Most of my projects involves innovation in some flavour: new product design, software development, customer engagement or operational process change and many more aspects. I work on a project (contract) basis, typically 6 month and longer projects with clients.  Presently I am coming to the end of some contracts and on the search for new ones. Many times this involves tendering, networking and plain old job searches in various job recruitment websites.

Frequently I am amused when looking at innovation management, project management with innovation positions (not pure new product development roles): Candidates must have X years, Y experience, Z skills but all in the area of the position.

Surely innovation needs a broader skill set. Bringing in experience from difference fields, sectors and life in general. Do they understand the term innovation, I often wonder ?

Innovation differs from invention in that innovation refers to the use of a better and, as a result, novel idea or method, whereas invention refers more directly to the creation of the idea or method itself. Innovation differs from improvement in that innovation refers to the notion of doing something different rather than doing the same thing better.

Yes, we need a sound platform to work from, an understanding of the environment that a position requires is necessary, but surely still missing the point. If you come from a company in a similar field to another, what can you offer in terms of innovation other than product or sector knowledge.



What can you bring to the table?

  • Do you or can you bring a different perspective on a problem?
  • Have you the ability to re-frame the problem in a different lense (design thinking) ?
  • Can you bring empathy to the project, customer understanding and engagement skills?
  • Being Creative?
  • Curiosity as to why it something works as it is.

Working in the innovation sphere, in my opinion needs a well rounded skill set. Ability to use a diverse toolkit; brainstorming, listening, empathy, understanding, patience and more besides.


I Want to Cook With Confidence


Recently I was asked to teach a 6 week cookery class at night. I run Creativity workshops for professionals where there is particular emphasis on developing Creative Confidence. Embracing new challenges and developing new perspectives are principles that I encourage people to adopt in order that they develop their own creativity so, even though I was a bit daunted, I accepted. Some years ago I gave up my IT career and trained as a chef and since then have become a qualified trainer, but until now these two aspects on my career have never met. To be honest, in the days leading up to the first class I was quite terrified. Even though I made my living getting entrepreneurs to play with markers and playdough, getting people to cook seemed impossible. I spent a lot of time poring over recipes and planning time down to the last minute.

When finally the first night arrived and it turned out nobody did have a hammer, I realised that this class was very similar to my other classes. People don’t go to cookery classes for recipes or technique, unless they are particularly advanced classes. Most people arrive because they have a belief about themselves –‘I can’t cook, in the same way that I hear ‘I’m not creative’ in my Creativity Workshops. Immediately we are hamstrung because we develop these beliefs over time and they become fact. Our lazy brains can hang on to these statements because it’s easier than coping with ambiguity.

I believe that everyone can cook and everyone is creative. We’ll deal with creativity later – today we’ll talk about cooking. Here are a few lessons that I shared with the class:


1. Cooking is an art, Baking is a science – this means that in baking you must’ve measure everything exactly and follow all the rules because there is an alchemy that occurs to ensure dough rises. Cooking on the other hand can be more about free expression…recipes are guidelines. If you don’t like garlic and it’s in the recipe, don’t put it in. It’s your food. (But seriously, who doesn’t like garlic…….)

2. When you are cooking at home it’s usually for you, your family or friends. These people will not be scoring your food on the way home in a taxi…people come to your house to see you, if they get a free meal that’s a bonus. Television judges get paid a lot of money to be pantomime villains for ratings. (I own a Gordon Ramsay book that I rarely cook from because I imagine him shouting every instruction at me!)

3. It is very difficult to burn things….smoke pouring out of ovens is a tv comedy vehicle. Yes, kitchen fires can cause serious damage but things burn in the kitchen usually due to inattention…so if you are new to cooking, just do that. After a while you’ll notice that devoting your time solely to cooking a meal can be quite relaxing if you let it. There is mindfulness to be had in slowly stiring a risotto.

4. Try doing your food shop without a list. Wander around the aisles and look. Concentrate on the fresh fruit, veg, meat and dairy products. Find something and stop and imagine how you would cook it. Many of the worlds top chefs base their daily menu on the best available ingredients they can find in the food markets each morning. Pick out something because it looks good. The internet is awash with recipes so you won’t be stuck.

