Can Innovation Be a Structured Repeatable Process?

When Innovation comes to mind, the first thing people may think of is creativity, spontaneity, or a momentary stroke of genius. But can innovation occur out of a structured, repeatable process? The answer, in short, is yes. In fact, in order to build a long-term culture of sustained innovation, a structured process must be put into place especially in idea generation or ideation. Although it sounds counter intuitive to say “structure” and “ideation” in the same sentence, organizations... Read more »

New Intellectual Property Exchange Streamlines Patent Trading

In the research and development industry where innovations build on top of other innovations, obtaining patents to protect intellectual property is of the utmost importance. It is critical to ensure that patents being are utilized, especially within big corporations like IBM or organizations like the Unites States Navy. Not only do patents protect newly developed products or processes, they contribute to unrealized value creation, or assets that can be explored and sold. The latest development besides... Read more »

Innovation Workshops : Eight key pitfalls to avoid

Is your organization about to run a design or innovation workshop? If so, what follows are cautionary tips and lessons learned collected from my experiences both as a participant in and a leader of various flavors of innovation and ideation workshops, in the States as well as various European countries.  Read More →

Innovation and the Individual

Although we need teams to make things happen, innovation can occur on an individual basis. For an individual to create innovation, he or she must think creatively and understand the market as well as consumer wants and needs. An example of this took place during my early hands-on innovation days as marketing manager at Sylvania Lighting. Philips had developed the Long Life Soft White light bulb strategy, competing against GE Lighting. Consumers wanted soft white light bulbs and ideally longer life,... Read more »

What Do Innovators Have in Common?

In the Innovator’s DNA we discussed whether innovators are born or made. Research has shown that creativity is not a genetic predisposition but a result of a pattern of behaviors – so it can be concluded that all innovators must share a certain set of characteristics that have lead them to success. While innovators speak different languages, come from different cultures and various industry backgrounds, they all have fundamental traits in common. Robert’s Rules of Innovation suggests... Read more »

Innovation: 3M’s lessons to be learned

While Apple is often the most highly touted company for its innovation success, 3M is a global innovation company that has remained under the radar for its long-term innovation plans and succeses. With $30 billion in sales and products sold in nearly 200 countries, 3M has made significant contributions to the health care, communications and office business – including bringing the world’s most recognizable brands Post-it Notes and Scotch tape to market. The root of 3M’s success... Read more »

Five Questions to Ask Before Mapping Out an Innovation Plan

By focusing effort in the right places, companies can avoid oversight and increase their chances of innovation success. There are plenty of reasons to innovate. Especially now more than ever before, sustained innovation is the means to developing marketplace showstoppers that lead to profitable growth. Innovation is not a luxury that can be placed on the back burner, even for today’s successful companies. So before beginning your next innovation effort, here are some key questions to consider... Read more »

Tax Innovation: The Path to Long-Term Prosperity

By Robert Brands and Martin Kleinman We Americans need to wake up – now – and stop acting like spoiled, immature children.  Elected officials need to put aside partisanship – now – and do what’s in the best interest of our country and speak the truth to the electorate.  And we all must do this without fostering and perpetuating certain convenient misconceptions and without coddling us like soft, over-indulgent parents afraid to say “no.” We are in an economic... Read more »

Finding and Applying Serendipitous Innovations

Innovation is all around us, and if you see it, observe and learn from it so that you can use the idea elsewhere. A classic example of serendipity or success after failure is the story of 3M Post-it notes. In 1974, Stephen Silver at 3M research laboratories was trying to develop a strong adhesive and instead created a new adhesive that was not too strong, could stick on all surfaces and be removed easily without causing damage or leaving residue. Not knowing what to make of this, it was four years... Read more »

Five Key Innovation Questions to Ask

There are plenty of reasons to innovate. Especially now more than ever before, sustained Innovation is the means to developing marketplace showstoppers that lead to profitable growth. Innovation is not a luxury that can be placed on the back burner, even for today’s successful companies. So before beginning your next innovation effort, here are some key questions to consider for mapping out an effective innovation plan. 1. What type of innovation does your organization need? The key to implementing... Read more »

