30 Minutes to Get Unplugged from the Innovation Hype


At a time when organisations are plugging more effort into innovation, Gerard Harkin has written a book called ‘Innovation Unplugged’. Why? As he puts it himself, Gerard is on a mission to make innovation more effective by ‘unplugging’ from the hype, confusion and ‘gobbledygook’ that are so prevalent today, and return to the basic principles of innovation, and its role in enabling business growth.

One of the first things that struck me about Innovation Unplugged is that it’s different from the standard 250-page business book. Innovation Unplugged is a ‘30 minute read’ and is refreshingly free from complex innovation models and stage gate processes.

Across the eight short chapters Harkin covers everything from how to match your corporate ambitions with your innovation goals, to practical advice on setting up major innovation programmes.

  • Chapter 1 discusses the importance of profitable innovation and why responsibility for innovation should be shared across the management team.
  • Chapter 2 highlights the vast range of innovation options available to help a business to grow. Harkin paints a clear picture why technology companies should not limit themselves to technological or product innovation. He also stresses the importance of articulating the big and small challenges facing a business, before commencing an innovation programme.

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Avoid Innovation Paralysis – Why all Companies Can and Must Embrace Change


Someone once told me this: “Innovation is like an apparition of the Virgin Mary: one person saw her, but everyone talks about it.” Although funny, the quote aptly captures an attitude towards innovation that exists in many companies today. Innovation – and the skills that enable it – are sometimes considered as mystical gifts, preserved for the chosen few. In other cases, innovation is feared, because it involves unregulated processes, risk taking and investments with unpredictable outcomes.

Innovation. The word is tossed around carelessly, and is repeatedly illustrated with the same few business cases. Some of the usual suspects include autonomous transport (Google, Tesla), wearable tech (Apple) and of course … the sharing economy (Uber, Airbnb).

Innovation is a business discipline

A lot of business leaders know they want innovation, yet they struggle to define what it actually means to them. Simply put, innovation is about making changes that add business value, in terms of either revenue growth or increased operational efficiency. This value can be created in four ways:

  1. introducing new products;
  2. optimizing operational processes;

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A Strategy that Requires Innovation


Every executive knows that their teams should be more nimble, should be operating at a higher speed, and should be innovating. But these are all discrete capabilities, not necessarily in service to any greater strategy, and in fact much of what passes for strategy doesn’t understand how to take advantage of these capabilities. In this article, the authors describe the Maneuver Strategy from the new book, Outmaneuver. This strategy relies on innovation to achieve its goals, rather than accommodating innovation when it must.

For at least a decade, pundits and experts have expounded on the need to innovate.  Corporations need innovation, we say, for a number of reasons.  The pace of change is clearly accelerating.  The average lifespan of a company on the S&P 500 has been cut in half over the last twenty years.  Customer expectations are changing rapidly.  New technologies emerge constantly.  These reasons drive the need for more innovation.  But what’s often missing is the rationale and focus.

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How Innovation and Authenticity Complement Each Other in a Corporate Environment

Authenticity and innovation are two of today’s biggest corporate buzzwords. They are often considered as separate values, but in reality they have much in common and in this article we will examine the areas of overlap and potential leverage benefits.

Neither of these terms have the same definition from company to company, or even amongst individuals. For the purpose of this article we will use the following definitions:

  • Innovation is the process of translating an idea or invention into a good or service that creates value or for which customers will pay. (reference BusinessDictionary.com).
  • Authenticity is the quality of being real or true, and is best understood as a social construction that has been put into place to achieve a particular aim. (Cambridge Dictionary online and Library Trends (Vol.56, No. 1)

With that out of the way, let’s examine ways in which authenticity leverages and supports innovation, and vice-versa. Some examples include:

1. Authenticity and Design Thinking

Without an authentic approach it is difficult to identify those key pain points that drive the development of truly innovative ideas.

These days’ innovation within a corporate setting is synonymous with Design Thinking (DT) approaches. The fact is that DT requires a genuine understanding and appreciation of not only what is possible, but what is most beneficial from a client / end user perspective.

2. Roles in innovation

People often think that being innovative is a singular focus on coming up with the lightbulb idea that will change everything. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. The reality is that innovation requires a range of skills and abilities, and few people possess all aspects (Suzan Briganti at Totem writes about this). Accordingly, it is important for innovators to recognize their true, specific skills in the context of identifying, selecting and executing new ideas.

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How Innovation Develops Among Individuals in Niche Social Networks

In the current digital arena, social networks have touched the lives of almost every human being on earth, allowing us to share life’s novelties with friends and loved ones. However, social networks are not restricted to sharing and commenting on pictures, but giving rise to innovation among individuals to help make our world a better place.

Social networks in the form of crowdfunding sites allow individuals to give wings to their innovative ideas for a new startup. Many online communities have also been set up to find innovative solutions for existing challenges such as: global warming, energy consumption, agriculture, space science, etc.

What kind of social networks are driving innovation?

  • Online project management tools from tech ventures such as FindNerd provide an android developer forumwhere tech people ideate and resolve queries as quickly as possible
  • Someone with a brilliant, innovative idea for a new mobile or web app can learn app development through social networks

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How to Do Business Model Innovation for the Established Firm

This article provides a systematic framework for helping executives of large, established organizations identify opportunities for business model innovation and organize themselves to pursue these opportunities. While also applicable to start-ups, this article focuses primarily on how to define, challenge, and revamp the business model of an existing business or organization.


In nearly every industry tried and tested business models are coming under attack at an unprecedented rate:Pharmaceutical companies are searching for alternatives to the blockbuster model. Banks are looking for innovative ideas to make up for lost fees and revenues due to new regulations. A drop in advertising revenues and circulation pushes newspapers towards new sources of income. Traditional brick and mortar bookstores are losing out to online competitors that are not encumbered by pricey real estate. Software providers are being threatened by cloud computing. The common root cause at the heart of the problem:a once successful business models.

