On Simplicity and the Mystery of Throw Pillows

We’re having family drop in for a visit to enjoy the beautiful pollen-filled spring time in the Southwest.  This, of course, requires a special level of house cleaning.  Both guest rooms will be occupied and since these rooms don’t receive a lot of use during our regular life routines, they need some sprucing up for the level of hospitality you want your guests to experience.

One of the guest rooms, the “Green Room” (you guessed it), yep, its color theme (did I just write “color theme”?) is green, is my sports room and music room.  All my tennis, golf, and training stuff is stored here and all of my guitars and assorted music stuff is there too.  The Green Room gets a little more attention than the “Black Room”.  This is Laura’s domain and is where all her gift wrapping stuff is.  When Laura wraps ANY gift is it a museum-worthy piece of art.  I kid you not.  Whereas, after 40 years of wrapping various treasures mine resemble the result of an exercise for any creature without opposable thumbs.

Laura came back from our marathon road trip really sick, so I wanted to jump in and get these rooms in GOOD TO GO condition.  Simple stuff, like new linens on the beds, dusting, vacuum, and the general once over.  It was during these housekeeping exercises that I once again stumbled upon one of the great mysteries of the human condition –  the abundance of pillows.

There are pillows of all sizes and shapes.  There are pillows of all colors and textures.  There are sleeping pillows, decorative pillows, and pillows that escape a description of function.  There are pillows EVERYWHERE!

They seem to multiply in some bizarre genetic methodology that would stump even Francis Crick and James Watson (go ahead, Google them, I’ll wait…………).

I am befuddled by these pillows.  I thought I understood the function of a pillow.  I use two to sleep on and take three off our bed every night and then proceed to put them back on every morning.  That’s just MY side of our bed.  Now I’m good with the idea of design and the roll a pillow would play in bedroom creative decorum, but COME ON.  What’s the appropriate number?  I’m pretty sure that a combined 21 is a little high, like 106 degrees is a little high for the Jacuzzi.   Is there some theorem that could be applied like the Pythagorean Theory or the Mean Value Theory?

I have made a living helping organizations understand and apply the principles of simplification and yet our pillows seem to expand like the Universe.  Forget about comparing the grains of sand on our planet to the number of stars in the sky, I’m switching to a throw pillow scale.

I know this is a losing battle and in reality outside of driving me nuts, has little impact on the spinning of our globe, but come on . . . . .

The Competitive Advantage 

This is the eve before I head out on one of the most challenging road trips in recent memory.  Composed of eight cities in about four weeks with only a few hours in Austin to repack, it is a testament to the value of our ideas.

Four of the projects are training sessions where we get to teach specific strategies and forge a link to the success found in their direct application.  Companies that invest in their people, that look to take advantage of learning new ideas, give themselves a tremendous market advantage.  I know that training budgets are the first thing that gets slashed when companies start to pull in their heads, turtle style, when the business climate toughens.  It’s the exact wrong thing to do.  When times get tough, that’s when training becomes critical.  It is an ancient strategy.

In the early days of the Roman Empire they really didn’t have an army.  They would conscript farmers and call them into service.  Not exactly a martial strategy.  In 90 BC the Gaul’s came a callin’ and gave the Romans a good thumping.  They pillaged Rome and its surrounding villages for over six months.  In fact, the Romans dug deep into their coffers and paid the Gaul’s to leave.  It was a good lesson.  Training was about to become the Roman advantage.

For the next century Rome became the Mecca of military training.  They began a process of perfecting their Legions.  No more farmers, Rome began training a professional army.  They built a military machine.

They trained in the use of all kinds of weapons.  They worked hard on stamina with long marches and runs.  They created strategies and taught them to every single soldier.  They had fierce discipline creating a sense of accountability so that every soldier was accountable to the soldiers on their right or left.

Rome went from the plaything of the Gaul’s to the Roman Empire.

