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…

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 2017

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.

Exclusive 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.

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.

Former Gap exec Michael Perman: Is innovation really everyone’s job?

“Two common axioms are ridiculous. Stay away from them,” writes Michael Perman, who has held innovation roles at Gap Inc. and Levi Strauss & Co. “Innovation is everyone’s job. NOT. That’s no more true than distribution being everyone’s job. Yes, everyone needs to have EMPATHY, but in reality, innovation requires talent, passion, and tenacity.” The other ridiculous axiom? Keep reading…

Failing fast and taking risks: How Adobe’s legal group met the challenges of supporting innovation

How do you create legal guidelines for employee innovation that are loose enough to let people try new things, but not get a publicly-held company in hot water? Donna Kolnes of Adobe explains how the Silicon Valley software company approached it.

Achieving innovation balance: Advice from Cambia Health’s chief innovation officer

Five years after starting the innovation team at Cambia Health Solutions, a family of healthcare businesses in the Pacific Northwest, Chief Innovation Officer Mohan Nair shares what he has learned about different types of innovators — including some you may want to avoid — as well as delivering near-term and long-term impact.

Six tips from Eastman Innovation Lab on managing a distributed team

Managing a distributed team comes with its own set of challenges. Creative manager Farrell Calabrese shares six tips and tools she uses to manage the Eastman Innovation Lab, part of $9.5 billion Eastman Chemical.

Innovation software survey results: Who’s using what?

We analyze the results of our Q1 survey of 115 innovation executives, which explored how they’re using innovation software — and what software they’re using. One finding: most companies have just scratched the surface when it comes to utilizing software to manage innovation programs…

Executive perspectives on innovation software

Selected comments from the executives who participated in our Q1 2016 survey on innovation software. One respondent told us, “User experience is the ONLY thing that matters. If you innovators won’t use the tools everything else is irrelevant.”

Audio: Clay Christensen on Uber, why strategy is temporary, and understanding the job to be done

Earlier this month, Innovation Leader editor Scott Kirsner interviewed Clay Christensen of Harvard Business School onstage at the annual TIE StartupCon in Boston. They discussed Uber and disruptive business models; why a winning strategy is only temporary; Christensen’s work with the Department of Defense; and the need to set up separate teams away from the core business to focus on disruption. Includes 40 minutes of downloadable audio…

Marla Capozzi on discipline, metrics, and the perils of innovation committees

Among the topics we covered on a recent Innovation Leader Live call with Marla Capozzi of McKinsey & Co.’s Global Strategy & Innovation Practice:  Why an organization’s commitment to innovation shouldn’t wax and wane; the risk of innovation committees running off the rails; and why it’s vital to create new metrics for the pilot tests and experiments you run. Transcript and downloadable audio inside…

Vijay Govindarajan on his new book, “The Three Box Solution: A Strategy for Leading Innovation”

How can large organizations create the future when almost all their time and energy is spent competing for the present? That challenge is at the center of “The Three Box Solution,” the new book from Vijay Govindarajan, professor at Dartmouth College and visiting fellow at Harvard Business School, who has also served as chief innovation consultant to General Electric. Our interview with Govindarajan includes 30 minutes of downloadable audio…

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…

Former Pixar SVP on creative conflict and why well-designed offices win

“Creative abrasion is the ability to have difficult conversations,” says former Pixar SVP of Technology Greg Brandeau. “It’s like taking sandpaper and polishing something.” He shares his thoughts on how to make it work, along with an assessment test.

What no one says about politics and culture — and how they impact innovation

“I’ve learned that culture and politics both will have big impacts on the course your innovation program follows. But most people don’t talk about them,” writes Sreten Gajic, a former new ventures executive at Assurant and Coca-Cola. Here’s his advice on how you can build structures that can get innovation to happen in any company.

