Monday, May 18, 2015

Execution is 95% of What Matters: Delivering Great New Product Outcomes

Phil Swisher
Senior Vice President & Head of Innovation,
Brown Brothers Harriman

Guest speaker Phil Swisher shared his company's approach to innovation as he elaborated on two of the company's long-term goals: generating meaningful revenue from new businesses and building a stronger culture of innovation. BBH's approach to innovation is a strategy of what you do and do not do. An innovation does something different than the core business. The same mindset and processes of the core business will not lead to different outcomes. He also articulated some things his company will not do when it comes to innovation, which included ROI analysis, creating detailed business cases, allocating costs to other business units, and attending boring corporate meetings.

Six primary activities practiced by BBH involving solution building and infrastructure building:

  1. Pursue ideas using team and firm resources for direct idea advancement
  2. Utilize an internal venture capital fund for funding the commercial ideas of others
  3. Seeks external wisdom, engages with the rest of the world for insight
  4. Innovation, used as a catalyst
  5. Innovation, used inside the firm
  6. Metrics and advocacy

Use a different measurement methodology to determine how innovative your new product or service really is. It can be best described as a cumulative test asking questions such as, “Who else currently offers this product or service?” Points are awarded based on the multiple choice answer picked. The higher the score, the better.

When building innovative new products, alignment across four populations is critical: the innovation team, business unit management team, IT department and one of BBH's 38 owners. Approval is required only from the partner who oversees innovation and the partner who oversees the business unit in which Innovation is investing.

Swisher suggests that management ask the following questions of top performing management teams in order to make innovation a strategic priority:

  • What commercial projects is your team working on, where outcomes are uncertain?
  • How are you building innovation into the lives of your team members?
  • For each member of the management team:
  • How are you participating directly in the creative process?
  • In the past month, how many clients have you spoken with, excluding sales situations and service problems?
  • Who has made the most significant positive impact on your innovation efforts?

Deployment Values for best practices:

  • The standalone revenue generated by Innovation’s new product
  • The revenue benefit of the new product retaining clients of the core who would otherwise have left
  • The revenue benefit of the new product helping the core business win new clients, or new business from existing clients
  • The technologies, people and methods used by Innovation set new benchmarks and precedents, which increases the knowledge, permitted toolkit, and capabilities of the core, and creates productivity improvements and cost savings in the core
  • Portions of Innovation’s work, both product development work and product’s code, can be reused or adapted for projects in the core, which increases speed and quality while reducing costs

Career advice from Mr. Swisher: The world is small, life is cumulative, always look for ways to help others. Optimize for great mentors and maximum learning, especially earlier in your career. Be passionate about the major areas where you invest your time. Have a runway – you can’t negotiate unless you can walk away. 

No comments:

Post a Comment