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Innovation is Key to Exporting Success for SMEs

Idea posted: May 2015
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Operations

Innovative companies can find success in export markets, but is there a correlation in the other direction: Can exporting lead to greater innovation? A researcher in Australia, dissecting data from thousands of Australian SMEs, discovered some correlation between exporting and innovation, but concluded that it is wiser to focus on innovation first, before attempting to conquer export markets.

Idea #520
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SpaceJunk, Miguel Soares, 2001, 3D animation (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

How Companies Are Trading Innovation Quality for Quantity

Idea posted: May 2015
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship

When it comes to innovation, are companies mistaking quantity for quality? New research shows that companies who file for a greater number of patents are also filing for patents that are less valuable. This leads to overestimating one’s research productivity — and undermining future innovation.

Idea #512
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The Golden Goose, cover illustration by Mary Lott Seaman, published in 1928 by the MacMillan Company

Will Corporations Leaving Basic Scientific Research Kill the Golden Goose?

Idea posted: April 2015
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Who will invent the new Nylon? Unlike the DuPonts of the past, large corporations are focusing more on applied research, which can lead more quickly to products, than basic, longer-term scientific research that benefits society as a whole.

Idea #509
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Marion A. Trozzolo (1925 –1992) was an innovator, inventor, entrepreneur and  the first manufacturer of teflon coated cookware (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Should Technology Innovators Participate in the Commercialization Process?

Idea posted: October 2014
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Marketing
  • Operations

Conventional wisdom has it that technology based entrepreneurs are better off commercializing their product by contracting with an incumbent (i.e. licensing). But this trade-off may not always be optimal, because if the innovator can learn from its own commercialization experience, albeit losing some profit initially, it could avoid making the same trade-off with future innovations, thus securing long-term profitability. Alternatively, joint commercialization may be the best approach.

Idea #448
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Pierre and Marie Curie in their laboratory, 1906 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

How to Build Long-Lasting Collaborations

Idea posted: August 2014
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Effective collaboration is at the heart of the best organizations. It’s not enough, however, to launch new collaborative relationships. Ongoing, long-lasting collaborations have a greater return on an organization’s productivity and performance than new collaborations. Managers must understand how to help collaborations to last — and new research shows that the actions and activities that make collaborations last are not the same as those that enable new collaborations.

Idea #426
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Balancing Incentives, Risk and Tolerance of Failure for Collaborative Innovation

Idea posted: July 2014
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Financial incentives for managers of innovative projects, a firm’s tolerance for failure, and the number of managers involved in the projects all influence resource allocation (and chances for success) for those projects. 

Idea #418
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The Procession of the Magi (detail), by Benozzo Gozzoli (c 1421–1497), Chapel of the Magi, Medici Palace Florence

When Suspending Group Debate Enables Innovation

Idea posted: June 2014
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Traditionally, new product development teams generate ideas for innovations by ‘continuous’ group interaction. This method has its drawbacks, however. Many good ideas get lost in the ‘noise’ of the debate. Taking a short break from discussion to allow people to reflect and gather their thoughts could make a real difference to the number and diversity of ideas — and, importantly, the quality of the final concept.

Idea #388
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The Sower by Jean-François Millet, circa 1865, Walters Art Museum, Baltimore

How Well Is CSR Embedded in Business Strategy?

Idea posted: May 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change

CSR and sustainable development are now widely seen as core parts of business. This does not, however, mean they’re always treated as core parts of business strategy. The management control systems big companies use to design, implement and monitor CSR sometimes suggest a ‘reactive’ rather than a ‘proactive’ approach from leaders.

Idea #374
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Dinamismo di Treno Nave Aereo, 1929, by Italian futurist painter Giulio D'Anna (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Why Inferior Innovations Often Beat the Best

Idea posted: April 2014
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Learning & Behaviour

In theory, companies base decisions on whether or not to buy a new technology on an objective assessment of its merits and demerits. In practice, however, it doesn’t always work that way. Random events and ‘copy-cat’ behaviours among competitors play a significant role in the spread of innovation.

Idea #369
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Robert Hooke, at Christ Church Oxford, where he studied surrounded by some of his inventions. Painting by Rita Greer 2011 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Great Innovation! But What’s it for? Marketers Beware

Idea posted: April 2014
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Marketing

Product designers and marketers might be very excited about a new product with impressive new features and a bold new design. But consumers will not recognize the newness of the product if they cannot figure out what the product is in the first place — which can lead to a major disconnect between the reaction that companies expect from consumers (“Wow, what a great innovation!) and the actual reaction (“What is it?”).

Idea #355
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Managing Cross-industry Innovation

Idea posted: April 2014
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Cross-industry collaborations can combine and ‘re-configure’ existing technologies and lead to the development of new ‘applications’. Their success, however, depends on more than a culture of enterprise and a commitment to innovation at the ‘partnership’ companies. Procedural and organizational factors can make or break interindustry product development. 

