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From Sources of Innovation


Blockchain buzz masterclass

Alec Ross in The Industries of the Future states that blockchain will be to banking, law, and accountancy as what invention of the Internet was to media, commerce, and advertising. Blockchain is expected to lower costs of transactions, disintermediate multiple layers of business activities, and reduce waiting time. In one of the TED Talks Bettina Warburg explains how blockchain is to transform economy through it decentralization, leading to a change of roles of traditional institutions such as governments, banks and many others.

In a very simplified way, blockchain can be explained as a digital file set for recording transactions between parties which collectively have agreed to adhere to protocols of communication and validation of the data stored in the file. The word block in the blockchain would stand for container data structure and chain would imply multiplicity of the blocks. Key enabler of blockchain technology is Internet and peer-to-peer networks, which are prerequisite for Internet users to exchange any files.

Data stored in blockchain due to adhered protocols is resistant to modifications once it is recorded. One of security mechanisms in blockchain are called time stamps, which refer to possibility to record transactions in the blocks only for defined period of time and no possibility of altering transactions after.

Hence it’s believed that blockchain increases trustworthiness of transactions between those who interact through blockchain and further authentication of transactions by higher instances such as governments or banks is no longer needed. As a result of this digitally-increased trust, parties agree to eliminate reconciliation processes and reconciliation institutions, such as external, formal, or higher instances. If you are still feeling fuzzy about blockchain basics, you can find a step-by-step explanation of blockchain phenomenon, enriched with infographics, in short post by Mohit Mamoria available in this place.

In the light of theory of technology innovation blockchain is still a technology that emerges from other technologies competing for serving the same purposes. Such state is called standard battles and design dominance battles. Dominant designs once established set up stable architecture for technology development and encourage companies to use it, what spurs its prevalence and related global adoption.

Examples of dominant deign battles from the past included e.g. Video Home System (VHS) vs Betamax, or Blue-ray vs High-Definition Video. Once you realize that this is actual status of blockchain technology as a standard in adoption stage competing with many other standards, you’ll easily understand why discussions around blockchain are so dynamic and vivid in events, such as e.g. recent set-up of Blockchain Partnership by 23 European countries (joined by 2 other countries later), or creation of European Union Blockchain Observatory with significant budget planned to spend for technology development.

As blockchain belongs to so-called general-purpose technologies, what means its final application have not been exhaustively discovered yet, it can enable a new way of working in multiple  domains. Currently discussed domains include monetary exchange, energy and health management, legal contracting, supply chains transparency, and also governmental activities such as voting, handling birth certificates, or property records. As emerging and not finally regulated technology in design dominance battles, blockchain actively competes with cloud technology and other technologies from pre-cloud era enhanced by interoperability solutions.

In The Business Blockchain Promise, Practice, and Application of the Next Internet Technology William Mougayar pointed out that proof-of-concept for development of blockchain technology, also in other domains, was electronic cash, which was able to survive & participate in economic exchange outside formal & regulated financial institutions, such as banks. After proof-of-concept relating to cash other virtual currencies serving value transfer emerged, which enable to buy and sell goods, they are subject to economic exchange, and are listed at dedicated technology stock exchanges.

Applications of blockchain don’t limit to electronic cash and financial services. For energy market blockchain offered instant metering solutions for local energy generation that allow communities to buy and sell renewable energy. Blockchain is also discussed in electricity grid optimization context, and some companies apply combination of blockchain and so called smart plugs to allow electricity users to purchase energy in the real time and change suppliers if energy prices they agreed to pay diverge.

In healthcare domain blockchain offers health care and medical record solutions, such as the possibility of saving medical records (traditionally stored in paper form) on a secure and convenient digital file, which are being developed are portable and safe, and offer clinicians up-to-date patients  files available everywhere any time with patient’s permission. One of large-scale implementation of blockchain in healthcare takes place in Estonia, where health records have form of distributed files, which can be opened with Estonians digital ID Cards.

Storing health records in blockchain might foster interactions of patient with multiple healthcare delivery institutions, research on aggregated patient’s data by scholars, reduction of frauds toward national healthcare payers and healthcare insurance institutions as all clinicians visits and medical procedures within blockchain based healthcare record would leave the time stamps, explained in earlier part of this post. Blochchain-based solutions in healthcare also cover enterprise medical imaging or genomics.

