Open Innovation – Filing a non-patent

The top 25 companies by US patent value was released by Business Week and it is worth a look. IBM generated the largest number of patents while Microsoft generated patents of the highest value (according to the BW study). The number of patents involved at IBM is a simply mind-boggling 4,914. That’s over 13 patentable inventions a day. Not a bad brain trust. But what caught my eye was a paragraph at the bottom of the story: As a defensive measure, the company also published details on almost 4,000 inventions in a publicly available company journal last year. By publishing I believe they ensure that no one can patent the ideas. Since many companies are racing towards the same goal the prospect of inventors stepping on each other’s toes is not far fetched. The value of publishing trade secrets outweighed the negative impact of letting folks in on what they … Continue reading

Filtering Ideas – Yodeling Pickle

How many ideas have you rejected this week? It’s tough to keep track given the velocity they come at us. (Heck, we get bombarded with 34 gigabytes of information including 100,000 words a day, not to mention what we think up for ourselves.) As children most of us were thoroughly trained to censor our thoughts before letting go with the ridicule inducing comment. (The Cubs are going to win the pennant! – ah, some of us never learn.) This sometimes serves us well. In the world of ideas it can be deadly. Ideas are fragile things in business. Any number of stray comments, poor politics, and concerted efforts at logic can drive a good idea (and it’s conceiver) into the mud. Problem is, most of the tools we use early on to sift through ideas are little more than personal opinion. But decisions must be made and so politics end … Continue reading

Flying With A Good Idea

Who here hasn’t at least once dreamt while speeding down an interstate in whatever jalopy the fates put in your hands that you were, just for a moment, flying? Ok, maybe it’s just us guys. Or am I the only one who kept track of exactly where that special bump in the country road would provide a moment of lift? A key component of creativity is recognizing when an idea that is working in one place might have application in another. (Like when Wilber twisted the tube box) This came to mind while watching Leo Laporte interview Ford CEO Alan Mulally at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Mulally came to Ford from Boeing where he helped design the first digital cockpit on the 767 and a number of aircraft after that. At the time some wondered what an ‘avionics guy’ would be able to do for the … Continue reading

Parking, Romance and Cafe Pazzo

Parking meters and I have never gotten along all that well. I tend to be late and they tend to be early. At least that’s what I tell the judge. The relationship hasn’t improved since Chicago Parking Meters have been ‘upgraded’ over the past year with space age technology and higher rates. Most retailers understand that parking is one of those critical things you don’t want customers thinking about. You want them to just feel like it will be there, not some barrier to entry. I blame the meters for the loss of my favorite store, Cut Rate Toys. Don’t mess with a man’s toy store people. Which sets the scene for my latest run in with a parking meter. My lovely wife and I were set for a romantic evening thoughtfully concocted by the kids. Dinner and a show. Just the two of us. We arrived at the restaurant … Continue reading

Planning for Serendipity – Taking Flight

From the ideas from strange places department: So, if Wilber and Orville had decided to open a different kind of shop to pay the bills, let’s say a bakery for example, would they have flown today in 1903? (That would be December 17th, 1903) “While most engineers assumed that a successful aircraft would need to be inherently stable, as bicycle builders the Wrights made their living building vehicles that were inherently unstable.” NOVA Wright Brother’s Flying Machine (Currently on The bike shop turned out to the the perfect training ground for the first successful aeronautic engineers. The leap concerning stability – …led to a focus on control – …onto a critical insight about wing warping which came when Wilber reached for a cardboard box containing an inexpensive tire tube. From giving a box a helical twist to steering a biplane. Serendipity. But as with all serendipitous moments (and most … Continue reading