Early this year I posted an entry about how recessions are game changers. The down part of the business cycle challenges companies who don’t have flexible personnel. Creativity is at a premium as process goes out the door.
Well, at the time I got a comment from Joy who was representing Fahrenheit 212. She stated:
Ben, executives also need to know that they don’t have to go it alone.Companies can reduce risk AND improve their post-recession competitiveness by partnering with innovation specialists. If, that is, the innovation consultancy gets paid to perform, not just muse. At Fahrenheit 212, we share innovation’s risks and rewards with our clients. It’s a model that’s especially ripe for these times.
I was intrigued and we did a little email interview that I posted back in June called An Interview with Joy Bergmann of Fahrenheit 212. Here’s an excerpt:
7) If Fahrenheit 212 helps other companies be innovative, then you must have some very talented individuals working there. How would you describe them or what characteristics do they have?
The Fahrenheit 212 crew is without question the most remarkable group I’ve ever encountered. Everyone here is witty, well-traveled, energetic, caring and madly CURIOUS.
Lots of companies like to think of their culture as collaborative, but ours is relentlessly so. Teams propel each other to smarter strategies, better ideas and bigger wins.What’s extraordinary is how constructive, fun and supportive the whole vibe is.
We’re also quite diverse. Though a small firm, we hail from five different countries and celebrate our differences. For example, one innovation director was born in Lebanon, raised in France and Canada, studied architecture, has a foodie blog, aspires to be a perfumer and considers a typical morning to include revolutionizing consumer banking, inventing a new cocktail category and designing a necklace. One illustrator is also a licensed massage therapist, a weekend taxidermist and a museum-worthy oil painter. We’re not a dull group!
So I was happy to see on Fortune.com today a long feature piece on Fahrenheit 212 and the type of company they have. From how they are described, it sounds like they are set to grow tremendously over the next 3 years. And this is the work I often try to cite as the future: creative problem solving as a team. Math and science are very much needed, but so are those that can see something that doesn’t exist yet and make it come to life.
Update 12/21/09: Fahrenheit 212 also has an outlined approach over to chiefexecutive.net called The Innovation Imperative: How CEOs Can Deliver the Type of Innovation They Seek. Here is an excerpt from it:
A recent study published by Bain &Company illustrates the potential benefits of making a bold move when the going gets tough.
Bain studied over 200 companies across categories and came to three conclusions worthy of consideration at this moment:
- Twice as many companies made the leap from laggards to leaders during the last recession as during surrounding periods of economic calm.
- More than a fifth of companies in the bottom quartile in their industries jumped to the top quartile during the last recession. Meanwhile, over a fifth of all “leadership companies” — those in the top quartile of financial performance in their industry — fell to the bottom quartile.
- Of the firms that made major gains in revenue or profitability during the last recession, more than 70 percent sustained those gains through the next boom cycle. The corollary was also true: fewer than 30 percent of those that lost ground were able to regain their positions.
The question is how?
As we said at the outset, calls for change can be more of a nuisance than a help if they don’t offer advice on “how” to change. We believe there are four critical steps in implementing a truly successful innovation program:
Step One: Break out of business as usual
Whenever you’re setting out to change the game, define the outcome you want to achieve and then assess what must be true to get there. Working backwards ensures you stay focused on the big goal and becomes a useful filter as you’re defining the challenges and key success factors that actually matter. A great example of this came from NASA in 1961. When President Kennedy proclaimed that the US would be on the moon by the end of the decade,the lead scientist at NASA said something along the lines of “We know where the moon is, we know where the earth is, everything else is just details.” Genius.