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Chapter from: "The Other Side of Innovation: Solving the Execution Challenge"
Published by: Harvard Business Publishing
Published in: 2010

Abstract

Most well-managed companies are adept at two basic models for innovation execution: 1) The innovation = ideas + motivation formula, which can generate thousands of small initiatives but cannot support major projects, and 2) The innovation = ideas + process formula, which can efficiently crank out innovation after innovation, as long as each one is a repeat of a prior effort. In this chapter, the authors introduce the thesis of their book, which is that every innovation initiative requires an innovation leader, a team with a custom organizational model, and a plan that is revised only through a rigorous learning process. In other words, a formula that looks like this: innovation = idea + leader + team + plan. They explain that organizations are designed for ongoing operations - not innovation - and the pressure to show reliable profits often stifles innovation. Organizations tend to evolve into 'performance engines' - and no performance engine, with its focus on what is predictable and repeatable, can single-handedly take on innovation, which is by definition non-routine and uncertain. Using examples from steel manufacturer Nucor and agricultural giant Deere & Company, the authors stress the need for mutual respect between innovation teams and those involved in everyday operations. This chapter was originally published as the introduction of 'The Other Side of Innovation: Solving the Execution Challenge.' This chapter is excerpted from ‘The Other Side of Innovation: Solving the Execution Challenge'.

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Abstract

Most well-managed companies are adept at two basic models for innovation execution: 1) The innovation = ideas + motivation formula, which can generate thousands of small initiatives but cannot support major projects, and 2) The innovation = ideas + process formula, which can efficiently crank out innovation after innovation, as long as each one is a repeat of a prior effort. In this chapter, the authors introduce the thesis of their book, which is that every innovation initiative requires an innovation leader, a team with a custom organizational model, and a plan that is revised only through a rigorous learning process. In other words, a formula that looks like this: innovation = idea + leader + team + plan. They explain that organizations are designed for ongoing operations - not innovation - and the pressure to show reliable profits often stifles innovation. Organizations tend to evolve into 'performance engines' - and no performance engine, with its focus on what is predictable and repeatable, can single-handedly take on innovation, which is by definition non-routine and uncertain. Using examples from steel manufacturer Nucor and agricultural giant Deere & Company, the authors stress the need for mutual respect between innovation teams and those involved in everyday operations. This chapter was originally published as the introduction of 'The Other Side of Innovation: Solving the Execution Challenge.' This chapter is excerpted from ‘The Other Side of Innovation: Solving the Execution Challenge'.

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