By: John Caddell
In this month's Harvard Business Review, longtime Harvard professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter discusses how companies continue to make the same mistakes in their innovation strategies and how these "classic traps" can be avoided.
One idea Dr. Kanter discusses is an "innovation pyramid" that describes how successful companies manage their innovation portfolio. Writes Kanter:
Companies can develop an innovation strategy that works at the three levels of...the innovation pyramid: a few big bets at the top that represent clear directions for the future and receive the lion's share of investment; a portfolio of promising midrange ideas pursued by designated teams that develop and test them; and a broad base of early stage ideas or incremental innovations permitting continuous improvement.
Initiatives can migrate from one level in the pyramid to the adjacent one--perhaps a midrange idea grows in importance so that it becomes a big idea, perhaps an early-stage idea shows enough promise to be promoted one level.
Many companies get stuck just at the top of the pyramid, or at the bottom. To successfully innovate you must have initiatives at all three levels.