The Five Habits of Highly Innovative Leaders
Here’s an article written by Bruce Upbin for Forbes magazine. To check out all the online resources, sign up for email alerts, and obtain subscriptions information, please click here.
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We’re proud to be publishing the first appearance of the World’s 100 Most Innovative Companies, a ranking that we hope to make an annual (maybe even quarterly) event highlighting the companies that investors believe to be the best at achieving consistent and profitable innovation. You can see the complete list here, and the gallery attached above covers advice from CEOs and leaders of companies on the list.
The list and its methodology is the result of years of research on corporate innovation, encapsulated in the new book, The Innovators DNA, by professors Clayton Christensen (Harvard Business School), Jeffrey Dyer (Marriott School of Management at Brigham Young University) and Hal Gregersen (INSEAD). They, in turn, relied on proprietary financial analysis done by Michael McConnell and his team at HOLT, a division of Credit Suisse. Click here to see a video chat I had with Profs. Dyer and Gregersen talking about their research:
The great insight from their work is that innovation is well within the reach of mere mortals not named Steve Jobs or Jeff Bezos. Successful innovation requires the right culture but new or incumbent leaders frustrated with a slow pace of innovation can start making change happen by behaving differently. It takes work, and may require some retraining, but the authors’ point is that anyone can innovate if they follow the five skills of disruptive innovators. They are:
o Observing, which helps innovators detect small behavioral details –in the activities of customers, suppliers, and other companies – that suggest new ways of doing things. Examples: Rakesh Kapoor of Reckitt Benckiser and Jean-Paul Agon of L’Oreal
o Networking, which permits innovators to gain radically different perspectives from individuals with diverse backgrounds. Example: Marc Benioff of Salesforce. See Victoria Barret’s take on Benioff here.
o Experimenting, which prompts innovators to relentlessly try out new experiences, take things apart, and test new ideas. Example: Bobby Kotick from Activision Blizzard.
o Associational Thinking— drawing connections between questions, problems, or ideas from unrelated fields—is triggered by questioning, observing, networking, and experimenting and is the catalyst for creativity. Example: Natura Cosmeticos, the “Avon of Brazil,” which uses such cross-disciplinary teams to dream up new personal care products.
There’s a lot more to our package around the Most Innovative Companies list, including an overview of the methodology and research on Tom Post’s contributor page, a video interview between Forbes publisher Rich Karlgaard and Juniper CEO Kevin Johnson. We’ll have a lot more profiles and videos with companies on the list over the next few months.
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In Bruce’s own words:
“I’m a managing editor at Forbes. I started as a reporter here in 1995 and worked as Midwest bureau chief and tech/health editor. Current opportunity is extending and improving our technology coverage and big franchise lists on Web, print and mobile. I’m blessed with an amazingly talented team of journalists, developers and statisticians. I do not kite-surf or glacier but you can follow me on Twitter.”
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