ADMN 415v5: Strategy and Technology Innovation Report a Broken Link

Lesson 1: The Importance of Technological Innovation


The authors discuss innovation in business and present what they argue are eight essential elements for innovation developed following a multiyear study of companies and executives. According to the article, elements of successful corporation innovation include aspiration, identifying and choosing among various innovative options, and discovery, in addition to business evolution, the acceleration of innovation as compared to competitors, launching innovation on the proper scale, the creation of external networks, and the motivation of employees to implement innovations. The article presents examples of innovation from several companies including TomTom, RELX Group, and Apple Inc.

Supplementary readings

The author spoke to 15 of the world’s leading innovation experts to get their definition of “innovation”. The variety in their responses may surprise you.

Lesson 2: Sources of Innovation


Supplementary readings

Tips for fostering creativity within the corporate environment include opening up to diverse perspectives, encouraging collaboration, drawing on ideas from all employee levels, providing intellectual challenges, and accepting failure and the resultant learning it offers.

A widespread assumption in economic geography and the economics of innovation is that firms located in clusters benefit from territorial learning and knowledge spillovers. However, it remains unclear to what extent these benefits actually occur. This article aims to address this issue and examines to what extent research and development workers in the Cambridge Information Technology Cluster benefit from being located in the Cluster. The study shows why many do not believe that their work benefits from being located in the Cluster. The results suggest that academics as well as policy makers need to be more careful with the assumption of technological knowledge spillovers in innovative clusters. The significant advantages of the Cambridge IT Cluster seem to be of a different nature; in particular they concern labour market advantages and benefits from the global ‘brand’ of Cambridge.

Lesson 3: Types and Patterns of Innovation


The landscape of failed attempts at business model innovation is crowded and becoming more so as management teams at established companies mount both offensive and defensive initiatives involving new business models. This article assembles knowledge that the primary author has developed over the course of two decades studying what causes good businesses to fail, complemented by a two-year intensive research project to uncover where current managers and leadership teams stumble in executing business model innovation. Many failed business model innovations involve the pursuit of opportunities that appear to be consistent with a units current business model but that in fact are likely to be rejected by the existing business or its customers. To achieve successful business model innovation, organizations should focus on creating new business models, rather than changing existing ones. Once a new business is launched, it must remain independent throughout the duration of its journey, but maintaining autonomy requires ongoing leadership attention.

Lesson 4: Standards Battles and Design Dominance


This paper proposes an integrative framework for understanding the process by which a technology achieves dominance when “battling” against other technological designs. We focus on describing the different stages of a dominance battle and propose five battle milestones that in turn define five key phases in the process. We review the literature from several disciplines to identify the key firm- and environment-level factors that affect the outcome of a technology battle and posit that the relative importance of each factor will vary depending on the phase considered. Our framework complements and extends existing literature and has implications both for theory and for management practice.

A dominant design is a de facto standard of a product. When you think of a bicycle you know it has two wheels, one handlebar, a seat, a chain, and pedals. This design of a bicycle emerged after many different bike concepts emerged. It became a dominant design among all its competitors. The emergence of a dominant design is a critical period in the lifecycle of technology. This event changes the nature of opportunity in the industry.

Lesson 5: Timing of Entry


While it has become feasible during the past two decades to predict whether a new technology will take the place of an older one, predicting when it will happen can be challenging. The article presents a four-point graph for improving estimation. Point A is creative destruction, or fast substitution due to the readiness of the new technology and the inability of the old technology to be improved. Point B is robust coexistence, in which the new is compatible with the old, and the old can be improved. Point C is illusion of resilience, in which the new still needs development but the old cannot be improved. Point D is robust resilience, or the longest wait for substitution due to development needs of the new and abundant opportunities to improve the old.

Supplementary reading

Guidelines are presented for assessing market entry and related strategies given specific business climates.

Lesson 6: Defining the Organization's Strategic Direction


Strategic Innovation is the creation of growth strategies, new product categories, services or business models that change the game and generate significant new value for consumers, customers and the corporation. This paper describes a holistic, multidisciplinary framework that enables organizations to take a strategic approach to innovation.

