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Consultants suggest companies can achieve speedy innovation

Posted by Elena del Valle on May 24, 2013

Innovate Products Faster book cover

Innovate Products Faster book cover

Photo: TCGen Press

Developing new products does not require a slow and ineffective process. In Innovate Products Faster: Graphical Tools for Accelerating Product Development (TCGen Press, $19.95), John Carter and Jeanne Bradford, chief executive officer and principal respectively of TCGen Inc., make the case that companies can have innovation and speed. To do so, they say, it is necessary to have mastery of tools and methodologies that will support managers in making better decisions faster. They say the tools available should be those that can be quickly understood and implemented. They should be “tactically straightforward, but strategically powerful and can be applied across different industries and organizations, from start-ups to Fortune 100 companies,” according to the consultants.

For managers and their teams they propose a Product Innovation Process they have refined and tested with 50 clients. It has three checkpoints, Concept Check-In, Product Check-In, and Release Check-In, or defined interactions between the management and the core cross-functional development teams.

They serve as peer-to-peer discussions rather than critical, hierarchical, and stress-filled reviews. Carter and Bradford outlined five core disciplines and subsets of best practices for each one. The chapters, each dedicated to a single best practice, are divided into three parts: a description, a graphic and a fictional case study. The authors indicate the best practices apply to hardware, software, cloud, device or service development. They rely on three fictional companies to illustrate the case studies outlined throughout the book.

The 240-page soft cover book is divided into an Introduction and four sections: Strategy, Management, Execution, Organization, and Process. The authors suggest readers start at the Appendix where they list the solutions for the most common problems.

Carter, founder of the company, has advised technology firms such as Apple, Cisco, NetApp and IBM, over a 35-year career. He serves on the Board of Directors of Cirrus Logic. He has raised private equity to successfully execute a roll-up in the Consumer Electronics sector and has assumed senior executive roles.

Academic, entrepreneur share innovation insights

Posted by Elena del Valle on September 21, 2012

The Innovator's Way book cover

The Innovator’s Way book cover

Photos: The MIT Press
Many entrepreneurs may believe innovation, the adoption of change, leads to success. Data do not support that belief: The success rate for innovation initiatives is an unexpectedly low 4 percent, according to Business Week (2005).

Peter J. Denning and Robert Dunham, authors of The Innovator’s Way Essential Practices for Successful Innovation (The MIT Press,$29.95), 434-page hardcover book published in 2010, believe innovation is a personal skill that can be developed and expanded. They are of the opinion that there are innovation regularities that recur and make it possible to learn and practice the skills that foster innovation. They make a distinction between innovation and invention and clarify that invention doesn’t have to preclude innovation.

Denning and Dunham noticed two notable exceptions to the low innovation rate. They are individuals who are “serial innovators” with a higher than 50 percent success rate; and “collaboration networks” made up of volunteer groups with limited managerial oversight such as the internet, the World Wide Web and Linux.

The authors define eight personal practices they believe successful innovators share: sensing, envisioning, offering, adopting, sustaining, executing, leading, and embodying. Weakness in any of these, according to the authors, may lead to lack of innovation.

Peter Denning, co-author, The Innovator's Way
Peter Denning, co-author, The Innovator’s Way

In their book, divided into 16 chapters and four appendices, they outline the eight practices, how readers may apply them at an individual and group level. Their goal in writing the book is to present to readers an explanation of the way that they can develop a sensibility to innovation and learn the skills it requires through practice.

Robert Dunham, co-author, The Innovator's Way

Robert Dunham, co-author, The Innovator’s Way

At the time the book was published, Denning was Distinguished Professor, chair, Computer Science Department, and director, Cebrowski Institute for Information Innovation and Superiority, Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. Dunham founded the Institute for Generative Leadership, and Enterprise Performance, a consulting company.

The Innovator's Way book cover

Click to buy The Innovator’s Way