Managing Innovation: Turning Ideas Into Profit

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Title: Managing Innovation: Turning Ideas into Profit
Author: Edited by Tim Thorne
Publisher: Compton House Publishing Ltd
ISBN: 0954951824
Price: £12.75
Reviewer: Rob Sheffield

Managing Innovation is an audio tape aimed at explaining some of the principles and hard-won secrets behind successful innovation. It aims to clarify the characteristics of cultures and people that lead new products and services to market. It defines innovation, pragmatically, as “an idea delivered“.

The presenter, Tim Thorne, Group Head of Innovation at the Royal Bank of Scotland, interviews a series of contributors, each with a story to tell, and weaves these around a process for managing innovation: Michael Grade, chairman of the BBC; Richard Reed, co-founder of Innocent Drinks; Sergio Zyman, ex-Chief marketing Officer for Coca Cola; Mark Sherrington, author of “Added Value” and global marketing director at SABMiller; Nick Smith, Chairman of the UK Marketing Society.

1. Why innovate – it might seem an obvious question, but why do it? It’s funny how a business will innovate in a crisis, but it often takes a crisis: necessity is the mother of invention.

2. Getting the environment right – Richard Reed describes how Innocent Drinks failed to raise start-up finance through the typical routes: banks, business loan guarantee schemes, venture capital, business angels. “Now we had to think more laterally… let’s find someone who’s rich! We contacted everyone we knew and had worked with, and asked if they knew anyone rich.” They did – it worked!

3. Generating ideas – Richard Reed, again, giving an illustration of his point that ideas must come from a diversity of experience. The yoghurt, honey and vanilla bean thickie came from his enjoyment of a skin treatment in a health spa in Bali: “It tasted lovely”.

4. Developing ideas – prototypes, testing and selling the idea internally.

5. Evaluation – Part of this describes the so-called Stage-Gate process, where decisions are made on whether or not to progress with the project. Each stage usually involves more money and resources. Useful because it involves appropriate political figures.

6. Delivery/launch – Having the idea is the easy bit, making it happen takes inordinate persistence.

7. Measurement – Sergio Zyman: “Innovation is about recognising that the business models you have today won’t get you the growth you need.” Put in appropriate thinking time to agree the key performance indicators that will make most sense for your organisation.

Overall, it proved to be entertaining listening. It aims to clarify the characteristics of cultures and people that lead new products and services to market.

How might it benefit you? More and more organisations list “innovation” as a value or competence, and too many leave it there. If you:

  • run development programmes that incorporate innovation, buy a copy and get people to listen to it beforehand.
  • are confused by what “innovation” actually means, buy it and learn part of the story.
  • are a clear-sighted senior manager and wonder why your organisation is in denial over the need for serious change, buy it, and borrow the arguments.

Book rating (1-5, 5 being excellent):

  • Overall 4
  • Helpfulness 3
  • Layout 3
  • Value for Money 5
  • What professional level is it suitable for All
  • Would you recommend it? Yes

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