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Getting Innovation Right: How Leaders Leverage Inflection Points to Drive Success Hardcover – March 11, 2013
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Q & A with Seth Kahan, author of Getting Innovation Right
As I worked hand-in-hand with leaders on their change initiatives, I began to notice that those who succeeded were also adept at introducing new products, services, and ideas into the marketplace. I participated in many of their innovation initiatives and discovered seven key activities the successful leaders practiced with rigor. After I saw firsthand how important these key activities were for success, I wanted to share them with my clients and readers. That's why I wrote Getting Innovation Right.
My approach to organizational change works from the inside out, as opposed to top-down or bottom-up. Effective, lasting change is only possible by first engaging key stakeholders. When everyone in the organization understands the change, they act in a concerted way, even in impossible-to-predict circumstances. The key to sustained change is active engagement of all key stakeholders. The same is true of innovation.Many think of innovation as freewheeling experimentation. Why does innovation need to be judged by results, not process?
In today's market, mission-driven leaders don't have the time or resources to play around with ideas that die on the vine. They want to go to market, build a presence, and have the resources to turn an idea into something special that will be valued by customers, members, and constituents. If innovation does not produce positive impact in a sustainable way, they see it as a waste of time. Even in research or creative labs, experimentation must lead to results of some kind. Results determine whether a company and a leader are successful.What do you mean by inflection points, and how can understanding them help someone innovate better?
An inflection point is a decisive shift in the market that either sends you up or down. If you don't see inflection points coming, they can be jarring--and even lethal. But when you learn about the different kinds of inflection points and develop some expertise in using their momentum, you have an edge on everyone else.
Most leaders feel they are at the mercy of major market shifts. Successful innovators understand inflection points and they actively look for them to put their energy to good use. Once you can anticipate an inflection point, you can use it to fuel your innovation. Getting Innovation Right shows you how to do that in detail.What business challenges will Getting Innovation Right help managers overcome?
Leaders often fall short when it comes to innovation. Getting Innovation Right provides templates, step-by-step instructions, techniques, tools, and practical guidance on how to maximize your innovation' s chances of success in the market. The book helps leaders invest in the leadership talent required to develop successful new products and services, understand how market research can help any new offering, take advantage of market disruptions, discover what customers will be compelled to buy, and accelerate market acceptance.Who stands to benefit most from reading Getting Innovation Right?
Anyone who faces the pressures of the market, whether that means working with internal customers, delivering on a mission, transforming services to meet a changing market, or developing products. If you need to create more, better, or new offerings, this book is for you.
“Everybody knows you have to innovate to be a success, but it's easier said than done. Getting Innovation Right is a master class in mastering the current business landscape. Reading this book will give you real-world examples of innovation at work, along with tested templates for action, so you can take your creativity and drive and use them to create exciting products and services your customers will clamor for.”
—Daniel H. Pink, author, Drive and A Whole New Mind
“In this dynamic and challenging global economy, those that succeed will be those who innovate. Seth Kahan's new book outlines the step-by-step keys to successful innovation and a brighter future. Getting Innovation Right is a must-read roadmap to success.”
—Steve Neibergall, president, Safeway Eastern Division
“It is important to get some practical advice in a world filled with innovation theory. That's exactly what Seth offers in Getting Innovation Right.”
—John H. Graham, IV, CAE, president & CEO, American Society of Association Executives
“Getting Innovation Right is one of the most compelling business books to come around in a long time. The tools and techniques Seth Kahan has outlined are clear, direct, and easy to apply to any business situation. His well-reasoned approach will allow all leaders to engage in key activities that will drive success in the marketplace for their innovations.”
—Mary E. Power, CAE, CMP; executive director, HR Certification Institute
“Getting Innovation Right is, most of all, a pragmatic read. Imagine if you had a systematic approach to improving your thinking. This is it.”
—Alan Weiss, PhD, author, Million Dollar Consulting and The Innovation Formula
“With Getting Innovation Right, Seth has delivered a guide for leaders everywhere to help accelerate their team’s innovation through real-world examples and pragmatic insight.”
—Kevin Parker; president, CEO, and chairman of the board, Deltek, Inc.
“As a client of Seth’s I am happy he has written a book that spells out the successes he has had with a number of organizations. There are great lessons here. He took on tough challenges and turned them into success stories. Getting Innovation Right will resonate far beyond the industries his book covers. We can all learn from others’ success when it comes to innovation.”
—Ralph Nappi, president, The Association for Suppliers of Printing, Publishing and Converting Technologies
“Seth is a boundless strategic thinker and motivator. Getting Innovation Right can propel your organization’s next move upward. Finding that elusive formula is the key to achieving sustainable, profitable revenue growth, and Seth gets the job done in an entertaining way.”
—Mike Panaggio, chairman, DME Holdings, LLC
“Seth does it again with his latest book, Getting Innovation Right, by providing a simple approach to attacking innovation. It is having the courage to innovate that will differentiate us from all the rest and is what we all strive for. After reading this book, you will not only have an approach to utilize, but the tools to help you make things happen quickly and succeed.”
