Archive for decision making

Sep
17

Trust and Sound IP Systems: An Essential Component for a Nation’s Innovation Success

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For years, China has been making progress in creating laws and systems that enable protection of intellectual property. Respect for IP rights is essential in creating a culture where innovation and collaborative partnerships can succeed. If individuals and companies lose trust in a government’s ability to respect such rights, the incentives to innovate are reduced (though incentives to copy may be high). Now China threatens to erode some of the trust they have been building with this week’s announcement that they are considering forcing foreign makers of electric cars and hybrids to transfer their technology to China. From today’s Wall Street Journal, we have the story “China Spooks Auto Makers.” Here is an excerpt:

China’s government is considering plans that could force foreign auto makers to hand over cutting-edge electric-vehicle technology to Chinese companies in exchange for access to the nation’s huge market, international auto executives say.

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is preparing a 10-year plan aimed at turning China into “the world’s leader” in developing and producing battery-powered cars and hybrids, according to executives at four foreign car companies who are familiar with the ministry’s proposal.

The draft suggests that the government could compel foreign auto makers that want to produce electric vehicles in China to share critical technologies by requiring the companies to enter joint ventures in which they are limited to a minority stake, the executives say.

The plan is “tantamount to China strong-arming foreign auto makers to give up battery, electric-motor, and control technology in exchange for market access,” says a senior executive at one foreign car maker.

I understand the importance that China places on electric vehicles for the future and I can understand the desire to encourage technology transfer instead of exploitation, but when the rules change midstream and companies are forced to turn over intellectual property if they wish to do business in that market, the word “spook” is appropriate. Not only will some automakers be scared away, but it sends a broader signal that IP rights may be disrespected when the economic incentives are strong. This action may result in short term gains for China, but in the long run many prospective business partners will be more reticent to share and collaborate, and innovators within China may consider the threat of lost IP rights and take their best concepts elsewhere.

The unintended consequences of China’s attempt to accelerate its prominence in electric vehicles may be a larger setback in innovation capabilities overall by signaling disrespect for IP rights.

Related problems occur throughout the business world. In many corporations, for example, corporate decisions aimed at achieving a short-term gain can lose the trust of prospective innovators and result in an empty innovation pipeline that could have been full and healthy had a culture of innovation been more carefully nourished.

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Sep
10

Fighting Past Fatigue, Venture Capitalist Style

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I was reviewing some information from one Venture Capital firm that described their annual efforts. Far from the laid-back lifestyle that some people imagine, this successful VC firm spent much of their year traveling to meet with over 6,000 companies. A few hundred would be selected and screened more carefully, and then a dozen or so might be selected for funding. Whew, what an exhausting funnel. But they are looking for gems in the rubble of entrepreneurial activity, most of which is bound for failure.

The experience of skilled venture capitalists points to a few key issues that all of us can apply to increase the odds of success in our entrepreneurial efforts and help us be more selective and less fatigued in filling the limited funnels of our own innovation efforts. Mike Alder, one of my favorite gurus of start-up success, now head of the Technology Transfer Office at Brigham Young University, once told me that the most important thing in his experience was the management team. Great technology with a dysfunctional or incompetent team will go nowhere. It takes a good team and especially a good leader to have a serious chance of success. That’s been our experience also at Innovationedge, where we have worked with a number of start-ups to assist them in commercialization (though most of our focus is on helping larger companies with their new product and innovation efforts).

Inc. Magazine has a valuable little piece, “6 Thoughts Inside the Mind of a Venture Capitalist” by John Warrillow. Read the whole article, but here are the six key questions that many VC people consider when they hear a pitch. Even if you never deal with the VC community, you should be using most of these questions as you evaluate your own entrepreneurial activities and plans.

1. “Why you?” (Are you uniquely qualified to play in this space? Do you have the expertise it takes to have credibility and a chance to succeed?)

