As in the case of God, there are three categories of people when it comes to the topic of “innovation management”: The atheist, the theist and the agnostics. The atheists reject the idea that a creative phenomenon like innovation can be managed like a process. On the other hand, the theists believe innovation can be managed and most write books/blogs/papers on the topic. The agnostics fall somewhere in between and mostly ask questions to the other two. A category which is usually overlooked consists of a few people who know what innovation management is and they practice it every day. After all, you don’t believe that sun rises on the east, do you? You know it. And when one such fellow writes a book about what he has been up to, it is not to be missed by anyone serious about the topic.
Former CEO of Proctor & Gamble A G Lafley, in my opinion, is one such knower of innovation management. And his book “Game-changer” co-authored with Ram Charan is arguably the best book around on the topic. AG presents the three pillars of his wisdom: Customer is the boss, make your strategic choices and finally integrate innovation process into everyday practice with tons of examples of successes and failures in his book. See my earlier articles on P&G’s open innovation insights and immersive research.
Now, you might say, “I am really busy and don’t have time to read a 300 page book. Isn’t there a way I can get to know the gist of AG’s wisdom in 15 minutes?” Fortunately, the answer is “yes”. There are at least three video interviews and half a dozen text interviews on the net. However, my favorite is the one by Harvard Publishing Business where AG is interviewed by Harvard Business Digital's director of content Paul Michelman and is just under 15 minutes.
AG answers following questions in the interview:
- What is innovation?
- How do managers at P&G ensure that customer is at the center of the innovation efforts?
- Can you walk us through the innovation review process?
- Can you tell us about the role of posters in the innovation review process?
- AG, what is your role in the review?
- Can I make innovation an every day practice within a small part of the organization that doesn’t have a culture of innovation like P&G?
- Is there any one thing (an action or an attitude) that really stands out that the leader needs to engage in to ensure that innovation is at the front-end of the activity?
- I heard that P&G is going go unveil an innovation that is 12 years in the making. How do you keep people motivated for that long?