Executive summary authored by and presented with permission from Bruce Vojak, Managing Director at Breakthrough Innovation Advisors, LLC
One of just a handful of options available to executive leadership when their company or its products reach life cycle maturity, Breakthrough Innovation is the proven path of renewal, the opportunity to survive and thrive in a significant way. Yet, Breakthrough Innovation is only half of the innovation equation. A complete portfolio includes investment in both Incremental Innovation (which optimizes within the existing paradigm) and Breakthrough Innovation (which changes the paradigm within which competition occurs). When implemented effectively, Incremental and Breakthrough Innovation work together to enable the company to both survive in the near term and thrive over time.
Having decided to invest in Breakthrough Innovation, executive leadership must develop sufficient insight to do so wisely. Unfortunately, the most commonly held views on innovation, that it is either random or recipe, are flawed at their core and do not deliver on the promise of renewal. Instead, Breakthrough Innovation is the very human act of discovery – an act requiring a company to acquire and establish new perspectives, insights, cultural values, and business practices in order to achieve and sustain it. Only those who hold such a perspective possess the potential to succeed at Breakthrough Innovation.
Finally, having understood the way of Breakthrough Innovation success, executive leadership must commit sufficiently to ensure that success. While such commitment comes in many, varied forms, it includes but is not limited to hiring the right people, providing them with resources and time, and sustaining an innovation‐friendly culture. It also requires resisting the temptation to pull these resources onto the problem of the day to extend maturity, a problem that all too often dilutes and renders useless what originally was intended as investment intended to renew the company.
While such insight and investment is rare, those who rise to these expectations and challenges serve all, successfully leading their organization beyond everyone’s dreams.
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