Companies Need All The Innovation They Can Get

by Sheldon Laube | Innovation Office, PwC

In a recent Bloomberg article entitled “Why Companies Need Less Innovation“ Pat Lencioni makes the case that companies should not be asking employees to be innovators. He goes as far as to say that leaders should not even be open to more ideas from their employees and that only a few people really need to innovative. He suggests that rank and file employees should not try to innovate but simply “do their jobs and satisfy customers in the most effective and charismatic way possible, but within the bounds of sound business principles.”

Lencioni has a far too limiting view of innovation. Let’s start with the definition of innovation itself. While this is widely debated, I always fall back to the simple dictionary definition:

Something new or different introduced


by Sheldon Laube | Innovation Office, PwC

In a recent Bloomberg article entitled “Why Companies Need Less Innovation“   Pat Lencioni makes the case that companies should not be asking employees to be innovators.  He goes as far as to say that leaders should not even be open to more ideas from their employees and that only a few people really need to innovative.  He suggests that rank and file employees should not try to innovate but simply “do their jobs and satisfy customers in the most effective and charismatic way possible, but within the bounds of sound business principles.”

Lencioni has a far too limiting view of innovation.  Let’s start with the definition of innovation itself.  While this is widely debated, I always fall back to the simple dictionary definition:

Something new or different introduced Leer más “Companies Need All The Innovation They Can Get”

The 3 Tensions of Internal IT Innovation

by Jonathan Reichental | IT Innovations, PwC

Internal IT innovation is all about converting ideas, those specifically supported by new technologies, into business value. These innovations often focus on needs such as improved internal processes or alternative and creative ways to support market activities. Four years into leading PwC’s IT innovation efforts, I’ve certainly observed enough of what works and what creates challenge to write a book on the subject. For this blog posting I’m going to briefly discuss an element of what I’ve experienced. It’s what I will call the 3 tensions of internal IT innovation.


by Jonathan Reichental | IT Innovations, PwC

Internal IT innovation is all about converting ideas, those specifically supported by new technologies, into business value. These innovations often focus on needs such as improved internal processes or alternative and creative ways to support market activities. Four years into leading PwC’s IT innovation efforts, I’ve certainly observed enough of what works and what creates challenge to write a book on the subject.  For this blog posting I’m going to briefly discuss an element of what I’ve experienced. It’s what I will call the 3 tensions of internal IT innovation. Leer más “The 3 Tensions of Internal IT Innovation”

Spotting the Gorilla in the Room

by Sarah Firisen | Global Human Capital, PwC

While attending a company training seminar a couple of years ago, I was part of a group shown a video. The video showed six people – three in white shirts and three in black shirts-passing basketballs around. We were asked to keep a silent count of the number of passes made by the people in white shirts. At the end of the video we were asked what our counts were. We were then asked how many of us had seen the gorilla walk into the frame, stand there, pound his chest and then walk off; along with about half the group, I hadn’t seen the gorilla. Those of us who hadn’t seen the gorilla, didn’t believe it had been there. In fact, showing increasing skepticism, we were convinced that we were the victims of an elaborate prank. We were shown the video again, and the presenters swore it was the same video, and what do you know, a gorilla walked through the scene.


by Sarah Firisen | Global Human Capital, PwC

While attending a company training seminar a couple of years ago, I was part of a group shown a video. The video showed six people – three in white shirts and three in black shirts-passing basketballs around. We were asked to keep a silent count of the number of passes made by the people in white shirts. At the end of the video we were asked what our counts were. We were then asked how many of us had seen the gorilla walk into the frame, stand there, pound his chest and then walk off; along with about half the group, I hadn’t seen the gorilla. Those of us who hadn’t seen the gorilla, didn’t believe it had been there. In fact, showing increasing skepticism, we were convinced that we were the victims of an elaborate prank. We were shown the video again, and the presenters swore it was the same video, and what do you know, a gorilla walked through the scene. Leer más “Spotting the Gorilla in the Room”

Innovation Horizons

In the book Innovation Tournaments (link), Christian Terwiesch and Karl Ulrich, introduce the concept of innovation horizons. I have found their three horizons very helpful in thinking about the management of innovation.

