Sunday, October 27, 2019

Chief Exnovation Officer

The fifth annual Fast Company Innovation Festival is November 4-8 at various locations throughout New York City. It features newsmakers in business, the arts, and social impact for a week of panel discussions, immersive workshops, purposeful networking, and interactive field trips led by curated Fast Company journalists. 

The NYDLA global community is invited to attend, at special members-only pricing. 

The theme of this year's festival, "A Connected World," seeks to highlight the technological advancements that are accelerating the connections among people, places, and things while also shining a spotlight on the importance of forging strong human and cultural connections. 

NYDLA: Distance Learning > DIGITAL Learning > DIGITAL LIVING. OK, yeah, I get it. Living, learning, working, playing on a global basis, via technology. Yes, this festival is a fit for NYED-LA

A FESTIVAL is an event ordinarily celebrated by a community and centering on some characteristic aspect of that community (intellectual, creative, technology, science, etc.). 

Festival? Sounds like there will be food - sign me up!

INNOVATION is a cool word, right? How do you not love and support innovation? In business, the process of translating an idea or invention into a good or service that creates value would be innovation. Sometimes new products and services can be ground-breaking and revolutionary, resulting from major new technologies such as 3D printing or nanotechnology. 

Sometimes innovation shows up in small, simple or "why did I not think of that" or "Hey, that was my idea!" moments like turning a ketchup squeeze bottle upside down as improved packaging. 

In today's world, consumers are always looking for what's new, what's best, fastest, more convenient, more fashionable. Business today cannot sit still for if you do not successfully innovate you will be passed by. Global competitors and start-ups can easily leapfrog industry incumbents. Today, complacency is not a option. We live in a globally connected marketplace. We are now all competing in an ever increasingly educated and talented world with lower labor costs - successful start-ups can pop up anywhere.

Yes, Innovation is a very cool and powerful word. 

But so is Exnovation.

Exnovation is the process of eliminating the unsustainable, irrelevant or unsuitable to constantly improve and renew the innovation process. Exnovation is the process of removal of innovations that are not effective in improving organizational performance, are too disruptive to routine operations, or do not fit well with the existing organizational strategy, incentives, structure and/or culture. John Kimberly first coined the term exnovation in 1981 to describe the removal of process at the tail end of the innovation cycle. 

Herb Kelleher, the founder of Southwest Airlines, was a maverick and innovator in every sense of the word. He started his innovative, cost-cutting airline when flights were expensive and few people could afford them. Herb was known for his inspirational quotes:

"We have a strategic plan - it's called doing things."

"Your people come first, and if you treat them right, they'll treat the customers right."

"I tell my employees that we're in the service business, and it's incidental that we fly airplanes."

Yes, Herb Keller was a great innovator, but he was ALSO a great exnovator. 

"Today, there is one best way to land a plane. And that BEST WAY is how we are going to do it, every time, all the time. If we ever find a BETTER way to land a plane, then we shall do it THAT way." 

There is an underlying assumption that innovation is good, so then MORE innovation must be better. But the true masters, the Herb Kellers, the Walt Disneys and the Steve Jobs of the world - they were masters of both INNOVATION and EXNOVATION. You need both.

Innovation creates the magic. 

Exnovation is what makes the magic last. 

As in the case of folks like Steve Jobs, Herb Keller, Walt Disney and many others, their legacy - the magic of their innovation lasts long after they have left us. 

Come join us at the Fast Company Innovation (and Exnovation) Festival in NYC this November. 

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Winter Is Coming

Hark! The Winter Village in Bryant Park will be open for the holiday season this year before you can say "trick or treat."

I was in the park this past week, watching them assemble the magical winter wonderland. There shall be free ice-skating on the 17,000+ square foot outdoor rink. There shall be 180+ holiday shops, including a bunch of new kiosks and eateries for your shopping pleasure. I actually sat down for almost an hour and watched as they were assembling the Winter Village like one big Lego project.

If it feels wrong or weird to be talking about Christmas and the holidays before you have even made a dent in your Halloween candy, I'm with you.

Bryant Park is a 9.603-acre privately managed public park located in the New York City borough of Manhattan. It is located between Fifth Avenue and the Avenue of the Americas and between 40th and 42nd Streets in Midtown Manhattan.

