The Renaissance Innovator

Thoughts, examples and updates on the Renaissance Innovation Method

Posts tagged “Examples

Renaissance Innovation @ The World Knowledge Forum

Posted on October 19, 2011


Last, week I had the opportunity to speak on Renaissance Innovation at the World  Knowledge Forum, 2011 in Seoul, Korea. The event was very well attended with  many interesting speakers, from government, (Sarah Palin, Gordon Brown, Seiji Maehara), academics (Larry Summers, Nouriel Roubini) and business (Tom Albanese, Nishida Atsutoshi). For me,  there were three  interesting observations. First, how innovation has come to completely dominate the policy and business agenda. Second, how little we know about how to actually become innovative and third, how innovation translates across borders. Let me elaborate.

Back to school and more innovations

Posted on September 6, 2011


Evidently, we have been out for a while, preoccupied with long French summer… The good news is that most of our readers have been out as well, so no harm no foul. But it is good to be back to school and back to our blog.  In this first post of the new academic year I wanted to talk about a couple of recent innovations that I encountered in the popular press while on vacation, literally lying on the beach. While these stories are quite different, a common theme unites them: they are both about commodities. The reason they caught my eye is that I often teach for oil and gas companies (mostly Russian) and within INSEAD executive development programs we also often have…

The ultimate Internet retail innovator

Posted on June 11, 2011


Equating Amazon.com with innovation is a no-brainer.  The company has become the proverbial 800-pound gorilla of on-line retailing with nobody else even coming close. Amazon has built it business on books but over time it expanded into most other categories and it continues to dominate most of them.  Just like all other renaissance innovators, Amazon did not excel through creating new products (it sells what other do) or through new technologies (although Amazon leverages technology heavily, it is hard to argue that it invented Internet retailing). Rather, Amazon innovated the business model of selling goods through the Internet. Unlike what some believe, Amazon was not even the first company to sell books on the Internet but it was the one that figured out how…

How to beat Amazon.com at its own game

Posted on May 24, 2011


 Who is the 800 pound gorilla in the Internet retailing? There is no question about it – Amazon.com.  The story of this company is, by itself, an excellent example of the renaissance innovation: Amazon.com thrives thanks in large part to the highly efficient supply chain management which allows it to deliver millions of products to the customers quickly and at very reasonable prices. One day I will write a separate post about it but today I wanted to blog about another company that was in the news recently because it was “what Amazon fears most” according to the Business Week magazine.  Amazon’s nightmare is apparently a relatively small Internet startup out of New Jersey called Quidsi, which is better known by its main business…

Restaurant leaderboards

Posted on May 6, 2011


Restaurant industry is probably one of the last places to look for innovations: the industry has not really changed much in the last 200-300 years. The same poorly paid waiters service the same customers and work for the minimal wage plus tips.  One relatively major change that happened some years ago is the introduction of POS (point of sales) systems which provide a wealth of data on everything that is going on in the restaurant: meals served, checks paid, tips earned etc.  Some of the better restaurant chains started using this data to schedule waiters according to customer demand to help simplify life of managers who used to allocate waiters to days and tables manually.  But there is a new, innovative workforce management solution…

GroupOn: Rebirth of the Coupon Book

Posted on May 2, 2011


Much has been written about the rapid growth and success of GroupOn. Every week seems to bring a new GroupOn copycat. And it is for good reason— No other startup has gone more quickly from launch to $1 billion+ in valuation except YouTube (12 months), which Groupon achieved in 16 months with its  $135 million infusion  in  April 2010. Just as unprecedented is what  followed  this valuation– after turning down an offer from  Google that valued it at $6 billion  last December, the Chicago firm is now eying a  US$25 billion IPO ! Some would explain this with the ready-to-explode bubble in startup valuations, and others say this is the impact of “Social”. While we see some merit in both arguments, we feel all that is written about Groupon has…

Fast Enough to Catch up with Fashion

Posted on April 23, 2011


Some of you may have heard of  Fast Fashion, the practice of quickly bringing  designs from the runway to stores. This strategy helped upstarts like ZARA, supplant some of the most-established leaders of apparel retail. The strategy has now been emulated by many others like Uniqlo, H&M, Forever 21, etc.  Today, the strategy is recognized as being more responsive to customer trends, but it is often derided for its inefficiency.  When ZARA started out many practitioners were puzzled by many counter-intuitive choices in the design of this business model– production in high cost locations, super expensive air freight and logistics, limited sales, etc.  As a consequence of all these expenses, practitioners expected  ZARA’s products would have to be much more expensive than traditional retailers to cover the…

On-demand call centers in the house next to you

Posted on April 17, 2011


When disaster in Haiti happened, lots of people around the world wanted to help through donations. But who can organize a huge call center to accept donations on a one-day notice and dismiss it after a week or so? This task was taken on by LiveOps, a contact center company based in San Francisco.  Although you probably have never heard about the company, it might have serviced some of your calls to order a pizza, for instance. So what allowed LiveOps to handle this enormous task of establishing an overnight call center? The answer is: a novel approach to labor management which places LiveOps in the prominent company of renaissance innovators.

Making the World a Better Place

Posted on April 8, 2011


Getting drivers to switch from gasoline cars to eco-friendly electric vehicles has long been a goal of policy-makers and governments. But all attempts at attacking the mass market have largely failed. Despite rapid advances in battery technology, electric vehicle’s limited driving range and high up-front costs have all held back mass adoption. Some companies like Tesla Motors, have invested heavily in improving electric vehicle technology, but have not met with much success. But one company,  Better Place took a different route and has the best chance in a generation at mass-adoption of electric vehicles. Rather than invest in technological innovation, it decided to take a decidedly different route, innovating the operating model around electric vehicles– the renaissance innovation route.