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The Crowd Picked a Cat

What are crowds good for, anyway?

Hasbro recently made their decision to axe the iron and replace it with a cat as the new game piece for their classic Monopoly game. Last time they updated tokens was the 1950s when there was no online option for figuring out the best way to ditch the purse, the lantern and the rocking horse. In the 1950s, no doubt a committee met, perhaps some customers were consulted, but for sure no Facebook campaign was part of the selection process.

Not surprising that an Internet-based vote would lean heavily toward a cat. According to Yahoo! Canada, there are currently more than 110,000 cat videos on YouTube. Cats are popular icons among the online crowd.

But is a cat the best decision for a game piece? And thinking more broadly about crowds and commerce, when does it make sense and when does it NOT make sense to cast a wide net for input into business decisions?

Luckily I just attended a conference dedicated to the power of online collaboration—the Spigit Innovation Summit–so I had a chance to reflect on some guidelines that we can use to consider when a crowd makes business better and when they should stay out of the way. Spigit is Continue Reading…

Getting to Your Click Moment

How to orchestrate serendipity that leads to breakthroughs

Think of a tough challenge you’re facing right now. Conventional training would lead you to work through solutions, analyze, evaluate, benchmark, measure, and research your way to the cure, the solution, or the discovery. But, based on a conversation between Frans Johansson, author of The Click Moment and Evan Williams, co-founder of Twitter—held at an event called The Intersection—there’s another path toward breakthrough. Johansson suggests that some ideas don’t come to us through a linear path. His theory is that you have to orchestrate serendipity to get to the “click”—a new way of thinking about your situation and the possibilities ahead.

Evan Williams agrees, “After all, who could Twitter benchmark against when we came on the scene? We were a mashup between social sites and tools like Facebook and instant messaging, with an altogether new twist that brought us down unexpected paths. We had to collide almost accidentally with aspects of gaming, news alerts, and even consumer promotions to devise a new platform.”

There are lots of things we can’t predict. But, Continue Reading…

Embrace the Opposite

Four steps for starting the new year with a fresh outlook on business.

I’d like to start 2013 with an idea for anyone who’s trying to shake off complacency and invoke a fresh perspective this year. I recommend that everyone pick something you believe very deeply and force yourself to embrace the absolute opposite opinion. Even better, write the argument for your initial belief (like, “We can never make money with our global business”, “We have to jump onto the gaming trend”) and then convince yourself of the opposing view.

For me, the inspiration for my inaugural 2013 philosophy, “Embrace the Opposite”, came from a funny juxtaposition of events—going on record against something with a high degree of passion on one day in December and less than two weeks later, reversing my position. Strongly, and with an equal degree of conviction as my belief in the opposite opinion. What I learned from the unfolding of events has become a new badge of honor (instead of an embarrassment). And, based on this experience, I plan to enter a To Do on my calendar at least once a quarter, “Embrace the Opposite” today.

Aaron Kushner is either the new Pied Piper of newspapers or a naïve newcomer. Either way, watch him in 2013 to inspire the spirit of embracing unconventional approaches to business.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you Continue Reading…

Revenge of the Nerds

Why “new math” won the election and what it means for business

We’re just recovering from a crazy election. One that took a lot of people by surprise. People paid extremely close attention to the numbers, the polls, and the television ads, trying to tune into the pulse of the American voter. Pundits representing every political persuasion studied numbers religiously, plotting their moves, readjusting the dollars they were spending, and redirecting their strategies trying to lead their chosen candidate to victory.

The problem for many people who got it wrong couldn’t be attributed to not trying hard enough. It was a matter of trying extremely hard to execute a strategy, equipped with antiquated perspectives and tools that were not designed to reach a large percentage of today’s voters.

There are two great books that explain the Continue Reading…

Webinar Replay – The New Rules for Innovation: Trendification

We recently hosted a live webinar with Chris Kenton, Founder and CEO of SocialRep. The replay is below.