Idea #357
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Generalist CEOs Not Specialists Spur Innovation

Idea posted: March 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change

Generalist CEOs — CEOs who have built their careers in different industries or for different firms — are more likely to spur innovation in their companies than specialist CEOs with technical knowledge who have never left their industries. The major reason is that generalists are not afraid: if they lose their jobs after an ambitious transformative innovation effort fails, their skills and knowledge will easily transfer to another job in another firm or industry. Specialist CEOs must tread more carefully.

Idea #349
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John Evelyn discovers sculptor Grinling Gibbons (1648 - 1721). Gibbons became Master Carver in Wood to the Court of King Charles II

Co-creating with Customers: More Pros than Cons?

Idea posted: March 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Marketing

Involving customers in the design and delivery of products and services can be a cost-effective way to meet the demand for constant innovation and improved ‘customer experience’. It has, however, the power to destroy as well as create value. Much depends on the human and technological interfaces between customers and the company.

Idea #344
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The Steben Twins, famous trapeze artists and innovators of the feet-to-feet catching technique (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Innovation Partnerships — Loosely or Tightly Coupled?

Idea posted: February 2014
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship

‘Loosely coupled’ research partnerships — in which the flow of new ideas and new knowledge tends to be one-way — are often considered the ‘poor relation’ in the quest for innovation. They can, however, be just as successful as ‘tightly coupled’ and more reciprocal alternatives. Much depends on the conditions at the ‘in-sourcing’ company. 

Idea #329
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The Boyhood of Raleigh 1870, Sir John Everett Millais, The Tate Gallery , London

Storytelling for Entrepreneurial Endeavour

Idea posted: February 2014
  • Finance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Learning & Behaviour

Good stories can increase legitimacy and persuade investors and valued employees to commit to your organization. At the same time, an inauthentic story could be worse than none at all. In this Idea, six strategies that executives can employ to create, refine and deliver their stories are outlined. Read on to learn more.

Idea #324
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Seminal Californian rock group The Mothers of Invention, Netherlands, 1968 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Mothers of Invention: Companies that ‘Spawn’ New Enterprises

Idea posted: February 2014
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Learning & Behaviour

Many companies don’t try very hard to retain innovative employees who want to set up their own enterprises to develop ‘spin-off’ products. At first sight, this might seem like an unwise decision: when the employee leaves, commercial opportunities leave with them, and a new competitor ‘arrives’. There are circumstances, however, when ‘entrepreneurial spawning’ is preferable to exploiting ideas internally. Much depends on the fit between the ‘mother’ organization and the products under development.

Idea #318
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Ideas, Implementation and the Learning Organization

Idea posted: January 2014
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Learning & Behaviour

Employee deviation from official strategy can result in discoveries and innovations that increase profits. It’s not always to be actively encouraged, though. Employees who try to implement the ideas of management — and provide feedback on what works and what doesn’t — can better serve the interests of the organization in the long term.

Idea #314
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Knowledge Sharing Networks Between Developing and Developed Countries

Idea posted: January 2014
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Marketing
  • Operations

Managers in emerging markets can benefit from interpersonal ties to more developed countries. Personal contacts abroad can provide useful ‘inside information’ and transfer critical knowledge — for free. They should not, however, be pursued exclusively. The best personal networks include contacts at home as well as overseas. Recent research points to the relative merits and usefulness of local and distant knowledge.

Idea #292
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Woman and Man Contemplating the Moon, David Caspar Friedrich, c.1818-1824, Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Innovation: Seeing the Wood for the Trees

Idea posted: November 2013
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change
  • Operations

Popular process management activities such as total quality management (TQM) facilitate incremental innovation but impede exploratory innovation. If a firm’s capacity for innovation is rooted in its ability to explore new areas – perhaps making groundbreaking discoveries – as well as exploiting existing capabilities, then process management activities must be separated from efforts to generate completely new ideas. 

Idea #268
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The Wagah border often called the "Berlin wall of Asia", is a ceremonial border on India–Pakistan Border,

Organizational Identity and Adaptation to Disruptive Change

Idea posted: November 2013
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change

Discontinuous technologies (often the result of ‘disruptive innovation’) emerge at the periphery of organizational vision, requiring fundamental changes in business structures in order to be adopted successfully. So it is not surprising that they present particularly demanding challenges for executives. This Idea explains why organizational identity has an important role to play in dealing with this type of technological change.

Idea #272
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Positive and Negative Drivers of Creativity

Idea posted: November 2013
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

There is no doubt that creativity is essential for organizations to thrive. But how can you inspire creativity in your organization? This Idea suggests that in addition to the popular perception that positivity inspires high creativity, negative affects also have an important role to play. In fact, when a combination of both negative and positive effects occur together, the highest levels of creativity take place.

