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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Other Side of Innovation: Post#6--Partnership Team

Partnership Team: Despite inevitable contretemps, the innovation team must develop a sustainable relationship with the PE or die along the way. The Project Team is the partnership. The “shared staff” bridges the two—the DT and PE teams. Innovation is not the sole province of the Dedicated Team, rather the result of a well-coordinated partnership between the Dedicated Team and the PE.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Other Side of Innovation: Post#5--Distinct & Disciplined

Distinct but Disciplined: In order for innovation to happen, the innovation team must be distinct from the PE. However, beyond just being distinct, the innovation team must be disciplined. So, distinct and disciplined rules the day. The temptation for companies is to see a good idea and tell innovation teams to just “go for it.” Rather, the authors caution that innovative initiatives require a team with a customized organizational model and a plan that gets revised through experimentation and learning.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Other Side of Innovation: Post#4--Cooperation

Cooperate to Graduate: Some companies think that just breaking the rules—a kind of cultural “us” (innovators) against “them” (performance engine/PE folks) approach—works. The authors would caution against such us-vs-them thinking for several reasons. 1) The PE pays the rent! Without partnering with the PE side of the house, you could run out of money; 2) A break-all-the-rules mantra wakes the sleeping giant of PE and antagonizes it. Fighting the establishment is a bad idea; 3) A break-it attitude feels like arrogance to the PE, and you will get massive pushback and eventually a push out. Mutual respect is what the authors suggest—good for any negotiation. The innovative team has to respect the power of the incumbent PE, and the PE team has to respect the long-term  effect of innovation on corporate’s adaptation and survival.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Other Side of Innovation: Post#3--Production

Innovation and production: Thomas Edison’s famous quote introduces this book: “Genius is 1 percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration.” The authors’ simple formula:  Innovation = Ideas + Execution.  Examples: Nucor, the innovative steel maker, pioneered widely distributed mini-mills and pushed innovation by cross-training employees and rotating them among plants and paying for innovative ideas from all employees—empowering processes that produced real innovation. John Deere perfected the innovative discipline of documenting every step of their process that can be used over and over and improved on to drive new innovations. However, while companies may start off as innovative engines, as they mature, they turn into  “Performance Engines” designed to produce reliable products at a scale of sustainable profitability—short-term performance beats down long-term innovation every time. Performance Engines (PE) want processes that are both repeatable and predictable, but innovation is the opposite—uncertain and unpredictable. Thus, the first rule of innovation: “Innovation and ongoing operations are always and inevitably in conflict” (p. 11).

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Other Side of Innovation: Post#2--Background

Background: Strategy dominated the ‘70s; sustaining (and defending success) dominated the ‘80s; but, the innovation genie is out of the bottle—now companies must innovate or die. Innovation is the new strategy. Just look at the cell phone industry (smart phones, especially) for examples. Full of case studies, this book offers a window into how to execute on innovation and make it part of corporate DNA. For other examples of innovation case studies, see  And while the authors would argue that innovation has to be part of any dynamic organization’s DNA for survival, it’s systematically executing on that innovation that matters.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Other Side of Innovation: Post #1--Overview

Overview:  Businesses are structured for operations, not innovation. That’s the heart of this book—how to take a creative concept from origin to implementation, especially in established companies. Big innovation isn’t about two guys in a garage coming up with Microsoft or HP. It’s about creating innovation AND executing on that innovation, once these companies are already listed on the stock exchange. The book answers the question: How do companies make innovation more routine to stay competitive?
The Other Side of Innovation: Solving the Execution Challenge by Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble (HBR Press, 2010), reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Innovative Team: Post #10--Final Words

For people in a hurry, consider reading the back of the book first. Then if you want to see the approach in action, read the front of the book—the story. I think it’s worth considering either way.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Innovative Leader: Post #9--The Fable

The Story/Fable.  Story by its nature helps people to see the process work. To the extent that the fable helps us see this innovative process in action, it works. An innovative team works through the four-pronged process (Clarify, Generate, Develop, and Implement) to provide their important client ultimately with a set of ideas that will propel their client’s company forward. Some hints that might help the authors next time around might be to shorten the story, reduce the dialogue and intersperse it with more vivid description, and make us care more about the characters as real people. They felt like Legos to me…serving a definite purpose (their thinking styles) but not someone I cared for on an emotional level. I also thought the climax of the story fell short. Again, I think the fable illustrates the innovative process and just needs some work buffing up the story.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Innovative Team: Post #8--Plans

Implementing Plans: Driving change isn’t easy because every change involves a huge emotional challenge for people. Remember that the pull of the status quo will always be a powerful counter-pressure to change. In a group, the folks most likely to want to implement change are “drivers” who can often be seen as pushy and assertive.  So, be sensitive to the group’s emotions or become the target of their wrath. Therefore, the authors propose a simple but effective “assistors-resistors” approach which will help teams recognize the emotional and physical helpers or blockers in the organizations. Simply asking who, what, when, where and why about both the assistors and resistors provides you with a worthy strategy. Of course, assistors will help you champion your plan. However, when considering resistors, implement the “challenge questioning” process: Ask “How can we get marketing to help us? What would appeal to the COO? I wonder who could get to the CFO?” This assistor-resistor process is a powerful antidote to failure.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Innovative Team: Post #7--Solutions

Developing Solutions: “True creativity brings novelty and usefulness together (p. 215).” Recognize that ideas are great and need to be honed and polished to be useful. During this phase of the process, the authors suggest “test, test, test.”  Vetting ideas and honing them can make the difference between success and failure. A half-baked idea is as useless as no idea at all. People on an effective innovation team will likely be very different and yet complementary. Developers will want to probe and test, while idea generators want to create new ideas. To get the group through this step, the authors recommend their POINt system. Plusses (Here’s what I like about that idea…); Opportunities (This could make a big difference…); Issues (How might we sell it to marketing?); New Thinking  (Which issues require the most innovative thinking?).

