Michael Fruhling

Michael Fruhling

Tuesday, 13 March 2012 11:55

Moving R&D to the Front End of Innovation


I think that within many companies, R&D has the ability to play a more pivotal role than it currently does in then new product ideation process. Care to learn more? Read on, dear friends...

Wednesday, 21 March 2012 06:30

Why I Hate Open Innovation Portals


While reading the business news this morning, I noticed that Unilever has partnered with yet2.com to manage the former's new open innovation web portal. I don't make it a secret that I dislike open innovation portals, in general. What's my problem with them? Read on, dear friends...

Monday, 26 March 2012 06:30

Replying to "Hate" Mail


Last week's newsletter, "Why I Hate Open Innovation Web Portals" generated more responses than any prior one. Curious to learn some of the comments? Read on, dear friends...

Responding to "Hate" Mail

n last week's newsletter, "Why I Hate Open Innovation Web Portals", I asserted that while they enable companies to efficiently manage high volumes of external inputs, they don't routinely promote satisfying user experiences. I received quite a few responses from readers about this topic and was heartened to learn that most of them agreed with my sentiments.

Phil Stern and Emma Hughes of yet2.com (Unilever's new portal manager) responded to my concern that their involvement might increase separation between external submitters and corporate solution champions. They explained that they would "know the right personnel who have the need and can be effective in championing the idea and moving (it) forward ". They further asserted that they would "clearly and non-confidentially articulate (a solution's benefits) - improving the chances of success once inside the organization." I appreciate their comments and accept that their contributions should represent value-added for Unilever.

Of course, for meaningfully improved outcomes it is necessary to do more than properly tee up opportunities for review. Internal designees must also proactively assess them and champion qualified opportunities. In my experiences across a wide variety of corporations, I have seen considerable variation in this role. Some of my contacts are exceptional. Others...not so much. I feel this is an area where companies should work to ensure that submissions are diligently and consistently managed.

Beyond this, can companies do even more to increase external outreach productivity? In addition to seeking to discourage the deluge of technically unqualified submissions that they often receive, I feel that companies should also strive to learn about select provider's capabilities, even if they reject their submission. For example, a firm's medical device submission would not likely reveal their strengths in skillfully translating patents to functioning product prototypes. Might this be a valuable capability for the portal's sponsor.

I have numerous additional thoughts to share about this topic, as it's one with which I have considerable experience and also feel strongly about. What are your thoughts? I'd love to read them!



My recent newsletters on open innovation web portals have sparked enthusiastic discussion. We continue this week. Read on, dear friends.

Monday, 09 April 2012 06:30

(Social) Networking and Problem Solving


Networking involves utilizing our connections to reach the solutions we seek. Do you and your company fully utilize your networks to help solve your challenges?


In any supplier/customer relationship, both sides (but quite often the supplier) desire clarity regarding the certainty of the relationship. When there is uncertainty, there is angst. Some of this is natural and necessary. However, I believe that in open innovation it is needlessly excessive. How can it be reduced?

Monday, 27 August 2012 20:05

Do You Know What You REALLY Need?


This week, I share some advice that is very relevant to the field of problem solving in general. Read on, dear friends...


In this time of seemingly universal connectedness owing in large part to social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) most of us probably think we have reasonably strong networks. With this thought in mind, ask yourself if you had a truly urgent need at the 11th hour, how many people in your network could you confidently contact to help provide this assistance? You might be pleasantly surprised...as I recently was.


Many would-be innovators share a common frustration: persistent difficulty in gaining traction for their new ideas with the people they need to cultivate in order to advance them. Why do they often struggle? There are numerous reasons, but a common one is that they all too often rely on (their) opinion to make their case instead of applying facts and data. Curious to learn more? Read on, dear friends.


In our personal and professional lives, setting performance expectations and effectively managing outcomes can be tough. It often isn't enough to simply do one's best. Curious to learn more? Read on, dear friends.

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