Many companies get it wrong when it comes to creating new products. They focus on what they need for revenue streams, how to evolve current products into new extensions, and immersing themselves in their R&D labs. Then they take the new product out to a focus group to get feedback.
This process, however, is backwards. Innovative products really come from users who have a need for something. And often, those users are finding workarounds to solve their needs. Research conducted by Eric von Hippel, Professor of Management of Innovation and Engineering Systems at MIT Sloan, in collaboration with Steven Flowers, Jeroen de Jong, and Tanja Sinozic, found that 6.1% of consumers over the age of 18 in the U.K. had created or modified a product for their own use within the last three years.
User-innovators are unlikely to bring their idea to a focus group—after all, the product is already “baked.” That’s where networking—or participating and observing your target markets—comes into play. In today’s open, collaborative world, that’s very easy to do.
As of January 10, 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of “long-term unemployed” Americans (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was 3.9 million, accounting for 37.7% of the unemployed.
Unfortunately, as reported in a recent Boston Globe article about worsening job prospects for the long-term unemployed, “Research by Rand Ghayad, a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, has shown that employers frequently screen out job candidates who have been unemployed for more than six months.” That means the prospects are dim for many of those long out of work. And many of these people are educated, white-collar, experienced workers.
Are these companies who simply screen out the long-term unemployed missing out on some great candidates? They just may be. The perception is that people who have been out of work for six months or more have lost some of their skills, but that may not really be true. After all, general business skills and principles really don’t change, and there’s something to be said for experience.
This is the final post in a series about Bob Pozen’s approach to personal productivity and high performance.
Our first and second posts in this series have focused primarily on Bob Pozen’s tips for improving your productivity as an individual. Below, we suggest approaches to improving productivity within an organization through the proactive management of relationships at work.
Managing Your Team
“To be an effective boss,” says Pozen, “you need to set up a system that enables both you and your employees to get meaningful work done. At the core of this system is the successful implementation of ownership.”
Pozen encourages the principal of “Owning Your Own Space,” whereby all employees of a large company view themselves as owners of a small business. This approach builds entrepreneurial spirit among your team and sets everyone up to succeed—including you.
Here are five steps to effectively implementing ownership.
Markus Greif, Manager in Transaction Advisory Services at international consultancy firm EY, spoke recently with MIT Sloan Executive Education about his experience at the School; why he chose MIT Sloan for his post-graduate studies, as well as the benefits he received from the programs.
What executive education courses have you taken at MIT Sloan?
During 2009-2010, I attended Understanding and Solving Complex Business Problems; Leadership Accountability and the Law (now, Essential Law for Executives: The MIT Advantage);Understanding Global Markets: Macroeconomics for Executives; and Reinventing Your Business Strategy. In addition, I received an Executive Certificate in Strategy and Innovation in 2010.
How have you applied what you learned during the courses back at your workplace?
I am in a team leader position at EY’s Transaction Advisory Services practice in Germany. Our department supports corporate and financial investors on mid-sized as well as larger merger and acquisition projects throughout Europe. This involves management strategy and post-merger support that focuses on activity plans to change operations within a firm.
I feel the MIT executive programs teach the latest academic insights at the intersection of strategy and innovation. The lectures I attended were insightful, practical, and career enhancing; from day one I was able to use the knowledge in my advisory department to the advantage of our clients. The MIT Sloan professors used a uniquely pragmatic approach to teach models on innovation and convey complex subjects in an effective and intuitive manner. This helped me tremendously to understand the challenges of our clients and work on resolutions more systematically.
This is the second in a series of three posts about Bob Pozen’s approach to personal productivity and high performance.
We’ve all been there—staring down the week’s to-do list with the best of intentions, only to find, at the end of the week, that we didn’t accomplish everything that was required us. Our tasks get carried over into the following week, and before we know it, we’re caught in the paradox of being simultaneously too busy and minimally productive.
If this sounds familiar, rest assured: there are indeed solutions to your productivity problems. Robert Pozen provides concrete strategies in his new MIT Sloan Executive Education program, Maximizing Your Personal Productivity, and we share some of them below.