Creating Breakthrough Innovations - Harvard Business School

Creating Breakthrough Innovations - Harvard Business School

Learn here ways to develop your company and make it more innovative. With articles on proven strategies, take your business to another step and stand out from your competitors.

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Do you want to make your business more capable of developing products and services? Do you want to create optimized processes, and a profitable business? The book "Creating Breakthrough Innovations", by Harvard Business School, explain all the important guidelines to achieve good results.

This book is one of the eight books published in the series: Results Oriented Management from Harvard Business School.

It has articles by several authors and offers strategies, which have been tested and approved, to develop innovation within the company. Nothing better than learn business with one of the most renowned schools in the world!

Got interested in those lessons that would lead you to success? Stay with us in this summary!

About the book "Creating Breakthrough Innovations"

The book "Creating Breakthrough Innovations", launched in 2007, is part of the Series: Results Oriented Management. This series brings together articles from the Harvard Management Update and the Harvard Management Communication Letter.

The purpose of the series is to help managers gain competitive advantage in the market, through strategies and tools. The book in question focuses on the idea of developing innovations in companies and maintaining their growth.

About the author Harvard Business School

Harvard Business School has a Results Oriented Management Series with articles from various Harvard writers. This proposal emerged to help managers increase the effectiveness of processes and to be better leaders.

The institution has other books about business, management, people, and leadership, such as:

To whom is this book indicated?

This book is meant for managers and any other employee who wants to contribute to innovations in the workplace. With this, the company may be able to develop new products and services, more optimized processes and more profitable businesses.

In addition, it is also suitable for anyone who wishes to learn more about the implementation of innovation in a company.

Main ideas of the book "Creating Breakthrough Innovations"

  • Even the innovations that are successful in the market present risks;
  • Companies that generate promising ideas should test the potential value of each idea;
  • You must understand the myths of innovation in order to avoid them;
  • To develop innovation it is essential to decide where and how it will generate new ideas;
  • Innovations can occur in any branch;
  • Innovations are not restricted to products;
  • To encourage the creation of ideas, it is necessary to create a culture in the company where employees are encouraged to take the potential risks;
  • You can test ideas by offering your products, like samples or prototypes. With the feedback received, you can further enhance the idea to a level of excellence.

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[Book Summary] Creating Breakthrough Innovations - Harvard Business School

Overview: Myths about innovation

In this first overview, it is presented 4 articles from different authors that address some of the most common myths of innovation.

The Path to Disruption

In the first part of the book "Creating Breakthrough Innovations", the authors Scott D. Anthony and Clayton M. Christensen demystify 5 myths about innovation. They are:

Myth 1: Innovation is restricted to technology

The first myth shows that there are other factors that may be more important than technology to achieve innovation. In some large companies, the main competitive advantage is not the use of technology but the ability to discover the needs and expectations of customers and take advantage of the new business opportunities.

Myth 2: More resources imply more innovation

More resources can generate dispersion and so, instead of using them to reformulate initiatives for innovation, they can be wasted since they will be invested in what has already proved inefficient.

Myth 3: Only a radical innovation can drive success

Most innovations that cause changes in activities do not start with a "radical innovation". They start small and then develop into great innovations.

Myth 4: Innovation is random and unpredictable

Innovation is indeed predictable. There are standards of success that, if used correctly, can increase the chances of companies winning, according to the authors.

Myth 5: Innovation can not be taught

As there is no rule to start innovation, anyone can learn to identify patterns of innovation that have been successful.

After presenting the five myths, the author begins the study of the concept of disruptive innovations - innovations that present favorable, cheap and simple solutions through a path of greater potential for a promising business.

In order to increase the possibility of disruptive growth, the authors presents 4 mindsets that companies must adopt:

Mindset 1: Appropriate measurement criteria at the right time

The first mindset concludes that it is more favorable to evaluate how an opportunity fits into a pre-established than relying on numbers, which may not be reliable.

Mindset 2: It is necessary to consider uncertainty

Uncertainties appear in many initiatives that want to achieve growth. In this part, the authors says that managers should be responsible for encouraging teams and deal with the uncertainties that may arise.

