Platform helps displaced families in Haiti crowdfund new homes

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This is a great combination of Open innovation partnerships, social media input from crowdsourcing, and helping make the world a better place.  New Story is a non profit based in Haiti, and has come up with a crowdfunding platform which enables families to raise the money to finance building a new, long-term home.

It takes about $6,000 to build a home for one family. New Story has partnered with Mission of Hope, which sources families in need and helps them to launch a crowdfunding campaign. Potential donors can read the family’s story and view expenses such as materials and labor. All the money raised goes directly to each project, which is then carried out by local contractors in Haiti. The houses, which are three room block homes, are usually completed within two months, after which families post video updates for their donors. You can read this story here, and perhaps even donate to a family in need yourself:

On hiring Millennials and bringing out their best

A new study tells us what many already know: Millennials will be the largest generation in the U.S. workforce as of 2015. Yet we often have a difficult time hiring members of this youngest professional generation.  Why is that?

Check out this infographic and see if you can glean some insights:

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Photo via UpWork

The study reveals changes in how we work, generational differences, and the critical role millennials play for businesses as we move forward.

We know that millennials offer unique skills – such as fresh ideas, adaptability and tech-savvy – that businesses need in order to innovate and remain competitive. Although clear contrasts exist between the prior generation and millennials, these are to be expected as millennials reinvent what it means to be successful in a rapidly changing, technology-driven world.

What are your thoughts?

The Creative Versatility of the Task Unification Technique

It's hard for me not to play favorites when it comes to the five creativity techniques of the SIT method. After all, they're just like children - each is unique with their own potential and personality. But when it comes to versatility, the one that may do it the best is Task Unification. It tends to produce ideas that are both clever and resourceful, often harnessing resources in the immediate vicinity of the problem in a unique. These ideas tend to make you slap your forehead and say, "Gee, why didn't I think of that?"

Task Unification is defined as "assigning an additional job to an existing resource." That resource could a component within the product or service, or something else nearby. Here are three very different examples, but each one clearly exhibits the Task Unification pattern.

The Aivvy Q is a pair of headphones that keeps your music within the unit itself. There's no need to plug into an external player or smartphone. Here's how it works:

The next is called Nerdalize. It works by taking heat from computer servers and using it to heat homes. Take a look at this short video.

And finally, here is Bioconcrete. It uses bacteria to heal itself in case it cracks. If that happens, the bacteria  germinate, multiply and feed on the lactate, and in doing so they combine the calcium with carbonate ions to form calcite, or limestone, which closes up the cracks. Take a look:

Now THAT is versatile!

Learn all five techniques at





Hawaii Aims for 100 Percent Renewable Power by 2045

Screen Shot 2015-05-31 at 7.18.33 PMDid you know that Hawaii is on the verge of being the first state in the U.S. to set a goal of generating all of its electricity from renewable energy sources? This is exciting news for our island state.

There is a new bill that is gaining popularity that offers 100 percent of the state’s electricity that would be generated with renewables by 2045. If the bill passes, it will put the state’s climate goals far ahead any other, and extend Hawaii’s Clean Energy Initiative through mid-century. The initiative aims to reduce the state’s dependency on oil, which generates most of its electric power.

You can read more about this at a site called Climate Central.

Games innovators play

What if you could gain the knowledge and expertise to be able to manage innovation while dealing with the balance between running short-term operations and building long-term strategies – all from playing a game?

I came across an interesting article about using games for business models. It’s called the the Innovation Management Game, and it shows us the benefits of games and how they broaden our minds to think differently and consider different solutions to challenges:

  • Games can be a beneficial way of combining various interests.
  • Games challenge assumptions.
  • Games create surprises that might eventually lead to innovation.
  • Games offer the freedom to improvise, suggest, play and test alternative and future business model scenarios.

This one actually comes with a trailer:

Read full article: Using Games to create Business Model Innovation

Google to eliminate human drivers?

I shared this on our Facebook Page today. (I hope you are following our stories there.)

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It seems that Google’s goal of putting cars on “auto pilot” is becoming a reality. In fact, this prototype is going to be logging in road hours starting in June. The car has no steering wheel or pedals, so it’s up to the computer to do all the driving.  Wired Magazine reports that this is very cool, BUT there are some downsides:

Autonomous vehicles are coming. Make no mistake. But conventional automakers are rolling out features piecemeal, over the course of many years. Cars already have active safety features like automatic braking and lane departure warnings. In the next few years, expect cars to handle themselves on the highway, with more complicated urban driving to follow.

