This article does a good job of outlining how Lego struggled with the notion of opening up its innovation model and listening to its adult customers. Similar to Microsoft and hackers of the Kinect, Lego had to decide, "Do we sue them or embrace it," when faced with hackers of their Mindstorms products. Ultimately Lego embraced user innovation and saved their company. This article also discusses how adults have left high paying jobs to become "Lego Ambassadors" or Lego artists and make their own designs.

I recommend watching this video interview by host Erik Michielsen of It's interesting to hear Mike talk about his battles with larger B2C companies about engagement with social media for innovation and how they have changed their perspective. Two years ago, they were thinking that social media was a flyby tactic. Now they have changed their minds and are using more avenues to integrate into the entire product cycle.
Today, in working within the B2B space and with many manufacturers who have technical products, the same story resurfaces.

What they say is, "It's a waste of time and resources. It's an incredible time sink. That is our intellectual property we might be sharing. " Ironically, in the same breath those same companies tell me that they rely on word-of-mouth, referrals, and relationships to get the work they do. Strange that the statistics show that 90% of B2B executives refer to online networks for recommendations of companies and products to work with.

What is your experience?
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This article discusses how Tumblr, a blogger website, allowed their users to sign up and receive phone calls from company employees who informed the users on various talking points of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Afterwards, the users were connected to their U.S. representatives to voice their opinion on the act. SOPA, if passed, has the potential to severely limit the amount and type of information Tumblr, and other websites such as Youtube and Reddit, would be allowed to post on their site. This move by Tumblr to employ users to fight this act rather than typical corporate lobbying is an innovative approach utilizing customer collaboration.

Can you think of examples of innovation we have discussed in class that could have been improved or weakened based on the environmental elements of the context?

In one of my classes, The Management of Teams (MHR 401), we are discussing creativity in teams. One of the most important factors for accomplishing effective creativity is the environment in which teams operate. Although it is not a new concept for firms to be interested in innovation, growth, and high performance, many companies are beginning to go about such success in a different manner: collaboration. Regardless of the individuals, resources, and tasks, it is difficult to effectively and efficiently collaborate without a supportive environment.

In New Product Development, we frequently discuss examples of innovation that may seem a bit out of our reach at the moment, but collaboration within the business environment is something that should be of interest to everyone with previous work experience or in the midst of a job search. If you're interested in learning more about different tactics companies are using to generate teamwork and collaboration in the business environment, check out "Wikinomics: How mass collaboration changes everything" (

Wisconsin Innovations

The Wisconsin Historical Museum has a new exhibit, "Wisconsin Innovations: From the Iconic to the Unexpected." I plan to go before the semester is over, and you should too! Did you know that the typewriter was invented in Wisconsin, as well as the answering machine? I sure didn't! Innovations from the Badger State have changed our lives in more ways than we know.
Admission is only $4.

Downtown Lincoln at night (14th and O Streets)Image via WikipediaIf you haven't had a chance to review this report done by Thrive you should to see how Madison faired.> WS

Madison Region Community and Economic Development Blog - Advance Now - Thrive: State of the Madison Region

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Most Innovative Companies

Here is a link to an article published by The Economist on the nation's most innovative companies and what industries the operate in.

Here is an interesting article from discussing how Microsoft transitioned from comparing open source software with a "malignant cancer" to embracing and starting its open source division.As we discussed in class, this shows that open source programmers aren't living out of their mom's basements anymore. I found it interesting when it says that Linux isn't their main competitor anymore, but rather Google.


Est. 2008 | Aric Rindfleisch | Wisconsin School of Business | Banner Image by Bruce Fritz