Additional dimensions of blockchain for healthcare are  elaborated in Who Will Build the Health-Care Blockchain by Mike Orcutt, or Potential for Blockchain to Transform Electronic Health Records by John D. Halamka, Andrew Lippman and Ariel Erkblaw. Start-ups and entrepreneurs developing blockchain technology in European Union might be interested in start-up accelerators located in France, Italy, or Poland; and also World Blockchain Forum dedicated to this technology planned in London between 5th-9th of September 2018.



How are Trends an Innovators’ Friend?

Trias de Bes and P. Kotler in “Winning at Innovation. The A-to-F Model” present a unique, structured approach to organizing process of innovation in corporates. They distinguish different roles and responsibilities in the act of entrepreneurial discovery, one of which are creators. Creators have important role of identifying and channeling macrotrends, trends, fashions, and novelties into exploitable business opportunities. How these social proofs differ to teach other, and wat are their examples?Trias de Bes and P. Kotler argue that many inventions turned to be failures as they didn’t took current trends into account. Therefore the authors recommend reflection on macrotrends, trends, fashions and novelties deriving from sociological research to exploit business opportunities embedded in them

The basic distinction between macrotrends, trends, fashions, and novelties is how long they are expected to last.

In the example of macrotrends, they last from minimum 5 years up to 10 years, however it is rare that they’d last over 10 due to changes of priorities and life purposes of generations. Examples of macrotrends include usage of smartphones, digitalization of newspapers, or increase of ecologic awareness.

Trends last from minimum 1 year up to 5 years, and can relate to phenomena such as smart gardening, social media, or electronic vehicles.

Fashions are something that last minimum one season, as in case of footwear and outwear up to one year, as in example of other products and services. Fashions relate to movies of the year, book and audio bestsellers, or extremely holey jeans as in Poland in 2016.

Novelties last up to one month, sometimes even less, like a week or two. Novelties often relate to sport, cultural, political and media events. An example of novelty, in the day of writing this post, are UEFA EURO 2016 or World Youth Day being organized in Poland between July 25th-31st 2016, which will result in short time boom of sales of event related gadgets incl. souvenirs, keychains, pictures, T-shirts, or stamps.

If you pay attention, look really closely, and are aesthetically skilled you can turn macrotrends, trends, fashions and novelties into business with platforms such as Threadless, Spreadshirt, or Betabrand.

The most crucial thing in exploiting the trend is to identify them at relatively early stage of growth. So how do you do that? You can build a network of trusted observers of trends indicators, like DDB agency did in form of SignBank service, which enables adding observed phenomena to dedicated database by the agency employees from all over the world. Other sources include social media and blogs, which you can leverage using dedicated tools. One of such tools is Google Trends enabling analysis of frequency of appearance of defined search queries in Google search engine. Another one is Technorati, which enables you to browse through the blogs dedicated to particular topics and narrow down the most relevant ones. is the tool enabling you to follow reputation of defined people, companies and brands, incl. discussion taking place in social media. You might also like Wordle, which enables generating clouds of words from the text you provide. Worlde gives greater prominence to words that appear frequently in the source text of blogs with Atom or RSS feeds. Sentiment 140 will be interesting for those, who’d like to know positive and negative opinions published on Twitter that are related to defined word put in Twitter search engine.

Tools supportive in trends identification incl. also solutions of Appinions or Institute for the Future, which we mentioned in our previous posts.



MOOCs for Start-ups and Entrepreneurs

If you believe in self-directed, flexibly scheduled learning to upgrade your skills, this post is for you. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are online interactive learning courses, which significance in recent years has boosted. Thanks to MOOCs anyone and everywhere can experience learning from world top class universities on broad, or industry-specific issues.

What’s more, MOOCs in the most of cases are free of charge, however require real time commitment for pre-readings, watching learning videos, and solving quizzes. In exchange for this you can satisfy your curiosity, enrich your resume, and with investment of small amount of money get certificate of completion.

