I had the pleasure of interviewing Doug Hall recently, an experienced innovation expert whose opinions I discovered I often share. During his ten years at Proctor & Gamble, he helped spurn the use of open innovation. In 1986, he founded Eureka! Ranch to help companies think smarter and more creatively about innovation and remains the CEO today.
I was particularly impressed with and inspired by Hall’s perspective on the economy and innovation.
“It’s really simple. If you’re not unique, you had better be cheap. The global economy has made it possible for the consumer to buy from anywhere on the planet – if your product or service doesn’t differ meaningfully from your competitions’, you won’t prosper. The current economy is weeding out products and services that aren’t meaningfully unique; it’s a cleansing process. For a number of years, people were willing to pay more for nothing, but that trend has been flushed out of the economy. There has never been a better time to be an innovator,” Hall explained.
People want good value for their money: when people have less money, they’re even more determined to seek value. Hall gave a personal example that defies the idea that all companies are suffering: his own company is up 35% this year. The answer?
Seven out of ten small businesses are lucky to survive, offered Hall. There’s a very urgent need to create new ideas. And there’s also, he clarified, an increasing acceptance of those new ideas.
“When I worked for P&G, the concept of using open innovation was radical. Today, half the number of ideas used by the company came from outside it. That’s a thirty percent leap. Is the notion of using the best ideas, even if they’re bought or licensed or borrowed, really that radical? Not at all! It’s common sense. But sometimes egos grow as companies do, and an opposition to partnering with others grows as well.”
I’m excited about the new program Hall has invented that helps translate inventor’s ideas into standardized business propositions. He’s helping to turn amateur inventors into professionals.
“The program helps accelerate the transmission of technology. We’ve created a marketplace where inventors can interact with potential investors, distributors, licensees, and manufacturers – the possibilities are limitless. Of all the inventors who post, about ten percent receive an inquiry back and funding. We analyze the potential of an idea and make it easy for a company to understand how they’re going to benefit. Many inventors can’t even answer simple questions about their product, like how much it’s going to sell. That’s crucial. Setting standards for presenting ideas makes the process more straightforward.”
And I think, more likely to work! Please check out http://www.usinnovation.org/.
Hall has even asked companies to provide feedback about what types of products they’re looking for. And as I always say, it’s necessary to design FOR the marketplace. Other hot markets, in Hall’s opinion? Green innovation and anti-aging innovation.
Stephen Key is a successful award-winning inventor who has licensed
over 20 products in the past 25 years. Along with business partner
Andrew Krauss, Stephen runs inventRight,
a company dedicated to educating inventors about selling their ideas
and the skills needed to succeed. You can and listen to the weekly radio show on inventing. Get In The News, list your invention to have media outlets find you for news stories.