There are critics of Samsung who argue that its success is mostly due to copying and then tweaking the innovations of others. There is a good deal of truth in this, especially around the early Galaxy designs.
But Samsung is a global leader in screen technology, TVs, batteries, and chip design. So in terms of innovation it is doing a lot right. But we know very little about how.
We know how its competitors innovate – we look at Google and see the 20% time, the big adjacencies, the search for disruption, the bold statements about the future of autos, for example.
We know that within Apple when a project gets to a critical stage, the company assigns three teams to its development, each of which competes against the other. We know the importance of design thinking, an attribute Google is learning about. And of customer experience.
What does Samsung do in comparison? How does it line up against these American masters or conversely are Google and Apple good enough to compete against Samsung?
There’s no doubt that patent circumvention is an aim when Samsung innovates. From its early forays into innovation, competing against Toshiba in washing and drying machines, Samsung has chased patents in areas where its competitors appear to have protection and has oriented its innovation efforts to find new patentable ideas in its competitors’ backyard.
Samsung has nurtured a close relationship with the Russian Academy of Science since then. There is a framework agreement between the two parties. And the Korean Government has its own agreement under which it funds Korean small businesses to develop projects on the back of Academy research. Samsung meanwhile appears to help the Academy to increase its patent count and to exploit its inventions.
The relationship with Russian science was the introduction of TRIZ, an innovation method that Samsung adopted from 2000 onwards but which only reached American companies from the mid-2000s onwards.
TRIZ is a methodology for systematic problem solving. Typical of its origins in Russia, it asks users to seek the contradictions in current technological conditions and customer needs and to imagine an ideal state that innovation should drive towards.
Samsung had early successes with TRIZ, saving over $100 million in its first few projects. It was also adopting Six Sigma at the time.
But it was TRIZ that became the bedrock of innovation at Samsung. And it was introduced at Samsung by Russian engineers whom Samsung had hired into its Seoul Labs in the early 2000s.
In 2003 TRIZ led to 50 new patents for Samsung and in 2004 one project alone, a DVD pick-up innovation, saved Samsung over $100 million. TRIZ is now an obligatory skill set if you want to advance within Samsung.
At the Samsung Advanced Institute for Technology, Hyo June Kim, who wrote The Theory of Inventive Problem Solving, a foundation text on TRIZ published in Korean, trained over 1,000 engineers across Samsung companies in 2004 alone.
At Samsung even the subsidiary CEO has to take TRIZ training. From looking at the various presentations I estimate that engineers get about 15 days of training plus 7 days specific project work. That’s quite an investment in method and people.
So the answer to why Samsung is so innovative – with at least two major product announcements this month – is that it is heavily invested in its people, it goes in search of special talent wherever it can find it, but specifically made astute moves into Russia early on; it targets its innovations towards specific competitors and patents that it wants to overhaul (as Apple did under Jobs); and it has an innovation culture based on extensive training, repeatable methodology and creative elite formation, backed by the highest levels of management.
I had the chance, on Thursday December 4th 2014, to participate to a lunch, organised by a French consulting company named Weave. This lunch was led by Frédéric Simottel from BFM Business and Gilles Babinet invited to the lunch. Gilles Babinet is the Digital Champion, representing France to the European Commission. Gilles was the first president of the National Digital Council, French organization set up by Nicolas Sarkozy, President of France at that time. As part of this lunch, Gilles Babinet, developed themes of his book “The digital era, a new age of humanity“.
Indeed, in the 18th century, the invention of the steam engine, starting with prototypes, produced in the 16th century, leads to the first industrial revolution. This revolution is characterized by the mass production of products, more and more sophisticated, and makes possible the industrialization of increasingly complex processes, in all sectors of activity (goods production, transport, …). In the 19th century, mining large quantities of oil, and the invention of internal combustion engines and electric motors using electricity produced from coal, results in the second industrial revolution, with power machines, which completely change the functioning of the economy and boosting the exchanges.
Gilles Babinet says that, in the 20th century, the advent of computers in 80-90 years causes the transition to the digital age, the third industrial revolution. The computer starts at the beginning of the 40s, with the radar and after the transistor in the 50s. But the revolution is actually happening 60 years later, in the 2000s, when every employee has a computer and a smartphone to communicate with his business. Again, all means of production are affected: there are no longer produced well without computers to manage production, to drive robots, to compute the accounts of the company or to boost innovation of them. No sector is spared: producing agricultural crops through computers (in tractors, for the weather forecast, for the accounts …) or producing goods through computers (to control robots, to communicate between people a company, to communicate by producing adverts…). Innovation, exponential, through simulation that allows the digital age, is totally boost by the third industrial revolution; This is why we hear so much of it after this revolution.
