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The Innovation Zone: How Great Companies Re-Innovate for Amazing Success Hardcover – February 24, 2009

11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Innovation is a critical ingredient of any growth strategy, and it's implicit in the business model of all smart enterprises. Koulopoulos dissects what it takes to innovate, so that others can learn from the rich examples in this book." -- James Champy, chairman of consulting, Perot Systems; coauthor, Reengineering the Corporation

"Koulopoulos's distinctions between innovation and invention are fascinating. An important read for anyone looking to build and foster a culture of innovation within his or her comnpany." --Colin Angle, CEO and cofounder, iRobot

"Takes the mystery out of innovation. Moves innovation from something secret, behind the curtain, sequestered in the laboratory to a real-life, practical approach of freeing staff to generate ideas and work the ideas through a rigorous process that produces results." --Janice M. Abraham, president and CEO, United Educators

About the Author

Thomas Koulopoulos is president of The Delphi Group, an Inc. 500 technology management and advisory company whose client list includes the Mayo Clinic, FBI, NYSE, Air France, CitiCorp, Apple, IBM, Microsoft, HP, Oracle, and others. A noted expert and author on business and technology innovation, he also is currently Executive Director at the Center for Business Innovation at Babson College and a frequent contributor to Forbes, BusinessWeek, NPR, and CNN.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Nicholas Brealey Publishing (February 24, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0891062343
  • ISBN-13: 978-0891062349
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.8 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,868,372 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

If you're looking for details go to my web page at

If you want the essentials here they are:

About me:
I've spent 30 years living at the intersection of busines and IT, from tech junky to Inc. 500 CEO to senior leader for a $2Billion company. These experiences have developed my core competency in writing and speaking on the social, organizational and human impact of technology. However, I'm not a technology bigot. I believe strongly in the importance of leadership, core behaviors, organizational and cultural values in leveraging technology. The real opportunities and challenges for organizations, and in life, are tied directly to understanding human behavior and culture.

I'm a diehard techie who loves gadgets, but....
... I have a 1920's L C Smith Corona, a 1940's Graflex, and an original Nuremberg Chronicle (CIRCA 1493) on display in my library - all to remind me that our generation has no monopoly on great ideas.

About my writing:
- It's about people. I focus on the human condition first and foremost.
- It's about the context of change. No problem or solution is entirely new. There is always a historical precedent that we can use to guide our thinking.
- It's based on experience and practical observations. Dogma is fun but you can't feed yourself with it.
- It's about simplicity. I believe that even the most complex ideas can be made simple. The simpler they are the more likely they are to empower people to apply them.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Judith L. Glick-smith on March 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The latest business buzz word is "innovation." However it tends to be over-used and misused, especially when it is confused with "invention." Invention is about creating "stuff;" innovation is about creating "value." Adding to the confusion is the pressure for companies to innovate faster, which is misinterpreted to mean how fast an organization gets product out the door. The velocity of innovation does not mean time-to-market. In "The Innovation Zone: How Great Companies Re-Innovate for Amazing Success," Tom Koulopoulos clarifies what innovation is and is not. He defines innovation as "a process of change with measurable value." This is a seemingly simply notion on the surface, but not so simple to grasp or implement.

Koulopoulos illustrates the concepts of innovation through well-documented case studies of those organizations, such as Amazon, NASA, and Sony, who have been successful innovators. Based on the experiences of these organizations, he provides a meta-process for implementing an innovation zone. This meta-process is derived from seven lessons of innovation: (1) Build for the unknown. (2) Fail fast. (3) Abandon the success of the past. (4) Separate the seeds from the weeds. (5) Focus on process over product. (6) Create an innovation experience. (7) Challenge conventional wisdom.

It is so easy in business, especially when things are going well, to become complacent. We resist innovation because it ALWAYS threatens the status quo. Therefore, as with all enterprise initiatives that have come before it (e.g., business process re-engineering, knowledge management, etc.), there MUST be support at the CEO level to ensure success.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Cunningham on April 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Tom K has done it again. He has taken what will be one of the most important strategic topics for us all today and created a road map so an organization can do it.

All too often innovation is considered something ethereal or hard to get your hands around, but Tom has shown that a deliberate and well laid out strategy can turn laggards into leaders.

The well-researched examples show Tom's approach to innovation. He has listened, absorbed and dissected the successful strategies of many and created a super blueprint for any company suffering from complacency.

The more I read this book, the more jazzed I was about Tom's call to action. He is obviously passionate about the topic and the Innovation Workshops he now delivers to "walk the walk" are just dynamite.

The ability to reinvent, survive tough times and scale a business all have innovation at the core. However, a good idea on its own will not become successful you have to act on it. The Innovation Zone is the cure for businesses with the blues.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mark P. McDonald VINE VOICE on March 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What is the difference between Innovation and Invention? How do I make innovation attainable by everyone? What am I missing when I think that innovation is for someone else? The answers to these and other questions are found in The Innovation Zone by Tom Koulopoulos. This book is a welcome addition to the literature on innovation, particularly for those who are trying to think about how to innovate in a downturn.

Koulopoulos's book covers the principles, behaviors and actions required to create innovation in the enterprise. A real strength of the book is the diversity of case studies from both manufacturing as well as service industries. Koulopoulos looks beyond the product examples to get at the process, organizational and cultural factors that drive new ideas.

He is able to do this because he has a very pragmatic definition of innovation: "A process of change with measurable value." He separates this from invention with is about creating new things. This will have the innovation zealots up in arms as its not a pure definition--they are right - but it's a practical definition and one that opens the doors for us all to be innovative.

How can we be innovative, well Koulopoulos provides seven lessons that can help drive innovation across the company. Notice that these are lessons based on experience rather than principles that we aspire to.

Build for the unknown - recognize that you are breaking new ground and that learning requires spending. Example: the Space Suit

Fail Fast - innovation requires tolerance for the right kind of failure.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By G. L. Ball, PhD on March 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Tom Koulopoulos new book is an excellent reflection on what can make or break innovation inside a company. I have read many books by a variety of authors and Tom is the best at putting the details in perspective.

This book clearly shows how innovation as process can be accomplished and measured. His five laws of innovation are right on the mark. My own experience in helping to drive innovation within a large corporate IT group has driven home rule number one: Innovation is Dangerous.

Companies that have been successful in the past are reluctant to change. However, the economic realities of the present day are going to come home hard if you're not willing to innovate. In Tom's list of innovation killers, the one that jumps out at me is the laying success on the technologists. A small group of innovators can do great things. The "but" comes from the resistance of everyone else to adopt new ideas, processes, or simply ways of thinking.

There are too many good things about this book to list them all It is one book that all "C suite" executives should read and reread to ensure that they are prepared to capitalize on the future through innovation.
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