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Innovation Flops

Looking forward to the mach49 Mothership Blitz on Friday

As someone who has spent much of my life watching organizations fall victim to what I call the ‘transient advantage‘ economy, I’ve always been puzzled that despite its obvious importance, large organizations do a lot more talking about innovation than actually doing it.  When you dig a little deeper, what quickly becomes clear is that most of the factors that inhibit innovation success – fear of failure, inadequate funding or structures,... read more »

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Why the failure of Google Glass Might be a Boon to Google

It’s official. The nerdy glasses with augmented reality and all kinds of image capturing technologies have been pulled from the market. Already, the pundits are dissecting what went wrong. It is indeed a juicy story, with hints of mad scientists hard at work in a secret building that most Googlers didn’t even know about, an affair between one of the staff on the project and Google’s co-founder Sergey Brin, and... read more »

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Tata Awards for Intelligent Failure

This blog post offers a nice description of Tata's awards for intelligent failure.  Under the rubric "Dare To Try" the company encourages people to be willing to take intelligent risks. It's one of many company practices that seek to make the most of failure!    read more »

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Questions from my webinar on Intelligent Failure

I just wrapped up a webinar on the topic of failing by design, which is the subject of a recent artilce in the Harvard Business Review.  There were some quite interesting questions asked during the course of the webinar, and I thought I would document them here for those that might have an interest but couldn't attend the webinar itself.  The presentation on which the webinar was based is available... read more »

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New Product Flops - Dear to My Heart, as always

Over at the HBR blog, there is a terrific article entitled "Why Most New Product Launches Fail" which offers a fascinating perspective on the predictable, and sometimes avoidable, ills that can befall something new.  Among the examples are Microsoft's Vista, the Segway and Coke C2.  Interesting reading.  read more »

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Fantastic story about learning from failure at Best Buy

My friends over at Strategy + Innovation published a remarkable – and very honest – story from Brad Anderson, the former CEO of Best Buy.  In the article, he describes the misbegotten acquisition by Best Buy of a chain of music stores known as Musicland.  It's a cautionary tale of how wrong one can be when making assumptions, but also how even devastating disappointments can create productive learning.  Onward with... read more »

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When life hands you lemons…AOL Style

What can you say about a 25-year-old web portal that has lost its grip on the public imagination?  I refer of course to AOL, which for many of us was our first introduction to the joys of the Internet.  It's iconic "you've got mail" tag line even became a well known movie! I still log on to my aol account every now and then, and had to smile, darkly, at... read more »

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20 Often-Fatal Assumptions

I am often asked by corporations to give some illustrations of assumptions that have caused  more trouble than they had any right to in the development of new business plans.  Here, for your edification and amusement, are twenty of the ones that have popped up frequently and which have often led otherwise sensible new ventures astray:   Other divisions in the company will be glad to help All we need is... read more »

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The London Olympics - One for the “flops file?”

One of my relatives, a UK-based small business owner, has argued for some time that the London Olympics would come to represent a ballooning cost burden for taxpayers and the reality of just what it will take to host the Games sets in.  “Add two zeroes to those estimates” he argued when the city won the initial bid. Well, it sure is starting to look as though the events are... read more »

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One from the flops file - Mattel’s all but forgotten “Flavas”

As part of my work on understanding how companies compete in dynamic markets, I run across a fair number of flops. Some are well intentioned, and others are just poorly thought through. I was reminded of this not long ago when reading a Wall Street Journal article on Mattel's attempts to give its venerable "Barbie" franchise a face-lift. The company is introducing a new "fashionista" Barbie, but we can expect... read more »

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Why smart projects so often go wrong - SAP and Business ByDesign

In class, I’ve been using German software giant SAP’s foray into Software as a Service as a ‘living case’ example of a company venturing into highly unknown territory.  Without knowing more than what is available in the public domain, participants usually conclude from the analysis that the software maker’s ambitions for the project are highly ambitious, if not impractical. Just today, then I ran across a most interesting blog on... read more »

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