5. There are always foods that we don’t like but if you’re not allergic, don’t refuse to try like a 4 year old. The pretend airplane is not a good luck for a grown up. If you dislike something try being specific about why. Is it too salty, sweet, too much vinegar, the right balance of hot and sour? This challenges your creative brain to come up with solutions!

6. Many people fear cooking meals because getting everything on the table at the same time is stressful. If this is a problem, start with a one-pot dish.

Have you seen your creativity?

You put it down somewhere, maybe when you were I 7 or maybe after that creative teenage burst but you haven’t seen it about for sometime. Is it gone forever? Has it just faded due to neglect? Chances are it has been kept like a guilty secret in the back of the mind. Most of us, grown ups, have either been told or come to our own realisation that creativity is for kids and not for the serious professional, unless you the arty type, the hippy types who were born with oodles of talent. But what if we challenge that belief?

When you were 5 and someone put a bunch of simple art supplies, markers, coloured paper, felt etc, On a table in front of you, what would you do? Dive in? Of course you would. You wouldn’t stop and consider thst it was a waste of time, or worry about other peoples assesment of your output.

But step forward to the present – what would your reaction be now? Chances are you’ll suddenly have an important call to make. Why? Generally playing makes us uncomfortable because we have lost the habit. In a work situation this discomfort can be excrutiating at first. I think that at some point a lot of us have become convinced that if we cannot play music or paint to a professional standard then it is not worth pursuing. But what if we enjoy it? Even if you can draw stick men you can convey a story. Had an unusual encounter this week? Or even a boring one? Take 2 minutes to draw it with a stick man and bubbles?

So many people find the idea of creativity uncomfortable and find it hard to see how it is relevant in their daily lives but did you know that in a recent IBM worldwidse survey, creativity was considered to be the top management competency, yet only 25% of us will admit to being creative. Becoming connected with our creativity is the prime way that we can differenciate ourselves and our businesses. Got Tqm, so can everyone else, Lean Six Sigma blackbelt, they can get it too, MBA, same. Ideas – there isn’t a course to get them, but you can learn to develop your creative confidence and the confidence of those around you so that you can become a creative powerhouse!

More soon..Grainne

Time to Create

“All Work and no play makes jack a dull boy”

People frequently comment that if you enjoy your work, then it feels no longer like work. Working as a consultant with startups, micro and sme(b) business in Ireland,  I often see the translation of enjoyment of a hobby into potential self employment and to the creation of a micro business. Speaking personally, I would favour this transition, of making a business from a hobby, so then it never feels like work.

Whilst this blog post is not on that endeavour, I enjoy the freedom from an office. Ask family, friends, past co-workers, I am not an office person. I suffer from stagnation being in an office on a daily basis and require being released into the real world, meeting people, doing ‘stuff’

One of my hobbies from when I was a still in shorts was fishing. I have been brought fishing in the lakes in Mullingar, Co. Westmeath from when I was 5. I have enjoyed being in 19ft fishing boats out in the downpours, wind and waves along with the fair days when fishing was more productive. My fishing companion was my aunt’s partner of many decades, Mick Ward from Moyvore. He has forgotten more that I probably will ever remember on fishing in the lakes of the Irish

Mick is unable to fish now and over several months, Saturdays and the odd Monday I have spent on restoring his fishing boat. The boat was left out in the weather for many years and was in need of major TLC. My first concern was to get the boat into a shed and preserve whatever was salvageable. This has been my endeavour and this is the initial post in my project to restore the boat which I have many fond memories of to a working condition. This the my story…..

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I first observed the condition of the boat in Sept 2012, and got Mick’s permission to take ownership of the boat during the Spring of 2013 and my thoughts then turned to restoration.

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Project:  Restoration of a 19ft Lake Fishing boat. Gunnels (top part) were of teak and the body of fibreglass.

Scope: Restoration of this boat

Cost: Budget approx € 500 for materials and parts. Minimise expenditure, factoring in a good condition 2nd hand boat is in the region of €3-4k. .

Duration: Open ended, this is a hobby and a challenge, no monetary gain involved, only enjoyment of task at hand.

When a project is initiated from a passion, many of the formal aspects of management are discounted and it becomes a labour of love, very true in this case for me.

