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The Other Side of Innovation: Solving the Execution Challenge (Harvard Business Review) [Kindle Edition]

Vijay Govindarajan , Chris Trimble

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The Other Side of Innovation is packed with clear recommendations about how to put its findings into practice…” - Research Technology Management

“How do companies generate new ideas? And how do they turn those ideas into products? Hardly a week passes without someone publishing a book on the subject. Most are rubbish. But The Other Side of Innovation: Solving the Execution Challenge is rather good … In their new book [the authors] address two subjects that are usually given short shrift: established companies rather than start-ups and the implementation of new ideas rather than their generation.” – The Economist

“…a veritable how-to guide for CEOs and entrepreneurs.” – Inc. Magazine

“Excellent in-depth case studies…” “well-written book” “Summing Up: Recommended” - CHOICE Magazine


In their first book, Ten Rules for Strategic Innovators, the authors provided a better model for executing disruptive innovation. They laid out a three-part plan for launching high-risk/high-reward innovation efforts: (1) borrow assets from the existing firms, (2) unlearn and unload certain processes and systems that do not serve the new entity, and (3) learn and build all new capabilities and skills.

In their study of the Ten Rules in action, Govindarajan and Trimble observed many other kinds of innovation that were less risky but still critical to the company's ongoing success. In case after case, senior executives expected leaders of innovation initiatives to grapple with forces of resistence, namely incentives to keep doing what the company has always done--rather than develop new competence and knowledge. But where to begin?

In this book, the authors argue that the most successful everyday innovators break down the process into six manageable steps:

1. Divide the labor

2. Assemble the dedicated team

3. Manage the partnership

4. Formalize the experiment

5. Break down the hypothesis

6. Seek the truth.

The Other Side of Innovation codifies this staged approach in a variety of contexts. It delivers a proven step-by-step guide to executing (launching, managing, and measuring) more modest but necessary innovations within large firms without disrupting their bread-and-butter business.


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3.0 von 5 Sternen 100% correct but not really new 11. November 2010
Von Jeffrey Phillips - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition
As a consultant who believes the emphasis on idea generation is wildly overblown, and that there is far too little focus on idea execution, I was glad to hear that VJ Govindarajan and Chris Trimble were developing a book focused on "solving the execution challenge". Frankly, all the flash and sizzle of trend spotting, understanding customer needs and idea generation is interesting, but it's in the idea management, evaluation, selection, prototyping and commercialization where all the heavy lifting gets done, and the real value added.

I've really struggled to wrap my head around The Other Side of Innovation. What can you say about a book that is correct in all its recommendations yet doesn't seem to add anything new to the discussion. Everything that the authors talk about is absolutely correct, and perhaps needs to be rehashed again and again.

In the introduction the authors use a mountain climbing metaphor to think about the focus on the exciting "summitting" but point out that achieving the summit is only half the job. What's left is the less interesting but equally important dismount. Similarly, innovation requires both the generation of ideas and the evaluation and implementation of ideas, with implementation usually receiving the short shrift. This assertion is absolutely correct, but is it new? Implementation, whether it is focused on new ideas or an update to an existing product or service, is always the "hard part". The authors pursue a consistent definition of innovation, looking at several different models:

* innovation = ideas + execution
* innovation = ideas + motivation
* innovation = ideas + process

But they don't seem to have a definitive answer. Again, interesting, but does this add to the conversation?

Next, the authors note that there are two kinds of "teams" in most firms. The Performance Engine, which is the portion of the business focused on the day to day execution of the business - creating products, shipping products, etc. This is the portion focused on earning profits, doing things consistently and efficiently. In many organizations, an innovation team will be formed. The authors call this the Dedicated Team, and they note that many of the things the Dedicated Team does is in direct conflict with the Performance Engine. The Innovation Team talks about "breaking all the rules" which "sounds like breaking the Performance Engine". There is direct conflict between the goals and expectations of the two teams. Again, this is 100% correct but not a new observation. Anyone who has created a new project and attempted significant change within an organization with a strong executional culture knows about this conflict.

Having convinced the reader, and themselves, that innovation is different from standard operations, the authors then divide the rest of the book into two sections: building a team and running an disciplined experiment.

In the section on building a team, the authors examine the needs and requirements of the Dedicated Team (the people who are full time on an innovation effort) and the relationship between those people and Shared Staff (and yes, the authors capitalize all of these teams, as if they are new or different). The authors talk about the dilemma an organization faces - to continue efficient operations while managing the possibilities and distractions of an innovation project. Their conclusions:

* Because ongoing operations are repeatable, while innovation is nonroutine, innovation leaders must think very differently about organizing
* Because ongoing operations are predictable, while innovation is uncertain, innovation leaders must think very differently about planning

The authors provide descriptions as well about how to decide what work belongs in a Dedicated Team and what work can be accomplished in Shared Services. They also identify a number of "traps" when building an innovation team:

* Having a bias for insiders. Recommendation: hire more outside people
* Adopting existing definitions for roles. Recommendation: new titles and new innovation space
* Reinforcing the dominance of the Performance Engine.
* Assessing performance based on established metrics. Recommendation: new metrics
* Failing to create a distinct culture. Recommendation: Choose the best aspects of the culture.
* Using existing processes. Recomendation: Invent new processes
* Succumbing to conformity.