I love Bryant Park. I love it all year long.

But the Winter Village is really something special. Countless stores ranging from home decorations, artwork, jewelry and amazing food. If you are looking for a unique place to have dinner in NYC, this is a great choice. The Winter Village in Bryant Park is not only the largest Christmas market in the city, but also by far the nicest. And it is so easy to get to from anywhere - it's just a few blocks away from Port Authority Bus Terminal, or Grand Central or Penn Station.

But - opening the Bryant Park Winter Village before Halloween? Seriously?

Last year the Winter Village was open from October until March 4th. That is over 1/3rd of the year. Is it just me, or does it seem that every year they push it just a little harder, open just a little sooner, and close just a little later?

We used to joke about Thanksgiving and Christmas - how you really should not be "pushing the holidays" ie: SHOPPING before we have our amazing turkey dinner and tryptophan induced food coma.

But now - Christmas...before Halloween?

My personal opinion: this is the Amazon Effect in The Big Apple.

Small business continues to get squeezed. Our friend Seth Godin covered this today in his blog: the simple dynamics of failing retail. 

Don't get me wrong, I love the Bryant Park Winter Village and I will tell everyone I know to check it out. will have its Christmas Party there this year, just like we always do. But our Christmas Holiday party will be in DECEMBER, as close to December 25th as possible.

My point is this: you cannot keep opening earlier and earlier in the year, to offset the Amazon effect. Seth says it very well: you cannot beat Amazon. You cannot figure out how to be as cheap as can't. But as a small business owner you CAN figure out how to do what Amazon cannot do.

People who will shop at the Winter Village want the hands-on service, they want to try things on, they want the chance to chat. They want the experience. The experience you cannot get online.

Trying to manipulate the calendar to compete against Amazon is not the way to do it. That's a race to the bottom. Or maybe it's like a ride on a carousel - you are moving but you are not really getting anywhere.

Bryant Park Carousel

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Bowled over by the software

Yesterday, the Capone clan went bowling in Boonton New Jersey. My two sons, and my new daughter-in-law (hence the Tinkerbell). 

It was fun to think about all the bowling birthday parties we had at Boonton Lanes over the years. There was a young family next to us, using the "bumpers" to block off the gutter balls. Yeah, the memories were flowing. And then on the scoring screen we noticed something: the software on the Brunswick automated scoring system was from 1994. 

Almost 25 years, and they are still running the same software.

It’s almost impossible to trace the rise of bowling without documenting the rise of the Brunswick company. 

From the beginning, Bowling and Brunswick have shared the same path. Founder John Moses Brunswick played an integral part in the birth of the game by building a company dedicated to taking games like billiards and bowling out of fancy parlors and into the public arena. Moses Bensinger (married to Eleanora Brunswick, daughter of John Moses Brunswick) had a vision for the modern game of bowling. He standardized rules for the game and organized the first American Bowling Congress in 1895, which held the first significant bowling tournament in 1902. The ABC became a prominent fixture in competitive, professional bowling, and is responsible for developing the professional game and global appeal of the sport as it is known today.
Brunswick has contributed directly to the global growth of bowling by opening the first bowling center in Moscow in 1976. It has also established a technological and manufacturing presence that reaches around the globe – from its state-of-the-art research and development facilities in Muskegon, Michigan, to its pinsetter manufacturing plant in Székesfehérvár, Hungary, to its sales and support resources in Hong Kong. 

During the past century, Brunswick’s passion for the game has never wavered. Brunswick has always been dedicated to improving both the game and the experience around it. Brunswick worked to grow bowling on a global scale and has helped to create the $10 billion industry that it is today.
Again, we noticed that the Brunswick software running the automatic scoring system was from 1994. I almost did not write a blog today, because I really had nothing to write about. 

My son Tommy said: why not blog about the software being from way back in 1994! 

You can say "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" as the topic. 

So here's my Sunday blog. I would have felt like a Turkey if I did not blog today, but I was split over this. It's not my best blog, so I don't expect you to be bowled over - it's not in a league of it's own. No need to frame it, but you can pin this to your browers and share it. 

I want a rematch