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Chunka Mui

Chunka Mui

Chunka Mui is the co-author of the best-selling Unleashing the Killer App: Digital Strategies for Market Dominance, which in 2005 the Wall Street Journal named one of the five best books on business and the Internet. He also cowrote Billion Dollar Lessons: What You Can Learn from the Most Inexcusable Business Failures of the Last 25 Years. The Globe and Mail named that book the best business book of 2008. Inc. magazine called it one of the best books of 2008. In addition, he cowrote The New Killer Apps: Why Large Companies Should Out-Innovate Start-Ups and Driverless Cars: Trillions Are Up for Grabs. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.

Chunka is an adviser and frequent speaker on strategy and innovation. A longtime consultant — at Accenture, Index and Diamond Management & Technology Partners, where he was chief innovation officer — he is managing director of the Devil’s Advocate Group, where he helps organizations design and stress test their innovation strategies. For speaking engagements, Chunka is exclusively represented by the BrightSight Group.

Media Featuring Chunka Mui

Recent Articles by Chunka Mui

15 Hurdles to Scaling for Driverless (Part 3)

This is the third part of a three-part series. You can finds part 1 here and part 2 here. Successful industrialization of driverless cars will depend on getting over many significant hurdles. Failure only requires getting tripped up by a few of them. In part two of this series, I outlined seven key hurdles to industrial-size […]

15 Hurdles to Scaling for Driverless (Part 2)

Will driverless cars (AVs, for autonomous vehicles) live up to the revolutionary potential imagined by many, including me? In part one of this series, I asked whether AVs might develop like the Segway personal transporter and be relegated to narrow niche applications. To avoid going the way of the Segway, AV developers must overcome significant hurdles to […]

15 Hurdles to Scaling for Driverless Cars

Will the future of driverless cars rhyme with the history of the Segway? The Segway personal transporter was also predicted to revolutionize transportation. Steve Jobs gushed that cities would be redesigned around the device. John Doerr said it would be bigger than the internet. The Segway worked technically but never lived up to its backers’ outsized hopes for market impact. Instead, the Segway was […]

When Incumbents Downplay Disruption…

An unmanned car driven by a search engine company? We’ve seen that movie. It ends with robots harvesting our bodies for energy. That is a line from a 2011 Chrysler car commercial mocking Google’s self-driving car project. Another Chrysler commercial was even blunter: “Robots can take our food, our clothes and our homes. But, they […]

Driverless Cars and the ’90-90 Rule’

In programming circles, there is an aphorism known as the “90-90 rule.” It states that the first 90% of code accounts for the first 90% of the expected development time—and the remaining 10% of code takes another 90% of time. The rule is a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement that technology projects always take longer than you expect, […]

How Amazon Could Disrupt Care (Part 3)

In Part 2 of this series, I explored how the innovations that Amazon popularized in retail would be transformative if applied to health care at scale. The potential value of such innovations is not lost on those inside the healthcare sector. Many startups and large healthcare organizations are already working hard to adapt and adopt them. (See, for […]

How Amazon Could Disrupt Care (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this series, I argued that Amazon is the critical ingredient in making its health care alliance with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase successful—even though previous employer alliances have failed to make a dent in healthcare costs. Here’s a quick glimpse of how Amazon’s consumer focus, technological prowess, operational efficiency, strategic patience and successful history […]

How Amazon Could Disrupt Care (Part 1)

“The ballooning cost of healthcare acts as a hungry tapeworm on the American economy.” That’s how Warren Buffett framed the context as he, Jeff Bezos and Jamie Dimon announced the alliance of their firms, Berkshire Hathaway, Amazon and JPMorgan Chase, to address healthcare. The problem is serious. Healthcare costs in the U.S. have been growing faster […]

When Will the Driverless Car Arrive?

When Chris Urmson talks about driverless cars, everyone should listen. This has been true throughout his career, but it is especially true now. Few have had better vantage points on the state of the art and the practical business and engineering challenges of building driverless cars. Urmson has been at the forefront for more than a […]

7 Steps for Inventing the Future

Alan Kay is widely known for the credo, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” For him, the phrase is not just a witty quip; it is a guiding principle that has yielded a long list of accomplishments and continues to shape his work. Kay was a ringleader of the exceptional […]

To Shape the Future, Write Its History

“History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it myself.” — Winston Churchill When it comes to large-scale innovation, my experience is that history will indeed be kinder if aspiring innovators take the time to write it themselves—but before it actually unfolds, not after. Every ambitious strategy has multiple dimensions and depends on complex interactions […]

Who Is Leading in Driverless Cars?

