Articles & Case Studies by Topic

Strategy & Governance

Topic Overview: Setting Strategy

Innovation groups often get created by fiat, before they’ve developed a strategy. And many companies have existing R&D or product development organizations that would benefit from fresh thinking about their mission.

Whether you’re laying out strategy for the first time, or as part of an update process, our coverage allows you to learn from veterans of innovation and R&D roles, as well as academics who study what works (and what doesn’t) when large companies pursue incremental, transformational, or disruptive innovation.

A good resource to start with is our Benchmarking Report, published in collaboration with Innosight, which includes data on the structure, focus, budgets, and size of innovation teams at large companies, as well as advice from executives in senior innovation and strategy roles.

Editor's Picks: Recommended articles on setting strategy
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Our live conference calls that have focused on setting strategy:

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All Innovation Leader articles & case studies on setting strategy:

Inside AXA Next’s Four Innovation Avenues

AXA Next unites the French Insurance company’s innovation initiatives under one arm. Learn more about AXA’s different innovation funds and how the company explores the insurtech ecosystem.

How Construction Giant Bechtel is Building the Future

The construction industry has largely ignored innovation over the past three decades, argues David J. Wilson of Bechtel. But now, he says, “it’s becoming more of a necessity to find ways to improve construction productivity—for us to get the right resources in the right place at the right time, and make better decisions around what to install, what to buy, how to use the time.” Wilson explains what Bechtel is doing, including its “Future Fund.”

The PGA’s First-Ever Chief Innovation Officer, Arjun Chowdri, Shares His Agenda for 2019

The PGA of America represents 29,000 golf industry professionals and also runs some of the top golf championships, like the Ryder Cup and the PGA Championship. We talk to the trade association’s Chief Innovation Officer about his plans for helping it become “a catalyst to bring innovation into the golf industry.”

Inside Silicon Valley’s Innovation Culture

Silicon Valley and Seattle have created a number of startup unicorns turned trillion dollar companies. Stock in Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google could arguably be considered more valuable than gold. So we wanted to know, “What makes FAANG more innovative than other companies?” 

Master Class Replay: Building the Right Foundation for Innovation

In our most recent Master Class, Nancy Tennant, former Chief Innovation Officer at Whirlpool and current professor at the University of Notre Dame, described how companies can build the right foundation for innovation. The innovation approach Tennant proposes involves setting a target, discovering insights, ideating concepts, elaborating prototypes — so as to get feedback — and launching solutions.

How Taiwan’s ‘Crypto Congressman’ is Infusing Tech Hustle into Government

In September 2017, the Beijing government made the decision to block websites offering initial coin offerings for cryptocurrency trading in China. But Congressman Jason Hsu of Taiwan had a different response: Taiwan welcomes cryptocurrencies and blockchain.This response earned Hsu the nickname “Crypto Congressman” from Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin. But Hsu’s endeavors are not without roadblocks, one of which is introducing innovation culture to echelons of older and more conservative Taiwanese officials. During a conversation with Innovation Leader in March 2019, Hsu shared the challenges he faces in fostering a culture of innovation in government.

Balancing Sustaining and Strategic Innovation Master Class

In our most recent Master Class, Larry Schmitt and Steve Schwartz from The Inovo Group discuss how to balance sustaining and strategic innovation. Other topics  of discussion include the difference between exploitation and exploration activities, factors that create tension between corporate innovation groups and the business units, and different opportunities found along the spectrum of strategic and sustaining innovation. Watch the full Master Class below, read some of the highlights, or download a PDF of the slide deck.

Podcast Episode: Innovators vs. the Rulebook. Who Wins?

Innovation can be difficult at any company. However, highly regulated industries with a thick rule book — both internally and from the government — face more roadblocks along the innovation journey. In this episode of Innovation Answered, we ask, “How do you make innovation happen in a highly regulated industry?” Guests share perspectives from Cambia Health Solutions, American Express, and Planbox.

What Powers the Business Models of Apple, IKEA, and Uber?

“Business model innovation is perhaps the most important form of innovation,” contends author Langdon Morris, “because it’s available to any company of any size, anywhere in the world. All it takes is insight, and the willingness to listen well and try something new.” In this excerpt, Morris lays out a framework and questions that can be helpful in designing new business models or improving existing ones.