What struck me in thinking about this chart is that developing innovations for each horizon requires different approaches and that most companies co-mingle all three types in a single innovation organization. This may explain why many organizations are not satisfied with the results of their innovation activities, as they are confusing their goals and their approaches to innovation. I believe that different, and perhaps independent, approaches are needed to create innovations for each Horizon.

Horizon 1 Innovations. These types of innovations are incremental by definition. The vast majority of innovation projects fall into this category. This is not surprising since if you ask 100 of your current customers, “How can we improve our product?” probably 90 of them will answer by saying, “Make it better, faster or cheaper.” There is nothing inherently wrong in pursuing Horizon 1 innovations, since they are exactly the types of innovation which will make your current customers most happy. They are also the most achievable ones. Companies need to consider how to best identify and implement Horizon 1 innovations.


by Sheldon Laube | Innovation Office, PwC

In the book Innovation Tournaments (link), Christian Terwiesch and Karl Ulrich, introduce the concept of innovation horizons.  I have found their three horizons very helpful in thinking about the management of innovation.

What struck me in thinking about this chart is that developing innovations for each horizon requires different approaches and that most companies co-mingle all three types in a single innovation organization.  This may explain why many organizations are not satisfied with the results of their innovation activities, as they are confusing their goals and their approaches to innovation.  I believe that different, and perhaps independent, approaches are needed to create innovations for each Horizon.

Horizon 1 Innovations. These types of innovations are incremental by definition.  The vast majority of innovation projects fall into this category.  This is not surprising since if you ask 100 of your current customers, “How can we improve our product?” probably 90 of them will answer by saying, “Make it better, faster or cheaper.”  There is nothing inherently wrong in pursuing Horizon 1 innovations, since they are exactly the types of innovation which will make your current customers most happy.  They are also the most achievable ones.  Companies need to consider how to best identify and implement Horizon 1 innovations. Leer más “Innovation Horizons”

PwC iPlace – Six Factors Behind Our Success

It is becoming increasingly important to accelerate innovation by discovering, developing, and implementing ideas that increase the speed of delivering new products and services. Here at PwC, and as in other organizations, people are bubbling over with ideas and creative ways to deliver more value to clients. There is a great opportunity with the use of social media to tap into the collective knowledge of people. We wanted to take advantage of this opportunity and created a way for our people to share, collaborate, and expand on ideas. As Thomas Edison once said – “There’s a way to do it better—find it.” And find it we did.

Just one year ago, we launched our firm’s first online idea management platform, PwC iPlace, and provided a way for our people to share ideas and find inspiration in an open and interactive online forum. As they say, “if you build it they will come”, and boy…did the ideas come. In just one year – the response has been tremendous as we’ve generated over 2,000 ideas, 10,000 comments, and 40,000 votes.

So why did we have such great success in the first year? Here are six key factors we think are why…


Michele McConomy  |  US Innovation Office Manager, PwC

It is becoming increasingly important to accelerate innovation by discovering, developing, and implementing ideas that increase the speed of delivering new products and services.  Here at PwC, and as in other organizations, people are bubbling over with ideas and creative ways to deliver more value to clients.  There is a great opportunity with the use of social media to tap into the collective knowledge of people.   We wanted to take advantage of this opportunity and created a way for our people to share, collaborate, and expand on ideas.  As Thomas Edison once said – “There’s a way to do it better—find it.”  And find it we did.

Just one year ago, we launched our firm’s first online idea management platform, PwC iPlace, and provided a way for our people to share ideas and find inspiration in an open and interactive online forum.  As they say, “if you build it they will come”, and boy…did the ideas come.  In just one year – the response has been tremendous as we’ve generated over 2,000 ideas, 10,000 comments, and 40,000 votes.

