Beyond The Obvious: Game-Changing Innovation by Phil McKinney – Neutralizing Corporate Antibodies

“Innovation” is one of the biggest buzzwords of twenty-first century business vernacular. Phil McKinney, author of the new book, “Beyond The Obvious: Killer Questions That Spark Game-Changing Innovation,” presents an in-depth account of what it takes to be truly innovative. He admits that innovation is hard work; and no organization gets it 100 percent right. But, with a disciplined approach, anyone can become more innovative.

McKinney provides a set of Killer Questions that any company can use to hone their innovative mindset. Before you can use those questions, he says you must address your industry and company assumptions, manage the inevitable jolts and neutralize the corporate antibodies. Here, the focus is corporate antibodies.

Corporate antibodies are analogous to the antibodies in our immune system, which attack and destroy possibly harmful foreign objects. “Antibodies” in your organization identify and neutralize forces that threaten to destabilize a company. Much like an organism’s antibodies can damage the very thing they seek to protect (i.e. when they cause the body to reject a transplanted organ); corporate antibodies can stunt a company’s growth by squelching fresh ideas and badly needed unconventional thinkers. McKinney defines four types of corporate antibodies:

1. The Ego Response.

“Oh, I already thought of that a long time ago.”
“I have something better.”

To get their support, you need to appeal to their ego and solidify their need for personal validation. The key is to show you’re not challenging them. Put their suggestions to work in your idea and pitch. Acknowledge that those suggestions came from them. You’re now giving them a sense of ownership in the concept; and they’ll be more inclined to support your idea.

2. The Fatigued Response.

“You’ll never get approval.”
“We tried that before.”
“It won’t fit our operation.”

This corporate antibody may have pitched ideas of their own, only to have them dismissed. They’re burned out and only half listen to new ideas. As you describe your idea, his biases automatically appear, drawing connections between your new concept and old ideas that didn’t work.

You need to draw out their biases, understand what old experiences they remember; and devise a way to demonstrate that those things aren’t applicable to your new idea. Keep the dialogue going. Ask questions and engage them in your idea by asking their opinions.

Every question you can ask draws the corporate antibody closer to supporting you. They may not realize it, but they’re slowly becoming invested in your idea. You’ll discover an opportunity for a direct question about the viability of your idea. One acknowledgement from them that there is an opportunity that didn’t exist before and you’re ally-bound.

3. The No-Risk Response.

“Not enough return on investment.”
“We can’t afford that.”

This corporate antibody response understands that doing nothing might not advance their career or company status, but it also avoids any downside risks. “No-risk” is stagnancy that can be hard to diffuse.

The most effective way to gain support is to demonstrate that there is less risk than they think. Explain that supporting the first step of your idea will be low-risk, low-cost and doesn’t commit them to moving on to a bigger investment. Determine how you get people comfortable with risk. Present your concept in small steps. Asking for a few thousand dollars to prove that your customer really needs the product will garner a yes faster than asking for the full budget (and full risk) all at once.

McKinney highlights a subtle truth about innovation. “Sometimes there is no other way around a “no-risk” corporate antibody than a slightly cunning interpretation of the rules, or selective hearing when you’re told no.” He doesn’t advocate lying or deceit, but he says, you’ll find more people who feel empowered to say no than people who feel they’re empowered to say yes. “Don’t lie, but don’t always wait for permission, either. If you believe in your idea and you’re willing to take a risk, put your plan in motion. You can always ask for forgiveness later.”

4. The Comfort Response.

“We’ve always done it this way.”
“Our customers like it this way.”
“Don’t rock the boat.”

Corporate antibodies that stubbornly believe change isn’t desirable or feasible may be confined to outdated thinking about what success looks like. It’s important to understand that while your core mission may stay the same, the way you define success in achieving it may change.

McKinney concludes that corporate antibodies believe that they’re working in the best interest of their employer and customers. They believe they’re serving as a gatekeeper- the last line of defense against people or ideas that might damage the organization. To become allies, you need to convince them that you aren’t a threat and that your idea actually aligns with, and complements their ideals.

He also says “nearly all great ideas require nerve, vision, and guts to get in motion.” If you can’t develop the skills to work around your in-house adversaries, you’ll struggle to ever get your ideas and innovations launched.

Lastly, if you’re constantly shot down by corporate antibodies, you’ll need to decide if being held back by these people is acceptable, or, do you make a bold move to an organization that will support your ideas.

9 Game Changing Tips for Women Entrepreneurs in 2013

At the end of each year, I take an inventory of my life and business to shine a light on what proved to be most effective.

