Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Innovation Engineering

Dr. W Edwards Deming was the American Statistician credited with helping rebuild Japan after World War II. The founder of Toyota said, “Dr. Deming is the core of our management.”   The Japanese credit Dr. Deming with teaching them in the 1950s to “work smarter not harder” and become the first producers of continually improving cars and electronics.

Today I am reading about the Eureka Ranch, and Doug Hall's "Innovation Engineering."  Good stuff. Watch this video while available! 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Why Age Matters With Innovation

Ken Bates, Chair of the Department of Business at Houghton College in Upstate New York, sent me an interesting New York Times article that I share with you below.  It sparked my thinking about age, work, and innovation. 

Business is definitely a competition, and one advantage younger participants often try to leverage is the benefit of having fewer hours logged on the clock of life.  Younger workers are perceived as more flexible, lower cost, more future potential, more energetic, and so forth.  Older workers are caricatured as set in their ways, slowing down, resistant to change, and lacking fresh ideas.
As a middle age executive level manager, I look at those behind and ahead seeing great value in both cohorts.

Our organization is comprised of
people of various ages.  Each age segment adds value to our organization and in turn, we value all our workers on the basis of their contribution. 

We have employees in their 60s and 70s who are harder and smarter workers and in better physical shape than some of our younger team members.  Our older employees are often coming up with our better ideas.

On our team, we have a 20 something recent biz school grad Operations Manager with a great analytical and operational mind who developed our lean manufacturing plan.  He co-manages with a Production Manager almost 60.  As a 40 something I lead the team and our innovation initiatives. 
While our younger team members add great value, they also carry liabilities. 

The major downsides of a younger workforce I see are as follows.  1.) Lack of experience leading to errors (and added costs), 2.) An entitlement attitude (a millennial generation issue of trophy kids and helicopter parents), and 3.) A lesser work ethic on average than those older.  Our older team members do trend toward being too conservative when it comes to risk for growth, yet also do bring most of our product innovation to the table. 

As the following article and study point out, innovation production is simply not being produced as much by younger innovators as older innovators due to the reasons presented below.  This is indeed true in our organization as well.  

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Thank you What's New Readers!

Thank you to all who read this blog!  Here are our top 10 countries!!!  If we get this wrong--please keep reading anyways!!!

United States
Thank you!
South Africa
شكرا لك!
United Kingdom
Thank you!

The 21st Century Innovator

As many of you who read this blog know, I work as a CFO and General Manager in a manufacturing company in the food industry.  I am a passionate advocate for small and medium-sized business manufacturing in the USA.  A common think tank conclusion these days is in order for  America to remain economically strong, we must manufacture physical products.  This blog is devoted to how this just might happen. 

One night last summer I was paging through Flipboard on my iPad, and came across an article in The Journal "Forget B-School, D-School Is Hot."  As an MBA and B-School person, I was intrigued.  Design School? 

Confession--I enjoy spending time with my wife watching reality show "Project Runway."  While no fashionista,  I have come to appreciate The New School  and the power of design, but replacing my cherished MBA? Skeptical.  

Enter Stanford University.  As I explored the website, my innovation wheels started spinning quickly.  I signed up for the free Virtual Crash Course in design thinking.  Now let me backup. 

I have an entrepreneurial passion, and am married to a true MAKER.  Many of my innovation ideas grow legs from my wife who is part DIY like her dad, and part inventor and crafter.

In 2005, we started an e-commerce store together after reading about the long tail effect.  After immersing myself in Stanford's crash course in design, and reading a new book by the author who introduced us to "The Long Tail," we began building a 21st century innovator toolbox starting with Trimble SketchUp.  To all of you "Dreamers" to borrow from Apple, I invite you to be on the lead edge of what could be America's new industrial revolution. 

One of the greatest innovation opportunities to help small businesses thrive and bring manufacturing back home today is what is being called "The Maker Movement." 

The internet and personal computer ended the mass media monopoply on advertising and journalism and opened up global e-commerce, the digital payment industry, the blogosphere, open education and so much more.  Now, we may very well be on the cusp of a desktop manufacturing revolution. 

The maker movement is one of the most exciting movements going on today.  Chris Anderson, author of "Makers: The New Industrial Revolution" defines what the maker movement is:

1. The web generation meets the real world. It is all of these community and collaboration and innovation models of the web but applied to physical things.  

2.  Access to manufacturing, access to factories and mass production, is now also increasingly easy.

3.  One of the things that characterizes the web generation is the instinct to do things in public, the instinct to share, the instinct to collaborate with people who you don't know, the instinct to apply [invention creation and production] to physical things ... that need to be produced and sold. [It] is an innovation model that traditional manufacturing typically doesn't have.

By now, I have hopefully teased you into checking out the crash course and reading about the book on Amazon.  Now, to tie this blog together.  I think B-School and D-School are getting married.  As these two powerful American forces work together, I can see the entrepreneurial DNA of America giving birth to a new American creativity, then a global movement of micro-manufacturing. 

A factory in the cloud, crowd funding, Kickstarter, Quirky, Autodesk123D, TinkerCad, Sketchup, 3D printing and scanning, massive open online education--these are great times to be alive!  Stop looking back at the Great Recession, and look ahead to the New Industrial Revolution!

Come back soon for our review on the tools in our 21st century workshop! 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Osterwalder's Business Model Innovation Canvas, Steve Blank

I have been using Osterwalder's business canvas and Steve Blank's customer development approach within an intrepreneurship effort.  Check out this video, and some of the other cool stuff below. 

Boom San Agustin over at Our Knowledge Asia says:

An entrepreneur is someone who, through his or her skills and passion, creates a business and is willing to take full accountability for its success or failure. An intrapreneur, on the other hand, is someone who utilizes his or her skill, passion and innovation to manage or create something useful for someone else’s business... with entrepreneurial zest.

So, whether you are an e-preneur or i-preneur--let's do the stuff!

  • Let me introduce you to Steve Blank at UC Berkeley. (Udacity)
  • StartUp Success Slideshow (Slideshare)
  • Alexander and Steve together (below)