An MBA Isn’t Worth What You Think It Is

An MBA Isn’t Worth What You Think It Is

Featured, Innovation
Millions of dollars in student debt has been created by people seeking an MBA degree. Business have paid out millions of dollars in salary and bonuses to people with MBAs. Schools churn out MBA graduates and make a fortune by convincing students that they need one to succeed. The MBA degree is its own industry, but the value of the degree itself to a business is nothing. Why? The answer is best illustrated by a piece of advice a Harvard MBA gave to Jeff Bezos. Bezos was told, "You seem like a really nice guy, so don't take this the wrong way, but you really need to sell to Barnes & Noble and get out now." Obviously, Bezos did not take the advice. Why would an MBA give such bad…
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Who Do You Want Your Customers To Be?

Who Do You Want Your Customers To Be?

Featured, Improvement, Innovation
Who you want your customers to be is different from who do you want as your customer. Who you want your customers to be is about evolving your existing customer, and its a question you need to ask to spur innovation and make your existing customers more valuable. It seems to be an obvious question, but many of us never ask it. In an environment of open source, crowdsourcing and social media, its important to look at innovation as an investment in our customers, as a way to add value to your customers, not just for your customers. Most innovators ask, “How can we create new value for our customers? How can we do things that allow customers to do things that they’ve never done before?” Now innovators are starting…
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Developing Ideas Requires More than A Presentation

Developing Ideas Requires More than A Presentation

Featured, Innovation
We often think a one-way presentation during meetings is the best way to share ideas. But presentations are really meant to inform or persuade an audience. If you're looking to develop, build upon, and get consensus on an idea, you need to facilitate a conversation. This isn't easy to do. You have to encourage people to share thoughts freely and honestly, which means you're juggling multiple viewpoints, managing conflicts, and making sure everyone's voice is heard. One way to make the process engaging (and easier for you) is to use sticky notes and flip charts to get people to brainstorm and build on each other's ideas. This makes participation more dynamic and collaborative. Team members can capture ideas quickly on sticky notes, post them to a chart on the wall,…
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Making Creativity Predictable

Making Creativity Predictable

Attitude and Mindset, Featured, Innovation
We may never know exactly where creativity comes from, but you can create the conditions that invite it. Consider the problem you're trying to solve — and then walk away from it. Letting the problem marinate gives your brain a chance to draw connections and sort through possible paths forward. Keep a journal of ideas that inspire you, whether they’re from books, conference sessions, or random conversations. The goal is to have something to refer to when you need a mental jolt. You can also get inspiration by doing things that don’t interest you. Does a magazine have an article on a topic that bores you? Read it anyway. You never know where your next big idea will come from. This works because it activates parts of the brain that…
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Lessons From Apollo 11

Lessons From Apollo 11

Featured, Innovation
Fifty years ago man first set foot on the moon. This achievement was considered impossible by some and represented a giant leap forward in technology. When John F. Kennedy first announced the goal of reaching the moon, it was unknown if we would be able to do it. Like many challenges that business faces, it was a learning experience and a teaching moment. There are lessons from putting man on the moon that we can all apply. Have A Clear Goal: Everyone involved with knew what the goal was. Put a man on the moon and bring him back successfully. As complicated as the project was, the goal was able to be summed up in that one sentence. Make your goal simple enough so that everyone understands it. Persistence: There…
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Break Out of Your Standard Patterns of Thinking

Break Out of Your Standard Patterns of Thinking

Featured, Innovation
Apple popularized the phrase "Think Different" in it's ad campaigns. Great innovators see the world differently. They look beyond what’s obvious and expected, and seek out novel solutions to problems. You can push yourself to be more creative by trying out new approaches to challenges. In the movie "Good Will Hunting" this was illustrated by the students standing on their desks to get a new perspective. When you’re in a situation where you’re tempted to resort to your usual methods ask yourself these questions: What expectations and assumptions are you bringing to the situationHow are your personal background, professional expertise, and relationships at work affecting your methods? How might someone from another department or industry view the challenge? How might you tackle the project if you didn’t already have a…
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Two Things To Do Before Running A Business Experiment

Two Things To Do Before Running A Business Experiment

Featured, Improvement, Innovation
Experiments are a great way to test your assumptions and make smart decisions, whether you’re launching a product or optimizing a marketing campaign. But without a thoughtful plan of execution, you may not learn anything truly useful. Before you invest in an experiment, make sure you are set up so the experiment can provide you with what you need. Make sure you are able to collect the data you need to answer the experiment’s underlying question. For example, if you can’t measure attribution from a digital ad to a sale, you can’t run an experiment to figure out which ads are effective. Do a test run of the experiment in a low-stakes environment. If your goal is to send an email survey to customers, send it to a large group…
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Unsilo Your Knowledge

Unsilo Your Knowledge

Featured, Improvement, Innovation
It is common for people to try to stay up-to-date in their chosen profession. I.T. people study up on the latest technology, marketers keep up with the latest marketing techniques, etc. The most successful businesspeople go beyond their silo. They learn things unrelated to their work. By doing so, they take their abilities to a new level. Taking knowledge from other fields and jobs allows you to innovate in your own. Knowing how other people in your organization work, allows you to make project transitions seamlessly. Knowing what challenges other people face can give you ideas on products or services to solve those problems. Read up on history, programming, design, science, art, engineering, or any other topic that captures your imagination. You never know where your next big idea will come…
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Innovation Starts With Setting Clear Goals

Innovation Starts With Setting Clear Goals

Featured, Innovation
Sometimes entrepreneurs and executives fail to establish guidelines for innovation because they believe that creativity is all about giving people freedom. But if you don’t specify what kind of ideas you are looking for, you’ll end up with a lot of ideas to reject. While rejecting a lot of ideas is not necessarily a bad thing, it does take up time and resources that could be used in better ways. For better results focus on problems that are relevant to your business and overall goals. Define the type of outcome people should aim for. For example, are you looking to increase market share or improve quality or simplify a process? Give people an indication of what a “good enough” idea is – e.g., a target year-one revenue number or a…
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Don’t Believe These Strategic Planning Myths

Don’t Believe These Strategic Planning Myths

Featured, Innovation, Planning
Strategic thinking often boils down to choosing what not to do. Yet three myths continue to plague it: Myth 1: Productivity is the goal. Productivity is about getting things done. Strategic thinking is about getting the right things done well. And that means leaving some things undone. Myth 2: Strategy is about what's “important.” Every project is important to someone, and every organization has more important projects than it can complete. Strategic thinkers must decide where to focus their efforts. Myth 3: It’s only about thinking. Strategic thought has to yield actionable decisions. Leaders must step up and make the call about what the team will and will not do — and then stick to it.
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