In the popular imagination, innovation is often associated with creative inspiration that can neither be predicted nor planned. So what happens when two professors of operations and information management (who have also developed products and launched companies) tackle the topic of innovation?
An informative new book, Innovation Tournaments: Creating and Selecting Exceptional Opportunities, is the result. In it, Christian Terwiesch and Karl T. Ulrich, professors at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, look at innovation process — in other words, a process management approach to innovation.
In particular, Terwiesch and Ulrich focus on “innovation tournaments” as a tool that companies can use to identify promising ideas for innovation, which they term “opportunities.” Much as the American Idol television show is able to use a tournamentlike approach to identify a small number of promising performers from thousands of would-be contestants, companies can use tournaments, Terwiesch and Ulrich argue, to identify new opportunities for their businesses. Ideas may be sought from employees, from people outside the organization, or from a combination of internal and external sources.