My professional background: Fisherman, and school level ability of carpentry

Condition: Most of the timber that was exposed to the elements and appeared to be rotten or in a state that the safety of a user, Me, would be put at risk if these were not addressed.

  1. Perform an analysis of the timber condition; undertake if professional repair would be necessary or if I could undertake this as a hobby.
  2. Sourcing the necessary timber to allow restoration
  3. Removal of damaged timber
  4. Using appropriate tools preparation and construction of new timber sections
  5. Sand down timber & varnish
  6. Tidy up

My first step was to move the boat indoors into disused hay shed to save any further damage to the timber and protect the fibreglass from any frost damage. This was the quickest win for me of this whole project. Always nice to get a quick win under the belt. So in Sept 2012, I was able to analyse the timbers of the boat once they had dried out, which were rotten and unsafe to keep. The fibreglass appeared to be clean, no bubbles in the fibre and looked structural good.

Over the winter, I did research into the costs involved, sourcing of parts and materials and cost benefits of getting professional craftsman to restore the boat. I subsequently discarded this, as it was my project, I wanted and needed the satisfaction of saving a treasured memory.

In the Spring of 2013, with the permission of Mick, I started my hunt for materials. The primary issue was timber. The boat is 19ft long, but this is not like a car, which can be of similar length, a boat has a beam. This is the belly in the middle where the boat starts from a point at the front end (bow) and finishes at the stern (back) where the engine is attached. A typical fishing boat ranges from 17ft to 19ft long, but in terms of total length the beam is factored in, this amounts to approx. 22ft long for a 19ft boat.

In prior positions, I have been a project manager for a construction company and have project managed my own self build. So I knew that going into the local builders providers, that these lengths are ordered specially. Taking into the consideration, that most timber will rot when exposed to the elements specifically water in a short period of time, that Larch is the favoured timber of choice for boat builders. The character of larch is that it is not affected by water, you can leave it indefinitely immersed and it won’t be damaged, at least not compared to other timbers, beech, ash or oak.

Dilemma: Builder suppliers/merchants don’t stock 22ft length of timber and larch is not common and is a special order in this case. So off to my local timber yard and placed an order for 22ft lengths of larch, 2″ (inch) x 1.5″ planed by 22ft long.

I waited . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . and waited . . . . . . . .   you see they have to get a tree to cut of sufficient length to supply my needs, so mother nature has answered their call.

Roll on to late Summer 2013 when my order was finally ready. In the mean time I was able to measure out all the various parts of the boat that the timber needed replacing. These sizes were also requested from the timber yard, my order numbered over fifty pieces of timber of various dimensions.

On a cold Sunday morning in November, I loaded up the jeep with my timber, the 22ft lengths draped over the front & back, securely tied and I hit the road with my delivery.

Now the fun begins. A boat not only has a beam (belly), but the bow is several inches higher than the stern. So a single piece of time not only has to bend outwards but upwards closer to the bow. This creates the problem, have to form the timber into the shape of the gunnels.

The first challenge is to form the gunnels, 22ft lengths according to the existing timber. Out with the G-clamps secure the two lengths each side to mould the timber. This I intended to leave over the winter months and jokingly delegate the work to the clamps. This is the most critical part of the project, getting the shape formed correctly will ease my work later.

While the timber is clamped, I start the process of measuring out the other pieces of timber to allocate pieces, all have been pre-numbered as per the various locations in the boat.

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All sizes are correct, but cannot cut them until the gunnels are in situ.

Now for patience and let the timber mould into shape, its too cold to be in an exposed hayshed working over the Winter.



My morning can hardly be described as innovative, its a routine.

Wake, rise, bathroom, dress and then kitchen. Next stage gets me in the mood for work, our golden retreiver (dog) Finlay. Always a smile wag of the tail and a glance towards the dog leads. Pets are the embodiment of routine, they know you better than your spouse in my opinion. They like us are creatures of habit.


My morning then goes outdoors for a dog walk. Off-lead through the fields or on down the town, I use this period to plan my day. The essential period when thoughts are unencumbered by emails, social media or ringing of telephones.

Rain, snow or fine mornings, I find these time periods critical in my day, its just me, my thoughts and Finlay.

We all need our time to be creative, focus our thoughts on our business; break our routines and challenges ourselves. Comfort zones are needed to progress through the day but we need diversity that innovation and creativity brings to our business to break the mundane of routine.

