Welcome!

News Feed Item

Innovators Need Six Key Traits to Get an Idea Off the Drawing Board and Earn That Very First Dollar of Profit

Successfully Completing the "First Mile" of Innovation Requires a Specialized Mix of Abilities, and Not Everyone Has Them, Says Innovation Expert Scott D. Anthony

NEW YORK, NY -- (Marketwired) -- 03/18/14 -- True innovators leverage great ideas to create both market impact and a profitable business. The right driver can speed an innovation effort through its perilous first mile, from drawing board to the first dollar of profit -- while the wrong driver can cause a wreck.

"Every company needs an organic innovation strategy to drive growth and keep up with changing markets," says Scott D. Anthony, Managing Partner of the strategy and innovation consulting firm Innosight. "But the core skills and systems employed by most business leaders are optimized around supporting today's business model -- not developing tomorrow's. A knack for experimentation and tolerance for failure are among the essential skills leaders need in innovation's first mile. And not every executive has those skills."

Anthony runs down a list of key traits in his new book, The First Mile: A Launch Manual for Getting Great Ideas into the Market (Harvard Business Review Press, May 2014).

Empathy and experience are two "must-haves" for drivers of innovation:

  • Empathy for the problems, desires, and constraints of target customers: Empathy is critical to developing solutions with sufficient resonance to support a scalable business. And innovators who identify strongly with customers often find better commercial traction.

    Anthony points to the example of Netflix founder Reed Hastings and his personal frustration with paying late fees for movie rentals. According to Anthony, too often corporate innovation efforts suffer from gaps in this kind of customer empathy.

  • Courses and lessons from the "school of experience": Management experience should match the needs of the business. Out-of-date or irrelevant experiences are at best slightly helpful and at worst dangerously misleading. "All else being equal, seek drivers who know what they're doing," says Anthony. "One who is just learning the ropes of a market that's filled with experts can end up languishing in the first mile."

    Anthony uses the example of a product-focused Fortune 100 company that wanted to launch a service business: the internal project team grew to nearly 100 people. But no team member had ever started a business, and none had relevant service industry experience. The effort "ran into wall after wall." He contrasts this with Procter & Gamble, which successfully launched multiple franchise businesses by hiring or acquiring outside expertise.

What other characteristics improve the chance of steering innovation through its first mile?

  • Discovery skills help the organization address uncertainty as it tries to bring a new idea to market -- e.g., skills like questioning, experimenting, observing, and associational thinking.
  • Detail orientation is critical to managing the dozens of moving pieces in every innovation experiment -- insufficient attention to detail always leads to missed opportunities.
  • Comfort with micro-course corrections will steady the organization as it runs into challenges that could not have been predicted at the outset.
  • Natural curiosity and an eye for the unexpected can help the organization find lessons in first-mile challenges, and potentially tear things apart and rebuild where necessary.

"Because the world is changing so fast, over-reliance on securing today's success can easily light the fuse of tomorrow's strategic failure," says Anthony. "Many of today's corporate leaders didn't grow up in this kind of environment, and they didn't develop the coping skills to handle this pace of change. But executives with right traits and skills won't get tunnel vision, and they won't get stuck. So organizations need to make sure they have the right mix of leaders -- those who can best bring innovations to market and those who grow and optimize today's business."

Where should organizations and innovators look for talented first-mile operators?

  • Looking outside: According to Anthony, outside experts may be the first, best option. "Companies with a promote-from-within culture often believe that they can solve any problem. And if given enough time, they may be able to work out the intricacies of a new business model. But bringing in an outside expert who already knows the industry or model can help to minimize time spent going down blind alleys."

  • Looking inside: "Finding the right talent inside an organization can be challenging," says Anthony. But if the organization is committed to using internal resources, he recommends starting the search by looking for people who had roles featuring high degrees of uncertainty -- e.g., launching a new product or entering a new geography. Organizations can also look to their own fringes, where they might find employees who are languishing because their natural inclination to work on discovery projects is being stifled in more execution-oriented role.

"Recognize too that critical first-mile skills and abilities can improve with conscious practice," says Anthony. "Companies that want to cultivate innovation talent need to build specific capabilities around learning, giving people a chance to work on a number of different projects."

To arrange a conversation with Scott D. Anthony of Innosight, and/or receive a copy of The First Mile: A Launch Manual for Getting Great Ideas into the Market, contact Katarina Wenk-Bodenmiller of Sommerfield Communications at 212-255-8386 or katarina@ sommerfield.com.

ABOUT SCOTT D. ANTHONY
Scott D. Anthony is the Managing Partner of Innosight. Based in the firm's Singapore office, he leads its expansion into the Asia-Pacific region as well as its venture capital activities (Innosight Ventures). 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).

About Innosight
Innosight is a strategy and innovation consulting firm that helps organizations navigate disruptive change and manage strategic transformation. We work with enterprise leaders to identify new growth opportunities, accelerate innovation initiatives, and build capabilities. Innosight is based in Lexington, MA, with offices in Singapore and Lausanne, Switzerland.
www.innosight.com.