2. “Should your concept really be its own product?” (Or is it just a new feature for an existing product? If it’s the latter, you should be licensing your product to the existing players in the market, not launching a new one.)

3. “How much will it cost to get someone to buy your product?” (I’m often amazed at how many start-ups haven’t carefully considered this. Details of distributing the product, for example, are often neglected. Demand for the product is almost always wildly exaggerated.)

4. “Can I protect your idea?” (If you want to sell your company or license your invention and lack means to prevent direct copying, you’ve got an uphill battle. One VC leader told me that they are simply much more interested in technology with a patent, even if the patent isn’t rock solid. Of course, sometimes know-how from proprietary research can give you a hard-to-imitate-lead without a patent. Sometimes.)

5. “How much money do I need to invest before your company will be worth more than it is today?”

6. “Can I fill the holes on your management team?” (A related question: Are you located in a place that high-powered business leaders would never move to? Can I relocate you to a more interesting area?)

The questions begin and end with consideration of the qualifications of the team and its leader. If you sink in that area, the business isn’t going to float.

Screen your projects with the VC lens, and you’ll be less likely to plunge into futile innovation fatigue.

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The Summer 2010 issue of American Educator (a publication of the American Federation of Teachers) ably illustrates one of the lessons we teach in Conquering Innovation Fatigue: metrics to drive performance can have unintended consequences that may actually hurt rather than help. Indeed, unintended consequences are a major theme of our book, as we explore the problems arising from metrics, corporate and government policies, corporate innovation initiatives, laws, taxation policies, and other factors, all of which can contribute to innovation fatigue.

In terms of education and the danger of improper metrics, Linda Perlstein’s article, “Unintended Consequences; High Stakes Can Result in Low Standards,” examines a highly celebrated school in Annapolis, Maryland that received media attention and praise for seemingly miraculous success in education. The new principal arrived in 2000 to find Tyler Heights Elementary School in a dismal state with only 17% of its students getting satisfactory scores on the state test. She began redirecting efforts in the school to address this problem. Eventually her laser-focus efforts paid off, delivering the stunning success of 90% of third-graders performing well on the Maryland State Assessment, when only 35% of third-graders did so two years before. Several newspapers recognized the amazing turn-around and people at the school celebrated the success. But was it real success?

To achieve good performance on the Maryland State Assessment, education for the children was largely focused on how to do well on the test. Students learned how to write BCR’s (“Brief Constructed Response”) to deal with expected questions about poems and plays, and practiced writing these short answers for many hours, without actually studying poems or plays. “What gets tested is what gets taught,” the principal told the teachers, even if that meant leaving behind the material that was supposed to be taught according to state standards. Bins of equipment for studying science were largely unused.

Tyler Heights’ third-graders got only the most cursory introduction to economics and Native Americans, and much of the curriculum was skipped altogether. The students were geographically ignorant. . . . The third-graders had heard Africa mentioned a lot but were not sure if it was a city, country, or state. (They never suggested “continent.”) At the end of the year, the children in Johnson’s class were asked to name all the states they could. Cyrus knew the most: three. He couldn’t name any countries, though, and when asked about cities, he thrust his finger in the air triumphantly. “Howard County!”

The state standards required a broad curriculum, but the metrics for assessing that were based on one particular test and all the incentives were for helping students pass that test. In spite of the praise for the miracle at Tyler Heights, had the children really been helped?

Campbell’s Law

The problem with unintended consequences from metrics such as tests is hardly unique to Tyler Heights. Daniel Koretz, also writing in the same issue of American Educator (see page 3 of the PDF file on unintended consequences), explains that in education and other fields, score inflation is a common and well known but widely overlooked problem. In the social sciences, a phenomenon that leads to score inflation is known as Campbell’s Law. While widely applied to education, it was developed while looking at business. Donald Campbell, a prominent social scientist, examined the role of corporate incentives on the performance of employees. His research led to this general formulation: “The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.” (Donald T. Campbell, “Assessing the Impact of Planned Social Change,” in Social Research and Public Policies: The Dartmouth/OECD Conference, ed. Gene M. Lyons, Hanover, NH: Public Affairs Center, Dartmouth College, 1975, p. 35. See also Can New York Clean Up the Testing Mess? by Sol Stern.)

