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The Way of Innovation: Master the Five Elements of Change to Reinvent Your Products, Services, and Organization Paperback – July 1, 2008
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"For the first time, someone has captured the essence of innovation and given us a truly fresh language to guide and enhance [the] process." --Verne Harnish, founder of Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO), CEO of Gazelles Inc., and author of Mastering the Rockefeller Habits
"Kaihan’s ability to reflect on history and keenly link to the current business environment displays his rich respect and creativity for businesses. This is a great read for those who love the game of strategy." --Melinda Large, Regional Director, People, Wal-Mart
"[This book] . . . offers an extremely novel, fresh, and piercing perspective into how people in organizations can personally innovate." --Philip Berry, VP Global Workplace Initiatives, Colgate-Palmolive
About the Author
Kaihan Krippendorff is a former consultant with McKinsey & Company and the author of Hide a Dagger Behind a Smile: Use the 36 Ancient Chinese Strategies to Seize the Competitive Edge. He currently helps companies like Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, and Wal-Mart outthink their competition. Mr. Krippendorff is based out of New York City.
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Kaihan Krippendorff's new book "The Way of Innovation" provides an important contribution to the literature on innovation, primarily by harkening back to principles of ancient Eastern philosophies of Buddhism and Taoism. Specifically, he provides a holistic strategic framework for instigating business innovation, deploying it, and perhaps most importantly, protecting and sustaining market gains deriving from those innovations.
The first half of the book lays out this framework. The core of this framework is a model of the five phases of change, cast metaphorically in elemental terms as Metal (discontent), Water (imagination), Wood (formation, development); Fire (breakout, rapid growth), and Earth (consolidation, protection). Krippendorff also draws on other Eastern concepts such as dualism (material vs immaterial/conceptual realities, creation-destruction), Sun Tzu's models for framing conflict situations, and the strategic patterns he assembled for responding effectively.
Krippendorff explains the five phases model of innovation in detail, albeit at a fairly high strategic level. For readers immersed in day-to-day tactical and operational concerns, this perspective may seem somewhat ethereal and uncomfortable, but I believe that it is an appropriate and necessary approach. Fortunately, Krippendorff supplies numerous business examples to illustrate and ground his points.
The next section of the book reviews the five phases briefly, but this time supplies a set of guidelines, exercises, and templates for applying the framework to the reader's organization. Given the abstract nature of the framework, this rehearsal serves to reinforce the structure of the framework and add some welcome "how tos". The final section of the book presents eight case studies of innovative businesses, highlighting how those organizations dealt with each of the five phases of Krippendorff's framework.
One (minor) disappointment is that Krippendorff's references to existing literature are generally oblique and anonymous - explicit footnotes naming key names and resources on innovation and competition (e.g., Geoffrey Moore, Clayton Christensen, Everett Rogers, Kim and Mauborgne, Gary Hamel, Michael Porter, would be very helpful to readers wanting to learn more.
The Way of Innovation is a cogent and well written book. The framework Krippendorff suggests is genuinely insightful and helpful to leaders searching for ways to promote innovation. By staying at a high strategic level, Krippendorff necessarily goes into less depth and detail than authors that focus on particular phases of the innovation lifecycle (e.g., Moore's Crossing the Chasm and Christensen's Innovator's Dilemma).
The advantage he gains and delivers to the reader, however, is a broader (Eastern) appreciation for the organic and cyclic nature of change. His approach also highlights the fact that different strategies (and tactics) are required as you progress through the different phases. This is particularly valuable in Krippendorff's discussions of balance, which emphasizes the necessity of mastering all five phases of change in order to succeed and to sustain organizational innovation and competitiveness.