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Innovative Team: Post #6--Ideas

Generating Ideas: This phase involves looking at the buckets related to your pressing issue or problem and then exploring them to generate novel ways to answer the challenge questions, How might… and In what ways? Again divergence and convergence play into the mix here. In divergence, remember some rules: Defer judgment, generate a lot of ideas, don’t be afraid of innovative thinking, group themes or ideas. In convergence, be kind to others, be thoughtful and focus on the goal and innovation—not personalities.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Innovative Team: Post #5--Clarifying

Clarifying the Situation. The authors call this phase “the starting gate in any innovation.” Understanding what the real problem is before trying to solve it, not only saves time, but also gets teams to solve the right problem. First diverge…using brainstorming, mind mapping, and simply asking the key questions of who, what, why, how, when, where, and open-ended questions.  Such questions open up discussion and result in team learning. When converging into areas, themes, or buckets, look for natural groupings that make sense. Then, ask challenge questions such as, How might… or In what ways… to help explore these buckets further. Remember an elegant solution to the wrong problem isn’t any better than the wrong answer to the right question.
7.    Generating Ideas: This phase involves looking at the buckets related to your pressing issue or problem and then exploring them to generate novel ways to answer the challenge questions, How might… and In what ways? Again divergence and convergence play into the mix here. In divergence, remember some rules: Defer judgment, generate a lot of ideas, don’t be afraid of innovative thinking, group themes or ideas. In convergence, be kind to others, be thoughtful and focus on the goal and innovation—not personalities.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Innovative Team: Post #4--Thinking Styles

Exploring the Four Creative Thinking Styles. Part two of the book addresses the central innovative model posited by the authors: 1) Clarifying the Situation; 2) Generating Ideas; 3) Developing Solutions; 4) Implementing Plans.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Innovative Team: Post #3-Mind Mapping, etc...

More Lessons from the Story. See the simple and comprehensible diagram and explanation of breakthrough thinking model on p. 47-49.  Also, the authors “show” us mind mapping on p. 73 to help us “see” part of the creative process. In chapter 14, p. 153, the authors show us the POINt process to enhance creativity (as a counter to SWOT—strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats). POINt stands for: Pluses (use a kind of “yes-and” approach to new ideas); Opportunities (what if…where is the opportunity in the thinking going on—part of divergence); Issues (ask questions about concerns or considerations that it will take to be successful); New Thinking (What new thinking will help us solve this problem…address this issue?).

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Innovative Team: Post #2--Lessons

Lessons Learned in Story. Divergent thinking—Brainstorming (p.92): 1) Defer Judgment (hold back critical thinking for later); 2) Get as many ideas as you can (get all the ideas out first); 3) Allow for novel thinking (nothing’s too outlandish); 4) Look for combinations (put ideas together to create something new—think about Reese’s pieces—chocolate and peanut butter). Convergent thinking (p.122): 1) Be appreciative (find what you like about the idea); 2) Be deliberate (slow down and consider the idea); 3) Remind yourself of the goal (does the idea hit the goal?); 4) Consider novelty (anything new here?)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Innovative Team: Post #1--Overview

The Innovative Team: Unleashing Creative Potential for Breakthrough Results by Chris Grivas and Gerard Puccio (Jossey-Bass, 2012). Reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D., October 2012.

Overview: The authors have developed an innovative framework, which offers companies and organizations a clear advantage both in product development and job creation. Their innovative process is called FourSight—one which the authors researched over the years and then developed a proprietal product named after their process. Simply put, their framework/process calls for an innovative team to assess their strengths and then work with them—maybe not brand new, but you need to read further. They do provide a simple, replicable process based on four phases (and ultimately four thinking types of people): Clarify the Situation; Generate Ideas; Develop Solutions; and Implement Plans. Using their field-tested approach, the authors attempt to demystify innovation and creativity.

Book supplied by the publisher...Jossey-Bass.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Little Bets: Conclusion--Post #10

Conclusion: Watch young children playing, and you’ll see a perfect example of “little bets.” They try, test, fail, succeed and finally learn. Great learning isn’t static or linear. Although textbooks are written that way, that’s not how knowledge gets learned in “real life.” We experiment, try this, fail, try something else, get a win, build on it and move forward. Many of the world’s creative geniuses got to their place of prominence by testing, adjusting, revising. They made “little bets” that paid off big. Final note: I like the “Further Readings and Resources” section at the back of the book. Good stuff for further exploration and discovery!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Little Brest: Innovators--Post #9

Innovators and Early Adopters: Whether it’s Chris Rock testing his comedy in front of small but avid comedy club goers or John Legend testing his music with the brilliant Kanye West, smart developers use innovators and early adopters to test and refine their creations. Thus, they learn a lot from a few. Note in Everett Roger’s research (p. 132) that innovators (only 2.5% of the population) pick things up first, then early adopters (13.5%), early majority (34%), late majority (34%) and finally, laggards (16%).

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