Citi Ventures Leader: Not All Transformations are Digital

As software continues to “eat the world” and large organizations work to keep pace with technological change, there can be a tendency to assume that all transformations are now digital transformations. But that is not entirely true. Beth Devin of Citi Ventures explains, with examples from Ford, Microsoft, and SAP.

Master Class Replay: How Innovators and Risk Managers Can Work Better Together

In our most recent Master Class, Mastercard’s Bob Reany and Innovation Leader’s Scott Kirsner shared best practices for working productively with security, legal, and compliance teams. Other discussion topics included: factors that cause tension between teams, the growing importance of security in the customer’s mind, and tactics for building stronger relationships. Watch the full Master Class, read some of the highlights, or download a PDF of the slide deck.

What Lowe’s CEO Marvin Ellison Means When He Says ‘Retail Fundamentals’ Matter

Lowe’s CEO Marvin Ellison has had a mantra for the company since taking the helm in 2018: “Retail fundamentals.” Here are some highlights from his talk at the National Retail Federation’s annual conference in Manhattan.

Book Excerpt: How Management Systems Can Support (Or Suffocate) Innovation

How do companies become innovative for the long haul, rather than making it the “flavor-of-the-quarter”? That’s the central question that Nancy Tennant, an adjunct professor at Notre Dame and the University of Chicago, addresses in her new book, “Transform Your Company for the Innovation Universe,” published this month. Tennant was also the Chief Innovation Officer at Whirlpool Corp., where she worked for three decades. We’ve got an exclusive excerpt.

Big Corporates Can’t Innovate — And Other Myths

“Most big corporates have traditionally had a designated R&D department, with a small team of people in charge of driving the company’s global innovation agenda,” writes Genevieve Juillard of Experian, the $4.6 billion credit reporting agency. “But can one team truly push a company forward?” Juillard writes that large companies “must change the way they approach innovation.” Here’s how…

Live Call Replay: Finding the Right Mix of Internal and External Innovation

Finding the right balance between internal and external innovation can be difficult. Rob Martens of Dublin-based home security company, Allegion, discussed how his company uses venture capital to balances internal and external innovation. Elliot Parker of the venture firm High Alpha also shared external innovation success stories.

Exclusive Book Excerpt: Advice on Innovation Governance, Budgeting and Metrics

In the new book “Today’s Innovator,” former Transamerica innovation exec Aaron Proietti talks about innovation not as an outcome or destination, but as a competency that can help an organization escape the pull of the status quo. “By treating innovation as a competency, rather than an outcome,” he writes, “innovation can be designed into the very fabric, or essence, of the organization to ensure it is contributing exactly what is required of it.” Check out the exclusive excerpt…

Target CEO Brian Cornell on Making Bricks-and-Mortar Stores Work Harder

Target CEO Brian Cornell sounded doggedly optimistic during a talk at the National Retail Federation’s annual trade show in New York on Monday. Despite the gloomy clouds of the Sears bankruptcy and the relentless march of Amazon, Cornell said Target is staying in tune with the millennial consumer; introducing new store brand products rather than trying to grow existing ones; making sure that real-world shopping feels fun and not like a chore; and getting brick-and-mortar stores to work harder, serving as fulfillment and service centers for goods purchased online. Inside are edited highlights from Cornell’s speech, and an onstage Q&A session that followed with NRF CEO Matthew Shay.

Video: Steve Blank on Difficult Discussions and Building Teams that can Hack the System

In every industry facing disruption, established companies have tried an array of different approaches, launching idea challenges, incubators, accelerators, and Silicon Valley outposts. But, do these innovation activities actually move the bottom line? “Not really,” says serial entrepreneur and business school professor Steve Blank.

Lyft COO Jon McNeill Talks Tesla, “Peak Car,” and the Future of Mobility

Lyft’s COO Jon McNeill has spent his career in the mobility industry, scaling both startups and billion dollar companies. McNeill shared his experiences at Innovation Leader’s 2018 Impact event, where he discussed the innovative culture at Tesla, Lyft’s mission, and the future of mobility.

