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Strategy is Leadership! Strategy is Innovation! The advice of 10 experts on innovation

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By: Victor Assad
In a world of constant change, technology breakthroughs, and
globalization, company strategies need constant redefinition. This is the
advice of Vijay Govindarajan, known as 'VG' and the author of The Three Box Solution, speaking to the
audience of the Front End of Innovation
last week in Boston. VG said executives need to avoid the addiction
of past successes and, instead, practice non-linear thinking. Companies can be
continually innovative and sustain ongoing competitive advantage, if their
executives become observant of the 'lead signals' of non-linear changes. 
must put into place the new business models and strategies necessary to compete
in the future. Moreover, companies need to learn the distinctive skills
required for future markets, technologies, clients, demographics, regulations,
and competitors.
Too many companies, VG observed, have strategic planning systems
that focus only on linear extensions of their current business models, products,
and services. Their strategic planning processes are often short range. Instead,
their strategic planning systems should focus on the business world of
In this environment, VG declared
'Strategy is leadership! Strategy is innovation!'
InnovationOne sponsored the
'Leadership, Culture and Team' Track at the FEI Conference.

VG's keynote speaker remarks were
a perfect opening for the Leadership, Culture and Team Track at the FEI
Conference, sponsored by InnovationOne. 
Here are highlights from 9 other innovation experts.

Innovation can be inspired, measured, benchmarked and managed even in a
world of constant change
After 15 years of quantitative
research by InnovationOne founder
Brooke Dobni, PhD
, we can unequivocally say that innovation can be
inspired, measured, benchmarked and managed. When executives enthusiastically
embrace innovation, provide a strategic intent for innovation, invest in it, develop
the ecosystem and measures to support cultures of open innovation, and align
the organization to commercialize their new innovation, they ignite the
innovation of their employees, customers, and external partners. Says Brooke,
'They create a sustainable competitive advantage in their domains and improved
financial performance.' Organizations can achieve this even in a world of
constant change and redefinition.
Monsanto's Non-Linear

Stephen Padgette, VP of R&D Investment Strategy at Monsanto,
described how the executive leadership of this 100+ year-old, chemical company
listened to non-linear signals outside of its industry and plotted a strategy
to become a seed producer for the world, as well as a biotech company. This
required a change in culture and a penchant for 'making big bets.' Monsanto
learned to build relationships with new technology companies and has made
significant technology acquisitions along its journey. Monsanto's current
emphasis is on customer focus, learning customer expectations, getting
outside-of-the-company's boundaries, and learning to trust the 'law of big
data.' It is on the verge of marrying agriculture with the world of big data
The Culture Wars

During the panel discussion on 'The Culture Wars: How Can
Leaders Create an Environment to Make a Difference' panel members provided
interesting insights on the need of frequent, fast failure for innovation:
Steinberg, author of Make Change Work for
said 'The willingness
to embrace change is the single-most important factor in whether or not an
organization will have innovative success. I'm now going to bring up some
F-Bombs, failure and fear. There are big mistakes and little mistakes. How do
we treat and encourage learning from little mistakes'?
Lin Sun
of Proctor and Gamble
said, 'Culture change doesn't happen
overnight, it requires leadership behaviors to demonstrate values and
culture.  Money isn't the issue. Often
the strategic intent doesn't exist. If you have 1 minute in R & D to spend
on a project, spend 59 seconds to define it, and 1 second on execution. Most of
Gillette's major innovations come from their skunkworks, passionate dedication,
frequent and fast failure.'
Pfizer's 'Dare to

John Klick
described the methodology of Pfizer's 'Dare to Try' rapid ideation process and
how it creates 'passionistas.' The trick is to invite employees to be
innovative with 'out-of-the-box' thinking and then give them the tools,
mentoring and recognition to be successful. 
Getting Unstuck

Mike Maddox, of
Maddox Douglas
, and co-author of the books Flirting with the Uninterested and Free the Idea Monkey, provided insights on the predictable patterns
that stall innovation teams and the reliable ways to unstick teams and
accelerate innovation.  According
to Mike, many people and their organizations get so entrenched with their
previous experience, that they totally fail to see the solution to a problem
when it is in a different context. Mike described his concept of a 'Pyramid of
Innovation,' which is similar to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs pyramid model.
Mike's Innovation Model has 'Potential' at the base, working up to 'Permission,'
then to 'Pipeline to Portfolio,' and finally to 'Profit.'  Mike suggested that organizations need to move
from the traditional ROI model for evaluating and approving new innovation to a
'Justification of Investment' (JOI) model. With JOI, the financial
selection-criteria are less stringent, allowing more good ideas to go forward.
Listening to Mozart can teach us about innovation and team work!              
Three staff members from Ithaca College used music to
demonstrate how teamwork impacts the important innovation competencies of creativity,
risk taking, adaptability and teamwork. The quartet demonstrated with their
music how role clarity, empathy, and trust within the quartet allows the
musicians to adapt and improvise Mozart's music.
Do you believe
strategy is leadership? Strategy is innovation? What has worked for you? Join
the discussion!

Victor Assad is a
Managing Partner of InnovationOne and the CEO of Victor Assad, Strategic Human
Resources Consulting. He consults on innovation, talent management, leadership
development, accelerating change and other strategic initiatives. Learn more
about the InnovationOne Health Index and our workshops at

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