Innovation

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Organizing R&D for the Future

Executives from around the world agree that research and development is a global effort requiring collaboration. Yet many say their organizations must improve in this area — evolving from the centralized approach that’s prevalent today — to meet strategic goals. In other words, for today’s R&D organizations, there is a significant gap between knowing what to do and actually doing it. Vital as it is to their futures, the art of collaboration is one that many R&D organizations have yet to master.

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Experiments in Open Innovation at Harvard Medical School

What happens when an academic institution rethinks how research gets done? In an experiment in open innovation applied to scientific research, Harvard Catalyst, a pan-Harvard agency, modified the traditional grant proposal process to bring greater openness into every stage of research. In the end, 150 new hypotheses were proposed. The Harvard Catalyst experience suggests that open-innovation principles can be applied to a well-established research organization.

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Bringing Research and Practice Together

Larry Bennigson and Olubunmi Faleye work in the same town but had never met. Although they didn’t know each other, both men began exploring essentially the same corporate governance question with colleagues – Bennigson from the perspective of a former lead director of a publicly traded company, Faleye as an academic researcher. The two perspectives are complementary – as academic and business insights often can be.

Image courtesy of Flickr user BenLucier.

Optimizing Your Digital Business Model

A company’s digital business model describes how the enterprise interacts digitally with its customers to generate value. If you lack a good digital business model, your customers may leave you behind. This article presents a framework to help enterprises compete digitally with three capabilities: their content, customer experience and platform. The framework is illustrated with case studies of top performers like Amazon, Apple, LexisNexis and USAA and results from an effective practices survey.

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Video: Sustainability: The New Business Model Opportunities

Since 2010, MIT Sloan Management Review and The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) have been charting how organizations are responding to sustainability as a source of competitive advantage. This year we found that nearly 50 percent of companies have changed their business model because of sustainability opportunities. In this video, David Kiron, executive editor at MIT SMR, and Eugene Goh, a principal with BCG, discuss highlights of the report and specific company examples.

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How to Use Analogies to Introduce New Ideas

While change and innovation clearly produce much of the turbulence that besets modern businesses, research suggests that change itself is not the culprit, but rather how organizations perceive and cope with change. Both people and organizations rely on analogies to help them comprehend change, including the meaning and potential of new technologies, systems and processes. But do all analogies function in the same way? How strongly should organizations adhere to their chosen analogies?

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Innovation Lessons From 3-D Printing

3-D printing is the printing of solid, physical 3-D objects. “Just as the Web democratized innovation in bits, a new class of ‘rapid prototyping’ technologies…is democratizing innovation in atoms,” Wired magazine’s longtime editor-in-chief, Chris Anderson, stated in Makers: The New Industrial Revolution. Indeed, open-source 3-D printing fits in with the general trend of open-source innovation by collaborative online communities. The big question: How should existing companies respond?

Image courtesy of Kyocera.

Amoeba Management: Lessons From Japan’s Kyocera

A persistent challenge for companies as they grow is how to maintain the high level of dynamism and employee commitment that drove success in the early days. Over the years, thoughtful managers and management theorists have formulated many approaches for dealing with the problem, all aimed at giving managers and employees more responsibility and accountability for the performance of their own profit centers. But few companies have taken things as far as Kyocera Corp.

Image courtesy of Novartis.

How to Create Productive Partnerships With Universities

University-business collaborations are an increasingly important source of research and development for many companies. Yet despite their importance, many companies take much less care managing these relationships than they do those with their vendors or customers. As a result, business-academic collaborations often fail to achieve as much as they might. By taking a more structured approach, companies can improve the performance of their academic research partnerships.

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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.

Enrico Moretti, courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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The Multiplier Effect of Innovation Jobs

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Because of a multiplier effect, each new high-tech job in the U.S. creates five additional jobs in the service economy, says economist Enrico Moretti.

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How to Become a Sustainable Company

Trends suggest that the public is no longer satisfied with corporations that focus solely on short-term profits. A recent study comparing companies that adopted environmental and social policies with companies that didn’t supports this view. However, few companies are born with a commitment to sustainability. To develop one, companies need leadership commitment, an ability to engage with multiple stakeholders along the value chain, employee engagement and disciplined mechanisms for execution.

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How to Identify World-Changing Innovation

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Anyone trying to figure out which kinds of innovation are most worth paying attention to has to come up with ways to, as Wired magazine puts it, “size up ideas and separate the truly world-changing from the merely interesting.” Here are seven things to look for.

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The Problem With Digital Design

Traditionally used for computer aided design and manufacturing applications, in recent years digital design has migrated to the front end of the development process, facilitating ideation, conceptual design and globally distributed innovation. Through empirical and case-based research — including a longitudinal study of 145 organizations that are heavy users of digital design — this article explores the challenges and opportunities of employing digital design during these early stages.

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Collaborating With Customer Communities: Lessons From the Lego Group

Customer-oriented companies pride themselves on understanding the marketplace and integrating the best ideas into future products. But what would it be like if you found that you had hundreds, if not thousands, of knowledgeable users ready and eager to spend nights and weekends acting as extensions of your research and development department? For the Lego Group, the Danish maker of children’s creative construction toys, this close bond with the user community is not a pipe dream but a reality.

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Creating Value Through Business Model Innovation

Companies are increasingly turning toward business model innovation as an alternative or complement to product or process innovation. Changes to business model design can be subtle; even when they might not have the potential to disrupt an industry, they can still yield important benefits to the innovator. The article offers a number of examples of business model innovation and poses six questions for executives to consider when thinking about business model innovation.

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Achieving Successful Strategic Transformation

Companies that are able to radically change their entrenched ways of doing things and then reclaim leading positions in their industries are the exception rather than the rule. Even less common are companies able to anticipate a new set of requirements and mobilize the internal and external resources necessary to meet them. The article focuses on three companies that transformed themselves and compares them with three other companies from similar industries that hadn’t been required to make a dramatic shift.

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