Front End of Innovation Part 3

17 Jun 2016 by

This post is continuation of day 1 at FEI, Boston.

Putting the Consumer First: Entrepreneurs inside a Large Company- General Mills

This breakout session was led by Cory Lommel and John Overlie from General Mills. They shared about General Mills approach to harnessing the entrepreneurial talent within the company to generate new business ideas, the methodology used and key lessons. 

General Mills was facing major competition from smaller companies for a large number of their brands. Their new CEO realised that the large company has to borrow elements from small companies. He shifted the company’s strategy to “The best big small food company in America.” General Mills gathered inspiration for designing thinking from various sources and adopted new methodologies into its mindset and attitude as a company including Stanford’s D school, Lean start up, Clayton Christensen’s disruptive innovation among others. 

Actions thats stem from a consumer centric focus:

  • Begin to look at brands and products from ‘Job to be done’ perspective instead of mere P&L
  • Rapid prototype as learning, building in points of learning and adjustment instead of trying to get the stagey right in the first go
  • Fast learning cycles
  • Dedicated focused teams: building teams from within the company that are co-located for 4-12 weeks, protypype primed followed by consumer interaction for 2 to 3 times per week
  • Transaction Learning: Learning through selling LEMONADE STALLS

Lemonade stands were established in 2011 and are now a part of almost every project. The team actually sells the prototype yet consumption ready product to consumers. Here the teams sell the product to learn. They are encouraged to embrace imperfection by taking the MVP to market. The lemonade stall is set ip early in the NPD process in order to speed to the first dollar.

Benefits of the lemonade stalls:

  • It’s  not research from the consumer’s perspective leading to a more definite quality of the responses.
  • Voting with dollar amplifies insights and provides richer understanding of what the consumers define as value
  • Team members get to build intuition to take consumer first decision

“If a picture is worth a thousand words then a prototype is worth a thousand pictures. ”

Setting up Lemonade Stalls in the phase 3 for our projects can be a useful tool to learn the percieved value of our solutions. 

Leveraging Disruptive Technology to Grow your business exponentially by Kian Gohar, Singularity University

In this break out session, Kian briefly discussed the key trends to watch out for, that will lead to exponential growth.

  • Digitization
  • Deception - You won’t see it coming
  • Disruption- 40% of today’s companies won’t exist in 5 years
  • Dematerialised - Walkman, camera all now miniaturised and shrunk into our phones
    Demonetization- Uber, Skype, google, airbnb, craigslist are all about proiding services for free
  • Democratised-African mobile growth at 1 billion

Exponential Technologies:

  • AI
  • Drones and Robotics
  • 3D printing
  • Sensors and Networks
  • Infinite Computing
  • Bio Tech

Tools for exponential thinking:

  • Crowdsourching
  • Crowdfunding
  • Crowd Co-creation
  • Shared Economy


  • Only constant is change and the rate of change is increasing
  • Standing still equal death- disrupt yourself or someone else will
  • Competition is not from multi national corporations
  • If innovation comes solely from the company then you’re bound to fail

For studio5B- How are we considering exponential tech to think about our solutions?

Collective Genius by Greg Brandeau

Greg Brandeau is the co-author of the book Collective Genius and has been the SVP of technology at Pixar and EVP and CTO of The Walt Disney Studios. Greg’s keynote showered light on the kind of leadership needed to inspire company wide creativity. Greg started by defining what innovation leadership is:

“Innovation leaders see their role not as the visionary but as the creator of a context in which others are willing and able to innovate.

“Because I can, I do. Because I can’t, let’s do”

He then discussed the paradoxes inherent to the innovation process (attach picture)

Foe e.g.: An innovation leader has to balance individual identity while harnessing collective identity of the group.

Building on the ‘able’ part of the definition he discussed three abilities of the innovation leader:
Creative Abrasion: Generate ideas through discourse and debate

Creative Agility:  Ability to test and refine ideas through quick pursuit

Creative Resolution: Ability to make integrative agreement

Greg presented a venn diagram that discussed the ‘willing’ part of the definition which comprised of three key parts:

Shared Purpose (why we exist) - This keep everything from falling apart despite all the natural human emotions across 3 capabilities.

Shared Values (what we agree is important)- Bold ambition, collaboration, responsibility, learning

Rules of Engagement (how we interact with each other and think about problems)


How we interact:

Respect, Trust, Influence

How do we think: 

See the whole, question everything, be data driven

He argues that it is at the intersection of all this three that a sense of community is developed. He urges that innovation leaders must build a community with sharif purpose, values and rules of engagement.

I found Greg's session to be very inspiring and relvant to what we do at 5B. He vividly narrated an incident of losing the entire data for Toy Story and how the back up was found only with a team member who used to often work from home due to her young baby. The point was that trusting and empathising with a team member eventually saved the day and innovation leaders cannot view their teams in the same light as managers do.