Business is the management of routine, innovation challenging there of. We need challenges to keep us sharp



Set time aside

This week, I finally got time to set aside to re-evaluating our USP, that 30 second (or even  10 second) pitch that we all get with those we interact with, that time that can see the future, small talk about something of irrelevance or thrill of the chase.

I decided to relax, follow some our innovation and creativity techniques on myself, so playing on the laptop -> Amiee Mann in background, is helping to set the tone, gratefully borrowed from my wife. I took myself away from the office, switched off from all distractions.

Our current USP:

Hello, my name is Brian Andrews, I work for ID8 Consulting, we help organisations to develop and grow using innovation and creativity techniques. We assist you in developing a culture of innovation in your organisation.

So, has that lost you, or not specific enough, this is the $64,000 question that today’s blog is. I believe it has, hence my workshop for today.

Wonder if you could have a crowdsourcing site for USP propositions, hmm, that’s another days thought.

Essentially a USP –

My Company  [                                               ]

Is developing  [           define your offering     ]

To help            [               target audience      ]

Solve              [               problem             ]  – who cares, who has this pain

With                [              secret sauce     ]  our area of differentiation, the ah –ha moment.

I am using this blog post as a method to discover what it is actually we do, how we do it, what it means to our customers, and why you/they should fork over hard earned cash to engage with us. I interject with comments from myself, being critical of my performance but critically not being the Devils Advocate. This is a personal approach to my thoughts on the day, letting ‘The Jedi Force’ *star wars guide me.

My belief that change is positive, it means we are addressing issues, putting our foot forward, change can be radical, stepping off a cliff without a harness or being tethered to anything, most change is incremental, baby steps, and this is the case here.

I decided to turn my open café type client questions on myself, be my own client, and just to talk about issues concerning this project, our USP or what makes us who we are.

A secret sauce is that thing that you do that addresses your clients problems better than anyone else and they know that it’s a better deal for them to give you their money, than to hold onto it once your relationship is established with them.

So what do we do?

We help organisations to innovation and grow – and ???

We assist organisations over the long term to develop a culture of innovation

So what does that mean, are we strategic innovation consultants, magicians, sounds long winded, what on earth does that mean to you; Mr. Joe Public?

We listen to you, understand the importance of your company to you, areas that concern you, this doesn’t necessarily mean product/process/service,

we don’t do finance or HR related areas, better skilled professional s than us.

We build a relationship with our clients, we believe in our process, and understand that we are not in this for the quick turnover, it’s a relationship, shall we dance?

Once we understand the areas of concern, we can help you to address these, innovation is our  method of delivery, ID8 Consultants challenge the status quo, getting to understand why do you do it this way.

Would I buy from you? 

  •   But why do we do this? Why be in this business arena?
  • What makes it worthwhile to do this?
  • Why should you buy from us and not ABC Innovation Consultants?

Our backgrounds are from a wide variety of sectors, food, travel sector, IT networks, software development, project management, construction, engineering.

Nope, who cares…   its not something that I would consider

We have worked with small food organisations in north Leinster, animated them to work collaboratively with competitors to develop join a customer awareness campaign, assist them in applications for grant funding, develop and deploy a marketing strategy.

Yes, we are not marketing people (above), but we have to challenge ourselves at times, and this was one such occasion for me.

We used open innovation techniques to develop ideas for mutual benefit for the group. Frequent, short meetings to address issues collectively, and individual meetings to mentor these enterprises.

Like who?

Sheridans Cheesemongers in the food sector, Snap doing product implementation.

<<Changed over now to listening to Johnny Cash>>

Now the question, are you interested?

Possibly, but what can you do for me?

We worked with Snap, to implement a range of digital software products within the company, this included ePublications, web video, etc..

We have worked with various local development organisations under different programmes to deliver innovation workshops, new business idea generation sessions and mentoring to clients of theirs.

We have worked with established business, to analyse their market environment, follow on techniques to generate new areas for them.

 So to condense all this together

Hello, my name is Brian Andrews, I work for ID8 Consulting, we help organisations to develop and grow using innovation and creativity techniques. Do you believe that we can work together?