Imagine if you could pick between Uber drivers based on their driving experience. Would you hire an experienced driver who has logged hundreds of thousands of road miles or one who has driven just a few hundred miles? I’ll bet you’d go with the experienced driver. Now apply the same question to driverless cars. How would you […]

10 Questions That Reveal AI’s Limits

AI developers are making amazing advances. Witness the excitement around AI’s progress in search, cancer diagnosis, genomic medicine, autonomous vehicles, Go, smart homes, machine translation, and even lip reading. Progress in such complex problems raises hopes for the development of general-purpose AI that can be deployed in a wide range of intelligent, open-ended interactions with […]

How to Master the ABCs of Innovation

Innovation is an imperative. Fortune 500 CEOs cited dealing with the rapid pace of technological change as their “single biggest challenge.” Another global survey of board members and senior executives identified the speed of disruptive innovation as one of the highest risks facing their organizations. Innovation is also the source of great opportunity. More than […]

How Technology Amplifies Evil

Marvin Minsky, the cognitive scientist and cofounder of the MIT artificial intelligence laboratory, used to say, “You don’t really understand something if you only understand it one way.” This is especially important to remember if you’re trying to understand the potential of information technology, one of the most powerful amplifiers for human endeavors in history. Many […]

The Wisdom of Doing Things Wrong

What do you do when you see the need for a big change? Unfortunately, both in business and in life, we tend to do nothing. In a smart new book, The Wisdom of Doing Things Wrong, Ron Donovan offers insights on why this happens, how to get past the natural human preference for familiarity over change and […]

How We’re Wired to Make Bad Decisions

Business is a contact sport. Some companies win while others lose. That won’t change. There is no way to guarantee success. Make the best decisions you can, and then fight the battle in the marketplace. Yet research into more than 2,500 large corporate failures that Paul Carroll and I did found that many big decisions are doomed as they come […]

Singapore: First Mover for Driverless Cars

When it comes to driverless cars, I argue in a recent article, the appropriate first-mover unit of innovation is not the car, or even the car company. It is the nation. That’s because further development and deployment of this technology is now very much dependent on a tangled web of competitive, policy, regulatory, licensing and […]

How to Lead Like a Humble Gardener

In business, as in politics and war, we too often yearn for heroic leaders. A smart book argues, instead, that leaders need to act more like humble gardeners. Stanley McChrystal and his coauthors write in Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement For A Complex World that “we unrealistically demand the apogee of heroic leadership—omniscient, fearless, virile […]

Your Next Director Should Be a Geek

Imagine that you were a major investor in a leading company, and its board of directors had no members with independent, world-class financial expertise. Who would look after your interests? You could probably coach the directors to ask good questions, but they would lack the competence to judge the answers. The board would not be […]

5 Ways to Flub a Big Decision

Business is a contact sport. Some companies win, while others lose. That won’t change. There is no way to guarantee success. Make the best decisions you can, then fight the battle in the marketplace. Yet research into more than 2,500 large corporate failures that Paul Carroll and I did found that many big decisions are doomed as they come […]

Is Driverless Moving Too Fast?

An excellent article by Levi Tillemann and Colin McCormick at The New Yorker lays out the advantages that Tesla has in the race towards driverless cars. Some, however, think that Tesla is driving recklessly toward that goal. Is Tesla racing toward victory or calamity? The answer hinges on a key issue in human/robot interaction. Don Norman, Director, Design Lab, University of California San Diego […]

7 Wonders of the Driverless Future

Arthur C. Clarke, who knew a thing or two about futuristic technology, observed, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” His observation certainly applies to driverless cars. In a recent Forbes article, I made the case that strategists, policy makers, regulators and other stakeholders needed to exercise “patient urgency” in balancing the hope and fear […]

Innovation: a Need for ‘Patient Urgency’

In corporate innovation, little else matters if your timing is wrong. Moving too fast killed Ron Johnson’s attempts to turn around J.C. Penney. Johnson plunged too quickly into a wholesale remake of the century-old chain’s stores. He didn’t take time to test alternative possibilities—even though, as the developer of the Apple stores, he experimented with every little detail for months […]

I’m Betting You Won’t Hit That Number

In Bay of Pigs, the Untold Story, Peter Wyden reveals that when asked by President Kennedy to assess the CIA invasion plan, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff responded that it had a “fair chance” of success. Kennedy took that as a positive assessment. Instead, the Chiefs meant that they judged the chances of success […]

A Misguided Decision on Driverless Cars

On first glance, the California Department of Motor Vehicles’ recent proposal to ban the testing and deployment of driverless cars seems to err on the side of caution. On closer inspection, however, the DMV’s draft rules on autonomous vehicles rest on flawed assumptions and threaten to slow innovation that might otherwise bring enormous, time-critical societal […]

To Shape the Future, Write Its History

[Editor’s Note: While my frequent co-author is writing here about how companies, in general, can use a powerful tool to drive change, all those involved in the insurance ecosystem should pay particular attention. The tool, which draws from two books that Chunka and I wrote together — found here and here — is most valuable in […]

The Dangers of Standing Still

One of the most telling episodes of Kodak’s slide into bankruptcy was how it incorporated digital capabilities into its Advantix camera system. Kodak spent more than $500 million to develop and launch the Advantix in 1996. The system capitalized on emerging digital capabilities— especially the digital sensors that Kodak engineers had invented two decades earlier—to […]

Why Pilot Projects Can Be Catastrophic

Many companies think they are staying nimble during product innovation by setting up pilot projects to validate concepts before they’re rolled out at scale. But pilots aren’t the answer, either, at least not on their own. Once something gets anointed as a “pilot,” it’s no longer an option—it’s the destination. There are typically no graceful […]

Lessons From Self-Made Billionaires

Conventional wisdom is that blockbuster innovations are most likely found in new product categories. Business celebrities like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg — three college dropouts who made billions with stunning innovations that ignited whole new industries — reinforce this perception. This conventional wisdom is even codified in business theory. In the multimillion-copy bestseller, “Blue Ocean Strategy: How to […]

Is Uber Already in the Crosshairs?

