Practice of Innovation

"The way we work is our most important innovation." Observations by Curtis R. Carlson

Teaching Future Innovators

Curtis Carlson speaking at the annual KEEN conference.

Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN)

The KEEN annual conference is sponsored by the Kern Family Foundation.  It is one of America’s most important foundations, helping students across America learn how to be successful value creators and entrepreneurs. These are increasingly critical skills for all professionals in the global innovation economy.

Innovation is the driving force behind growth, prosperity, jobs, environmental sustainability, and resources for national security and social programs.  Today’s innovative results are only fair.  It is like the poor quality and cost of products before total quality management (TQM). Our challenge is different now.  It is not quality and cost; it is the creation of innovations that grow to global scale.  

This year I was the keynote speaker at the conference attended by 500 academic leaders from 36 universities.  It was an extremely valuable and exciting meeting.   The professors engaged in KEEN are enthusiastically and successfully providing their students with these essential skills.  KEEN sponsors a variety of creative innovation programs and their network actively shares program results, curricula, and best practices.  My presentation is attached below.  It describes some of the challenges we see, the methodology we have developed for successful value creation, and how we are teaching these ideas to student teams at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and other universities.   

KEEN C Carlson 2019 (more…)

Customer Value

The Primary Enterprise Function

Peter Drucker famously said, “Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two – and only two – basic functions:  marketing and innovation.  Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs.”  Few companies have a thoughtful value-creation process and even fewer are truly customer focused.  Achieving that starts by employees understanding the meaning of “customer value”  The attached viewgraphs (below) address some of customer value’s most basic features.  This presentation was developed with Harry Cook when we were on the GM Science and Technology Advisory Board.  The applied examples are all due to Harry.  Any additional thoughts or comments are greatly appreciated. 

Customer Value Curtis Carlson 2019

Are Amazon, Facebook, and Google Good for Society?

A Behavioral Economics Perspective

Amazon, Facebook, and Google (AFG) and other social networks are collecting information on us to increase the value of the advertisements and products they sell.  Some worry in a vague way about how this is reducing our personal privacy.  Others increasingly worry that our personal information is being used to manipulate us and to control the flow of information across society.  

In a previous post, I described how behavioral economics (specifically Prospect Theory) applies to products and why Steve Jobs’s fanatical dedication to perfection was so unique and valuable for Apple.  The same basic ideas from the behavioral sciences apply to other areas, like giving bonuses a bit at a time or why bad news should be confronted all at once.   (more…)

Is Teaching Entrepreneurship Helping or Hurting?

Focus on Value Creation

Curt Carlson National Academy presentation: “Innovation for Impact”

Summary:  Today’s innovative performance is generally poor, but it can be greatly improved.  Entrepreneurship is the driving force of an innovative economy, but most professionals are value creators, not entrepreneurs.  The initial stages of value creation are where much of the failure resides.  More effort must be placed on the core concepts and processes of effective value creation, which is the precursor to all major innovations.  Value creation is a discipline that can be learned and applied.  It is a discipline that all professionals, and all would be entrepreneurs, should master.  Doing so would have a large positive impact on America’s growth and the creation of additional meaningful jobs. (more…)

The Value Creation Quiz

Test Your Innovation Quotient - IQIQ: Innovation Quotient

The Innovation Quotient allows you to test your knowledge about fundamental innovation concepts and practices. For example, do you know the definitions for innovation, customer value, and a value proposition plus the primary barriers to innovative success?  You can find out if you are a:

  • Professional practitioner
  • Superior performer
  • Competent
  • Apprentice
  • New recruit

Have a good time and let me know how you do.

1.

The mean lifetime of the top 500 U.S. companies today is:



2.

Many technologies are improving at what rate?



3.

A useful definition for "innovation" is:



4.

What's the definition for "customer value"?



5.

The definition of a "value proposition" is:



6.

All significant new innovations should be:



7.

After you have a working hypothesis for your innovation's value proposition, you:



8.

Does your enterprise teach all employees how to be value creators?



9.

When starting a new innovation what do you do first?



10.

"Unknown" customer needs are:



11.

A viable business model is:



12.

Where is the best place to compete?



13.

Fraction of your team who should be able to define what a "value proposition" is:



14.

Value creation requires what intensity of collaborative iteration?



15.

In forming value creation teams, which attribute is least important?



16.

In an enterprise who can be a value creator?



17.

Which of the following is not required to obtain a U.S. patent?



18.

Which of these is true?



19.

These team behaviors help assure productive collaboration:



20.

Do value-creation methodologies based on fundamental team practices:



21.

Who created Siri, HDTV, Intuitive Surgical, and the fundamentals of the personal computer interface, including the computer mouse?



22.

In surveys of companies, which of these is not one of the top-five barriers to innovation?



23.

A value creation champion can lack the following:



24.

What practices hurt a team's ability to be successful value creators?



25.

In what areas of society are new innovations possible?





