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Friday, March 26, 2010

Innovate How You Innovate

A Breakthrough Innovation 2010 Conference Wrap-Up Report

Innovate How You Innovate - Innovate How You Innovate
by Richard L. Tso

Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting with some of the most influential thought leaders in the innovation industry at the second annual Breakthrough Innovation conference. The event took place in Barcelona, Spain and was hosted by the Connecting Group. Common themes surrounding the conference were:
  • Companies need to refine and improve how they approach innovation

  • A formal innovation management process or platform is needed to help capture ideas and drive them towards adoption

  • Executive sponsorship is required to proactively drive innovation initiatives

  • A strong need for cross-functional innovation across all departments

  • Innovation is inherently a creative process

The agenda encompassed product, process, service, and business model innovation. Kai Engel, an AT Kearney Partner and Connecting Group Chairman, kicked off the conference with a broad overview of how companies are approaching innovation management within their organizations, and what they can expect to gain from the process.

Engel presented research showing a positive correlation between the top innovators and share-price, while highlighting the importance of cross-functional innovation across an organization.

Collaborate with Academia for Value Creation

Dr. Michael Duncan of Proctor & Gamble discussed the advantages of open innovation. Given the stagnant economy, Dr. Duncan argued that many companies are posed with the question: "How do we get more for less?" He addressed how organizations around the globe can take on innovation strategies, despite having less money to invest in the process.

This presentation outlined P&G's approach to drive scale into its academic research program in the UK. It discussed a key strategic partnership P&G developed with the EPSRC and described the key elements how P&G has delivered a win for academics, P&G and the Government. P&G has 22 billion dollar brands, currently spends $2 Billion in R&D across nine technical sectors and touches over four billion people around the world. Their global business units represent: Global Beauty (30%), Global Health & Well Being (20%), and Global Household Care (50%).

Identify Subject Matter Experts Within Your Organization

Chief Customer Innovation Officer Paul Excell of BT demonstrated the need to tap into the smartest people within your company and a clear linkage between innovation and commercial success. Much like the human brain, as the number connections increase, linkages appear that drive innovation and thoughtful contribution. Long-term survival depends on being capable of reinventing yourself time and time again. Excell said, "Innovation doesn't have to cost you money, you just need to change your way of thinking." He then mentioned that it is not about money but about talent. "People will ultimately make the difference in your company."

Historically, the process of innovation was driven by the individual and this evolved to team innovation and now distributed. The sun never goes down on innovation and people are your best assets. BT currently spends $1.1 Billion on R&D.

Designing for Innovation

Roland Heiler, director of the Porsche design studio presented the history of Porsche and how they are known for more than just car design. He discussed how design can make or break a product, the need to employ Bauhaus design elements for the intersection of form and function. He discussed the innovative process of building the first titanium watch from concept to creation, how this element is neutral against the human skin, but extremely difficult to work with.

Art & Science of Innovation

Karin Morris, Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer at Chartis Insurance gave a dynamic presentation about the art and science of innovation across a spectrum of strategies and tactics. She discussed the need to create and instill a culture of innovation across an organization. As she eloquently explained, "To innovate is to imagine that which does not exist yet."

Business adjacencies are often overlooked because managers are focused on what they know and what they do. They are less apt to take on something new. Management Science itself is the art of counting and controlling things and is not really focused on innovation. The management toolkit needs to evolve to be open to innovation.

Teams need passion, vision and initiative to be true innovators.

Innovate How You Are Innovating

Annie Lawrenson, VP of Innovation Strategy at Spigit explained the need to work on the business to innovate how you are innovating. She showed, not only how companies are resistant to innovation, but how innovation is really the job of everyone within an organization. Lawrenson presented a case-study about her time at Taylor-Made Golf where she developed an innovation site called Harold powered by Spigit. Harold was a site created to drive employee innovation, capture ideas, and identify the best ones for implementation and adoption.

Priorities for Innovation

Frederik Van Oene presented the top 12 priorities for Innovation as results from a global survey conducted by Arthur D. Little:
  1. Understand what customers want
  2. Explicity including innovation in vision and strategy
  3. Building a seamless innovation process between Marketing, R&D, and Manufacturing
  4. Involving whole company in innovation
  5. Competence management / technology strategy
  6. Innovating with partners
  7. Tailoring of innovation management
  8. Changing the mindset in R&D
  9. Training managers
  10. Introducing fitting measurements & rewards
  11. Optimizing geographically the innovation network
  12. Utilizing ICT support tools

Van Oene identified a correlation between innovation performance, quality of process and innovation success. Top innovators around the globe possess the following qualities: they continue to focus on keeping a good balance between intensification, enhancement and enlargement during a downturn, they focus on getting the most of their idea management and on getting big and bold ideas, they closely align products and service portfolios with their short, mid and longterm business objectives, and they innovate in modules throughout manufacturing and testing. This enhances product success and profit ability.

Well, these are some of the key insights I captured at the event. I hope you find them useful.

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Richard L TsoRichard L. Tso is Vice President of Marketing at Spigit. Spigit integrates social collaboration tools into a SaaS enterprise idea management platform used by global Fortune 2000 firms to drive innovation.

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