Michael Cusumano, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, had his book Staying Power: Six Enduring Principles for Managing Strategy and Innovation in an Uncertain World reviewed recently in Strategy + Business. While it's billed as a study of the high-tech sector, I believe it's more generally applicable.
Cusumano summarizes his ideas into six principles, and while they may seem like bland truisms or cryptic consultant-speak, they're worth sharing:
- Platforms, not just products
- Services, not just products (or platforms)
- Capabilities, not just strategy
- Pull, not just push
- Scope, not just scale
- Flexibility, not just efficiency
For a bit more detail on these principles without having to read the book, there's a presentation by Cusumano on SlideShare.
- The Enduring Principles of High-Tech Success (Strategy + Business)
In a blog post by Edward Boches, the Chief Innovation Officer of Boston-based advertising and marcom agency Mullen, he describes what he learnt during a visit to IDEO, the renowned global design consultancy. While he feels these are lessons for ad agencies, I believe they are more broadly applicable. Here are the key points, read the post for more details:
- Design can have a huge impact on the world around us
- Magic happens through diversity of experience and perspective
- Inspiration can be found in many places and in many ways, but you have to get out there
- You get to great by experimenting
- Knowledge across categories and industries yields better ideas
- Success comes from vision and action
- We’re most successful when we work with not for a client
Boches's favourite quote: “There’s no such thing as a boring brand or assignment. Just un-exciting people. We strive to work with exciting people.” If only all of us could have more choice in the matter!
In an interview with strategy+business, Adam Segal, a Senior Fellow for National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, argues that the threat of China and India out-innovating the US is overstated. The author of recently published Advantage: How American Innovation Can Overcome the Asian Challenge believes that the rise of Asia is more of an opportunity than a threat, and that the US still has a window of opportunity to build on its strengths while China and India are still finding their footing. Here are some of his thoughts on the three countries:
Policymakers and business leaders have been overly focused on measuring what I call the hardware of innovation: the amount of spending on R&D and the number of engineers and scientists, patents, and publications. And whereas the hardware has clearly been built up in China, what I call the software — the political, cultural, and social institutions and understandings that help move ideas from lab to marketplace — are lagging behind. Without the software in place, the whole is much less than the sum of its parts. The Chinese themselves admit that they’ve put a lot in, but they’re not really getting a lot out.
We always talk about the Indian Institutes of Technology [IITs] and Indian Institutes of Management [IIMs], both of which have trained some of India’s top business leaders and leading entrepreneurs. But they’re just a small part of a much bigger education system in India, in which the vast majority of universities stress rote memorization, use outdated curricula, and provide no instruction in English. […] Some argue that if you look at Infosys and Wipro and those types of companies, they’ve moved up so far in the value chain that the type of R&D they’re doing for Western companies is increasingly sophisticated and creative, which is, I think, probably true. But those gains aren’t really captured by the Indian economy. It’s still the foreign firms that are capturing the gains.
The traditional model for how the U.S. works in science and technology was like the old energy grid: the U.S. thought of the ideas and then sent them out to the rest of the world, in the same way you generate energy and you send it out. Instead, the U.S. should start to think of itself as a smart grid. The idea of a smart grid is that you can determine where the greatest demand is and have the ability to moderate and change the flow of energy, but also that people can feed energy back into it. […] Increasingly, inventions and ideas will be happening in the places where the U.S. used to just send ideas. And the U.S. has to be able to figure out what those ideas are and how it can apply them to markets and develop them.
- The Innovation Advantage (strategy+business)
I'm in the midst of reading Steven Johnson's book "Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation", and I came across this TED video which summarizes some of the highlight ideas. Well worth watching.
Received the video above in an email today, with the following commentary (unedited, grain of salt required):
Great article in the latest MIT Sloan Management Review by Henry Chesbrough at Haas on bringing innovation to services. His key point is that open innovation has been changing the approach to product development recently, but this should also apply to services given the migration of economic value towards the services offered with products (think IBM and GE).
Chesbrough quotes Theodore Levitt's insight that customers often do not want the product itself, but rather the effect that the product produces. The famous example being not wanting a drill, but the holes that the drill will make. Similar observation from Peter Drucker: "What the customer buys and considers value is never a product. It is always utility - that is, what a product does for him."
Chesbrough's key recommendations are:
- Work closely with customers to develop new solutions
- Focus offers on utility, rather than the product
- Embed your company in your customer's organization
He cautions, however, that product-oriented companies will have to overcome organizational barriers when moving to a greater emphasis on services. I'm sure many of us will agree with that from personal experience.