innovation excellence weekly - issue 3

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We are proud to announce our third Innovation Excellence Weekly for Issuu. Inside you'll find ten of the best innovation-related articles from the past week on Innovation Excellence - the world's most popular innovation web site and home to nearly 5,000 innovation-related articles.


October 19, 2012

Issue 3 October 19, 2012

1. Please, No Innovation ....... Jeffrey Phillips

2. Even You Can Innovate to Grow Learn from Skanska ..... Adam Hartung

3. Breaking with the Past ..... Rowan Gibson

4. Game-Changing Innovation, Xerox, and True Collaboration .. Braden Kelley

5. Four Lessons from the Best Bosses I Ever Had ..... Deborah Mills-Scofield

6. Innovation Big & Small ..... Tim Kastelle

7. Rapid Innovation Breakthrough ..... Nicolas Bry

8. Move from Open Innovation to True Open Innovation ....... Frank Mattes

9. Identification is the Core of Innovation ..... Paul Hobcraft

10. Navigating an Ocean of Big Data ....... Melba Kurman

Your hosts, Braden Kelley, Julie Anixter and Rowan Gibson, are innovation writers, speakers and

strategic advisors to many of the worlds leading companies.

Our mission is to help you achieve innovation excellence inside your own organization by making

innovation resources, answers, and best practices accessible for the greater good.

Cover Image credit: open door from Bigstock

Please, No Innovation

Posted on October 12, 2012 by Jeffrey Phillips

I was thinking about innovation over the weekend when I asked myself whats the one

thing that no senior executive is likely to say about innovation? Every executive is likely to

talk about innovation, to describe what his or her firm is doing. They are likely to talk

about plans for innovation, as clients demand new products and services. What I dont

think you are likely to hear is executives telling their employees not to innovate, or

executives talking to the press or shareholders about a lack of innovation. Can you image

a CEO who came out and said to his team Please, no more innovation?

Sometimes, to understand whats going on it takes an extreme or almost inverted

perspective to shine a light into the darkness. Certainly, few CEOs would last long if they

downplayed the importance of innovation.

Innovation is seen as an important differentiator, and something every executive should support and embrace as a means to growth. Innovation

is as American as apple pie and motherhood, and has become almost as overused and as saccharin. So we arent likely to hear denunciations

of innovation, or executives verbally downplaying its importance. Innovation, or at least the appearance of innovation, is exceptionally


But what we dont often hear about is the actual work of innovation, the investments made, the people trained, the mistakes made, the

successes that create new segments. Innovation, like dieting or getting into better physical shape, is something we all know we SHOULD do,

but is also something that is easy to put off to another day. If talking about physical fitness contributed to weight loss wed all be exceptionally

thin. Unfortunately, staying in shape and physically fit requires more than talking it requires a consistent commitment and focus on specific

goals. Likewise, innovation requires a constant commitment that is intended to deliver specific outcomes. No one innovates for innovations

sake they innovate to create a new product or service, to create new revenues and profits, to differentiate from another competitor, to stake

out a completely different market sector. Since we know that few if any CEOs will reject innovation, and innovation isnt widespread and fully

competent in many organizations, what can we do to build and sustain innovation as a consistent competency?

Build a plan

Most innovation is undertaken as a reaction to some competitive threat or market shift. This means most innovation is REACTIONARY rather

than the result of an intentional plan. When we react we tend to invest just enough to get a product just good enough to compete in the

market. So many of our innovations are reactions to competitors with the goal of responding with a product thats just good enough to

compete. Rather, we should plan for innovation proactively. This would force our internal teams to think about innovation more broadly,

account for innovation in annual planning and most importantly funding exercises. Further, a plan demonstrates vision and strategy. One of

the most common questions we hear when working with innovation teams is: how does innovation fit with our strategy? Thats not a question

you should ask a consultant, but one your executives should be able to answer easily.

Establish goals

Without a goal any outcome can be declared a success. Far too many firms are

expected to innovate but without any clear goals or measurements. This is akin to a

weight loss program with no clear outcomes or end state metrics.

Many clients ask us about the best goals for innovation. My response is that the 3M

goal for innovation, which they define as 20% of revenues resulting from products less

than 3 years old, is a good one. Defining a revenue target for new, innovative products

requires that a firm innovate and keep innovating. In fact Id like to see an initial target

and then each year inch that target up a bit more. Once 20% becomes a fairly easy

target to hit, lets move it up to 25%.

Appoint a Sponsor

In many programs that help people lose weight or quit bad habits, the program insists on a sponsor who is an honest broker for the person

trying to change habits. The sponsor is meant to call the person to account to ensure they are doing the things that will help them achieve

their goals. Likewise, innovation needs an honest broker or a sponsor. This could be a senior executive who constantly reviews innovation

activities and compares to targets. He or she can assess whether or not the firm is living up to its commitments, and encourage the firm to do

more. After all, we are talking about changing the habit of efficiency into the habit of innovation.

Find a coach; Get encouragement

Whether you are trying to lose weight or trying to quit a bad habit, you need resources to accomplish your mission. Those resources may be

friends and relatives who give you great advice, or a sponsor or a charitable organization to provide support or encouragement. Changing

attitudes and behaviors requires a constant reinforcement of goals and rewards for short term small successes. Innovation needs a coach and

plenty of encouragement. If it were easy, every firm would be doing it proficiently. Evidence suggests that few firms do innovation well, and

most dont understand how to get started or how to maintain the momentum.

Stick with the program

In any change program you will encounter obstacles. Some of these may be your own cravings. For me, nothing beats mint chocolate chip ice

cream as a dessert. But if I want to lose weight or at the least maintain the weight I have I have to stick with my exercise program and my

diet. Deviating from the program can and will have adverse affects. Innovation faces the same dilemma. You cant jump into and out of an

innovation program. There are simply too many factors reinforcing the status quo that will make it very difficult to swap into and out of an

innovation program. The risk factors, inertia and resistance to change will become barriers to innovation. If you plan to become innovative,

plan to stick to the program, come rain or shine.

Examine the Commitments

Few CEOs or senior executives are likely to describe innovation as unimportant or unnecessary. But the real assessment of their focus and

commitment should be an investigation into the points Ive made here. Are the commitments in line with the communication? Does your

organization understand the breadth and depth of the change necessary to incorporate innovation as a consistent discipline?

It is more dangerous to start innovation without resources and without a clear purpose than not to start at all. Given the inertia and resistance,

your team will get few chances to get innovation right before the organization becomes cynical and disillusioned about innovation. Most

corporate cultures are very good at sniffing out what initiatives will have deep executive commitment, funding and support, and which are

talking points that wont be supported. If you say you want innovation, be sure to provide the commitments necessary to sustain it.

image credit: glassdoor

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Jeffrey Phillips is a senior leader at OVO Innovation. OVO works with large distributed organizations to build innovation

teams, processes and capabilities. Jeffrey is the author of Make us more Innovative, and

Even You Can Innovate to Grow Learn from Skanska

Posted on October 11, 2012 by Adam Hartung

I like writing about tech companies, such as Apple and Facebook, because

they show how fast you can apply innovation and grow whether it is

technology, business process or new best practices. But many people

arent in the tech industry, and think innovation applies a lot less to them.

Whoa there cowboy, innovation is important to you too!

Few industries are as mired in outdated practices and slow to adopt

technology than construction. Wheth