Innovation in T urbulent Times
by Darrell K. Rigby, Kara Gruver, and James Allen
INNOVATION IS A MESSY PROCESS – hard to measure and hard to manage. Most people recognize it only when it generates a surge in growth. When revenues and earnings decline during a recession, executives often conclude that their innovation efforts just aren’t worth it. Maybe innovation isn’t so important after all, they think. Maybe our teams have lost their touch. Better to focus on the tried and true than to waste money on untested ideas. The contrary view, of course, is that innovation is both a vaccine against market slowdowns and an elixir that rejuvenates growth. Imagine how much better off General Motors might be today if the company had matched the pace of innovation set by Honda or Toyota. Imagine how much worse off Apple would be had it not created the iPod, iTunes, and the iPhone. But when times are hard, companies grow
When resources are constrained, the key to growth is pairing an analytic left-brain thinker with an imaginative right-brain partner.
Harvard Business Review 79
Innovation in Turbulent Times
Knight, handled manufacturing, ﬁnance, disillusioned with their innovation efIN BRIEF and sales. Howard Schultz conceived forts for a reason: Those efforts weren’t the iconic Starbucks coffeehouse forvery effective to begin with. Innovation Too few businesses have creative, mat, and CEO Orin Smith oversaw the isn’t integral to the workings of many right-brain types in leadership chain’s rapid growth. Apple may have organizations. The creativity that leads positions. That leaves innovation the best-known both-brain partnerto game-changing ideas is missing or stiespecially vulnerable to unwise cost ship. CEO Steve Jobs has always acted ﬂed. Why would any company gamble cutting during hard times. Decisions as the creative director and has helped on a process that seems risky and unpreabout slashing versus retaining...