Book Review: Making Innovation Work
Authors Tony Davila, Marc Epstein and Robert Shelton, are keen advocates
of innovation; the focus of this book is about how to manage, measure and
execute to help deliver profitable innovation. (My italics); few companies
achieve this, but this work offers a start-to-finish process for driving growth
Tony Davila, faculty member of Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. Has
also taught with Harvard Business School (HBS) and works with both large
industrials and Silicon Valley start-ups designing management control and
performance measurement systems that drive innovation.
He has written articles for HBR, Research Policy and other leading reviews.
Marc Epstein has been a visiting professor and scholar at HBS. He has been
a senior consultant to leading corporations and governments for over twenty-
five years, specialising in strategy implementation, innovation, governance,
accountability and performance metrics.
Epstein has also served as a visiting professor at Stanford Business School
Robert Shelton is a director at PRTM Management consultants, working with
a broad and divers client list across most leading industrial sectors. Ex VP
and MD with Arthur D Little as well as Director of the technology management
practice at SRI International.
His work has been referenced in the media, from The Wall Street Journal to
CNN financial news.
The Book & Its Style
Making Innovation Work is a little long (280 pages with Quick Assessment
additional material available if you log on to the editors ………………………………
web-site) but an easy read, thanks to numerous Author:
examples and diagrams that illustrate their point of Ease of Read:
view: a useful addition is the CEO’s action plan at the Importance:
end of each chapter, which highlights the key points and Stimulation:
potential next steps.
The examples used are unfortunately oft-quoted examples (P&G, Apple’s I-
tunes, GE, Toyota…) but serves to
high-light how few big companies are making innovation work!
Anyone interested in innovation, business management, particularly from an
organisational / structural point of view, will find Making Innovation Work really
useful; it stimulates thinking around the innovation approach, from both within
and without and really highlights the importance of culture, style and
leadership from the very top of major organisations. CEOs, CIOs (Chief
Innovation officers!) innovation leaders and marketers will all find this of real
interest as so many companies search for sustainable growth beyond the
To compete effectively, you have to innovate, continuously, in all your
products, services and business functions…but profitable innovation doesn’t
just happen, it has to be managed, measured, executed…Making Innovation
Work, offers a solution to doing this well.
The authors maintain that the current wisdom around managing innovation is
That there’s no need for a revolution to make innovation work successfully,
That innovation isn’t pure alchemy,
That it’s not about just having a creative culture, nor just about stage gates
1/ It’s more like several business functions that require tools and discipline…
it’s not mysterious
2/ With no measurement and incentives, it’s hard to learn and learning from
mistakes is crucial; it’s also vital to measure the right things, right the way
through the process.
3/ Combining business model and technological change can help redefine a
market and therefore the market potential …Making Innovation Work provides
the framework to help companies achieve this.
Finally, there’s very little that’s new in innovation; it’s how we manage it that
can make the difference.
10 chapters, in a classic format that detail a number of insights around current
innovation management, develop thoughts around innovation strategy and
organisation, process metrics and incentives.
The final three chapters examine how to improve current innovation
performance, designing an innovation culture and then concluding on how to
adapt relevant innovation rules to your own organisation.
What’s it good for?
It will help you answer the following:
· Where is your company?
· Evaluating the innovation state of your company
· Assessing the options going forward
· How to design an innovation strategy
· Adapting an innovation strategy that fits your company.
Key Thoughts / Management Summary
Innovation is not about secret formulas; it is about good management. The
book identifies the seven Innovation Rules of good innovation management:
• Strong leadership that defines the innovation strategy designs
innovation portfolios, and encourages truly significant value creation.
• Innovation is an integral part of the company's business mentality.
• Innovation is matched to the company business strategy including
selection of the innovation strategy (Play-to-Win or Play-Not–to-Lose).
• Balance creativity and value capture so that the company generates
successful new ideas and gets the maximum return on its investment.
• Neutralize organizational antibodies that kill off good ideas because
they are different from the norm.
• Innovation networks inside and outside the organization because
networks, not individuals, are the basic building blocks of innovation.
• Correct metrics and rewards to make innovation manageable and to
produce the right behaviour.
Making Innovation Work - Chapter Headings:
Chapter One: Driving success: How you innovate determines what you
Chapter Two: Mapping Innovation: What is innovation and how do you
Chapter Three: Choosing your destiny: How to design a winning
Chapter Four: Organizing for Innovation: How to structure a company
Chapter Five: Management Systems: Designing the process of
Chapter Six: Illuminating the pathway: How to measure
Chapter Seven: Rewarding Innovation: How to design Incentives to
Chapter Eight: Learning Innovation: How do organisations become
better at innovating?
Chapter Nine: Cultivating Innovation: How to design a winning culture
Chapter Ten: Conclusion: Applying the innovation rules to your