Articles & Case Studies by Topic

Innovation Methodologies

Procter & Gamble’s Top R&D Executive Talks Startup Disruption and Investing in Lean Innovation

“We are trying to drive the concept of ambidextrous leadership, recognizing that when you’re running the core big business, it requires a level of operational discipline,” says Kathy Fish, P&G’s Chief Research, Development, and Innovation Officer. “You can’t afford big mistakes. [In contrast,] when you’re creating the future, you don’t know where you’re going. It has to be a culture of experimentation. There has to be a lot of debate, and you need to go off and learn fast and continue to work. That is what we’re working to drive.” Our exclusive interview is inside…

Exclusive Book Excerpt: How Companies like Quicken Loans, Intuit, and Atlassian are Reaping the Benefits of ‘Intrapreneurial Time’

“Giving employees time and freedom to work on their own ideas makes great business sense,” write Hugh Molotsi and Jeff Zias in the forthcoming book “The Intrapreneur’s Journey.” But how do you make it effectively in an organization with lots of busy people? Molotsi and Zias explain in this exclusive excerpt.

Leveraging the Power of Crowds to Enhance Design Thinking

Crowdsourcing should take place before a design session, contends Pfizer exec Daniel Seewald. In fact, it can be the difference between a mediocre session and a high impact one. Seewald explains the three ways that crowdsourcing can be helpful…

Tackling The Wicked Problem: L’Oreal VP on the Effective Use of Design Thinking in Business

Jackson Wang shares his advice on the most effective ways to use design thinking, highlighting lessons from his work as VP of Retail Design at L’Oreal and Procter & Gamble.

Webcast Replay: Navi Radjou on How You Can Implement Frugal Innovation

Navi Radjou, whose TED talk on frugal innovation has garnered over 1.6 million views, explains some of the values driving the phenomenon, and answers questions from webcast participants. “Frugal innovation is a strategy more than a concept,” Radjou says. “It’s a way of creating more economic and also social value using fewer resources. It is the ability to do a lot more with a lot less.” Includes a three-minute excerpt and the full 30-minute webcast…

A Glossary of Innovation Terms and Strategies

The terminology used by executives involved in corporate innovation and new ventures can be confusing to newbies — and it’s constantly evolving, often pulling in new language and concepts from the realms of entrepreneurship, academia, and consulting. Here’s our glossary of terms commonly used by leaders of innovation, R&D, and new product development groups in large companies.

Webcast Replay: Building MVPs to Get Products to Market Fast

Learn the latest tactics on rapid prototyping and market-testing new digital offerings in this 45-minute webcast, led by Bob Klein of Digital Scientists.

What’s a Minimum Viable Innovation Team, and How Can It Drive Innovation?

How do you put a strategic innovation strategy in place if you’ve got a shoestring budget, and you’re surrounded by innovation skeptics? Everbridge emerging technology leader Zeeshan Sheikh offers a blueprint based on the lean startup approach.

Columbia Business School’s Rita McGrath: Is Innovation on the Agenda at Every Meeting?

How often is innovation the highest-priority issue at your company? Rita McGrath, a professor at Columbia Business School, says it ought to happen at every meeting. In a conversation with Innovation Leader, McGrath discussed how to measure innovation; the concepts of technical and organizational debt; and why responding to changes in your business has to become “the way that we do things,” rather than being seen as a headache or temporary hassle.

How design thinking and lean startup are changing the way Adobe builds new products

Adobe exec Aubrey Cattell says that the lean startup approach – build, measure, learn, accelerate – has changed the way Adobe thinks about innovation.

Getting leadership buy-in, ‘no time syndrome,’ and premature scaling: Stories from Humana, GE, Intuit

Why do employees and executives in large organizations resist participating in innovation efforts? Sometimes it’s about fear of failure, not having a safe environment to try new things, or no-time syndrome: “Oh, we don’t have enough time to innovate.” Downloadable audio and more insights inside…

What Google, Genentech, and Facebook have in common

We talk to MIT instructor Luis Perez-Breva, author of the new book “Innovating: A Doer’s Manifesto,” about hunches, testing ideas, collecting feedback, and getting ready to scale. “I don’t like the buzzword ‘experimentation,’” Perez-Breva says. “The way it has been used the last 10 years, it leads people to think that you’re doing a random experiment here and there to try things out.”

