Last Holy Week, our graduate class in Anthropology embarked on a field methods project to learn how to use some ethnographic tools that were only previously discussed inside the classroom.  As the only member of the research team with no social science background, I knew I needed this course so I can start earning my stripes as a novice anthropologist.  Ethnographic research, after all, is the core of the anthropological discipline and in any research endeavor; methods used can make or break the entire study. 
 
Nevertheless, I brought in my own influences into the field – where my marketing training has honed my sense making in terms of identifying insights– based on consumer behavior (proxemics or participant observation) as well as language and expressions used by customers (content analysis) while my business experience has trained me to recognize opportunities (synthesis) that could leapfrog initiatives while considering the best way to execute for customer acceptance.  My entrepreneurial spirit, of course, has shaped my predominantly positive outlook in life where everything is an adventure that can be overcome by determination and hard work.  In many ways, I knew I was ready for that field experience in Banton, Romblon during Holy Week despite the challenge to my middle-aged bones trying to keep up with death-defying treks and motorcycle (habal-habal) rides.
 
And then just a few days ago, I checked out a webinar from the MIT Sloan website on the topic Exploring the Innovator’s DNA by Hal Gregersen who spoke on the five skills of disruptive innovators which were put together from an eight-year research study that looked into, how the most innovative leaders are able to arrive at “value-generating ideas”.  These skills are as follows (from http://executive.mit.edu/): Read more

There are many ways to create innovation – product, process and business model are the three main types. Product innovation like new Samsung phone models can help bring in revenues. Process innovation like BPI computerized branches, which require customers to encode data of their deposit and withdrawal while waiting, can help bring down cost via efficiency. Then many times when products and processes have been innovated, the business model will be reviewed, especially since the advantage of a product innovation typically won’t last long unless there is barrier to entry like a patent.

There is another type of innovation to address an avoidance of parity — that of the marketing mix innovation, especially if it supplements a product innovation. The advantage of a having simultaneous product and marketing innovation is that once a product edge ceases, differentiation will still be present in other areas.

Here are some examples: Read more

As we celebrated Women’s month last March, I like to share two interesting innovation stories which benefited women.

1. Finding baby sitters and caregivers online 

Genevieve Thiers, then a college student at Boston had a eureka moment while helping a pregnant mom post a babysitter help notice in various bulletin boards of the hilly campus. While she didn’t invent babysitting nor the internet, she was inspired by online dating service and combined the online plus babysitting and launched Sittercity.com, the first online babysitter company, which has grown to become an online caregiver company, expanding beyond babysitters to include nanny, housekeepers, senior care providers, tutors, pet sitters, and dog walkers. The site currently has over one million registered caregivers in the United States.

Imagine the year was 2001, this was way before Uber and AirBnB hit the market, when she envisioned the convenience of helping parents ensure safety of their children while giving peace of mind to parents. Sittercity.com created user-friendly processes to review caregiver profiles by zip codes, read parent reviews, narrow search on those with first-aid and CPR certification, run background checks, conduct phone interviews (including what to ask), check sitter references, run in-depth background checks and meet applicants.

Their background check service includes an identity verification, a national criminal search, traffic violations, and more importantly, a check through the sex offender and violent crime registry, cutting weeks and months of work for parents, allowing them the freedom to do other things while someone is helping them watch over their loved ones.  Read more

Waters Philippines is market leader in home water purifiers in the Philippines.  Launched in 1995 as the first consumer durable network marketing company in the Philippines, it struggled in the initial years with the need to educate sellers on the difference between network marketing (also known as MLM or multi-level marketing) versus illegal pyramiding, as well as the culture difference between a network marketing distributor (retailing plus leading a team of their own recruits) versus a sales agent (retailing only). Waters was a pioneer in MLM and was launched ahead of Amway and Herbalife in the Philippines. With more international MLM companies entering the Philippine market, it became easier to convince people of the new system as more people got educated.