Campbell’s Law is at work when schools game tests to get better scores, at the expense of education. It is at work when cardiologists choose not to operate on patients who might need surgery rather than risk hurting their own published statistics on mortality rates among their patients (Koretz refers to a 2005 story from the New York Times reporting the shocking results of a survey of cardiologists). It is at work when a company tries to boost innovation with metrics or incentives that result in game playing, while leaving the real problems from culture, systems, and vision unaddressed.

sharksIn our experience, metrics and incentives can play a valuable role in driving innovation, but only when the corporation has a culture that genuinely encourages innovation, when there is a shared vision of innovation and success, and when sound systems are in place to advance innovation. Without those, you can not only waste a lot of resources in attempting to drive innovation with metrics and incentives, you can actually make a weak culture become pathological and lethal, sometimes exacerbating fatigue factors like the Not Invented Here syndrome, theft of credit for innovation, and breaking the will to share. Adding incentives linked to metrics without the right culture and systems can be sort of like throwing raw meat into a school of sharks or piranhas. You can generate a lot of activity, a lot of exciting thrashing and splashing, but in the end there will just be a lot of blood in the water and fewer thinkers and producers in your school.

As always, innovation success requires that you carefully monitor for harmful unintended consequences from the policies, programs, and incentives you have in place. Innovation metrics, incentives of all kinds, and employee performance evaluation systems and other tools associated with metrics can backfire. Unless you are tuned to the voice of the innovator and understand the impact of unintended consequences, you can be like the company we treat in Chapter 8 of our book that felt like it was a rock star of innovation while they were actually squelching it. Don’t let the unintended consequences of well-intended policies and metrics crush your innovation success.

One of the lessons of Conquering Innovation Fatigue is that the choice of metrics business leaders use to track and drive innovation can contribute to innovation fatigue when the metrics drive bad decisions and poor behavior. A recent example of how metrics can actually achieve the opposite of the intended results comes from a Wisconsin grocery chain, where a friend employed there explained the unintended consequences of management’s good intentions. Management is now pushing for higher levels of IPM, items per minute, as a metric for the performance of cashiers. This is a measure of how many items per minute the cashier processes, and sounds like a valuable metric for productivity. Faster checkout means happier customers and shorter lines–of course we want IPM to be high.

However, as with all metrics, the details of how IPM is calculated come into play and may bring unintended consequences. For IPM, the clock doesn’t tick when a lane is closed or, more specifically, when the cashier’s terminal is in “secure” mode. Shut down the terminal to the “terminal secure” state and the clock stops, something that some cashiers use to their advantage while checking out a customer. A new manager at one store is pushing for IPM scores of at least 30 for all cashiers, but as one cashier explained, the only way that you can achieve that high of a score is to routinely go to “terminal secure.” If the cashier has to help with the bagging or do other tasks that reduce IPM, they can secure the terminal and then reactivate it before they continue scanning goods. That gives a higher IPM score, but the back and forth of securing and reactivating the terminals actually SLOWS DOWN the real work because it involves extra steps that eat up valuable time. By focusing on IPM as a proxy for productivity, productivity can actually decline.

A further consequence of securing a terminal is that the customer may need to swipe his or her credit card a second time. The card readers in each checkout lane allow customers to swipe their credit card during the scanning of goods, but when the cashier switches to terminal secure mode, the swiped credit card information is discarded and the customer will have the annoyance of having to swipe a second time. By focusing on IPM as a proxy for customer satisfaction, the annoyances to the customer and the time to check out actually increase.

