Ready, Aim, Shoot Self in Foot:
20 Ways Big Companies Undermine Innovation
Innovation is a “top priority,” but innovation
team has no budget or resources.
Chief Innovation Officers
brought in from elsewhere
are treated as outsiders:
“They don’t understand our
culture, how we d...
It must be instantly apparent and quantitatively
demonstrable how every new idea has 18 month
ROI or billion-dollar potent...
The innovation team
doesn’t have (or isn’t
perceived to have) CEOlevel or board-level
support.
Conversely, the innovation team is seen as “the
CEO’s thing,” disconnected from business units
and their most pressing iss...
“One of the typical flaws I’ve seen in innovation
programs is starting without a clear view of
strategy: What is it suppos...
The innovation team
is situated within the
core business, and
starved for resources
because the core
business needs them
t...
Expecting innovation &
creativity to be as
streamlined, efficient,
and measurable as all
the company’s other
operations.
Fear of releasing “alpha” or test versions of new
products/services to get early market feedback.
Instead, “Let 1,000 flow...
Seeking more influence and power, the
company’s Chief Information Officer has adopted
new title: Chief Innovation Officer.
Business units are billed for the innovation team’s
time. That creates a disincentive seek their
involvement in projects.
...
All good ideas are
expected to spring from
the hermetically-sealed
world of the
corporation.
“A decade ago, the lab
was ou...
Company culture doesn’t tolerate
failure, or understand how to
learn from it.
Staffers linked to failed projects
see their...
Innovation is expected to happen in cubicles.
“I can’t tell you how many companies I know who
have innovation programs but...
New ideas can’t cannibalize
or compete with existing
products or services, or
threaten today’s business
relationships.
The companies with the biggest budgets for R&D
and innovation-related spending often feel the
least competitive pressure t...
New market opportunities aren’t taken seriously
until a competitor makes a move, or until someone
else is generating real ...
The innovation leader becomes more of a
cheerleader (or perennial panelist at
conferences), rather than someone who helps
...
“Some of the companies that struggle with
innovation, they know what needs to be done. But
there’s a lack of commitment an...
“Innovation is typically portrayed as something
you do after you finish your real work.
But innovation is your real work.”...
Innovation Leader is an independent information
service focused on the challenges of doing
innovation, and how established...
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Ready, Aim, Shoot Self in Foot: 20 Ways Big Companies Undermine Innovation

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Innovation Leader (http://innovationleader.com) interviewed executives responsible for innovation initiatives at companies like Intel, Whirlpool, General Mills, and Goodyear. We also spoke to entrepreneurs who had been acquired into large companies. Here are the 20 insights we heard most often about the ways that big organizations sometimes shoot themselves in the foot when it comes to innovation. We welcome your comments.

A version of this presentation was first published on Harvard Business Review Online in October 2013, as "11 Ways Big Companies Undermine Innovation."

http://blogs.hbr.org/2013/10/11-ways-big-companies-undermine-innovation/

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Ready, Aim, Shoot Self in Foot: 20 Ways Big Companies Undermine Innovation

  1. 1. Ready, Aim, Shoot Self in Foot: 20 Ways Big Companies Undermine Innovation
  2. 2. Innovation is a “top priority,” but innovation team has no budget or resources.
  3. 3. Chief Innovation Officers brought in from elsewhere are treated as outsiders: “They don’t understand our culture, how we do things here.”
  4. 4. It must be instantly apparent and quantitatively demonstrable how every new idea has 18 month ROI or billion-dollar potential. Scads of spreadsheets must be generated to evaluate every aspect of cost and benefit. “It’s a sign that things aren’t working when there’s a lot of deferring commitment, asking for more analysis and data.” — James Euchner, VP/Global Innovation, Goodyear
  5. 5. The innovation team doesn’t have (or isn’t perceived to have) CEOlevel or board-level support.
  6. 6. Conversely, the innovation team is seen as “the CEO’s thing,” disconnected from business units and their most pressing issues. “You need to embrace lots of people, so they feel they are part of the story.” — Rishad Tobaccowala, Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer, VivaKi
  7. 7. “One of the typical flaws I’ve seen in innovation programs is starting without a clear view of strategy: What is it supposed to do? What do you want out of it?” — Moises Norena, Global Director of Innovation, Whirlpool
  8. 8. The innovation team is situated within the core business, and starved for resources because the core business needs them to remain competitive.
  9. 9. Expecting innovation & creativity to be as streamlined, efficient, and measurable as all the company’s other operations.
  10. 10. Fear of releasing “alpha” or test versions of new products/services to get early market feedback. Instead, “Let 1,000 flowers bloom. Then mow.” — David Rose Entrepreneur & MIT Media Lab instructor
  11. 11. Seeking more influence and power, the company’s Chief Information Officer has adopted new title: Chief Innovation Officer.
  12. 12. Business units are billed for the innovation team’s time. That creates a disincentive seek their involvement in projects. “If the innovation team is not part of many conversations across the firm, it will be much less effective...” — Phil Swisher Head of Innovation, Brown Brothers Harriman
  13. 13. All good ideas are expected to spring from the hermetically-sealed world of the corporation. “A decade ago, the lab was our world. Today, we want the world to be our lab.” — Peter Erickson EVP/Innovation, General Mills
  14. 14. Company culture doesn’t tolerate failure, or understand how to learn from it. Staffers linked to failed projects see their career prospects dim.
  15. 15. Innovation is expected to happen in cubicles. “I can’t tell you how many companies I know who have innovation programs but no space to foster creativity. Large spaces with walls of whiteboards and comfy places to sit so people can brainstorm ideas are critical.” — Julia Austin, Former VP Innovation, VMware
  16. 16. New ideas can’t cannibalize or compete with existing products or services, or threaten today’s business relationships.
  17. 17. The companies with the biggest budgets for R&D and innovation-related spending often feel the least competitive pressure to actually bring innovations to market.
  18. 18. New market opportunities aren’t taken seriously until a competitor makes a move, or until someone else is generating real revenues. Before that, “It can be hard to get business leaders to make a judgment...It’s just hard to know what to do until you get information in a format that you’re used to seeing.” — Brandon Barnett, Director of Business Innovation, Intel Corp.
  19. 19. The innovation leader becomes more of a cheerleader (or perennial panelist at conferences), rather than someone who helps create new businesses or enhance the company’s competitive position.
  20. 20. “Some of the companies that struggle with innovation, they know what needs to be done. But there’s a lack of commitment and sticking with it.” “Innovation is not a short game. It’s the art of playing the long game.” — Peter Erickson, EVP/Innovation, General Mills
  21. 21. “Innovation is typically portrayed as something you do after you finish your real work. But innovation is your real work.” — Thornton May, Futurist
  22. 22. Innovation Leader is an independent information service focused on the challenges of doing innovation, and how established companies can leverage innovation to sustain and grow their position in the market. Find out more at http://innovationleader.com Follow us on Twitter: @InnoLead (Share, embed, and use this presentation as you see fit...but please do it with credit or a link.)

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