Relentless Innovation: What Works, What Doesn't--And What That Means For Your Business Hardcover – Nov 30 2011
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About the Author
Jeffrey Phillips leads the innovation consulting team at OVO Innovation, a consulting and training firm working primarily with Fortune 500 firms. OVO Innovation partners with its clients to create a sustainable, repeatable innovation capability by training and building innovation teams, defining innovation processes, and developing open innovation partnerships. He is a well-known thought leader in the innovation space and regularly blogs about innovation.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Phillips, who has spent the past 10 years leading OVO Innovation's work with Fortune 500 and midsized firms in North America, Europe, and Asia, has written a book that is at once persuasive and practical. While the need for innovation and its benefits is clear, says Phillips, the road to articulating and implementing a successful innovation strategy is not. The confusion is due, in part, to what he calls the "Mythology of Innovation." In Chapters 1 and 2 he systematically debunks those myths and identifies the real barriers to innovation - the perception that innovation is a threat to the status quo, to the existing business models and strategies that typically focus on scaling up, getting a sizeable market share, and generating profits. As a result, "says Phillips, "innovation capabilities remain a part of the lore of many firms, but those references and stories seem misplaced in an era of high efficiency, cost-cutting, and outsourcing."
The solution Phillips proposes is simple - make innovation part of a company's fundamental approach to doing business. However, there are many reasons firms can't sustain innovation. These include everything from a "project" rather than "capability" mindset to fear of failure, lack of resources, and uncertain support from executives. Each of these barriers and concerns is dissected and discussed with a clear and practical solution outlined by Phillips.
Relentless innovation requires a balance between efficiency and innovation. In this model, innovation is seen as "business as usual," meaning it is built into the framework of how the company operates. Chapters 7, 8 and 9 give straightforward, detailed approaches to creating that framework so that "everyone - executives, staff and middle managers - arrive at work expecting to innovate and well versed in the tools, processes, and methods of innovation." Phillips also does a good job of anticipating and addressing the typical questions, objections and stumbling blocks most firms encounter as they begin to make innovation part of their culture.
Phillips concludes with a summary of what to expect when a company's operating model shifts to a balance between efficiency and innovation. In short, "everything changes," he says. The good news is that Phillips' comprehensive description of what is necessary for a firm to become a relentless innovator makes the process seem not only possible but a positive experience as well. Relentless Innovation is both a good read and an invaluable tool for helping organizations achieve innovation, remain viable and competitive, while optimizing financial success. A must read for any company, small or large that is seeking to make innovation a part of its core operating strategy.
There are two major themes in the book as to what stifles innovation: Business as usual and middle managers. The culture and current operating practices of a company are the major barriers to creating new value for a customer or market. The focus of the book is how to shift from business as usual to Innovation As Usual.
Business as usual stymies innovation by overly focusing the organization on efficient business processes and meeting short term demands, and by commanding the attention of the middle management cohort to the exclusion of creating new things. The author presents a number of attributes that can introduce far more innovation focus into a business as usual culture. The goal of an Innovation As Usual approach is to bring the operating model back into balance and focus on both efficiency and innovation. The primary driver of innovation success is a combination of culture, attitudes, frameworks, and processes that form a new "operating model" for the business.
From this book, a reader will gain a deeper understanding that defining and communicating strategic intent is critical. The key management issue is understood to be overly focusing on cost-cutting, efficiency, outsourcing and off-shoring jobs to foreign countries.
The real meat of the book is the chapter which details what a business as usual framework should consist of. This is the basic outline for any firm without getting bogged down in a discussion of tools or methods of discovery, ideation, etc.
Finally, you will read about ways to balance the middle manager's focus on efficiency with the organization's need to create something new. The book defines the key elements to finding the right balance between efficiency and innovation, and how middle managers can embrace this balance and not live in fear and avoidance of creative change.
Having experienced the environments with those barriers first hand, I appreciate Jeffrey's assessment as well as his recommendations on how to shift an organization's operating model to establish relentless innovation. He is spot on and I highly recommend this book to everyone who is managing innovation in their company and anyone who desires to make innovation a natural expectation in their business.
Phillips' analysis is very clear, his diagnosis is accurate, and his prescription will be tremendously valuable for any executive who has an interest in innovation (which should be, by the way, every executive).
The framework that Phillips defines as "business as usual" is clearly articulated and is entirely correct. The very practical suggestions he shares for the design of innovation initiatives and the specific and detailed guidelines he provides to innovators, middle managers who run innovation initiatives, and senior managers whose careers will ultimately depend on their capacity to evoke successful innovations from their organizations, all make this book a valuable contribution to the innovation library.
There's a lot of good stuff here, and just as happily, there's no fluff. Thanks, Jeffrey!
What is BAU? It's all the norms inside your company that govern how your company operates. Phillips points out that middle managers are the guardians of BAU. They've come to depend on its efficiency, so that they can deliver consistent quarterly results. Yet, innovation means tolerating, supporting, and sometimes even introducing new and inefficient ways of doing business. This is uncomfortable, and middle managers are not rewarded for it. They are rewarded for consistent quarterly results.
Phillips demonstrates that the cure is to make innovation the new BAU. His book will show you how to do it.
If you are a corporate innovator, executive, or just someone who likes to introduce new ideas, read this book - and share it with everyone in your company - if you want to effect real change.
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