Breakthrough Ideas for 2006 Part II

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The other day I posted the first ten of twenty Breakthrough Ideas for 2006 from the February 2006 edition of the Harvard Business Review.  Here are the second ten, pulled from Page 53.  My comments about new business ideas based on these ideas are in red. (Remind me next time to just choose highlights from my favorite five – twenty are pretty tiring to write about, as you can see with my ideas running a bit thin.)

11.  Peer to Peer Leadership Development.  When it comes to training your next-generation executives, do you wonder about the effectiveness of conventional methods, in which senior leaders impart general, sometimes outdated, principles to junior managers?  A U.S. Army intranet site offers a new model for leadership development, one that has advantages over both formal corporate training programs and informal watercooler-based networking.
The site is largely based on peer-to-peer feedback about real-time challenges leaders are facing in the field.  Trainers, leadership coaches, management consultants, how might you create new products or services around this model?  We all know that people are very sick of traditional training methods.

12.  Unstick Your Customers.  Physical stores are designed to "trap" customers-shepherding them past displays retailers want them to see on their way to the products they really want.  But what if physical stores mirrored the Web’s best practices for making information easily and always accessible?  Customers would get out quickly with exactly what they needed, never forced to double back for forgotten items.  The result would be increased loyalty.
In this area, they say "Creating a real-world version of an online organization means treating retail space as if it were information space."  Are you a web developer that wants to transfer your knowledge of well-designed sites to a retail environment? 

13.  Follow the Leader.  The types of choices you make influence your employees’ decision-making tendencies-and, consequently, the corporate culture.  Think carefully about what values your decisions communicate, and, if necessary, revise your personal rules of thumb to get the desired results.
The obvious link here is for leadership coaches, but I would say that anyone looking at personal development should take this into consideration.

14.  Wake Up and Smell the Performance Gap.  The gap between the economic performance of nations and that of companies is growing wider every month, made worse by offshoring and advances in technology.  Yet both sides continue to play by the rules for a level field.  As a result, states overreach while companies harbor unrealistic expectations about what governments can do for them.
There are huge opportunities here for those with corporate experience and political minds.  We have massive change to affect between how our governments are run and how business is run.  Both could use a lot of help.

15.  The Avatar as Consumer.  Millions upon millions of people have created avatars, personalized representations of themselves that they use in an array of online environments.  These alternative selves represent a whole new set of "customers" that marketers can analyze, segment, and sell to-both in the virtual worlds in which avatars live an din the real worlds of their creators.
Wow, can you imagine being in the business of marketing to made up characters?  For those of you with vivid imaginations and distain for the hard, cold realities of life, this could be just the niche for you.

16.  Befriending the Private Label.  In a variety of categories, including cellular phones, financial services, and packaged goods, suppliers are helping their retail customers become competitors through the retailers’ use of their own branded products.  This stimulates more than just low-price competition:  Many private-label brands created and supported by large manufacturers are of equal or superior value to the manufacturers’ regular brands.
The entire supply chain of product development will be impacted by this, as well as marketing brains, sales gurus and advertisers.

17.  A Critical Mass for the Long Term.  Hounded by pressure for short-term results, companies often find it touch to make the long-term decisions that are best for them.  But while many CEOs fear bucking the status quo alone, a group of vanguard companies hopes, through its collective strength, to change the market’s orientation for good.
If we could do something, anything to stop the brutal quarter-by-quarter results focus of companies, it would make life inside and outside of companies so much more bearable. 

18.  The Costly Secret of China Sourcing.  Many companies aren’t reaping the benefits they expected from sourcing their products in China.  Physical, logistical, and political limitations-not to mention the inevitable supply chain bottlenecks-are making it difficult.  To combat these obstacles, organizations must think flexibly and act aggressively, even using rivals’ overseas-sourcing strategies against them.
China experts, here is another area to help.

19.  The Brain as Boondoggle.  Despite the recent buzz around neuroscience, you aren’t going to be able to use brain scans to choose the "perfect" CEO or the R&D scientist with the most "Eureka!" potential.  Not in this lifetime.  Hiring will still require insightful, nuanced reading of people, not biological data.
Experienced recruiters may smirk at this idea as "breakthrough," since they know this has always been the case.  But maybe there is an opportunity to take the best from both of these worlds and make a very effective recruiting process.

20.  Why They Call It Work.  Employees should not demand that their companies imbue their lives with meaning.  If people’s jobs are simply worth doing-that is, if the positions are commensurate with their skills, experiences, priorities and goals-that should be meaningful enough.
One more opportunity for me to screech my rallying cry to anyone who will listen:  WE ARE ALL SELF EMPLOYED!!!  Companies lost their patience long ago with being parents/camp directors/therapists.  We need to give our working people tools to know how to create meaning for themselves out of any situation.

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