MIT Open Course Ware provides portfolio of MOOCs, which entrepreneurs and start-ups might particularly derive from, ranging from finance and law to operations and strategy. You can also find technology development oriented MOOCs of MIT, including course on circuits and electronics, which considered as pretty popular. You can learn from Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania on launching your start-up, growing strategies, digital marketing, social media and e-commerce. One of the most entrepreneurial colleagues in the US, Babson College provide you with course on leading like entrepreneur.

I find MOOCs as cost-efficient learning form for entrepreneurs, start-ups, and teams they develop in scaling-up stage. You can inspire your team to self-directed learning by sharing your insights from MOOCs, which you have just finished, or encourage for starting a new one together. In the end who would not like to go to MIT, Wharton or Babson with you?

MOOCs also provide you with safe environment of testing interest in defined topics with no serious financial commitment before a deep-dive decision on starting immersive form of education like full time studies.

Even if MOOCs don’t provide you with real interaction, and networking opportunity, as traditional teaching methods, participation in them is considered as more than studying a textbook, or reading a specialized blog. Therefore all you need to do now is to pick up your MOOC, and share your learning reflections with us.

If you are not sure MOOCs of what university you’d like to enter, you can use Coursera, or edEX to browse worldwide resources of MOOCs by entering key-words for topic you are interested in. This approach I particularly recommend for industry-specific start-ups. Event relatively narrow topics related to life sciences, or energy don’t belong to something MOOCs could not cover.




The Most Underutilized Source of Ideas

You want to invent the next big thing, but you don’t know exactly what? In this post you’ll find how to tap to over 100 million of already recorded, novel, non-obvious, and useful ideas described in English of course.

As J.M. Kaplan and A.C. Warren aptly noticed in “Patterns of Entrepreneurship Management” probably the most underutilized sources of ideas are patent databases. Patent databases record ideas, that by patentability criteria must be novel, non-obvious, and useful.

The main goal of filing a patent is to protect technology know-how of their inventors, and to limit the rights of commercializing the invention to inventor, or also parties, which inventor will agree to license the patent to. Patents in principle are to reward inventors, who successfully commercialize their inventions.

However what often happens is that patents become forgotten and not exploited by inventors, as they do not know how to develop a market as their invention simply precedes its time. Every patent officially registered points out inventions importance and applications, refers to prior ideas, and explains why the idea is useful. And guess what? This might lead you to other inventions, negotiation of licensing the patent from its inventor, or setting up a joint-venture with the inventor leading to patented invention commercialization.

Patent databases might be a wonderland of opportunities with business potential, and now – surprise, surprise, you will learn how to get to this wonderland.

Everyone, who would like to approach and exploit officially registered patents can use online patent databases and search engines. These sources are usually searchable by key words, patents owners, and dates of filing. Patents databases can be also inspiring source for analyses of technology, and market development.

Just take a moment and check recent records on e.g. 3D printing, smart watches, wireless charging, or autonomous vehicles in my favorite patent databases and patent search engines:

United States Patents and Trademark Office (USPTO) – aggregates of U.S. patent applications, that for end of 2011amointed in nearly 9 million records. For browsing USPTO search engine you need to remember that it uses Boolean operators you need to select manually.

Espacenet – developed by European Patent Organization (EPO) and launched in 1998 in 2015 claimed to have records on over 90 million patent publications. In 2012 Espacenet “Patent Translate” service developed together with Google. “Patent Translate” enables translation of technical patent’s description into 31 languages. In 2013 Espacenet obtained the highest score in comparison study performed by Patent Information News between Espacenet, USPTO, DepatisNet, Freepatentsonline, and Google Patents. Advanced search engine of Espacenet can be found here.

Google Patents – a search engine from Google that indexes patents and patent applications not only from already mentioned USPTO, Espacenet, and DepatisNet, but also from World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO), and China’s State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO).

Patent databases might also show if what you work on in terms of invention is already registered and protected by law. It has particular importance in technology-based innovations. Therefore consider patent databases as source of independent “reality check” and feedback supporting iteration on invention you are working on.

Dzida !


The Shortest Way to the Future is to Invent it

Institute for the Future founded in 1968 in the US was set up by people, who imagined a world in which it is possible to improve human lives and build better institutions by thinking systematically about the future. As they say the future is everything we can imagine – the fearsome, the inspiring, the inexplicable, the essential, and there are plenty of tools enabling to design and embrace it,called foresight tools. How you could apply them for your business?

