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Execution: The Difference Between Innovation Failure and Success

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Execution. That one word is more often than not the
difference between innovation, failure and success. It sounds simple enough.
But the reality is anything but. Without the successful integration of ideas at
the back end, innovation doesn't happen. 
With BEI Back End of
Innovation 2013 
quickly approaching, we wanted to get an expert's
point of view on innovation strategy in today's increasingly complex and
competitive business landscape. We were in luck. Maria B. Thompson, Director of
Innovation Strategy, Intellectual Asset Management, Office of the CTO at
Motorola Solutions, sat down with us to discuss innovation strategy, execution,
and culture. Here is what she had to say:
IIR: What is a fundamental characteristic or skill
to lead innovation?
Thompson: Abstract and analogous thinking skills are
paramount to leading innovation. In order to coach and mentor others to unleash
their collective creativity, one must be able to reframe problems and solutions
in generic ways, so diverse-thinking non subject matter experts in the domain
of the problem can engage, and bring their creative and novel perspectives to
bear on a broader solution space.
'We cannot solve our problems with
the same level of thinking that created them.' Albert
IIR: What best practices support successful
innovation execution? What typically stands in its way?
Thompson: The key aspect for successful execution on
innovation is dedicated time and resources for conversion of the original idea
to a commercial high-business-value product or service. In our experience,
conversion must be treated as a first-class program deliverable, with time
allocated in Program Plans and Performance Management evaluation systems. Our
global Innovation Champions all have a Performance Management goal to spend 20
percent of their time on Innovation, which includes acting as evangelists for
the best ideas and concepts that should be resourced and moved onto our product
IIR: What is the key to building an internal
innovation culture?
Thompson: It takes a village. In other words, you need
to have a 'social' network of change catalysts committed to the innovation
cause. We call these catalysts 'Innovation Champions' and 'Inventor Mentors.'
These change catalysts are role models for innovation and inventing and
co-resident at all global sites. They are selected for their past contributions
to innovative products, features and services, and have performance goals they
are measured on with regard to their efforts to support an innovation culture
and to increase innovation yield within and across businesses.
IIR: What is the biggest obstacle you faced in your
innovation strategy? How did you overcome it?
Thompson: Time and resource allocation. PDW,
Performance Management' but mostly executive sponsorship. Without senior
leadership supporting and visibly recognizing and rewarding employees for their
efforts in prioritizing forward-looking work, people will prioritize
IIR: What is a piece of advice you would give
companies who are creating a corporate innovation strategy?
Thompson: Start by building on innovative work people are
already doing. Prioritize the most important and strategic areas and
communicate, communicate, communicate. Recognize ongoing efforts aligned with
these priorities, support them, and reward them. Help everyone - across
all functions- understand how they can contribute to the innovation pipeline '
it is not only the engineering or research role to be innovative!
Thompson will be speaking at the upcoming BEI
2013 conference November 13-15 in Santa Clara, CA.
BEI allows you to build your custom experience- from keynote
luminaries (including best-selling author Vijay Govindarajan & Google's
innovation evangelist Michele R. Weslander-Quaid), to field trips (PARC, Intuit
& PayPal), to business cases (Eli Lilly, Coca-Cola, Motorola, J&J,
Colgate & more) to learning labs, to full day open space collaborative
exercises . You pick it, you curate it, you achieve it. YOU are in control.
November 18-20,
Hyatt Regency
Santa Clara, CA

Download the brochure for full details:  http://bit.ly/18X7HIx
Mention code BEI13LINK & Save 15% off the standard
rate. Register today: http://bit.ly/18X7HIx

See you in November,
The BEI Team

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