Supplementary readings

When you have a big business decision to make, one of the smartest things you can do during the planning process is conduct a SWOT analysis. SWOT, which stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, is an analytical framework that can help your company face its greatest challenges and find its most promising new markets.

The Balanced Scorecard (BSC) is a business framework used for tracking and managing an organization’s strategy. The BSC framework is based on the balance between leading and lagging indicators, which can respectively be thought of as the drivers and outcomes of your company goals. When used in the Balanced Scorecard framework, these key indicators, tell you whether or not you’re accomplishing your goals and whether you’re on the right track to accomplish future goals.

In the early 1970s, when Canon took its first halting steps in reprographics, the idea of a fledgling Japanese company challenging Xerox seemed impossible. Fifteen years later, it matched the U.S. giant in global unit market share. The basis for Canon's success? A different approach to strategy, one that emphasized an organization's resourcefulness above the resources it controlled. In this McKinsey Award-winning article, first published in 1989, Cary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad explain that Western companies have wasted too much time and energy replicating the cost and quality advantages their global competitors already experience. Familiar concepts like strategic fit and competitive advantage can foster a static approach to competition, while familiar techniques like portfolio planning and competitor analysis lead to strategies that rivals can easily decode. The sum total is a pathology of surrender that leads many managers to abandon businesses instead of building them. Canon and other world-class competitors have taken a different approach to strategy: one of strategic intent They begin with a goal that exceeds the company's present grasp and existing resources: "Beat Xerox"; "Encircle Caterpillar." Then they rally the organization to close the gap by setting challenges that focus employees' efforts in the near to medium term: "Build a personal copier to sell for $1,000"; "cut product development time by 75%." Year after year, they emphasize competitive innovation--building a portfolio of competitive advantages; searching markets for "loose bricks" that rivals have left under defended; changing the terms of competitive engagement to avoid playing by the leader's rules. The result is a global leadership position and an approach to competition that has reduced larger, stronger Western rivals to playing an endless game of catch-up.

Prahalad, C. K., & Hamel, G. (1990). The core competence of the corporation. Harvard Business Review, 68 (3), 79–91.

In the early 1980s, GTE was positioned to become a major player in the information technology industry. NEC was much smaller and had no experience as an operating telecommunications company. Today NEC is among the top five companies in telecommunications, semiconductors, and mainframes. GTE has become essentially a telephone company with a position in defense and lighting products. What happened? NEC built and nurtured a group of core competencies. GTE, on the other hand, couldn't agree on which competencies to base its strategy. It organized itself around strategic business units, which by nature underinvest in core competencies, imprison resources, and bind innovation. A company's competitiveness derives from its core competencies and core products (the tangible results of core competencies). Core competence is the collective learning in the organization, especially the capacity to coordinate diverse production skills and integrate streams of technologies. It is also a commitment to working across organizational boundaries. Organizing around core competencies requires a radical change in corporate organization. The first step requires identifying core competencies, which meet these three requirements: they provide potential access to a wide variety of markets, make a contribution to the customer benefits of the product, and are difficult for competitors to imitate. The next step is to redesign the architecture of the company and provide an impetus for learning from alliances and a focus for internal development. Management should ask: How long could we preserve our competitiveness if we did not control this core competence? How central is this core competence to customer benefits? What opportunities would be foreclosed if we lost this competence?

Lesson 7: Choosing Innovation Projects


The Internet of Things (IoT), also called the Internet of Everything or the Industrial Internet, is a new technology paradigm envisioned as a global network of machines and devices capable of interacting with each other. The IoT is recognized as one of the most important areas of future technology and is gaining vast attention from a wide range of industries. This article presents five IoT technologies that are essential in the deployment of successful IoT-based products and services and discusses three IoT categories for enterprise applications used to enhance customer value. In addition, it examines the net present value method and the real option approach widely used in the justification of technology projects and illustrates how the real option approach can be applied for IoT investment. Finally, this article discusses five technical and managerial challenges.

Supplementary readings

The author discusses the need for executives to consider project investments as complex options instead of focusing on net present value calculations and mentions how venture capitalists pursue investments, and having a plan to follow an option through.