All sectors, all company departments, all people are affected. Gilles Babinet is exciting; these analyzes are very interesting. Summarizing the situation, we can estimate that currently there is an industrial revolution emerging each century. And it takes time between the emergence of the new revolution and its application in the industry at every level of the company.
It is interesting to imagine what could be the next industrial revolution. I have my idea about it … I think things will start to emerge within 30 years; and it will take 30 years for the fourth industrial revolution take shape. Until then enjoy the 3rd, transform our businesses to make maximum use of capacity through permissent this 3rd revolution and trying to anticipate the 4th.
How companies can nurture innovation and motivate their talents to bring innovations forward?
Each company is destined to get the results it gets. What I mean by this is that poor organization, lack of solid and sustainable innovation culture lead to poor results, and more than before, to a company’s trouble or death.
Smart business leaders shape the culture of their company to drive innovation. Success and constant positive results come from the implementation and execution of strategies, business models, structure, processes, technologies and incentive systems that encourage innovation.
1. Define your company’s mission around innovation
Many companies don’t have a mission statement, but for those which do, often times statements use generic terms, such as “best product in the world”, “best customer service”… They do not inspire employees to innovate. A strong and inspiring vision should be framed around how the company works to change its customer’s world, for the better.
2. Create the structure to allow employees to experiment new ideas with unstructured time
Successful innovative companies give time to their employees to get away from their daily tasks, to work on personal or company projects not directly related to their work. Then tap into this creative process.
3. Recognize employees’s contribution to the innovation process
Some companies offer monetized incentives. It is hard to assign a $ value to innovation; this is good for sales teams. Some companies give annual innovation awards; it is a good initiative for a short term, but it creates more competition than it encourages collaboration and creates emulation.
4. Return to the past
No new idea is completely original. Some concepts may not have materialized for various reasons, but it is always good to look at the past and understand why it did not work out. You avoid future mistakes, you can find ways to better the products (new technology, new process, new skill…). Start-up companies which by definition don’t have a past can look at what’s be done in the industry, what did not find success, and bounce off this to create something new.
5. Pay attention to culture, not trends
Culture is mass ideology – a system of values and beliefs that runs so deep we don’t question it. There’s an American belief in personal invention and reinvention. You see that in social products like Snapchat and Instagram, which allow us to invent ourselves in the moment. They may seem like a trend. But they reflect a deep underlying value.
6. Continuous education
Self-development is the key to employee’s success. In the same system where company should create a structure for unstructured time, those same companies should create time for continuous education. Allow employees to seek new interests, learn and develop new skills.
7. Allow failure
The essence of innovation is that it takes multiple experiments to successfully create new products, solutions, services. Failure is part of the innovation process. When employees are not afraid of failure, they will feel empowered to take risks and be “crazy”.
Disruptive innovation, a term of art coined by Clayton Christensen, describes a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors.
As companies tend to innovate faster than their customers’ needs evolve, most organizations eventually end up producing products or services that are actually too sophisticated, too expensive, and too complicated for many customers in their market.
Companies pursue these “sustaining innovations” at the higher tiers of their markets because this is what has historically helped them succeed: by charging the highest prices to their most demanding and sophisticated customers at the top of the market, companies will achieve the greatest profitability.
However, by doing so, companies unwittingly open the door to “disruptive innovations” at the bottom of the market. An innovation that is disruptive allows a whole new population of consumers at the bottom of a market access to a product or service that was historically only accessible to consumers with a lot of money or a lot of skill.
Characteristics of disruptive businesses, at least in their initial stages, can include: lower gross margins, smaller target markets, and simpler products and services that may not appear as attractive as existing solutions when compared against traditional performance metrics. Because these lower tiers of the market offer lower gross margins, they are unattractive to other firms moving upward in the market, creating space at the bottom of the market for new disruptive competitors to emerge.
Ryan Raffaelli, of Harvard Business School, has examined examples of “re-emergent technologies” in detail. The most striking example is the Swiss mechanical-watch industry. In the 1970s it was almost washed away by a tide of cheaper and more accurate digital watches. Today the industry is more successful than ever, providing the country’s largest source of exports after pharmaceuticals and machinery, and the engine of its revival is the old-fashioned wind-up watch.
