Do You Really Innovate? Finding the Keys to Success

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Tom Segura has a great joke about a cousin who likes to call himself an inventor. He likes to think of stuff that “would be really cool” but has no idea how to make it – like a cell phone that drives your car for you.

Not exactly Thomas Edison type of stuff.

If only inventing was as easy as coming up with a great idea. But the reality is that innovation and positive change take a decent amount of effort that goes beyond a few conversations in the hallway.

The McKinsey Group put out a great article about The eight essentials of innovation, ” which is a useful reference and motivator for companies looking to kickstart some innovative thinking and a culture based on continuous improvement.

According to the authors, innovation relies on a unique combination of the following essentials:

  1. Aspiration – Do you regard innovation led growth as critical?
  2. Choice – Do you invest in a coherent, time / risk balanced portfolio?
  3. Discovery – Do you have differentiated business and market insight?
  4. Evolution – Do you create and encourage new business models?
  5. Acceleration – Do you launch innovations quickly and effectively?
  6. Scale – Do you launch innovations at the right scale in the market?
  7. Extension – Do you compete by utilizing external networks?
  8. Mobilization – Are your people motivated and driven to innovate?

One of Warren Buffet’s hallmarks for companies in which he’ll invest is that they have to have a wide “moat.” To Buffet that means a company with a competitive advantage that is very difficult to overcome.

Companies have wide moats for a long list of reasons: emotional attachment, exclusive contracts, and great service.

And many of the best companies, big and small, build moats with a culture of innovation.  Think of a company like HBO. Its determined focus on creativity and innovation has led to hit series after hit series.

Take a closer look at the McKinsey article and maybe you’ll find some inspiration for your next breakthrough: McKinsey Quarterly: “The eight essentials of innovation”


Main image: “Albert eintein” by Yajaira morocho852 – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

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