Finally, in the first section, the authors talk about managing the relationship (partnership) between the innovation effort and the Perfomance Engine. They say:

"..the Performance Engine has more power than you do. It is larger. Not only that, it has the stronger case for spending resources. Its arguments are more quantifiable, with shorter-term and more predictable returns on investment. You, on the other hand, can do no better than promise the possibility of a big, long-term payoff."

That, again, is 100% accurate and fairly obvious, as are the proscriptions the authors make to solve that dilemma.

Section Two of the book argues that one of the challenges of innovation is that creating a new product or service should be thought of, and managed like, a scientific experiment. The authors go so far as to break this into three sections: formalize the experiment, break down the hypothesis and seek the truth. This, again is correct but perhaps overly emphasized, as we've found that planned "experiments" using rapid prototyping that engage prospects and are conducted in an iterative fashion are exceptionally valuable.

Strangely, I found the most valuable contribution of the book to reside in the conclusion, where the authors address the attributes of a good innovation leader, what they call a "supervising executive". They state that the individual must possess four attributes: must be able to get the initiative off to a good start, must monitor interactions with the Performance Engine, stay closely engaged in the learning process and finally, shape the initiative's endgame. To accomplish these goals and to innovate successfully, the authors argue that the "supervising executive" must be: 1) powerful 2) broadly experienced and 3) in a position to serve the long-term interests of the company as a whole. Note that they don't think you should assign the role to just anyone - but someone who has respect and power across the organization, who has a "breadth" of experience. They prefer people who have experience preferably in several business units if not in several markets or industries.

The last part of the conclusion reviews what seems almost de riguer for most innovation books - a debunking of a list of innovation myths. Scott Berkun did this better in his Myths of Innovation.

Strangely, while the book addresses many topics that are necessary, it skims over items we've found to be exceptionally important in idea execution. Several that come to mind that aren't discussed in any detail include:

* Defining and publishing an innovation process that describes how ideas will be evaluated
* Defining and publishing a set of evaluation criteria so people understand how ideas will be evaluated and the critical criteria
* The importance of rapid prototyping and active customer engagement in this effort
* How to select the best people for idea execution
* What skills an idea execution team needs and how to train them effectively
* How to transition an idea from a Dedicated Team to a product or service development team

These are all critical factors in the execution phase of an idea, yet are brushed over or not mentioned in the book.

As I said earlier, this book was a real struggle for me. For what the authors decide to focus on, the book is 100% accurate but doesn't seem to break any new ground. Yet there are many factors within the idea execution phase that the authors either ignored or chose not to focus on, which seems strange, and they overly emphasize the importance and commitment to experiments.

I'm sure this book will take its place on the shelf with many other books about innovation. It is true that there are far fewer books about execution, so that in itself may propel this book to increased popularity, but I'd have to argue that books like Robert Tucker's Driving Growth through Innovation or Davila and Shelton's Making Innovation Work are just as good.

This review is cross-posted from the review on my blog Innovate on Purpose
18 von 20 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
2.0 von 5 Sternen The Other View 7. Juni 2011
Von Shrikant - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
No one can climb a mountain for you. You have to do it for yourself.

The fundamental assumption that "the other side of innovation: SOLVING THE EXECUTION CHALLENGE" is based on is that your organization is attempting innovation initiatives beyond its current capabilities. Capabilities that you are not willing to develop internally. In other words you are attempting to climb Mt. Rainier, to use the authors' opening example, when you are neither fit for the challenge nor possess the skills for it. Think about this for a second. Contemplate the likely outcome of such an attempt. If it doesn't kill you it will most assuredly maim you leaving you worse off for having tried.

However, Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble "see no reason why established organizations should be incapable of executing any innovation initiative". So, what is the solution these authors dictate? After 10 years of field research at "[innovative companies] as diverse as Allstate, BMW, Harley-Davidson, IBM, Nucor, and Timberland", they recommend that you "Build the Right Team" and "Run a Disciplined Experiment". Let us understand something clearly: it doesn't matter how many expert mountain guides you hire or how well you plan your expedition, if you are not fit, if you do not possess the necessary skills, it will fail... disastrously. So, shame on the authors for making a flawed assumption and then impelling organizations to attempt such challenges.

To be fair, they have made valid observations of several crucial shortcomings in organizations today:
* It is not an organization's creativity and technology that falls short, it is its management's capability: leaders just aren't trained to drive innovation.
* Organizations vest most of their innovation efforts in defining opportunity and not much in executing it. This is tied to the previous point.
* As companies mature, they disengage from innovation efforts, relying on profit from increasing operational efficiency.
These are problems that organizations have to overcome internally through rigorous self reflection which leads to creating projects that (re)build the organization's fitness and skills. They can thus expand their core competencies and cultivate deep domain knowledge necessary to address the total challenge of innovation. Not do it through hired outside experts or mergers and acquisitions.