Master Class Replay: Successful Collaboration and Partnerships with Outside Teams

In our most recent Master Class, Bob Klein from our strategic partner, Digital Scientists, explained how best to partner with outside teams, and as well as some of the risks involved. The webcast includes an exploration four different types of partnerships: startup collaborations, staff augmentations, teams for hire, and collaborative teams. The full one-hour webcast replay is inside, along with downloadable slides…

Fidelity Investments CEO Talks Blockchain, VR, and Deflation in Financial Services

At a recent FinTech Sandbox event in Boston, Fidelity CEO Abigail Johnson discussed the history of the company’s innovation unit; some of the organization’s most recent innovations; and its goals for the future. Edited highlights inside…

Master Class Replay: How to Build a Winning Business Case for Innovation Management

Ludwig Melik from our strategic partner, Planbox, focuses on how to manage the innovation pipeline and pitch innovation to the C-suite. Other topics of discussion included, different ways to collect innovative ideas, the importance of partnerships, and how to assess ROI on innovation efforts. Here’s the video replay of a recent Master Class.

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 2018” report and explored how innovation teams could use the findings to improve their innovation strategies. 

Going Deep on Data: How the San Francisco 49ers are Gathering Real-Time Fan Data

Just five years ago, there was no “strategy team” at the San Francisco 49ers. This function took shape with the organization’s move to the new high-tech Levi’s Stadium. Moon Javaid, Vice President of Strategy and Analytics at the 49ers sat down with Innovation Leader to discuss his team’s goals, with a special focus on how they collect real-time data to improve the fan experience.

Master Class Replay: Integrating Strategic Planning with Portfolio Management

In our most recent Master Class, we focused on how strategic planning can help you manage your portfolio of investments. We explored the different approaches to structuring portfolios and workable governance models that ensure alignment. Sopheon’s Craig Bangham (pictured at right) and Michael Tulaney shared their insights and answered questions during the session.

Hasbro Interview, Part 3: CEO Brian Goldner on Innovation Resistance, Toys ‘R’ Us, and the Evolution of Games

In the decade since Hasbro Chairman and CEO Brian Goldner took charge, the company has begun to take a “digital-first” approach to everything it does. That approach, informed by consumer insights data and customized “blueprints” that guide each of its brands, is helping the $5.21 billion company weather one of the most tumultuous retail landscapes in recent history. We spoke recently with Goldner about how Hasbro is navigating the changing retail landscape; initiatives like company-wide idea fairs and Quick Strike; managing Wall Street’s expectations; and why changing things as fast as the market needs you to change can often run counter to human nature. Part three of three…

Hasbro Interview, Part 2: CEO Brian Goldner on Idea Generation & How Innovation is Structured

In the decade since Hasbro Chairman and CEO Brian Goldner took charge, the company has begun to take a “digital-first” approach to everything it does. That approach, informed by consumer insights data and customized “blueprints” that guide each of its brands, is helping the $5.21 billion company weather one of the most tumultuous retail landscapes in recent history. We spoke recently with Goldner about how Hasbro is navigating the changing retail landscape; initiatives like company-wide idea fairs and Quick Strike; managing Wall Street’s expectations; and why changing things as fast as the market needs you to change can often run counter to human nature. Part two of three…

How Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner is Building a Company that Can Innovate in the Physical and Digital Realms (Part 1)

In the decade since Hasbro Chairman and CEO Brian Goldner took charge, the company has begun to take a “digital-first” approach to everything it does. That approach, informed by consumer insights data and customized “blueprints” that guide each of its brands, is helping the $5.21 billion company weather one of the most tumultuous retail landscapes in recent history. We spoke recently with Goldner about how Hasbro is navigating the changing retail landscape; initiatives like company-wide idea fairs and Quick Strike; managing Wall Street’s expectations; and why changing things as fast as the market needs you to change can often run counter to human nature. Part one of three…

New Resource: Where Does Innovation Fit and Who Should It Report To?

The composition of an innovation team — and where it sits in the organization — is as important to driving successful innovations as the innovation strategy itself. Former Keurig Green Mountain VP Rachael Schwartz lays out the pros and cons of several different org structures in our newest downloadable resource.

