El Reto de la Innovación para Directivos

por Scott J. Edgett, Ph.D., CEO, Stage-Gate International

¿Alguna vez se ha preguntado por qué algunas compañías parecen lograr innovar correctamente, lanzando producto nuevo tras producto nuevo exitosamente, mientras que otras compañías parecen tener problemas? En cada industria hay historias de éxito sobre empresas que parecen haber descubierto cómo innovar mejor que la competencia. Vienen a la mente empresas que han superado la prueba del tiempo en el frente de batalla de la innovación, como 3M, Abbott Nutrition, Baker Hughes, BASF, Corning, Kellogg, GE, Pepsi, Starbucks … la lista podría continuar. Cada industria parece tener claros ganadores en innovación. Los equipos directivos de estas empresas saben que la innovación es la línea de vida futura de la empresa y cuanto mejor sean en la innovación de productos, mejor les irá a sus empresas. Después de todo, la innovación exitosa se trata de aumentar los ingresos de ventas mediante el desarrollo y lanzamiento de nuevos productos y servicios exitosos.

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The success of these companies, and many others, raises the question as to whether you and your organization are ready for the changes that are occurring in innovation.

  • Have you prepared the organization to be able to compete in a fast paced and ever changing environment?
  • Is your organization able to rapidly adapt?
  • Have you developed innovation strategies that will deliver the targeted revenue growth?
  • Is your portfolio of innovation projects and spending aligned with this strategy?
  • Is your pipeline full of value added projects that will matter in the marketplace?
  • Do you have a well-defined, effective and efficient idea-to-launch process implemented throughout the organization?
  • Is your culture such that it fosters and supports innovation starting with the right leadership to drive innovation in a complex business environment?

If you are answering yes to these questions, then congratulations! Your company is probably doing quite well at innovation. If you answered no to most or some of these questions then your innovation performance is probably suffering and you are not achieving the desired results.

Executive Forum

A recent executive forum on product innovation produced a rather interesting discussion. Everyone agreed that yes, indeed, the world is changing rapidly. Common macro issues affecting product development included themes such as: reduced product life cycles resulting in a shorter payback period; the rapid pace of new technology impacting all aspects of their business including their customers; customer evolution occurring rapidly; and competitive intensity that is not going away but, instead, is increasing.

Internal company pressures were also cited as the result of the many rapidly changing external environments. Common themes were: pressure to create even more new products to support top line growth targets; an increasing frustration with new product development cycle time and the organization’s ability to move quicker, innovation pipelines that are clogged; an innovation front end that is broken or not producing enough game changers; too much minor incremental product innovation that is not generating enough new revenue opportunities. In short, a general frustration with their organizations product innovation capabilities.

Interestingly most of these executives believed that their companies were spending the appropriate amount on innovation and it was not a matter of just increasing budgets to solve their innovation challenges but, instead, was more around the organization’s ability or capability around innovation.

Companies that develop capability in all four drivers of the Innovation Performance Framework® achieve superior innovation results.

Innovation is Complex

 Innovation is not a simple undertaking in most companies. In fact, it is maybe one of the most complex things that an organization tries to do. Innovation is not standard and every major project is different. Combine this with the multiple different functions that touch an innovation project from start to finish and you have organizational complexity on a grand scale.

Consider a typical new product project in your own company and trace how many different functions and people are actually involved in some form from the  time the idea is first born through development, manufacturing/ operations and eventually commercial- ization. It is not just an R&D project and it is not just R&D people that are involved. You will be surprised by how many actual touch points there are.

Some companies have worked hard to figure this complexity out and have created internal processes to ensure that projects do not get bogged  down  in internal complexities. Other companies still find this a major challenge and it is no wonder they have serious speed to market problems. Many seasoned executives argue that innovation is perhaps one of the hardest things to do well in the company, yet it is one of the strongest drivers of future revenue for the company.

Driving Innovation

To be successful at innovation the consensus among these executives was that multiple events need to be in place at the same time. It is not a quick fix but instead the steady and consistent approach to constantly raising the performance bar.

The four key drivers are:

  • A well-crafted innovation strategy that is widely communicated throughout the organization
  • A managed approach to both strategic and tactical portfolio management to ensure that the pipeline is supporting the strategy with the right level of risk and with the right mix of projects
  • A well defined, enabling idea-to-launch process that is widely adopted throughout the organization.
  • A culture and leadership throughout that clearly embraces and supports real innovation.

Recent benchmarking results confirm that each of these four drivers of innovation heavily impact performance levels within the organization.1

Is your organization ready to be a top performer in innovation capability? Are you leveraging a proven framework for innovation to deliver the performance results you desire? Innovation capability in an organization does not happen by chance; instead it is the result of a dedicated and committed senior management team that understands the importance of innovation and its impact on top-line revenue growth.


  1. Scott J. Edgett, “Innovation: A Critical Capability” The European Business Review. January – February 2014, pp. 10-12

For more information, visit www.stage-gate.com or email: [email protected]


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