Innovation Strategy

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Grow Faster by Changing Your Innovation Narrative

Companies aspiring to organic growth leadership in their industries should start with a coherent, affirming innovation narrative and reinforce it with action. The authors tested 18 well-known innovation levers and identified the four that organic growth leaders use most to stay ahead of competitors: (1) invest in innovation talent, (2) encourage prudent risk-taking, (3) adopt a customer-centric innovation process, and (4) align metrics and recognition with innovation activity.

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.

Driving Sustainability-Oriented Innovation

Faced with mounting challenges and pressure from governments, nongovernmental organizations, investors, and employees to be more aware of the environmental and social impacts of business activities, many companies are attempting to tap into the creativity and entrepreneurial potential of their employees, encouraging them to develop new products, services, or business models that create value for both the company and society.

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The Truth About Behavioral Change

In this article drawn from his new book, How Behavior Spreads, UPenn professor Damon Centola explains how the thinking about social networks is changing. Recent research reveals that depending on long-established concepts such as “weak ties” and “long bridges” to drive the adoption of new innovations and organizational change can be a prescription for failure.

Governments as Facilitators of Value Creation

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There is a fundamental humanity to business institutions. Businesses are cooperative endeavors that leverage human work and creativity to create social value. Stable, functional, and purpose-driven businesses are key to real human flourishing. And yet many governments are expected to be neutral about business, acting as either redistributor or regulator. There is a third role, though: facilitator.

How Innovative Mergers Are Shaping Health Care Delivery

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Innovation and disruption are transforming the health care industry, with unlikely partners like Walmart and Humana teaming up to deliver high-quality, low-cost care to customers. Regina Herzlinger, the Nancy R. McPherson Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and an expert in health care delivery and innovation, discusses the lessons such collaborations between health care retailers and insurers offer for managers.

Digital Transformation Opens New Questions — and New Problems to Solve

Modest questions about how today’s problems could be solved more effectively lead to applications of technology with easily foreseeable gains. But when people start asking bigger, bolder questions that challenge basic assumptions about how a problem has been framed, they open up space for breakthrough innovations. That’s been the pattern in many digital realms, including cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and the internet of things.

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Three Signals Your Industry Is About to Be Disrupted

Emerging technology and new business models have created new ways of serving customers and allowed digital leaders to disrupt traditional companies. Disruption rarely comes out of nowhere, however: There are common patterns to learn from and three major signals to recognize in evaluating the risk for your industry.

Why High-Tech Commoditization Is Accelerating

Technology-intensive product manufacturers, automakers, or white goods makers used to be able to capitalize on their longstanding engineering and design leadership to cement their positions. But that’s no longer the case. Today, young upstarts in many product segments, especially from China, can develop world-class design and production capabilities in a short period of time. In some cases, they are closing gaps with long-established incumbents and becoming market leaders within a decade.

Why AI Isn’t the Death of Jobs

When pundits talk about the impact that artificial intelligence will have on the labor market, the outlook is usually bleak, with the loss of many jobs to machines as the dominant theme. But that’s just part of the story — a probable outcome for companies that use AI only to increase efficiency. As it turns out, companies using AI to also drive innovation are more likely to increase headcount than reduce it.

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Building the Right Ecosystem for Innovation

As digital disruption expands, many legacy businesses seek partnerships with tech companies to maintain competitiveness in the digital sphere. But instead of a centralized “hub” partnership, some companies find greater success through an adaptive ecosystem model, where partners develop significant projects or innovations together. This type of strategy requires imagination and flexibility.

If You Cut Employees Some Slack, Will They Innovate?

Giving people time and resources to pursue innovation projects can produce extraordinary outcomes — but only if you match your “slack strategy” to employee type. The authors found that different types of employees respond in different ways to slack innovation programs; that different kinds of slack resources are better suited to certain types of employees than others; and that different kinds of slack innovation programs produce different kinds of innovation.

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