Innovation Strategy

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Five Principles for Organizing Collective Intelligence

A featured excerpt from Big Mind: How Collective Intelligence Can Change Our World. Geoff Mulgan’s new book provides a guide to managing and optimizing collective intelligence. The five fundamental principles Mulgan outlines in this excerpt offer a nuanced answer to the question: “What is it, at the micro and macro levels, that allows collective intelligence to flower?”

Are Innovative Companies More Profitable?

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When a corporate culture is designed not just to encourage innovation but to systematically nurture employee ideas, the results are dramatic: The companies that have the greatest level of participation have the best ideas. They’ve also got the strongest profit growth. All this stems from a culture that recognizes that effective innovations can come from anyone, at any level in the organization.

Great Ideas Are Getting Harder to Find

A wide range of evidence shows that U.S. research efforts are rising substantially, but at the same time, research productivity is sharply declining. Optimists hope for a fourth industrial revolution that will raise the bar again, while pessimists lament that most potential productivity growth has already occurred.

Developing Successful Strategic Partnerships With Universities

Collaborations between companies and universities are critical drivers of the innovation economy. As many corporations look to open innovation to augment their internal R&D efforts, universities have become essential partners. However, companies often struggle to establish and run university partnerships effectively.

Winning With Open Process Innovation

Managers in manufacturing companies often keep process innovation activities tightly under wraps. Some companies have good reasons for keeping process innovations concealed. However, the authors’ research suggests that for most manufacturers, such defensiveness deprives companies of a valuable source of ideas for productivity improvement. Many manufacturers, they argue, can benefit from sharing process innovations rather than keeping them secret.

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Which Rules Are Worth Breaking?

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Creating innovative products and services that disrupt the status quo requires creativity, and creativity involves thinking differently about constraints. But too much of a “the rules don’t apply to us” attitude can lead to ethical crises. That’s what’s happened at Uber, where a string of controversies led to a mass exodus of executives, including the company’s president and CEO. Organizations intent on innovating need to understand ahead of time the consequences of breaking certain rules.

Digital Innovation Lights the Fuse for Better Health Care Outcomes

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In an interview with MIT SMR, Cardinal Health’s Brent Stutz describes how the company’s three-year-old innovation center, Fuse, uses a “fail fast and often” mindset toward innovation. “Our innovation process has three phases: explore, experiment, and then pilot. We have an opportunity to pull the plug at any time… I’m not afraid to try 42 things and only have six make it out the other end,” Stutz says.

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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.

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.

Seeing Beyond the Blockchain Hype

Blockchain has recently taken center stage in the conversation about management’s digital makeover. Many believe the impact of blockchain on the ways organizations function and produce value may be greater than other technologies that have grabbed most of our recent attention — data and analytics, the cloud, even artificial intelligence.

Harnessing the Secret Structure of Innovation

Innovation, much like marketing and human resources, can be made less reliant on artful intuition by using information in new ways. But this requires a change in perspective: We need to view innovation not as the product of luck or extraordinary vision but as the result of a deliberate search process.

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.

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Companies Brace for Decade of Disruption From AI

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With investments in Big Data bearing fruit, what do executives expect from the future? A new survey finds that artificial intelligence and machine learning are rapidly emerging avenues for innovation — and disruption. Nearly half of senior executives surveyed, from companies like American Express, Disney, Ford Motors, and General Electric, see disruptive change coming fast.

Competing Through Joint Innovation

Even as multinationals struggle to make inroads in emerging markets, companies from those markets are finding ways to compete in Europe and the U.S. A case in point is Huawei, a Chinese telecommunications company, which has used strategic partnerships to gain ground in Europe. Huawei’s overseas expansion closely resembles the strategy the company used to build its position in China: Start at the perimeter and work toward the center.

Engaging With Startups in Emerging Markets

For large multinationals, forging effective partnerships with emerging-market startups is complicated. Traits that make startups attractive as partners also make it hard for large companies to engage with them. Looking at startups in India, China, and South Africa, researchers identify key factors inhibiting emerging market partnerships and offer strategies for addressing them.

Taking a Value-Chain Perspective on Innovation

Market leaders have many advantages when adopting new technologies such as e-business, but they don’t always make the move. Why? It’s partly because new technology can be leveraged along a chain of related companies only if business partners also make the leap to adopt these changes. And research reveals that when large companies are significantly concerned about customer adjustment costs of new innovations, these powerful and otherwise highly capable organizations often resist change.

Unleashing Creativity With Digital Technology

In business, it’s costly to try something new, especially if it doesn’t work out. But in the digital era, technology can be deployed to augment the creative abilities of people and organizations. Today’s digital technologies have reached a level of maturation that enables cheap and rapid iteration to make new, invaluable forms of innovation possible.

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