Innovation Capital—Conclusion: Concrete Steps for Putting It All Together Page 251 Guidelines (1) Make 2 slides .and 400 words speech manuscript (Use simple

Innovation Capital—Conclusion: Concrete Steps for Putting It All Together

Page 251


(1) Make 2 slides .and 400 words speech manuscript (Use simple vocabulary)

(2) Summarize whatever your Team feels to be the key points from the Readings

(3) Be innovative and creative in your presentation

(4) You can also use examples or facts from beyond the reading

Conclusion: Concrete Steps for Putting It All Together

In chapter 1, we introduced innovation capital by examining the lives of Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla, two extraordinary inventors who experienced very different outcomes with regard to commercializing innovations with impact. Their example illustrates the differences between a great inventor and a great innovator. Innovative leaders need some creative chops like those of inventors, but they also need the ability to win resources and support for their ideas by building and utilizing innovation capital. In this conclusion, we provide some advice on how to get started right away

building your innovation capital. Before we do, however, we acknowledge the importance of not just innovation capital, but also a broad base of skills to commercialize innovation. “I think to drive innovation you have to do both flag planting and you have to do road building,” Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen (number seven on our list) told us. “I think that what has become clearer to me as we’ve grown the company is the importance of both of these activities. There is a whole set of employees that really get motivated and excited about what’s the next hill to climb. What’s the vision for where we are planting the next flag? But you also have to build the road toward that next hill. Successful leadership requires both the vision setting and the execution.” One thing that is clear from our research: creativity is not enough.

Tinker Hatfield, a design legend at Nike, having designed the Air Jordan, the first cross-trainer shoes, and the Nike HTM Flyknit Racer, made this observation of CEO Mark Parker: “I fall to pieces when the numbers start flying, but he is able to decipher all those things as a businessman and a marketing person and a merchandiser, yet he is equally adept at talking about design.” Parker, who started his career in R&D and design at Nike and designed the Flyknit Racer with Hatfield, acknowledges:

Ideas are easy in many ways, and there’s no shortage of great ideas. It’s the ability to bring those to life and at scale at some point that becomes important. You need to be able to communicate with a range of people on a team, from those who are wildly creative, to pragmatic engineering problem solvers, and then eventually those in finance and manufacturing and supply chain and merchandising and all the other elements of business . . . I think the ability to bridge the gap between right brain and left brain, to live in both worlds, to get them to understand each other, to talk to each other, is critical.

One reason Parker is an effective leader of innovation is his curiosity. He is curious not only about the challenges of developing creative product designs at Nike but also about the challenges associated with engineering, manufacturing, marketing, and selling products. He is eager to develop expertise in a wide range of areas, and this greater breadth of experience is valuable in helping him spot opportunities and problems. It also helps him develop a broader network of relationships with a greater range of resources. In turn, his wide network and the accompanying resources help him build his innovation capital, which, in a virtuous cycle, helps him secure more resources to pursue new ideas.

If you really want to have impact as a leader of innovation, you must start now building the broad skill set required to succeed. If you are currently only engaged in the idea generation phase of innovation, you need to develop some knowledge and expertise in all the business fundamentals that are relevant to successful implementation of an idea (see the sidebar “How Innovative Leaders Differ from Inventors and Typical Leaders”). If acquiring business knowledge simply doesn’t interest you, then you might just make peace with being an inventor or an idea person. If this is the case, recognize that either you need to find someone to complement you or your ideas may not have as much impact as they otherwise could. Many talented innovators realize the need for complementary execution skills in other arenas and wisely find others to provide that balance. There’s nothing wrong with that. Many founders of companies and individuals in R&D, design, marketing, and other fields just enjoy the creation aspect of innovation. But building innovation capital and being an innovative leader requires broader interests and a broader skill set. Creativity is not enough.

How Innovative Leaders Differ from Inventors and Typical Leaders

Our research on a sample of the world’s most innovative leaders confirms that innovative leaders have a broader skill set than do inventors. In particular, they engage in activities and behaviors that help them excel at both innovation and execution—they have more of a balance between imagination and pragmatism. In fact, our Innovator’s DNA assessment (which one of us [Jeff] developed with coauthors when writing The Innovator’s DNA; it can be accessed at the website compares an individual’s propensity to engage in innovation (the discovery skills of questioning, observing, networking and experimenting) and execution (the delivery skills of organizing, analyzing, detailed implementing, and self-disciplined executing). We see that innovative leaders are strong at both innovation and execution. They have a balanced portfolio of skills that is weighted somewhat toward innovation. This distribution of skills differs from that of product inventors, whose skill set is heavily weighted toward innovation (see the figure). The assessment also sheds light on the difference between CEOs leading innovative companies (firms consistently ranked in the top one hundred of the Forbes World’s Most Innovative Companies list) and executives leading more-typical companies (those not on the Forbes list). Leaders of innovative companies have skills and expertise that is more strongly weighted toward innovation than do typical CEOs, whose skills are more strongly weighted toward execution.

The skill set of a great leader of innovation differs from that of both a creative inventor and a typical leader. Effective leaders of innovation have a broader skill set and stronger execution skills than inventors do. They are better equipped to see through all the steps—all the things that need to be done—to ensure that a creative idea is implemented in a way that creates value for customers or internal users. And compared with typical leaders, they have the desire and willingness to generate and pursue novel ideas that have high risk, but also high potential returns.

Innovative leaders have a balance of innovation and execution skills


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