- The alleviation of traffic. With autonomy comes prediction. With prediction comes the ability to mitigate traffic. Cars could potentially fly down roads well past current speed limits as they behave in hive-like manner. Imagine a beautifully orchestrated, synchronized traffic system where vehicles notify each other when they’re turning and exiting. Human reactionary delays and errors cause most of traffic, so the elimination of human thinking leads to huge opportunities.
- Going farther away from city centers. With autonomy comes the ability to be productive the moment workers leave their homes. They can work on computers much like commuters do today on planes, buses, and trains. As such, there can be a migration away from business epicenters as commutes become a part of the workday.
- The line between homes and vehicles start to blur. In one example, you can see how a company like Cabinwill continue to pave the way for travelers to sleep/ live between destinations. Or, you can have a Jetson’s like experience where people roll out of bed and get completely prepared for the day on the drive. Perhaps there will be a rise in nomadic living where larger vehicles become actual living spaces. People then travel and live wherever they want.
Of course, opportunities create more opportunities (or challenges). Trucking, as an industry, is an area with a lot of potential to lose should autonomous vehicles take over trucking – especially regional and longer hauls – with 3.5M people employed professionally. The jobs that autonomous vehicles could displace are jarring.
- Disney’s Brainstorming Method: Dreamer, Realist, and Spoiler. One of the largest, creative companies in the world has a process to identify new opportunities by establishing “rooms” where all ideas are brought to the table with little prejudice. After the ideas are brought forth, the team evaluates the realism of each idea (shortening the list). Then, the team runs through a “spoiler” room where each idea is scrutinized for actual value and viability. Here, ideas are tested for sustainability. Disney’s method compartmentalizes the ideation process so all ideas are brought to the table before shooting any of them down. Based on their track record, seems helpful.
- Six Thinking Hats. We’re all aware of the “Jack of All Trades” associate in the office. He wears “multiple” hats – each hat representing a specific role (product development, marketing, developer, etc.). In the Six Thinking Hats method, team members are designated specific hats which Edward de Bonosays represent the way the brain thinks in six distinct ways. The hats represent: Managing, Information, Emotions, Discernment, Optimistic, and Creativity. By designating resources to each hat, ideas can be thought of in a cohesive, challenging, and holistic way.
Most brainstorming sessions like my recent ones (and many others) are unstructured. Here, individual(s) must step up to fill a gap the team lacks to help shape an idea more holistically. This could be tricky, however, if teams don’t know what they don’t consider. Structured brainstorming methods could help mitigate these oversights. Things to ponder…
- Though led by leadership with several highly successful prior ventures, the leaders are open to new ideas and not following some previous template. This venture is new – new industry, product, team, times. We’re approaching fresh and eager to learn.
- Everyone wears different hats. We have folks specializing in design, backend, frontend, product management, marketing, sales, etc. Then, we have different backgrounds that shape our views vis-à-vis risk, startup and corporate experience, etc. It all comes together to bring balance.
- Everyone is eager and excited about what we’re building coming in prepared with ideas and discussion points. One of the reasons I joined the company was everyone’s passion about what we’re building. It shows when everyone is engaged in brainstorming.
- The purpose of these sessions can be highly important, and we’re not afraid to sleep on discussions and gather again the next day for several hours. If it’s important, we’ll make time and effort.
In the last several years on my own, I tended think about the bigger picture. Now that I’m part of a team, I need to switch my mindset and think [more] from my role as sales and marketing. It’s been a fun change, and I’m looking forward to the great things we cook up.
What ground rules do you set for brainstorming sessions? Have you ever used a brainstorming process or method? If so, what?
