InnovationLit: Innovation Front End, Corporate Failures, Big Data Caveats, Google’s X Lab, Academic Inventions, Cultures that Work, Breakthrough Technologies, and More

This is a sample from the CIMS July/August 2014 IMR which presents an article written by Mike Wolff. The article highlights the most recent research and material on innovation.

“Managing the Front End of Innovation: Results from a Three-Year Study”; Peter A. Koen, Heidi M. J. Bertels, and Elko J. Kleinschmidt; Research-Technology Management, Part I March-April 2014, pp.34-43; Part II May-June 2014, pp.25-33

Five organizational attributes explain 53% of effective front-end performance, according to this study of practices in 197 large US-based companies by the Industrial Research Institute’s research-on-research committee. The attributes, described in Part I of the report, are: senior management commitment, vision, strategy, resource commitment, and culture.

Part II describes a second set of attributes that explain 24% of the variance in front-end performance: effective teams, team leadership and communities of practices supported by top management. The study also examined differences between incremental and radical innovation efforts, concluding, “The traditional, sequential process typical of incremental innovation efforts will not work for radical innovation.”

“A Broken Place;” Max Chafkin; Fast Company, May 2014, pp. 88-101.

Everyone likes to read about corporate failures other than their own. This account of the collapse of entrepreneur Shai Agassi’s ambitious attempt to replace petroleum-fueled cars with networks of moderately priced electrics should satisfy that desire. Fast Company contributing writer Max Chaftan draws several lessons from Agassi’s short-lived creation, Better Place, which he calls “the most spectacularly failed technology startup of the 21st century.”

Chaftan’s editor Robert Safian draws one lesson that applies far beyond electric cars: “When businesses are flush with capital, they can overreach, trying to do too much too soon. They can focus on too many things, rather than on the one thing that matters most. This is the peril lurking in today’s startup world, where money flows more freely than ever to clever ideas.”

“Farewell Nokia: The rise and fall of a mobile pioneer”; Roger Cheng; April 25, 2014.

Nokia’s cellphone enterprise was hardly a spectacular failure, for, as Cnet News editor Roger Cheng observes, the company once dominated the wireless world. But its long slide in market share culminating in the recent sale of its handset division to Microsoft holds lessons for other innovators and their leaders. One that Cheng discusses: “its inability to adapt to new trends.”

– To read the full article check out the CIMS July/August 2014 newsletter at

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