IL Master Class Replay: Crafting a Winning Innovation Strategy Using Data

In our most recent Master Class, we delved into data from our recent “Benchmarking Innovation Impact 2018” report, sponsored by KPMG LLP, and explored how innovation teams could use the findings to improve their innovation strategies. Topics of discussion included:

  • How teams can create strategic alignment
  • The amount of time teams are spending on incremental, adjacent, and transformational innovation
  • How companies are funding innovation (annual budgeting process vs. a separate process)
  • The biggest obstacles to innovation and enablers for innovation at large companies
  • What metrics teams are using to gauge the impact of their efforts.

KPMG LLP’s John Farrell (pictured at right) and Innovation Leader’s Scott Kirsner both answered questions during the session. Farrell is the National Managing Partner for Innovation & Enterprise Solution at KPMG.

Watch the full 45-minute Master Class below, or read about some of the highlights.

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During the webcast, Farrell and Kirsner discussed the roadblocks to innovation at large companies. Data from the benchmarking report highlighted five of the biggest obstacles: “politics/turf wars/no alignment,” “cultural issues,” “inability to act on signals critical to future business,” “lack of budget,” and “lack of strategy and vision.”

When addressing organizational politics, Kirsner said: “It was issues around alignment and turf wars [which were the biggest roadblocks]. [S]ometimes [that] means that you have these groups within the company, like the new product development group or the R&D group, that already feels like, ‘Hey we’re already doing innovation.’ Or the business units who feel like, ‘Hey we’re doing incremental innovation and we’re not sure that we think that all your crazy transformational projects are really going to go anywhere…’”

Middle-management also presented a challenge to innovation at established companies.

The Master Class also walked through the top five enablers for innovation at established companies. Seventy-three percent of survey respondents said that “leadership support” as a major booster for their innovation teams. The “ability to test, learn, and iterate” and having the “correct team [and] types of employees” also ranked among the most important factors.


“Leadership support is the first thing out of everybody’s mouth when you ask them about changing the dynamic and creating support for innovation,” Kirsner said. “[This] ability to test, learn, and iterate, which some people call lean startup, some people call ‘fail fast fail cheap,’ is something that people view as an experimental mindset of starting small and with a small investment and seeing what you can do… ”

Regarding lean startup and the idea of failing fast, Farrell added: “You have to distinguish between small bets and big bets as you innovate. … [T]here’s a lot of tolerance and patience to fail and to test and learn on small bets, but not on big bets… [T]he trick here is really focusing on knowing when to stop…and keeping those small bets reasonable. And then, I think, there’s overall…a better acceptance of this notion of test and learn and iterate.”

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KPMG Disclaimer: The information contained herein is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavor to provide accurate and timely information, there can be no guarantee that such information is accurate as of the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future. No one should act upon such information without appropriate professional advice after a thorough examination of the particular situation.

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