Why KeyBank is Investing in Digital Innovation, Acquiring Startups — and Betting on the Future of the Branch

KeyBank is one of the biggest in the US, with more than 1,100 branches, $137 billion in assets, and about 18,500 employees. And while it is steadily investing in its digital relationship with customers — in June it acquired Bolstr, a startup focused on small business lending — it remains committed to the old school, face-to-face interaction that takes place in a branch. Senior executive Dennis Devine explains…

What’s the Level of Innovation Urgency at Your Organization?

How much urgency is there around innovation at your company? The answer to this question can influence how much resistance you’ll face as an internal change-maker, or the resources you can access. Check the answers that best describe your organization, and then get an instant assessment of where you stand.

Inside the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s Transformation

Cleveland’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame was hardly an ancient institution when Greg Harris took over as CEO in 2013. The building opened in 1995, and the nonprofit foundation behind it was formed in 1983. But upon taking the reins, Harris felt it was time to rethink the way that visitors experienced the Rock Hall itself. That meant reassessing everything from the menu in the café to the policies governing photography to the amount of live music performances that take place in and around the building. We spoke with Harris about what innovation means to his organization, a nonprofit that employs about 140 people, as well as how he measures its impact.

Startup Studios: Snake Oil or Elixir for the Corporate Innovator?

Startup studios are gaining traction as a tool to help corporate business leaders fill in the blanks of a certain project. But will this strategy help innovators overcome enterprise challenges? Former Nike and Intel exec Rick Waldron makes the case…

Q&A: Has Your Company Centralized Its Innovation Services?

We asked the Innovation Leader community if they had centralized or harmonized innovation approaches, such as agile or lean, into one umbrella department. Learn more about their approaches.

What are the Biggest Challenges of Customer-Centric Companies?

In a recent New York City Underground Roundtable with PA Consulting Group, participants discussed the biggest challenges of leading a customer-centric company during the customer-led revolution.

These are the 14 Things That Kill Once-Great Companies

These are the 14 of the common things we at Innovation Leader see companies doing, thinking, and saying that lead to decline and eventual irrelevance.

Southwest Airlines President: ‘If You Don’t Like Change, You’re Going to Hate Extinction’

Southwest is the country’s biggest airline, with 55,000 employees serving 115 million passengers annually. We spoke with President Tom Nealon about how the airline is working to address customer and employee pain points.

FAQ: Your Corporate Innovation Questions, Answered

Innovation Leader regularly fields questions about corporate innovation and poses them to our community of strategy, technology, and R&D leaders. Here’s a collection of questions we’ve answered recently.

Open Innovation: Henry Chesbrough on Barriers, Success Stories, and Business Unit Support

In a recent conference call, Innovation Leader Editor and Co-Founder Scott Kirsner spoke with open innovation guru Henry Chesbrough about how open innovation is being practiced at companies like Intel, Eli Lilly, Bayer, and United HealthCare; budgets and business unit ties; and some of the common barriers to making open innovation part of the way people work every day, rather than a one-off event.

Office Hours, Part III: What Does the Term ‘Disruptive Innovation’ Actually Mean?

Pfizer Worldwide Innovation Group executive Dan Seewald asks about the word disruption: “The term disruption is being used pervasively by corporate innovators and large companies. Has the term lost its intended meaning?” Clay Christensen of Harvard Business School answers, in a short audio excerpt from our recent interview.

Office Hours, Part II: Clay Christensen on Healthcare Innovation Challenges and Organizing R&D Teams

Part two of a three-part web series covering our interview with Harvard Business School professor Clay Christensen, who published his influential book “The Innovator’s Dilemma” two decades ago. Christensen answers questions posed by IL members.

Office Hours, Part I: Clay Christensen on Amazon, Disruption Fatigue, and Attracting Top Talent

In the first part of our three-part web series, we asked member-submitted questions to Clay Christensen, author of “The Innovator’s Dilemma” and Harvard Business School professor.

Nilofer Merchant: 30 Percent Weird is a Good Target

We sat down with the author and former Apple exec Nilofer Merchant to talk about why corporate cultures can be so hostile to ideas that are a bit off-kilter — or come from people who don’t act like or look like authoritative experts in their field. The conversation began by talking about how large companies can be nimble and open to employee ideas if everyone is told they have to fit in and act like everyone else. Highlights of our interview inside, plus video…

IL Master Class: Why Innovation Teams Get Stuck, and How to Break Free

How can sophisticated organizations can be so committed to innovation — but still get stuck? Mike Maddock of the innovation consulting firm Maddock Douglas, an IL partner, offers strategies to get “unstuck.” One-hour webcast replay with slides and video.

