Tag Archives: nike

Enthusiasm drives employee engagement…and innovation

As much talk and attention innovation gets, the topic of employee engagement isn’t far behind. And with good reason, the latest report from Gallup concluded that only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work. Damn!

But Gallup also points out that companies with engaged employees outperform those without by up to 202%, so there’s something we can learn from organizations with highly engaged employees.

It’s important that we must make a distinction here, for an engaged employee is not a satisfied employee. The point being that just because companies post pictures and videos of their employees having fun doesn’t mean that they are also satisfied with their work.

With that said, the following thread on Quora caught my attention because the person responding indicated why she was both engaged and satisfied with her work: Why are so many people content with just earning a salary and working 9-6 their entire adult life?

How can we become better thinkers and decision makers?

question to innovate

This the sixteenth of a series of weekly posts where I will answer a few common questions about innovation. Please feel free to add your own response. Also, if you have any questions you think we should discuss, let me know.

“The better decision maker has at his/her disposal repertoires of possible actions; checklists of things to think about before he acts; and he has mechanisms in his mind to evoke these, and bring these to his conscious attention when the situations for decision arise.” – Herbert Simon, Nobel Laureate

There are plenty of ways to make better decisions. But what about when you are dealing with complexity (which we all do)? How can you see the essence of anything quickly?

Madness creates opportunity

Act deliberately crazy and no one will want to compete against you.

If you’ve read The Thirty Six Chinese Stratagems, then you’re familiar with the statement above. Here’s the stratagem if you don’t know it:

Feign madness but keep your balance
Hide behind the mask of a fool, a drunk, or a madman to create confusion about your intentions and motivations. Lure your opponent into underestimating your ability until, overconfident, he drops his guard. Then you may attack.

Grant McCracken wrote a post a few days ago that shines a light how Skechers is using said stratagem to compete against Nike, it’s worth a read.

The easiest and most engaged way to get new insights

I’m a baller, and I can tell which sneaker is good for playing in and why. One of the worst things about modern basketball sneakers is that they still generate a lot of moisture on your feet that makes for an uncomfortable way to play. You really have to get used to playing with moisture on your feet. This problem hasn’t been fixed until now.

The video above is an overview of the new Nike Hyperfuse, which uses mesh technology (the one used on running shoes) to fix the moisture problem. What I want to draw attention to is that the Innovation Kitchen team from Nike got the insight for using mesh technology to reduce moisture after traveling to parts of China and ‘observing’ that some people where playing hoops in running shoes or sandals.

The Hyperfuse is a big hit with NBA players right now (Most of Team USA wore them during the recent World Championships) because it has everything all the other shoes had before it plus the mesh technology that helps the feet breathe.

Observe. Observe. Observe.

I’ve argued before that there are plenty of ways to get insights, but the easiest and most engaged way to get insights is by observing how people use your product or interact with your service.

You would think that an athletic footwear maker like Nike would’ve thought about using running shoe mesh technology on basketball shoes before. They had to travel to the other side of the world to see people playing basketball in sandals and running shoes, not basketball shoes, to get this insight. This why direct observation is so important and focus groups so limited, it’s better to observe people’s behavior because if you ask them outright what they want the don’t really know.

Another thing to remember is that people tend to say ‘that’s the way it is’ and accept products as they are and get used to them. Do you actually think that if they’re used to things being the way they are that they’re actually going to tell you what they want? I know as a basketball player you do all sorts of things to remove the moisture such as changing your socks often so your feet are as dry as possible, yet since we’ve found an alternative and temporary way to dealing with it we don’t stop and ask why?

Somebody else, an outsider, has to notice it; define the problem and find a solution.

Direct observation is one of the most cost effective ways to get new insights, ignore it at your peril.

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Make recombination part of your business strategy

jordan 2010


“Everything we create is just a product of recombination.”

What’s the inspiration behind the ?

The ability to see through your opponents and keep your intentions hidden. Just like in the world of design, in the world of Air Jordan’s the word . It’s safe to say that every single new Air Jordan has a distinct feature that borrowed from previous models to create the new one, and that is a key to their business strategy:

They’ve mastered the art of recombination.

Not only do they do it with the newer models but also with all the other extensions they’ve build around the Air Jordan’s such as the retro’s, TEAM and individual player models. I think the is to the sneakers industry what Apple is to the tech industry mainly because both companies set out to reinvent whatever they do. Jordan’s reinvent the basketball shoe and Apple reinvents mmm well everything it comes into contact with.

Jordan’s are also about performance and with every new model there’s some innovation in that department but this focus on recombination has made . If you don’t believe me check out the and you’ll see what I mean, a lot of transformational inspiration.

If there’s one thing you can learn from Air Jordan is they from themselves and from other sources and then combine them to come up with something entirely new all while maintaining a focus on style and performance.

Ask yourself: How can I make recombination part of my business strategy? Who can I borrow ideas from that can help me reach x objective?

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