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Scout, Juggle, and Ignore Technology to Out-Innovate the Competition: Lessons from CSAA

Innovation: Scout, Juggle, and Ignore Technology

Debbie Brackeen was in the “innovation” business before it was even called “innovation.” After completing her undergrad at Stanford University, she found herself in the heart of Silicon Valley. She spent her first years at Apple followed by stints at a variety of high-tech companies from HP to venture-baked start-ups. Today she is the chief strategy and innovation officer at CSAA Insurance Group, one of the largest AAA insurers in the world.

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Execute with CLARITY

Execute with Clarity

You stepped into the future…but has it felt more like you stepped off a cliff?  Some of the most spectacular strategic failures have been due to poor execution.  Unfortunately, the momentum of vision is often short-lived as the reality of the complexity of execution begins to set in.  Since 1955, only 57 companies have maintained a position in the Fortune 500 while nearly 2,000 companies have come and gone during that same time period.

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How 30 Years of Radical Decisions Has Kept Haier On Top

How 30 Years of Radical Decisions Has Kept Haier On Top

If someone handed you a sledgehammer and told you to start smashing your company’s products, would you do it? That’s exactly what Haier CEO Zhang Ruimin did to prove a point to his employees. That was the first in a long line of radical decisions that have transformed the company from a fledgling refrigerator maker to the world’s number one appliance manufacturer – and kept it there.

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What You Can Learn From The Cayman Islands’ Path To Growth

What You Can Learn From The Cayman Islands’ Path To Growth

Three days are too few to fully unwind into what makes the Cayman Islands special. Lobster at the waterside cafe, sparkling blue water lapping white sand, genuinely nice people living in a safe country that feels, well, just happy. I was there to teach a two-day Outthinker course for a local university, training fast-rising government officials on how to sharpen their strategic and innovative thinking skills.

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How the 100-Year-Old Uber of Apparel is Thriving with Platform Business

How the 100-Year-Old Uber of Apparel is Thriving with Platform Business

A hundred years before Uber popularized the “platform business,” an English teacher and a porcelain merchant were launching their own platform business in Canton, China, called Li & Fung. In 1906, Li To-ming and Fung Pak-liu started a trading company, exporting porcelain, fireworks, jade and silk. They eventually set up headquarters in Hong Kong.

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What Two Psychologists and a Hedge-Fund Manager Can Teach You About Persistence

What Two Psychologists and a Hedge-Fund Manager Can Teach You About Persistence

The 150+ internal innovators I’ve interviewed over recent years all have precisely one thing in common. This thing they share is not any of the traits we typically associate with successful innovators: not creativity, customer insight, or influence; not technical knowledge, team leadership skills, or marketing prowess.

No … the one thing they share is this: persistence. They don’t give up.

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How the Hype Cycle Can Help You Make Sense of the Future

How the Hype Cycle Can Help You Make Sense of the Future

While working on an analysis for a client, attempting to assess the key trends that will shape the future of apparel, my mind turns to how an emerging technology in any industry can rise, fall, and eventually succeed. To help understand how trends like artificial intelligence, blockchain, or big data will affect any client, we often turn to the “hype cycle.”

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5 Steps to Become a Disruptor Next Year (Part II)

5 Steps to Become a Disruptor Next Year

Last week, I shared the first three steps of PPG’s unique approach to being a disruptor: build your technology toolkit, sense market needs, and match technology to needs.  But there are two more important steps to take to help your company go from just keeping up to disrupting: crossing the valley of death and measuring your innovation pipeline.