Failure shouldn’t come as a surprise

The odds are, with every project that pushes the limits of what your company has done before, or the boundaries of what is possible, you will encounter failure. The best organizations in the world expect it. They have a culture that tolerates it. And they are ready to learn from it and adapt. Here’s Julia Austin’s advice on how you do that…

Achieving impact in a large organization: Advice from your peers

We recently brought together a group of twenty senior innovation, product, and strategy executives in Manhattan, in collaboration with our partner Mindjet. The goal: to discuss how to create sustainable innovation programs that deliver big results. Here are twenty pieces of advice from the group…

Why insurance firm Assurant designed a strategy game for employees to play

Among the goals behind the company’s Strategy Learning Game: helping employees understand the direction the company is going and “how they fit in,” and driving a cultural shift to urgency, adaptive thinking, agility, and accountability. SVP Melissa Kivett explains how it worked…

Three keys to longevity for corporate venture capital groups

“One the biggest knocks against corporate venture capital initiatives is that they are often a by-product of a booming economy and a pet project of the CEO. They’re here today, gone tomorrow. This reputation, unfortunately, is grounded in some truth, but it doesn’t have to be that way,” writes corporate VC Kyle Fugere.

Humana’s Chief Innovation Officer: ‘Co-creation is the new way’

Chris Kay of Humana discusses how the $48 billion health insurer is collaborating and co-creating with startups in the healthcare industry, and outlines his process for going from ideation to market.

So you’re trying to innovate in a heavily-regulated industry…

There are even more barriers to innovation in industries that are heavily regulated — like pharma, healthcare, insurance, and banking. Legal and regulatory requirements can loom large, and have the potential to stifle innovation — if you don’t address them head-on. Here’s how…

Corporate innovation assessment

Developed by Innovation Leader’s Editorial team, with input from corporate innovation executives, this assessment will help you evaluate the current maturity of your organization’s innovation strategy.

Four steps to getting your innovative subculture to spread

Michael Foster, who has developed innovation programs at companies like Dun & Bradstreet and Fiserv, provides four tips for nurturing and elevating the “subculture” of innovation that exists within large organizations. One challenge he highlights: Most companies have a tendency to over-complicate things. Here’s his advice.

Swisher: Incrementalism is not a way station on the road to disruptive innovation

Ten observations about the politics and realities of innovating in an established organization, from Phil Swisher, the former VP of innovation at the biggest private bank in the U.S. “It’s important to realize that there may be many people in the organization who are waiting you out,” Swisher says.

How a $56 billion healthcare delivery system is putting the consumer first

Tad Funahashi, Chief Innovation and Transformation Officer at Kaiser Permanente Southern California, talks about how the 177,000 employee healthcare delivery system is working to become less MD-centric, and more consumer-centric. Includes audio and slides…

Q: What are the best practices for developing new business models?

To answer our latest subscriber question on business model innovation, we turned to Saul Kaplan, author of “The Business Model Innovation Factory,” who advocated companies playing offense, not defense. “Companies need to establish the capability to do ongoing R&D for new business models the same way they do R&D for new products and technologies.”

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.

How Weight Watchers is innovating in a relationship-based business

Global Vice President of Innovation Dondeena Bradley talks about driving multiple new initiatives aimed at transforming Weight Watchers into a holistic, community-driven company.

At MetLife, supporting innovation while avoiding the ‘danger zone’

MetLife’s Chief Innovation Officer shares his approach to supporting innovation at the 66,000-employee insurance company — and also on how to avoid the “danger zone” of innovation, when all the resources and energy that you’re pouring into a new project have yet to deliver tangible results. Includes slides…

Gap exec on innovation training, co-creation, customer insights

Gap Inc.’s Dean of Global Innovation talks about creativity, co-creation, the Mindspark training initiative,  and the importance of solving small problems first. Includes slides and 30 minutes of audio from a recent call.

Lego CEO: To innovate, create a separate structure

Lego CEO Jørgen Vig Knudstorp talks about Future Lab, a separate team the company has set up to explore new avenues for growth.

How Elon Musk builds organizations that can achieve anything

We talk to Ashlee Vance, author of a new book about Musk, about how the founder of SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity hires people, battles bureaucracy, and dispatches problems fast.