Foresight-insight-action session is a process of building scenarios by gathering broad intelligence from your community and provoking its participants to think about alternative futures to uncover relevant insights to design creative, but concrete visions of the future and their implications for your business. When you link those visions to designs of actions to take you’ll have a participatory strategy building process. See example of a foresight with scenarios and their implications for future of food.

Learning Journeys are the visits to organizations which are already  analyzing and actively shaping the future. By  immersion in mixed environment of entrepreneurs, techies and artists you can get inspired and co-create what’s next.

Signals are small or local innovations, which have potential to grow exponentially. Signal can be a new product, a practice,a  market strategy, a policy or a technology. It catches attention at local level and might be applied at larger scale (have larger implications). Unlike trends signals turn attention before they become obvious. Unlike indicators they focus attention at margins of society. Signals depicted by Institute for the Future can be followed at their Twitter and Facebook accounts. You can treat some of signals like the future artifacts, making your scenario analysis more concrete and vivid. See example of future artifacts for technology remaking future of food.

Perspectives are a key factor complementing to forecasts, which are often generic. Perspectives area about looking at issue through different lenses, e.g. for future of Internet through lens of language, for future of health through lens of time. See the results of looking through different lenses at future of robotics.

Maps are key “scenario-thinking-openers” and can take a form of matrices, roadmaps or mandalas. They focus on couple of key trends and  meaning of these trends for people, places, markets, practices and tools we use. You can create a customized forecast map for your business with your team to identify opportunities and threats, niches for innovation and strategic responses. You can use maps regularly prepared by Institute for the Future, as the one for future of technology or food industry.

Foresight training is a complex programme for those, who would like to master foresight-insight-action frameworks and foster conversation about the future and its scenarios. I think it’s a must for everyone who plans to run their Institute for the Future, deliver foresight-based strategic consulting for life, and have fun by organizing foresight engine games, like the one on the future of hospital using crowdsourcing of micro forecasts, scenarios development, and their analysis in report you can find here.

You’ll find more tips and tools supporting principles nurtured by the Institute in their online shop.

Remember, the shortest way to the future is to invent it.


Dzida !


How Big Data Improve Small Business?

Co-authored with Dear Maestro Krasen Dimov

If you are not a part of big data buzz, and still asks yourself a question what’s in big data for you, the following insights might be found useful by you.

Simple query for “Big Data” web interest in Google Trends shows that big data has created a big hype starting in 2011, and we shouldn’t simply ignore its basic applications.


McKinsey Global Institute estimated value of several applications of Big Data, such as:

1) USD 600 billion – potential annual consumer surplus from using personal location data globally,
2) USD 300 billion potential annual value to US health care—more than double the total annual health care spending in Spain,
3) EUR 250 billion – potential annual value to Europe’s public sector administration—more than GDP of Greece.

The era of Big Data is about customization, experimentation, new business models, and competition. Still, you may feel a little bit lost, and see no application of big numbers carried by data for small business.

Big Data is not an utterly abstract phenomenon; these are just data sets that seem too be large and complex to make any sense out of them with standard statistics or econometrics tools. And you can have this data from your customers registration forms, transaction archives, invoices or bills.

If you do any kind of sales-related business, and this is your first adventure with Big Data ask yourself the following questions to see whether you could use it to benefit your company:

1) Do you have access to the records of your customers, incl. their profiles?

2) Do you have access to the records of transactions made by your customers, incl. details of what they bought over time?
If the answer for both above listed questions is positive, and the data you have can be sorted and recorded in e.g. MS Excel spreadsheet, you have everything you need to do your first Big Data analysys, and you can do it for free, of course.
With the following example we will show you the basic, sales-related application of Big Data analysis: finding out whether and how strongly the purchase of good/service “A” you offer triggers the purchase of good/service “B” you offer. This is adaptation for your business. Let us show how to do that with the case of Big Data discovery they had at Walmart that examined the theory: “If somebody buys diapers, for almost sure, they will buy a beer”.

Knowing how exactly purchase of “A” triggers purchase of “B” enables you to decrease the margin on “A”, win-over more “A” buyers and simultaneously increase the margin on “B”, knowing that purchase of “A” triggers purchase of “B”. It will actively support your stock management, pricing, and promotion policy.

