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The Innovation Zone: How Great Companies Re-Innovate for Amazing Success Hardcover – February 24, 2009
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"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
Top Customer Reviews
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. But even if there is resistance within the higher levels of the organization, the "now" generation of workers, who work for the sheer joy of the journey, will serve as the drivers of innovation. Companies who choose not to adopt a process of innovation will find it is very hard to sustain a command and control environment with people who are impervious to rejection and change.
This is one of the most important business books of our time. It is rich with content, which is very different from most business books on the market today. I find I can scan the first and last chapters of other business books and have a good understanding of what the book is about, and, quite frankly, be annoyed at the lack of substantive information. This is not so with "The Innovation Zone." You will want to read, study, and absorb every word, every concept. This book is extraordinarily well-written, and, best of all, it rings true.
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.
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. Example: Sony pocket radio
Abandon the success of the past - the error most of use makes is that we move forward as if the ideas and experiments of the past are limited to the variables of the past. Example: iPod
Separate the seeds from the weeds - The job of an innovative organization is as much to keep a careful eye out for new growth as to tend to the seeds originally planted. Example: Onstar
Focus on process over product - sustained innovation without a well-grounded process is simply not possible in large organizations. You need a way to provide visibility to new ideas. Example: 3M
Create an innovation experience - you can accelerate innovation and the value it delivers by shifting focus from product innovation to experience innovation. Example: Zipcars
Challenge conventional wisdom - start with asking if you need to do this at all, then figure out how to make things better. Example: iRobot's Roomba vacuum
The Innovation zone is one of the more complete, accessible and tool based books I have read on the subject. There are many people who write about innovation as creativity. Kouloupolos writes about innovation as value, something we all need every day.
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Written in a way that inspires the reader with memorable anecdotes and practical advice, The...Read more