In last month’s publication of the Wall Street Journal (online) – Cesare Mainardi - the CEO of Management Consulting firm Booz & Co. – noted in an article that in 2012, innovation expenditure reached a record level of US$600 billion among the top 1000 spenders; that is, an average of US$600 million per top innovation spender. However, only a quarter of those spenders say that they are highly effective at innovation. The conclusion is that a large number of companies are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on innovation but getting poor results. In other words, business innovation projects are mostly not cost effective.
But, what are Cesare Mainardi’s suggestions for improving innovation? Mainardi lists three points:
#1: Know exactly where you need to innovate most
#2: Innovation is nothing more than new combinations of old elements
#3: Crack the “innovation immune system” in your organization
To me, the above points seem more like platitudes than as stratagems on how to make innovation projects more cost-effective in organizations. To put things in context, I wonder what the late Steve Jobs’ would have said after reading Mainardi’s points on improving business innovation. “The points suck!” would have been Jobs’ likely response. Just imagine the year 2000 when Jobs was desperately looking for ways to help Apple rapidly escape out of its financial abyss. How helpful would have been Mainardi’s three points to Steve Jobs?
Existing tools for business improvement and innovation projects are complex, fragmented, time consuming, costly, and ineffective. There’s a paucity of holistic tools for business improvement and innovation projects. It’s interesting to note that Steve Jobs neither used business innovation consultants nor used explicit business innovation tools. So, what tools did Steve Jobs use?
For over 10 years, I’ve been studying the works of world-class entrepreneurs such as Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, and the magician David Copperfield as well as highly innovative organizations such as Apple, Google, and Amazon. Irrespective of background and domain, world-class innovators formulate and iteratively answer just 4 Red Ocean Disruption (ROD) Questions: the Vision question; Present Performance question; Strategy-Business Model-Execution Cycle question; Future Performance question. These 4 ROD Questions comprise a simple holistic framework that can be used for collaboratively organizing ideas, principles, and tools for business improvement as well as innovation projects in any domain; see http://goo.gl/kwcu3W.
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