So why did we have such great success in the first year?  Here are six key factors we think are why… Leer más “PwC iPlace – Six Factors Behind Our Success”

Set Your Future Free

As the global economic crisis forces businesses to operate leaner, competition continues to accelerate at lightning speed. Simultaneously, consumers are clampingdown on discretionary spending and demanding more value and options in the purchases they make. Innovation management—or finding and realizing new sources of value—is key to helping businesses keep up with this constantly changing economic and competitive landscape.

A transformation that began quietly at leading-edge organizations promises to revolutionize the way companies develop and realize the benefits of innovation as a corporate competency. This transformation—using collaborative, Web-based technology to reach the “Long Tail” of innovation across and beyond an organization—not only changes the way businesses innovate, but also recasts IT from a supporting role to a strategic one.


Streptocitta albicollis (White-necked Myna)
Image via Wikipedia

As the global economic crisis forces businesses to operate leaner, competition continues to accelerate at lightning speed. Simultaneously, consumers are clampingdown on discretionary spending and demanding more value and options in the purchases they make. Innovation management—or finding and realizing new sources of value—is key to helping businesses keep up with this constantly changing economic and competitive landscape.

A transformation that began quietly at leading-edge organizations promises to revolutionize the way companies develop and realize the benefits of innovation as a corporate competency. This transformation—using collaborative, Web-based technology to reach the “Long Tail” of innovation across and beyond an organization—not only changes the way businesses innovate, but also recasts IT from a supporting role to a strategic one. Leer más “Set Your Future Free”

Can Cost-Based Innovation Help Solve Our Debt Crisis?

Each of us are painfully aware of the new economic reality in which we find ourselves: national, state, and local government debt is skyrocketing. Simply put, it costs a lot more to provide and maintain government services than is taken in through taxes and other sources of revenue and thus we are forced to borrow to cover the difference. Every commentator on this subject offers essentially only three near-term solutions to the problem: raise taxes (there’s also a good argument for lowering taxes), cut services and programs, and reduce the civil service payroll. And while all of these have historically played an important role in some form of debt remediation, I’m struck by the absence of the role of innovation in this national discourse. I’m not talking about entrepreneurial innovation which of course is a considerable generator of income and taxes; I’m talking specifically about cost-based innovation.


by Jonathan Reichental in Cost Improvement, Innovation, Society

Each of us are painfully aware of the new economic reality in which we find ourselves: national, state, and local government debt is skyrocketing. Simply put, it costs a lot more to provide and maintain government services than is taken in through taxes and other sources of revenue and thus we are forced to borrow to cover the difference. Every commentator on this subject offers essentially only three near-term solutions to the problem: raise taxes (there’s also a good argument for lowering taxes), cut services and programs, and reduce the civil service payroll.  And while all of these have historically played an important role in some form of debt remediation, I’m struck by the absence of the role of innovation in this national discourse. I’m not talking about entrepreneurial innovation which of course is a considerable generator of income and taxes; I’m talking specifically about cost-based innovation. Leer más “Can Cost-Based Innovation Help Solve Our Debt Crisis?”

Essennovation, Part 2

Jonathan Reichental, Ph.D. – IT Innovations Director at PwC

There was broad agreement with my thesis. Across social media sites and at water coolers, people said that, with a few exceptions, IT innovation was essential. When describing the ideal new-era IT professional, I said that business skills were a bonus. Many corrected me and said business skills were essential. I agree. What was clear–and certainly my intent–was that my blog focused on a very thin slice of essennovation: the IT professional and the role of IT. However, it got me and a lot of other people thinking: what other areas of an organization require a posture of essennovation and even more importantly, what industries are required to essennovate?


