Innovation’s Dirty Little Secret

10 Jul 2010 Sandeep Mehta

The Businessweek Article Innovation’s Dirty Little Secret talks about how many organizations pay lip-service to Innovation:

Recently I spoke with a group of executives from a $3 billion division of a large industrial company. They were faced with a mandate from the chief executive to expand the firm’s service revenue from 20 percent to 33 percent. That’s almost $400 million in new revenue, yet when I asked how many people were on the team, the leader replied meekly: “Two.”

Some organizations like IBM clearly seem to invest a lot in Innovation and have found ways to make it successful (I am not sure what is innovation in a transformation from product to service business…)

Rosabeth Moss Kanter’s October 2009 Harvard Business School case study, ‘IBM in the 21st Century: The Coming of the Globally Integrated Enterprise,’ details many acts carried out by the leadership team during the company’s fabled transformation from a product to a service company. Executives were prepared to put big money where their mouths were when it came to supporting service-based ideas, such as ‘Innovation Jam,’ or such businesses as ‘On-Demand’ software, and strong messages about the importance of services were sent.

One last interesting learning from Kaiser – it is a great approach to make sure high risk high reward projects actually get implemented:

when a promising innovation project is about 50 percent complete, she brings together representatives from information technology, patient services, and facilities management to assess how to scale it across the company’s vast system. By evaluating the “O-Gap”—that is, the space between pilot and operations—this group takes into consideration everything from process realignment to environmental modifications, as well as the training requirements needed to foster wide adoption of the change. 

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