Corporate innovation needs a simpler approach

Mark Nitkey has been an executive at companies like Apple, Gap Inc., Victoria’s Secret, and Ahold, the Dutch grocer. He writes, “Complexity is Public Enemy #1 when it comes to innovation. You may have the budget. You may have the CEO’s explicit support. But when things are too complex, innovation initiatives die.” Here’s his advice on a simpler approach…

Reader question answered: How to define the innovation portfolio

We’re a very large, well-known consumer products company, and our innovation portfolio is actually quite complex, as we have many different types of initiatives included, all at vastly different stages. In fact, we often debate whether certain projects should be included at all. Do you (or does anyone else including your partners) have any best practices related to defining what should be included, what should be left out, how they should be categorized or grouped, etc.?

Data: How big are innovation teams at the largest companies?

Sharing some “bonus data” that came out of our recent benchmarking survey, fielded in partnership with Innosight. How large are the innovation teams at the largest companies? Here’s what our respondents who worked at companies with greater than $25 billion in annual revenues told us…

Google exec: Foster 10X thinking, or you’re doomed to incrementalism

Leaders need to understand that fostering only incremental changes and improvements will doom a company to fall behind. Every company, says Google sales exec Todd Rowe, needs to set at least a few 10X goals — creating something ten times better than what exists today — and give employees the time and freedom to pursue them. Includes audio…

Enforcing candor: How Ford, Pixar, others innovate with brutal honesty

It’s very common for our innovation initiatives and projects to just muddle along, because no one is willing to step up and be honest and candid about what might be wrong with the idea. Do you have any thoughts on how other companies have brought more candor and honesty into their innovation programs?

Q&A: How to start education, training initiatives on innovation?

We’re in the process of starting an educational / training initiative around innovation, and could use some guidance on where to start. Is there a typical starting point for these programs? We’re a relatively big company (15,000+ employees) and are struggling with whether we begin in marketing, product management, product development, executive management, etc. Any thoughts or best practices or the progression / trajectory of such programs?

The power of definition: Moving beyond innovation as a buzzword

Disruptive innovation, transformational innovation, and breakthrough innovation are not the same thing, says Erik Falck of The Hershey Company. And our business results likely depend on how we define the innovation we’re trying to pursue. Includes a chart outlining differences and challenges…

Dell’s chief innovation officer on innovation portfolios and training

Dell chief innovation officer Jim Stikeleather opened a recent Brightidea “birds of a feather” innovation gathering in Austin with a fantastic talk about the importance of fostering divergent thinking in big organizations — and some of the challenges of making real change happen. Includes slides…

General Mills innovation EVP on becoming ‘best big small company’

Peter Erickson, executive vice president of Innovation, Technology, and Quality for General Mills, is focused on a very clear goal: to help the company, with 43,000 emloyees and brands like Cheerios, Nature Valley, and Betty Crocker, become “the best big small food company in the world.” Here’s our exclusive interview on how he’s doing it…

Transamerica’s Aaron Proietti on what’s working — and what didn’t

On our latest Innovation Leader Live call, we spoke with Aaron Proietti of Transamerica about the evolution of the insurance company’s innovation program — including approaches that have worked, and those that haven’t.

Why it’s crucial to understand your company’s innovation DNA

Was your company born to disrupt established industries? Or is its heritage in marketing and distribution, building brands that are recognizable around the world? Maybe the way your company obtains new products is by acquiring small startups. Every company has different DNA, which means innovation approaches need to differ.

What happened to ‘Team Tomorrow’ at WD-40

Our latest Innovation Leader Live call featured Graham Milner of WD-40 talking about how the publicly-traded San Diego company with the iconic blue-and-yellow cans has grown beyond a single product. In particular, Milner discussed the life and death of “Team Tomorrow,” which was formed by the CEO in 2002 to explore new opportunities.

Innovate like a venture capitalist: What corporate leaders can learn

Venture capitalists are the world’s experts at creating growth businesses: think Netflix, Facebook, or Dropbox. Their methods hold a trove of lessons for how corporate managers can create an environment that fosters new sources of growth. Includes slides…

Q&A: Innovation investment

We’re a $17 billion public company with lots of research and data around R&D, but I wouldn’t say it’s translating well to our corporate innovation and growth strategy. We have a bit of a gap there. I know this is complex, and every enterprise is different, but any thoughts or guidance or framework on the matter would be much appreciated.