We listen to you, we understand the importance of your company to you, areas that concern you, Once we both understand the areas of concern, we can help you look at these from a different perspective, innovation is our method of delivery, ID8 Consultants challenge the status quo, getting you to understand why do you do it this way. We build a relationship with you, our client.

We believe that we can make a difference, challenge your ideas, inspire creativity, help you instil a culture of innovation in your organisation.

We have worked with small food organisations in north Leinster, animated them to work collaboratively to develop a joint customer awareness campaign, develop a marketing strategy, assist them in applications for grant funding.  We used open innovation techniques to develop ideas for the mutual benefit for the group. Frequent, short meetings to address issues collectively, and individual meetings to mentor these enterprises.

Getting there, follow on work to commence tomorrow

Mind Map

A mind map is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks or other items linked to and arranged radially around a central key word or idea. It is used to generate, visualise, structure and classify ideas, and as an aid in study, organisation, problem solving, decision making, and writing.

It is an image-centered diagram that represents semantic or other connections between portions of information. By presenting these connections in a radial, non-linear graphical manner, it encourages a creativie approach to any given organisational task, eliminating the hurdle of initially establishing an intrinsically appropriate or relevant conceptual framework to work within.

The elements are arranged intuitively according to the importance of the concepts and they are organized into groupings, branches, or areas. The uniform graphic formulation of the semantic structure of information on the method of gathering knowledge, may aid recall of existing memories.

So why use a mind map?

Mindmaps can be drawn by hand, either as ‘rough notes’, for example, during a lecture or meeting.

You could listen to a lecture or meeting and take down notes using mind maps for the most important points or keywords.

Our Process for Mind Maps

Key Idea – Have Fun

Step 1

  •   Take a blank piece of paper, A4 or larger.

  •   Blank paper allows 360º of freedom to express the full range of your cortical skills, whereas pre-drawn lines restrict the natural flow of your thoughts.

Step 2

  •    Use the paper in landscape orientation.

  •    Words and images have more space in the direction we write, so they don’t bump into margins as quickly.

Step 3

  •   Start in the centre

  •   Thoughts start in the centre of our mental world. The Mind Map page reflects this!

Step 4

  •    Make a central image that represents the topic about which you are writing/thinking:

  •   Use at least three colours.

  •   Keep the height and width of the central image to approx. 2’’ or 5 cm (proportionately larger for bigger paper).

  •   Allow the image to create its own shape (do not use a frame).

  •   A picture is worth a thousand words. It opens up associations, focuses the thoughts, is fun and results in better recall:

  •   Colours stimulate the right cortical activity of imagination as well as capturing and holding attention.

  •   This size gives plenty of space for the rest of your Mind Map, while making it large enough to be the clear focus of the topic.

  •   The unique shape makes it more memorable and enjoyable. A frame makes the centre a monotony of shape and disconnects the branches.

Step 5

  •   The main themes around the central image are like the chapter headings of a book:

  •   Print this word in CAPITALS or draw an image.

  •   Place on a line of the same length

  •   The central lines are thick, curved and organic i.e. like your arm joining your body, or the branch of a tree to the trunk.

  •   Connect directly to the central image.

Step 6

  •   Start to add a second level of thought. These words or images are linked to the main branch that triggered them. Remember:

  •   Connecting lines are thinner.

  •   Words are still printed but may be lower case.

  •   Your initial words and images stimulate associations. Attach whatever word or image is triggered. Allow the random movement of your thought; you do not have to ‘finish’ one branch before moving on:

Step 7

  •   Add a third or fourth level of data as thoughts come to you:

  •   Use images as much as you can, instead of, or in addition to the words.

  •   Allow your thoughts to come freely, meaning you ‘jump about’ the Mind Map as the links and associations occur to you.

  •   Your brain is like a multi-handed thought-ball catcher. The Mind Map allows you to catch and keep whatever ‘thought ball’ is thrown by your brain.

Step 8

  •   Add a new dimension to your Mind Map. Boxes add depth around the word or image. To make some important points stand out.

Step 9

  •   Make each Mind Map a little more:

  •       ARTISTIC

  •       COLOURFUL


  •   Your eyes and brain will be attracted to your Mind Map:

  •       It will be easier to remember.

  •       It will be more attractive to you     (and to others as well).

Step 10

  •   Have fun!