There are plenty of other examples of re-emergent technologies. Sales of fountain pens collapsed in the 1950s with the arrival of cheap ballpoints; since the mid-1970s they have enjoyed a steady revival. Trams looked destined to become nothing more than tourist attractions in proudly quaint cities such as San Francisco and Paris. But hundreds of cities in the world have either installed new tram systems or have plans to do so. Sales of vinyl LPs in the world have increased from almost nothing in 1993 to more than some millions in 2013. The number of independent bookshops is rising for the first time in decades.
How do businesses go about reviving old technologies in the face of so much innovation? Mr Raffaelli argues that the key to success lies in redefining the product’s value and meaning. Swiss watchmakers redefined their products as status goods rather than a means of telling the time. That they are so much harder to make than digital watches added immeasurably to their desirability. Independent booksellers are redefining themselves as communities where people who care about books meet and socialise. Trams are re-emerging as a green solution to both pollution and urban sprawl: a striking number of the cities that are adopting them are formless sunbelt cities.
This redefinition demands a careful balance between tradition and change. Revival businesses often need to cultivate a close relationship with their craftsmen and customers, who may see themselves as guardians of a great tradition rather than mere employees or consumers. The Swiss watch industry arguably survived only because collectors kept paying record prices for watches at auctions and skilled craftsmen refused to abandon the old ways: when Zenith decided to throw away its mechanical watchmaking moulds at the height of what Swiss refer to as “the quartz crisis”, one old-timer decided to store them in a shed instead, wheeling them out once again when the luxury market took off. Revival businesses need to peddle their back-story remorselessly.
However, while peddling their traditions and reassuring customers and craftsmen that they are holding true to them, revival businesses also need to be willing to change. Nicolas Hayek and Ernst Thomke saved the Swiss watch industry from impending death by applying a succession of electric shocks. In a series of deals they brought together a bunch of ailing businesses into the mighty Swatch Group, whose sales last year reached SFr8.8 billion ($9.5 billion). They fought back against cheap digital watches by first redefining Swiss watches as fashion items, with Swatches, and then redefining them as luxury items, with brands such as Breguet, Blancpain and Omega which sell watches for six-figure sums.
Revival industries need to be willing to take tough decisions: for example, sacrificing market share to new entrants while holding firm on price. They also have to be ready to reorientate themselves to new markets: the Chinese have proved enthusiastic buyers of Western heritage goods.
In the near future, we may be wondering what makes us different from all these machines that can now combine power, knowledge, rapidity and some sort of intelligence of their own, some sort of experience, to work instead of us. If they can find the right words for the right events, analysing everything we say and the way we share it, if they can go up to create algorithms that can reflect feelings and emotions, what will make our work different from theirs? A question Jeremy Garner analysed in this article in Business Insider.
Here’s a few reasons shared on WAI social networks which show there are a few yet most important core reasons why we make better innovators than robots and machines. They are so much worth reminding the obvious.
Something about hope
These two young women have discovered a bacteria that could break down plastic and reduce…
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This is incredible to see how Google progressed within 1 year about their program “Google self-driving car project”. This is now not anymore, a concept with technical tests using a Toyota cars, as it was last year, with Prius or Lexus RX; this is not anymore a technical solution with engineers embedded in these cars, checking the issues of the software developed.
This concept allows Google to propose a completely automatized car without any steering wheel nor any pedals of acceleration or brake nor any engineer embedded in the car.
A new model of usage born
These cars will not be sold by Google; the cost of cars remains too expensive from now; some rumors speaks about a price of 1 million of dollars for the first Google cars, if we integrate manufacturing costs and R&D costs included; and the running costs of these cars is unknown for the moment; for sure, limited people could buy these cars if they would be allowed to buy them.
These cars will be firstly rented by Google to replace your car to go to supermarket, to go to airport or to go some meetings in your town. This model reinvent the usage of transports.
On one side, this car can be compared to a public transport, completely optimized: the car is able to take you everywhere; and you can go everywhere; this car is a two places car, it doesn’t take a lot of place in the road circulation and you don’t need to park them; the car is able to know the traffic jam and optimize the way to go to the destination.
On the other side, this car can manage all small “travel” corresponding to 80% if car usages. This is a complete revolution for the car manufacturers in the next 10 years; in this case, people will not buy anymore a car; what is the interest if you can “call” a car when you need it?
