A 15-Minute Innovation Crash Course

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by: Idris Mootee

Lots of hot debates on innovation the last 24 hours, I was tempted to join the party but was in meetings all day. They were lots of good exchanges and thank you everyone for sharing their views. Rory thinks I am a bit under stress, maybe he’s right. There’s just so many things going on in a good way….so little time. Keeping up with the blog is becoming a challenge. Maybe it is time to call for contributors. The first names that came to my mind were Rory, Andree, Bart and Morgan. Let’s find a topic that everyone has common interest in and deep passion. Invitation to follow.

Back to innovation…the concept of innovation (on a business strategy level) is now in the minds of many CEOs. The economic climate and global competition are forcing companies to rethink their business design. There are still different definitions and here are the three most popular ones: 1/ a key variable underpinning the creation of competitive advantage and superior customer value (Baden-Fuller and Pitt, Cass Business School); 2/ the creation of new market space (Kim and Mauborgn, Insead Business School); 3/ A fundamental reconceptualization of what the business is all about that in turn, leads to a dramatically different way of playing the game in an existing business (Markides, London Business School).

An important point here is that the focus of strategic innovation is NOT on technological aspects or brand aspects, but rather on the reconceptualization of the industry/business design in order to create fundamentally new and superior customer value and/or competition positioning. Brand will play an important part in the mobilization process. In addition, brand will take the center stage when the story telling begins. Any innovation strategy will need to be translated into a brand story. The idea is to be able to use different elements of stories and storytelling to drive change. "Innovation" and "change" go hand-in-hand and that’s when people get confused about the roles of brands.

Innovation as strategy implies breaking free from taken-for-granted assumptions about how each players compete and their intra- and inter-organizational ways of working; companies must deviate from the dominant industry recipe. The concept of “active inertia” was first introduced by Donald Sull (LBS); he refers to breaking through established patterns which is often difficult. He uses the concept of “active inertia” to indicate that even very successful companies/ marketers have difficulties in adapting to a new way of doing business.

So what things are the key barriers that stop successful companies from being continuously successful? Well, it’s called “active inertia”: established strategic frames become blinders, processes become routines, stakeholder relations turn out to be shackles and values derail into dogmas. What can you do? (my abridged deck below has some of the answers). I use this presentation as part of our innovation program and hopefully will help you see some of the “whys”? 

Some people think that by throwing in a bunch of trend monkeys and brand parrots they can produce plenty of ideas. But the question is are you framing it the right way and solving the right problem? Many make the mistake of framing the problem too narrowly, either through a brand lens or capability considerations. I hope you enjoy this abridged version.

Original Post:  http://mootee.typepad.com/innovation_playground/2008/04/a-15-minute-inn.html