Webcast replay: What top corporate innovators are doing in 2016

Innovation Leader editor and co-founder Scott Kirsner shares seven examples of how companies like Toyota, Disney, GE, and Amazon are working to innovate better, faster, cheaper — and more collaboratively. The webcast also explores some of the factors that lead to premature death for innovation initiatives.

The secret of corporate innovation is …

Here are seven things we see having a big impact inside large organizations, and seven things that set you up for failure.

‘Go where you’re loved’: Intuit executive shares advice on rolling out lean startup for maximum impact

If you’ve been debating whether and how to roll out the lean startup methodology in your organization, Bennett Blank of Intuit has a question: What are you waiting for? “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked [about lean] with other executives who are like, ‘OK, we’ll spend four or five months benchmarking it, and then we’ll put together a program, and then we’ll spend eight months creating the curriculum, and then we’ll launch it next year.'” Here’s how Blank did it at Intuit…

Lean startup: Making it work in large organizations

Our 83-page downloadable report is filled with advice, case studies, articles, interviews, and results from our recent survey of Innovation Leader members on lean startup deployment.

Survey highlights: How large organizations are deploying the lean startup approach

Slide presentation that shares some of the data, comments, and advice from our 2016 survey on how large organizations are using the lean startup methodology. Based on 170 qualified responses, with 82.4 percent of respondents saying they’ve already deployed lean startup in some form at their companies.

At Ericsson, using the lean startup approach to validate and prioritize new ideas

“We have way more ideas than we can possibly implement,” says Ken Durand, the head of Ericsson’s Atlanta Idea Factory, “so one of the reasons that we’ve really focused on the lean methodologies was because we need a way to evaluate whether an idea was worth doing.” Durand shares slides, advice, and an example project inside…

How W.L. Gore is training employees to explore new business opportunities

Head of Innovation Greg Hannon says you need to be realistic about the friction that often exists in organizations between innovation-oriented groups and the majority of more operationally-focused departments. A new lean startup skills program at Gore addresses the friction, while training employees to explore new market opportunities.

How Viacom is using lean startup and agile development to keep viewers engaged

Kimberly Hicks, Viacom’s vice president for user platform product management, says that in an arena where people’s media consumption behaviors and the devices they use are changing so quickly, the lean startup approach is extremely helpful. “We can’t just get a requirement, walk away and come back in six months, because the world’s changed,” she says.

How Telefónica is using lean startup — without risking reputation or reliability

The Spanish telecom company, with 123,000 employees around the world, has been embracing the lean startup practices made famous by author and entrepreneur Eric Ries — quickly building prototypes of new ideas developed in conjunction with customers, iterating fast to refine those prototypes, and speedily killing projects that don’t pan out. Here’s how they make it work in an organization obsessed with reliability…

How chipmaker Qualcomm is building an internal startup-venture capital ecosystem

Plenty of corporate innovation programs struggle to produce tangible impact in areas that really matter to senior leadership. The San Diego-based chipmaker Qualcomm put that challenge front-and-center by dubbing its innovation initiative ImpaQt. In its first 18 months, says head of innovation Navrina Singh, it delivered a new surround-sound application for HTC smartphones and launched a robotics program to rival Intel, its biggest competitor. Singh explains how they’ve been doing it…

Alex Osterwalder: ‘Business models expire like yogurt in the fridge’

We talk with Alex Osterwalder, one of the developers of the Business Model Canvas, about how he sees large companies using the tool; its relationship to the lean startup methodology; and the challenges companies face in building growth engines that are as powerful as their execution engines. Includes downloadable audio…

How the accelerator program at Daimler Trucks trains intrapreneurs

A three-month long accelerator program at Daimler Trucks North America gets employee teams talking to customers, cultivating ideas, and then pitching the board. Lori Heino-Royer, director of the company’s Business Innovation and Program Management Office, talks about the objectives and one of the projects that resulted. Includes slides…

Steve Blank on how to put lean startup in action inside big companies

On our latest Innovation Leader Live call, lean startup guru Steve Blank talked about the challenges of bringing the lean startup approach into a large company; and the decisions that should be made before setting up an “innovation outpost.” Article includes 30 minutes of audio. (Not a subscriber? Here’s an excerpt.)

