Innovation Strategy

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People and Machines: Partners in Innovation

Thoughtful adoption of intelligent technologies will be essential to survival for many companies. But simply implementing the latest technologies and automation tools won’t be enough. Success will depend on whether organizations use them to innovate in their operations and in their products and services—and whether they acquire and develop the human capital to do so.

Accelerating Digital Innovation Inside and Out

In the 2019 Digital Business Report, MIT SMR and Deloitte’s survey analysis and executive interviews unveil the distinctive characteristics of innovation in digitally maturing organizations. Ecosystems and cross-functional teams allow them to be agile, but this increased agility demands a thorough consideration of governance as well.

How a Group of NASA Renegades Transformed Mission Control

  • Read Time: 8 min 

NASA’s Pirates were rebel innovators who created an award-winning mission control system for the shuttle program in record time, on a shoestring budget, and in the face of political resistance. Such renegades are committed to elevating business capabilities and future proofing them for novel challenges, often despite opposition from the status quo. Organizations that want to be ambidextrous need to create a climate that fosters such renegades and nurtures them when they appear.

Nondisruptive Creation: Rethinking Innovation and Growth

Many people have come to view disruption as a synonym for innovation. This single-minded focus leads companies to overlook an alternative path to growth: the nondisruptive creation of brand-new markets where none existed before. It’s time to embrace the idea that companies can create without destroying — and expand the conversation about the problems they can solve and the opportunities they can seize.

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The Internet of (Wonderful and Scary) Things

The benefits of smart devices are wide-ranging: the IoT-powered communication and analytics have the potential to do more than just add convenience to our daily lives, but to actually radically improve the way we work and live. But without taking the right cybersecurity measures, products can fail before they have a chance to see wide adoption.

The Promise of Targeted Innovation

The biggest consumer goods companies shell out more than $1 billion a year for R&D but lately have seen no appreciable impact on their sales. That’s troubling for companies whose growth has leveled off in recent years. In contrast, some smaller competitors that spend less on R&D — but do so more shrewdly — have seen a significant boost in sales.

How Banks Can Lead the Shift to AI-First

Banks and financial startups were some of the earliest adopters of mobile-first strategies and now they continue to innovate with AI. Learn about the four pillars driving change and AI adoption in banking and how these strategies can apply to organizations across any industry.

The Unique Challenges of Cross-Boundary Collaboration

Technology has made business more globally connected than ever before. This is especially true for innovation projects, where diverse experts bring their specialized knowledge to play. But there’s a hitch: Many of today’s team projects have built-in hurdles because of differing communication styles, cultures, and professional norms. Leading this kind of “extreme teaming,” which often involves complicated hierarchies of power, demands both curiosity and humility.

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We Must Rescue ‘Win-Win’ From Its Buzzword Status

  • Read Time: 6 min 

Companies tend to compete not as individual entities, but as members of networks — which makes collaboration a strategic necessity, not merely a tactical choice. But while many executives say they want win-win solutions, in reality, they usually seek victories that don’t excessively annoy their counterparts. In other words, “win/no-lose” is a more accurate description.

The Case Against Agility

  • Read Time: 5 min 

Leaders today must wean their companies away from three pieces of conventional wisdom about digital strategy: agility, first-mover advantage, and minimum viable product. These ideas have anchored technological decision-making for over a decade but are highly unsuitable for the emerging world. In conditions of environmental uncertainty and interconnected technology, we need more thoughtfulness rather than more speed.

Leading to Become Obsolete

Zhang Ruimin, the CEO and chairman of the Qingdao, China, white goods giant Haier Group Corp., has done what most chief executives dare not even dream about. He blew up nearly the entire administrative structure of a global manufacturing enterprise, eliminating the 10,000 management jobs that once held it together, and reshaped the organization into a network of entrepreneurial ventures run by employees.

How to Catalyze Innovation in Your Organization

The authors’ research suggests that, rather than leaving the development of innovation to serendipity, executives should create collaborative contexts where innovation is likely to emerge from unpredictable pockets of creativity within an organization. By understanding and tapping the power of employee networks, executives can stimulate the creation of these kinds of collaborative environments.

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Developing Innovative Solutions Through Internal Crowdsourcing

Internal crowdsourcing, which seeks to channel the ideas and expertise of the company’s own employees, allows employees to interact dynamically with coworkers in other locations, propose new ideas, and suggest new directions to management. Because many large companies have pockets of expertise and knowledge scattered across different locations, harnessing the cognitive diversity within organizations can open up rich new sources of innovation.

Mastering the Digital Innovation Challenge

For Volvo Cars, pursuing digital innovation required fundamentally rethinking the organization, while also keeping the core business functioning efficiently. The company did so by balancing four interrelated competing concerns: (1) new and established innovation capabilities; (2) process and product focus; (3) external and internal collaboration; and (4) flexibility and control in relationships with external partners.

Navigating the Patent Minefield Through Consortia

Bringing high-tech inventions built on patented technologies to market can be complicated and risky. The threat of added costs from patent infringement lawsuits has led technology companies to pool their talents — and patents — in technology consortia. Joining a tech consortium requires managers to weigh intellectual property value against the value of future collaborations and assess the consortium’s pros and cons for innovation, competition, and market creation.

A New Vision for Personal Transportation

Smart data and mass customization have the potential to radically change the way trips are planned. Already, the Boston-based startup Bridj is piloting a dynamic bus system that optimizes routing in response to demand, while Düsseldorf Airport is piloting a robotic parking system in which users just drop off their cars, which are then parked automatically. In the future, intermodal routing could provide customers with a seamless experience and reshape the transportation infrastructure.

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