65 executives from government and industry met on June 7th, 2012 to discuss and debate the state of innovation in Russia. Organized by Monitor, the Innovation for Excellence conference was held in cooperation with the USA-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission Innovation Working Group, which was launched in late March.
US Ambassador Mike McFaul was the keynote speaker at the event. His talk, “US/Russian Opportunities for Cooperation in Innovation,” discussed both the necessary market conditions and the paradoxes surrounding innovation. He commented on the “weird” mix of cooperation and competition necessary to enable a robust innovation culture. Later, executives from 3M, RIA Novosti, Ford Sollers, Janssen and Intel shared stories of managing innovation internally, covering topics from defining opportunity areas to building robust and defensible innovation capabilities. Each also shared details of what has helped them build their innovation capabilities in Russia and what the significant barriers to innovation have been—a major theme of the conference.
Meanwhile, our own Geoff Tuff and Matt Locsin were both on hand to discuss their work on Total Innovation (the subject of the lead feature in May’s Harvard Business Review) and Ford. Evgeny Orlovsky, also from Monitor, led a discussion on formal and informal ways to measure innovation success.
Ambassador McFaul later tweeted about the event:
@McFaul: Heard part of a fascinating talk on innovation by Geoff Tuff. Lessons for many. His article is in 5-12 issue of Harvard Business Review
@McFaul: Honored to speak today at the Monitor Group’s mtg on Innovation for Excellence. US and Russia have common interest in promoting innovation
by Bansi Nagji and Geoff Tuff
published in HBR.org
Harvard Business Review’s blog excerpts the lead feature of its May issue, which happened to be an article by our own Bansi Nagji and Geoff Tuff. For those who haven’t yet wrapped their heads around the theory of Total Innovation, this is the bite-size introduction:
Management knows it and so does Wall Street: The year-to-year viability of a company depends on its ability to innovate. Yet many companies have not yet learned to manage innovation strategically. The companies we’ve found to have the strongest innovation track records do things differently: Rather than hoping that their future will emerge from a collection of ad hoc, stand-alone efforts that compete with one another for time, money, attention, and prestige, they manage for “total innovation.”
Read the rest of the article at HBR.org.
Innovation capabilities are a critical part of building a Total Innovation program—and we are here to help you understand more about the topic. On June 7th, we’re holding a one-day event in Moscow, in cooperation with the Bilateral Presidential Commission Innovation Working Group. The discussion will focus on innovation models and capability building—and we’ll share current “best in class” examples. Some amazing speakers will be there, including Sergey Alpatov, head of corporate marketing and public affairs for Russia at 3M and Vasily Gatov, deputy CEO and director of the Media Lab at news service, RIA Novosti. And, our own Geoff Tuff will be there to explain more about Total Innovation and share some of his thoughts on successfully building innovation capabilities, while Matt Locsin will discuss his work on reinvention at Ford.
The Globe and Mail picked up the Harvard Business Review feature written by Doblin’s own Bansi Nagji and Geoff Tuff. Admittedly, the author refers to three “types” of innovation, while we prefer to think of ten types and three levels, but it’s interesting to see the idea spreading. Here’s the piece:
Companies depend on innovation for their long-term existence. But in Harvard Business Review Bansi Nagji and Geoff Tuff, of the Massachusetts-based Monitor Group consulting firm, note that many corporate leaders are frustrated by their company’s innovation initiatives.
"Typically they are aware of a tremendous amount of innovation going on inside their enterprises but don’t feel they have a grasp on all the dispersed initiatives," they write. "The pursuit of the new feels haphazard and episodic, and they suspect that the returns on the company’s total innovation investment are too low."
The authors suggest these steps to better manage your information portfolio:
Doblin co-founder, Larry Keeley was featured in a cover story in the South Korean magazine, Chosun Weekly Biz. The story focuses on innovation initiatives at Mayo Clinic, of whose external advisory board Larry is a longtime member. Here’s a translated version of the interview with Larry, which ran alongside the piece:
Many people associate innovation only with new product development. But new product is just the outcome of innovation at its lowest level. Improving customer experience, like the one done at Mayo Clinic, is actual sustainable innovation.
Larry Keeley, partner at Monitor Group, a global strategic consulting firm says, “Reinventing a famous and respected institution is usually harder than inventing a whole new business as an entrepreneurial startup… In that sense, Mayo Clinic’s approach to innovation an exemplary model for all.”
by Bansi Nagji and Helen Walters
published in Rotman Magazine
"These problems are too big for us to solve alone. We need to collaborate like we never have before.”
