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Mapping Innovation: A Playbook for Navigating a Disruptive Age Hardcover – May 23, 2017
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Selected as one of the best business books of 2017 by 800-CEO-READ
From the Inside Flap
On December 9th, 1968, a research project funded by the US Department of Defense launched a revolution. The focus was not a Cold War adversary or even a resource rich banana republic, but rather to "augment human intellect" and the man driving it was not a general, but a mild mannered engineer named Douglas Engelbart.
His presentation that day, which would be so consequential that it is now called "The Mother of All Demos," demonstrated a new vision that would transform computers from obscure calculating machines that few ever saw to an interactive device for everyday use. Two who were in attendance, Bob Taylor and Alan Kay would go on to work at Xerox's famed research center, PARC, and develop Engelbart's ideas into the Alto, the first truly personal computer. Later, Steve Jobs would take many elements of the Alto to create the Macintosh, which launched with great fanfare in 1984.
In the years that followed, different companies learned different lessons from that particular series of events and pursued widely divergent paths. Apple, quite famously, focused on the end user. IBM's research division, which boasts more Nobel Prize winners than most countries, helps it see 10 or 20 years in to the future. Google, more recently, created its "Google X" division to be its "Moonshot Factory." Others pursue different strategies, such as continually testing a number of small, innovative projects or developing novel business models that can create, deliver or capture value in new and different ways.
With so many paths to innovation--all of which have strong track records of success--which should you pursue? Mapping Innovation offers a simple, but powerful framework, backed by years of research and dozens of interviews, which will help your business develop a strategy to innovate in a competitive marketplace. It explains how, by asking the right questions, you can map the innovation space and define which approach is most likely to solve the specific problems and opportunities you face. In essence, this book enables executives to choose the right tools for the right jobs and build a solid strategy based on sound principles, rather than conjecture.
Mapping Innovation is a "playbook for navigating a disruptive age" that goes inside some of the world's most innovative organizations, such as major corporations like Google, IBM and Experian, major scientific institutions like MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Argonne National Laboratory and startups like Upwork, Tidemark and Bloomreach to identify how they make an impact on the world.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
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The book begins with in-depth stories of several big and disruptive innovations that transformed life as we know it. Satell guides us along these historically important and fascinating innovation journeys from the seed of the idea, through the identifiable innovative moment, and through the often long process to commercial success.
Satell provides a simple and direct definition of Innovation as problems and opportunities seeking solutions. The book teaches Innovation as a multi-faceted discipline and repeatable process. He shows through examples of innovation leading companies that getting to solutions requires a continuum of strategies, styles, and activities that differ by the types of problems and the culture of the company solving them.
The core of the book is the Mapping of Innovation strategies and styles by innovation leaders across diverse industries including IBM, Google, Apple, P&G, GE, Glaxo Smith Kline, MD Anderson Institute for Applied Cancer Science, Elsevier and Experian. Satell provides us with an elegantly simple and clear framework to understand and drive innovation – to define the problems, the reason why we innovate, and identify the appropriate strategies most likely to resolve them.
The study becomes actionable as Satell maps Innovations at IBM, Proctor & Gamble, Experian, and, Alphabet (Google) on the Innovation Matrix to illuminate the choices and steps of the Innovation Journey. Mapping innovation provides a framework to map innovation at any company, large and small.
Satell’s “Innovation Matrix” and his “Horizons of innovation” frameworks are powerful yet simple tools to understand the continuum of innovation, activities, time horizons and resource allocation. Satell”s Innovation frameworks are as useful as Porter’s Five Forces and Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas to Entrepreneurs, business students, and corporate leaders.
Great read with useful tools!
Back in the 1990s, a major oil company engaged me as part of a team to develop a course on innovation and creativity. As a part of that project, I took a deep dive into the research on both of those terms, as well as most of the business literature. The research was often insightful, but most of the business books got it wrong.
Many books treated innovation and creativity as the same thing. They’re not. Creativity is generating new ideas. Innovation is combining and modifying ideas to come up with ways to do things better. There’s more in my post, “A Creativity and Innovation Catechism.”
Others perpetuated the intertwined myths of the lone genius and single flashes of inspiration. Still others offered their “secrets” of innovation. According to them, if you took these four steps, or had these three beliefs, or chanted these special words on a night when the moon was full, there would be innovation, and everyone would be happy. Other books treated innovation as the single thing that would make any business or person successful.