Here are my top nine timely tips for women entrepreneurs who are ready to make a big leap in 2013:

1. Trust Your Instincts- It’s essential that you hone your intuition and become comfortable making decisions about your life and business. Set a goal to practice being present more often and listen closely to your internal voice.

2. Practice Solitude – In our wired world, if you aren’t careful, you can be “on” all the time. Technology has certainly made our lives a lot easier but it’s essential that you not allow these time saving tools to control your life. Spending time alone is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. Start small by taking a long walk alone (cell phone off) or set your alarm to wake up for some quiet time before the busyness of your day takes over. I highly recommend taking an overnight trip alone to a favorite spa or hotel at least once a year.

3. Find Your Sweet Spot – Discover where your light shines in your business and set yourself up to live in that space as often as possible. Notice when your energy and enjoyment of the work meets the clients highest good and satisfaction – that’s your sweet spot. When I discovered this a few years ago, it was pure delight.

4. Love Your Numbers – Pay attention to money in and money out. When I began to treat my income and expenses with respect and honor the process of taking good care of my business financially, I was rewarded with significantly more income and ideal clients.

5. Say No More Often – This can be a challenge for women as we are nurturers by nature. If you want to live a life that feels truly meaningful and encompasses all your big ideas, dreams and goals, the word no needs to easily roll off your tongue.

6. Positive People Please – Embrace happy, positive, success-oriented people. Eliminate toxic negativity from your life. Period.

7. Gratitude is Good – If you’re ready to open your arms wide to having more in your life, practice gratitude daily. Be grateful for every little thing – a steamy cup of coffee, your local crossing guard and if you’re reading this right now, the fact that you are alive.

8. Exercise Empathy – If you have a dream of making a difference in the world or desire a leadership role, empathy is a valuable tool you’ll need along the way. As the great leader Stephan Covey said, “Seek first to understand.” Understanding and acknowledging someone else’s situation is the foundation to change.

9. Think Bigger- Give yourself permission to create a bigger vision for yourself than you ever thought possible. Write down a goal that feels challenging (and maybe a little scary) and then design a plan to achieve it by December 31, 2013.

If you implement even one of these nine game changing tips over the next 30 days, I promise you positive change will begin to show up in your life. I’m calling 2013 “The Year of the Woman Entrepreneur” as my instincts tell me next year is going to be a year of abundance for women who are ready to embrace all that life and business have to offer.

Anything is possible. Everything is waiting for you.

Was the iPhone the Game Changing Mobile Device?

When the iPhone 3G was released back in mid 2008, its competitors were primarily the Windows Mobile devices, Research In Motion’s proprietary Blackberry and an assortment of Symbian based handhelds.

But the release of the iPhone has raised the bar. It has helped consumers identify what they really want in a mobile device. The iPhone has turned to the mobile industry and said that consumers want a touch screen. It has said that users want easy to use, reliable devices where it’s easy to install and remove applications. With the Application Store, all users can install a huge range of applications that suit them and their life style. No longer are devices simply being used for e-mail, TXT messaging and voice calls.

Apple and the iPhone have defined the way consumers want to interact with their devices. This along with the integration of the Internet in every aspect of our day to day lives has been pivotal in defining the maturity of the mobile device industry.

The iPhone has quite simply put, emerged as one of the predominant lifestyle devices.

Corporate users love it for its ease of use, it’s stylish looks although Security Professionals continue to have a love / hate relationship due to the difficulty of managing it in the corporate environment. Apple have begun addressing this with the iPhone Configuration Utility and we expect to see more in OS4 where the iPhone will become a true enterprise device.

It has enabled users who were quite firmly in the Microsoft camp to experience what Apple can do for the world. No longer is Apple the domain of vertical geeks or diehards, but has made Apple mainstream for all consumers.

Now that the iPhone has set the new benchmark in mobile lifestyle experiences what’s next? Where does that leave the other vendors?

Microsoft have announced Windows Phone 7 however we don’t expect to see any devices based on this ground up rework of Windows Mobile until much later in the year.

Blackberry will need to do something pretty big soon otherwise they will find their corporate users will cross the divide to the iPhone and save their monthly Blackberry service fee.

Nokia desperately need to come up with something soon too otherwise they will lose the corporate market share as well as the middle to upper end of the consumer market.

The Android is the unknown contender to the iPhone and we look forward eagerly to see how this will grow mobile market share.

But the turning point in mobilizing the Internet experience for both consumers and corporate has been the iPhone. The iPhone has been a game changing lifestyle device.

The question is will the iPad also be game changing device?

Find out more at Life Style Devices

Beyond The Obvious: Killer Questions for Game-Changing Innovation by Phil McKinney – Managing Jolts

Phil McKinney is the author of the new book, Beyond The Obvious: Killer Questions That Spark Game-Changing Innovation. He’s an innovation expert who has served as Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for major technology companies and also leads innovation boot camps.