“We call it a revolution by evolution. We will take it step by step, and add more functionality, add more usefulness to the system,” says Thomas Ruchatz, Audi’s head of driver assistance systems and integrated safety. Full autonomy is “not going to happen just like that,” where from one day to the next “we can travel from our doorstep to our work and we don’t have a steering wheel in the car.”

Read the rest here:

The Second Direction of Innovation

FFFInnovation is the process of taking an idea and putting it into practice. Creativity, on the other hand, is what you do in your head to generate the idea, an idea that meets three criteria: an innovative idea must be new, useful, and surprising. New means that no one else has done it before. Useful means that it delivers some new value for you or your customers. And surprising? It means that the market will be delighted with your latest innovation.

Most people think the way you create an idea is to start with a well-formed problem and then brainstorm a solution to it. What if you turned that around 180 degrees? It sounds counter-intuitive, but you really can innovate by starting with the solution and then work backwards to the problem.

In the Systematic Inventive Thinking method, we call it the Function Follows Form Principle. Here's how it works. First, you start with an existing situation. That situation can be a product, it can be a service, or perhaps a process. You take that item, and you make a list of its components and attributes.

Then you apply one of the five thinking tools. They're called subtraction, division, multiplication, task unification, and attribute dependency. I know some of these sound mathematical, but they're really not, as you'll see when you start applying them.

When you apply one of the five tools to the existing situation, you artificially change it. It morphs into something that, at first, might seem really weird or absurd. That's perfectly normal. In fact, as you get more comfortable with this method, you'll come to expect it. We consider the strange thing a virtual product. It doesn't really exist except in one place, right up here in your mind.

This step is really important. Take your time. You have to mentally define and visualize the virtual product. I like to close my eyes and mentally see an image of the item once it's been manipulated. As you practice the method more, this will get a lot easier.

At this stage, you ask yourself two questions, and you do it in this specific order. The first question is, "Should we do it?" Does this new configuration create any advantage or solve some problem? Is there a target audience who would find this beneficial? Does it deliver an unmet need? We call this step the market filter. It's a filter because if you cannot identify even the tiniest benefit at this step, you throw the concept out the window. You don't waste any more time on it. This is very different than other ideation techniques like brainstorming, where "there's no bad idea." Trust me, there are plenty of bad ideas, and if you realize one here, you eject it and go back and reapply the tool to generate a different concept.

If you do identify some benefit, then and only then do you ask yourself the second question, "Can we do it?" Do we have the technical know-how to make this concept? Is it feasible? Do we have the intellectual property? Are there regulatory or legal barriers? This step is the implementation filter because once again, if you have a great idea in theory but no way to make it, don't waste any more time on it.

If you pass through both filters, you move on to the adaptation step, where you allow yourself some degree of freedom to modify the concept to make it even stronger and deliver even more value. You may have to iterate through these steps several times before you end up with what I would consider an idea.

To be a great innovator, you need to be a "two way" innovator. Learning the Function Follows Form process will help you do just that.

2025 tech predictions an opportunity for hackers and innovators

NSA Headquarters

NSA Headquarters

The future – at least in the short term – will make our identities even more of an open book if we’re not careful. That’s according to a new report out from the Institute for the Future called Information Generation: Transforming the Future Today, and identifies five “key directional shifts” in the coming decade.

1. The information economy, which will take the data we generate from shopping, dieting or working out and securely chache it or sell it to the highest bidder.

Commerce in the data arena will be able to do everything from literally enrich us to helping society at large via the secure transfer of genomic data.

2. An increase of connected devices Not just your phone, but your car, your refrigerator and your headphones will all be talking to each other and sharing your habits with the Internet marketeers and manufacturers.

4. Multi-sensory communication, with tools like digital wristwatches (think Apple), will do everything from tap us on the shoulder to measuring our heart rate to remind us when our eyes have had too many screens.

Speaking of hacking, here are eight more trends as reported by USA Today:

Cyber predictions for 2015

1. While hacks of major retail businesses will continue to occur with frightening regularity, it will be the health care industry that will be the source of many, if not most, major data breaches. Due to a perfect storm of vulnerability caused by large amounts of stored electronic data shared by many users within the health care system, the health care industry has become a major target for hacking, with the stolen personal information used for identity theft, including medical identity theft. The effects of that can be particularly harmful when an identity thief’s medical records become mixed with the victim’s medical records. The FBI has warned the health care industry that its cyber security is not presently sufficient to protect the information it stores.