It’s a great example of the value of training:

  • They trained every soldier. Every single one.
  • They knew what the basics were weapons, stamina, and strategy. They built their curriculum around three key pieces.
  • They had their generals partake in the training to create a sense of connection.
  • They held everyone accountable for the application of what they learned.

Training often seems like a luxury and in almost any form, it ain’t cheap, but when it becomes a cultural pillar, a strategy as necessary as accounting, you get The Ritz-Carlton , Apple, British Airways and GE.

Knowledge and skills are expanding qualities and it’s incumbent on companies to be the creator of the opportunities that will make their people the most valuable asset in the company


Your Sacred Time

Lately, we have been doing a lot of time or project management workshops for our clients. It seems that the constant demand for more has people scurrying to figure out how to stretch the unforgiving minute into more productivity. That’s not what this posting is about. Instead, I want to introduce the idea of sacred time.In the constant demand for pieces of you, for their need of a pound of time, you need some sacred moments, moments that are yours and yours alone.

I learned this years ago and created my sacred time, time that I revere, time that is critical to my success. It’s about time to rest, to focus on awareness. Mine happens on Sunday’s.

Sunday’s are my sacred days. It is the only day that I’m not up at 4:00 AM to attack the day. I sleep a little longer. I don’t train or follow the insanity of my workout schedule during this time that I hold precious. I share the morning with Laura in our ritual, fresh scones and coffee, the Sunday paper and a conservative news show followed by a liberal news show. I head down to the office for a couple of hours of quiet writing. We head out to the movies or maybe a round of golf. The evening is spent on my learning cycle of Sunday blogs and newsletters. I study the ideas contained therein and usually end up with 10 notecards full of images and stuff I want to save. Here are a few of the resources that come my way:



I allocate time to myself. It’s alright. It’s not selfish. You should do this.  In fact, it may be imperative for your sanity.

There’s so much to appreciate about my life every single day, and I make a big point of taking time to smell the roses and noticing how lucky I am. I never want to take that for granted.

Josie Maran

If this time falls in the “sacred” category, it is worthy of a plan. Maybe it’s not an entire day, but instead time early in the morning ahead of the magnetic pull of your day. Perhaps it is found in the quiet of the evening, just before bed. It might be in a deep stretch from your yoga class. Maybe it’s a long walk.  Believe me, it’s out there and it’s calling to you through the chaos of your endless demands. It takes courage and commitment to carve out its place in your life, mostly because it is YOURS. No one takes it from you.


The basic thing is that I want to do the best work possible, and I can only do that if I’m relaxed and have a lot of energy. And that can only come from taking time off.

Jason Scott Lee

We look at our resources and allocate value to a wide variety of things. Often we miss the most important. Look for your sacred time. It’s out there and once you find it, once you make it important, you will wonder how you ever lived without it.


We’ve codified our existence to bring it down to human size to make it comprehensible. We’ve created a scale so that we can forget its unfathomable scale. Time is the only true unit of measure. It gives proof to the existence of matter. Without time, we don’t exist.

Scarlett Johansson – The Movie LUCY

The Client Experience Doesn’t End At The Point Of Purchase


Our Dazzling Blue program is centered on creating a client experience that separates and differentiates our clients in the face of a creeping sense of everything’s the same.  We are battling the commoditization of what we make, what we do, and how we solve our client’s needs.


When we start one of our Dazzling Blue projects for a client,  we always start at the beginning.  Where do the tendrils of what you do touch your client?  In order to be Dazzling, to be extraordinary, it has to encompass all that you do.  You can’t commit to Dazzling half way.

Here is one of my favorite examples of how NOT to be Dazzling.  Client touch points are critical in a Dazzling experience.  You need to know all of them and see each touch point as an element in the client experience.

I recently purchased a new charging cable for both my iPhone and my iPad.  It was positioned beautifully in a display case which positively impacted my buying choice.

Upon getting it home, I  went downstairs to the office to create a charging station for my gear.

So what could be the problem?  Hmmmm.  I tried to open it.

