REVIEW: Beyond the idea: How to execute innovation in any organization

The main idea

Organizations are not built for innovation execution they are built for ongoing operational activity. These two activities are generally at odds with one another. To overcome this organizations need to explicitly focus on innovation activities in addition to their regular operational activity.

Interesting tidbit

One of the co-authors, Chris Trimble, was a submariner in the US Navy before undertaking his academic career.

What you really need to know

Depending on the innovation activities to undertaken by an organization, the authors propose three models – for small, repeatable and custom activities – which can be used to help deliver innovation within a larger organizational setting.

The general overview

In many respects this book is an extension and outgrowth of the author’s earlier work – especially their 2010 book ‘The Other Side of Innovation’ (see our review of that book here). In particular this book serves as a response to the criticism that their earlier work provided one model of innovation that may not have been suitable for all forms of organizational innovation. Their extension of this previous model to cover different types of innovation model is a welcome addition.

Building on their earlier work the two authors propose that innovation within an organization – with its focus on disruption, new thinking, and experimentation – is generally at odds with its overall focus on maintaining operational activity. But, to be successful in the modern world organizations need to be innovative. In order to overcome this tension the authors propose three models for organizations to adopt depending on the types of initiatives that they are pursuing:

Model S, for Small initiatives:

attempts to squeeze innovation into slivers of slack time. It can deliver a very large number of very small initiatives

Model R, for Repeatable initiatives:

attempts to make innovation as repeatable and predictable as possible. It can deliver an ongoing series of similar initiatives, regardless of their size.

Model C, for Custom initiatives:

is for all initiatives that are beyond limitations of either Model S or Model R.

The key is matching the correct model to the correct type of initiative. And, as the authors point out throughout the book matching incentivization systems to innovation activity as general operational activity and innovative activity demand very different types of work and very different outcomes so how you measure that ought to necessarily be different as well.

Overall this book is a welcome addition to the literature on innovation with some ideas that can very easily be adapted to innovation activity within an organizational setting. A very good book.