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Ten Rules for Strategic Innovators: From Idea to Execution Hardcover – December 1, 2005

4.7 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

By burying their titular 10 rules in a small final chapter, Govindarajan and Trimble commit the first deadly sin of business writing: ambiguity. Before that, readers can be forgiven for believing there are only three fundamental principles for stewarding innovative projects within established companies: forgetting, borrowing and learning. The Fast Company columnists, who cofounded a leadership institute at Dartmouth's business school, argue that most companies do not understand how to foster a genuinely experimental environment. Judging the new company ("NewCo") by the performance standards of the core company ("CoreCo") won't inspire change, hence the need to forget. But NewCo does have to borrow selectively from CoreCo's best resources in order to gain the foothold necessary for success, and it must learn from its experiences rather than stick blindly to its earliest plans. Govindarajan and Trimble use case studies from four industries, including manufacturing and online media. The examples, supplemented by numerous figures that reduce ideas to clear bullet points, get their points across effectively, but some readers may grow impatient waiting for the promised rules to turn up. (Dec. 1)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"Organizational DNA for Strategic Innovation", an article adapted from the book, won the 2006 Accenture Award from CMR. -- California Management Review

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; 1 edition (December 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591397588
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591397588
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #730,868 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I begin this review with an unorthodox suggestion: Read the last chapter first, Chapter Ten, in which Govindarajan and Trimble explain the "Ten Rules," before reading the Introduction and then the nine chapters which follow. Normally I would not presume to offer this suggestion because, in most business books, the presentation of a given "rule," "lesson," etc. is best understood within a specific context. Indeed, Govindarajan and Trimble provide one for each of their ten "Rules." However, one man's opinion, I think it will be helpful to have at least a sense of the conceptual framework before examining the substance of a cohesive, comprehensive, and cost-effective program within which to formulate appropriate strategies.

Govindarajan and Trimble affirm the value of strategic experiments because they can have high revenue growth potential, focus on emerging or poorly defined industries, test an unproven business model, involve radical departure from existing business, require allocation of at least some existing assets and competencies, develop new knowledge and capabilities, create discontinuous rather than incremental value creation, have greater uncertainty across multiple functions, tend to be unprofitable for several quarters (or more), and offer little (if any) indication of performance, at least initially. In other words, strategic experiments can be messy and unpredictable. Why bother?

Govindarajan and Trimble suggest that strategic innovation is a process by which to test new, unproven, and significantly different answers to at least one of three fundamental questions: Who is the customer? What is the value offered to that customer? How is that value delivered?
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Format: Hardcover
Many thanks to Vijay Govindarajan (VG) and Chris Trimble for this grand exposition of ideas first shared in the Spring 2005 California Management Review and the May 2005 Harvard Business Review. VG and Trimble's "Forget, Borrow, Learn" framework is the most powerful recipe for corporate reinvention that I have encountered.

As other Amazon reviewers have skillfully described the contents of this excellent book, I would like to add just two things.

First, as a graduate of the Tuck School of Business, I had the good fortune of encountering VG in the classroom. VG is a dynamic presence who commands attention. If you get a chance to experience VG in person, take it. To get a (very) small taste of what I am talking about, check out VG's video link at Tuck's website.

Second, to learn further from VG, I highly recommend VG's blog. Several of VG's posts are pure gold. For example, in VG's March 10, 2006 post, he puts forth his "three box thinking model," with box 1 being "Manage the present," box 2 being "Selectively abandon the past," and box 3 being "Create the future." The leaders of most companies spend most of their time in box 1, believing that they are working on strategy. As VG contends, though, strategy is really about boxes 2 and (especially) 3, that is, figuring out how to allocate scarce resources today to assure market leadership in 2010, 2020, and beyond. Yes, indeed.

In sum, I not only recommend this book wholeheartedly, but also urge those concerned with the long-term health of their firms to continue reckoning with the thoughts and writings of both VG and Chris Trimble.
Comment 12 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
Think about it - with the heightened global competition, you feel that you and your firm have to be constantly running fast and hard in order to stay in place! You have tried "kaizen" or continuous process improvement (a la Toyota or GE), and/or implemented process revolution (not unlike Wal-Mart's supply-chain revolution) and/or revolutionized your product line (not unlike Intel or Gillette) - but, you still see only incremental revenue growth and global competitors are knocking on your door. You worry that you have reached a plateau. How do you super-charge your business for breakthrough growth? Strategic Innovation! Professor Govindarajan (VG) and Chris Trimble systematically dissect the anatomy of Strategic Innovation Process by asking three basic questions: Who is the customer that we are serving? What is the value that we bring to the table? How do we deliver this value? VG and Trimble deconstruct the Strategic Innovation Process into a set of ten rules which trace the process from idea to execution - hence, the book is named aptly, "10 Rules of Strategic Innovators - From Idea to Execution". Since the idea or conception phase is new and exciting, most companies place extraordinary focus and attention on this phase. However, the vital execution phase is often shortchanged since it is usually protracted, difficult and painstaking. VG and Trimble place an enormous emphasis on the execution phase as they lay out a lucid road map for the Strategic Innovation Process that is insightfully punctuated by cases from a variety of industries ranging from consumer products to media to genomics. What is compelling about these cases is that they cover success stories as well as failures and the lessons to be learnt from both. This book is a "Must Read" for any executive/manager who is interested not only in staying ahead of the inexorable changes dictated by globalization but also determined to catalyze the change - i.e. any executive who wants to define the rules of the game.
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