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Harvard Business Review published our article on Stealth Innovation, detailing how to make innovation happen under the radar inside a company.

The article is adapted from our book Innovation as Usual. Excerpt of the article below:

The Case For Stealth Innovation

by Paddy Miller and Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg

You have an idea for a daring, innovative project that could have a significant impact on your business. However, you suspect that your idea will meet with internal resistance: The innovation would upend the status quo, and chances are good that other parts of the organization will try to stop it. What’s your next step?

The conventional answer is simple: Get a mandate from the top. As many innovation experts rightly point out, only the most incremental ideas pass through the corporate-approvals gantlet unscathed. The more unusual your idea, the larger the risk that it will fall victim to turf wars, myopic incentive systems, or simple resistance to change. For this reason, innovators are often counseled to go straight to the top, secure backing at the highest possible level, and build a corporate sense of urgency around their ideas.

The “top first” strategy, however, carries its own risks. CEOs of large organizations are constantly barraged with proposals for new, untested projects, and typically, the ideas get a five-minute perusal followed by a “no.” And even if your idea does win support from the C-suite, early exposure is a double-edged sword: It buys you legitimacy and resources, but it also thrusts you squarely into the corporate spotlight—and that can be a dangerous place for young, unproven ideas. Our experience working with innovative managers has revealed an alternative approach: innovating under the radar. […]

Read the full article on

Our new study of Chief Innovation Officers, surveying 260 innovation executives and done in collaboration with CapGemini, has now been released and has been picked up by Wall Street JournalForbes and others.

Among the main conclusions:

  • 43 percent of companies now have a Chief Innovation Officer, up from 33 percent last year, but the role is still nascent and undefined.
  • The number one obstacle for innovation is the lack of an explicit innovation strategy – something that 58 percent of companies do not have.
  • Only 26 percent of companies have clear Key Performance Indicators for innovation

Read the full report online or download the PDF or the PowerPoint version on SlideShare.

The Financial Times just published an article of ours, on the topic of innovation in big companies.

See as a PDF of the print version or online on FT’s website.

IESE Publishing produced a short promo video where we present our case study on pfizerWorks, the prizewinning initiative created by Jordan Cohen of Pfizer.

Watch the video on IESE’s website.

Critical Eye published our article on six popular mistakes leaders commit when trying to make innovation happen:

    1. Not knowing where you want to go
    2. Thinking communication is enough
    3. Chasing free lunches only
    4. Jumping into action
    5. Thinking ‘fear of change’ is the problem
    6. Treating innovation as a one-man, one-idea show

Read the article (PDF)

On our recent Innovation Architect course in New York, we shared three book recommendations for people with an interest in innovation: Read the rest of this entry »

One of our collaborators, Henrik Werdelin, was just listed by Fast Company as one of the 10 most creative people on Twitter, along with Evan Williams (Twitter founder), Neil Gaiman (author and artist) and others:

Our pfizerWorks case study with Jordan Cohen is featured on Gary Hamel’s new website for management innovators – an interesting initiative called MIX which seeks to create a community around the issues of Management Innovation. Recently launched, still in alpha version but looks promising.

Here is the link to the pfizerWorks feature on MIX.

The ‘big insight’ model of creativity is wrong; creativity comes from the outside, and you can increase your chances of getting good ideas by immersing yourself in new environments. We have published a short article on the subject in IESE Business School’s alumni magazine – a special edition with a focus on IESE’s new campus in New York.

You can get the article in PDF or get the Spanish-language version (full magazine).

Our new case study on pfizerWorks, an innovative service that allows Pfizer’s employees to outsource the boring parts of their jobs, has just been published and is now available for purchase via IESE Publishing (link below).

About the case
The case follows Jordan Cohen, the architect behind pfizerWorks, through the five years it took him to build the service from a loose idea into a large-scale, highly innovative service offering, all while working inside the world’s largest pharmaceutical company. Through the work of Cohen and his team, the case highlights the special demands faced by innovators in large companies, including the need for trust-building, the ability to navigate internal politics, and the process of selling your ideas to internal stakeholders.

The case also yields unique insights into the challenges and opportunities of using global sourcing from countries such as India, as well as the possibility of using technology to radically enhance the productivity of knowledge workers.

Where to get it
The case study can be found here: Jordan Cohen at pfizerWorks: Building the Office of the Future

The pfizerWorks case has now also been picked up by Gary Hamel (in his MIX initiative) and by Ron Ashkenas on HBR’s blog.