Of course, it means that there will be enough “automatized” cars available in one place as big towns. This is also a complete revolution for taxi or public transports: this automatized transport can be very competitive in the next 10 years and completely change the model of transports in big town.
Continuous disruptive model as Business model
This revolution is exiting because Google, a “big” company with 50000 employees and 60 billions of turnover, is able to make some disruptive innovations on many different sectors every year!
Generally, companies are able to make one disruptive innovation every 10 years; and when it is more, a big risk of failure of the company can be predicted. In the case of Google, it seems not; their Business model seems to be constructed on their capacity to continuously be able to build some disruptive concepts with a lot of synergies with existing profitable activities they also manage.
A lesson to be learn by many worldwide companies if they would continue to exist in the next decades.
Interoperability is increasingly seen as critical for business success, but what is it? Simply put, it is the ability to work together.
Interoperable organizations are those that can easily exchange information and subsequently make use of that information.
Interoperability allows organizations to work without barriers and without extra effort with other systems or organizations.
Individuals have already become highly interoperable, thanks to tools such as the social networks Facebook and Instagram, which both have hundreds of millions of users. These networks add value insofar as they promote communication and the exchange of information, making our lives feel more fulfilled. Without such tools, how would we keep in touch in a world where less time exists to socialize? Of course, connecting online shouldn’t be a substitute for face-to-face, but it does help us feel connected to something bigger than ourselves and to see other things happening around us more clearly.
In the business context, technologies that facilitate interoperability drive innovation. If businesses don’t innovate, they are doomed, even in the short term. Interoperability between enterprises is thus important, as it enhances collaboration and innovation.
Enterprise interoperability can be defined as a collaboration competence, occurring between business partners, and through which value is created. The oftentimes very close business relationships that result are supported by information technology, which acts as more than an enabler or a simple conduit, providing an efficient means whereby relationships can evolve to a higher level.Interoperability can focus on different aspects of these relationships, which organizations must leverage to the fullest in order to produce the innovation they need to survive:Communication—exchanging information.Coordination—aligning activities.
Channeling—involving the Internet.
One should not only look to the Internet (channel interoperability) as a solution to organizational problems. We increasingly need to know how to share (cooperation interoperability) among individuals, teams, and organizations, as this fosters knowledge creation. We need to be aligned so as not to repeat activities that have already been performed, and not to forget to do other activities that cannot be left undone (coordination interoperability).
Collaborating in teams means that more can be accomplished. Teams are collections of individual talents, which need to be celebrated, but individual stars should not be seen as being more important than the team’s overall talent to produce innovation. The IDEO Design Thinking approach, building on teamwork and on the principle that “enlightened trial and error succeeds over the planning of the lone genius,” stresses the relevance of teamwork. Communicating effectively is a form of interoperability. Information needs to be exchanged and circulated if it is to be of value.
Companies are increasingly leveraging more interoperability types at their disposal, and this will lead to more forms of innovation.Innovation comes in several forms, such as products and services, processes, organizational structure, and marketing. Companies need to introduce as many forms of innovation as possible: New products and services increase sales, process innovations decrease costs, organizational innovations increase morale and motivation, and marketing innovations increase visibility.Interoperability may perhaps come more naturally to smaller entrepreneurial firms, which need to be innovative and to have alliances and partnerships in order to survive and gain market presence. Small entrepreneurial companies communicate based on trust, with an open attitude to the environment. However, larger firms like Apple and Samsung are also innovating, suggesting that they, too, are capable of being interoperable—even if mainly on an internal basis to avoid sharing knowledge and company secrets outside the firm.
In the decades ahead, accelerating technological innovation will lead to paradigm shifts in the economy, causing certain jobs to disappear. Continuous learning will be necessary to keep people competitive and employable. So individuals, much like companies, will also be leveraging as many interoperability types at their disposal as possible, in both their personal and professional networks, to stay ahead.
Never before will being connected mean so much. In a world where we are increasingly seen as personal brands of our capabilities and unique competencies, teamwork and the honest and earnest exchange of knowledge will be paramount to the success of the multiple teams in which we move. The world is increasingly mobile, and that actually means that the world is increasingly interoperable.
