Ian Ballantine: prophet of profit

April 28, 2011

In college, Ian Ballantine wrote a paper on the potential profitability of paperback books. At that time, paperbacks were asso­ciated with “trash novels,” but one publishing house, Penguin, was publishing paperback editions of mainstream books. Penguin snapped up Ballantine, who later founded Ballantine Books.

Coming up with a billion-dollar idea

April 20, 2011
To come up with a billion-dollar idea, say ideation experts Kevin P. Coyne and Shawn T. Coyne, you need to phrase the right questions in a “hard” way that forces thinkers to look for major departures from current practices, significant exceptions versus aver­age consumer needs, and cost differences.

It takes more than just luck at Caesars

April 15, 2011

While theft is a firing offense at Caesars, so too is running an experiment without a control group. Gary Loveman, CEO, president and chairman of Caesars Entertainment, puts a continued focus on data analysis and small-scale testing that can scale into companywide initiatives.

How to create your own X Prize

March 9, 2011

In 1714, the British government offered 20,000 pounds to the person who could solve the vexing problem of how to measure longitude at sea. That was perhaps the beginning of inducement prizes, or fat purses given as rewards for solving tough problems. How to design contests to gin up the best innovations? To work best, you need to make the challenge:

Under Armour’s road to sweat equity

February 15, 2011

For Kevin Plank, founder and CEO of Under Armour, the journey to leadership began with a vexing problem he had personally experienced: As a walk-on player with the University of Maryland football team, he perspired a lot. So, after he finished playing with the team, he decided to find a solution to his sweat problem. His mission: to create a no-drip T-shirt.

How NASA leveraged a $1 billion blunder

January 28, 2011
The early history of NASA is partly a history of making expensive mistakes that helped develop the knowledge needed to land men on the moon and put rovers on Mars. For example, in 1992, NASA sent a billion-dollar orbiter called the Mars Observer to Mars and then never heard from it again. Soon after, some NASA folks put their careers on the line by creating the Mars Pathfinder …

Transfer great ideas from other fields

January 27, 2011
Jay Keasling, a chemical engineer at the University of California at Berkeley, snagged an award a few years ago for adopting an idea from the tech industry. What great ideas can you transfer to your industry?

Ben Franklin: The ultimate Renaissance man

January 26, 2011
Ben Franklin was a real promoter of unity, hard work, scientific progress and a pluralism way ahead of its time. Here’s a time-machine interview with Franklin, adapted from The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.

Build a successful brand the Steve Jobs way

January 21, 2011
Few people are more closely asso­ciated with innovation than Apple co-founder, Steve Jobs. Through interviews with Apple employees, experts and analysts, as well as Jobs’ own words, I discovered seven principles largely responsible for Jobs’ breakthrough success.

Finding the next big growth idea

January 20, 2011

Booz & Co. has created a methodology to assess “big and bold” growth ideas, based on five lenses: 1. Share of wallet. 2. New regulations. 3. Technology and applications. 4. Distinctive capabilities. 5. Business models.