Idea #266
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Blue Ballet, by South African artist Glen Josselsohn, 2011 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Innovation and External ‘Clusters’ in Emerging Markets

Idea posted: November 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Marketing
  • Operations

Regional clusters, combining companies and research institutes and government agencies, have long been considered important for the development of new businesses and new ideas, particularly in highly competitive and turbulent environments such as emerging economies. But they need to be complemented by external networks. A recent study underlines the link between successful innovation and partnerships outside ‘home territories’.

Idea #263
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Don’t Just Follow the Crowdfunding Crowd

Idea posted: October 2013
  • Finance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
Institutions: London Business School

Crowdfunding has been much talked about as an innovative way of funding entrepreneurial businesses, allowing them to source financial backing from a growing plethora of online platforms. But in reality crowdfunding may not be suitable for a particular business idea or sector – and some crowdfunding platforms may not be viable at all. As the research’s author, Gary Dushnitsky, puts it, “It’s great that crowdfunding is the solution, but to what question and, specifically, in what industry?”

Idea #236
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Innovation and the Power of Positive Thinking

Idea posted: July 2013
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
Institutions: HEC Paris

A company’s ability to develop new products is not solely a function of its resources. Managerial cognition and organizational context play a big part. Negative perceptions of changes in the operating environment and defensive strategies are likely to lead to less innovative products and stifle creativity and entrepreneurship. We need to take an integrated, multi-dimensional approach to understanding innovation and new-product development decisions.

Idea #171
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Embrace infant warmer used to prevent hypothermia in newborns (Photo courtesy of http://embraceglobal.org)

Jugaad Innovation: Lessons for the West

Idea posted: June 2013
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship

There are many books on to how to inspire creativity and innovation in organizations. But what do you do when there is no shortage of great ideas and the problem is not finding them, but limited capital and other budgetary barriers standing in the way of making them a reality? Give up, or consider a new, frugal approach to innovation? In this idea, the principles of Jugaad innovation are explored, offering companies a new way to innovate when budgets are tight. 

Idea #152
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Think difference

How Social Intrapreneurs Get Heard

Idea posted: May 2013
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
Institutions: INSEAD

Corporate social entrepreneurship initiatives, usually the work of intrapreneurs (entrepreneurial executives within the corporation) keen to solve social problems, have important macro- and micro-economic implications. They create value for people who are not current stakeholders - and they create opportunities to innovate and diversify. There are, however, barriers to their development. A model that counters the conventional logic of the organization and puts financial sustainability before growth could be the solution.

Idea #151
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Solar-powered Camel Fridge System, Nomadic Communities Trust (Source: Wikimedia)

Reverse Innovation: Ideas from Emerging Countries

Idea posted: April 2013
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Marketing

Emerging markets are usually coveted for the potential customers they represent — perhaps hundreds of millions of new consumers who are looking (or will be looking in the near future) for products to buy.  Most companies, however, develop products for developed markets first and then adapt them to the emerging markets. Research conducted by two professors from Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business reveals a new strategy that reverses the traditional flow of innovation. This new strategy calls for developing products that are adopted first in emerging markets and then adapted for

Idea #127
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GINKS Focus Group, Ghana (Source: Wikimedia)

Managing Workforce Ideas Effectively

Idea posted: April 2013
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Learning & Behaviour

The effective management of employees’ ideas encourages people to participate in the organization, beyond the scope of their job. For organizations to sustain success in their markets, and in order to survive, they need to utilize their workforce as effectively as possible particularly by stimulating and implementing employees’ ideas for improvement and innovation. The results not only benefit the organization, but also contribute to employee satisfaction.

Idea #131
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Mahatma Gandhi. Photo 1947 Margaret Bourke-White, LIFE Magazine (Source: Wikimedia)

Live and Learn: The Innovation Imperative

Idea posted: April 2013
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change

The success of innovative businesses can be attributed in part to the fact that, by innovating, they learn to face new challenges, which in turn improves their knowledge and skills. Extending their range of experience can lead them to outperform their competitors.

Idea #121
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Some Have Entertained Angels Unawares, Edward Clifford (1844-1907) (Source: Wikimedia)

Creating Harmony: Harnessing Stakeholders to Boost Innovation

Idea posted: April 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change
Institutions: Henley Business School

Collaborative innovation and co-creation between stakeholders can deliver value for businesses.

Collaborative innovation can be defined as: “Working with others, sharing knowledge and learning, and building consensus to invent something new or create a new way of doing something, with a view to realizing shared goals.”

Benefits include more – and better – ideas, reduced risk, increased quality and speed to market, reduced costs, new skills and resources, an enhanced brand, and the ability to create value for the common good.

Idea #122
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