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News from International Mgm't Consulting Associates
Mike Wynne's Global Profit Builder
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Innovation Series Number Eleven
Get to the Prototype ASAP!!!
July 2008
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In this issue
-- The Magic of Creative Competition
-- Where you may be right now
-- IDEO's Prototype Experience
-- Lessons from this story
-- Additional insights about prototypes:
-- Remember: Prototypes don't have to be perfect
-- The Staples Experience
-- Managing the prototype
-- Bottom Line:
-- You are in a market that is changing ...
-- Reminder: The Magic of Creative Competition

If you have been following the Innovation Series in Global Profit Builders, and like what you have seen to date, please forward a copy of this newsletter to at least three people - or more - who you believe would be interested in the topic.


The Magic of Creative Competition
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If you want to learn more about Creativity...

Be sure to register for my Free Teleseminar on The Magic of Creative Competition. Free Teleseminar: Beat the Recession with The Magic of Creative Competition! Recessions are when you need to be most creative. Famous author and speaker, Rita Emmett, ( The Procrastinators Handbook, and Clutter ) and Innovation Wizard Michael Wynne will share the magical secrets of Creative Competition.

Learn how to tap the Fountain of Inspiration to generate Million Dollar Ideas that outsell the competition, and beat the Recession! This Free Teleseminar will be presented at 8:00 p.m. Central Daylight Time, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, and 6:00 p.m. Pacific, on Thursday, July 24, 2008. Make your reservation now! To register, please click
http://www.ritaemmett.com/teleseminar- reg.htm


Where you may be right now
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OK, based on the contents of my earlier newsletters on Innovation (if you haven't seen them, please go to www.FreeProfitTips.com ), and by now you have decided what it is that you want to offer, you have designed it, or at least have diagrammed it in some way. Great! Now this is where the rubber meets the road because, if it's a product, you have to turn it into a physical reality, and if it is a service, you need to lay out a process that makes it work.


IDEO's Prototype Experience
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The Challenge. One of the leading design firms in the world is IDEO. They have designed major innovations for top corporations in the US and abroad. Some time ago, they were invited to participate in the California equivalent of the Soap Box Derby. Just for the fun of it - and to challenge their creativity, they decided to accept. None of them had any experience in this sport, or anything similar for that matter.

First Step. At first, they drew a fancy looking design of what they thought might be an appropriate vehicle. The problem they ran into was that they couldn't make it match the design. Putting a physical model together was not a part of their expertise. They farmed it out to contractors, but what they got back was too cumbersome, too heavy, and too clunky to win the race.

Prototype Not a Finished Product. Finally, they realized that they couldn't design a finished product. After much discussion they decided to put a model together that was within the limits of their knowledge and expertise. It wasn't as sleek as their original design, but they were able to assemble something that vaguely resembled their drawing.

Next step? Test it! So they took the prototype to the hill where the Derby would be held, and rode it downhill. Now, you need to remember that Soap Box Derby carts have no means of propulsion other than a healthy push at the top of the hill; after that, gravity takes charge. The test showed that their design was a complete failure; too slow, too heavy.

While they were conducting the test, so were other contestants with models that performed much better; among them was a vehicle that was built with advice from an Indy 500 race driver. It made the IDEO vehicle look like a clunker.

Trial and Error. The IDEO team kept experimenting with different designs and new materials, testing each version as it developed. Little by little, the performance improved. Part of the improvement was a horizontal bar across the back of the vehicle that two hefty men, one of them a linebacker, could grab to push the cart as it was launched at the top of the hill. Another improvement was a reduction in the weight of the vehicle.

The IDEO team went through numerous versions, each one improved by testing. Finally, they felt they had improved it as much as possible; they had made it lighter, better at coasting, and trained a two-man team to get the most impulse out their pushing. In addition, they designated the smallest, lightest weight member of their team to drive it.

The night before the race, they placed their cart at the top of the hill along side the other entries. Next to them was the very sharp looking cart designed with the assistance of the Indy 500 driver. He looked at the IDEO entry, sneered, and told the team that they didn't stand a chance of winning next to his entry, which had all the aerodynamic advantages he had learned from experience.

Next day, when the race started, the IDEO pusher team grabbed the horizontal bar and ran forward with all their power; when they reached the line that marked the limit of the pushing efforts, they gave it one last big muscular shove and away it went. The Indy 500 entry was beautifully aerodynamic, but heavier, and the pushers strained to match the IDEO team's effort.

The Finish Line. As two carts rolled down the hill, little by little, the lighter IDEO cart began to pull ahead. At times, it seemed like the Indy 500 cart was catching up, but in the end, the aerodynamic design could not overcome the disadvantage of its weight. The IDEO entry pulled ahead, and crossed the finish line with a good lead over all its competitors, including the Indy 500 cart.


