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In the innovation space there are some trends, there's no doubt about it. Some that I think are exciting, others I think maybe are overblown a little bit, to be perfectly honest with you. One of the key trends that I'm very involved in is the use of systematic methods. Companies are becoming aware that you can take a method and apply it in a systematic way to produce new products and services on demand, and that's very exciting.
This method is starting to grow in popularity, used all over the world. One of the trends that is also very apparent right now is this so-called open innovation. Open innovation is this idea that you can source ideas outside your company. I get a little uncomfortable with it because to be honest with you I think open innovation is an old idea with a new name. Open innovation has been done for years. Companies have gone out and done technology scouting, they've done license and acquisition.
They've gone out and tried to source ideas from others for a very long time. The idea of open innovation was to formalize that a little bit more, and I get that, but it's not really a method per se, it's more of an idea. I think over time you'll see that trend start to tail off when companies realize that they've been doing it all along, it's just a new-fangled way to think about it. I think one of the more exciting trends too is in social media. There's no doubt that the social connection, the social web is a new resource for innovators to plug in to, and there are a lot of ways to do it.
There are a lot of ways to apply innovation methods to the digital space, by the way, but more importantly a good, plain old innovator really needs to be plugged in to the social web. I like to think of it this way: When I was a kid I loved to play cowboys and Indians, and I loved to be the Indian. I wanted to be the Indian in the movie that would get down on the ground and, you know how they would put their ear to the ground and they'd look up at the cavalrymen and say, "There's 23 horses coming- No, 24." They had a way to listen to the ground, if you do that on the highway, and I don't recommend it, but you can actually hear sounds coming through the ground.
By telling this story what I'm saying is innovators have to put their ear to the ground of the social web. You've got to listen to what's being said. What are the conversations that are going on about a particular category, a technology, a company, your brand for example. I think innovators have a chance like never before to hear conversations that are happening between customers. That's where you hear them at their most objective. Customer to customer they don't hold anything back. Good innovators have to be plugged in to that.
But more importantly, after you listen you have to join in to the social web. I think the trend is more and more innovators are getting in to the social web, they're participating in ways that make them part of the community. They're living it, man. Then they're not isolated from their markets. They're with their customers, they're living it, they're seeing it, they're hearing it, they're doing it. I think that makes you a more powerful innovator and that trend has yet to be fully played up. We're just seeing the start I think, of the social explosion.
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