Creativity Does Not Equal Innovation

Innovation and Creativity are words that are at times used interchangeably in the research and development process, but they have two distinct meanings. While creativity is about coming up with the big idea, innovation is about executing the idea and making it a business success. Do not confuse the two. An organization can certainly have creativity without the right steps to implement innovation. Innovation implementation calls for a robust, disciplined strategy. It can not be a one-time process,... Read more »

Three Issues that Stifle Innovation, and How to Overcome Them

As an innovation leader, you know how important a culture of sustained innovation is to the survival of your organization. However, there are many factors that can challenge the innovation process. These issues may come from team members, executives, or the general culture of the organization. Here some common challenges that companies deal with, and solutions for overcoming them. 1. The culture of the company is to keep doing things the way they’ve been done in the past – there... Read more »

Small Biz Radio Host Jim Blasingame with Robert Brands

Robert Brands joins Jim Blasingame on the Small Business Advocate radio show to discuss how to inspire Innovation. As the life cycles of innovations get shorter and shorter each year, it is truly an “innovate or die” world for businesses everywhere. Consumer expectations drive the need to innovate, and Robert Brands shares the best practices for bringing about that change in an organization. Innovation is all about passion, and is not for the faint of heart. As an innovation leader, you... Read more »

Managing the Uncertainty of Open Innovation

One of the hottest topics in business management today is open innovation. The concept uses an open business model for companies to “co-innovate” with their partners, suppliers, and customers – in order to accelerate the rewards of innovation. For example, a small or midsized company develops a game-changing new idea and works with a larger company to bring the product to market. Through the collaborative relationship of open innovation, companies are able to leverage new ideas... Read more »

Top Ten Tips for Selling Your Idea to Executives

Besides possessing creativity and resilience, the best innovators are the ones who can effectively communicate and “sell” their ideas to upper management. Innovators often have to get executive approval for support on a new product or venture. No matter how good an idea is it will not sell itself. The most important aspect of communication is to know your audience. In the case of an organization, know the structure, who the decision maker is, and who their influencers are. An innovator... Read more »

How to Build an Innovation Leader

Every organization needs an Innovation champion. This very important role requires exceptional people skills and communication skills, and the ability to be a master consensus builder among all players in the organization. Innovation champions come in a wide range of styles of interaction. Renowned psychologist Michael Kirton developed the Kirton Adaptive Innovation Inventory (KAI) as a profiling tool to measure problem-solving styles. The general characteristics of innovators are as follows: * Ingenious,... Read more »

Audio Book Release of “Robert’s Rules of Innovation”

“Robert’s Rules of Innovation: A 10-Step Program for Corporate Survival” by Innovation guru Robert Brands is now available as an audio book in a 4 CD set or downloadable at In his book Robert Brands provides a step-by-step guide to implementing and sustaining Innovation in the workplace. His ideas are distilled from over 25 years of hands-on experience as an Innovation leader. Brands has successfully delivered on his goal of bringing “at... Read more »

2012 Innovation Resolution: Turning Ideas Into Money

Innovation is an indispensable force that turns ideas into money. It is the lifeblood of any organization. In order to implement sustainable Innovation in 2012, you need to define innovation in a manner that makes strategic sense for your organization, and have the know-how to properly construct and use a process, plus the will to keep the process on course. The task may seem daunting at first, but it’s possible to develop a disciplined strategy that delivers Innovation time and time... Read more »

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays!  Read More →

Innovation & Best Practices, Then & Now

Antarctica Thrives as Hub of New Thinking Exactly 100 years ago December 17, an explorer found glory upon the Antarctic continent. One month later, his rival met a bitter, sad end. Yet, both share lessons in the power of innovation built on best practices – and the pitfalls borne of haste and poor planning. Today, for those looking for rationales behind the need for innovation in pursuit of excellence, the race to the South Pole offers both cautionary tales and textbook examples of success... Read more »

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