Author Archives: Rowan Gibson

CK Prahalad

Of all the management ‘gurus’ I have met and worked with, CK Prahalad will always stand tall. His sad and sudden departure a few days ago has robbed the world not only of a great mind, but also of a great heart. I bid him farewell.CK and I first joined forces in 1995, when I was writing the manuscript for “Rethinking The Future.” Our conversations back then taught me a great deal about strategic renewal – the capacity to maintain continuity by constantly creating new sources of profit. In fact, this principle went on to become a cornerstone of my work in the field of business innovation. I therefore feel I owe it to CK to repeat some of those strategy lessons here by way of a tribute. Think of the following words (which are CK’s own) as a last lecture – a legacy – from a true intellectual giant:”With … Continue reading

Posted in Innovation, Management, Strategy | 3 Comments
Innovation Perspectives - Making Innovation a Systemic Capability

This is the fifth of several ‘Innovation Perspectives’ articles we will publish this week from multiple authors to get different perspectives on ‘How should firms develop the organizational structure, culture, and incentives (e.g., for teams) to encourage successful innovation?’. Here is the next perspective in the series:by Rowan GibsonWhen I go into a large company, one of the first questions I usually ask is this:”Does your organization have a worldwide innovation infrastructure where anyone, anywhere can get access to the cash, the talent, and the management support they need to turn their ideas into market success stories?”No prizes for guessing the answer. Most companies claim they want to encourage creativity, risk taking, and rule breaking, but what you invariably find is that their management infrastructure and corporate culture actually inhibit these things. Talk to successful innovators in any large company, and you will probably hear a familiar story: “I succeeded … Continue reading

Posted in Build Capability, Innovation Perspectives, Leadership, Strategy, culture | 1 Comment
Escaping the Internet Commodity Trap

The Internet is like a black hole that relentlessly sucks in, digitizes and democratizes content of every kind. While that may be generally good news for consumers (hey, look at all the great stuff we can now get for free), it has turned out to be unbelievably bad news for the content providers. Ask anyone in the print media business, or the music business, or the movie business. For at least the last decade, industries that primarily produce content have been struggling hard to find a viable new financial model in a world where internet users (particularly the young generation) don’t expect to pay for anything they read, listen to, or watch. As one popular mantra puts it: “Content is no longer king”. The fact is, content distribution is now king. Power has shifted to the content aggregators – think Google, YouTube, or iTunes – and to new media … Continue reading

Posted in Apple, Innovation | 7 Comments
Building Up Innovation Capital

As usual it was Peter Drucker, the godfather of modern management, who said it first. Right back there in 1966 (!), in his landmark book “The Effective Executive”, Drucker argued that companies would need to build a new kind of organizational capital as the industrial economy gave way to the knowledge economy. His famous proclamation was that, in future, brainpower would be a more valuable asset for wealth creation than factories and financial clout. All of which came true, of course. But that was not the end of it. Now, over four decades later, we are once again challenged to rethink organizational capital as we make the transition from a knowledge economy to an innovation economy. And that creates a new agenda for every single company.For most of the last century, as well as the previous one, we looked at companies as if they were comprised of only two kinds … Continue reading

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Corporate Innovation System - an innovation engine

Co-authored with Peter Skarzynski, CEO of Strategos, in close collaborationwith well-known strategy guru Gary Hamel, I believe that “Innovation to the Core” (Harvard Business School Press) is by far the most important thing I’ve ever done.Lots of people have been asking me for a synopsis of the book, so here goes…Could you describe your company’s “corporate innovation system”? Ask this question inside most organizations and all you get is a blank stare. It’s obvious that, in the vast majority of firms, innovation is still more buzzword than core competence.Yet a few leading-edge players – including GE, IBM, P&G, Whirlpool, Shell, Cemex, Best Buy, and W.L. Gore – are demonstrating that large industrial organizations really can tackle the challenge of innovation successfully in a broad-based and highly systemic way.What these companies understand is that it’s entirely possible to make innovation an “all-the-time, everywhere” capability, something that becomes part of the organization’s … Continue reading

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Innovating Healthcare

The first modern hospitals were founded in Europe and America in the 18th century. About a hundred years later, both the pharmaceutical industry and the health insurance industry began to emerge. So it’s safe to say that, in much of the developed world, the healthcare business has been around for about two or three centuries. And, over time, like most other businesses, it has become bigger, better and faster. But has it actually become different in any essential ways? Not really. Yet that’s about to change. In a world of hyper-accelerating change, global competition, rapidly commoditized products and services, and unprecedented patient primacy, the industry is waking up to the need to reinvent itself from top to bottom for a whole new era.Over the last few years, I’ve been spending a disproportionate amount of time with healthcare people. Not because I’m sick (thankfully!). But because there’s a growing recognition right … Continue reading

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Elevating HR to Drive Innovation

It’s every employee’s nightmare in recessionary times: finding a “pink slip” in the pay envelope, or getting a fateful phone call from HR. Over five million workers in America have had that gut-wrenching experience since the economy hit a wall in 2007. And this year the global layoff tsunami will claim millions more jobs worldwide. So I imagine that, right now, a lot of HR Directors are feeling about as popular as bird flu. But they need to take heart. Even in the midst of the worst economic woes for several decades, a new day is dawning for Human Resources. It’s the day that HR finally gets the strategic recognition it deserves; the day that HR steps up from a mundane back-office function to play a center stage role.My friend, Dave Ulrich, professor of business at the University of Michigan, has long argued that HR leaders should assume a more … Continue reading

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