Retailers Tap into Creativity to Drive Revenue

grocery aisle

Image by The Consumerist via Flickr

More and more retailers are turning to private labeling and exclusive products to drive revenue. With this move comes an investment in building internal product development functions. It is estimated that by 2013, 40% of retailers will generate half of their revenue from private labeling and exclusive products. At FEI11, Michael Kitz, of OfficeMax, talked about this model in his presentation, Retailer Driven Innovation – A Powerful New Business Model.

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Failure Leads to Innovation

There’s been quite a bit of talk lately in the innovation world about the importance of failure. In thinking about failure, I’m struck by the negative connotation. Though many of us consider failure a bad thing, sometimes there is an unintended consequence to failure. Namely, failure can lead to new thinking and innovation. I was reminded of the beauty of failure by my son.

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The Humana Story: Reframing the Organization for Innovation

Humana headquarters in Louisville, KY

Image via Wikipedia

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend IIR’s 2011 Front End of Innovation conference. There were many great speakers and topics. Here is an excerpt from Humana.

When it comes to innovation in the health care space, Humana stands head and shoulders above the competition. Tony Tomazic, Director of Innovation, at Humana shared learning from the company’s 11 year history in the innovation business. Here are a few of Tony’s insights:

Popsicle Sticks as Toys? Really?

Color The Snow

Image by Joe_Andrews via Flickr

Article first published as Popsicle Sticks as Toys? Really? on Technorati.

My youngest son came home beaming last week. He had a wonderful day at school and was even chosen to be “Star of the Day.” At the dinner table, he showed us his prize for being the star. Sitting next to him were 6 popsicle sticks that he had arranged into a pattern. We oohed and ahhed as my son manipulated the popsicle sticks into stars, planes and birds.

Watching my son playing with the popsicle sticks brought back memories of my childhood. As a child, whenever I went to the pediatrician, he would give me a bunch of tongue depressors as a treat for being good. I shared this memory with my family. My oldest son said, “Really?!? That’s all he gave you? What kind of prize is that?”

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Testing, Learning and Curiosity

Rocco the beaver in studio

Image via Wikipedia

There’s a lot of talk in the business world about the importance of testing and learning. When it comes to web site design, we typically create prototypes to help clients understand user flows, graphical elements, and user interactions. Many times, we take these prototypes out to end users to test and get feedback. This aspect of testing and learning helps to uncover opportunities, understand what is/isn’t working, confirm hypotheses, and find ways of improving outcomes. Though this example was couched in a business context, we all have the innate ability for testing and learning. In fact, testing and learning begins as infants.

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Routine Creativity and a Healthy Lifestyle

Brainstorming

Image via Wikipedia

Just as routine exercise improves overall health, routine creativity adds to a healthy lifestyle as well.

In some brainstorming sessions, the climate is calm with people thoughtfully building on each others ideas. In other brainstorming sessions, the climate is more competitive with people trying to outdo each others ideas. Over time I’ve realized the calm room is usually filled with people who brainstorm consistently, while the competitive room is usually filled with people who brainstorm sporadically. With this hypothesis, I began thinking about the parallels between exercise and creativity and how a sedentary lifestyle (either physically or creatively) can be bad for your health.

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Creativity, Languages, and the Subconscious

dream pillows

Image by sweetjessie via Flickr

Being able to speak a different language helps spark creativity by providing access to more people and more cultures. This leads to greater understanding, a more open mind, and greater empathy – all great building blocks for drawing creative inspiration.

Although I live my life in an English-speaking world, sometimes when I dream about my grandparents, I dream in Chinese. Growing up, I spent a great deal of time living with my grandparents and speaking Chinese. Now that I’m older and do not speak Chinese as much, I feel most comfortable with the language in my dreams. While dreaming, I carry on lengthy conversations with my grandparents. Upon waking and walking through a play-by-play of the conversations, I am always surprised by how much of the language I still remember.

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How Music Inspires Creativity

Classical Music In The Park

Image by Photo Gallery via Flickr

I grew up with music and am thankful for my musical household. Of course, with my family “growing up with music” didn’t mean coming from a musically talented family, but living above a disco lounge. In thinking about my childhood I remember my brother and I putting our ears to the floor late at night to hear the sounds of the 70′s. I also have fond memories of my uncle singing into a hairbrush, my first portable radio, and my first Walkman!

A memorable quote about the link between music and creativity comes from creativity facilitator, Bill Sturner, who said, “…music cuts through and gets you to glide with it.” And, if you think about it, music really does have a way of shifting our moods. Music can make us happy, give us energy, make us cry, make us conjure images of the past…and even images of the future.

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Scientific Proof for Sensing Gaps and Imagining Possibilities

Peeking

Image by wickenden via Flickr

This is a follow-up post to an article I wrote a few weeks back titled, Creativity: Sensing Gaps and Imagining Possibilities. In the article I hypothesized about how a person’s mind could recognize a gap in a situation and fill in, or imagine, the possibilities. I used examples from my early work experience to shed light on how the mind might work.

In listening to an NPR story on an early morning commute, I was surprised to learn of scientific proof backing the sensing of gaps and imagining possibilities. In the segment Mindreading: Technology Turns Thought into Action the NPR team interviewed researchers who found, “Whether it’s musical phrases or strings of words or scenery we look at, our brains are always filling in missing information.”

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Sustainability Thrives on Creativity

airplane

Image by shyb via Flickr

The first time I flew to Australia, I remember dreading the layover and wishing we could fly non-stop from Boston.  As I peered out the plane window and saw the brilliant sunshine, I couldn’t fathom how decades later a solar plane would make its first international flight. Just the other day the solar-powered  Solar Impulse completed a flight from Switzerland to Brussels. The plane generated energy from the sun and stored the power in order to charge lithium batteries for night flight. No fuel and no pollution. Creativity at its finest.

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