Starbucks VP on working with Howard Schultz to bring idea to life

Howard Schultz, the founder and CEO of Starbucks, had a vision that he’d been developing for a decade. He wanted to create a shrine to coffee in Seattle, the company’s hometown, where visitors could learn about the bean and the beverage, immerse themselves in the Starbucks brand, and watch as it “rained coffee beans.” VP Liz Muller was asked to make the vision real.

Sustaining, disruptive, blue sky: How Microsoft invests in research

On our recent Field Study visit to Microsoft Research, Peter Lee showed one of those slides that had everyone in the group suddenly reaching for their phones to snap a picture.

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…

15 challenging and conflict-ridden jobs innovation execs must do

Few jobs are tougher than that of the innovation leader — whether you work in product development, strategy, R&D, or a dedicated innovation team. Working with a half-dozen people in the role, we created this list of 15 challenging and conflict-ridden jobs that face innovation leaders.

Frugal innovation: Six principles and a case study from the new book

The authors of the new book “Frugal Innovation: share with Innovation Leader their six principles of frugal innovation, and an example from the book about how Kingfisher plc, the largest home improvement retailer in Europe, is working to move the needle on one of those principles.

Co-creation: Vodafone, Thomson Reuters share lessons learned

How can two companies productively innovate together to address an opportunity that matters to them both? Shannon Lucas of Vodafone Global Enterprise and Saidah Nash Carter of Thomson Reuters share a document that addresses that question.

Choice words from Fast Company co-founder Bill Taylor

Here are five favorite quotes from our recent conversation with Bill Taylor, author of the book “Practically Radical” and co-founder of Fast Company magazine.

Exclusive: Fast Company founder on corporate innovation challenges

Twenty years after the launch of Fast Company magazine, we talk to co-founder Bill Taylor about the challenges that face innovators in large organizations today. At many companies, he says, “the default mode is, let’s say no” to new concepts. “What’s the harm of that? It takes a big committee to say yes.”

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.

How Pfizer disrupted the traditional innovation conference

A senior R&D leader at pharmaceutical giant Pfizer raved to us last November about the innovation gathering he’d just been to. “It was like TEDMED meets ‘The Apprentice,'” he said, which didn’t sound anything like the typical innovation conference put on by a major multi-national. We asked Julio Corredor, who organized the event, to tell us how he structured it and what made it work.

How many people wield the ‘power of no’ at your company?

Stuart Jenkins, SVP of Innovation and Product Development at $1.5 billion footwear company Deckers Outdoor, says it’s near-impossible to innovate if any one person can shoot down a good idea. Jenkins also talks about driving innovation when you don’t have an R&D group, and his approach to keeping division heads up-to-date on progress.

Changing culture at French insurer BNP Paribas Cardif

Héloïse Lauret, Head of Innovation at BNP Paribas Cardif, discusses the three main culture-change initiatives the French insurance firm has launched — and the importance of building trust.

Government exec on quick hits and innovating procurement

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ first Government Innovation Officer talks about the importance of quick hits; implementing a crowdsourcing initiative; and sponsoring competitions to diversify the pool of new vendors available to state government. Includes video and an annual report…

Kelly Services exec on impact payments and disruptive ideas

Kelly Chief Innovation Officer Rolf Kleiner talks about his CEO’s expectations; developing a process for collecting incremental and disruptive ideas; creating an incentive system for idea submitters; and one high-potential idea Kelly Services is preparing to roll out. Includes 30 minutes of audio from our Innovation Leader Live call…

12 interview questions: Ask these to set yourself up for success

A long-time innovation leader from the financial services industry agreed to share with us — anonymously — the questions he uses in conversations with the people who sponsor or collaborate with the innovation team.

Google execs share slides on innovation, culture, and hiring

A click-worthy slide presentation from Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt and former SVP of Product Jonathan Rosenberg. Among their insights: “Most companies today are run to minimize risk, not maximize freedom and speed.” That approach “is a vestige of an era when failure was expensive, and deliberation was a virtue.”