  • To download the SLIDES that are shared during this presentation, click here (PDF).
  • To download the AUDIO from the presentation, click here.

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Access the full replay with slides and audio together here.

About the Presenters:

About Chris Kenton

Chris Kenton is a recognized thought leader in strategic marketing, competitive positioning, marketing effectiveness and measurement, with a special emphasis on marketing technology and social media.

Chris is founder and CEO of SocialRep, a social media intelligence firm launched in 2006, and founder of MotiveLab, a social media marketing agency launched in 2005. Chris was formerly SVP of Corporate Strategy at the CMO Council, and its corporate parent, the international PR firm GlobalFluency, where he managed global business development, client consulting services and research program development. He was co-founder in 1998 of Cymbic, one of the first Integrated Marketing agencies in San Francisco combining traditional and digital brand marketing. Chris has advised more than 200 clients on market strategy and marketing innovation, including Sony, Toyota, Pfizer, Motorola, Intel, Morgan Stanley, Nokia, and many other global brands, as well as a host of Silicon Valley startups. Chris’s first foray into social media marketing was in 1996, when he managed development of DevX.com, one of the first online communities for software programmers, still running today.

A frequent author and speaker on marketing and technology issues, Chris has been a columnist for BusinessWeek and Executive Decision, and an analyst covering BI for TechnologyEvaluation.com. He’s been quoted on marketing and technology issues in BusinessWeek, Investor’s Business Daily, Forbes, Network Computing, and a wide range of industry journals. He’s written for B2B Magazine, MarketingProfs.com, WebBuilder Magazine, JavaPro Magazine, Visual Basic Programmer’s Journal, and was co-author of Web Programming for IE Unleashed. Chris was invited to testify before the U.S. Congress on trends in overseas outsourcing, based on his blogging about online technical day labor. Chris is a guest lecturer at Thunderbird School of Global Management, and holds a degree in Creative Writing from UC Santa Cruz.

About Andrea Kates:

Andrea Kates is the founder of the Business Genome® project and author of the visionary best-selling business innovation book, Find Your Next (McGraw-Hill). As a business strategist, facilitator, and speaker, Andrea has led more than 250 business innovation initiatives for global corporations, entrepreneurs, and organizations including Royal Dutch Shell (Asia-Pacific), Audi, Allstate, United Airlines, Hewlett-Packard, JP Morgan Chase, KPMG, the Houston Texans (NFL), and OnStar. Her original research for Find Your Next included in-depth studies of what it really takes for a company to move to the next level of competitive advantage with original profiles of 25 companies including GE ecomagination, IndieGoGo, Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant, and the Hyatt Hotels.

Called the next generation’s “trend alchemist”, she created the Business Genome® project to help companies adapt to a rapidly-changing global business environment and gain a competitive advantage by discovering cross-industry opportunities for innovation, reading early signs of emerging trends, and tapping into real-time customer preferences. The Business Genome process calls for the “Death to the SWOT Analysis” as a tool for business growth, replacing it with a research-proven approach to discovering untapped sources of new revenues.

Andrea is a highly sought-after speaker and consultant with recent roles in global leadership forums with Zurich Insurance and Jones Lang LaSalle; CoLabs (collaborative laboratories) for Embrace Global (Bangalore) and the Midtjysk Lederforum (regional leadership forum in Scandinavia). Andrea is a member of the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) community and gave a short talk on the TED main stage in 2012.

Buy Find Your Next where books are sold or online at:
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Impact Innovation Webinar Replay

We recently hosted a live webinar with Gloria Nelund, Chairman and CEO of TriLinc Global. The replay is below.


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Note: We will soon be posting a combined slides + audio video reply. If you would like to be notified when that version is available, click here.


During this webinar session you will discover how companies are incorporating community-based initiatives (education, sustainability, health, the environment etc.) into their strategies and how nonprofits and community organizations (local, global) are collaborating with corporations and entrepreneurs.

