Most innovation books are written either for start-ups or for large corporates. Nothing previously focused exactly on mid-sized businesses (MSBs) and strategic business units (SBUs) that want to achieve growth through business-wide innovation. Such businesses face unique challenges and opportunities and so we have written this book for them. It is a practical guide for their journey to innovative growth that addresses four issues.
First, so much has been written on the topic of innovation that MSB and SBU managers face an information tsunami, a myriad of ‘hot’ innovation topics and tools on top of proven classics. Managers do not have the time to wade through all of these. So, we provide a carefully selected set of tools and techniques that can be applied in an integrative way to drive innovative growth.
Second, globalization, digitalization and newly emerged environmental and social consciousness have created not only opportunities but also challenges for MSBs and SBUs. This creates a pressing need for business-wide innovation—new products, services, experiences, channels, processes and entire business models. Nowadays, innovation must address the needs of multiple stakeholders: from customers, employees and partners to the wider community and of course investors. So, in this book, we consider innovation in its broadest sense and with a broad set of stakeholders.
Third, although senior managers have the autonomy and responsibility to create new growth, their mindsets tend to focus on operational efficiency and incremental innovation. Other books concentrate on innovation processes but do not tell you about the mindsets—the mix of thoughts, feelings and behaviours you and your fellow travellers will experience. These will include moments of doubt and moments of elation. Remember that processes make innovation possible, but people make it happen.
Fourth, achieving innovative growth is like going on a journey; a journey that will be distinct for each and every business. Making the journey a success requires you to understand your starting point ‘A’, to declare the desired destination, point ‘B’, and to develop the innovation capabilities ‘C’ needed to get there. We clearly map out the phases of this innovation journey, providing a no-nonsense guide for not only senior managers but also the employees and other external collaborators who will be making this journey.
And how did two people from such different backgrounds come to collaborate on a book? Keith’s background is the medical electronics industry, where he worked in technical and marketing functions before joining academia to research and teach innovation—this led him to a strong process and technology perspective on innovation. Ian’s background is organizational psychology and business consultancy focusing on business change—this led him to a strategic and people perspective on innovation. Keith initially thought that Ian’s perspective focused only on ‘soft and holistic factors’ and lacked precision. Ian initially thought that Keith’s perspective was simply too ‘process-driven’ and lacked inspiration. Working together allowed them to agree that they were both wrong!
Before writing this book, Keith and Ian had cooperated on several consultancy projects. These helped established businesses navigate their innovation journeys, towards renewed success. Keith and Ian instinctively applied different approaches, which gave the client the benefit of understanding the strategic, technical, process and the people aspects of managing innovative growth. This created a novel, joint perspective on what matters in innovation.
From this, they started to research appropriate tools and techniques, spanning strategic management, innovation management, and change management. All of the selected tools and techniques can help businesses achieve innovative growth, but it was the need to integrate them into a coherent set that was the motivation for this book.
Keith and Ian have worked with a wide range of MSBs and SBUs in very different industries. They’ve been party to the ups and downs these businesses have experienced, as certain approaches have worked while others disappointed. In addition, they have taught thousands of senior managers at top business schools. The ongoing interaction with senior managers highlighted two common problems.
First, the responsibility for innovation is most often closely tied to one function, such as R&D or marketing, rather than being a fully cross-functional (business-wide) affair. That is why we guide the whole of the senior management team and all business functions. Innovation is a dynamic capability, not a function. The second common problem is that businesses become fixed on incremental innovation; here we show how to bring breakthrough and radical ideas to current and new markets. We provide the key tools and techniques, presented in a way that will enable you to drive tangible results and build an innovation capability that can sustain your business for many years to come.