This Week in Innovation – 15 February 2014


This is a summary of the some of the good innovation posts that I ran across this week.  But first, I’ll tell you about my latest post at Harvard Business Review Blogs:

Is Your Innovation Problem Really a Strategy Problem? This is based on some training that I’ve done with a corporate partner.  We’ve used the Innovation Value Chain tool to assess their capabilities.  It’s been a useful exercise, but the interesting (and alarming) issue that has arisen from this is that there is a big gap in perceptions between senior managers and junior managers.  This is a perfect example of what Nilofer Merchant calls an Air Sandwich.  The post discusses why this is a problem, and some approaches for trying to fix it.


Speaking of Nilofer, I loved her post on Walking the Talk on Purpose.  Purpose is a key drive of innovation success – this is one of the key findings from the research that Nilofer and I have done for the book we’re working on together.  However, purpose is revealed through action.  When everyone is pulling together towards a common goal, that’s a good indication that your organisation has a clear purpose.  But you have to take actions to support this culture – if you just talk about purpose without building a culture behind, you’re heading towards problems.

The other driver of innovation success that we’ve found is community – and that is the topic of What Does it Mean to “Boost” Another Business? by CV Harquail.  She’s also working on a book, and it’s about the importance of collaboration.  Here’s what she means by boost:

Companies boost each other when they create opportunities not only for themselves, but also for their business partners and the network they all participate in. We boost another business when we shoot for a 3-way win— a win for them, a win for the system, and a win for us — all from the same business practice.

Harquail does outstanding work, and this post is a great teaser for her book.  To get better at innovating, we need purpose and community – these two posts can get you started on building both.

My HBR post looks at the interactions between strategy innovation – that’s also the topic of Why We Need New Strategy Tools – And How to Use Them by Christian Rangen & Elisabeth Ovstebo.  Their website has a number of new tools and frameworks for thinking about strategy, and the post includes this terrific graphic:



There’s plenty more worth checking out in their post.

In an earlier post for HBR, I talked about flat organisations and when we should use them.  One of the firms that fascinates me right now is Undercurrent – they are doing great work in helping firms build effective, innovative flat structures.  Clay Parker Jones wrote this post discussing how to get people to use the things that you build.  It’s great from start to finish, and you should definitely check it out.

Finally, Sacha Chua has been writing an outstanding series of posts that provide a guide to blogging, and she has compiled them into a free eBook called A No Excuses Guide to Blogging.  Blogging is a great way to work out your ideas, and to build your community, and Sacha has been doing great work to help people do this for themselves.

Those are the posts that caught my attention this week, what caught yours?

Student and teacher of innovation - University of Queensland Business School - links to academic papers, twitter, and so on can be found here.

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