Mindset 3: Failure Can Be Positive

Many companies do not risk for fear of failure. But there are failures that bring great lessons, and the company must know how to deal with it.

Mindset 4: Scarcity Can Be an Advantage

As said earlier, too many resources can lead the business to failure. With few resources, the company is forced to look for other ways, and that can be really innovative.

Breaking Down the Walls That Surround Business Creativity

The author Gary Hamel Introduces 8 Myths of Innovation:

Myth 1: Great Ideas already Begin Big

Such as Scott D. Anthony and Clayton M. Christensen, Gary Hamel believes that innovative ideas doesn't begin big. It is gathering small ideas that could give birth to other ideas of success.

Myth 2: Innovation is basically limited to products

Innovation can be applied in any area of the company.

Myth 3: Innovation is only for the first-rate products

The author says that a radical innovation can be equally vital to the cost structure. There are companies that have succeeded in rethinking the traditional cost structure.

Myth 4: Innovation can not be taught

Following the same line of reasoning as the previous ones, Gary Hamel believes he can teach people how to tackle the barriers to innovation.

Myth 5: Innovation is not my job

Innovation must be present in all areas, not just in the area of research and development of new products. All employees should be encouraged and should strive to produce new ideas for the company.

Myth 6: Innovation is risky

There are innovations that present risk. However, these innovations can be revolutionary and should not be abandoned because they are risky, unless they force you to "play all the chips at once", as the author reports.

Myth 7: Innovation is too costly

A company can try out new ideas with little money. Managers must find ways to experience these ideas at low cost.

Myth 8: Innovation is an exception

Although not a rule for a company, innovation must be invested in every company because of the bonus it can generate.

How not to get lost in the interpretation

The author Anthony Ulwick analyzes a myth that companies will only be able to know the information about which innovations will be well accepted by the consumer, if they obtain the data in groups of focus and the research with the consumer.

He presents 3 techniques for getting and using consumer information:

  1. Discover what benefits potential consumers of a particular innovation are expecting;
  2. Ask consumers what results they expect to achieve;
  3. Identify any benefits that may come to meet certain particular interests.

Six Surprising Insights on Innovation

In this part of the book "Creating Breakthrough Innovations", Loren Gary analyzes some misguided assumptions about innovation and defends 6 ideals:

  1. Innovation comes from where it is less expected, both in business and considering people as well;
  2. Sometimes, limitations can encourage creativity, rather than stop it;
  3. Look for positive people - and encourage them to a good discussion;
  4. Innovation is not always a phenomenon that mobilizes the entire company;
  5. The solution is not always within reach;
  6. Invest more time in the ability to turn the power off at the right time, than reducing the failure rate.

Overview: How to apply innovation strategies

The articles in this second overview present some strategies to stimulate new ideas. Let us present the six articles, each one written by a different author.

The new rules of R&D

The author of this first article, Henry Chesbrough, defends the idea that companies should analyze other companies, so they can stimulate new ideas and with that, generate innovation.

Performance, convenience and price: What is the appeal of your brand?

The authors of this article: Scott D. Anthony and Clayton M. Christensen discuss about companies that use many innovations in their services, and that by their high degree of complexity, all the functionalities of them can end up not being enjoyed by consumers.

Competing companies can take advantage of this situation and develop products of low complexity, making it useful for the consumer, and offering it for a lower price.

Where is the competitive advantage?

In this article, by Loren Gary, the author defends the idea of Clayton Christensen, that other companies should be analyzed to stimulate new ideas. In addition, he features a program developed by a company that invites inventors from any area to present their ideas.

Internal innovation

Author Judith Ross assumes that the right internal culture and processes must be developed within a company to develop ideas.

As one of the examples, she points out that one must improve the products and concepts that already exist in the company and develop the culture of idea creation in all areas of the company and in all employees. To do so, she uses examples from successful companies.

Is risk the cost of innovation?

Hal Plotkin, the author of this article, says that companies should encourage employees to develop innovative ideas but must set some limits so that these ideas do not become a failure for the company.