|The 3rd annual Mobility LIVE! Conference (the largest mobility technology conference in the southeast) took place at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta October 28-29th|
- 3 trends in mobility: 1) Software and software development àBetter, faster, cheaper; 2) “Mobile is eating the world” – 10 years ago, we were using Amazon as the paradigm. Now, we’re using Uber and Airbnb; 3) Internet of Things – “Everything wants to be connected”. By 2020, 25-50B “things” to be connected
- We’re in a “software defined” world. We don’t need to carry around a flashlight, calculator, or alarm clock. Instead, we just have a phone that does it all – the modern day Swiss-army knife
- “Georgia Tech is a ‘crown jewel’ of Atlanta”. AT&T works closely with Georgia Tech on many initiatives including funding the first online Masters in Computer Science and other Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
- 24,000 technology jobs in Atlanta last year
- 250 mobile startups in Atlanta
- 18 Fortune 500 companies within and around the metro area
- Stressed the need to not only attract millennials, but need to retain them
- Moderated by Reed Peterson, Global Head of Strategic Engagement at GSMA
- Panel included Joe Mosele (VP Business Developent – IoT Solutions at AT&T Mobility), Edenilson Fleischmann (President and CEO of Indra USA), and Edgard Sammour (Sr. Product Manager at GE Digital Energy)
- We’re still in a people-to-people world (social)
- Getting to IoT, we will one day not even *think* about internet. It’ll be so ubiquitous
- IoT: sensors à things communicate with one another àthings understand each other on their own
- What’s missing? Sensors and power consumption. Think, especially, about the *things* that are currently not powered that will need to like water meters
- Another opportunity/ challenge is interoperability. That is, how everything ties back together. It’s “communication intelligence”. Think: electronic medical records (EMR), fitness wearables, alerting doctors or 911 in an emergency event
- A lot is still left to be done in security with IoT àleverage how mobile banking was once viewed, but now, it’s widely accepted
- Security is driven by cost, too. It’s much different to secure thousands of devices versus millions or billions
- Industrial IoT has an easier time to adopt due to the business case àefficiencies and cost of maintenance opportunities
- Most exciting part of IoT? It’s the *THINGS*
- Acquired Weather Underground 3 years ago that brought on 30-40K personal weather stations
- TWC can forecast on-demand up to 2.2 BILLION precise locations (up from 2 million just a few years ago)
- TWC draws data from barometric readings from phones, state Department of Transportation sensors, 650+ aircrafts
- Bio-meteorology is the study of how weather affects plants, animals, people
- Data without insights is useless… Chris cites how his heart rate jumped to 195 beats per min on a run… but what does that mean?
- Moderated by Robert McIntyre of The Wireless Forum
- Panel included Matt Walsh (Director of Business Development at AT&T), Danny Bowman (Executive GM of Samsung America), David Dougherty (IBM), and Paul Baker (Associate Director of Georgia Tech’s Wearable Computing Center)
- Favorite devices ranged from the non-existent (forthcoming?), connected watches, and Disney’s MagicBands
- Industries that will/ are benefitting the most include business as a whole (healthier, safer employees), healthcare, carriers (as a joke to Matt of AT&T, but also serious)
- Comment was made by Danny that it won’t be a whole industry that benefits the most. Instead, it’ll be occupational sets
- Opportunities include cross-platform integration and interoperability
- Must consider cultural implications with data and privacy
- Moderated by Jennifer Sherer (VP Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Metro Atlanta Chamber)
- Panel included Brooke Beach (CEO of Kevy), Jon Birdsong (CEO of Rivalry), and Jesse Maddox (CEO of TripLingo)
- Atlanta has done a good job bridging the two ecosystems of big companies and startups
- To find and keep great talent, give team members ownership and ensuring they know they’re part of something big
- Atlanta can help startups and entrepreneurs get more introductions to the larger companies
- Getting customers enabled by: great relationships and making software easy to use and consumable – Birdsong
- Is there a lack of capital in Atlanta? $500M was raised in ATL last year
- There’s an increasing number of angel and seed funds in ATL àthis used to be the most difficult part of raising; now, it’s VC money
- Atlanta has a brand awareness problem. However, Atlanta is ripe with startups who develop traction and have a solid business before raising capital
- Atlanta’s startup ecosystem is vibrant and communal which fosters serendipitous connections
- Moderated by Chip Standifer, CTO at Virtual Design Group
- Panel included Todd Charest (Chief Innovation and Product Officer at Ingenious Med), Joel Evans (VP Mobile Enablement at Mobiquity), and Francis Hoe (Commercial Operations at Misfit Wearables)
- Asked if we’ve reached a “base” feature set of wearables, Francis doesn’t believe so. Instead, we’re still trying to define/ identify what a wearable is. There may, instead, be sub-categories such as wrist, patches, clothing, etc.