Now, I’m pretty smart and after a dozen attempts and a study period equaling getting ready for the SAT,  I couldn’t get the top off.  I obviously had the wrong tools, my hands.  I checked the packaging.  No opening directions.  I looked for some unique tool that came with this Chinese puzzle box.   Apparently, this chord is more valuable than the gold in Fort Knox, because I believe I could have accessed that shiny bullion easier than anyone could have accessed this damn charging cable!

Then I thought I needed something, a tool, and tried to pry it off with a screwdriver.

Nope, the lid would not budge despite my Archemidian attempt to use the screwdriver as a lever.

I was now 20-30 minutes into just trying to get the damn thing open, so I decided to change strategies and thought about the following tools.



I settled on the hammer and proceeded to beat the ever lovin daylights out of the plastic vault like container.  And . . . . .  I’ll be damned but, it opened and shattered into a hundred pieces.

I had my cord and, though I somewhat enjoyed the destructive process of opening the case,  I can’t believe that was the intended design.

Though the packaging was beautiful and its ability to stand out in a custom display case enticed me to buy, it is as far from a Dazzling Blue experience as a company can get.  Surely they tested the case?  Surely they gave it to some folks to open?  Surely they thought of the client, the customer, the end user, beyond the cool way it looked?  NOPE.

A Dazzling Blue experience wraps itself around the client.  It is found in the way you greet a client, in the way you deliver your product, in the way you handle problems.  You have to see the whole picture to separate yourself from the vanilla world and creating barriers is as far from Dazzling as you can get!

Is the holiday mall experience a thing of the past?



Hey, you goin to the mall?

It wasn’t all that long ago when the mall was both the conspicuous consumption capital and social mecca of suburban culture.  Pre-driver license teens would be dropped off by dutiful mom’s to begin evenings of food court courting.  Heck, even zombies hung out there as in George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead and then Kevin Smith’s Mallrat’s stuck a pin in the map defining its cultural epicenter.

online-shoppingBut, as all elements of cultures go, the destination mall began to lose its luster.  Online shopping started to eat away at the mall’s allure and the 2007/08 housing bust/recession completed the mall’s fade from glory.  But all did not die and many of these superstructure marketplaces still exist and they are fighting for retail relevance.


With the upcoming Holiday season already in full “I want this” swing, finding an avenue of importance for malls is more critical than ever.  Enter the strategic relevance of the customer experience.  With malls shedding customers faster than a Golden Retriever sheds its mane; a laser-like focus is in order to get those automatic doors swinging open again.

The key tool is creativity and the ability to add a little risk to the formula, in fact, that’s the best prescription for approaching client experiences that beckon to a customer.

Start with a simple goal; how can we get more people back to the mall at Christmas.  The season itself provides needed momentum just like the spinning of santathe earth helps a rocket get to space.  So you have Christmas energy and you have a central location for all the parents looking for the legendary king of the season, Santa.  With a visit and photo op on waiting to be checked off Holiday to do lists, malls are looking to  shift the traditional experience.  Many malls are ramping up the old sitting on Santa’s lap event.  Here are a few of the ideas in play:

  • At the New Jersey Short Hills Mall, kids get to help Santa load his sleigh through a fantastic electronic experience where pushing buttons and pulling levers move packages. They can choose reindeer routes and fill the sleigh with the needed magic.
  • At the Simon Property Group, owners of a gazillion malls, you can reserve your photo time with the jolly old man himself and they have special times for those that want a photo of St. Nick with their pets.
  • Some of the malls in the more tropical areas of our country like Florida have actually brought in snow and connected a real winter experience with a spectacular holiday light show, making their locations actual destinations!

The idea is that a refocus on the customer by providing experiences that get them in the door may also separate a few dollars from their wallets for the shop owners.


The client experience is the saving force in the separation and differentiation companies desperately search for.  It should be high on your strategic wish list!

How Do You Show Gratitude?



Creative Ventures is part of the Pay If Forward corporate movement where companies pledge to pay a percentage of either net revenues or profits to various charitable causes.