Name:
Email:

NAE & NSF Value Creation Best Practices

Value Creation Best Practices

nsf_logo_f_fd498206-e543-4e7f-a92b-7f4885c2ad97The premier R&D and value creation programs at the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) are Engineering Research Centers.  These are initiatives where multidisciplinary teams address grand challenge opportunities with $50M of funding over ten years.  The centers are formed from leading U.S. universities and commercial partners.  The goals of the initiatives are: 1) paradigm-shifting research, 2) training of students in team science and value creation, and 2) societal impact, including through commercialization.  A 2017 study by the U.S. National Academy of Engineering (NAE) I was part of made major recommendations for how the centers could be formed and managed to make the biggest societal impact. As shown below, the NSF is now implementing these new practices.   I am extremely excited about this because I believe the changes made will have a major impact on the output of the centers and the ability of students to become successful value creators.  The management of the NAE and NSF are to be congratulated.   (more…)

Best Education for Our Era

The WPI Plan

Laurie Leshin and Curt Carlson.
Laurie Leshin, WPI President, and Curt Carlson.

Executive summary: Technical graduates must be accomplished value creators to thrive over their careers. Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has pioneered the experiential education needed for success in the global innovation economy.  In 2016 the WSJ selected WPI as the top U.S. school for combining teaching and research  (more…)

Drucker Forum on Innovation

“Do you have a value-creation playbook?”  “No.”

the-entrepreneurial-society-33-top-quotes-from-global-peter-drucker-forum-2016-5-638

The Drucker Forum, led by Richard Straub, is one of the world’s most important conferences on innovation and entrepreneurship. It honours Peter Drucker, the genius who laid the foundations for modern management.  Each November it is held in Vienna, Austria where Peter Drucker was born in 1909.  Many of the world’s thought leaders and practitioners are there to share progress on these increasingly important topics. 

During my talk, “Creating an Innovative Enterprise,” I asked the 500 participants if their staff were given a value-creation playbook along with innovation training so they could be effective value creators.  Only 5 people raised their hands.  (My presentation is here:  drucker-forum.) (more…)

Innovation and Education

A Defining Convergencescreen-shot-2016-11-03-at-10-52-58-am

This video is of the President’s Distinguished Lecture I gave at Stevens University on October 5th 2016.

It is often said that the key to innovative success is to fail fast.  That is wrong.  It is also misleading and dispiriting.  The key to innovative success is to learn, search, discover, and create fast.  Value creation is a branch of the learning sciences.

Graduates are entering a turbulent and demanding world.  Job growth and prosperity have dramatically slowed and automation may eliminate half of today’s jobs.  We are not currently creating the jobs and prosperity America needs. (more…)

Innovation Definitions

Can We Agree on the Basics?Edit 2 apple-steve-jobs

I was recently asked to define a number of basic innovation terms.  Below are some of the most important.  I would greatly appreciate your feedback.  I will address the issues and thoughts you provide in future posts. (more…)

Customer Value Analysis

DK Untitled
Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Prize winner in economics.

Products, Services, and Prospect Theory

Behavioral science is now an influential part of economics. It needs to become a more important part of the discipline of innovation. Although the discussion below is somewhat speculative, it highlights important perceptual attributes of “customer value.” Prospect Theory inspired this discussion, but the focus is quite different. Therefore I call it “Customer Value Analysis,” a model to help better evaluate the relative merits of different forms and amounts of customer value. (more…)

Siri: A Disruptive Innovation

Adam Cheyer Discusses the Origins of Siri

Siri-Founders
Tom Gruber, Dag Kittlaus, and Adam Cheyer

What does it take to create a world-changing, disruptive technical innovation?   The history and technology behind Siri, the world’s first intelligent computer assistant, is described here by Adam Cheyer, one of the founders of Siri, the SRI company bought by Steve Jobs for use on the iPhone-4.  Siri added tens of billions of dollars of market value to Apple and profoundly changed the way the world thinks about interacting with computers.   (more…)

Innovation is Learning, Searching, and Creating

idea-mgmt-illustration-300p - Copy
By Lonni Sue Johnson

“Learn fast to succeed early.”  Yes.  “Fail fast to succeed early.”  No!

The right concepts move us forward.  The wrong concepts hold us back.

In Silicon Valley it is often said, “You must fail fast to succeed early.”  That is tragically wrong.  The goal is never to fail fast.  It is also demoralizing.  

(more…)

Silicon Valley’s Epicenter

Cafe Barrone

Cafe Barrone in Menlo Park, CA

Everywhere I go around the world, people ask me to “explain” the magic of the Valley.  You probably know the elements: great universities, billions of dollars of smart money, a comprehensive industrial cluster, a culture of achievement, abundant support facilities, a magnet for smart and diverse professionals, numerous mentors and domain experts, a global perspective, terrific food and other amenities, and great weather and stunning scenery.  At the same time, the transportation infrastructure is marginal and government policies and regulations are only tolerable. There is no “affordable” housing.  It is not perfect, but it is still the most exciting place for systematically creating innovations that change the world.  (more…)

css.php