I’m just a humble preacher’s boy trying to make his way in the world, but none of that made sense to me when I read the research or looked around in the world. For years, I thought I might write the great book about innovation. Now I don’t have to.
My first experience of Greg Satell’s writing was his blog, Digital Tonto. His blog posts always seemed to be well-researched and superbly written. That’s true of the book, too. Here’s a look at how the book is structured.
Early in the book, Satell lays out the three purposes of his book. Here they are, in his words.
“The purpose of this book is threefold. First, it will help you get a better understanding of innovation by dispelling destructive innovation myths. Innovations don’t happen just because someone comes up with one big idea. It takes many ideas to solve an important problem, and that requires a collective effort.
Second, this book will give you valuable tools to help you frame the problems that are important to you. As you will see, it is only by framing problems effectively that you can find the approach most likely to solve them. Finally, it will help explain how innovation in the digital age is different from what it was in previous generations. Simply put, technology has given us powerful new tools, and we need to learn how to use them effectively.”
Part one is about how innovation really happens. The two chapter titles tell you what he covers. “Innovation Is Never a Single Event” and “Innovation Is Combination.” This is the myth-busting section, where Satell sets up the various common misunderstandings about innovation so that he can knock them down with both reasoning and historical examples. In addition to the lessons about innovation, you’ll learn lots about famous innovators, such as Albert Einstein, and why they were as productive as they were. Expect some surprises.
Part two is “Mapping the Innovation Space.” This is the core of the book, and there is an amazing amount of interesting, insightful, and helpful material here. This is where you’ll find the Innovation Matrix that classifies different kinds of innovation based on how well the problem and domain are defined. That matrix results in definitions and descriptions of four kinds of innovation: Basic Research; Breakthrough Innovation; Sustaining Innovation; and, Disruptive Innovation.
You’ll pick up the basic point that depending on only one kind of innovation in your company is probably a bad idea. But one of the real strengths of this book is that each of the definitions and descriptions ties the book to practical applications and other models. You not only learn what different kinds of innovation are and how they have and can be applied, you’re also introduced to helpful tools to help make it happen. An example is the description of the Lean Launchpad in the section on Disruptive Innovation.
The third part of the book is “Innovation for The Digital Age.” Satell takes a good look at what’s changing and what that means for innovation and innovation strategies. You may not agree with all his reasoning or conclusions here, but, like the rest of the book, they are well-researched, thoughtful, and clearly expressed.
In a Nutshell
This is the best book I’ve read on innovation in business. Greg Satell does a first-rate job of covering basic ground about innovation and innovation myths. Then he does two things that add special value and make the book unique. The Innovation Matrix gives you a quick way to sort out what kind of situation you’re facing, then the book describes tools and activities to use with different challenges. You’ll read about familiar tools, where they fit, and how to use them to great effect. Satell wraps up Mapping Innovation with a reasoned and insightful sketch of how he thinks innovation will change in the years ahead.
Greg Satell is an innovation advisor who delivers a great message in “Mapping Innovation – A Playbook for Navigating a Disruptive Age.” Mr. Sartell shows how innovation can occur in various ways. He guides the reader to consider innovation in two realms: 1. How well is the problem defined? 2. How well is the domain defined? With these two questions, he creates a matrix to help you best define a strategy for problems you need to solve. The beauty of this book is how he gives examples to support his concepts.
As a physician, I have long appreciated the work of Alexander Fleming and his discovery of Penicillin. I have never seen the story told as well as in this book. The story tells of a discovery with barriers to application, only to be rediscovered years later to become a breakthrough treatment against disease and illness.
Mr. Satell digs to a level of detail that quenches the curious. Take Thomas J. Watson, for example. I’ve seen sources claim that Mr. Watson ran the National Cash Register Company, which later became IBM. In contrast, Mr. Satell tells the true story. Mr. Watson was hired from the National Cash Register Company in 1914 to become general manager of the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company (C-T-R), which in 1926, was renamed to International Business Machines. Beyond accurate facts, Mr. Satell tells the story of how Mr. Watson saw the company emerging beyond the business of time clock and scales to “information processing.”
For the innovator, this book challenges specific attention to your strategy. For the innovator in the making, this book reveals pathways taken and serves as inspiration.
Michael Warner, DO, CPC, CPMA
President, Patient Advocacy Initiatives
2017 AACOM Health Policy Fellow