

    The Big List: The Best and Worst Startup Stuff in 2011 (

    Word Press For Startups (47 Hats)

    Venture Capital: MBA's Dream Job? (Startup Economy)