Category Archives: Culture of innovation

P&G – Extraordinary Results from Innovation Acceleration

Many of you will know that Procter & Gamble is one of my favourite companies when discussing innovation acceleration. The latest Harvard Business Review (June 2011) contains an extremely important article on the impact that innovation has had on P&G recently. We all know of the Connect and Develop program that was kicked off some years ago, but where is P&G now, and where are their innovation efforts? To be honest, I was unbelievably excited when I read this article, and I think you will be as well.

Here are some of the facts reported by HBR that really impressed me:

From 2004 to now, P&G looked to carry out the following:

a) Teach senior management and project members the mind-sets and behaviours that foster disruptive growth

b) Form a group of new-growth-business guides to help teams working on disruptive projects

c) Develop organisational structures to drive new growth

d) Produce a process manual – a step-by-step guide to creating new-growth businesses.

e) Run demonstration projects to showcase the emerging factory’s work.

The challenge that they found in 2008 was that they were burdened by a number of smaller projects that were not necessarily disruptive. This scenario is very common – the organisation establishes an Innovation program and soon people ask – “So where are the Big Ideas?”. So Bob McDonald (then the COO) and Bruce Brown (then CTO and coauthor of the article in HBR) drove three critical improvements:

a) Increase emphasis on an intermediate category, transformational-sustaining innovations, which would deliver major new benefits in existing product categories

b) Strengthen organisational support for the formation of transformational sustaining and disruptive businesses. P&G created several new business-creation groups whose resources and management are kept separate from the core business – dedicated teams with a separate General Manager. What is really interesting is that there is one group, FutureWorks, solely dedicated to enabling different business models. This to me is tremendous and a lesson for other companies – while “tiger teams” might be formed to boost sales and win deals, it is rare that they are formed specifically for new business models.

c) Revamp its strategy development and review process. Innovation and strategy assessments had historically been handled separately. Now the CEO, CTO, and CFO explicitly link company, business, and innovation strategies. What a great lesson!

Lessons learned include:

  1. Closely coordinate the factory and the core business
  2. Promote a portfolio mindset
  3. Start small and grow carefully
  4. Create new tools for gauging new businesses
  5. Make sure you have the right people doing the right work
  6. Encourage intersections – successful innovation requires rich cross pollination both inside and outside the organisation.

There are other significant lessons learned from the above cited in the article. And many more initiatives that you should read for yourself that are truly remarkable. Here, though, are some of the business impact metrics cited:

  • In 2000 only 15% of its innovation efforts met profit and revenue targets. Today the figure is 50%. The past fiscal year was one of the most productive innovation years in the companyʼs history, and the companyʼs three- and five-year innovation portfolios are sufficient to deliver against their growth objectives. Projections suggest that the typical initiative in 2014 and 2015 will have nearly twice the revenue of todayʼs initiatives. Thatʼs a sixfold increase in output without any significant increase in inputs.
  • In 2009 P&G introduced the wrinkle-reducing cream Olay Pro-X. Launching a $40-a-bottle product in the depths of a recession might seem a questionable strategy. But P&G went ahead because it considered the product a transformational sustaining innovation. The cream and related products generated first-year sales of $50 million in U.S. food retailers and drugstores alone.
  • In 2010 P&G refreshed its C+D goals. It aims to become the partner of choice for innovation collaboration, and to triple C+Dʼs contribution to P&Gʼs innovation development (which would mean deriving $3 billion of the companyʼs annual sales growth from outside innovators). It has expanded the program to forge additional connections with government labs, universities, small and medium-sized entrepreneurs, consortia, and venture capital firms.
The HBR article can be found here. I seriously urge you to read it, digest it, look at what your organisation is NOT doing, and gather senior leaders of your organisation together in a war room to form an action plan to close the gap. NOW!.

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The Rise of Generation C: Implications for Innovation Acceleration

Excellent report by Booze&co. on what they call Generation C: People born after 1990, digital natives, highly connected, living online, using social networking as second nature, being able to consume vast amounts of information, and living in what Booze calls a “personal cloud”. The premise is that by 2020 an entire generation will have grown up in a primarily digital word, with technology as we know it today just part of their life, rather than an add-on. Booze says the C in Generation C stands for Connect, Communicate and Change.

You can read the full article here.

What are the implications for innovation acceleration if this is the case? If you endorse the premise – as I strongly do – that innovation is powered by collaboration and connectedness – that innovation acceleration happens just by the fact that people are connected in an ecosystem, then we are in for a meteoric rise is the innovation capability of Generation C. Do you agree?

And if this is the case, what structures, if any, do we need to put in place to capture and harness this creativity? Can the corporation as we know it cultivate and environment where all of this innovation potential is harnessed and exploited?

The answer is – not today. Next year? or 2020?

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What Conventional Wisdom about Innovation No Longer Applies?

Interesting article in the latest MITSloan Management Review. It addresses the question:

What conventional wisdom about innovation no longer applies?

