Academic journal article Research-Technology Management

Getting Innovation Right: How Leaders Leverage Inflection Points to Drive Success

Academic journal article Research-Technology Management

Getting Innovation Right: How Leaders Leverage Inflection Points to Drive Success

Article excerpt

Getting Innovation Right: How Leaders Leverage Inflection Points to Drive Success

Seth Kahan (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2013)

Timing has always been a wildcard in the innovation process, a factor that can derail even the best-planned innovation efforts. Few have suggested approaches to leverage timing to good effect. Seth Kahan, in Getting Innovation Right, addresses that gap, providing one of the best operational frameworks I have seen for recognizing and capitalizing on innovation opportunities at the right time to provide significant value. Kahan's methodologies, which are clearly presented and explained, enable readers to build a plan and execute innovation strategies within their organizations.

Kahan's system relies on identifying "inflection points" and "opportunity windows" to better gauge the timing of innovations. He defines seven key activities that are central to getting innovation right:

1. Pursuing inflection points

2. Building innovation capacity

3. Collecting intelligence

4. Shifting perspectives

5. Exploiting disruption

6. Generating value

7. Driving innovation uptake

Above all, Kahan emphasizes speed and nimbleness in acting on innovation opportunities.

Using an easy-reading style and lots of anecdotes, the book offers vivid examples to illustrate how these key activities have been put into practice in real companies. This practical approach is refreshing after reading too many academic books that espouse theory without offering any "in the trenches" learning on how to apply those theories in the real world. Many of the book's examples are drawn from service companies and nonprofits, but they provide enough detail to allow readers to see how the concepts might be implemented in other types of firms, including companies developing and manufacturing products.

For the most part, these practices are well discussed and well illustrated. The chapter on exploiting disruption, however, leaves some key questions unanswered. …

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