More Stories By Marketwired .

Copyright © 2009 Marketwired. All rights reserved. All the news releases provided by Marketwired are copyrighted. Any forms of copying other than an individual user's personal reference without express written permission is prohibited. Further distribution of these materials is strictly forbidden, including but not limited to, posting, emailing, faxing, archiving in a public database, redistributing via a computer network or in a printed form.

Latest Stories
In his session at Cloud Expo, Alan Winters, an entertainment executive/TV producer turned serial entrepreneur, will present a success story of an entrepreneur who has both suffered through and benefited from offshore development across multiple businesses: The smart choice, or how to select the right offshore development partner Warning signs, or how to minimize chances of making the wrong choice Collaboration, or how to establish the most effective work processes Budget control, or how to max...
Imagine having the ability to leverage all of your current technology and to be able to compose it into one resource pool. Now imagine, as your business grows, not having to deploy a complete new appliance to scale your infrastructure. Also imagine a true multi-cloud capability that allows live migration without any modification between cloud environments regardless of whether that cloud is your private cloud or your public AWS, Azure or Google instance. Now think of a world that is not locked i...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Auditwerx will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Auditwerx specializes in SOC 1, SOC 2, and SOC 3 attestation services throughout the U.S. and Canada. As a division of Carr, Riggs & Ingram (CRI), one of the top 20 largest CPA firms nationally, you can expect the resources, skills, and experience of a much larger firm combined with the accessibility and attent...
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Lachapelle, CEO of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), will provide an overview of various initiatives to certifiy the security of connected devices and future trends in ensuring public trust of IoT. Eric Lachapelle is the Chief Executive Officer of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), an international certification body. His role is to help companies and individuals to achieve professional, accredited and worldw...
In his General Session at 16th Cloud Expo, David Shacochis, host of The Hybrid IT Files podcast and Vice President at CenturyLink, investigated three key trends of the “gigabit economy" though the story of a Fortune 500 communications company in transformation. Narrating how multi-modal hybrid IT, service automation, and agile delivery all intersect, he will cover the role of storytelling and empathy in achieving strategic alignment between the enterprise and its information technology.
While DevOps most critically and famously fosters collaboration, communication, and integration through cultural change, culture is more of an output than an input. In order to actively drive cultural evolution, organizations must make substantial organizational and process changes, and adopt new technologies, to encourage a DevOps culture. Moderated by Andi Mann, panelists discussed how to balance these three pillars of DevOps, where to focus attention (and resources), where organizations might...
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem" ...
In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Scott Davis, CTO of Embotics, will discuss how automation can provide the dynamic management required to cost-effectively deliver microservices and container solutions at scale. He will discuss how flexible automation is the key to effectively bridging and seamlessly coordinating both IT and developer needs for component orchestration across disparate clouds – an increasingly important requirement at today’s multi-cloud enterprise.
The essence of cloud computing is that all consumable IT resources are delivered as services. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Yung Chou, Technology Evangelist at Microsoft, demonstrated the concepts and implementations of two important cloud computing deliveries: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS). He discussed from business and technical viewpoints what exactly they are, why we care, how they are different and in what ways, and the strategies for IT to transi...
All organizations that did not originate this moment have a pre-existing culture as well as legacy technology and processes that can be more or less amenable to DevOps implementation. That organizational culture is influenced by the personalities and management styles of Executive Management, the wider culture in which the organization is situated, and the personalities of key team members at all levels of the organization. This culture and entrenched interests usually throw a wrench in the work...
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound e...
Keeping pace with advancements in software delivery processes and tooling is taxing even for the most proficient organizations. Point tools, platforms, open source and the increasing adoption of private and public cloud services requires strong engineering rigor - all in the face of developer demands to use the tools of choice. As Agile has settled in as a mainstream practice, now DevOps has emerged as the next wave to improve software delivery speed and output. To make DevOps work, organization...
Niagara Networks exhibited at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which took place at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, in November 2016. Niagara Networks offers the highest port-density systems, and the most complete Next-Generation Network Visibility systems including Network Packet Brokers, Bypass Switches, and Network TAPs.
Virtualization over the past years has become a key strategy for IT to acquire multi-tenancy, increase utilization, develop elasticity and improve security. And virtual machines (VMs) are quickly becoming a main vehicle for developing and deploying applications. The introduction of containers seems to be bringing another and perhaps overlapped solution for achieving the same above-mentioned benefits. Are a container and a virtual machine fundamentally the same or different? And how? Is one techn...
Extreme Computing is the ability to leverage highly performant infrastructure and software to accelerate Big Data, machine learning, HPC, and Enterprise applications. High IOPS Storage, low-latency networks, in-memory databases, GPUs and other parallel accelerators are being used to achieve faster results and help businesses make better decisions. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Michael O'Neill, Strategic Business Development at NVIDIA, focused on some of the unique ways extreme computing is...