—Michaela Oliver, senior vice president of human resources, Rosetta Stone, Inc.
“Getting Innovation Right emphasizes a maturity that all business executives should develop. I highly recommend this book, as it captures both basic business fundamentals and a dynamic approach for executives to rethink processes and strategy on an ongoing basis.”
— Anthony J. Cancelosi, K.M., president and CEO, Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind
“In this massively disruptive and mostly distracting business environment, you have but one choice: innovate, or evaporate. But you must get it right, which isn’t easy. Enter Seth Kahan’s Getting Innovation Right.”
—Matthew E. May, author, The Laws of Subtraction and The Shibumi Strategy
Top customer reviews
Getting Innovation Right is divided into seven main sections. Each covers an important aspect of innovation. They are:
ONE: Pursue inflection points: These are defined as "A decisive change in the status of your organization with respect to its success in the market" negative and positive. Various tactics are provided to capitalize on inflection points.
TWO: Build innovation capacity: These are the capabilities required to bring innovation into productive use. He also covers forces that jeopardize innovation, such as the pressure of daily ops.
THREE: Collect intelligence: You must do this in three areas: Customers, markets, organizational capabilities.
FOUR: Shift perspective: Here, you must challenge your old assumptions; examine your value chain; think like your competition; understand your weaknesses, and look to what Kahan calls creative deviants.
FIVE: Exploit disruption. For example: Be flexible, have a customer value mind-set, share success stories, respond rapidly, and so on.
SIX: Generate value.
SEVEN: Drive innovation uptake. This section focuses on strategies to get customers to buy your new products and services.
My only (and minor) criticism of Getting Innovation Right is this: The first five or six sections of the book are really on the mark and provide a wealth of strategies and tactics you can use immediately to innovate more effectively. The last section, while containing very good ideas, goes a little afield of the main topic of the book, which is innovation. Nonetheless, it's a question of too much good stuff rather than too little.
As an author and president of my own global firm, I look askance at overly-academic business books. Getting Innovation Right, however, is practical. Some books on growth strategies and innovation require such leaps of thinking and organizational capabilities that they are just not relevant for most businesses. This book is well written, full of real innovation case studies, and carefully thought out. An excellent read that I'd highly recommend to anyone concerned with developing and selling new products or services.
Seth Kahan's latest book, Getting Innovation Right: How Leaders Leverage Inflection Points to Drive Success, is a practical guide for business leaders who, while recognizing that innovation is a strategic necessity, are not quite sure what innovation is or how they go about improving their capacity to use innovation to successfully manage at the pace of change.
We live in a time of great change where a never-ending string of new technologies is radically transforming the familiar world of the past few decades. Kahan astutely observes, "As more advances roll out, there will be massive disruptions as industries struggle to build the infrastructure required to accommodate new technology." One of the consequences of this continual parade of disruptions is that business leaders suddenly find themselves in a new world with a completely different set of rules. If they want to succeed in this new world, they need to learn new ways of thinking and acting. That's why innovation is so important today.
Kahan defines innovation as "intentional evolution." Successful leaders in fast-changing times don't chase reality; they get in step with the pace of change, look for the dramatic shifts in the market--Kahan calls these "inflection points"--and position their companies to gain a powerful competitive advantage through timely adaptation to fast-changing markets. Kahan warns that, if companies fail to develop the ability to detect inflection points, they may suddenly find themselves "out of the game entirely."
Kahan cautions that a strategy of intentional evolution is not easy because "innovation is bound to run at cross purposes with operational pressures." Unless business leaders maintain a clear focus and make innovation a true priority, the pressures of the urgent will always trump the development of the important. A powerful positive consequence of intentional evolution is the creation of new ways of operating. Unless there is a balance of the important and the urgent, the old ways of operating never change.
When business leaders make a choice for intentional evolution, Kahan advises them to begin by accepting the uncomfortable reality that their beliefs don't matter. That's because their ways of thinking were shaped in a world that is rapidly fading away. If leaders want to recognize inflection points and shift perspective, Kahan urges them to begin by listening to their employees, partners, and customers. That's because, in fast-changing times, the most important information is more likely on the fringe than in the C-Suite.
Getting innovation right is about aligning the company around the mission of creating value for its customers. Kahan insightfully observes, "The judgment of value takes place in the mind of the buyer, nowhere else." As business leaders reach out to their employees and suppliers as a way to better understand what's most important to their customers, Kahan counsels them not to confuse "customer service" with "customer experience." The focus of customer service is about fixing problems with existing products, whereas understanding the customer experience is about knowing how customers use products to improve their lives. Market shifts and new opportunities are more likely to be gleaned from better ways to improve people's lives than from fixing existing products. Kahan notes, "So few companies take customer experience seriously that the ones that do have an enormous advantage." If you are a business leader and you need to get innovation right, this book will provide you with an enormous advantage.