It comes up with 5 Takeaways:

  1. Most innovation efforts fail not because of a lack of bright ideas, but because of a lack of careful and thoughtful follow-up. Smart companies know where the weakest links in their entire innovation value chain are, and they invest time in correcting those weaknesses rather than further reinforcing their strengths
  2. Online forums are not a panacea for distributed innovation. Online forums are good for capturing and filtering large numbers of existing ideas; in-person forums are good for generating and building on new ideas. Smart companies are selective in their use of online forums for innovation
  3. External innovation forums have access to a broad range of expertise that makes them effective for solving narrow technological problems; internal innovation forums have less breadth but more understanding of context. Smart companies use their external and internal experts for very different types of problems
  4. Rewarding people for their innovation efforts misses the point. The process of innovating – of taking the initiative to come up with new solutions – is its own reward. Smart companies emphasize the social and personal drivers of discretionary effort, rather than the material drivers
  5. Bottom up innovation efforts benefit from high-levels of employee engagement; top down innovation efforts benefit from direct alignment with the company’s goals. Smart companies use both approaches, and are adept at helping bottom-up innovation projects get the sponsorship they need to survive.

You can read the entire article here.

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Why does Israeli Innovation Contribute $2.4 Billion To The Massachusetts Economy?

A study has been released released at the New England-Israel Business Council’s 2010 Life Sciences Summit at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts revealed the scope and impact of Israeli related businesses on the Massachusetts economy. This is an astounding amount of money – imagine if this was scaled to other states and countries around the world. Indeed, imaging if the entrepreneurship spirit of Israel was also replicated in other countries! The impact would truly be astonishing.

The new study, “The Massachusetts-Israel Economic Relationship,” conducted by Stax Inc., an independent global strategy consulting firm, shows the impact of Israeli innovation and entrepreneurship on the Commonwealth’s economy, and underscores the importance of Israeli relations to the state, especially in the area of life sciences and high-tech.

Highlights of the study include:

* Nearly 100 companies in Massachusetts are founded by Israelis or offer products based on Israeli technology.
* These businesses generated $2.4 billion in direct revenue in Massachusetts in 2009.
* In total, the direct and indirect revenue impact on the Massachusetts economy was $7.8 billion.
* From an employment perspective, these businesses directly generated 5,920 jobs in Massachusetts.
* 50% of these businesses focus on information technology, 29% are in life sciences, and the remainder in other industries.
* Israeli entrepreneurs chose Massachusetts over other U.S. destinations to launch or grow their enterprises due to the deep talent pool of educated workers, the opportunity to be part of an industry cluster, world class universities and outstanding business infrastructure.

The Stax study, which surveyed Massachusetts business executives of companies based on Israeli innovation and entrepreneurship, also found that other states are aggressively pursuing linkages with Israeli businesses. The analysis also details ways that Massachusetts can strengthen its economic ties with Israel and compete with other states.

“The Massachusetts-Israel Economic Relationship” study was released at the New England-Israel Business Council’s 2010 Life Sciences Summit hosted by Brandeis International Business School. “The Massachusetts-Israel Economic Relationship” study was commissioned, in part, by the Combined Jewish Philanthropies.

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Bosses should definitely NOT kill ideas

Bob Sutton, Professor of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University, posted a blog on Harvard Business Review entitled: If you are the Boss, start killing more ideas.

His point is that in order for some ideas to flourish and become disruptive, many others need to be killed, and we are not good at doing that

I don’t have a problem with the concept of killing ideas, but I do have a problem with any “Boss” killing any idea.

I posted the following on the blog:

I don’t think any boss should ever kill any idea. The challenge is to have a filtering process that is set up properly to filter all of the ideas, and sort them appropriately. And it should be both the “crowd” that does the sorting, as well as a cross-functional team. In the work that I doing in Innovation at Cisco, we have both – and the ideas that percolate up through either the crowd or the cross functional team are the ones that are considered for progression, with the others being potentially incremental, not disruptive innovation.

I have a problem with any one individual “killing” anything. If an idea is floated, and an individual, especially of a “higher rank”, tries to squash it, I push back enormously. Killing of ideas by an individual on qualitative bases is a recipe for innovation destruction. With proper filtering by the crowd and a cross-functional team, the discussion becomes focused on those ideas that really have potential, and the only reason they are “killed” is that further research demonstrates that they are not viable – and this becomes obvious to all.

And certainly, ideas should never be killed by anyone because they have a higher “rank” than the idea originator – the thought of that makes me exceptionally anxious

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The 10 Top Reasons Why The 10 Top Reasons Don’t Really Matter

You have to love this……… from The Heart of Innovation blog.

10. Analysis paralysis.
9. Reason is highly over-rated.
8. If you need more data to prove your point, you’ll never have enough data to prove your point.
7. You already know what to do.
6. You’re going to follow your gut, anyway.
5. “Not everything that counts can be counted; and not everything that can be counted counts.” (Einstein)
4. By the time you put your business case together, the market has passed you by.
3. “Conclusions arrived at through reasoning have very little or no influence in altering the course of our lives.” (Carlos Casteneda)
2. The scientific method came to Rene Descartes in a dream!
1. “Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.” (Groucho)

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The “How” of Open Innovation

I want to alert you to an recent excellent report on the “how” of Open Innovation. The report is a product of two years work within the Cambridge Open Innovation Network. This network is funded by Unilever and the Cambridge Integrated Knowledge Centre. The report aims to answer the question “I want to implement Open Innovation – where should I start and what should I do?”. It provides and overview of existing approaches to Open Innovation and outlines how a company can start to implement a strategy to match the organisation’s needs.