Unintended consequences of metrics can easily follow similar patterns when it comes to innovation, intellectual assets, and new product development. Leaders need to step back and observe the impact of their metrics on those in the ranks and on the actual performance of the company. A carefully selected basket of metrics with frequent reality checks are needed to avoid hindering real productivity and innovation with your good intentions.

Mar
18

Idea Cancer: The Danger of Good Ideas (Growing Out of Control)

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Nussbaum on Design (BusinessWeek) has a though-provoking column that mentions several innovation principles from designer Diego Rodriquez. One of these is “Killing good ideas is a good idea.” That’s the kind of counter-intuitive blasphemy that merits reflection. Of course, developing good ideas is essential, but without the killing phase, good ideas can lead to “idea cancer.” Ideas from late-stage idea cancer strangle many organizations and many minds–when ideas grow without control, unregulated and unchecked by proper objectives and reality. Ideas can metastasize and choke the arteries of business, cloud the mind, and weaken all life support systems in the end, unless they are regulated and killed at the appropriate time. So many great failures begin with good ideas, and lots of them.

Innovation is often more about execution and planning than idea generation. A weak idea, implemented ITERATIVELY with the right talent, can be adjusted based on feedback from the system (e.g., the market) and become successful. Even mediocre ideas can beat good ideas if there are great skills, good leaders, and good execution. But add an occasional great idea to the mix and the success can be remarkable, if the dream isn’t cluttered with lots of distracting good ideas along the way.

Innovation requires discipline. One has to focus and learn iteratively in the process, and not let unrestrained good ideas shut down your innovation engines with “idea cancer.”

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Below is a Pixetell recording to share some new information about the economic revolution in Brasília, Brazil, wherein a government in tune with the “voice of the innovator” has worked to get out of the way of business success and to do provide the infrastructure and educational opportunities needed for long-term success. Amazingly, the local government there has had the courage to do more than talk about being efficient and cost-effective, but has actually gone through the painful process of “debureaucratization,” reducing bureaucratic jobs by 20% and the number of government agencies at the state level by 59%. The results of this experiment over the past four years have been dramatic and are paving the way for further innovation and increased quality of life.

Special thanks to Adriano Amaral, Secretary of State for the State Department of Economic Development in Brasília for meeting with me and sharing his insights and experiences. Like many of the leaders in Brasília, Adriano is not a career politician, but an experienced business leader who has led successful startups, stepped in to bring struggling businesses to life, advised large and small companies, and taught some of the best MBA students in the world. The success of the Federal District of Brasília demands further attention, and will be covered in our next book. We continue to look for further experts to interview as we explore the many stories and lessons from this region and from Brazil in general. Let us know if you have experiences and expertise to share! Email me at jlindsay at innovationedge.com, or use the contact page on this blog.

The Pixetell below is set to 640 x 480 pixels). To see the full-sized presentation in higher resolution, click on the full-screen icon in the lower right-hand corner, or to view this in a new window, use this Pixetell link. Pixetell, by the way, is an incredibly easy and extremely innovative tool for sharing information from your computer.

Related resources include the Brazilian Studies Association, AboutBrasilia.com, and CETEB.

Dec
31

Beware Unintended Innovation Killers from Laws, Regulations, and Corporate Policies

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In the game of chess, experienced players know that a move that looks tempting can often open up fatal weaknesses that deliver swift defeat later in the game. With experience, discipline, and solid strategic skills, good players can look several moves ahead and be aware of broad patterns and principles that can give one an improved position with options for success in endgames too far away to calculate in advance. Novices look for easy fixes to threats and quick attacks based on looking just a few moves ahead. Many times they are surprised at how their moves to solve a problem or gain an advantage make them easy prey. Their style of playing is fraught with moves that bring unintended consequences later in the game.

