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Unrelenting Innovation: How to Create a Culture for Market Dominance Hardcover – January 4, 2013

4.2 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"Through decades of rigorous research, Professor Gerard Tellis posits a powerful thesis: that the internal culture of a firm is the primary driver of innovation. . . . This book is deep in theory and rich in insight." —From the Foreword by Vijay Govindarajan

In Unrelenting Innovation, Gerard Tellis (a noted expert on innovation, advertising, and global markets) makes the convincing case that the culture of a firm is the crucial driver of an organization's ability to innovate. Using powerful cases to illustrate his message, Tellis shows how changing an organization's culture can overcome the main barrier to innovation—the complacency of success by current incumbents. The ideal culture of an innovative organization is comprised of three traits and three practices. Innovative organizations should be willing to cannibalize successful products, embrace risk, and focus on the future. Leaders can ensure that these traits are incorporated into their organization's culture by introducing the following three practices: provide incentives for enterprise, empower product champions, and encourage internal markets. To bolster this thesis, Tellis outlines why transforming an organization's culture is superior to alternate theories for fostering innovation.

Based on multiple research studies and grounded in practical recommendations, Unrelenting Innovation contains a wealth of valuable tools to help senior leaders implement the practices that will foster a culture of relentless innovation. The book is filled with illustrative examples of established companies that have stumbled in recent years due to lack of innovation and rising new stars that have become innovative giants.

From the Back Cover

Praise for Unrelenting Innovation

"I would rate Unrelenting Innovation as one of the best business books I have read. All CEOs need to read it to avoid the incumbent's curse. Unrelenting Innovation offers brilliant insights into the need for innovation and managing the risks of innovation."
Philip Kotler, author and S.C. Johnson & Son Professor of International Marketing, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

"A brilliant tour de forceon how firms can overcome the incumbent's curse and develop the culture to drive big innovations that will provide growth platforms and prevent irrelevance. Supported by case studies and a practical theory of how innovation-oriented culture is created, the book will be a classic."
David Aaker, author and vice chairman, Prophet

"A brilliant and thought-changing book on why many successful companies fail to innovate and how to overcome an internal culture of resistance. Tellis is a master storyteller!"
Jagdish Sheth, author, consultant, and Charles H. Kellstadt Professor of Marketing, Goizueta Business School, Emory University

"The risk of not carefully reading and implementing the lessons of Tellis' relentless imagination will most surely increase the risk of organization?stagnation, if not failure."
Warren Bennis, author and Distinguished Professor, University of Southern California

"Very few people are better qualified than Tellis to write about innovation and market dominance. Drawing on over 20 years of rigorous, original research, Unrelenting Innovation is a truly comprehensive and deeply serious book about innovation. There is more insight and evidence here on one page than in many business books put together."
Jaideep Prabhu, author and Jawaharlal Nehru Professor, Judge Business School, Cambridge University

"Tellis makes a compelling case that firms with an unrelenting ability to keep innovating are sustained by their distinctive cultures. The payoff from sustaining a culture of organic growth through innovation is a rate of growth that competitors can't match."
George Day, author and Geoffrey T. Boisi Professor, Wharton, University of Pennsylvania

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (January 4, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1118352408
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118352403
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #705,300 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 22, 2013
Format: Hardcover
By nature, books about innovation should contribute something new and/or something better to our understanding of what innovation is and isn't as well as how to develop a mindset and skills that will enable us to (yes) contribute something new and/or something better. Gerard Tellis makes such a contribution as he explain how to build and then sustain a culture for market dominance. As Vijay Govindarajan suggests in the Foreword, "I like the central argument in this book: success breeds complacency, lethargy, or arrogance - in short, a culture that embraces the status quo instead of the future abhors risk and protects current successful products."

This is what Tellis characterizes as "the incumbent's curse": Becoming successful hampers continued innovation and hinders continued leadership. He identifies three defining traits: "First, incumbents fear cannibalizing their current successful products...Second, incumbents are risk averse...Third, incumbents focus too much on the present" and probably the past. Hence a paradox: To paraphrase Marshall Goldsmith, whatever got an organization to its current success (however defined) will not only be unable to sustain that success; worse yet, it will almost certainly eliminate that success in weeks and months (probably not years) to come.

Simply stated, "unrelenting innovation" is constant effort to make something new and/or make something better." Odd are that, more often than not, innovation will not be the result. The process "fails" only when it does not continue. Every so-called "failure" is in fact a precious learning opportunity.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is case based, insightful, and actionable.

Tellis' scientific, research focused approach identifies the systemic elements that impact an organization's culture and innovation potential. He has created a model and framework for implementing innovation.

Tellis provides something to those of us that advocate for innovation: hope.

Books that are based on one person's consulting experience or conjecture proliferate on the topic. I've ready MANY of them, and ultimately been disappointed.

Tellis' model, "Dynamics of Components of Culture of Innovation," provides a platform for focus and implementation. He spends a minimal amount of time discussing why innovation is needed, while addressing common biases and challenges in his case based narrative.

I bought the book on Friday, read it this weekend (an approachable, non-repetitive read), and am sending a copy to my boss today. It will live on my bookshelf as a favored reference tool for many years.
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Format: Hardcover
I must admit that Gerry Tellis's new book -- Unrelenting Innovation -- had me hooked as soon as I started its first chapter on "Why Incumbents Fail." I devoured the book in a single session, and interestingly, thought that the last chapter was as eye-opening as the first one. For astute leadership teams, the insights of this book could well change the conversation about innovation: away from its mechanics to the broader imperative of fostering a conducive culture and related practices.

Throughout the book, Gerry makes a compelling and thoroughly researched case for the dual notions that (1) the primary reason for firm failure is a failure to innovate unlentingly, and that (2) the internal culture of a firm is the most important driver of a firm's innovation. Sure, one might say, those are appealing ideas and make intuitive sense, so what's new? The answer, as I see it, is that there continues to be a big gap between on the one hand what intuition suggests and popular wisdom proclaims, and on the other hand what many companies actually do. This book should help to bridge that gap. Not only does it offer strong support for the synergistic relation of innovation and culture, it zeroes in on the key traits associated with innovative cultures, and the management practices that firms can adopt to foster these traits. (As an aside, Gerry has also developed a diagnostic tool to help managers size up the innovation capacity of their firms, thus providing further actionable insights.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found Mr. Tellis' book to have a number of good insights into what makes one company innovative and another much less so. He provides straight-forward information with just enough real world examples to drive home his points. The only down-side was that the book read more like an academic dissertation and less of a compelling page turner than I would have liked. So, ultimately, it was a valuable resource. Just don't expect to fly through it in a single setting. Approach it as you would an assignment in grad school.
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