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Innovation and Commercialization Part 2 of 4

Posted on June 27 2013 | Author: Admin

Create, Adopt or Adapt
Cultures evolve and are transformed by the curiosity and dedication of only a few individuals. Game-changing inventions – the type that alter lives and life-patterns forever – can be attributed to a finite number of people. The remaining members of society are either early adopters or adapters. An essential part of every product life cycle, early adopters are those who are first to use a new technology, buy the latest fashions, try a new flavour. Adapters emerge later, coerced into aligning with forces around them, either because adherence to methods of the past is awkward or obsolete.

The Psychology of Creativity
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi – a “less well-known but probably one of the most serious management scholars of recent times” – in his widely-quoted thesis Creativity - Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention¹ describes creativity as “the attempt to expand the boundaries of a domain”. Mihaly has identified four major internal, yet surmountable obstacles to the creative process: too many demands; too many distractions from psychic energy; laziness, or lack of discipline; and, not knowing how to channel one’s creative energy.
Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein dealt with the first two obstacles in a similar manner: Einstein wore the same old sweater and baggy trousers every day; Jobs stocked his wardrobe with one colour-black. Each iconic inventor found the decision of what to wear each day - an example of what Mihaly calls “the wear and tear of existence” - a taxing drain on their creative reserves.
Laziness or lack of discipline can be overcome through increasing complexity of the task, keeping the mind engaged and curious. Creative energy can be harnessed by taking up a hobby: learn to draw; play a musical instrument, bridge or chess; or, cook like a gourmand. Mihaly claims that by internalizing and mastering the “system” – rules, rewards and rationale – of a non-essential domain, the human mind experiences a freedom within which to explore various pathways to stated goals, and transfers this skill set to other tasks.

Fascination with the Everyday
A recently-released BBC documentary, Isaac Newton: The Last Magician reveals a curious, systematic mind and disciplined nature exemplary of the requirements observed and advocated by Mihaly. Newton was interested in practical problems (alleviation of flatulence: steep horse dung in ale, express juices, drink), kept meticulous notes (confessed to the sins of “making pies on a Sunday night” or “punching my sister”) and like many over- achievers, never felt that he had finished anything, nor had solved a problem for all time. Lastly, no apple fell on his head.

Tenacity and Famous Failures
One particular trait of most of the world’s most famous creators, inventors and leaders was pig-headedness, as they trudged and trail-blazed to the success(es) for which they are known. Michael Michalko – an acclaimed creativity expert with an approach different than that of the academic Mihaly – refers to the 10 famous failures - 10 dreams fulfilled. Among them, Bill Gates, Abraham Lincoln, Oprah Winfrey, J.K. Rowling and from the food industry, Colonel Sanders:

The failure: Despite having the now-famous fried chicken recipe, he was rejected 1008 times before a restaurant took it in. 1008! Oh and he also went to all 1009 restaurants on his own by driving his van and sleeping in it.
The success: You see it yourself today. KFC is a worldwide brand in the fast food industry and the finger-licking good chicken is here to stay.

The Creative, Tenacious Entrepreneur
Entrepreneurs “expand the boundaries of a domain”. As creative as artists, they develop something new and tenaciously overcome and resist doubting dissenters. Moreover, they believe in the ability of their undertakings to change part of the present into a positive, promising future.

¹ISBN 0-06-017133-2

Carol T. Culhane, PHEc, MBA
President, International Food Focus Ltd.
Bioenterprise Regulatory Advisor

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A Brand is the Consumer’s Reaction

Posted on June 12 2013 | Author: Jennifer Kalanda

Understanding your company’s brand can seem daunting, but it’s very important and can mean a greater competitive advantage.

Defining your business and your customer is crucial.
If your company has entered the market, branding has already begun whether it is intended or not. How so? Simply that your company’s brand is the perception received by its market. It’s your promise to the customer and it is crucial that those promises are kept. Ensure you are confident about why you’re in business and that your message is loud and clear. Your passion for what you do will help to define your brand and your relationships. Similar to any relationship in life, the relationship with your customer is no different; it’s built on the foundation of trust. Trust helps create and reinforce a positive perception and it must be earned through the ability to successfully meet expectations with every interaction.

A brand is the consumer’s reaction to the products and promises.
The brand of a company is only as strong as the community that supports it. As Wayne Roberts, President of Blade Creative Branding explained at a RIC Centre workshop, those relationships become the community around your brand and ultimately create brand ambassadors. Your ambassadors, the satisfied customers may or may not refer future business right to your company’s front door, but their positive perception of the company is accessible.

Customers are unforgiving if the trust is broken.
Positive perceptions and satisfied customers are imperative in today’s world where social media is at everyone’s fingertips. That rule where 'the average unhappy customer tells 10 people about a bad experience and only tells 1 person about a good experience' is archaic. Between Facebook, YouTube and Twitter alone, an irate customer can now tell hundreds or even millions of people about their bad experience in just 140 characters. Dave Caroll wrote a song and created a video about United Airlines breaking his guitar. To date, the video has been viewed more that 13 millions times. The chorus of his song summarized his experience and communicated his perception of a United Airlines brand. Manage your brand and media reputation through social media monitoring and Google Alerts; be sure to respond quickly.