Add a little humour, exaggeration or absurdity wherever you can. Your brain will delight in getting the maximum use and enjoyment from this process and will therefore learn faster, recall more effectively and think more clearly.

This is a sample of a mind map that we use, it shows our service offering


Innovation, creativity and idea generation

Innovation, creativity and idea generation.

We have prepared a series of workshops to assist established organisations to understand the current status of the company, to open their minds and explore new avenues & ideas and develop a plan for the future.

The long term aim of these sessions is to encourage participants to appreciate the importance of creativity in the workplace and to this end we will provide them with guidelines on how to optimise the creative potential of their business. 


Identify the business challenge

Where ideas come from – differing perspectives


Idea Potential and Long-term Creativity

Potential Outcomes:

  1. Participants will understand the importance of creativity and imagination
  2. Participants will learn how to look at their business objectively
  3. Participants will learn tools that will help them identify with their customer in order to generate ideas.
  4. Participants will learn tools for brainstorming
  5. Participants will have a plan of action to encourage ongoing creativity
  6. Participants will have a business idea that they have validated at a high level by mapping it on a business model canvas.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Brad Pitt

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Brad Pitt.

In this film, Brad Pitt grows younger as he ages. If we could use some imagination and creativity in this for all our benefits, think of the creative experiences we could have with the knowledge of wisdom of age, passion and energy of youth.

My thoughts drift to our pre conceptions as adults and parents. Children have no fear, they climb walls & trees, put silly things on, experiment and generally act like children should do, but us adults, this can be a problem, we worry about young children, especially when they start walking, so afraid that they will fall and burse themselves on impact. But it dawned on me one day, they only have a few inches to fall, while we see this from the view point of us 5 ft plus adults. When we fall, its from a greater height, and the potential exists to have more serious injury, but for a child, tis all part of the learning process.

Sometimes being creative needs that sense of being 5 and a child again. Put us adults in a group of our peers or same, and would we act creative? ….. groupthink would come into play.

Why can’t we adopt the child’s perspective, children have no fear, no prejudices, nothing what so ever to be worried about, only what us adults manifest onto them… watch out, dont do, keep quiet, sit still. These are lessons from the adult world manifested onto them.

‘Are we there yet?’ sounds familiar to most parents. Children have some amazing qualities about them that perhaps make them more creative: open mind, make connections, playful, curious, expressive, forgetful and forgiving, hands on, direct without reservations, fun to be around, enjoy things, cry out for small things, sleep well, and have a great sense of humour. But perhaps the most important quality of a child as he or she is growing up is asking questions! Not just, “Are we there yet?”, but also, “How does this work? What happens when you do this? Why does it go this way? When will something happen? Who is that person on TV? And many many more…” Did we ever tell our children that this is a dumb question? Perhaps not until they grow up to a certain age. And even then, we are always careful in inspiring them to ask more questions and learn more.

Do these qualities make children more creative than adults? Do adults lose some of these qualities as they grow older?

Creativity in the workplace, stems from the ability to have a comfortable environment where we can experiment and experience becoming a child again. We must release our brain to do what is so capable of being creative. Our workplace environment seldom is conducive towards being creative, we must challenge this. Fear of being creative in front of others, letting our guard down is common in many organisations.

So if we had the wisdom of old age, with the enthusiasm of youth, we would have a more enjoyable business environment, forgetting the Mother Nature aspect.

My thoughts for you to ponder on:

Are you more creative today than when you were a child?

Did you do some amazing things as a child?

Do you have more ideas as a child?

Do you still do those amazing things?

Is your workplace making you more or less creative?

Are you able to create new innovations?

There are many techniques to allow you to become creative, challenge ideas, thoughts and processes in organisations. Challenge yourself and we can help.

Ideas are King

Ideas are king when it comes to separating successful companies from failures. The ability to innovate, create and think differently is paramount to setting your company ahead of the rest.

A  company that creates and exploits, in parallel, will yield competitive advantage. Yet the flow of innovation and creativity is needed. Flow is equal to exploitation. It has to flow continually because companies copy and then exploit.

IKEA is a closed system and as a result will not be at the forefront of innovation. IKEA is good at doing more of the same – exploiting opportunity – but not good at creation. There are companies that are not good at creation but exploit concepts. => IKEA still have a monopoly after 67 years.