An interview is presented with www.business-literacy.com owner Joe Knight is presented in which he discusses the use of net present value (NPV) to make more money, ways in which companies use NPV, and common miscalculation errors.

Lesson 8: Collaboration Strategies


The article discusses need of leaders to collaborate externally with their customers and other in ecosystem to create products and solution which is documented in business-to-consumer (B2C) context and mentions how collaboration can generate benefits of lower marketing costs and increased trust.

In an increasingly digital and connected environment, leaders of established companies frequently find themselves facing opportunities that they—or even their industries—cannot seize alone. Instead of relying on start-ups to create innovations and then buying in to them, organizations are taking part in a process that the authors call ecosystem innovation, collaborating to develop and then commercialize new concepts. Cisco Hyperinnovation Living Labs (CHILL) differs from seemingly similar approaches, such as R&D alliances, because it focuses on the fast and agile commercialization of ideas without a complicated intellectual property agreement. It also differs from traditional partnership efforts, because it brings multiple partners together at a very early stage all at once. In this article the authors discuss how large companies can develop their own ecosystem innovation capabilities, using Cisco’s process as an example. They describe the basic principles and the process, identify the most common traps, and explain how leaders can capture valuable opportunities. The process allows companies to bring extremely diverse ideas, skills, and resources together to solve ecosystem-level problems at an astonishing speed.

Supplementary reading

The article discusses issues in the implementation of collaborative innovation by business-to-business (B2B) companies worldwide, as well as the simple pitfalls that organizations make like acting as an event manager, making the problem statement alone, and ignoring divergence.

Lesson 9: Protecting Innovation


You must make a strategic decision about whether it is best to manage risk by maintaining a trade secret indefinitely or choosing to file for formal protection, which has time limits. There are a number of issues to consider.

R&D companies are increasingly falling prey to patent sharks: firms with hidden intellectual property that surface, threatening to sue, when their rights are inadvertently infringed. The attacks usually come out of the blue, and companies' traditional lines of defense, designed for fighting off visible competitors, are essentially useless in this type of guerrilla warfare. Munich University of Technology's Henkel and London Business School's Reitzig offer five principles to help companies avoid attack. Move away from amassing huge patent portfolios for cross-licensing with competitors. Creating technological interdependence can work among competitors interested in exchanging technology. Patent sharks, however, want only monetary gains. Simplify standards and create more-modular designs. Companies become vulnerable when a shark's technology is built into a standard and they can neither stop using the technology nor switch to a feasible alternative. The solution is to simplify standards to minimize the number of irreplaceable core components and to create more-modular designs, so an infringing module can be swapped out for a legitimate one. Cooperate with competitors early in the R&D process. Disclosing unprotected ideas to competitors can seem counterintuitive, but sharing information early on may help companies avoid developing products that are susceptible to attacks. Foster interdepartmental and intercompany cooperation. Assigning patent lawyers to projects from the start reduces the costs of protecting high-quality technologies down the line. Stop flooding patent offices with insignificant inventions. The deluge has actually made it easier for sharks to secure protection for trivial innovations, thus increasing the chances that a company will unknowingly infringe on a patent.

Supplementary readings

Intellectual Property (IP) has been very important to the UK for a long time. The first trademark legislation was passed by the English Parliament in 1266. The UK was at the forefront of developing patent rights and the first to codify copyright law with the Statute of Anne in 1710. It has made good use of these IP rights ever since they were brought into being.

When you invent a process or a product that you feel is worthwhile, you'll want to get a patent for it. Otherwise, your rights to the invention are not protected. Someone else could invent the same thing and get a patent on it, effectively preventing you from using your invention. And even if that doesn't happen, as soon as you start producing and/or selling your invention, the secret will be out, and anyone who wants to will be able to imitate your idea.

The Patent Bar has a responsibility to educate startup companies about WHY to get patents, not just HOW. By focusing only on HOW to get patents, startup companies waste precious time and resources on worthless patents – and they make bad business decisions because they operate on incorrect assumptions.