At Creative Ventures each team member is given a share of net revenues to donate to any charity or cause they feel connected to or whose mission speaks to them.

We are pleased to announce this year’s recipients:


THE NOT IMPOSSIBLE FOUNDATION:  I had the honor of meeting and working with the charismatic and incredibly fun founder of The Not Impossible Labs, Mick Ebeling this year and was stunned at the phenomenal work Mick and his team does.  Taking small amounts of resources and marrying them with imagination and a dogged determination not to fail, Mick and the Not Impossible gang are changing the world, literally!  With a three-part mission:

  • Technology for the sake of humanity
  • Help one, help many
  • Help through making things

They are changing the perspective of what can be done – ANYTHING!  And nothing, I mean nothing, is impossible!


st-judesST JUDE’S CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL:  St Jude’s has been a core charity for Creative Ventures during our 31-year existence.  Their work in the prevention and treatment of pediatric catastrophic disease is world renowned.  NO child and I mean NO child is ever denied treatment.  NO family ever received a bill for their child’s time at St. Jude’s.  St Jude’s is in the miracle business.



open_graph_heiferHEIFER INTERNATIONAL:  Their mission is to empower families in the most poverty stricken areas on this planet, through sustainable agriculture and commerce, to find hope and prosperity.  Through the idea of not just giving a fish, but teaching them to fish, families receive livestock that provide nourishment for the family and the ability to create small pocket businesses with the surplus provided by the animal.  Their work across the planet has changed thousands of lives and given hope, where hope did not exist.


operation-smileOPERATION SMILE:  Every child deserves exceptional surgical care and to be treated like they were your own.  That’s what Operation Smile does.  They provide hundreds of thousands of surgeries in poverty stricken areas providing children a chance at a normal life where that chance never existed before.  Operation Smile is one of the oldest volunteer-based organizations in the world and offers their medical services in over 60 countries.


We are honored to be chosen by our clients to work with them on the core strategies they plan.  Our services are unique and fit a very distinct value proposition.  We are grateful for the relationships that inspire our thinking and drive us to new ideas and actionable plans.

This is just one of the way’s we say; THANK YOU!

To Grow or Not to Grow



We were recently working with a client on a project that had, at its core, the idea of connectivity.  We were working on taking the existing suite of services offered by our client and looking for ways to connect new ideas, creating a bridge of value between the new and the old.  It was a challenging to create something that used that type of leverage to develop impact.

walt-disney-logo-88195Perhaps no company in history has been more successful at this idea than The Disney Company.  The brains and imagination behind the most successful acquisitions of the past 50 years has been Bob Iger.  It would be safe to say that over the past decade Iger has spearheaded the greatest group of connected acquisitions in corporate history.

The challenge of any acquisition is finding the highest and best connection points so the both the parent company and the acquired company have the best chance to succeed.  There need to be connections on balance sheets, within budgets, on the cultural front and the actual services and products provided.

150313103547-bob-iger-mickey-mouse-780x439Iger is a man of vision and his role in marrying Pixar Animation, Marvel Comics and LucasFilm demonstrates his genius in connectivity.  It might make many of us think how can Darth Vader, Nemo and Iron Man find common ground with Mickey, but not only did they connect, they shared a creative spark unlike anything the business world has ever seen.

Disney has always been a master at connecting.  Disney stories formed the heart of their theme parks and made seamless transitions to product lines.  The number one rated ride at the Disney parks has long been Pirates of the Caribbean which then became a tent pole film franchise.  The Lion King went from a smash at the movie theater to a revolutionary hit on Broadway and soon to follow The Jungle Book in becoming a live action film.

In 2006 Iger personally negotiated the purchase of Pixar from Steven Jobs.  He focused on keeping the creative team together and cultivated the existing culture.  Disney now had a new cadre of characters and a seemingly endless pixarlogostream of computer-generated, Oscar-winning animated films.  Next, he set his sights on Marvel Comics.  In 2009, for a mere $4 billion Disney grabbed Marvel and brought with them over 400 heroes and villains.  Their transition to the silver screen, in the Disney way, made The Avengers the third most profitable film in history.  The caped good guys and bad guys just seem to keep coming.  Then, in October of 2012, Disney scrounged around for another $4 billion plus and acquired LucasFilm and a data base that contain literally thousands of characters on 1000’s of planets spanning 20,000 years with a mythology as rich as that of the Greeks.