How the United States Marine Corps is Accelerating Tech Acquisition and Embracing the Maker Movement

The United States Marine Corps works under an incredible imperative to continuously innovate for the purpose of securing our nation. However, it is also faced with the challenges of being a 242-year-old organization of over 300,000 “employees.” As part of our IL Live series of conference calls, Capt. Christopher Wood discussed some of the key inflection points in the Marine Corps’ history of innovation, and how the Corps is looking to foster the spirit of innovation today.

How the U.S. Postal Service is Hustling to Link Mail with the Digital World

“The postal service for years was a very operational culture,” says Gary Reblin, its VP of New Products and Innovation “We acted almost as a monopoly business for decades. We’ve got to change with the times.” Inside, Reblin offers a look at several recent initiatives to tie paper mail to the digital world.

Pixar’s Founder: ‘Failure is a Necessary Consequence of Doing Something New’

“Our job is not to prevent mistakes and errors,” says Pixar President and Founder Ed Catmull. “It is to respond when things go wrong…” More of Catmull’s thoughts on the role failure plays in business and life inside…

Video: How the Boston Celtics are Upgrading the Fan Experience, in the Arena and at Home

Matt Griffin of the Boston Celtics recaps some of the key points from his session at Innovation Leader’s 2017 Teach-In, “How the Boston Celtics Leverage Technology and Data Analytics to Predict Demand, Set Dynamic Pricing, and Maximize Revenue.” Video inside…

Video: Pfizer’s Wendy Mayer on Creating Transformative Change in Large Organizations

Wendy Mayer, VP of Strategy at Pfizer, explains the need to separate incremental innovation work from transformational efforts; why its important to have “a framework and a process to guide you”; and how you demonstrate value and get senior leadership buy-in. Short video inside…

Video: Andres Ricaurte of American Express on Partnerships, Innovation, and the Customer-First Mindset

“Innovation in a vacuum is useless,” says Andres Ricuarte, Head of American Express’ B2B Platform and API. “You need partners, but more importantly, in conjunction with your partners, you need customers.” More advice from Ricuarte inside…

Report: Scouting Trends & Emerging Tech

How do large companies scout the trends and technologies that will be most relevant to their future success? And even more importantly, how do they introduce those concepts to their colleagues throughout the organization, and get initial experiments and pilot tests going? Our latest in-depth research report collects advice from innovation, R&D, corporate development, and strategy executives.

Video: The Highlights (and Lowlights) of Corporate Innovation in 2017

From Ford to Walmart, GE to Amazon, here’s our run-down of the 10 most interesting corporate innovation happenings of 2017.

Q&A: Who Should We Be Benchmarking Against?

Last week, we asked the Innovation Leader community about how they approach benchmarking. Here are their answers/advice/insights…

Videos: CEO Insights on Disruption, Culture, and Executive Support

How should you be thinking about the impact of disruption in your industry? How do you create a sense of urgency and the “need for speed” in a large organization? Can you really get your CEO to support innovation? These are just a few of the questions we set out to answer during a conversation at the Teach-In with the CEOs of Bose, TripAdvisor, and Eastern Bank. Here are four video excerpts of the discussion…

Want to Win at Business Model Innovation? Put These Four Pillars in Place

“The typical three-year corporate innovation cycle thus has become all too common,” writes former Nike and Intel innovation executive Rick Waldron. “A giddy first year, filled with excitement and enthusiasm…a challenging second year…and a disappointing (and final) third year in which the pipeline has not generated profitable, new billion-dollar businesses.” Waldron shares his advice on escaping that fate.

Q&A: How Should you Budget for the Launch of Your Innovation Program?

Last week, we asked the Innovation Leader community about how they budgeted for the launch of their innovation programs. Here are their answers/advice/insights…

Resource: The Barriers to Innovation in Large Companies, and How to Overcome Them

In this latest downloadable resource, we share the eleven most common barriers to innovation. We present a list of the symptoms that accompany each barrier; questions that can be posed to help your colleagues and senior management better understand the barrier; as well as some solutions which may help you prevail.

