The number of books focusing on innovation is astounding and while most tell you to be innovative, few provide an executive guide for understanding the way innovation works and how to leverage that knowledge into results. Mastering the Hype Cycle focuses on the topic of innovations in the marketplace and provides executives an explanation and the decision-making tools to take advantage of the innovations. Mastering the Hype Cycle is recommended for three reasons.
First it is a business book, with extensive case study like explanations of how companies have dealt with the issue of innovating and creating something new. The book features the actual leaders talking about their experience - a real rarity in an innovation book.
Second, the book provides actionable advice in terms of assessment questions and application of those questions into real life situations. I can see how I would apply the ideas of this book by asking myself these questions.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly - the book addresses failure as well as success. Too many books on innovation talk about the breakthrough successes and never deal with the pitfalls or challenges.
This book is different and it is these three differences that deliver value to the reader. This is a book that I will come back to with each innovation initiative to understand where I am in the hype cycle and what I can do to win in the marketplace.
Fenn and Raskino argue that innovations move through the economy in waves following Hype Cycles. Their thesis is that companies who understand the behavior of an innovative idea like, CRM or BPRE, or innovative technology like wireless or RFID, will make better decisions and gain more value than those that do not. This idea is simple, but very powerful and the authors use it to address issues regarding when companies should invest in new ideas and technologies, how do they know when to stay the course, and what processes they should follow. All of these issues are dealt with in a structured way. (See chapter review at end)
A real strength of this book is its acknowledgement and leverage of other works from leaders such as Geoffrey Moore, Henry Chesbrough, Gary Hamel, Kaplan and Norton and others. This is rare in a book about innovation, where other authors often believe they invented the topic. Here Fenn and Raskino use these proven thought leaders to provide shape and depth to their arguments rather than trying to reinvent the wheel. Reading this book in conjunction with the Innovators Dilemma, Dealing with Darwin and Game Changer makes for a strong library covering this topic.
No book is perfect. Fenn and Raskino's use of some case studies and stories could have supported their arguement better. There were a few tools that were missing such as the use of the Analytic Hierarchy Process to rank new ideas. This is also a book the concentrates on decisions and processes for bringing innovations into the market, so it tends to deal with the technical issues and treats social issues like change adoption to a lesser degree. That is ok, as there are many books on change adoption and no need to repeat them here. These omissions are not signfiicant and do not limit the value of the book to the reader or the practioner.
Highly recommended for business executives looking to understand the market for new ideas and solutions, when to invest, and how to avoid the pitfalls of those investments. Recommended as well for CIOs and IT executives who often bring these new ideas to their peers. One suggestion for IT personnel is to read the book and then pass a copy onto the executive team with a focus on the non-tech parts of the book.
Part 1: The Hype Cycle covers the first four chapters of the book and these form the basis "must read" parts of the book. In this first part, the authors not only describe the hype cycle but discuss how to apply this thinking based on real case examples and tools. This part is the required reading for the book.
Chapter 1: Hype Cycle Winners and Losers. This chapter explains the basics of the hype cycle, starting from The UK Safeway' experience with loyalty cards. The chapter then goes on to cover other cycles of market innovation and the observation that they follow a pattern.
Chapter 2: Behind the Hype Cycle. This chapter lays out the concept, structure, and application of the hype cycle idea in a clear and concise way that allows the latter chapters to focus on specific issues. This chapter talks about how the hype cycle works and why companies should understand its behavior.
Chapter 3: Hype Cycle Traps and Challenges. This is the gem of the book as it talks about the ugly side of innovation - when it does not work, is abandoned too early, etc. Fenn and Raskino highlight real challenges with adopting innovative ideas and technologies. These include:
Adopting too early
Giving up too soon
Adopting too late
Hanging on too long
Innovations falling out of the market
Innovations driven by fads rather than facts
These may all look like two sides of the same coin, but Fenn and Raskino do a good job of illustrating the unique aspects of each of these challenges.
Chapter 4: Hype Cycle Opportunities and Lessons. This chapter applies the pitfall lessons to the stages of the hype cycle. It goes into an appropriate level of detail about how each stage forms in the market and more importantly how companies can take advantage of these stages. The questions and criteria provided in this chapter give the reader the detail to apply what they know and understand to the ideas in this book.
Part 2: The STREET Process. This part concentrates on an enterprise process for innovation. Each chapter provides a focused discussion of how innovation and new ideas go from scoping through to transfer into the broader enterprise.
Chapter 5: What it Takes to Master the Hype Cycle. This chapter involves a discussion of the STREET process. This chapter ahs a few issues as it starts with an explanation of innovation in the Amish community - an interesting but somewhat confusing couple of pages that make the point that everyone needs a process for innovation. STREET stands for: Scope, Track, Rank, Evaluate, Evangelize, and Transfer. The remaining chapters in Part II talk about each stage.
Chapter 6: Scope--Establishing the Context for Innovation. This chapter addresses the fundamental challenge of how we focus our innovation attention. Fenn and Raskino present several tools for scoping and focusing the scoping effort. A real strength of this chapter is the author's use of multiple existing strategy management frameworks like value disciplines, balanced scorecards, etc. This demonstrates the adaptability and applicability of the STREET process to every enterprise.
Chapter 7: Track - Collecting the Innovation Candidates. This focused chapter discusses how to capture, categories and assess candidate ideas and technologies. It is short and focused as tracking enables the meatier processes of evaluating and adopting new ideas.
Chapter 8: Rank - Prioritizing Candidates. Analyzing the potential of new ideas and technologies is the focus of this chapter. This chapter covers multiple tools for ranking, providing the reader with different ways of looking at technology opportunities using financial, operational, and other criteria. The fact that the chapter does not tell you one way to rank technologies is a testament to the authors understanding of this work in the field. This is the hardest part of the innovation process and the authors provide ample examples and case studies to support this.
Chapter 9: Evaluate - Understanding Rewards and Risks. Risk is the enabler and killer of innovation and new ideas. Risk enables innovation by pointing to the potential for competitive advantage. It is also a killer in that it raises issues that reduce support for new ideas. The authors address this dichotomy with a focused approach and positioning proven practices such as prototyping, pilots, and sponsorship.
Chapter 10 Evangelize and Transfer - making it happen. Moving from idea to reality is a tricky business and one that is often particular to a company. This chapter concentrates on case studies to show how the process is done, rather than just providing prescriptive statements and plans.
Chapter 11: Future Hype Cycles. This concise chapter talks about the future of new ideas, innovations and the adoption of new hype cycles. It provides a fitting way to close on a book that is focused on delivering results from mastering change.