Breakthrough Innovation

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How to Succeed with Radical Innovation

  • Interview
  • Read Time: 8 min 

New research by J.P. Eggers of NYU’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business and Aseem Kaul of the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management looks at how companies pursue radical invention and the success of those efforts. The researchers found that highly capable firms have much less motivation to take risks because they’re already so successful — but that they’re the ones most likely to succeed when they try to innovate.

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Finding a Lower-Risk Path to High-Impact Innovations

Pursuing a high-impact innovation strategy can have terrific payoffs — but it’s also extremely risky, and most companies won’t do it. Yet a comparatively less risky, proactive approach that strings together “lily pads” of capability-building investments, technical and conceptual advances, and market explorations into “enabling innovations” can bring companies closer to their goal and provide a long-lasting competitive edge.

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Debating Disruptive Innovation

Few MIT Sloan Management Review articles garner as much attention as Andrew A. King and Baljir Baatartogtokh’s “How Useful Is the Theory of Disruptive Innovation?” After surveying 79 industry experts, King and Baatartogtokh concluded that many of the cases cited as examples of disruptive innovation by Harvard Business School professor Clayton M. Christensen and his coauthor Michael E. Raynor did not fit four of the theory’s key elements well. Here, three experts provide responses to continue the conversation.

“How Useful Is the Theory of Disruptive Innovation?” was the question raised by an article in the fall 2015 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review. In this issue, several more experts weigh in on the topic.

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Enough Health Care Data for an Army: The Million Veteran Program

The holy grail of medicine is therapy that is customized for the patient. But to get there, health care researchers need huge amounts of data to help identify which genes affect health. The Million Veteran Program has tapped one of the largest cohorts available — U.S. military personnel — to obtain the dataset, but managing the security of this sensitive data is a challenge. In a Q&A, two of the project’s lead scientists, J. Michael Gaziano and Saiju Pyarajan, explain the process.

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Viewing Data as a Liquid Asset

Most people recognize their data as an asset — yet few regard it as a liquid asset. But a chance meeting opened up an opportunity for using data assets in a different way to support R&D — and uncovered a whole new path for financing of science and tech research. SVB Analytics head Steve Allan explains how using analytics “allows us to ask if we need to look at the data a different way.”

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Image courtesy of Flickr user A. Strakey.

How Useful Is the Theory of Disruptive Innovation?

Clayton M. Christensen’s theory of disruptive innovation has been very influential. But how well does the theory describe what happens in business? The authors of this article surveyed industry experts for each of 77 case examples of disruptive innovation found in two of Christensen’s seminal books. The results suggest that many of the cases do not correspond closely with four elements of the theory of disruptive innovation — and the theory may not fit as many situations as is often assumed.

Image courtesy of Flickr user worldwaterweek.

To Conserve Water for Agriculture, a Solution from the Desert

Both economic and climate change have brought increasing concerns about agriculture — particularly with respect to water. Farmers worldwide are beginning to explore ways to stretch what may become an increasingly limited resource. In a Q&A, Netafim’s chief sustainability officer Naty Barak explains how his company’s origins in arid-zone agriculture became a springboard to a wider market for agricultural producers to maximize water efficiency, and how the company’s partnerships with NGOs brings the technology to small farmers in the developing world.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Wilber Baan.

The Risks and Responsibilities of Tech Innovation

The introduction of Google’s breakthrough wearable computer, Google Glass, creates numerous possibilities for risky behavior on the part of Glass users. Should companies on the cutting be held responsible for their customers’ poor judgment in using new tech? There are legal and social precedents that say they should, but business and corporate responsibility expert Christine Bader suggests ways companies can combat this problem.

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What It Takes to Be a Serial Innovator

It’s not easy to develop a breakthrough innovation in an established company and bring it to market successfully — and even more challenging to do so more than once. In their new book, Serial Innovators: How Individuals Create and Deliver Breakthrough Innovations in Mature Firms, authors Abbie Griffin, Raymond L. Price and Bruce A. Vojak describe several years of research they have conducted about a type of employee who can do just that.

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The Kind of Innovation to Pursue Now

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 1 min 

Innovation strategy expert Vijay Govindarajan thinks that businesses should be careful not to abandon innovation in their quest for efficiency and cost control during a recession — but they may need to reduce their focus on risky breakthrough innovation plans.

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Management innovation: No easy task

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 1 min 

Think product innovation is hard? Management innovation is even harder, according to Julian Birkinshaw of the London Business School.

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How to get radical innovations adopted

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 1 min 

A new book explains the surprising extent to which activist communities can influence the adoption of radical innovations.

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Collaboration Matters

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 1 min 

How important is collaboration to breakthrough innovation? And, conversely, how significant are the contributions of inventors who work alone? In a recent working paper, Lee Fleming of Harvard and Jasjit Singh of INSEAD take a new look at this topic.

Showing 1-20 of 25