One of the great tragedies of human decision making is the pernicious inability to consider far-reaching implications of an action. To avoid harmful unintended consequences of a decision, there are two possible solutions: 1) get assistance from experts providing guidance from many difference perspectives and do the best to consider new areas and issues that were previously overlooked, and 2) follow proven principles and strategies that increase the odds of success in spite of the impossibility of calculating everything. Both of these principles can be and probably should be used.

Innovation, for all the voices hyping it, is one of the least considered factors when policy makers start shaking things up. Whether it’s a new law, a tax policy, a regulation, or corporate policies, decision makers easily overlook innovation–real innovation, not just money spent in the name of innovation–because they tend to overlook the individuals who are the source of innovation. Real innovation begins in the minds of individuals with a vision and must be nurtured to succeed. The voice of innovators, including the voice of entrepreneurs, inventors, university professors post-docs, corporate R&D staff, etc., is rarely heard. The voices of CEOs or other top leaders from big companies may be heard. The voices of direct reports to a CEO may be heard. The voices of celebrities and activists may be heard, but who actually seeks out and listens to the real innovators or prospective innovators in our economy? Who considers what impact a law or policy will have on those individuals and their incentives to innovate or their ability to succeed? They are among the voices that should be carefully considered when making policies to avoid unintended consequences that might crush innovation and economic growth.

There are several general principles that should also be considered by policy makers. Innovation at the personal level, which is one of the themes of Conquering Innovation Fatigue, requires personal liberty. It requires a system in which individuals and companies are motivated to take on the high risks of innovation because there are incentives to succeed. These incentives for many require a form of government in which intellectual property rights are respected as well as property rights in general. When property can be seized capriciously, or when the fruits of one’s innovative labors can be taken on a whim or taxed to death, why bother innovating?

Every law, every policy, every act of government should be constrained by general principles, such as those espoused in the US Constitution, and done with care to avoid harming the economy with unintended consequences that trample on the delicate flower of innovation.

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Dec
07

Beware the Unintended Innovation-Killing Consequences of Laws and Policies

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The road to innovation fatigue is paved with good intentions embodied in laws, regulations, and even corporate policies. Leaders at all levels must be aware of uninteded innovation-killing consequences that may follow from their good intentions. Staying in touch with the “voice of the innovator,” as we advocate in Conquering Innovation Fatigue, is vital in avoiding such pitfals.

The Wall Street Journal from Dec. 4 offers two columns with examples of innovation fatigue factors that can be introduced by well-intended actions. The first article I wish to mention is “Near-Zero Rates are Hurting the Economy,” an opinion column from David Malpass, president of Encima Global, LLC. He argues that the artificially low interest rates created by the Federal Reserve Bank in the name of rescuing the US economy have actually been driving capital overseas and starving small companies–the leading sources of most innovation, economic growth and job creation, as studies from the Kaufmann Foundation and others have shown. Here is an excerpt:

[M]ore than a year after the heart of the panic, the Fed is still promising near-zero interest rates for an extended period and buying over $3 billion per day of expensive mortgage securities as part of a $1.25 trillion purchase plan. Capital is being rationed not on price but on availability and connections. The government gets the most, foreigners second, Wall Street and big companies third, with not much left over.

The irony of the zero-rate policy, coupled with Washington’s preference for a weak dollar, is a glut of American capital in Asia (as corporations and investors shun the weakening U.S. currency) and a shortage at home. For gold and oil, the low-rate policy works, weakening the dollar so commodity prices go up and providing traders with ample funds to buy into the expanding bubble. Those markets are almost daring the Fed to try to break out of its zero-rate box.

But for small businesses and new workers, capital rationing is devastating, spelling business failures and painful layoffs. Thousands of start-ups won’t launch due to credit shortages, in part because the government and corporations took more credit than they needed (because it was so cheap).

Already countries with higher interest rates, Australia for one, are viewed as less risky because they have room to cut rates if there’s another emergency. This wins them capital and jobs that might otherwise be ours.

