Kittyhawk: When New Innovation Doesn't Take Flight

The HBR Case ‘Hewlett-Packard: The Flight of the Kittyhawk’ tells a story of an amazing innovation for which a market wasn’t ready. Why Kittyhawk? It’s an interesting counter-point of innovation against HP. Orville and Wilbur Wright, took their first steps toward unmanned flight on the windy beach in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. It happened in 1903 at a time when the world was looking for someone to conquer the skies. Is it an innate desire to fly - maybe not, but surely people recognized the value which could be provided by this new mechanism for travel.

A Test of Innovation: Are iDevices Truly Disruptive?

As part of my Innovation and Corporate Entrepreneurship course at the Opus School of Business, we discussed the concept of Disruptive Innovation. We chatted briefly about what it is and why it’s difficult for large companies to actually disrupt a market. What was most interesting, though, was that most people’s conception of Disruptive Innovation is far different than that of business writer Clayton Christensen. In his text ‘Foundations for Growth: How to Identify and Build Disruptive New Businesses’, he explains that at it’s core disruptive innovations create “entirely new markets and business models.”

Netflix: Enabling Main Street to Watch Sunset Boulevard

In the late 1990s Reed Hastings recognized that there was a problem with the video rental business. After paying a hefty $40 rental fee, essentially twice the price of a new movie, he recognized that there was a business model waiting to be developed. Fast forward 9 years later and in 2006 Netflix was the dominant player in the online rental business with just under a million subscribers and profits over $370M.


Jonah Lehrer Is Wrong - Brainstorming Can Work

If you read Jonah Lehrer’s book Imagine, you probably caught his claim that brainstorming doesn’t work. Why doesn’t it work? The main culprit, according to Lehrer, is Groupthink. Groupthink, a concept originally conceived by Irving Janus (1972), occurs when “a homogenous highly cohesive group is so concerned with maintaining unanimity that they fail to evaluate all their alternatives and options.” It’s a problem because the goal of brainstorming should be to come up with many ideas, not one idea masquerading as many.

Zappos - Putting the Customer First

Here's a video I put together on how Zappos amazing customer service supports their value proposition. I had an MBA class where we were given 40 minutes to create an 8 minute report on Zappos operations capabilities. Luckily, Ben from Zappos customer service answered and gave me all the answers necessary. 
Watch how Justin Ley (a coworker of mine at UHG) chatted with Ben @ Zappos. It's clear that customers truly do come first at Zappos.

Innovation As an Advantage, Not a Risk

Many people simply know IDEO as a leader in the product and service design market. Product developers or innovations may even know a few of their key products or clients. This information, although compelling, misses out on the most interesting information about IDEO. In the HBR case study ‘Phase Zero: Introducing New Services at IDEO (A),’ Amy Edmondson provides interesting insights into how IDEO does business, and most importantly, the process they follow to derive new insights into customer behavior and needs.

The Circus Found a New Market & So Can You

In the late 1980s the circus industry was a dying caricature of itself, trudging through small towns and struggling to maintain a foothold nationally as spectacles more convenient and enduring grew in popularity. Philip Astley was the father of the circus, developing an innovative exhibition of feats and creatures that hitherto never existed. P.T. Barnum and George Bailey expanded Astley’s concepts, bringing value to villages and towns across America. However, the excitement and enthusiasm that once existed in the early 20th was displaced by moving pictures, national sports, and theatre/Broadway as more and more American shifted from small towns to metropolis.

Review (short): Kawasaki's 'The Art of the Start'

Guy Kawasaki’s book ‘The Art of the Start’ provides a fantastic glimpse into key tasks and the mindset required for startups. Here are my favorite lessons I picked up. 

According to Kawasaki, there are 11 entrepreneurial art forms required to be successful in a new venture: “starting, positioning, pitching, writing a business plan, bootstrapping, recruiting, raising capital, partnering, branding, rainmaking and being a mensch.”

AARRR: A Pirate’s View of Actionable Metrics

Here are the basics on actionable metrics for expanding your knowledge of how users can become customers. Just think like a pirate and say “Aarrr.” Your goal is to get users through the funnel from activation to revenue with as little drop-off as possible.

What - How - Why: On Leadership and Success

I'm a huge fan of Ted talks and just found one that I highly recommend where Simon Sinek describes the biological foundations for why people grow to be successful leaders. His idea is that people and companies work at three levels: the what, how, and why. Most people and organizations work at the what layer. Ask someone "tell me about yourself" and they will surely explain what their job is and what they do in their free time.