Archive for April, 2009

Shuffle Up and Innovate

April 26th, 2009

Innovation is a better way to deliver value.  Often it doesn’t require inventing anything new, just recombining existing capabilities in new ways.  CVS Caremark and Blockbusters offer two contrasting stories.

CVS has come a long way from having 17 drugstores in 1964.  Today, the company has over 6300 drugstores in the U.S. and is very good at store operations and integrating new stores into the network after several large drugstore chain acquisitions.  CVS has to work its bricks and mortar business model hard to deliver customer value, continue to grow, and to stay ahead of Walgreens and other retail competition.  But that is not the entire story.  Read more

Wanted: Market Makers

April 19th, 2009

Are you a market maker or a share taker?  I find that most of the world is made up of share takers.  Share takers focus on getting a bigger slice of an existing pie.   It is understandable.  It is easier to find a market that is already defined with the competitive rules of the road clearly marked and competitors easily identified.  It is far more difficult to create a new pie.  New markets without established competitive rules and competitors are uncharted territory.  There are far fewer market makers.  Yet making new markets is more exciting than working hard to get and keep a share point in a market defined by others.  The biggest value creating opportunities belong to the market makers.   We learn more from market makers and they tend to be passionate people and companies we want to be connected to.  Wanted: market makers.    Read more

Squeezing Harder Won’t Work

April 10th, 2009


Here’s the thing about toothpaste tubes. You can squeeze all you want on one part of the tube and the toothpaste will only pop up in another part of the tube.  Many of today’s important systems operate much the same way.

The big challenges we face today including health care and education are systems issues that require systems solutions. These systems have evolved over a long time and are well intentioned. Players in the system work hard year after year to deliver value, improve their position, and create sustained incremental improvements.  It is not enough.  We need new toothpaste tubes.  We can’t fix these system issues by squeezing harder on different parts of the tube.  We need to design and experiment with new system level solutions.   Read more

Cobbler’s Shoes. Do You Have a Family Vision?

April 4th, 2009

We all know the story of the local cobbler who was so busy making shoes for his customers that he didn’t have time to make shoes for his family.  I have led and participated in hundreds of organizational visioning sessions but in 1998 it was clear to me that my own family needed a shared vision for the future.  I was determined and proclaimed that we would spend New Year’s Eve 1998 together as a family working on our family vision.  Under duress my wife and three children amused me and participated.  My wife found the actual document I used to facilitate our visioning session in a file.  I hadn’t seen it in ten years and the question remains relevant today.  Does your family have a shared vision?    Read more

It’s the Innovator’s Day

April 4th, 2009

Today is the Day of the Next-Generation Innovator

I am an innovation junkie. It’s a good place to be right now because there’s no more important time for New England to fulfill its promise as a regional innovation hot spot. Our region has the capacity to lead the way out of this economic mess and toward solutions for the big issues of our time, including health care, education, and energy independence. We must play offense. Read more

A Simply Better Way

April 3rd, 2009

My dream for the future is that we can come together as a connected community with a shared purpose for a simply better way.

It is both a blessing and a curse to always think that there is a simply better way.   It is part of our human heritage and culture.  It is our DNA. It is who we are.  There is always a better way.

Our whole lives we incessantly design a better way in our heads.  We redesign the process while we are standing in a long line at the supermarket.  We redesign the way we receive information when we are stuck in traffic that we could have avoided.  And we redesign entire companies when we are experiencing infuriatingly bad customer service.  If you are like me it bothers you that the screens on your phone, computer, and TV aren’t connected and that one company department or government agency has no clue about your experience with the one right next to it just three days ago.  Please tell me that there is a simply better way.   Read more

Creating a Passion Economy

April 3rd, 2009

How many times since President Kennedy rallied the collective passion of our nation to send a man safely to the moon, have you heard someone say, “Where is our moon mission? Where is our passion?” We commit to our passions. We invest our minds, our time, and our resources in passions and passionate people.

We will create a more prosperous economy and stronger communities when we enable connections between passionate people and create an environment where innovators can more easily pursue their passions. Knowledge and networks are important enablers but passion is the secret sauce. Read more

Pick Up the Dust Bunnies

April 3rd, 2009

Major Dust Bunny

Major Dust Bunny

For a week I have been walking past a warren of dust bunnies in a visible corner of the stairwell on the way up to our new BIF office. For the first couple of days I noticed it but thought nothing of it. By day three and four, I wondered how many other people had noticed it and walked right on by. I also began having pangs of guilt for not picking it up myself. By day five it was clear that the bunnies were here to stay. Think about all of the dust bunnies that we walk by on any given day, either ignoring them or hoping that someone else will pick them up.

Dust bunnies can be small things like a pair of shoes left in the family room, dishes in the sink, stale bread in the cupboard, or a bicycle in the driveway. Everyone has their pet dust bunnies. Although they annoy us, we don’t do anything about them other than to complain. Read more