Lessons on innovation Management from DuPont

10 Nov 2010 Sandeep Mehta

If you remember the post from a couple of days ago about Chief Innovations Officer, here are Lessons on innovation from DuPont’s CInO:

I think you keep things fresh by continuing to challenge the organization to look for the next new thing. When you maintain high standards and keep track of the frontiers of science — where the rate of change for technologies is the greatest — then the opportunities will follow. Our willingness to follow new technologies and project in advance the markets for these technologies keeps things new and interesting.

I guess this is pretty much along the lines of our discussion about roles of CInO: To scan and access innovation wherever it might be.  On the other hand, there seems to be a significant focus on the market place:

For me, the key is in the marketplace. It is vital to get an in-depth understanding of the needs and wants of the customer, even if they are unspoken needs. That depth of understanding is what guides our innovation. Without it, our efforts would not be successful.

This might be good, but may prevent organizations from driving breakthrough inventions or disruptive innovation – as by definition, the marketplace does not have a clear understanding of what would disrupt it!

For DuPont, it is about getting external input very early on in the process. The clear demarcation between success and failure is that early external input. It means testing externally before we try and perfect it and getting it right the first time. We are constantly working to better collaborate with our customers and get their input early on in the process.

As we have discussed in the past, collaboration with customers is fraught with dangers.  So, may be CInO needs to find ways of understanding market needs AFTER the proof of concept has been developed and the innovative idea is clear?

Leave a Reply