The CEO of a large insurance company once confided to me that the toughest innovation challenge he faced was that, “Every time we try to innovate, the agents turn around and kick us in the nuts.” The dance between Uber and Google around drone taxis reminds me of that conversation. Google invested in Uber in 2013 but […]

A Method for Avoiding Group Think

Have you ever been in a meeting where everyone else rallies around a position that you were sure was wrong? You wonder whether you should make waves by being the only one to disagree. Maybe everyone else knows something you don’t? Chances are good that you kept quiet, especially if the boss was among the […]

How Not to Innovate (and How to): IBM v. Facebook, Amazon

You don’t often see a CEO squash a great quarter with an analyst call script designed to batter his company’s stock price. Yet, that’s what Mark Zuckerberg recently did—to his great credit. One of the biggest challenges for public companies is to make investors prioritize long-term value over short-term profits. So, rather than running a […]

What the Apple Watch Says About Innovation

Now that the dust has settled on the long-anticipated unveiling of the Apple Watch, a major obstacle to its success is coming into view: the iPhone. The Apple Watch has been the subject of breathless anticipation for years because, as Tim Cook said at its introduction, it represents “the next chapter in Apple’s story.” Conceived […]

3-Point Plan for an Innovation Portfolio

One lament I often hear when I advise large company executives on the need to “Think Big” is that their biggest innovation challenge is not thinking big—it is thinking too much. Purportedly great ideas come from the front lines where the organization interacts with products and customers. They come from technology or marketing wizards keeping […]

Why GM Must Beat Google in Driverless

Mary Barra’s historic appointment as General Motors;  CEO was almost immediately mired by the firestorm over the Chevy Cobalt’s faulty ignition switches. To her credit, Barra has dealt well with the crisis. But preventing future tragedies only helps GM recover lost ground. Barra now needs to define a forward-looking leadership agenda. That agenda should include the biggest technological disruption that Barra […]

8 Make-or-Break Rules for Innovation

In my last posting, I laid out three reasons for why large companies should out-innovate start-ups to capture the disruptive opportunities that are being enabled by a perfect storm of technological innovations. In this post, I offer eight rules for how they can do so. Based on research on thousands of innovation efforts—both successes and failures—that went into The New […]

3 Reasons Why Big Firms Should (and Can) Out-Innovate Start-Ups

The chief innovation officer of a Fortune 1000 company relocated to a Silicon Valley outpost far from her New York corporate headquarters. She now spends most of her time holding court with venture capitalists and entrepreneurs about stakes in hot start-ups. It is never clear who is courting whom in those meetings, though the general […]

Driverless Car (Part 5): Many Disruptions Loom

Series Conclusion Think back to the transition from horses to cars and note that cars were initially called “horseless carriages.” Cars were defined by what they didn’t have, just as the “driverless car” is being defined by what is being removed from the equation. But doing away with the need for horses did much more […]

Driverless Car (Part 5): Many Disruptions Loom

<p>But doing away with the need for horses did much more than mean it was good to be Henry Ford and no longer so good to be a horse breeder. The &ldquo;horseless carriage&rdquo; had far-reaching effects that not only redefined the transportation network but also provided the basis for the modern economy and even changed […]

Driverless Car (Part 4): Will Insurers Survive?

Before concluding this series on driverless cars, I’m going to take a detour and use this column to delve into the cars’ potential impact on the auto insurance industry. While I’ve already mentioned the issues in passing, they are starker and more imminent than most realize and deserve a deeper look. The doomsday scenario is […]

Driverless Car (Part 3): Sooner Than You Think

In 2008, a state-of-the-art driverless car could go two blocks on its own on a closed course at 25mph. By 2012, the driverless car could operate in real-world conditions at 75mph. Such rapid progress offers great hope that the tremendous benefits in safety and savings I laid out in Part 1 of this series are attainable. The […]

Driverless Cars (Part 2): the Ripple Effects

While Part 1 of this series laid out the significant benefits in safety and savings that could come from a driverless car, there is an old saying: One man’s savings are another man’s lost revenue. At the same time, the driverless car will create enormously lucrative business opportunities to serve new customer needs. I’ll turn […]

Fasten Your Seatbelts: Driverless Cars Change Everything (Part 1)

In fact, the driverless car has broad implications for society, for the economy and for individual businesses. Just in the U.S., the car puts up for grab some $2 trillion a year in revenue and even more market cap. It creates business opportunities that dwarf Google’s current search-based business and unleashes existential challenges to market […]

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