Innovation Stories


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INNOVATION STORIES

Written by Cristina Bianchi and Maureen Steele

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Inventors: Innovators or Tweakers?

Ask people to come up with a list of the great inventors of all time and the names will be familiar. From the past it is likely that you would see Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Henry Ford, Louis Pasteur, the Wright brothers… From more present times, names such as Steve Jobs, Tim Berners Lee and Mark Zuckerberg would probably feature heavily. A closer examination of many names on the list would demonstrate that whilst many were indeed original thinkers often those we acknowledge as ‘inventors’ actually borrowed heavily from what went before, synthesising earlier inventions en route to being recognised as game changers. Nonetheless they possessed determination and vision and were successful as innovators, so this by no means diminishes the respect we have for them, their output and their aspirations. Whether you are inventing, innovating or ruthlessly tweaking, without aspirations and big thinking then you are unlikely to get far. Steve Jobs might not have been the inventor of the personal computer but he was certainly the public face of the computing revolution. Originally published in Coaching for Innovation – Tools and Techniques for Encouraging New Ideas in the Workplace 2014, Palgrave Macmillan

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INNOVATION STORIES

Written by Cristina Bianchi and Maureen Steele

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The Habits of Innovative People

In their book, The Innovator’s DNA, Dyer, 
Gregersen and Christensen state that “…innovative thinkers connect fields, problems, or ideas that others find unrelated’. The authors have identified four discovery skills that ‘trigger associational thinking by helping innovators increase their stock of building block ideas from which innovative ideas spring” (Dyer et al., 2011, p. 23). The four key skills are: Questioning: innovative people always ask “why” and they love to challenge the status quo. Observing: innovative people pick up on the smallest of details in how people behave and the ways in which things are done, giving them food for thought. Networking: innovative people invest time in linking up with people from different backgrounds and with different expertise and they learn from them. Experimenting: innovative people constantly explore new ways of doing things and new experiences. These four key skills together have a mutually reinforcing impact on the fifth skill: associative thinking. They stretch and develop the ability to be creative and to make connections that may not be obvious to others, thus strengthening the process of associative thinking. Originally published in Coaching for Innovation – Tools and Techniques for Encouraging New Ideas in the Workplace 2014, Palgrave Macmillan

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INNOVATION STORIES

Written by Cristina Bianchi and Maureen Steele

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The Success of the Coffee Capsules: Find the Route that Brings the Customer to You

Often, good ideas take time to become great 
products and conquer the market. It takes a lot of persistence, conviction and an excellent marketing strategy. This is what Eric Favre thought back in 1976 when, following his instinct and passion for good coffee, he embarked on his innovation journey and since then has continuously investigated the best route to market. Whilst still working at Nestlé, Favre came up with his formula for excellent espresso: a combination of oxygen pressure mixed with packed coffee to extract all the aroma and taste, which he further developed into the coffee capsule and machine concept (Global Coffee Review, 2011). It took ten years of hard work, experimentation, persuasion and internal marketing at Nestlé for his concept to go to large scale production and hit the market under the name of Nespresso, the coffee company for which Favre became the General Director. According to Favre, the main factor that determined the coffee capsule’s success was the choice to target women as the driving force behind bringing the espresso culture out of the traditional bar and into the home. At a conference speech in 2008, Favre stated that in order to sell a product you do not need to adapt to the customer; instead, you have to find the route that brings the customer to you (Favre, 2008). Since the initial breakthrough, Favre’s coffee capsule has undergone a series of progressive improvements to attract a larger, environment-conscious audience. Favre has never ceased to work on his invention in order to make it more sustainable and ecologically-friendly (Grimard, 2012), starting from the 1991 capsule design that led to the creation of Favre’s Monodor company, up to the 2009 extremely eco-friendly capsules of Mocoffee. As Favre says, quoting his own father, “an engineer who invents something but doesn’t…

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INNOVATION STORIES

Written by Cristina Bianchi and Maureen Steele

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Google Glass: Going Beyond the Obvious

“We started Project Glass to build technology that’s seamless, beautiful and empowering. To share the world through your eyes. To get answers and updates, instantly. To be there when you need it, and out of your way when you don’t.” (https://plus.google.com/+GoogleGlass/about). Google X has developed Google Glass as a hands-free, smartphone-esque computer. Using voice control, Google Glass enables the consumer to use a number of features such as
photo and video recording through an inbuilt camera. When connected, either through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, the user can access further features including GPS, live chat and messaging services, language translation and Google searches. It is currently in a public testing phase – Google has selected Glass Explorers to test whether the technology is useful and desirable to a mass market. Originally published in Coaching for Innovation – Tools and Techniques for Encouraging New Ideas in the Workplace 2014, Palgrave Macmillan

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INNOVATION STORIES

Written by Cristina Bianchi and Maureen Steele

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A Multidisciplinary Approach to Bigger Thinking: the ‘Eye-Phone’

Scientists from the University of St Andrews, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical 
Medicine and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde have made a breakthrough in global health by taking existing mobile technology and adapting it in a way which will enable those living in remote areas to be tested for eye conditions, including cataracts and other causes of blindness. Using a mobile app called Peek Vision, a smart-phone and clip-on hardware, healthcare workers are able to check visual impairment as well as diagnose cataracts and diseases that affect a person’s sight. The Peek system stores contact information and GPS data for each patient, allowing a novel way to follow up and treat patients. The technology is currently being tested on 5000 people in the Nakuru district of Kenya to see if it is comparable with expensive hospital equipment. Peek is also being tested during an Antarctic expedition led by Sir Ranulph Fiennes, assessing whether the teams’ eyes and vision change with the prolonged exposure to cold and darkness – conditions thought to be similar to those found in space (University of St Andrews, 2013). Originally published in Coaching for Innovation – Tools and Techniques for Encouraging New Ideas in the Workplace 2014, Palgrave Macmillan

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INNOVATION STORIES

Written by Cristina Bianchi and Maureen Steele

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The Way Ahead at Henkel: Investing in Innovators of the Future

Henkel, headquartered in Düsseldorf, Germany,and operating worldwide with leading brands and technologies in the three business areas of Laundry and Home Care, Beauty Care and Adhesive Technologies, runs an annual competition for students around the world designed to help participants learn about sustainability, and bring their creative and strategic management skills to the next level (http://www.henkelchallenge.com/). Kasper Rorsted, Henkel CEO, who is committed to innovation as the key driver of the company’s success, has this to say about those who participate, ‘You are the young talents we are looking for. We want to get to know you, keep in contact, answer your questions and listen to your ideas. Because you are the future.’  In the course of taking part in the challenge, young innovators have access to an e-learning platform and are encouraged to explore the focal areas of performance, social progress, safety and health, energy and climate, materials and waste, water and wastewater in two dimensions: more value and reduced footprint (Henkel, 2012). Originally published in Coaching for Innovation – Tools and Techniques for Encouraging New Ideas in the Workplace 2014, Palgrave Macmillan

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