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Management article
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Reference no. R0208H
Published by: Harvard Business Publishing
Published in: "Harvard Business Review", 2002

Abstract

Consistent innovation is the key to market leadership. Outstanding companies know that and build their success on it. And other organizations can do the same, the author explains in this HBR article from 1988, by making a systematic effort to concentrate on five key activities. Start at the top. Innovation begins with a chief executive officer or general manager who believes change is the way to survive. Spread that mind-set through the organization by setting challenging, measurable goals; getting everyone focused on beating a specific competitor; and supporting individuals who take risks. Allow innovation to rise. New ideas need champions, sponsors, a mix of creative types (for ideas) and operators (to keep things practical), and separate systems to get ideas to top management early and quickly. Know the competitive dynamics of your business cold. A realistic strategic vision will channel innovative efforts to ideas that will pay off in the marketplace. Determine where innovation lives. Look hard at your customers to find new segments, at your competitors to see what''s already working, and at your own business to determine where you can leverage existing strengths. Once an idea is well developed, go for broke. Set priorities. Think through every step of the launch.

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Abstract

Consistent innovation is the key to market leadership. Outstanding companies know that and build their success on it. And other organizations can do the same, the author explains in this HBR article from 1988, by making a systematic effort to concentrate on five key activities. Start at the top. Innovation begins with a chief executive officer or general manager who believes change is the way to survive. Spread that mind-set through the organization by setting challenging, measurable goals; getting everyone focused on beating a specific competitor; and supporting individuals who take risks. Allow innovation to rise. New ideas need champions, sponsors, a mix of creative types (for ideas) and operators (to keep things practical), and separate systems to get ideas to top management early and quickly. Know the competitive dynamics of your business cold. A realistic strategic vision will channel innovative efforts to ideas that will pay off in the marketplace. Determine where innovation lives. Look hard at your customers to find new segments, at your competitors to see what''s already working, and at your own business to determine where you can leverage existing strengths. Once an idea is well developed, go for broke. Set priorities. Think through every step of the launch.

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