Unilever has been a long-standing proponent of Open Innovation. Not only does this report talk about the theory of Open Innovation, but it draws on Unilever’s experience, and contains the results of 36 interviews and workshops.

An excellent document. Download it now.

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Goodyear and Open Innovation

Seems that Goodyear, the tire company, is embracing open innovation in the quest to find innovation in their product offerings. Goodyear sponsored “Innovation Events” where they laid out their plans for the future and brought members of their ecosystem “under their wing”. Goodyear innovators will continue to team with leading research and testing institutions like Sandia National Labs. However this new initiative allows Goodyear to also tap into their close working relationships with their suppliers to encourage joint technology development that will help the tire maker bring “game changing” products to market at an even faster pace.

Since the April meetings, these suppliers have proposed nearly 200 initiatives in the areas of acquisition cost, materials management, conversion cost and new product development that can have a direct, positive impact on Goodyear’s product innovations. These initiatives will serve to enhance Goodyear’s overall R&D expenditures, but more importantly, they will significantly enhance the company’s supply chain.

“When fully aligned with Goodyear’s new products engine, the combined effort should accelerate significantly the introduction of relevant new innovations,” Kihn said.

“Innovation in difficult times makes more of a difference than ever,” stated Bert De Graeve, Chief Executive Officer of Belgium-based Bekaert Corporation, a global leader in drawn steel wire products and applications. “We greatly appreciate Goodyear’s commitment to long term collaborative innovation with its suppliers. The definition of a good supplier goes well beyond a cheap supplier for the next quarter and Bekaert is ready to take on the innovation challenges outlined by Goodyear’s executive leadership,” he said.

Goodyear and the supplier companies will facilitate the application of new innovations into new tire products while protecting each other’s intellectual property through a series of new, or enhanced technical and commercial agreements. “We want to ensure that the commercialization of any innovation occurs at the appropriate stage of a product’s development,” Kihn said. “And we also want to make sure that there are sufficient incentives provided to our suppliers so that they concentrate on the most marketable innovations.”

Goodyear is one of the world’s largest tire companies. It employs nearly 70,000 people and manufactures its products in more than 60 facilities in 25 countries around the world. Its two Innovation Centers in Akron, Ohio and Colmar Berg, Luxembourg strive to develop state-of-the-art products that set the technology and performance standard for the industry.

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3M and a Culture of Collaboration

I have talked for some time in this blog about how collaboration powers innovation, and how most of us do not truly collaborate.

One of the key issues in collaboration internally within an organisation is having a culture of collaboration. The challenge with establishing such a culture is to align incentives as part of that culture – more often than not, this does not happen, and while evryone runs around talking about colaboration and innovation, their KPIs and remuneration is securely centred on the “ME”.

BusinessWeek has run a story on how 3M successful harnessed their culture of collaboration to their benefit. While the example in this article is not very compelling (it is of a worker using a corporate skills” directory to find an expert) the lessons learned are reasonable, and I quote them in full here.

Support networks. Build Web-based social networks that help employees with a problem find those with an answer. Support grassroots networking initiatives such as 3M’s TechForum—an employee-run group that organizes speaker events to stimulate thinking and also serves as a kind of mixer, where scientists from different labs or divisions can connect in person.

Build collaboration into your employee evaluation system. Reward employees not just for developing an innovative technology, idea, or process, but for spreading it. No company reaps the benefits of collaboration if their employees or managers are hoarding innovation in order to look good at the next quarterly meeting.

Encourage curiosity. 3M allows employees to spend 15% of their time on projects of their choosing, giving them permission to develop ideas or technologies that may be outside of their regular work focus. Such policies increase the odds of collaboration, as the path of curiosity often leads employees beyond their knowledge base, to a place where they need the advice and insight of others.

Create innovation funds. Group or department managers focused on core-related projects often don’t want to spend money exploring or developing innovative ideas. To overcome this common roadblock, companies should create an alternative source—3M calls these Genesis Grants—that employees can go to for funding of innovation projects that don’t fit neatly into existing departments.

Don’t underestimate the value of physical proximity. When 3M’s Post-it Note team wanted to accelerate product development, it had the team’s marketing, financial, and other nonmembers move into the same building with the tech folks. If different functions have to be housed in different buildings, pay for a shuttle service that makes it easy for employees in different departments to visit each other.

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The Culture of Innovation

You know, and I know, that without the right culture of innovation in an organization, the push to become more innovative will undoubtedly fail. You have seen this happen, and so have I. But building a successful culture of innovation is very difficult – only a few companies have been successful where many have failed.

With the release of the Nano, the Tata group has recently been in the “innovation spotlight”. I love what Tata has done in terms of really disruptive innovation – very few companies would have the audacity to attempt what they have. And it turns out that the culture of innovation at Tata is one of their many strengths.

Read this article to find out why.

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