We’ll share and discuss innovative concepts like IndieGoGo’s crowdsourcing platform for funding projects, GE’s ecomagination, Embrace Global’s “frugal innovation” in healthcare, and dozens of other examples of new models that blend commerce and community good.

TriLinc Global presents their cross-sector view on how these new models can blend to create profitable enterprises that support the public good. We’ll also discuss why Impact Investing + Impact Innovation have ignited the newest breed of social innovators: accelerating the pace of results and achieving powerful, far-reaching economic, and social impact.

Join two of today’s top thought leaders to learn how to ignite your organization and change the landscape for corporate growth, economic impact, and social good.


Gloria Nelund
Gloria Nelund spent 30 years on Wall Street as one of the most successful and visible executives in the international investment management industry. After retiring from Deutsche Bank as CEO of their $50 billion North America Private Wealth Management division, she co-founded TriLinc Global; a private investment company dedicated to creating impact investment products that will attract significant private capital to help solve some of the world’s most critical issues. TriLinc’s current focus is providing private debt capital to SMEs in developing economies to foster economic development. Gloria’s background includes significant expertise in the creation, management and distribution of investment products for institutional, HNW and retail investors, including the support and development of an early Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) product for HNW investors at Scudder Investments and multiple programs for Deutsche Bank’s HNW investors to participate in the development of the microcredit industry. Gloria currently serves as an independent trustee on the board of the RS Investments’ $22 billion mutual fund complex, sits on several not-for-profit boards and actively supports entrepreneurship research and education through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, including as a MIT guest lecturer.

Andrea Kates:
Andrea Kates is the founder of the Business Genome® project and author of the visionary business innovation book, Find Your Next (McGraw-Hill, November 2011). As a business strategist, facilitator, and speaker, Andrea has led more than 250 business innovation initiatives for global corporations, entrepreneurs, and organizations including Royal Dutch Shell (Asia-Pacific), Audi, Allstate, Continental Airlines, Hewlett-Packard, JP Morgan Chase, KPMG, the Houston Texans (NFL), and OnStar. Called the next generation’s “brand whisperer”, she created the Business Genome® project to help companies adapt to a rapidly-changing global business environment and to gain a competitive advantage by discovering cross-industry opportunities for innovation. Andrea is a member of the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) community.

Buy Find Your Next where books are sold or online at:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | 800CEORead

Death to the SWOT

A New Game Plan for Planning 2013

Please toss out your SWOT analysis and replace it with these easy to use new tools for strategic innovation.

‘Tis the season for evaluating our performance in 2012 and dusting off our strategic plans to refresh them for 2013.

I have a radical idea.

Please don’t start with a SWOT analysis.

For those of you who haven’t used them, the SWOT analysis is a tradition in many board rooms and break rooms. We analyze our companies based on our Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats and magically discover what our next move can be to grow our companies by 10 percent.

What should the rat do next?

What should the rat do next?

The problem with SWOTs is that they weren’t designed to automatically help us discover what to do next. As a matter of fact, I’ve sat through hundreds of strategy sessions that start with a big Continue Reading…

The Problem with Pivots

Before We Pivot, We Must See Things in a New Way

Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup, convinced us that sometimes we need to pivot to adapt to a changing business landscape. The problem is that we still suffer from a dearth of inspiration—how do we move from “stuck” to “Eureka” and start the pivot process working? Where do our ideas come from for what could come next? How can we move beyond traditional competitive mindsets and really accelerate growth?

Here is a practical way to start down the pivot path, with an example of where inspiration comes from. I’ll talk about how a job placement firm took clues from a DNA testing service and how a restaurant chain learned from Target to grow revenues.

There’s a great verb, “pivot”, made popular by Eric Ries in his book The Lean Startup. Fast Company has a whole segment devoted to stories of how people have done it—pivot. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve heard many, many references to the need for companies to Continue Reading…

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