Resolve to Catch Up on Your Innovation Reading

If one of your new year’s resolutions is to read more, specifically more about innovation, then here’s a gift for you. CIMS Innovation Management Report Editor Mike Wolff recommends several must-read articles to help you get caught up before you move on to this year’s articles and books. The following article summaries come from his Innovation Lit roundup in the November/December 2016 issue of the IMR: 

“A Whole New Apple,” by Rick Tetzell; Fast Company, September 2016

Along with enthusiastic reporting on Apple’s long game and “Nine Ways Tim Cook Has Transformed Apple,” this cover story highlights the incremental innovation Cook is guiding. Tetzell, a Fast Company editor-at-large and the co-author of “Becoming Steve Jobs,” credits Cook “for getting improvements from every corner of the company and for then deploying those gains across a wider canvas of software, hardware, and services than Jobs ever had at his disposal.”

Tetzell cites the Maps app as “an example of the kind of grind-it-out innovation that’s happening all the time at the company.” Quoting Eddy Cue, Apple’s SVP of Internet software and services, “The world thinks we delivered [a breakthrough] every year while Steve was here. Those products were developed over a long period of time.”

Craig Federighi, SVP of software engineering, explains, “The map is a foundation for building all kinds of value on the platform, just as our operating systems are foundations.”

Tetzell’s story contains another lesson for companies that must reinvent themselves: The process of continual learning “is central to the way Cook manages Apple.” Asserting that Apple “has always been a company that learns on the fly,” Tetzell relates what he was told when doing interviews for Becoming Steve Jobs: “What you learned (by the end of a project) is as tangible as the product itself, but much more valuable, because that’s your future.”

It would seem that as Apple “expands its portfolio by building on the foundation laid by earlier products,” it will be due more to these kinds of innovation than to headline-grabbing breakthroughs like another iPhone.

 ‘Bad’ Innovation Is Just What Your Company Needs,” by Andrew Hargadon; strategy+business, July 18, 2016

While it’s easy to celebrate innovations like the iPhone that change company fortunes, “What is harder to appreciate are those innovations that aren’t the blockbusters and home runs but nonetheless play a critical role in a company’s innovation strategy,” writes Andrew Hargadon, chair in entrepreneurship at the University of California Graduate School of Management and a CIMS collaborator.

Hargadon cites“ four perfectly good reasons, aside from world domination, to pursue innovations:”

Me-too-products can be placeholders to keep customers from straying.

Smaller innovation products can serve as proving grounds for testing new technologies, market opportunities and more.

Trust is built through strengthening the “web of choices and actions” it takes to innovate.

Innovation is a long game, not an overnight success.

“The Next Battleground: The 4th Era of Personal Computing,” by Steve Brown, The Bald Futurist; August 9, 2016; ttp://

For those still mastering their smartphones and apps, be alerted that, “The smartphone wars are over …the next platform battles are already well underway,” blogs futurist Steve Brown. Appropriately, he immediately answers your next question: “Even if you’re not in tech, knowing where the tech world is going next is key to future success. It should inform your business strategy, your partnership strategy, and probably your personal financial investment strategy.”

Brown predicts “the fourth era of personal computing” will be “a potent combination of Internet of Things, wearables and augmented-reality clients using speech and gesture, connected over 4G/SG networks to personal assistants, conversation as a service and social networking platforms that draw upon a new class of cloud-based artificial intelligence to deliver highly personalized access to information and services.”

 “Personal Innovativeness as a Predictor of Entrepreneurial Value Creation,” by Dennis Stauffer; International Journal of Innovation Science, Vol. 8 Issue 1, 2016.

The single greatest factor in determining innovation success or failure, asserts Dennis Stauffer, “is the mindset of those attempting to achieve innovation, and the mindset of those they encounter” (, July 13, 2016). Stauffer is the CEO of Innovator Mindset® and the co-developer of the instrument used in the study of more than 300 entrepreneurs reported in this paper.

In the study, high scorers on an Innovativeness Index averaged 34 times as much profit, 70 times as much revenue and created 10 times as many jobs as the low scorers. They were also significantly more likely to be involved in “home run” ventures that produced at least $1 million in annual profits.

“This approach provides a novel way to evaluate the prospects of new and potential ventures, even before there are any tangible business outcomes,” Stauffer writes. “It’s a game-changer in terms of how opportunities are identified and vetted—for both entrepreneurs and investors.”