Hugely successful innovation initiatives in recent memory such as Toyota's Lexus or Scion, or Apple's iPod, iPhone, iPad or iCloud have been internal to their respective companies. Neither Toyota nor Apple were first to market with these products. Each took its time to develop domain knowledge; stretching itself through multiple learning cycles before introducing class redefining products.

The authors underestimate and trivialize the value of such continuous improvement programs even when their own studies at Nucor and Deere & Company demonstrate successful outcomes. In fact they dismiss their own observations of successful innovation initiatives at many companies in favor of "What If?" scenarios. Never mind whether these hypothetical initiatives were ones these companies might have pursued but didn't for lack of capability. They never say so.

The one example the authors cite where a transformative innovation initiative was required: the New York Times. But, this was necessary as the landscape of the entire newspaper industry was unexpectedly and fundamentally changed by an unaccounted force: the internet. An extremely rare event that no book or expert can help to plan for.

In any case, given that the book's fundamental premise is faulty, the structure built upon it is rickety at best. Don't get me wrong, there are some good ideas, but they are either poorly communicated or poorly reasoned or both. The authors assume an unjustified authoritative tone that often patronize the reader on his/her complaint (constructed in the authors' imagination). There is a smugness in the manner they criticize their partner companies' approach to innovation. I wonder if any of them will have these researchers back to work with them again. And, they fail to properly attribute their learning cycle - Plan-Do-Study-Act - to its developers and advocates: Walter Shewhart and W Edward Deming.

My suggestion is you pass on reading this book. It teaches the wrong lessons. Learn the proper way to execute innovation initiatives by benchmarking the best in class. Two excellent reads are "The Toyota Way" & "The Elegant Solution". Develop your organization's management foundations and knowledge building efforts with "Out of the Crisis". There is a tough climb ahead, but not an insurmountable one provided you start preparing for it now.
8 von 8 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen A good book but not if you read The Ten Rules of Strategic Innovators 16. Oktober 2010
Von paddy miller - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Those who read Ten Rules will not find much new in The Other Side. The terminology has changed so that CoreCo is now the Little Performance Engine and NewCo is simply "an innovation initiative." For those wondering if they should read the earlier book or the later one, the decision comes down to style, with the first book delivering only the facts and the second book being more chatty.
Reading these books, it seems that many of the pitfalls that result in an innovation initiative petering out can be attributed to a lack of rigor in approach. For example, Govindarajan and Trimble find widespread the assumption that conversational awareness of the differences between the new initiative's and the established company's business models is enough, whereas they see a change in behavior as necessary.
Ten Rules and The Other Side are both excellent books that offer a clear guide for what can be a rocky process of innovating in established businesses. Govindarajan and Trimble say that the principles outlined in their approach are also valid for other types of innovation. This is true to the extent that you cannot go wrong in reading these books, although they hardly scratch the surface of topics such as employee or executive motivation to persevere through the process, say. Our biggest quibble is that The Other Side is a repeat of Ten Rules, and as such it wastes the time of those who have read the first book and take up the second one hoping to learn something new.
reviewed more fully at [...]
11 von 13 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Finally, a book about the 99% of innovation 17. August 2010
Von Alessandro Germano - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
I haven't finished it yet, but at this point I can already tell you: This is a great book. The authors approach a very little-talked-about issue that in fact is the most important for anyone with practical exposition to innovation initiatives: After you came up with the Great Idea (or at least with what you think a Great Idea should be), how to really make it happen, especially in a corporation? Moreover, their approach is neither naive nor snob: instead, it is based on extensive research and interviews with real companies, real people, real projects. Finally, they do a tremendous work of translating deep knowledge into insightful, understandable frameworks. Such frameworks depict their advice on execution into components and subcomponents (organize and plan; build, assemble and manage; depth, power balance and operating rhythm) that are surely bound to become lingua franca in this field. My sincerest congratulations to this work that is helping me think in previously unimagined ways about how to prepare for innovation effectiveness.
9 von 11 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Outstanding Book ... A Must Read 10. August 2010
Von Srikanth Srinivas - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Every company has a business model that brings in the customers and cash today. And yet, right around the corner is change. It is not a question of If, more one of When.

And therefore, every company, no matter how big or how small, has to face this challenge - How do I stay focused so that I continue to serve today's customers, provide predictable, outstanding service, and continue to bring in the cash; and at the same time, how do I prepare myself for the disruption around the corner?

This book is dedicated to answering this question - creating that balance, and more importantly, converting those ideas (which are always in plenty) into impact; and viewing this as a disciplined experiment to maximize its impact. Rather than focus on the philosophical & theoretical aspects of this question, it focuses entirely on the practical aspects of this question. The book is filled with tools that you can use in your unique context. It is well researched, and includes insights from some of the best known, innovative companies including BMW, General Electric, Harley Davidson, Kimberly Clark, Proctor & Gamble, Sony, 3M, Amazon, Booz Allen & Hamilton, Eli Lilly, FedEx,Intel, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, Nucor, Oracle, SAP, Southwest, and Wal-Mart.

Buy it. Even if you are busy and don't have time to read it in its entirety, dip in where your interest perks you, and it will pay you back many times over.
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