June 16, 2019 | 07:47 AM

Smart Spending

24.04.2014To Succeed In Innovation, Avoid Extremes

When Scott Anthony talks about innovation people listen.

Roger Trapp, Forbes.com

When Scott Anthony talks about innovation people listen. This is, after all, the man who is managing partner of Innosight, the consulting firm founded by Clay Christensen, and author or co-author of a string of books, including The Little Black Book of Innovation  and Building a Growth Factory. So when he says that “innovation has almost become a cliché” we should probably pay attention.

The Latest Problem With Obamacare Could Cost You
Watch Out HBO, Netflix Is After You
Billionaire Bill Ackman, Valeant Want To Takeover Botox-Maker Allergan

His point is that innovation itself is so commonplace (at least as an aspiration) that it is no longer a differentiator. As he says, his firm receives increasing numbers of inquiries from “old-style manufacturing companies” for the simple reason that executives have tried everything else. This is not to say, of course, that everybody can succeed in this area any more than they can in any other. Successful innovation, like all initiatives, requires a sound strategy.

In his latest book, The First Mile (Harvard Business Review Press), Anthony is attempting to use his experience of advising large companies and investing in small start-ups to set out a few ground rules. “There are real differences, but you see more commonalities than you might expect,” he explains.

Top among his observations are the importance of realising that conventional business plans set down on paper as all would-be entrepreneurs are advised “are not worth very much”, of seeing the limitations of market research – because people “tell you things that aren’t true” – and of learning that it is possible to have too much capital, for the simple reason that it makes you risk-averse.

Among the other lessons in The First Mile is the importance of balancing confidence with humility. As Anthony points out, “every idea is partially true and partially wrong”. So, while innovators – whether within large organizations or in start-ups – need to have the confidence to take on established assumptions and ways of doing things, they also need sufficient humility to be prepared to adapt. Even if successful, the path they take to reach their goal may be different from that originally envisaged, he adds.

This need for balance is the bedrock of Anthony’s whole approach. Urging innovators to “avoid extremes”, he says that “over-analysis is dangerous, but doing without thinking is possibly even more dangerous”. The “lean start-up” concept, which is currently much in vogue, has a lot to recommend it but it should not be taken too far.

With so many judgement calls to be made, there is clearly a key role for leaders. In large companies that are having trouble coping with an environment characterised by uncertainty, the challenges for executives are especially acute. And they are unlikely to be met by continuing with the approaches of old.

Anthony notes with approval the remarks of Scott Cook, founder of Intuit INTU -0.55%, the provider of business support software for small businesses, about a new role for leaders. The job now, he says, is to help the people beneath them design experiments. This, adds Anthony with some understatement, is not the way leaders have seen themselves historically.

Top Stories on FatCat.com.au

It's raining money The $900 cash bonus is on its way to almost nine million Australians. FatCat gives 5 smart ways to spend your windfall.
Property vs Shares
China's Enrons

News from TheBull.com.au

© Copyright 2019, FatCat.com.au. All right reserved.