Now continue on the connected value journey and you will soon discover more connections than a DNA molecule.  Movies, TV, toys and products, theme park rides and attractions are just the highly visible leverage found in these connections.  Iger and Disney were able to see the value of an imaginary universe.

You need three things to create value-based connections:

  • It has to be worthy. It must elevate and not damage your brand.
  • It has to help you competitively. Does it continue to separate and differentiate you in your market?
  • It has to endure. The better decisions you make on creating connections, the better your chance that all your effort will carry you into the future.

In 1985, when a very young ex-surfer had the idea to create a strategy based company around a series of unique and dynamic ideas, I was honored that my first client was The Disney Company.


What Can We Do For You?


OK, my last entry was about the deplorable customer service culture where “I’m sorry” has become the native tongue.  I thought in this posting I would share a company that gets it right.

I’m a watch guy. I like watches.  Sometimes I will be on my iPad and Laura will look over my shoulder and see me surfing watch websites and laugh; “looking at watch porn again.” I own a lot of watches.  I like the look of watches and you will never see me without one on.

Some years back I was looking for an indestructible watch.  A watch that could handle everything I could throw at it, so that I really never had to take it off.  It would be water resistant to a good depth.  It would have strong illumination so I could see it at night without having to push a button.  It would be shock proof and tough.  It would be reactor-watches-higashi-jewelry-pacomfortable.  With my criteria set, I began my due diligence.  After looking around I stumbled upon a small California watch company that was started in 2003 – REACTOR watches.  Founded by Jimmy Olmes, the creator of the Shark watch for Freestyle that virtually created the surf watch category and captured 75% of that niche market.

img_3044Despite owning a display case full of watches, my Reactor Gryphon has seldom left my wrist.  OK, now that I have set the stage, here’s why I’m telling this story.  A couple of months ago, I noticed some moisture had gotten into my Gryphon.  I couldn’t believe it.  I was heartbroken.  I had worn this watch through the toughest of times and it was well out of its warranty.  Due to its indestructible nature, I assumed “operator error”. Maybe when I switched to daylight savings time, I didn’t lock down the triple clicked crown or something like that.

After the grief subsided, I decided to send them a note.  I took a picture of the watch and sent an email to their general delivery box.  Within two hours, yes TWO HOURS, my phone rang.  It was not just the customer service rep from Reactor (for which I would have been both thrilled and impressed) it was the head honcho himself!  He introduced himself, DID NOT APOLOGIZE, but instead asked, “How can we help you?” I explained my situation and without hesitation he told me to send it to him personally and he will take care of everything.  One week later my beloved Gryphon came back to Austin in pristine shape and has seldom left my wrist since.  By the way, the invoice that accompanied the watch showed a zero balance due.  They did it for FREE!


how-can-we-helpNow, they could have and probably should have told me, the warranty has long since expired and there isn’t really anything we can do.  They could have said, we can fix it for a certain amount.  Instead, all they cared about was; how can we help you?


I’m not done.  I recently noticed the little thing that holds the band down after you have cinched it to the right hole (now I know it is called a band clasp) had a small tear in it.  It’s made of silicone and wear and tear had started to show.  I contacted their customer service department to buy a new one.  They would hear none of that “buy” a new one.  They put one in the mail the day of my call!

Though the product itself, the Gryphon watch, is spectacular, it has been their client experience that has made me a customer for life.


In the scope of all you do, NOTHING and I mean NOTHING is more impactful than your client experience.  In our Dazzling Blue platform, we work with companies to create laser-like focus around everything that touches their customers.  It takes a constant spotlight. How you treat people in regards to the products or services you provide can be so special that it will provide you that cherished element of differentiation in a commoditized world!

