Author Archives: Rowan Gibson

An Ode to the “Great Man” of Innovation All good things must come to an end. In 1986, after an incredible seven-year relationship with Apple, the brilliant advertising agency Chiat/Day – responsible for such masterpieces as the famous “1984” Super Bowl commercial, and by far the era’s best print ads for the computer industry – was unduly ousted (as Steve Jobs had been one year previously) by Apple’s hapless CEO John Sculley. Instead of complaining, condemning or criticizing his former client, Jay Chiat ran a $40,000 full-page ad in the New York Times with the headline “Thanks, Apple”. I absolutely loved the gesture. Among other things, the ad said: “Thanks for letting us make a little history. Thanks for demanding our best, and then more than our best.” The words, of course, were directed not at Apple in general but at one particular person – Steve Jobs. And they speak … Continue reading

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Declaration of Innovation

We believe that innovation is not about silos – it happens at the intersections. We therefore commit ourselves to building a global community around innovation that will maximize connection and conversation across the world, helping to create the unique intersections that become the birthplace of big, breakthrough ideas. Continue reading

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Balancing Innovation Supply and Demand

To build and sustain a robust innovation capability, your company needs to carefully manage both the supply side and the demand side of innovation. By “supply” I mean the sheer flow—and the quality—of new ideas entering your innovation pipeline and moving through its various stages. By “demand” I mean the natural, reflexive pull for those ideas within and across the businesses. When supply is low, one tends to see a kind of idea inflation, meaning that opportunities are presented (often unintentionally) with an inflated sense of their value. This is simply because there are few other viable growth opportunities in the portfolio to pursue. The inherent risk here is that an organization invests substantially in what are actually quite mediocre ideas—ones that are unlikely to drive any significant revenue growth. Conversely, when demand is low—when the organization is not naturally and reflexively able to respond to, nurture, and act on … Continue reading

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5 Ways to Improve Your Innovation Pipeline

How healthy is your company’s innovation pipeline? Is it already operating at peak performance, helping you pump out a torrent of new growth opportunities across product, market, and industry spaces? Or would it be fairer to say that there is still room for improvement? If so, allow me to suggest five design rules for enlarging and enhancing your innovation pipeline. The first three of these rules are about enlarging the pipeline—building a high-yield process that increases the sheer volume of ideas from across the organization and beyond. The last two design rules are about enhancing the pipeline by improving the quality of those ideas, rather than just the quantity. So let me start with my first design rule, which is to involve many minds across your own organization – and beyond it – in your search for new growth opportunities. What companies seldom seem to recognize is that one of … Continue reading

Posted in Entrepreneurship, Headlines, Innovation, Management, Strategy, collaboration | 4 Comments
E-Tailing and the Net Generation

“Hey Dad, can I have your credit card number? I need to buy something online”. This is not just an annoying question my sixteen-year-old son seems to ask me two or three times a month. It’s a harbinger that e-tailing is set to go ballistic as soon as today’s teenagers get their first paychecks. Let’s face it, most of us came to the Internet when we were already in our twenties, thirties or forties, so the concept of shopping from a personal computer is not something we grew up with. We likely recall the novelty of making our very first purchases on sites like Amazon, eBay and Expedia, and the excitement in those heady days about entering the new “Wired World”. We also remember how the whole bubble burst at the end of the Nineties, leaving us burned, disillusioned and asking ourselves whether the future of retail may have arrived … Continue reading

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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

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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