Humana exec on consultants, mix of projects, reporting to CEO

Audio and notes from our recent “Innovation Leader Live” call with Nate Bellinger of Humana. Bellinger talks about the 15-year history of Humana’s innovation initiatives; some of the lessons they’ve learned as it has evolved; the ratio of incremental innovation to transformational innovation; budgets; and various changes in reporting relationships. Includes 30 minutes of downloadable audio…

Top ten list: What are you focused on this fall?

We asked about the issues, challenges and opportunities you’re focused on this fall. Here are the ten most interesting — and representative — answers we got.

Setting innovation goals at the American Cancer Society

The American Cancer Society’s new Managing Director of Product Innovation talks about building an innovation team, setting goals, and collaborating within a large non-profit. Includes slides…

Advice: Should innovation teams strive to impact revenue/costs?

A new innovation leader in the utility industry asks for your help: “Should our team aim to quantify the impact we have on revenues, or reducing costs, at our company?” Post a comment or send us your thoughts anonymously…

Innovation matures at Transamerica from skunkworks to true partner

Chief Innovation Officer Aaron Proietti explains how his group’s mission has evolved, shifting from an isolated “skunkworks” responsible for developing its own projects to more of a consultancy to the business units. Here’s why that happened…

Why Lowe’s Innovation Lab hired sci-fi writers to guide its strategy

Kyle Nel, the Executive Director of Lowe’s Innovation Labs, explains why the home improvement retailer created a comic book to help executives evaluate possible future scenarios. Nel also discusses why he doesn’t think labs should be located at corporate headquarters, and how his team is measured.

Google execs explain how the company spurs innovation, kills projects

From last week’s Innovation Leader Field Study in Boston: Google executives Don Dodge and Leonidas Kontothannasis offer an inside look at how the company hires, why reasonable goals are not good enough, and how internal projects gain or lose momentum. Includes a half-hour of audio…

Inside Moen’s prototype-driven product development strategy

Moen’s SVP of Global Strategic Development describes the customer-focused innovation process behind a new line of motion-sensitive faucets. “With our prototypes,” says Mike Pickett, “if we’re not activating emotional excitement about the product, we’re probably not on the right track, and we’ll keep working.”

eBay innovation vice president: ‘Evangelize early and often’

“Doing innovation in a large company is not always an easy thing,” says Steve Yankovich, VP of innovation at $6.6 billion eBay. Inside, he talks about how his team “graduates” its projects to business units, and why it’s so important to be able to kill low-potential projects. His insights, plus a video and infographic, are inside…

Nancy Shea: Turning your CEO into a fully-vested partner

“You really have to be careful what you wish for when you talk about getting your CEO involved with innovation,” says Nancy Shea, who has been a senior innovation and marketing executive at Kraft Foods, Ashland Inc., and World Kitchen. “Often, a CEO wants results now, now, now.” Here’s her advice on how to turn your CEO into a productive partner for the innovation team and it’s long-term goals.

Puma exec Louis Joseph: How we keep score on innovation

“If someone on the team is not a little uncomfortable,” says Global Director of Innovation and Strategy Louis Joseph, “then it’s probably a little too safe.” Inside, Joseph talks with Innovation Leader about how the $4 billion footwear and apparel company gauges innovation success.

From Disney: Consumer insights and the Seven Dwarfs

Director of Consumer Insight Karen Kricorian explains how Disney’s theme parks and resorts group approaches research. “When you think you know something,” she says, “that’s when you need to shake up your thinking.”

Hacking away at hierarchies: Lessons from Houghton Mifflin

Mary Cullinane, Chief Content Officer and EVP of Corporate Affairs at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, talks about breaking down walls between print and digital products, hacking away at hierarchies, and renewing the company’s focus on the customer.

Innovating amidst changes to the U.S. consumer market

Maurice Nicholson of The Relevance Company, left, discusses the four forces that will affect the relationship between companies and consumers. James Chung of Reach Advisors highlights companies that are winning with a “more for less” strategy. Audio and slides inside…