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.

How Do You Increase Your Odds of Success? Five Tips for Innovation Leaders

“Not a single one of your employees is going to sign on to be an intrapraneur if career failure inevitably follows idea failure,” writes Renee Dye, the former Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer at Navigant Consulting. Dye shares five keys to success, useful for new and more established innovation leaders.

Setting Up the Innovation ‘Shop’: Former Starbucks VP Shares Her Advice

Former Darden Restaurants and Starbucks exec Rachel Antalek says that getting started was the hardest part of responding to the ambiguous instruction to “set up a disruptive innovation team.” She shares the advice she wishes she’d gotten at the outset…

Webcast Replay: Best Practices in Innovation Governance, Reporting and Communications

To supplement our recent Q2 research report on innovation governance, Innovation Leader editor Scott Kirsner presented some of the high-level findings and advice in an hour-long webcast, joined by executives from the healthcare, insurance, and media industries.

Slides: How One Company Thinks About Innovation Structures, Investment Levels, Timeframes

Two slides lay out the way David Crean of Anthem’s Innovation Studio views the different innovation options, or “flavors of innovation,” that a company might pursue. Each one has different levels of risk, different funding requirements, and different potential outcomes.

XRC Labs Founder on How Retailers Can Position Themselves for the Future

Pano Anthos of the retail accelerator XRC Labs discusses five roles that the store can play in the future — and the importance of trends like on-demand manufacturing, augmented reality, and text messaging.

Designing an Innovation Culture that Scales Globally

Imran Sayeed, Senior Lecturer at MIT Sloan School of Management, discusses the 3D Model of Innovation that he finds is most effective for innovation programs. Sayeed explains how this model is different from the way many companies approach innovation, how to measure innovation, and how to scale innovation efforts globally.

Navigating the Maze: A Guide to Five Stages of Innovation Evolution

Innovating inside an established organization can feel like navigating a maze. What can slow you down – or help you move forward fast? Here is a maturity model showing choices, activities, and risks to consider, based on Innovation Leader research and interviews with executives at Global 1000 companies.

Audio: Advice from Piaggio, Eastern Bank, Thomson Reuters, Autodesk, and Blue Cross Blue Shield

Go where the love is… get others running experiments…and make sure you know how to pull a rabbit out of a hat. (But don’t do it over and over.) Tips and insights that senior innovation execs shared at a recent gathering in Boston.

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.

Former Lululemon Strategy Manager on Changing Consumer Motivations and Retail Disruption

“I think retail is going through a really interesting time right now,” Lindsay Angelo said in a recent conversation. “Certainly as a more established brand, there are a lot of headwinds out there. But think about how you can take advantage of that turbulence internally.” Angelo shares her take, and several slides…

Research Report: Governance, Reporting & Communications

Our Q2 2017 report collects the best insights from innovation execs at companies like Johnson & Johnson, Kennametal, Brown Brothers Harriman, ExxonMobil, Thomson Reuters, and others, including recommendations from our interviews, a conference call we conducted with Innovation Leader members, and a survey we fielded in Q1 2017 to understand the current state of governance at 50 large companies. Includes five charts on topics like committee size, metrics, and how progress updates are delivered.

19 Clear Signs Your Company is Under-Investing in Innovation

Do executives at your company like to say the word “innovation” a lot — but hate to actually commit budget to it?

We asked a group of anonymous Innovation Leader members to help us assemble a list of of some of the indicators that your company is under-investing in innovation.

Webcast Replay: New Tools & Resources for Innovation Leaders

Recording of our May 2017 webcast, featuring Scott Kirsner and Aaron Proietti explaining how to use six of our new downloadable resources, and answering questions. Resources include progress report templates, PDF roadmaps, and RASCI matrices.

Editable PowerPoint: Making the Case for Innovation

Many organizations don’t yet have a formal innovation strategy or program. In fact, many are set up in such a way that innovation is discouraged, even if unintentionally. The most senior decision-makers are commonly rewarded for operational efficiency and delivering short-term results. Here’s an editable PowerPoint presentation, created by a former SVP of innovation from the insurance industry, that you can use to make the case for starting — or investing more — in an innovation effort.

