Everyone knows that corporate growth--true growth, not just agglomeration--springs from innovation. And the common wisdom is that companies must spend lavishly on R&D if they are to innovate at all. But in these fiscally cautious times, where every line item of every budget in every company is under intense scrutiny, many organizations are doing just the opposite. They tighten their belts, subject nascent product development programs to rigorous screening, and train R&D staffers to think in business terms so the researchers will be better able to decide whether an idea for a product or service is worth pursuing in the first place. Such efficiency measures are commendable, say authors Gary Hamel and Gary Getz. But frugality is not a growth strategy, they point out and, in truth, there is very little correlation between corporate performance and the amount spent on innovation. Companies like Southwest, Cemex, and Shell Chemicals have shown that businesses don't have to spend a fortune on R&D to reap the benefits of innovation. To produce more growth per dollar invested, companies must produce more innovation per dollar invested. Hamel and Getz explain how businesses can dramatically improve their innovation yields. They offer these five imperatives: Increase the number of innovators among existing employees (whatever their job titles) by involving them in innovation processes and events. Focus on developing truly radical ideas--ones that change customer expectations and behaviors and industry economics--not just incremental ideas. Look for innovation sources outside the organization, as well as inside. Increase the learning from small, low-risk experiments. And commit to long-term, consistent development efforts.
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