IAM Talking: Innovation Stalled? Meet The 90% Rule, An Interview with Ken Tencer from Spyder Works




Today, the topic is about redefining innovation – Hint: You’re not starting from Ground Zero.

Welcome to IAM Talking, a periodic podcast interview series, with your host, Dan Keldsen, Chief Innovation Officer at Information Architected, Inc. (IAI).

Today IAM Talking with Ken Tencer, the CEO of Spyder Works Inc. and co-author of the book “The 90% Rule” which we’ll be discussing in this episode.

Ken’s company, Spyder Works, is a branding + innovation firm that enables clients to look at themselves more strategically… to imagine themselves differently in the marketplace. Find out more about Spyder Works at spyderworksdesign.com, and more about the book at 90percentrule.com.

Thanks goes out to Tom Martin of Tom Martin Media, Ken’s PR guy (and a common friend between Ken and I), for making the introduction, and arranging for a soft copy of the book to arrive at my office in advance of the interview.

Key Concepts of the 90% Rule

There is so much attention given to the 80/20 rule (Pareto’s Rule) – which is typically phrased that 80% of returns come from 20% of the appropriately targeted efforts – that immediately the 90% Rule caught my eye.
The core concept of the 90% Rule aligns perfectly with what I’ve been promoting for several years – stop thinking of innovation as THE NEXT BIG THING! (what I call “BIG I INNOVATION”) and focus more time on leveraging what you’ve already done – that 90% of the repeatable core of your business/products/services that you can use to pivot to your next piece of business.

It’s continuous improvement (or what I call “small i innovation”) and offers far more bang for the resource buck than people seem to give credit for.

Ken has some great examples of these pivots or extensions in the interview (listen below) and of course in the book, directly.

As you’re listening to the interview, we briefly discuss the Six Steps to Creating a Culture of Continuous Innovation, and which Ken was kind enough to provide the infographic we discuss, as eye candy to go with the discussion.

Six Steps to Creating a Culture of Continuous Innovation

The end-to-end process and infographic from the book:

Breaking down the six steps, we have:

Step One:  

Revisiting your company’s origins and identify where you want to take it long-term

Step Two: 

Exploring what you *can* be, not just what you are (Note from Dan: We hone in on this step in the interview)

Step Three: 

Building a relevant brand rooted in customer-centric thinking.

Step Four: 

Maximizing leverage by outlining your best opportunities and the criteria upon which to assess them (Note from Dan: decision making and critical thinking lags in almost every organization I run across – ideas are only part of the battle, folks)

Step Five: 

Building an opportunity matrix to determine the human and financial resources required for moving ahead.

Step Six: 

“Speaking” to be heard clearly by all your audiences. (Note from Dan: If you’ve done your work up front in this Design Thinking approach to Innovation, you already know your audience quite well – and now it’s time to reflect that knowledge right back)

Comments or Questions?

How are you defining innovation? How do you target? Are you building on your 90% base, or going for disruptive innovation opportunities? Comment below, and we’ll answer and discuss together.

Listen now!

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“Dan is an awesome analyst who has true understanding of many deep and broad technology and business issues faced in today's web. Briefing him on innovation was fun and easy. Getting advice from him was very informative and insightful. We did a podcast together and he was a pro as the host!!!”
by Jack Jia, Chairman & CEO Baynote

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