New Resource: Monthly Progress Report on Innovation Impact

Here’s a “straw man” report you can adapt, developed by a former senior innovation exec at Transamerica. It’s designed to provide holistic, near-continuous feedback to stakeholders, ensuring that you maintain their support, and that the best innovation investment decisions are being made to execute the strategy. Downloadable Word doc inside…

Map: These are the Key Players — and Tensions — Involved in Corporate Innovation

In any organization, there are plenty of stakeholders involved with innovation, and plenty of dynamics that can prevent them from attaining alignment. We wanted to explore those forces — and create a guide to dealing with them thoughtfully. So we partnered with XPLANE, the renowned “visual thinking” firm, to create a map of the corporate innovation ecosystem, along with discussion questions to get you working toward better alignment and more impact. You can download it here…

New Resource: RASCI Matrix for Building Support for Innovation Projects

A RASCI matrix is a tool that can be used to build consistent support for innovation, while mitigating against common failure modes like role ambiguity, when people aren’t sure what exactly they’re supposed to do or want to weigh in more than you’d like. Here’s our downloadable Excel version…

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…

Creating an environment for innovators at India’s $43 billion Reliance Industries

“Some organizations think that putting processes of innovation in place will ensure a culture of innovation,” says Sushil Borde, VP of Innovation at Reliance. “But they don’t focus on creating the environment or fostering innovative talent, and that’s where they fail.” We spoke with Borde to learn more about how the company is working to institutionalize innovation, the innovation programs he’s helped to create, and the five tenets that guide innovation at Reliance.

Why “Gretzky’s Rule” Represents the Past – Not the Future – of Product Innovation

Most people operate in a market where outcomes are not so predictable; where the environment shifts on you regularly; or where you face newly-formed competitors that disrupt your entire business. Ericsson executive Ken Durand offers his advice…

The Corporate Innovation Roadmap: From Defining Vision to Tracking Impact

Getting consensus to launch a new innovation initiative can require tremendous time and energy. We put together this roadmap to help you think through some of the elements you’ll need to put in place to ensure that projects make it to the finish line, and that you can build your team, momentum, and reputation for delivering results over time.

Webcast replay: The innovation agenda for 2017

Innovation Leader editor Scott Kirsner discusses what we’re seeing corporate innovation teams focusing on for 2017, including governance; more focused approaches to working with startups; adjusting the focus of innovation labs; some of the factors that lead to the sudden death of innovation initiatives; and the benefits of building networks of champions or catalysts. Kirsner also discusses metrics.

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.”

Innovation Teams & Business Units: Allies or Adversaries?

Our exclusive report on building productive relationships between innovation groups and the business units includes insights and advice from AIG, Ralph Lauren, W.L. Gore, Reliant Energy, BASF, Northrop Grumman, CVS and others.

Slides: Why innovation should be a priority in 2018

We’ve collected into this 40-slide presentation some of the best advice we’ve gathered on getting an initiative started, including some of the choices that you’ll face; some of our survey data about average maturity or sophistication of innovation efforts at large companies; guidance on what to measure; powerful CEO quotes on the value of innovation; and examples of companies doing it right.

Northrop Grumman exec on how innovation, R&D, and business units can ‘increase awesome’

On a recent conference call, Kevin Parsons, the Director of Innovation and Transformation at $23 billion defense and aerospace giant Northrop Grumman joined us to explain how his innovation group is influencing the culture and bringing business units into its process — without antagonizing the R&D folks. Includes 30 minutes of audio….

These are the things that kill innovation initiatives

To arm you with information, we compiled this list, with input from current and former innovation executives, as well as consultants who have watched programs coalesce and (occasionally) disband. Everyone with whom we spoke agreed that the first two reasons are the most commonly-seen “causes of death” for innovation programs.

Compensation report: How much are innovation and R&D execs paid?

We fielded a compensation survey that analyzed the base pay and bonuses of nearly 250 executives responsible for innovation at large corporations. This report details our findings, with highlights on how pay relates to titles, position, reporting structure, and more.