The Innovator Mindset instrument can be accessed at

“Kodak’s Downfall Wasn’t About Technology,” by Scott Anthony; Harvard Business Review, July 15, 2016;

In his reexamination of Kodak, Innosight managing partner Scott Anthony concludes that the iconic American company’s collapse should be attributed to failure “in realizing that online photo sharing was the new business, not just a way to expand the printing business.”

This leads him to digital transformation and the three questions companies should ask when they begin to talk about it: What business are we in today? What new opportunities does the disruption open up? What capabilities do we need to realize these opportunities?

“Learn the right lessons,” Anthony concludes, “and you can avoid Kodak’s fate.

“Disrupting the Disruptors: Startup Accelerators Feel Pressure to Evolve;” knowledge@wharton July 28, 2016.

This report examines the evolution of startup accelerators from the incubators of the 1950s to “tailor-made accelerator programs to service a startup culture no longer tethered just to Silicon Valley.”

“New-model accelerators from England, France, Dubai, and Chile serve people ‘cut off from the funding system and support system that exist for the lucky few in the U.S.,’” says Wharton management professor Ethan Mollick, adding, “But you can’t just copy Y Combinator and expect it to work.”

The article concludes with a look at the future of Silicon Valley’s “stranglehold as the center for innovation.” One opinion, from Dave McClure, founder of Silicon Valley accelerator 500 Startups:“It wouldn’t surprise me that in 10 years Beijing is more active than Silicon Valley.”

“Inside the Mind of a Venture Capitalist;” Steve Jurvetson interviewed by Michael Chui; McKinsey Global Institute, Aug 2016.

Steve Jurvetson, a founding partner in the Silicon Valley VC firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson, tells his interviewer what he looks for in an entrepreneur and how large companies can respond to disruption.

“If a few people passionately think that something is the future, and a large number of people think it’s absolutely harebrained and will never work, that’s a good sign,” Jurvetson says. Some of those exciting sectors? “The application of deep learning and machine learning to just about everything.” And the biggest start-up of all: When SpaceX succeeds in recovering the booster, space flight should become “as frequent as airflight and, soon, as safe and as much fun.”

As for responding to innovations that transform multiple industries, “If I was a senior executive at a large company, my first worry would be that it’s a precarious place. Just about every large company should wonder how long it’s going to last, and that should be measured in decades at most.”

“Thinking Big to Address Major Challenges: Design and Problem-Solving Patterns for High-Impact Innovation,” by Joseph V. Sinfield and Freddy Solis; The Bridge; Vol. 46, No. 2, Summer 2016.

Clean water, urban infrastructure and other pressing global challenges are seen as “daunting, complex (both figuratively and technically), and, by many, intractable,” write Purdue University civil engineer Sinfield and postdoc Solis. Consequently, they propose “a qualitatively different approach to problem solving for major challenges, emphasizing a proactive focus on high-impact innovation.”

They would focus on finding new solutions that achieve impact characterized by four criteria: broad reach, comprehensive significance (defined as “the magnitude of benefits across measures of economics, health, environment, and culture”), paradigm change (“the degree to which an innovation alters implicit or explicit worldviews on a particular domain”), and longevity (“the timespan over which an innovation has influence.”)

“The Future of Financial Infrastructure: An Ambitious Look at How Blockchain Can Reshape Financial Services; World Economic Forum, August 2016: ttp://

Building upon findings from the Deloitte/World Economic Forum report “Disruptive Innovation in Financial Services,” this report looks at the impact of implementing distributed ledger technology (blockchain) across nine sectors of financial services. Its overall conclusion, as stated by the WEF’s Head of Financial Services Industries, Giancarlo Bruno: “Rather than to stay at the margins of the finance industry blockchain will become the beating heart of it.”

The WEF’s analysis yielded six key findings regarding the implications of distributed ledger technology (DLT) for the future of financial services:

DLT has great potential to drive simplicity and efficiency through the establishment of new financial services, infrastructure and processes

DLT is not a panacea; instead it should be viewed as one of many technologies that will form the foundation of next-generation financial services infrastructure

Applications of DLT will differ by use case, each leveraging the technology in different ways for a diverse range of benefits

Digital Identity is a critical enabler to broaden applications to new verticals; Digital Fiat (legal tender), along with other emerging capabilities, has the ability to amplify benefits

The most impactful DLT applications will require deep collaboration between incumbents, innovators and regulators, adding complexity and delaying implementation

New financial services infrastructure built on DLT will redraw processes and call into question orthodoxies that are foundational to today’s business models.

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