The practical result in Walmart case for making more out of diapers and beers resulted in putting beers just next to the shelves with diapers, so the beer purchase more convenient for targeted buyers.

To perform these kind of analyses all you need is MS Excel and a free-of-charge trial-version of XLMiner that you can download from here. (XLMiner will install as plug-in to your MS Excel, and doing basic Big Data analyses with the programme is pretty intuitive.)

To make a successful Big Data query you need to be able to differ between “antecedent of the rule” and “consequent of the rule”. In our example all “antecedents of the rule” would be “A”, and “consequents of the rule” would be purchases of “B”.

If you’d like to take a look at alternative Big Data solution tool you may also like:

1) IBM Watson Analytics – designed for small business and entrepreneurs with no Big Data know-how whatsoever,
2) Kaggle – platform where anybody can post their Big Data question to have them answered. Over 200 000 Big Data enthusiasts from all over the world will try tackling your problem.





What entrepreneurs can learn from James Bond?

No matter which episode of 23 James Bond movies you’ll watch there are certain things which doesn’t change in creating commander’s Bond superior advantage in fighting his opponents and rescuing the world. I believe these things are informational insights intercepted at the earliest stage possible with an idea on how to make use out of them.

In business in most of the cases we don’t have business intelligence team backing us up from the MI6 or fancy gadgets making information interception easier. It doesn’t mean we can’t have our own business intelligence providing great business value potential as early as possible, and for free of course. So how could we convert bondish secret sauce into entrepreneurship practice?

So if you are at the moment of defining what your business should be, you can:

1) Check Google Trends to know now what and where precisely is becoming “more in” and deploy Google Alerts to follow it closely

2) Check
McKinsey Insights and AT Kearney’s Executive Agenda for bigger picture of changes happening on the markets, forces driving them, and opportunity they create.

If your business is about providing value within anything doing something concernig infrastructural investments you can:

1) If you operate globally register in Infrastructure Journal and check what infrastructural investments are to be done in the future, what are their budgets, and who is involved in their preparation and design

2) If you operate in the European Union register in
Tenders European Daily. Check what investments will take place in the future and what are their estimated budgets. You can also use TED for market trends and market niches identification analysis

3) If you operate in Poland register in Investment’s Compass to have insights on investment’s planned in places or future nvestment’s value thresholds you are interested.

There are of course much more sophisticated tools like investments signals databases or ISI Emerging Markets Information Services (ISI), which provide superior insights but not always free of charge. If you are a student you can always check what data libraries and services are offered by your alma matter you might be surprised if it turns out that your school is giving you access to ISI, which  standard yearly subscription can cost up to EUR 1 million.

They say that driving business can become easier if you know where you are heading and who is already the race. Other bondish secret sauce ingredients have much to with managing stakeholder’s expectations and making lasting impressions we leave them with. So if you just need an ice-breaker for networking event, business meeting, teleconference, or a phone call you’ll do well providing you’ll do one of these 😉




Don’t Design for Designers. Design for People

To the chief innovation officer I admire and conquer the cosmos with.
When it comes about living in the cities in 21stcentury, we may observe that still many, which belong to basic needs remain unfulfilled.


To fill that void, I think we need more of clever innovations in city spaces, that give a shelter or make urban jungle experience easier, or just a bit more fun. For example, let me inspire you with what RainCity Housing did in Vancouver. They have installed park benches, which fold out into miniature shelters and welcome the homeless instead rejecting them. Can social inclusion be delivered with workable and cost-effective solutions?


IBM shows that you can turn advertisements into urban furniture create places where you can sit, find a shelter or make daily travels easier. By the way it makes people look at the advertisement, not just pass by, what gives clear rationale for private sector companies to engage.



Have you arrived at the airport or railway station too early or has your journey just been delayed? Thinking about having a nap before going further? Sleepboxes and mini-hotels for weary travelers to are another example of urban innovations. You can find one of such, installed by Arch Group, at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow. I think it’s usage at academia campuses or scientific libraries could be could be even bigger (of course only for decent purposes, like resting between classes and such).
If you are a city biker, then you are familiar with the challenge of looking for a place to pin your bike to whenever you need to make a stop. If you also agree that standing at your desk is so last year, then you should check out urban furniture making city pedaling experience unique with indulging moments for coffee. By the way the “Pit In” concept pictured below was nominated Design Report Award in Milano Salone Satellite.
If someone tells you that the urban innovation concepts you want to pursue are too big, don’t let small minds to convince you. Take a look for urban innovations co-financing opportunities, including regularly organized challenges sponsored by the city mayors, or calls for EU money projects for example call for “Smart cities and communities” organized by the European Commission.

