Innovation Strategy

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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

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 6 min 

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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The Hybrid Trap: Why Most Efforts to Bridge Old and New Technology Miss the Mark

Mature companies often lack the vision and the commitment to fully commit to new technologies — even when consumers are ready for them. This leads firms to develop watered down products with limited capabilities and leaves them exposed to upstart competitors.

The New Digital Mandate: Cultivate Dissatisfaction

  • Column

  • Column
  • Read Time: 7 min 

Employee satisfaction can be a double-edged sword. Satisfied employees produce higher quality-outputs and have less turnover. But satisfaction can inhibit innovation: People who are OK with the current way of doing business are not likely to transform it. They need to be aggravated enough with their current situation that they are willing to take the risks to change it. By sowing the right kinds of dissatisfaction, leaders can drive their organizations to higher levels of innovation and value.

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?

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 7 min 

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.

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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.

Which Rules Are Worth Breaking?

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.

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