Six innovation agenda items for 2016

How are you going to make change and deliver results in 2016? Whether you work in an innovation group, new product development, strategy, or R&D, we believe that these issues deserve a place on your agenda for the year ahead.

General Mills VP on getting to the first dollar fast, failure, key metrics

Few companies have as strong a track record when it comes to open innovation and pilot testing as General Mills. In a recent Innovation Leader Live call, Jim Kirkwood, Chief Science and Technology Development Officer, explained how the company “gets to the first dollar fast” with pilot tests. Includes 30 minutes of audio. (Not a subscriber? Get an excerpt here »)

Q&A: Elements of lean innovation

We’re about to embark on a “lean innovation” journey at our company, and I was wondering if you’d seen any studies or best practices that large corporations should consider?

Steve Blank: Are you having impact, or performing ‘innovation theater’?

Our conversation with “lean startup” proponent Steve Blank focused on several things necessary to take pilot experiments and turn them into significant new products — including supportive management teams, proper metrics, and sufficient funding. Without those, Blank says, many innovation teams will simply be performing “innovation theater.” Includes audio and slides…

Case study: Alaska Airlines’ lean startup test in airport lounges

Two members of the airline’s Customer Innovation R&D team talk about a recent test of new system aimed at delivering a more personalized travel experience. Includes slides and lessons learned…

What are your peers doing to move the innovation needle?

We worked with a group of 15 innovation executives recently to develop this list of “Innovation Approaches.” It endeavors to capture what innovation leaders are doing when they are setting strategy; trying to change company culture; building capabilities for cultivating and testing new ideas; or investing in promising startups.

Webcast replay: Fidelity VP on tools for innovation teams

“If you just talk a lot about innovation and make a lot of noise, it can backfire,” says Rick Smyers, VP of the Center for Accelerated Innovation at Fidelity Investments. “People can hear a lot about it and think, ‘It’s just another management fad. It’ll go away.'” Smyers explains in this webcast how you can put the right strategy, tools, and people in place to make a real impact — and details some of his team’s successful projects.

Why Adobe gives employees a red box with $1,000 inside

Nearly 1,000 employees of Adobe Systems have participated in the Silicon Valley software company’s Kickbox Innovation Workshop, where they learn how to develop ideas and collect customer feedback. Participants get $1,000 to spend, no questions asked. Adobe exec Mark Randall explains how it works, and shares the program’s scorecard.

Why Intuit says ‘you never know’ about ideas — until you test ’em

At plenty of companies, persuasive PowerPoints and buy-in from top executives are required to move ideas forward. Intuit executive Bennett Blank explains how his company is creating an infrastructure that encourages teams of employees to test ideas in the market, and gather data, to help determine which ideas hold real promise. Includes a graphic explaining how “Innovation via Rapid Experiments” works at Intuit…

Advice on opening up to innovation from GE’s chief marketing officer

Beth Comstock talks about how the $146 billion behemoth is pursuing speed and growth through partnerships: investing in startups, crowdsourcing solutions, inviting inventors to use selected patents to create new products, and more. “You have to recognize that no matter how good you are, you don’t have all the answers,” Comstock says. Here’s our exclusive interview…

How Constant Contact blends lean startup & design thinking

Andy Miller, Chief Innovation Architect at the digital marketing company, shares slides and a video that offer a look at Constant Contact’s approach to developing new offerings.

Fidelity VP: Pick the right innovation tools for your trip

Rick Smyers, who runs the Center for Accelerated Innovation at Fidelity Investments, likens running a successful innovation program to planning a mountaineering expedition: you don’t want to leave base camp without a plan of attack, the right people, and the proper equipment. Details, slides, and video inside…

12 Slide Presentations from Big Company Innovation Executives

These dozen slide presentations offer insights into innovation strategy at organizations like NASA, Alaska Airlines, Nike, and Clorox. At left is an image from Bennett Blank’s presentation on rapid experimentation at Intuit.