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Financial Times - Mastering innovation

If you're not a subscriber, the Financial Times can hardly be read on the web ; probably 90% of the articles are for subscribers only. Those of us who share a special interest for innovation are all lucky, because ALL of the articles of last fall "Mastering Innovation" report are available for free !So if you've missed it, there's no excuse for not reading it yet...

Let us give you an overview.

Tim Thorne's article on "The dark side of innovation" (or the traps which prevent companies to deliver on innovation), is a must read. Tim's company (Edengene) interviewed 62 European large businesses (turnover in excess of £1billion) and his first-hand anecdotes are terrific, and sometimes terrifiyng... and tell a lot about how far we still have to go regarding innovation management. One of the CEO they interviewed said : "My innovative products don't need a marketing budget - after all, a good idea sells itself" ! Another admitted he had spent £1 BILLION the previous year on acquisitions - with mixed results - but doubted he had spent £1 MILLION on funding new innovations ! Another quote explains why companies focus on incremental innovations : "Everything we do must have a payback within 12 months" !

Donald Sull and Alejandro Ruelas-Gossi ("The art of innovating on a shoestring") will let you discover how a few developing country companies excelled at innovation ; a wise reading for adepts of "technology-push" only.

John Bessant's article "More than the sum of its parts" is a good introduction to Henry Chesbrough's concept of "open innovation" ; you will discover why Procter & Gamble uses "Connect and Develop" for what the rest of the world calls "R&D". An article to post on the wall of companies who suffer the NIH syndrom (Not Invented Here).

And finally, from Daniel Muzyka's article ("The search for opportunity"), a quote from Winston Churchill for companies who still have difficulties tolerating innovation failures : "Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiam"...

The "Mastering Innovation" articles can be read at :


Posted by Bernard Buisson on February 17, 2005 at 08:00 AM in Article reviews | Permalink


Thank you very much for your kind comments on my article.

The "Dark Side of Innovation" is a much neglected area, but an understanding of it is the key to get new innovations actually delivered. Much academic work on innovation tends to concentrate on two areas. Firstly ideas (this is invention really - not innovation) and secondly culture and process. The end result is that a new innovation team can get choked with lots of ideas and loads of process, culture change and governance.

The reality is that nothing changes a company's innovation culture better than getting an idea to market quickly and delivering real dollar returns.

This is an area where it would be very useful for practioners in the field to share experiences - not just anecdotes of where it goes wrong, but also potential solutions to these problems. Let me give you an example:

Just yesterday I came across a 20 billion dollar firm, where the innovation team had their bonuses linked to the number of products they got to market trial, not the actual results in the market nor even the quality of their business cases. The result was a team with lots of very small incremental products quickly into market trial and an innovation budget exhuasted within 6 months!

What's the lesson - incentivise the right things. A start-up entrepeneur receives no money for producing a business plan or a market trial - he or she gets his return from actual profits in the marketplace. Successful entrepeneurs therefore get good products to market quickly!

Perhaps other visitors to this site have anecdotes and solutions to getting innovation delivered?

Posted by: Tim Thorne | Feb 17, 2005 9:15:40 AM

The reality is that nothing changes a company's innovation culture better than getting an idea to market quickly and delivering real dollar returns.

Posted by: Juno888 | Jun 25, 2007 10:03:43 AM

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