Looking for inspiration how to start innovation in order to make your neighborhood more livable and citizens friendly? Visit the blog of BerlinStreet Art group Mentalgassi, who are changing ordinary urban spaces into pieces of art.

In the end, creativity is intelligence having fun!




How to Get into Infinite Inspiration Cycle?

I’m often asked how to get inspired or create new business ideas. So let me present you tricks that I use myself to keep my creativity buzzing.

1) I rarely read only one book at time. What keeps me intellectually stimulated is mixing subjects and narrative styles of several books at least. At the moment I indulge myself in learning how US Marines behaviors create trust and can generate business from “Leaders Eat Last” by Simon Sinek (whom you already know from previous post) and how to become edge-hugging, Tom Sawyer-ish and virtual-pipecontrolling return maximizer from “Eat people” by Andy Kessler.

2) I don’t limit myself with eating wisdom chunks from written word only. What makes me thinking and hugely impacts my imagination are audiobooks and interviews with business icons, mavericks, and the future designers. You can easily find them as audio versions of business books at Amazon, whereas the latter can be found at Tim’s Ferris blog. Tim’s podcastsare easily downloadable for free. For me few things are better than a portion of fresh thoughts on sharpening business acumen, developing imagination and mental performance during the morning runs. For more you can always source YouTube and make use of “YouTube to mp3 converter”.

3) I network for collaborating and ideas sourcing. If you can’t get to business mixer subscribe with your e-mail to start-up and business societies, chambers of commerce and academic clubs or simply create own event in your place. Good way to engage in an interesting conversation is to ask people when was the last time when they did something for the first time.

4) I share things which may be useful for somebody else. You read all this books, listen to podcasts and think that some ideas are good, but not exactly for you? Think who may utilize them and share it. If what you do inspires others to bigger dreams, learning, taking actions and becoming a better person, then you are a leader. And good things do always come back.

5) I don’t move without something to make notes in. You never know when and from whom you may hear inspiring words that are worth down. I don’t lay down my notebook even in the evening when watching a movie or TV series. You’ll find a lot of wisdom in every work of fiction if you’ll look for it. I did some stats and it occurred that I wrote down 649 quotes in last only. When I’m asked ask to deliver a business advice, workshops, a speech or qualitative feedback I often get back to notes I made to pick up thoughts, quotes or case studies, which perfectly fit and allow me to fully capitalize what I already worked out. It’s a great method for boosting all works requiring creative thinking, and it will give you solid foundation for your own articles and books you work on or would like to write. Don’t write too much, unless you are eagerly asked for more by your Twitter account followers 😉

Mind enriching tactics are important as well as giving a break for your brain, to have it digested and connected with what you already know. To walk the talk and being recently inspired toward mastering some of ball room behaviors I’d better run to catch intense Latin dance weekend classes I’ve just enrolled 😉

                                      Typical Sunday morning. A few inspiring titles and me…


Dzida !

The Next Big Thing

Have you watched Back to the Future, or maybe the right question is have you watched Back to the Future thousand times ?

You must admit that there has always been something really entrepreneurial about Marty McFly, not only when he was singing Johny B. Goode in front of audience hearing rock and roll for the first time in life, or speeding 88 mph into the unknownin his DeLorean.


If you are still looking Nike shoes with power-laces in the shops, and on the way to work you listen  “The Power of Love” , you are going to love this !


And this time it is not Marty McFly coming back in next episode of cult-classic series, although there is also something about it 😉


A magnetic field hover board is just being created! These are not high speed fans under or jet engines making it levitate, but the power of magnetic fields!
Physics of magnetic fields is incredible, and you be part of bringing it to new way of travelling by supporting it through 😉


They say that people rise by lifting others. I think it could be pretty aligned brand promise statement of hover board inventors 😉


Dzida !