Lessons from this story
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What lessons can we learn from this story?
  • Design is a good start, but functionality prevails.
  • Trust your instincts and your own thoughts.
  • Test and experiment relentlessly - but not endlessly.
  • Have a sense of urgency, attenuated by an equally powerful sense of fun.
  • The sooner you can test your innovation, the sooner you can improve it.
  • Don't be afraid to junk your initial concept if it proves grossly inefficient.
  • Keep improving until you have a viable innovation, but don't wait for it to be perfect.
  • There is no one best way to perfect your innovation, other, that is, than trial and error. Edison ran over a thousand tests before he found the right filament for the light bulb.


Additional insights about prototypes:
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  • A prototype is a model of your innovation that, hopefully, meets the criteria of your original idea.
  • It is an example of your concept that you can present to potential users, customers, lenders, and investors.
  • As they examine and try the prototype, you will almost always discover a flaw in your design, or come up with new features to add.
  • The prototype is indispensable if you intend to patent your idea. Before you do so, however, you must get rid of the flaws and make the necessary modifications. Otherwise, it will be too late to include them in the patent. Further, you could lose the patent rights of the new design to a competitor.


Remember: Prototypes don't have to be perfect
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Avoid the "95 percent there" syndrome. When I was Strategic Planning Manager with Mobil Chemical Company, it was my job to monitor the progress of the company's R&D Center. The Directors of R&D were perfectionist PhD's in chemistry and physics who tended to speak in equations; electrons seemed to pour out of their mouths rather than words. When trying to find out if a product development was ready to be marketed (or "commercialized" as they called it), the answer I would get most often was, "It's 95 percent there." Somehow, the other 5 percent never happened, and the products never left the laboratory. Lesson: go with what you've got, and see how customers react.


The Staples Experience
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In 2004, Staples sponsored an Invention Quest contest with a $25,000 prize. It was looking for innovative products to offer its customers. Proof of the value of a prototype, is that Todd Basche, an inventor in Los Altos, California, submitted an innovative lock that operated with letters rather than numbers. Its strength was that numbers are too hard to remember, but words are easy to recall. In addition to the $25,000 grand prize, he also received a license from Staples, which will offer Basche's clever WordLock invention under the Staples brand name.

Why was a prototype accepted by Staples? Jevin Eagle, senior vice president of Staples brands says, "We don't require that an idea be completely finished, but the further along an inventor is, the better chance he has. We aren't looking for general ideas, but specific ideas that are developed to the point where we can see the product's advantages and why it's better than products currently on the market."


Managing the prototype
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  • You want to get feedback on your product or service from the people who can best identify what is good, great, not so good, or needs to be added.
  • The key to getting that type and quality of information is identifying who would be a good feedback provider, and then getting the prototype to them.
  • If your product or service is consumer targeted, you can try to place in stores, offer it in ads, or give it away.
  • In all cases, you need to be able to track the customer's experience and reactions.
  • Think through how you will monitor these. You can physically observe the experience and reactions, or you can request the feedback by mail, e-mail, or telephone. If you do the latter, you probably should offer an incentive for getting back to you with the feedback.
  • Once you have the feedback response, you need to tabulate the results, and analyze them to determine what makes sense and what doesn't, as well as what can be improved and what can't.
  • Next step: modify the prototype and test it again. If, however, you feel the initial feedback is enough, then move to generating the final version.


Bottom Line:
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Customers can't buy what they can't see, hear, feel, and experience. Customers are not looking for general ideas; they want something specific that allows them to see and experience the advantages that make your products and innovations better than competing products or services currently in the market.


You are in a market that is changing ...
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You are in a market that is changing exponentially and with explosive speed. A universe in motion doesn't tolerate immovable objects; don't be one of them. Start changing now. Think through how you can provide new, innovative, and better products and services to your customers, and get to the prototype ASAP!

If you are not sure about what to create or how to develop new concepts, be sure to contact Michael Wynne at mykwyn@aol.com or at (630) 420 2605.


Reminder: The Magic of Creative Competition
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If you want to learn more about Creativity, be sure to register for my Free Teleseminar Beat the Recession with The Magic of Creative Competition! Recessions are when you need to be most creative. Recessions are when you need to be most creative. Famous author and speaker, Rita Emmett, ( The Procrastinators Handbook, and Clutter ) and Innovation Wizard Michael Wynne will share the magical secrets of Creative Competition.

Learn how to tap the Fountain of Inspiration to generate Million Dollar Ideas that outsell the competition, and beat the Recession! This Free Teleseminar will be presented at 8:00 p.m. Central Daylight Time, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, and 6:00 p.m. Pacific, on Thursday, July 24, 2008. Make your reservation now! To register, please click http://www.ritaemmett.com/teleseminar- reg.htm



Contact Information
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phone: (630) 420 2605
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