Lesson 10: Organizing for Innovation


Supplementary readings

Strong and discontinuous changes in the environment often lead to high uncertainty within organizations. In order to hold market share and establish a competitive advantage, companies need to exceed incremental innovations in the core business and have to put effort into new opportunities. This is especially true for technology oriented companies; they have to exploit existing technologies and, at the same time, explore new technological opportunities. Companies that are able to do both are designated as ambidextrous organizations. Several studies conclude that ambidextrous organizations make better strategic decisions and thus are better prepared for the future. This does also come true for technology strategies. Since now, no conscious choice between exploration and exploitation exists when developing technological strategies; the relation between evolving technologies and the organizational structure remains unclear. And the influence of ambidexterity and different strategic decisions needs further clarification. Thus, the goal of our paper is to identify the relation between organizational ambidexterity and technology strategy.

The article presents the suggestion for the leadership for success of the company. The suggestions include spotting the changes which can technological and political and societal and that leadership should constantly look for improvements for the future. It recommends leaders to be proactive and look out for warning signs and improving on dynamic capabilities and implementation of policies.

Innovation is a top priority for most companies. But few leaders believe their companies are effective at innovating (see Figure 1). So, why the disconnect? In our experience, the root cause is most often complexity in the R&D organization itself—in the portfolio of projects it manages, the structure of the organization or the development processes it employs to drive innovation.

Lesson 11: Managing the New Product Development Process


A recent study of almost 9,000 new products that achieved broad distribution at a national retailer revealed that just 40% of them were still sold three years later. Companies generally focus primarily on creating value without enough regard to whether customers will recognize this value. For a customer, the perceived benefit of searching for a better solution may not be the same as the actual benefit, particularly in markets with little recent innovation. The most common cues people use to infer product quality are price and brand. In many circumstances, the more effectively customers can search, the less they will rely on the brand. Moreover, their perceptions of the brand will change quickly as new information comes in. Both factors diminish the importance of the brand. However, in markets where customers cannot search easily and effectively, they are forced to use the brand to make purchasing decisions. The role of the brand may vary across product features.

Supplementary reading

Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it, Charles R. Swindoll. You agree? When you want to step up your game in project management, there’re a lot of tips, resources, and guidelines. There’s an endless selection of how to lead better, communicate better or simply just be better.

However, when examining the flip-side, failure, we sometimes cringe at the fact that it could happen to us. Perhaps this is why it seems to be one of the least discussed topics. Who wants to admit to their failure – certainly not to your boss or company head. Yet failure still happens. We could even say that it’s rampant especially when it comes to ill-defined projects. That’s why it’s so important to evaluate your project at the start. Closely examine all, road-blocks, hurdles, hills, detours, potholes, manholes or even an angry flock of birds. I think you get the point. Before starting your project, knowing exactly what lays ahead lets the project manager, team, and client mitigate associated risks.

Lesson 12: Managing New Product Development Teams


The article outlines the steps that organizations can take for hiring and building better innovation teams including applying assessment processes and tools and understanding each personality type.

The article discusses an assessment that helped readers of the journal examine the extent to which their organizations create conditions that favor successful innovation in which those working for older and bigger businesses scored lowest in four innovation conditions that include constant energy.

Collaborative teams do much of the work at organizations everywhere, so a research team from Google’s People Analytics group set out to determine what makes for an effective team at Google. And it turns out the how matters more than who.

The research team thought that building an effective team would be like putting together a human puzzle; you’d find a group of rock stars and just put them together, and voilá! That wasn’t the case. Teams' effectiveness is determined mostly by how team members interact with each other, and much less by who is on the team. Psychological safety was the most important and foundational of five key dynamics that characterized effective teams. The five are, in order of importance: psychological safety, dependability, structure & clarity, meaning, and impact.

Tune in to hear from the Google researchers behind this work - Abeer Dubey, Director of People Analytics, and Julia Rozovsky, a People Analytics Manager and subject of the New York Times article - What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team.

Pod. Work group. Committee. Autonomous collective. Whatever you call it, you’re part of one at Google and probably wherever you work: a team. So if we know what makes managers great, why don’t we know what makes a team great?

Supplementary reading

To unlock innovation, examine the culture and leadership in cross-functional teams.

Lesson 13: Crafting a Deployment Strategy