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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?

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

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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!





































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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...

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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...

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Whether or not our job title includes the word "sales" in it, we invariably and routinely find ourselves aiming to persuade or influence others. How much of the time that we spend seeking to sell do we invest in building trust and credibility with the other parties we are selling to? Probably less than we should. Care to learn more? Read on, dear friends...

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This week's newsletter shows in a highly relatable way, how taking an ethnographic research approach can reveal meaningful service and product opportunities...including some that can be addressed via external innovation. Curious to learn more? Read on, dear friends....

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In my personal and professional life, I've never regretted taking the initiative. Most have these efforts have been rewarding and successful, though not all of them have been so. Still, as Wayne Gretzky once said (who knew he was such a philopopher?), "You miss 100% of the shots that you don't take."

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Mentoring is one way that adults and business people in particular, can contribute to a student's development. I have acted as a volunteer judge at Columbus Ohio's Invention Convention, and at Xavier University's X-Lab and Miami University's Entrepreneur Class competitions.

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"Mining" is the act of extracting minerals or other valuable materials from the ground. Success is maximized by leveraging technical expertise, skillful judgments, and with a bit of luck thrown in. The same can be said for innovation "mining". Do you have what it takes to be a a skillful miner?

Read on, dear friends....

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Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky once explained a key reason for his greatness: "I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been." There is considerable wisdom in this quote, and it's implications for business planning are profound.

Curious to learn more? Read on, dear friends....

I slowly opened my eyes. Where was I? The room was still spinning from the night before. My head throbbed, and I slowly started putting things together.

Then suddenly, a knock at the door. Before I could mutter the words, "Come in", the door pushed open and in walked a tall, slender man in an olive green trenchcoat and with troubles on his mind. "Michael, I need your help.

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