The person responsible for these words might surprise you: Beth Comstock is the chief marketing officer at General Electric-–a company that no one would accuse of having a free-wheeling or laissez-faire culture. Yet Comstock, along with GE chairman Jeffrey Immelt and fellow senior executives, have embraced the fact that the challenges they face—in areas from healthcare to energy to transportation—are too ‘wicked’ to be solved by GE alone.
Instead, they have learned to seek help from many different places, and to apply the disparate insights collected from myriad sources to try to jointly solve the complex problems they—and the world—are facing.
Read a PDF of the rest of the article.
by Bansi Nagji and Geoff Tuff
published in Harvard Business Review
Management knows it and so does Wall Street: The year-to-year viability of a company depends on its ability to innovate. Given today’s market expectations, global competitive pressures, and the extent and pace of structural change, this is truer than ever. But chief executives struggle to make the case to the Street that their managerial actions can be relied on to yield a stream of successful new offerings. Many admit to being unsure and frustrated. Typically they are aware of a tremendous amount of innovation going on inside their enterprises but don’t feel they have a grasp on all the dispersed initiatives. The pursuit of the new feels haphazard and episodic, and they suspect that the returns on the company’s total innovation investment are too low.
Making matters worse, executives tend to respond with dramatic interventions and vacillating strategies. Take the example of a consumer goods company we know. Attuned to the need to keep its brands fresh in retailers’ and consumers’ minds, it introduced frequent improvements and variations on its core offerings. Most of those earned their keep with respectable uptake by the market and decent margins. Over time, however, it became clear that all this product proliferation, while splitting the revenue pie into ever-smaller slices, wasn’t actually growing the pie. Eager to achieve a much higher return, management lurched toward a new strategy aimed at breakthrough product development—at transformational rather than incremental innovations.
Access the full article via the Harvard Business Review website.
by Brian Quinn
published in Fast Company Design
As an innovation consultant, I found the recent Co.Design post “Do Innovation Consultants Kill Innovation?” troubling. Jens Martin Skibsted and Rasmus Bech Hansen are right to castigate much of the innovation consulting industry, which is unfortunately full of firms that have rebranded themselves as innovation experts. Just peruse the website of any large consulting firm. Yesterday’s management, brand, or operations consultant is today’s innovation guru.
The problem these consultants run into is that most of them have no ability to actually create an innovation, and so they fall back on what they really know how to do: They analyze. They promote stage gate and pipeline management, statistically normalizing these by industry to tell you just how many innovation ideas your company needs at each point to succeed. Just don’t ask them to help you actually generate or improve any of the ideas themselves. So I’m happy to also cast a stone at the “custodians” and “wordslingers” described in their piece. But what I found really troubling is the article’s core thesis: That innovation is too “messy” to professionalize, and therefore enterprises should not invest in building internal innovation capabilities. That perspective is simply uninformed and needlessly reductive.
by Helen Walters
published in Core77
This year’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for corporate and institutional achievement was given to furniture design company, Knoll. The award is a timely vindication for the design-focused company, which continued to invest in design even as the economy tanked (Knoll stock price in the first quarter of 2009 sank to just over $5; shares are now over $20.)
Andrew Cogan has been CEO of the East Greenville, Pennsylvania-based company since 2001. I talked with him about the company’s ongoing commitment to innovation, and he described how Knoll has learned to evolve and adapt along with the market even as it continues to emphasize the importance of design to the bottom line An edited transcript of our conversation follows.
Helen Walters: Can you describe the research process at Knoll?
Andrew Cogan: Florence Knoll started the Knoll Planning Unit in 1946. She was well-known for trying to understand the problem clients were trying to solve for, particularly as they were moving into the modern workplace. She spent time studying what was going on in an office, how people interface with each other and equipment and tools. And we continue to do that to this day. We’re very client-driven. We engage with a range of individual clients, looking at all the problems they’re solving and we think about how furniture can play a role in that. We also do research on a broader level, so we think about a topic such as office seating and spend hundreds of hours filming people in office chairs to see how they sit and move, and that gives insight into designing products. Then we also do third party trend research looking at trends in the workplace. We bring all those insights together into our product design process.
By comparing and analyzing hundreds of successful design projects, we found patterns in the kinds of value design typically adds
Read the PDF