 
Earlier, Waters Bio Mineral Pot, the product name of the 3-in-1 alkaline-mineral-purified water system sold by Waters Philippines, was promoted only in appliance retail stores. This was a low hanging fruit as appliance retail giant Abenson owned half of the company then. But the price of Waters was much higher, in fact, ten times more than the imitation mineral pots as well as faucet-mounted water treatment systems available in hardware stores and other appliance dealers, hence, the need to educate why it is better to drink higher quality water.  The shift in channel and business model enabled Waters to conquer a lot more territories instead of being limited to where retail stores are located; it allowed sellers to be entrepreneurs reaching out to qualified prospects instead of waiting for customers to enter the stores. With the entrepreneurial spirit, individual distributors can own company-sponsored car and have the chance to travel domestic or international annually.  The life of distributors is also much longer than the typical five-month hiring duration of promo girls in the store as it became unfortunate many needed to be replaced just when their competencies have started to rise.  Waters Philippines also launched installment programs in order to make it more attractive for buyers of water refill stations not just to shift their drinking water budget since it costs much less per liter to own a Waters but to also empower consumers to stop drinking acidic water promoted by most water refill stations, despite shelling out a lifetime cost of half a million pesos for drinking water based on P150 average weekly expenditures.
 
The business model innovation allowed Waters Philippines to expand quicker Read more

Imagine you are the biggest in your industry — you can be a bank, a car rental firm, a supermarket, a bookstore, a drug store, a pawnshop or any retail store format for that matter. Then, a newcomer entered the market and disrupted what you have been dominating for a long time. Your brick and mortar retail branch network, which is your biggest strength, has become irrelevant as the newcomer’s business model make use of online store.

Through forming a new league, these players have completely redefined the game by creating new benefits that would ease transaction and increase productivity. They no longer have to comply with retail store operating hours, hence there is no need to reach destination and endure horrendous traffic in the metro, find a spot and spend on parking. Those adhering to a new business model are not anymore required to exert energy only to find an item inside the store, queue in long line for the cashier or teller, unload items for cashier’s encoding. The newcomer in business is spared from certain inefficiencies that could transpire like validating products without code and even having to carry bulky items to the vehicle. Today, customers simply order and pay online at any time convenient to them and just wait for delivery to arrive. Read more

Innovation is about having a new way of doing things with commercial success. It targets to satisfy, in a novel way, pain points of customers or non-customers. Many companies like to have more innovation, but are dissatisfied with their efforts. Among others, firms wanting improvement might want to look at their innovation culture. Culture is what people say or do when bosses are away. This is the real norm in a company.

There are 10 building blocks to innovation: 5 in offering model and another 5 in the operating model of a company. This article will focus on how firms can enhance their innovative culture in order for their people to introduce real innovations not presently available in the marketplace. 

1. Hiring – Recruit people who are non-conformist with uncommon sense, instead of acquiring those with common sense.

2. Training – Create innovation competency by providing tools, frameworks and methods that are duplicable, ending with an annual innovation tournament, instead of passive suggestion box where random ideas are given. This is especially valuable if innovation has been indicated as a core value of a firm.  Read more

Mansmith and Fielders Inc. is the leading training and consultancy company in the Philippines offering the widest range of marketing and sales, strategy and innovation courses in Asia. Since 1990, Mansmith and Fielders, Inc. has remained an advocacy–based company where substantial amounts of its annual profits go to various advocacies focused on education and youth empowerment led by Marketing authors and business educators, Josiah Go and Chiqui Escareal-Go.  It is also the initiator of several awards and major conferences which include the annual Mansmith Young Market Masters Awards (YMMA), launched in 2004, it is the first and only recognition for young marketers and entrepreneurs 35 years old and younger, with Philippine Retailers Association and Philippine Franchise Association as official organization endorsers, Philippine Daily Inquirer as official publication, Abenson and Waters Philippines as sponsors. Read more

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