- Today, 33% of wearable owners abandon their wearable within six months! 1 out of every 10 wearable owner in the U.S. owns one, but doesn’t even use it
- Price and incentive (losing weight, being more productive at work, etc.) will be heavy influencers of wearable buyers tomorrow
- Battery life of wearables is a massive opportunity
- Interoperability of wearables is another big opportunity – how sensors on shoes, clothing, etc. communicate to show the whole picture
- Are there other form factors beyond Wearables 1.0?
- Asked if doctors are starting to trust the data, it’s based on liability understanding. Wearable data is yet another dataset that can reinforce prescriptions. The data still needs to all be connected and then be predictive
- Wearables illustrate a back-end problem – connecting datasets across platforms… currently, there is no standardization, but there will need to be to be more medically supported
- Moderated by Kaitlyn White, VP Strategy at Dragon Army
- Panel included Michael Archer (Chief Strategist Emerging Mobile Technologies at Akamai Technologies), Craig Kirkland (Head of Product at NewsON), Ryan Oliver (Head of Brand Strategy at Twitter-Periscope), and Rajin Persaud (VP CNN Next Generation Business and Product Strategy)
- How to draw audiences to news? This is especially relevant to younger audiences. Key is to repurpose the news
- Lean towards short-form content àhow long will viewers stay?
- We have 7 seconds to capture someone’s attention (same as a goldfish!). If you capture the attention, the rest will need to a compelling story
- How to deliver the best experience for users no matter the connection (WIFI, 3G, 4G, other)? Can we “pre-roll” videos?
- Advertising in videos needs to adhere to the same methods of content streaming – right now, advertising loads much slower than content
- CNN changes its headlines between mediums (see CNN’s channel/ Story on Snapchat vs. on the web)
- Twitter is now the modern-day newspaper (but real-time!)
- Moderated by Rupen Patel, CTO at Mercurium
- Panel included Jim Stratigos (Founder, CEO at Cognosos), Dennis Mehta (Managing Partner at Unity Group), and Dr. Deepak Divan (Georgia Tech and Varentec)
- IDC cited market spend in IoT to hit $1.7T (yes, T = trillion) by 2020
- IoT must span Software + Hardware + Analytics + Networking
- Companies that best exemplify IoT today include those in automotive, business sector, industrial, and Nest (the only consumer story mentioned)
- The best areas of IoT entrepreneurs can attack today include: high-value components like machinery (track these systems), sensors, and batteries
- Wireless/ connectivity standardization was cited as a standard that can help IoT expand in the way TCP/ IP and HTTP elevated the internet
- Emerging markets also represent significant opportunities for IoT
- Toughest questions this panel of entrepreneurs faced from Board of Directors and Investors include: What are you going to be profitable (can be tough depending on ROI schedules between the market (utilities companies may have 10-year cycles) and investors (half-year cycles))? Why are you doing hardware?! (Competition fear à cost from certain markets)
- Advice from the entrepreneurs: “just do it”; “jump now or sit on the sidelines and let others make the money”; and “convey your idea and value on one slide”
- The analytics layer of IoT represents another golden opportunity
|Just a brainstorming session with Don Pottinger (pictured) and Darren Pottinger on a Saturday morning. Typical.|
- Isolation Mode. Siddhārtha Gautama and Ralph Waldo Emerson saw fit to disappear from the world to find enlightenment. Me? I like to go to spaces with large rooms where I can lay down, pace back and forth, dance (yes, I said, “dance”), and just get away from the world. For me, classrooms tend to be phenomenally suitable places to get away and lock out the world (and lock me in).
- Let the Tunes Play. I love music. I love how music has a way of changing your mood and even invigorate/ amplify whatever mood you’re in. I listen to Spotify or my personal workout KILLIN’ IT mix in the classroom or via my new Mini Jambox. It’s great. I’ll listen to music with high tempo and some hip hop-ish undertones (overtones, too) because it gets me pumped up and confident. When brainstorming, confidence is high.
- Whiteboards.If you know me at a personal level, you would know my affinity for whiteboards. I have three in my house, and one day, would love to have my office painted with that whiteboard paint. In the classroom at Emory, I get to take advantage of mammoth whiteboards… three of them that slide up and down. I say Entrepreneurship is like an art, and with whiteboards, I find my empty canvas.