McKinney believes that ideas are our most valuable currency in today’s creative economy, which now trumps the recent knowledge-based economy. He says that the most important question organizations aren’t asking is “How do you know when your core business beliefs are heading toward obsolescence?”

It’s important to continually ask good questions to get beyond the obvious answers. Do this; and you’ll keep the momentum of discovery and innovation alive.

He acknowledges that innovation isn’t easy; and no one gets it 100 percent right. Incorporating an organized method to generate, prioritize, and execute great ideas promotes innovative thinking.

McKinney provides a dynamic set of Killer Questions that force you to look “beyond the obvious.” Those Killer Questions are divided into three categories:
1) Who your customer is,
2) What you sell them,
3) How your organization operates.

Before you can use the Killer Questions to engage game-changing innovation, you need to get past your industry and company assumptions, manage the jolts; and neutralize the corporate antibodies. Here, the focus is managing your industry and company jolts.

Jolts. “Jolts are the earthquakes and tsunamis, metaphorical and sometimes literal that you either don’t or can’t see coming,” says McKinney. Learning how to navigate jolts is pivotal in the innovation process. If you already have the “jolts-happen” mentality, you can leap frog over your competitor who may be stumped by the unexpected shift.

Jolts can be an opportunity for you if you recognize them and act fast. McKinney identifies two kinds of jolts:
1. Unexpected jolts
2. Competitive jolts.

McKinney asks:

What are the unexpected jolts that could transform your business? What’s the worst-case scenario for you or your company? What situation is so severe that you know it will never happen? Something so unrealistic that it seems pointless to prepare for it?

McKinney references the 1982 Tylenol scare in Chicago where an unknown saboteur poisoned Tylenol capsules. Until then, drug companies, including Tylenol’s parent company, Johnson & Johnson, hadn’t protected their product from tampering, because no one had ever tried to compromise their product before. McKinney asks, “What is your Tylenol scare?”

How can I create a jolt that will give me a competitive advantage?

Think Yahoo! in the late 1990s. They had developed search features allowing people to rate websites by individually curating and ranking pages. Google appeared with the idea of automated page ranking rather than human organization. Yahoo! was prepared for a competitor who might make an incremental improvement, but not the game-changing effect of Google.

McKinney emphasizes the importance of learning how to apply a critical eye to your own industry. Before you can experience game-changing innovation, you must first discard your industry and company assumptions; and prepare for the unexpected jolts that will inevitably come.

The 5 Proactive Game Changing Opportunities Available to Help You Win in Business at Any Time!

When you hear the term “Game Changing,” what do you think? Based on my experience and research, most people think about “completely changing the way something is done, thought about, or made.”

However, that is only 1 (albeit, the highest and most significant) of 6 game changing levels available to you to win in business at any time. It is this one level that is almost always the focus of stories about game changing occurrences in business today. Much can be learned from examining the leaders of game changing products, services, and companies that achieve this level of success. Recent Bloomberg TV profiles of Apple’s Steve Jobs, Google’s Sergey Brin & Larry Page, and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg help you do just that.

Yet, this level of opportunity is rarely available to 99.9% of the people in the world today! It fascinates and motivates us to hear and learn about these stories of level 6 game changing successes but the knowledge and lessons do not translate well for our everyday efforts to win in business or life!

During the last few years, most of the game changing has occurred from the outside-in. The recession changed the game for everyone. However, most people and organizations have realized that they must proactively change the game going forward!

There are 5 other proactive game changing opportunities available to help you win in business at any time! These other 5 opportunities (Level 1 through 5) are all a part of Level 6 successes and each level builds on and relies on each other. Yet, these 5 are much more readily available in any situation as practical opportunities for the more practical game changing definition of “critical and having the potential to alter the overall outcome.”

Level 6 – Products/Companies
Level 5 – Strategies
Level 4 – Tools/Processes
Level 3 – Relationships
Level 2 – Plays/Moves
Level 1 – Thinking/Habits/Routines

A.G.Lafley saw this at P&G in the last decade as he helped the company thinking and act differently about innovation. In “The Game-Changer: how you can drive revenue and profit growth with innovation”, he writes “Second, we broadened the way we thought about innovation to include not just products, technologies, and services, but also business models, supply chains, and conceptual and cost innovations. We also saw innovation not just as disruptive – the proverbial home run – but also incremental, the less glamorous but highly lucrative and profitable “singles and doubles.”

Are you capitalizing on your daily game changing opportunities to win in business today?

Over the next several weeks, I will be sharing more detailed information on how you can find and capitalize on the game changing opportunities available to you at any time.