According to International Monetary Fund data, U.S. GDP has fallen to 24% of world GDP from 32% in 2001. And as U.S. capital escapes the weak dollar and high tax rates, the U.S. share of world equity market capitalization has fallen to 30% from 45%. This leaves the U.S. alone with Japan at the bottom of the monetary heap, with rate expectations so low they repel investment.

When single individuals or organizations make policies that affect millions, it is far too easy for good intentions to translate into new problems, unless the decision maker is essentially omniscience. Failing ominiscience, perhaps market forces should be given a try, allowing the invisible hand mediated by the mechanism of price to determine the right allocation of resources. But even with a reluctance to use market forces to set interest rates and allocate capital, wiser decisions could be made by policy makers if they understood the personal side of innovation and the barriers faced by the innovators seeking to propel our economy forward. Unfortunately, the real innovation engines of the future aren’t likely to be powerful, highly connected people today, but may be a lone entrepreneur or president of a small company today that could grow and create many thousands of jobs, if only given a chance. Giving credit and bailouts to well-connected dinosaurs can be based on good intentions, but it may be a misallocation of resources that only makes things worse for the most important prospective innovators and job creators out there.

A second article in the Dec. 4 Journal is “Sarbanes-Oxley on Trial” (p. A24), an op-ed piece that briefly mentions the economic burdens this 2002 law has imposed, and urges government to modify its implementation to be more accountable. There is much more that could be said, some of which we discuss in our book. Sarbanex-Oxley is especially burdensome on small, innovative companies and has driven many innovators to look outside the United States in launching a start-up. Intended to make businesses safer and more accontable, it has slowed job creation and economic growth, in the eyes of some experts. Unintended consequences. It’s something every policy maker and business leader needs to be worried about. Are you listening to the voice of the innovators who have to live with your decisions? That could be the difference between success and innovation fatigue.

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Nov
23

Death Panels for Innovation: How Are Your Corporate IP Review Boards Doing?

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Is Your Comapny on the Cutting Edge of Innovation?

Is Your Company on the Cutting Edge of Innovation? Your IP Review Board May Be.

Death panels have been a hot topic for speculation from some folks worried about health care reform, but in the world of innovation, genuine death panels have long been in place in corporations. Innovation death panels, disguised as intellectual property review committees or IP review boards, have been sending great inventions and great business concepts to an early death for decades. Further, the ways these panels operate can kill innovation at a broader level by discouraging inventors, keeping them out of the loop, and ensuring that whatever is left of their drive is unlikely to bear fruit.

Rationing has to be a reality when it comes to IP because only a small fraction of potentially valuable concepts justify the expense of filing a patent. But failure to pursue a patent need not be an innovation killing event. It can, in fact, be a valuable opportunity. When operated properly, the IP review board can provide a tremendous opportunity to educate, motivate, guide, and inspire corporate inventors, even when the current invention they have brought forward is not right for patenting.

One key is treating the inventors with respect and giving them a chance to be heard, as well as a chance to hear and learn from the review board. Many inventions are not properly understood before a decision is made, and inventors facing that can become cynical. Many inventors in corporations also don’t fully grasp how decisions are made and what the review board is looking for. Use the review process as a way to help the inventor understand the process and the criteria for decision making. ideally, you have a written strategy statement that provides guidelines and specifies where innovation is needed, helping the inventors know what to invent. You can also use the review board experience to recognize the contributions of inventors, treat them with respect, and help them feel motivated and connected, even if their first few tries don’t go anywhere.

The culture engendered by your IP review board or committee can be a matter of life or death for innovation in your company. Don’t let it become a death panel. Watch the process through the eyes of the inventors–listen to the voice of the innovator–and make sure you have a healthy and wholesome system that strengthens innovation, not  decapitates it.