To do so, the author says that companies should create a failure prediction policy and a program that encourages those employees who have succeeded in their idea. Hal Plotkin quotes several companies who adhere to this type of policy to promote his idea.

Ambidextrous Innovation

In the last article of this overview, Loren Gary studies a strategy to generate innovative ideas within a company. For this, the author says that it is necessary to follow 3 principles:

  • Incremental innovations

These are changes that aim to make the company more competitive in the short term, resulting in an increase in efficiency.

  • Architectural innovations

Analyze the existing technology in the company and improve it.

  • Discontinuous innovations

To achieve long-term success, the author defends the idea that he must adhere to new principles in the operation or make possible innovative changes in processes.

Overview: Testing a potential of ideas

The last overview will present, in 6 articles, how to determine which of the generated ideas is most likely to work.

Can you identify with certainty who will win?

In the first article, author Mankin outlines 4 criteria that the company must follow to succeed in its new product:

  1. Present lower costs than existing products;
  2. Offer more benefits;
  3. Be easy for the consumer;
  4. Be easily found and acquired.

How to Make the Best Choices

Authors Scott Anthony, Mark Johnson and Matt Eyring use other arguments to identify a winning idea. The first argument assumes that products with these new ideas should provide the consumer with satisfactory performance at low cost.

The last argument defended by the authors to verify if it is a successful idea is to analyze whether it is going to be used in markets that are ignored by the competing companies.

Sometimes a great concept does not mean yet a great product

The author presents 8 suggestions to make the most of the test of ideas that have been launched:

  1. Evaluate when to test the concept versus the product;
  2. Test early and often;
  3. Try to apply the tests to people who can provide valuable information;
  4. Be aware of the unexpected;
  5. Keep a safe emotional distance;
  6. Also test the context;
  7. Look for inexperienced users;
  8. If it fails, trust your intuition.

Is your production development process stressing or hiding innovation?

Erick Mankin defends the argument that idea tests work better when they are interactive. While doing a lot of testing when the idea is in development, the company receives a lot of feedback and can improve the idea.

Disruption is a Moving Target

Scott Anthony, author of this penultimate article, makes an analysis:

"The potential for a new idea is greater when the lower the risks that competitors will react by presenting cheaper products."

One must analyze the innovation that will not be followed by the competitors, to determine this risk.

Are you interpreting the correct signals?

Finally, the last article presented is from the authors Clayton Christensen and Scott Anthony. They present a study on how to test an idea. In addition, the authors present the 3 ideas that are emerging in the telecommunication sector:

  1. Telephone services via free internet;
  2. High-speed wireless broadband solutions;
  3. Instant communication with audio and video conferences.

What do other authors say about it?

Eric Ries in the book "The Lean Startup" explains that it is important that the word "innovation" be understood broadly. They can be original scientific discoveries, a new use for existing technology, creation of a new business model, among others.

The book "The Blue Ocean Strategy" brings a new concept in strategy to gain prominence in the market. This innovation is based on exploring market opportunities in which there are no competitors yet, and the authors W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne had named it "blue oceans".

Finally, the book "Innovate or Die", from Luiz Guimarães, introduces a proposal that seeks to modernize and innovate companies to adapt them to the digital age, focusing mainly on customers. The book brings reflections that helps to better understand the changes and their causes.

Okay, but how can I apply this to my life?

This book brings several concepts about innovation and how it can be developed in the workplace. As it is very practicable, you should write down in a paper all the concepts learned here and start apply it in your business life.

It is important to emphasize that you must change your employees mind too. It is totally useless trying to implement innovative ideas if your partners don't agree with this philosophy. To apply this concepts, the company's mindset should be well-defined.

Did you like this summary of the book "Creating Breakthrough Innovations"?

Do you feel more comfortable to apply innovative ideas now? Did you find this content useful? Leave your feedback in the comments!

In addition, if you got interested in all the book's lessons, it is available for purchase by clicking on the image below:

Book 'Creating Breakthrough Innovations'