An Avalanche of Apologies


“I’m sorry, have you been helped yet?”

“No,” I told the waiter.

“I’m sorry, but your server doesn’t seem to be around.”

“You’re a server, right?”  “Yes,” he responded.

“Well, how about you get my wife and me a couple of menus.  We’ve been sitting here for about 10 minutes.”  I then asked him the group of servers around the wall mounted computer?

“Oh, those are waiters training on our new system.”

“During the dinner hour,” I asked?

“Yeah, sorry about that.” Each member of that training wait staff had looked over at our table and promptly ignored our dinner plight.

You ALL recognize that exchange, the service experience STARTS, with an apologyapology and from that point on you’re riding your ski’s down an avalanche of apologies.  In fact, the apology has become the national language of customer service.

It’s a business disgrace.  Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, will create impact faster than the way you treat your customers.  A single horrific experience can spell doom for a relationship you have spent time developing.

I was at the pro shop for our golf club and the guy behind the desk was on the phone.  I stotalking-on-phoneod there, right in front of him as he continued his conversation.  Not once did he cover the phone and say; “I’ll be right with you.”  Instead, he just kept on talking like I was invisible.  Finally, he put his hand over the mouthpiece and said, “Yeah?”  That was the service response; “Yeah?”  He then followed up his eloquent “yeah” with, you guessed it; “Sorry, I’ll be with you in a sec.”  SORRY, SORRY, SORRY.

The saddest part is that not one example I can choose will surprise you. We could trade our horror stories.  They would roll out of your memory at a speed far in excess of your great customer experiences. You and I have come to accept an apologetic process as a regular part of our business day.  Poorly trained, customer facing humans, who will never be held accountable for anything they do.  They will behave like the directions on your shampoo; lather, rinse, REPEAT!  They repeat over and over again until we’re numb.  The worst part of this scenario is that the great majority of us will do nothing.  Hell, we’ll even tip 18% as some sort of reward for being condemned to one of the inner circles of a Dante-like customer service hell.

It’s not a secret.  Companies know what’s going on.  But they lie to themselves.  They believe that an I’m sorry service experience is an anomaly and not the norm.  They shake it off as a grumpy customer.

It’s a shame because Laura and I will NEVER go back to that restaurant.

Companies can fix this.  It’s not some Herculean challenge, instead, it’s surprisingly simple.  Here’s the formula:



  • Allocate some resources, usually time, to training and make sure all your people understand they are, as Walt Disney was apt to say, in the “happiness business.” Make your clients happy.  Your teams need to know this and need to LEARN how you want it done.  Your training should be a connected process whose end result is a team of service providers that make a real difference in your client experience.
  • Check in on your team. Great service is all about being held accountable.  When there is a bad service experience step in immediately and let your team member know what went wrong.  Let them know you won’t accept it again.  When something goes right, CELEBRATE it so everyone knows your commitment.
  • Yeah, it’s all about attitude.  Be happy to see me.  Welcome me instead of apologizing to me.  Great service is about a culture of great attitudes and a great attitude is a CHOICE.

Try those for a starter and watch the change.

Committing to a Model of Innovation


Last week, in an effort to feed the Netflix monkey on my back and having already exhausted so many of Netflix’s great original series, my wife and I stumbled upon a true gem. As a foodie, I’m fascinated by the creative process that takes place in the kitchen and was blown away by Noma: My Perfect nomaStorm. The documentary offers a unique peek into the internationally recognized Danish restaurant, Noma, its head chef Rene Redzepi, and the inner workings of a restaurant that has been voted #1 in the world for 4 years since 2010. It wasn’t that the movie was great (it was), or that the food looked amazing (it did), or that watching this film with my wife has cost me a future unknown fortune as she was insistent on a promise to take her there one day (the downside of Netflix and chill) that caught my interest. What was interesting was how Rene had developed and implemented a systemic approach to a culture of constant innovation and accountability.

