- Research Feature
- Read Time: 25 min
Building an engine that produces a steady stream of innovative growth businesses is difficult, but companies that are able to do it differentiate themselves from competitors.
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For any breakthrough innovation project, specific objectives are often unclear or highly malleable, and the paths to them are murky. Rather than feign a certainty that doesn’t exist, project managers need a systematic, disciplined framework for turning uncertainty into useful learning that keeps the project tacking on a successful course.
To understand how breakthroughs in creativity occur, managers must understand how most collaborations work. “Managers first need to understand that invention is essentially a process of recombinant search,” writes Lee Fleming. “That is, I adopt the classic definition of invention as a new combination of components, ideas or processes.” Fleming adds that “Almost all inventions are useless; a few are of moderate value; and only a very, very few are breakthroughs. Those breakthroughs constitute the ‘long tail’ of innovation.”
Negative services — those that are needed in emergencies, when problems arise or to ensure against unwanted outcomes — are part of most businesses and central to many. Their very nature presents unique growth challenges.
Advances in development tools have tremendous potential for increasing productivity, cost savings and innovation. To reap the full benefits of such technologies, though, companies need to avoid some common pitfalls.
Companies too often vacillate in their commitment to internal corporate venturing activities, leading to less than optimal outcomes. Executives need to better understand — and manage — the factors that drive cyclicality in internal corporate venturing.
Smartly placed, legitimizing constraints actually enable innovation by focusing it and giving it traction in the competition for corporate attention and resources.
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