Inside the Art and Craft of Innovation
How do companies encourage and manage the process of innovation? Last year, Knowledge at Wharton and the Boston Consulting Group teamed up to identify the world’s most innovative firms and invited them to answer that question at the inaugural meeting of the Ben Franklin Forum on Innovation in Philadelphia. This report presents a summary of the discussions as well as audio interviews with experts from Wharton, BCG and some of those companies. In addition, Knowledge at Wharton interviews Garrett Brown, whose innovations with camera technology have transformed cinematography. Finally, authors of the Wharton School Publishing book, Making Innovation Work: How to Manage It, Measure It, and Profit from It, discuss how companies can manage innovation and benefit from it.
What is innovation? Why are some companies better at it than others? How can large companies jumpstart their efforts to become more innovative? At the Ben Franklin Forum on Innovation organized by the Boston Consulting Group and Knowledge at Wharton, representatives from some of the world’s most innovative companies discussed these questions. One of their key observations: Swearing fealty to innovation is very different from practicing it. One is about hope; the other, action. Innovators act.
Every company worth its balance sheet swears it believes in innovation. In practice, though, the way different organizations approach innovation varies widely. How do companies identify new ideas that eventually turn into products? How do they identify and overcome barriers to innovation? How do they build an innovative culture? Knowledge at Wharton asked these questions and more to participants at the Ben Franklin Forum on Innovation held recently in Philadelphia. These included experts from Wharton and the Boston Consulting Group, as well as executives from companies such as Procter & Gamble, IDEO, Intel and Microsoft, among others. In this series of podcast interviews, these experts explain how they think about innovation and its challenges.
What does Sylvester Stallone running up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the film Rocky have in common with Imperial storm troopers rocketing through the trees in the movie, Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi? Both scenes were filmed with the Steadicam, an Oscar-winning breakthrough in cinematic technology, by its inventor, Garrett Brown. Brown’s innovations –- which include the Skycam flying camera system in addition to the Steadicam — have transformed cinema and made him an iconic figure in the entertainment industry. In an interview with Knowledge at Wharton, Brown discusses his experiences with invention and innovation. His advice to budding inventors: It’s a fabulous amateur avocation.
In their book, Making Innovation Work: How to Manage It, Measure It and Profit from It (Wharton School Publishing), authors Tony Davila, Marc J. Epstein and Robert Shelton make the case that innovation is not a one-time event, but a process that must be continuously managed, measured and carried out in all a company’s products, services and business functions. Using specific companies as examples, and drawing on existing research as well as their own experiences in the field, the authors demonstrate what works and what doesn’t, and offer advice on how to consistently maximize the value of innovation investments. Below is an excerpt from Chapter Two, entitled Mapping Innovation: What Is Innovation and How Do You Leverage It?