Nurturing the Next Big Thing: Innovation Requires Cutting Edge and Tradition

There is no shortage of surveys heralding the miracle of innovation for organizations trying to remain competitive in a volatile global economy. As that uncertainty becomes the norm, the focus on innovation is bound to grow. This article discusses how organizations must find a way to marry the fundamentals of project governance that helped them get where they are with the breakthrough concepts that will get them where they need to be. In doing so, it looks at how a solar energy and clean-tech company turns prototypes into business solutions by slashing time-to-market without sacrificing quality. Next, the article details how companies innovate during troubled economic times, citing a study by Wipro and Forbes Insight’s Growth Strategies for 2012 and Beyond, which reports that 68 percent of global executives agree that innovation is more important now than before the recession. It then identifies areas where organizations fall short. The article discusses how organizations can make the jump from a cutting-edge concept to a full-fledged project that delivers true innovation and examines how review strategies can help companies identify innovative concepts that are not up to par. It looks at how companies can collaborate on innovative concepts by detailing how Ford Motor Company and Weyerhaeuser worked together on a project to replace fiberglass or mineral reinforcements and reveals the positive results of this collaboration. It then summarizes how an innovation governance process may help organizations find the balance between fostering creativity and demanding measurable outcomes and explains how an innovation steering committee can evaluate proofs of concept and how they align with strategic goals of the business. Accompanying the article are two case studies: The first case study examines OnStar’s (Detroit, Michigan, USA) innovation strategy. The second case study discusses Petra Solar’s (South Plainfield, New Jersey, USA) innovative solar technology, smart-grid and clean-tech projects.

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