Promote your accomplishments.
Create trust and confidence in your brand by aligning with other established entities. Canada Brand for example, was designed specifically to promote trust in Canadian products in both domestic and international markets. Canada Brand gives Canadian products a competitive edge by forming an emotional bond with consumers and provides a strong identity that is readily recognized.
Watch out for the opportunity to apply for awards. Winning an award is a positive way to establish credibility and a great opportunity to identify your brand with that of the award.

It’s important to remember that to the consumer, a brand is both tangible and intangible. The intangible aspects of branding are arguably more important. The good news is this doesn’t cost millions, but your customer is ultimately the one who decides what your brand is.

Jennifer Kalanda
Events Coordinator

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thefoodlawyer.ca - Innovation and Food Safety

Posted on June 07 2013 | Author: Admin

Innovation and Food Safety – as Good Together as Peanut Butter and Chocolate

A few weeks ago we had the pleasure of meeting with John Russell, a representative for an innovative company, AquaLab. John talked to us at thefoodlawyer about some really interesting technology the company has developed for use in (among others) the food space.

Chatting with John served as an important reminder: We tend to think about food in the context of the people who make it (farmers, producers, etc.), people who sell it (supermarkets, restaurants, etc.) and people who regulate it (Health Canada). When it comes to innovation in the food industry (a favourite of ours!), it’s often companies outside the traditional food space that really move the needle.

AquaLab is one such company.

Regular readers of thefoodlawyer know that we are especially keen on developments in food safety and food stability. So it shouldn’t surprise you that we were very excited to meet with John and learn about AquaLab’s impressive technology, which can be used to improve both food safety and food quality.

AquaLab has several products which are able to accurately measure the water activity of various foods. If you don’t know what water activity is, don’t worry – neither did we until we met with John!

As John described it, water activity is a measure of the energy status of water in a system. Among other things, water activity can tell us whether a powder will cake or clump, whether water will flow from one ingredient to another, and whether bacteria are able to survive and thrive in a particular environment. In the food space it is predominantly useful in connection with:

Product Safety: For over a half century we’ve known that bacterial growth in food is correlated with water activity. By measuring the water activity of products, industry can learn what sort of bacteria, molds, or fungi will grow in any given product. Better yet, by reducing the water activity of a product, you can rule out the growth of certain (or all) classes of microbes. It shouldn’t be too surprising, then, that Health Canada relies on water activity as a standard for categorizing and evaluating many different types of food products.

Product Quality: Since water activity determines whether water will flow from one ingredient to another, recipes can be fine-tuned in order to ensure that each component of a product maintains its most desirable moistness. For example, suppose you make a cupcake: one part cake and the other icing. Big concern for the cupcake industry: how can it ensure that the tiny, delicious tidbit of sweetness maintains its moistness as it sits on the shelf waiting to be eaten? If the manufacturer formulates its product with water activity in mind, it will know how to limit the transfer of moisture from the delicious cake to the sugary, sweet icing.

Thus, being aware of water activity measurement can significantly improve industry’s ability to keep moist foods moist, and crunchy foods crunchy (who wants soggy cereal?!?) In addition, water activity measuring instruments are friends to industry because they can assist in reducing costs (and who doesn’t love that??).

Lower Risk: Since water activity testing can be used to limit bacterial growth, companies can reduce the possibility that their products are contaminated either during production or once they are sitting on the shelves. Anything that helps a company avoid a product recall is good news in our books!

Reduced Costs: Testing water activity can have a direct impact on a food company’s bottom line too. For instance, it can be used during production processes to avoid wastage: suppose a recipe requires a certain moisture level for the finished product. Think dog food – it needs to be crunchy. By testing the water activity of the ingredients at intermediate stages in the processing, a dog food manufacturer may discover that it doesn’t need to dry its food for as long as it may have thought, therefore savings costs associated with potential ‘over drying’ while still getting the pooch’s food just right. Second, water activity testing at intermediate stages can ensure that a finished product will have the desired moisture content, avoiding the costly expense of making mistakes (read: throwing out imperfect product).

Greater Market Share: Better tasting food sells more, right? So if a company can ensure that its cupcake stays the freshest the longest, it can frost the competition (sorry, we couldn’t resist!). Another way to drive sales is to feed into the “natural food” movement du jour, and limit the amount of additives and/or preservatives in foods. Water activity testing helps companies limit the need for extra ingredients in foods.

Isn’t this all really cool?

Our meeting with John reinforced just how important and interesting innovation in the food space is. The ability to leverage new technology to stay competitive as a food producer or manufacturer is integral to continued success and anything that can boost food safety can only be a good thing.

Thanks John for spending some time with us at thefoodlawyer. We look forward to hearing about more innovation from AquaLab in the years to come!

By Sara Zborovski at http://thefoodlawyer.ca

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