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24/7 Innovation: A Blueprint for Surviving and Thriving in an Age of Change Hardcover – September, 2001
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From the Publisher
As the world's largest management and IT consulting firm, with 65,000 people globally, Accenture is recognized as defining the new consulting market. Serving more than 85 of the Fortune 100 companies, Accenture has been highly regarded for combining services such as strategy and change management along with innovative technology methods. With 24/7 Innovation, one of Accenture's leading consultants show how, in the past, business processes have been thought of as something static, as a series of instructions laid down in manuals to be repeated in exactly the same way every time.
From the Author
I always knew there would be the likelihood of a good book after 15 years of consulting with major companies around the world. The pace of business expansion has been unprecedented in this period, and the changes have put managers into a whirl of uncertainty. This uncomfortable situation demands sharp reflexes and creative thinking just to stay even. Staying ahead requires pervasive innovation.
Innovation is not random. In fact, it emerges best when there is a structure to nurture it. Much like jazz in the world of music. I have been playing the saxophone since I was seven years old, and although I play all types of music, jazz is my passion. I love jazz because it is heavy on innovation (improvisation in musical terms). Just as innovation is not random, improvisation not random. There is a simple structure to jazz, like 12 bar B-flat blues. It has a rhythm, chord progression, and tempo. Businesses need much the same to succeed. Simple structures to foster innovation to emerge.
My goal in writing this book is to help companies unleash the creative potential of the people in their organization.
Top Customer Reviews
One of the things I liked best about this book was the figure on page 18 that describes the organizational progress that is typically followed to go from a functionally bound operation to one that is an alliance-based network of capabilities with partners performing many noncore roles. Many people have difficulty in grasping the different approaches, and this figure may well be helpful to some of them.
The book's focus is around organizing new and improving on old capabilities. A capability is a holistic concept of something that enables "an organization to perform optimally in activities that typically require processes, people, and technology. Capabilities derive from an explicit strategy, and they deliver measurable results." It is in this context that innovation is conceived of as a capability. Mr. Shapiro wants you to focus on where outdistancing the competition will make a difference with the customer, and then use your innovation capability to enhance your capabilities in this differentiating capability. For a pharmaceutical company, this might mean improving the capability to generate new products to market. The main point here is that there is a combination of factors that need to be considered that is beyond what is contained in a single process. The best way to think in capability terms is to focus on some output of the organization that is meaningful to customers. He is also mindful of the problem of optimizing a system, rather than part of a system, as The Fifth Discipline has made us all sensitive to.
One of the nice qualities of this book is that Mr. Shapiro has a sense of humor, something rarely found in business books. He tells a very funny story about buying airline tickets on-line as a counterpoint to his emphasis on the importance of information technology.
Those who like to take an analytical approach to any problem will find Mr. Shapiro's thinking the most helpful. He has taken right-brained tasks and described them in left-brain terms. But be sure to pay attention to the Koch examples, which take a more right-brained approach to the challenge than most of the other examples do. For those with little intuition, this left-brained "connecting the dots" may be the only way to move forward. If you have also read nothing on improving corporate innovation, this is a good book to start with.
While I admired the book, Mr. Shapiro seemed to have limited his thinking in two important areas that you should be aware of. First, he sees innovation as being most valuable in creating new business models, yet he pays relatively little attention to this specific form of innovation in the book. Instead, most of the book talks about enhancing capabilities where an organization needs an external partner or to blend individual processes better. Second, he sees using information technology as a critical element to improving innovation. My own experience in studying innovation has shown that using more information technology is seldom a critical element in creating a new competitive advantage. Creating better communication and mutual understanding are often quite important, and these can be aided by simply better organizing the communications that take place now. So take this part of the book with a grain of salt.
I didn't know enough about the European examples to know how accurate they were. I was struck by many minor errors in the U.S. ones though. Since Mr. Shapiro worked in Accenture's New York office for 15 years and has many U.S. colleagues, I found these errors puzzling. The errors made me wonder how accurate the European examples are.
If you have already been through The Fifth Discipline, The Fifth Discipline Workbook, and The Dance of Change, you will probably find this book more general than what you need to expand your understanding of corporate creativity that leads to successful innovations.
If you are trying to decide whether to read Michael Hammer's The Agenda or 24/7 Innovation, take 24/7 Innovation.
How can you continuously create improved business models?
Long ago, someone divided people into three categories: Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen, and those who ask "What happened?" Shapiro views desirable change as as fundamental and pervasive. "It affects customers, suppliers, alliance partners, and anyone who touches [or is touched by] the company. But in today's age of change, success requires nothing less. That's why 24/7 innovation is the only way to achieve a unique and enduring competitive advantage." One of the words now having the loudest buzz is "convergence." (Not long ago, two of the loudest buzzers were "synergies" and "integration.") As Shapiro clearly demonstrates while examining four companies (GlaxoSmithKline, Invensys, The Real Estate Assessment Center of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and BC Hydro) in Appendix A, the most effective organizations are indeed those which achieve and then sustain an appropriate convergence of process, people, and technology. That is, they become and then remain what Shapiro describes as an "organic organization." In his book, he offers all manner of strategies and tactics as well as real-world examples to suggest HOW any organization (regardless of size or nature) can use the principles of "24/7 Innovation" to achieve that formidable objective.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The structure of the book does not hang together.Read more