2. As evidenced by the recent attack on Sony, companies are extremely vulnerable to hacking by nation states, criminal organizations or terrorists. The type of malware used to attack government agencies and major corporations is increasingly available to such groups who are showing a willingness to wreak havoc for purposes not restricted to financial gain.

3. A key element found in just about all major data breaches is that the malware necessary to harm the company or governmental agency is unwittingly downloaded. This is done through sophisticated phishing e-mails that appear to be legitimate and are specifically addressed to the employee or third-party contractor who is the weak link. Then it is exploited by luring that person into downloading the malware that brings about the hacking. These e-mails will continue to become more difficult to recognize in the upcoming year. Dealing with this type of phishing, called spear phishing or social engineering, and learning how to identify it must become an element of primary security for everyone, including individuals, companies and government agencies.

4. The Cloud will become even more broadly used by everyone for data storage and will consequently become a greater target for hackers and identity thieves. They will will focus their attention on hacking smartphones to gain the passwords necessary for access to the victims’ information in the cloud. Greater use of dual-factor identification, and greater attention to smartphone security, including complex passwords, encryption and security software, will help us all increase security.

5. Just as in 2014 we learned of the Heartbleed and Shellshock computer vulnerabilities that had been present, but largely unrecognized, for years, so will we find that other long-standing vulnerabilities will be discovered and exploited by identity thieves and hackers. Part of the problem is that much of the development of new software is built upon open-source programming such as Open SSL that contained and most likely still contains vulnerabilities waiting to be exploited. Developers have got to do a better job of building in security and updating security to all programs.

6. Personal banking and other financial transactions will become increasingly mobile and consequently will become an increasing target of hackers and identity thieves. We can learn from the experience in Europe where mobile banking has been done longer and where hackers have been able to even defeat dual-factor identification programs used for enhanced security. A great source of the problem with smartphone security can be traced to malicious apps that are unwittingly downloaded. Limiting your sources for apps to legitimate vendors, such as Google App, can help limit your vulnerability.

7. Hacks of major retailers will increase in the months preceding October of 2015. That is the date that stores must switch to smart cards with computer chips that generate a unique number for every individual transaction. Although some stores, such as Walmart have already switched to smart card technology, many have not, and many people have not received new credit cards with computer chips to avail themselves of the protection provided by the new system. Security measures to eliminate the types of hacking done to Target, Home Depot and others have still not been sufficiently taken by many American companies.

8. Expect a repeat in 2015. As exposed recently by the security company FireEye, hackers were able to use spear-phishing techniques to gain access to pharmaceutical companies’ computers, data and e-mails in order to gain information that they could use for purposes of profiting by insider trading using information not available to the public. We can well expect that this scenario will be repeated again and again in 2015.

Google to make surgery robots

Google and Johnson & Johnson are teaming up to develop robots that can perform surgery.  The companies say they are developing a “platform” to make robotic assistants to help doctors during surgery. Financial terms were not disclosed. What are your thoughts? Click the image to read more:
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Marketing Innovation: The Inversion Technique and How Bad Things Happen

Jacob Goldenberg, in his book, "Cracking the Ad Code," describes eight creative patterns that are embedded in most innovative, award- winning commercials. The tools are:
   1. Unification
   2. Activation
   3. Metaphor
   4. Subtraction
   5. Extreme Consequence
   6. Absurd Alternative
   7. Inversion
   8. Extreme Effort

Out of these eight, the one that gives my students the most trouble is the Inversion tool. It conveys what would happen if you didn’t have the product…in an extreme way. It shows the benefits “lost” by not using the product. It is best used when the brand and its central benefits are well understood by the viewer. The advertiser is showing the viewer what bad things may happen if you don't use their brand. It's clever and memorable.

Here's a great example from the online travel site, Kayak, that is so simple and effective:

To use the Inversion technique, start with the components of the brand promise. Take each one away one at a time and envision in what ways the consumer would be an extreme way...if it did not have this aspect of the promise. Make sure that the "bad thing" that happens is so far fetched that viewers understand it's a joke. Otherwise, they'll get confused.

As Goldeberg notes, an important tactic of Inversion is to show unlimited generosity, understanding, and empathy for the poor consumer who does not use your product. The idea is to convey your product as having great understanding for your dilemma and generously suggesting assistance.

Here is another great example from Sears Optical:

Now THAT would be bad!