Jonathan Reichental, Ph.D. – IT Innovations Director at PwC

In a recent blog I argued that in order to prosper as an IT professional in the new, sobering world of alternative sourcing, new skills may be necessary. These skills are being necessitated by the changing role of IT within organizations. While it is possible to outsource much of the commodity technology and related services required by organizations, there is an increasing need for creative, complex problem-solving technology skills. This layer of technology need requires high doses of innovation and the attendant right-brained skills to make it happen. Rather than discretionary innovation for both the IT professional and IT organization, I called this essential innovation and coined the term essennovation. While my intent was to bring clarity to a common theme currently being discussed within IT circles and in board rooms across the world, I was delighted by the high degree of new conversation the blog provoked. Leer más “Essennovation, Part 2”

The iPad Innovates By Doing Less, Not More

I finally got my 3G 64GB iPad on Sunday May 2nd (I was travelling and wasn’t home on April 30th when it was delivered). I have been using it extensively, on planes, in cars (with someone else driving), at home, at restaurants and sitting outside in the sun, and I agree the iPad is an amazing device. What makes it magical is not so much what it does, but all the things it doesn’t. Sometimes great innovations are not on new features but on the careful design and simplification of features we already know.

The iPad is a great example of this type of innovation. iPad reviews fall into two camps, those which compare it to a PC or netbook and find it lacking, and those which see it as a new form of computing and find it magical. I have been using computers for almost 50 years starting with an IBM 1620 in 1964.


Behold the iPad in All Its Glory
Image via Wikipedia

I finally got my 3G 64GB iPad on Sunday May 2nd (I was travelling and wasn’t home on April 30th when it was delivered).  I have been using it extensively, on planes, in cars (with someone else driving), at home, at restaurants and sitting outside in the sun, and I agree the iPad is an amazing device.  What makes it magical is not so much what it does, but all the things it doesn’t.  Sometimes great innovations are not on new features but on the careful design and simplification of features we already know.

The iPad is a great example of this type of innovation.  iPad reviews fall into two camps, those which compare it to a PC or netbook and find it lacking, and those which see it as a new form of computing and find it magical.  I have been using computers for almost 50 years starting with an IBM 1620 in 1964.
Leer más “The iPad Innovates By Doing Less, Not More”

Crowdsourcing Has Its 15 Minutes of Fame

Sarah Firisen | Thought Leadership Manager, PwC Global Healthcare

Every movement has its defining moment, those 15 minutes of fame when it moves into the general consciousness and suddenly goes from niche to the next big thing. Sometimes, that move can be a good thing, an indicator that a topic will now command the attention and respect it is due as people take it more seriously. However, sometimes, well sometimes it means that everyone is jumping on the bandwagon just to jump. Overnight, it is the “cool” thing to do, the way to get some easy PR. There is a flash flood of attention and publicity that will saturate the market for a while before everyone moves onto the next big thing. One of the recent examples of this that comes to mind is virtual world technology; a couple of years ago you could not read news publications without a bombardment of predictions of how this was going to change the world. Then suddenly, the press pieces slowed to a trickle and all anyone could talk about was social media.


Sarah Firisen  |  Thought Leadership Manager, PwC Global Healthcare

Every movement has its defining moment, those 15 minutes of fame when it moves into the general consciousness and suddenly goes from niche to the next big thing. Sometimes, that move can be a good thing, an indicator that a topic will now command the attention and respect it is due as people take it more seriously. However, sometimes, well sometimes it means that everyone is jumping on the bandwagon just to jump. Overnight, it is the “cool” thing to do, the way to get some easy PR. There is a flash flood of attention and publicity that will saturate the market for a while before everyone moves onto the next big thing. One of the recent examples of this that comes to mind is virtual world technology; a couple of years ago you could not read news publications without a bombardment of predictions of how this was going to change the world. Then suddenly, the press pieces slowed to a trickle and all anyone could talk about was social media. Leer más “Crowdsourcing Has Its 15 Minutes of Fame”