Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Passion for Innovation: Ideas and Insights from New Product Innovation & Development: A Frost & Sullivan MindXchange

By John DePalma
Managing Director of Growth Implementation Solutions
Frost & Sullivan

Last month I had the opportunity to attend the 10th Anniversary New Product Innovation & Development: A Frost & Sullivan MindXchange.  What a wonderful collection of like-minded individuals from diverse backgrounds, all with a common interest, dare I say passion, around a singular topic - INNOVATION.  The event kicked off with a series of Innovation Labs covering topics ranging from "A Hitchhiker's Guide to Disruptive Innovation: Doing It and Leading It" to "Mastering the Art of Lean Innovation and New Product Development".  These labs provided a unique opportunity for participants to learn from real life scenarios and case studies and gain valuable insights on key enablers of world-class innovation organizations.

On Day two, we kicked off the general session and exhibition with a keynote address from Paul Bailo, most recently of Mastercard International.  Bailo spoke about the challenges and importance of marrying entrepreneurial thinking and strategic sense in today's modern organization.  This topic was immediately followed by an Innovation Benchmarking exercise led by Richard Sear of Frost & Sullivan's Visionary Innovation Group.  Sear asked participants: "How innovative are you?" and introduced the Innovation Maturity Model which let participants gauge the gaps in their own organization's capabilities, and more importantly, provided a process for addressing the gaps.

Day two of the event continued with a series of Collaboration Zones, Think Tanks and Roundtables on topics ranging from "Integrating Your Customer in Your Product & Service Development" to "Assessing Operational Models".  As with the Innovation Labs on Day one, these Collaboration Zones encouraged participants to "roll up their sleeves" and engage in interactive team exercises that harness the power of participants' voices, insights and real-world experiences via group discussion.  And if all that wasn't enough, Day two concluded with an "Ask the Experts" panel discussion on "Translating Innovation Strategy to Execution of New Product Development."

Day three began with an optional "Early Risers Run/Walk" around the beautiful Mission Bay in San Diego to get the endorphins flowing and prepare participants for another content-rich day.  The general session kicked off with an ice breaker and transformational keynote from Doug Warner of Hewlett Packard  (HP) where he shared practical lessons from history and how they can be applied to create disruptive businesses of tomorrow.  This session was followed by an engaging talk by Jonathan McIntyre of PepsiCo, who spoke about transitioning from a product to service business model.

After a host of other highly stimulating sessions, Frost & Sullivan Vice President, TechVision, Leo O'Connor closed out the event by highlighting today’s top 50 game changing technologies.  He offered a powerful perspective on what organizations must do to embrace disruption and drive transformational growth.

While there is no substitute for attending the event in-person, I've taken the liberty of summarizing the top take-aways for those of you who were unable to attend. If any of these topics resonate with you, I encourage you to consider attending next year's event.

Top 10 Take-Aways:

  • Building a “culture of innovation” is as important, if not more so, than the innovation itself – it’s also harder to do.  An innovative culture is about L.I.F.E. – Love, Innovation, Failure, Enjoyment.
  • Innovation is not a moment in time, but rather, a movement through time.
  • Extreme focus on operations, revenue and short-term profitability stifles innovation.
  • Ego clouds your ability to truly innovate.
  • The pace of innovation is accelerating…it’s all about disruption and speed to market.  If you don’t innovate someone else will.
  • There are two, maybe three, types of innovation: 1) “everyday innovation” which accounts for approximately 80% of all innovation (e.g. business as usual, line extensions); 2) “strategic innovation” which accounts for approximately 15% of all innovation (e.g. adjacencies); and, 3) “disruptive innovation” which accounts for approximately 5% of all innovation (e.g. disrupt, collapse, transform).
  • There are seven critical stages to an innovation system or process: 1) input 2) insighting 3) problem definition 4) solution generation 5) qualification 6) research & development, and 7) implementation – with number 7 (implementation) being the most important and often most challenging.  An innovative idea is only as good as your ability to implement it!
  • 60% of companies today will not see a 10 year anniversary.
  • Growth Boards and ”i-Councils” are an increasingly popular way for large companies (quite frankly, companies of any size) to mirror the Venture Capital community and manage their innovation portfolio.
  • Like it or not, the ecosystems for innovation are changing where an individual consumer can out- innovate a company.  Leveraging an “Open Innovation” system can help tap into this world and allow organizations to be more nimble and entrepreneurial while still leveraging their own strengths.

About the author:
John DePalma is the Managing Director of Growth Implementation Solutions at Frost & Sullivan.  Located in Irvine, CA, John partners with companies in North America, and Globally, in defining AND implementing transformative innovation strategies, new organizational structures, processes and governance frameworks to accelerate growth for clients.  John can be reached at

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