World’s most innovative companies – Learning from them

Customers demand everything here and now. In an era of nanoseconds service, how do the most innovative companies manage these demands?

BusinessWeek has an excellent article on how they are doing innovating themselves and there’s a lot to learn from them. Here’s are some key points from the the article that I liked:

  • "Fast innovators organize the corporate center to drive growth. They don’t wait for [it] to come up through the business units."
  • Indeed, a lack of coordination is the second-biggest barrier to innovation, according to the survey’s findings. But collaboration requires much more than paying lip service to breaking down silos. The best innovators reroute reporting lines and create physical spaces for collaboration.
  • Procter & Gamble Co. (PG ) (No. 7) has done just that in transforming its traditional in-house research and development process into an open-source innovation strategy it calls "connect and develop."
  • Each time BMW begins developing a car, the project team’s members — some 200 to 300 staffers from engineering, design, production, marketing, purchasing, and finance — are relocated from their scattered locations to the auto maker’s Research and Innovation Center, called FIZ, for up to three years.
  • For many companies, cross-functional collaborations last weeks or months, not years.
  • A metric such as the percentage of revenue from new products, for instance, can lead to incremental brand extensions rather than true breakthroughs.
  • "It’s not just about results," she says. "It’s how did you lead people to get to those results."
  • Getting good consumer insight is the fourth most cited obstacle to innovation in our survey.
  • "You need time, just thinking time, to step out of the day to day to see what’s going on in the world and what’s going on with your customers,"
  • Try learning journeys. That’s what Starbucks Corp. (SBUX ), up 10 spots from 2005 to No. 9, does. While the coffee company began doing ethnography back in 2002 and relies on its army of baristas to share customer insights, it recently started taking product development and other cross-company teams on "inspiration" field trips to view customers and trends.
  • Consumers increasingly are doing the innovation themselves.
  • Many companies are scouting for outside ideas they can develop in-house, embracing the open-source movement, and joining up with suppliers or even competitors on big projects that will make them more efficient and more powerful.
  • India and China are growing sources of innovation for companies, too.

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