- Bubbles, Outlines, Comics. When I’m throwing ideas, I’m putting them into whatever format I feel like. Sometimes, I’ll “organize” my thoughts in outlines like this past Saturday, or I’ll do bubble diagrams where I put some central question or theme in the middle, and address it with bubbles connected all around the central idea.
- Discard Nothing, Capture Everything. I put just about every one of my thoughts about an idea on the board. (It’s why I love big canvases.) Any idea that pops up in my head can be a valuable piece that can bring about some odd way I haven’t thought about before. Sometimes, you have to consider “bad ideas” because innovation requires thinking exactly why bad ideas are bad. Is that just because “it’s always been done that way?” Why wouldn’t a business model from another industry work here? At the end of my brainstorm session or when I need more room, I’ll take pictures of everything and look back upon them for ideas later or for implementation.
- Start With Something or Nothing. Okay, that probably sounds silly, but really, you don’t have to have an idea to which you want to explore for a brainstorming session. Just enter the room fresh, keep some water and snacks handy, and just be ready to throw anything on the board that pops in your head. With a little list of ideas like “What do I do everyday that I hate?” or “What are the trending hashtags or Tweets where people use the phrase ‘worst ever’, ‘can never do’, ‘this sucks’?” The idea here is to search for areas where people are sharing common pain points, and are passionate enough to share it on social media.
- Brainstorm with One or Two Others. I tend to brainstorm with just one other person, if at all. It’s good to get another’s perspective. It’s like when you need to talk to vent… you just want someone to hear you. However, in this situation, that other person could play devil’s advocate to your ideas.
- Plan For Nothing and Something Will Come. When you start a brainstorm session, yeah, you can put some plan or hopes that you walk out with a deliverable or plan of attack. For me, I don’t necessarily always do brainstorm sessions for a goal to come out other than to stretch my mind from a creative standpoint. This past weekend, I got to brainstorm with two buds and co-founders of Body Boss for the next Great Thing. We didn’t go in thinking we’d exit with a killer idea or a strategy. However, we stumbled on a potentially great idea that we’re now exploring. If you stumble on an idea in your session, embrace it, and take the steps to make it happen – whatever it is.
- Have Fun!Like I said just above, brainstorming and innovation should be fun. It’s probably a nerdy thing, but for me, I gladly do this on a Saturday morning like I just did. To me, this is an interestingly fun way to hang out with friends while not spinning our wheels doing something that would require us to spend money for an expensive dinner, or just sitting around watching some TV/ game. (Though, we watch the World Cup game later.) Brainstorming and thinking of new ways of approaching things like paying for things at a grocery store, communicating with team members in soccer, whatever… it’s about plugging into your creative power plant that could be barely running due to otherwise a non-creative, mind-numbing job you do 40+ hours a week in a cramped cubicle. But hey, I’m not judging if that’s your thing…
Thought this was a good article from my LinkedIn feed: 10 Tips to be an Effective Innovator by Gijs van Wulfen. Innovation is one of those buzzwords that people think is for entrepreneur or companies with disruptive technology. However, it’s really applicable everywhere.
From a supply chain transformation perspective, outsourcing logistics (for example) can be innovative. The tasks to accomplish this feat are tough, and you will find yourself on one side of the table challenged by internal team members. You may be in the position where you need to be the one to connect all the dots (key stakeholders) and really drive change.
In startups, innovation is the name of the game really. Point 4 about Discovering Needs is so critical. Being innovative means nothing if you don’t know the pain points of your target market. Further, you can quickly realize potentially an innovative way to approach a problem by brainstorming with prospective customers. It’s likely that founders of startups have been in a particular industry for a while so much of their experience can be parlayed into building a startup. That should also mean that founders have good connections to potential buyers and have heard the pain points and the needs of target customers.
Yes, this article can even be useful thinking about yourself and what you (or others do) in a social setting. Just think about how some of these tips by van Wulfen could be leveraged in your group of friends. I know personally when I try to get friends to get together, it’s much like herding cats. Taking some of these tips such as Tip 3 Facilitating or even Do Things Fast (Tip 9) can be critical so that decisions are made and the group moves forward.
Anyways, you should give van Wulfen’s article a read. What are your thoughts about the being effective in innovation? Or how have you been an effective INNOVATOR?