The ‘Jobs Roadmap’: Avoiding frustration as you hone in on customer insights

Stephen Wunker, protégé of Clayton Christensen and author of the new book “Jobs to be Done: A Roadmap for Customer-Centered Innovation,” aims to provide a solid framework and process for companies to innovate with the customer in mind. But how can this framework be implemented within established organizations, how is it different from the methods before it, and what can go wrong in the process? Wunker explains his “jobs framework” and gives us some insight into his newly-released book.

From the Teach-In: Participants share their favorite books on innovation

At our sold out Teach-In gathering last month in Boston, we asked participants to share some of their favorite books on innovation. Here are a few of their recommendations, from “Creativity, Inc.” to “The Second Machine Age.”

From the Teach-In: Innovation tips from our participants

At our sold out Teach-In gathering last month, we asked participants to pair up and share with each other a piece of advice about doing new things in established companies. The catch: it had to be succinct enough to fit onto a Post-It.

How EY launched an innovation program inside a professional services firm

One big challenge, according to Jeff Saviano, who runs innovation inside EY’s tax practice for the Americas: “Making sure that we’re not just asking people to spend time on nights and weekends to build something new, [and] move us in a new direction.” He explains how they’ve been working to overcome that. Includes 30 minutes of audio…

Here’s how Macy’s could set itself up for success, not just survival

Macy’s should “go small or go home.” Mark Nitkey, a former executive at Apple, Victoria’s Secret, and Ahold, explains how Macy’s should approach innovation in the Age of Amazon.

Audio: Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak on whether innovators need to ignore the rules

Posting some audio recorded recently at the Innovation by Design Summit in St. Louis. Innovation Leader editor Scott Kirsner sat down for a wide-ranging on-stage interview with Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple and a Silicon Valley legend.

Getting Connected Products Right

In Q3 2016, we surveyed companies active in, interested in, or developing connected products, in collaboration with the design and innovation consulting firm Altitude. Here’s the downloadable PDF report summarizing what we found.

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.

After an acquisition: SAP Ariba CEO on how to sustain innovation (and what can go wrong)

Even when acquirers pay billions of dollars for their prize, too often they spend the years after the deal closes driving away some of the top employees and squashing the culture that made the company so appealing in the first place. Alex Atzberger says that without working hard to avoid that, acquisitions can bleed the acquired company of its innovative spirit. We spoke with him earlier this month about what to do — and what to avoid — following an acquisition, as well as his perspective on why innovation needs to happen within mainline business units, as opposed to solely in a lab or innovation center. ” You have to set the right goals and be willing to make the right investment,” he says.

What gets companies thinking like hunters, rather than farmers?

The farming mindset is about planting and taking care of the crops, doing basically the same thing this season as you did last season, and hoping the weather works in your favor. Hunters, on the other hand, are all about heading into new territory, discovering new things, and adapting to the environment there. Author and Trend Hunter founder Jeremy Gutsche explains…

Book excerpt: How Britain’s Metro Bank created a ‘lighthouse identity’ in financial services

At branches of England’s Metro Bank, signs in the lobby and slogans on the screens of the ATMs feel like rallying cries more than product messages: LOVE YOUR BANK AT LAST! DOGS RULE! KIDS ROCK! NO MORE STUPID BANK RULES! Author Bill Taylor explains.

Joe Pine: Products and services are being commoditized. Here’s how you create experiences.

“If you look at convenience, convenience means spending less time with a customer,” Pine said on a recent conference call with Innovation Leader members. “What I’m talking about is spending more time with a customer, where customers actually value the time they spend with you. Instead of time well-saved — a commoditized service — they view it as time well-spent. We spoke with Pine about how social media and virtual reality are changing the nature of experiences; Uber, Hilton, and Capital One; and more. 30 minutes of audio inside…

Google VP Ivy Ross shares advice on meeting overload, getting resources, and confronting the future

Many execs are too complacent when they’re confronting seismic shifts in their industry, says Ross, who is leading Google’s wearable computing project. “Why would you stay at a hotel, versus in an Airbnb room? The answer might be horrifying to you, but better deal with what is horrifying than deal with the alternative, which is that you’re not here in five years.”

Sandpaper: An essential item for the corporate innovator’s toolbox

You may want to embrace an innovation strategy that seeks to eliminate the things that aggravate employees or customers, which can pay off in a shorter timeframe, with very little risk.