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Companies in Asia Need to Make Innovation Everyone's Mandate, Says Singapore-Based Consultant Scott D. Anthony, Author of the Just-Released "Little Black Book of Innovation"New Book from Harvard Business Review Press Highlights Practical Principles That Can Empower Everyone in an Organization to Become an Innovator (January 15, 2012)
SINGAPORE -- (Marketwire) -- 01/15/12 -- In order to compete with the rapid-pace of business growth in Asia, companies need to change their approach to innovation. Too many see it as something theoretical and elusive, a job only for those in R&D and product development. Instead they should be ensuring that everyone -- from leaders to front-line employees -- plays a role in the process. Management's key priority today should be to unlock their teams' innovation potential.
That's according to Scott D. Anthony, Managing Director and head of the Asia-Pacific operation of innovation consulting firm Innosight and author of just-released "The Little Black Book of Innovation: How It Works, How to Do It" (Harvard Business Review Press, January 2012). The book integrates some of the best and most tested innovation insights and practices into one easy-to-read volume and provides a 28-day program that can turn individuals and organizations into more successful innovators. Drawing on his experience working alongside and advising businesses in Asia, Anthony focuses on pragmatic advice rather than just theory.
"Asia is exciting because there's such a strong appetite for innovation," says Anthony. "Yet markets here are fairly new and evolving so rapidly that there hasn't been an opportunity to put robust systems in place. Working on innovation in these markets forces you to focus on what really works -- simple, practical principles that can be applied quickly to generate results." The book highlights examples of innovation successes from companies in the region and around the world, including Indian conglomerate Godrej & Boyce and Japan-based discount hair salon QB House.
"It used to be that locally based companies could win by being disciplined fast followers leveraging lower input costs, and global outputs would simply sell what headquarters provided them. Now, in order to win in local and global markets, everyone needs to get better at innovation," continues Anthony.
He defines innovation simply: "something different that has impact." He distills past successes and failures, academic research and years of personal field experience into simple, actionable approaches that allow anyone to achieve that impact. Anthony also offers pragmatic advice, such as: recognize your first idea is almost sure to be wrong; look for insights in outlying data; don't confuse creativity with innovation, and identify the critical assumptions you didn't know you were making.
Innovation Is More Attainable Than Many Think
The history of innovation successes, the Internet and social networks have made innovation easier and lowered the cost of creating and disseminating new ideas and products. "You don't have to be Steve Jobs to succeed at innovating. When companies fail at innovation, it's because the practical way to do it isn't clear. It isn't a mystical process, and it isn't reserved for geniuses. Innovation is achievable by -- and is the responsibility of -- nearly every department and employee," Anthony says.
Cutting to the Heart of Great Innovation Thinking
Amazon.com lists more than 40,000 innovation-related books. Accordingly, even the savviest student of innovation will struggle to find the must-reads. Anthony does a good bit of this work for readers. He identifies a group of top innovation thinkers and practitioners and distills their most important insights. For instance...
- A.G. Lafley, former CEO of Procter & Gamble. Lafley's "consumer is boss" mindset revitalized P&G's innovation efforts. Anthony argues that innovators should follow Lafley's lead and take an external focus -- investing the time to deeply understand current and potential customers.
- Richard N. Foster, innovation thought leader and Innosight lead director. Foster's research shows that long-term "survivors" tend to underperform market indices. To outperform the market, Foster says, you have to change at the pace and scale of the market, without losing control.
- Clayton Christensen, Harvard Business School professor and Innosight co-founder. Christensen's writing describes how doing everything right can leave a successful organization susceptible to attack from a disruptive innovator who changes the game with a simple, accessible and/or affordable solution.
- Rita McGrath, professor at Columbia University. Successful entrepreneurs will tell you that there is a wide gulf between your first idea and the right idea. McGrath provides practical ways to build and implement a "plan to learn" that helps to quickly identify which of your assumptions are off.
- Thomas A. Edison. While innovation may be more approachable than ever, studying Edison reminds innovators that it still takes hard work. Don't be afraid to sweat and work hard to create an idea.
Avoiding Innovation Pitfalls
In addition to the patterns and practices of the best innovators, Anthony points to "seven deadly sins" of innovation and outlines how to avoid them. The sins are...
- Pride, where an innovator does what they want, rather than what the market wants. Avoid it by taking an external view.
- Sloth, where innovation efforts slow to a crawl. Avoid it by turning innovation from an academic to an active activity.
- Gluttony, where too many resources ironically inhibit successful innovation efforts. Avoid it by limiting resources in the early stage of innovation to force hard choices and spur creativity.
- Lust, where innovators get distracted by "bright, shiny objects." Avoid it by carefully choosing the opportunities to pursue and by eschewing the rest.
- Wrath, where even smart risk-takers face severe punishment. Avoid it by recognizing that failure is part of innovation and rewarding behaviors that support innovation.
- Greed, where the lure of quick growth leads innovators to target mature markets populated by powerful incumbents. Avoid it by being patient for growth and focusing on creating new markets.
- Envy, where bad relations between the core business and new growth efforts poison innovation. Avoid it by celebrating both the core business and innovation efforts.
Twenty-Eight Days to Innovation
"The Little Black Book of Innovation" draws on the experiences of organizations like Procter & Gamble, CVS, Turner Broadcasting, Walgreens, Intuit, Godrej & Boyce and QB House that have built world-class innovation capabilities to lay out a 28-day program that can help any business or individual get better at innovating.
Week 1 involves discovering opportunities for innovation; week 2 is for blueprinting ideas; week 3 is for assessing and testing, and week 4 is for outlining how to move forward.
Each day's training is organized around answering a critical innovation question. For example, Day 19 helps innovators determine, "How can I get people behind my idea?" The combination of accessible case examples and practical how-to tips allows any reader to immediately put the book's ideas into action.
"We're fortunate: Decades of academic research and work by leading practitioners can now point the way to innovation success. You just need a practical way to turn all that insight into action," Anthony said.
To arrange a conversation with Scott D. Anthony of Innosight and/or receive a copy of "The Little Black Book of Innovation: How It Works, How to Do It", contact Katarina Wenk-Bodenmiller of Sommerfield Communications, Inc. at +1-212-255-8386 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
ABOUT SCOTT D. ANTHONY
Scott D. Anthony is the managing director of Innosight, Asia-Pacific. Based in Innosight's Singapore office, he leads its Asian consulting operations and its venture-capital investment activities. He has worked with clients ranging from national governments to companies in industries as diverse as healthcare, telecommunications, consumer products and software. He is the author of "The Little Black Book of Innovation" (Harvard Business Review Press, January 2012) and "The Silver Lining" (Harvard Business Review Press, 2009). He is the co-author of "Seeing What's Next" (Harvard Business Review Press, 2004) and "The Innovator's Guide to Growth" (Harvard Business Review Press, 2008).
Innosight is an innovation and strategy consulting and investment firm with offices in Boston, Singapore and India. It works with companies to devise growth strategies, discover new, high-growth markets and create disruptive new products and services. Its comprehensive, end-to-end approach converts the quest for innovation and growth into a predictable and reliable process. For more information visit www.innosight.com.
Sommerfield Communications, Inc.
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