In Conquering Innovation Fatigue, we discuss the importance of understanding innovation from the perspective of innovators, and make recommendations for managing and motivating prospective innovators in the corporation, including suggestions for running IP review boards and guidelines on building trust, aligning innovation efforts with corporate needs, and creating cultures of innovation. Sections on corporate innovation are written for both employees seeking to develop innovations and for leaders seeking to encourage it. You must understand and conquer or work around the many innovation fatigue factors that impede innovation in so many corporations.

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I just returned from an adventure in innovation and culture in one of the world’s most delightful and innovative nations, Singapore, where I spoke about innovation during Innovation and Enterprise Week 2009 sponsored by A*STAR, the government’s large program for the advancement of scientific technology and research. What remarkable vision is at play in this effort!

Singapore is an example of what can be achieved in a nation with a bold vision of economic progress and long-term growth. One consistently gets the impression that officials there, whether university leaders, team leaders, or high-ranking politicians, have a strong desire to advance the welfare of the nation and its people by giving people the resources and opportunities to work hard and succeed through innovation and entrepreneurial activity. There is a culture of cooperation and vision that seems to permeate the activities of leaders and influencers far more than you might see in other parts of the world. The nation is not without its problems, and no individual is without human flaws, but what I saw impressed and surprised me.

The nation decided years ago that it wanted to be a place for world-class research and development. They boldly recruited leading talent and ramped up education for its own citizens. They crafted beautiful complexes for interdisciplinary research to pursue targeted areas. This resulted in a large science park, and then the One North complex with Biopolis, a collection of large buildings for R&D in the life sciences, and Fusionopolis, a massive edifice intended to bring together numerous disciplines in other areas. They invested huge amounts of money to support R&D. While other companies and nations are cutting back, they are increasing their R&D spending from what was about 2.5% of the GDP recently to 3% in 2010. Many billions of dollars are being committed to achieve their vision.

One cannot explore Singapore without realizing that its leaders are serious about making Singapore an attractive place for business, for research, and for innovation. They understand the importance of location and co-location. They have worked hard to make Singapore a center for business for many multinational corporations. Currently over 7,000 MNCs have a presence in Singapore. They have worked to bring many disciplines together for targeted purposes by co-locating disciplines in research at One North, which is also near to the National University of Singapore, the Ministry of Education, and other key facilities, not to mention integrating industrial centers such as the Lilly Center for Drug Discovery on the Biopolis campus. Bringing people and institutions together physically creates opportunities for synergy and cross-fertilization that can’t be matched by remote online interactions.

The synergy between business and state-funded R&D is further strengthened by sending researchers into industry for internships or limited engagements to provide firsthand experience into the realities of a start-up or other business.

The planning behind A*STAR has resulted in many fruits. There have been nearly 30 spin-off companies from these recent efforts. A patent estate of over 3,000 applications and patents exists (this number from A*STAR apparently includes filings in multiple nations, so the number of patent families is considerably less, but still healthy). Significant growth in licensing revenues is coming through the efforts of Exploit Technologies, the licensing and commercialization arm of A*STAR. International recognition is being earned for the accomplishments of A*STAR.

How a small nation of four million people has transformed itself into a powerhouse of R&D and excellence in science and business shows what can be done with strong leadership and a commitment to the future. Of course, you can’t overlook one of their secret weapons that help attract and retain so much great talent: some of the best food in the world. Check out the food courts at Biopolis and across this island nation. This is a land that understands the importance of great food. After all, isn’t food ultimately the fuel behind human innovation?

Here is a gallery with a few photos I took while in Singapore. Click on a thumbnail to see more of the respective photo. The first photo shows the famous mascot of Singapore, the mythical Merlion. The building in the 2nd and 3rd photos is Fusionopolis, showing two different views (north and south sides). Then there are some downtown shots and a Buddha in Chinatown.

Our Mission

InnovationFatigue.com is the official blog for the new book, Conquering Innovation Fatigue. Here we provide supplementary innovation, news, tips, updates, and, when needed, a correction or two, to keep those who are using the big on the inside edge for innovation success.