Ever wonder why some run with passion at work, while others stick like Velcro to problems? When innovation opportunities stir, why do some dash forward with new talents, while others dash for cover? It could be as small as reorganizing work shifts for flexibility. Or it could be bold new acquisitions that link diverse cultures. Good news is, the human brain comes equipped to build and sustain innovative cultures. The kind of community people crave and productivity feeds on.
Yet passion’s at an all time low in today’s workplaces? Why? Consider mental equipment that typically goes hidden or unused at work:
1. To kindle new ideas takes circles of trust. Teams that consciously cultivate trust, open spaces for new ideas. The iPod’s inception, for instance, started with an innovative idea that Steve Jobs’ team kindled into revolutionized communication. Similarly, Fast Company’s awesome design moments unveiled original ideas that emerged from committed teams. Passionate communities, such as Apple and Fast Company, differ mentally from typical workplaces, just as brains of genius inventors vary from minds of complacent masses. How so? The brain’s hippocampus releases a shot of dopamine the brain chemical for kindling novelty.
2. To mimic innovative talent takes passionate people who speak up and feel heard. Believe it or not, we literally adopt another person’s talents by observing them. The innate process of mirror neurons creates innovative cultures through mimicking talents cultivated by others. Deep inside your brain cells are neurons that will fire in reaction to another’s beliefs as they roll into activity. See any new opportunities for building communities of passion where you work? How does it play out in an innovator’s actions, and in those who observe the results?
3. To build originality takes linking opposites together to generate novelty from both sides. Passion for novelty builds across racism and stomps out flame wars by taming the amygdala to harness brilliance. Luckily the human brain builds new neuron pathways for different kinds of thinkers when we engage many to prosper a wider community.
4. To introduce innovative technology takes game-changing guides. Innovation springs from workplaces that bubble over with pools just outside of prevailing thought where all participants can hook difficult facts or barriers onto solutions that others live. Just as one talented member of my group tweaked the technology, any of us can ensure that technology sparks rather than stops progress.
5. To end up with innovation takes starting with opposing or wide angled views. Passionate teams rarely wait for situations to improve. They refuel by engaging opposing views to discover original designs built from different angles. They come to problems equipped to lead in a multifaceted world. To benefit from multiple talents is to share a common vision, and then go for different offerings!
6. To develop and reward talent takes more than a few leaders. Leaders emerge when encouraged to ask – What if…? or Have you thought about …? Simple prompts from all corners go a long way toward talent growth. People bring multiple intelligences to work daily, and mindful leaders help to unwrap those gifts. As part of that process we often survey unique intelligences to help workplaces awaken new abilities that stand a chance to blossom across differences.
7. To build innovative cultures takes altering practices that stagnate workers. Here at the brain center – we pose two-footed questions to cultivate passion for solutions. Our approach integrates passionate solutions and improves existing practices when we question current barriers. With one foot we confront problems, and with the other we leap toward creative solutions. In and MBA course on innovative leadership, we challenge novice leaders with a two-footed question: What innovation will you propose that will gain followers and facilitate inventions?
8. To pull through downturns takes tone tools for tough times. Fervor for innovation gets lost in climates where tone toxins such as bullying or intimidation exist. Simply put, tone makes or breaks passion for innovation. Passion flees when stress, negativity or ego shoots down lofty ideas. Participants hang up their cleats and revert to bare routines. Luckily the brain comes with equipment to restore passion! Tone tactics tend to tug innovation and purpose back into play. Start by asking trusted peers what tone they hear in your words and then compare their responses to what your words meant to convey.
9. To avoid problems at meetings takes gathering possibilities ahead. It can be as simple as tossing out a good question, or as complex as launching a web discussion at work. Recently I started a simple back-and-forth on Twitter to toss around insights and brain facts about multi-tasking as it affects innovation. I expected to see how people view multi-tasking as it relates to their own innovation. Social networks added new colors and textures for an ASTD leadership session I facilitated, because people held up lived experiences to the rainbow for shared look.
10. To navigate past cynicism without yielding to pessimism takes running past skeptics. Have you noticed how stocks rise when people speak hope? While it seems trite to say hope lies beyond the sea of cynicism, it’s true that passion and purpose are fueled with serotonin, a hormone for well being. You spark curiosity by cultivating serotonin, while you fuel cynicism with dangerous cortisol chemicals of cynics. When passionate creators spark curiosity, imagination tends to kick into drive.
If you agree that we need more passion for original breakthroughs at work, you’ll likely also agree that passion starts with choice to be tested out-of-the-box. What do you think?