“Changing a business model of an established organization is difficult – the gravitational pull of the existing business is hard to overcome.”

What is a business model, anyway?

A business model describes the logic behind how an organization communicates, creates, and captures value. Henry Chesbrough in his book “Open Innovation” suggests that a business model has six functions:

  • Articulate the value proposition – the value created for users by the offering based on the technology.
  • Identify a market segment – the users to whom the technology is useful and the purpose for which it will be used.

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How To Become A Business Model Architect

Our first article in this series, titled “Include Business Model Review as a New Year Resolution”, described a method to reveal weaknesses in your business model. So, what do you do next after you complete your business model assessment and find weaknesses in one or more of its cornerstones? You find Value Accelerators (VA)™! VA’s are specific and market-proven ideas, assets or strategies that directly accelerate revenue and profit growth. This article discusses how to develop, assess and prioritize the best VAs to strengthen weaknesses in your business model. It also gives you a link to download an example of a scorecard to help prioritize the VAs.

People, like companies, have problems they cannot solve alone. Frequently, the sufferer feels the pain and recognizes the onset of symptoms, but cannot find practical solutions. The sad part is that there are likely to be proven solutions for their specific condition – the sufferer just does not know how to find them. This describes the struggle a company faces with business model weaknesses. Diagnosing such problems is difficult (symptoms are frequently misread) and a reliable cure is hard to find.

A quick history of our experience with Accelerators (VA)™

From 1989 to 1995, I worked with a team involved in researching how companies in different industries use variations of the same process innovations in new product development, customer acquisition, production, distribution, and other major processes.  In other words, we were hunters – looking for solutions proven by others to improve our own processes

These gems were easy to find – the popular business press covered them, and we visited top companies to speak with executives who were happy to discuss the smart things they had done. Our team developed a series of analytical “lenses” to clarify the value and portability of these gems that helped us curate them. We started building a catalog of valuable, highly adaptable, portable innovations.

Here is not the end….To view the full Article about How To Become A Business Model Architect visit Innovation Management. Also visit our various programs of Online Learning Innovation Programs and also get updated with our latest Articles.


Getting Innovation to Scale – Emergence (part 1 of 3)


Through scaling, smart movers can quickly build substantial market shares – or define entirely new markets. To help understand scaling we have divided it into three main areas: Emergence, Networks and Waves. This article is on Emergence, the first in a series of three.

We operate in business and societal environments that are complex, dynamic, and uncertain. This environment provides new challenges and at the same time great opportunities through scaling – which we have defined as the successful introduction of innovations that spread rapidly in non-linear fashion, seemingly self-propelled and with relatively little effort, resulting in an outsized impact.


Our research draws on scientific approaches such as Complexity Theory, Behavioral Economicsand Systems Theory.  We have divided the topic into three main areas: Emergence, Networks, and Waves. Within these three areas, we have identified different tactics for leaders to benefit from scaling. We call these scaling frames.

  • Emergence. As collective behavior, this frame refers to the phenomenon of patterns becoming apparent in complex systems of interacting agents. Innovation leadership can look to make use of emergent collective behavior by designing openness into a system and designing rules for interaction, which allow successful behavior to surface and spread. We have distinguished 13 separate tactics -or scaling frames- that we have clustered under Emergence.
  • Networks. Innovation leadership can take advantage of the properties of networks, the structures and technology supporting networks, and the social conditioning that exists with network members to scale their innovations. We have identified six distinct network frames.

Here is not the end….To view the full Article about Getting Innovation to Scale – Emergence (part 1 of 3) visit Innovation Management. Also visit our various programs of Online Learning Innovation Programs and also get updated with our latest Articles.


Innovation Through Clean Sheet Redesign

Clean sheet redesign is the method of rethinking existing businesses from the ground up. For established companies, this is a way to innovate processes by asking the right questions about current practices. For start-ups working on a clean sheet, they can apply similar techniques to disrupt existing models, while taking inspiration from existing success stories from other industries.

The advantages of a clean sheet

Things change, both gradually and inexorably. When you want to change the world, you will have to take advantage of entrenched infrastructures and institutions.


The new breed of low-cost airlines work with a different business model: using one type of airplane and second-tier airports, flying only to profitable segments, and offering slashed prices and no-frills service.

How does clean sheet redesign work in practice?

The team found that they could replace large movers with smaller, niftier ones. Large movers were believed to move more at a time in a batch system.

Examine assumptions: keep asking “why?”

What does clean sheet redesign mean for innovation and innovative start-ups, and how can it play a role in their plans?


Innovation is often best done with pen and paper, by making a tree diagram of the reasons why things are as they are.


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Diversity and Innovation – A Perfect Team

div n innov

Please, not another business imperative! Every time I open a journal or glance at a blog it seems as though the panacea to all business ills has just been discovered and is waiting for me to embrace it! One minute I’m being told to hire for cultural fit, the next to increase diversity. It’s no wonder that employee engagement is falling because if I’m being pushed from pillar to post then it’s not surprising that my people are confused……

Which of us can honestly say hand on heart that thoughts such as these haven’t slunk through our heads in the wee small hours of the night; when we should be resting but our minds are busy with the imperative to do more, be more, and to drive our organisations through to success. And the problem with dark thoughts in the middle of the night is that they come singly, they present themselves as completely individual challenges which have to be conquered one by one.

      1. Collaborating for greatness

Don’t just take the market, shape the market or create entirely new markets”.

So hiring for cultural fit and promoting diversity together can strengthen business prospects. Let’s think for a moment about one of the key elements of a culture of innovation, namely collaboration.

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