At Noma, on Saturday nights, after 80-hour workweeks, and into the wee hours of the night  (after 2am), the hustle and bustle in their kitchen doesn’t seem to die down. You don’t see chefs and kitchen staff wandering out into the night looking for a drink to calm the nerves of a high-intensity night. Instead, eager and weary chefs gather for what has become a sacred saturday-night-projectsceremony, Saturday Night Projects.  At Saturday Night Projects one chef from each station in the kitchen is responsible for creating something new, a snack, a dish, an ingredient, or an idea, it really doesn’t matter as long as it is new, true to the chef, and pushes the limits of their current reality.  (oh and that it uses regionally specific Nordic ingredients which can be a problem as his chefs come from all over the world).

This process has opened the door for new and exciting food that consistently places Noma at the top of the restaurant charts year in and year out.  Creating a process that fosters creativity isn’t easy. If you look at the Saturday Night Projects now vs. what it was at its inception you wouldn’t recognize it because it’s changed quite a bit. So, what is the secret to Noma’s success? Well, in traditional Creative Ventures format I’ll break it down for you in three parts:


  1. Budget time for creativity: You have to intentionally etch out time in your schedule for innovation. Noma isn’t the only great example of creating a specific time for innovation, Google does a pretty good job too. They allow their employees to have one day a week dedicated to idea development, which has led to the success they have had with Google Maps, Gmail, and Froogle. Or look at 3M, arguably the most consistent innovator in business. They mandate that 15% of all engineers and scientists time is spent on a project that interests them, effectively giving them permission to be creative and harness their passions. It doesn’t matter whose model you follow, just that you create an environment that fosters innovation.
  2. Find the right fit for you: When Saturday Night Projects started each chef in the kitchen had to present something. Rene figured out rather quickly that having that many people create and present at the same time wasn’t an effective use of his time. What did he do? Quit? No, he adapted. He tweaked the model until it fit his restaurant and his staff. The lesson here is that if it doesn’t work at first it doesn’t mean that you should abandon the idea. Work on it until it not only meshes with your business and culture but also has some success.
  3. Repeat

What’s great about all of this is how Noma handles prototyping. We have preached in previous blogs and newsletters the importance of the prototype. We at Creative Ventures have experimented with our own models of innovation until we finally found the right fit for us. If you decide to make a prototype-review-refinecommitment to a culture of innovation you have to be prepared for the outcome, new ideas! Having a new idea is great but how do you share, test, and ultimately have success with launching something new? Over the years we’ve stolen some great ideas from companies who do this very well (yes its ok to steal good ideas, just ask Austin Kleon or read his book Steal Like an Artist) and have created a system we teach and share with our clients across the country.

Step One: Be Quick to Prototype – Take advantage of the energy that exists around a new project. Push your team to get something to the table. The prototype is just that, a prototype. Don’t waste time trying to perfect your idea, product, or process in this phase. Just create something. Refining it comes later.

Step Two: Prototype to Market – This can be the most tricky aspect of this whole process. How do you test your prototype? Do you test it internally? Do you test it on existing clients? There are a multitude of options for you to explore and find out what works best for your business but if you’re looking for great Printexample check out Nikes Innovation Kitchen. At their innovation facilities in they have the great benefit of mitigating the risk that comes along with new products by testing their gear on their sponsored athletes. Why is this great beyond having experts critique every aspect their product? It insulates them from the risk associated with consumer testing. Whatever model works best for your business make sure to capture all of the feedback.

Step Three: Final Product Launch – Take all of that feedback, analyze it, and implement changes. Make all the final adjustments needed, create a marketing and sales strategy, and execute.

Your business might be running smoothly today. Hell, it may continue to run smoothly for the next twelve months. But, a strategy that omits a commitment to growth and innovation leads to business stagnation. Whether you find inspiration from Noma, Nike, 3M, or some other innovator, what’s important is embracing and implementing your own innovation model. Commit to a process and hold your team accountable to its application. If you find yourself struggling in this endeavor, give us a call. We’d be happy to help.