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Last week saw us in NYC running our Innovation Architect course.  We had a good turnout with participants from a number of interesting organisations.  There was lots of good input and the feedback was extremely positive.

One of the subjects of heated debate was innovation strategy.  Did a company need an innovation strategy?  What purpose would it serve and how would you articulate it?  The group was divided initially but with some probing on basic issues – what is the objective of your innovation?  is it a top priority for top management?  is it limited in scope or should it be limited? – and so on, we started to get some consensus that, firstly, few companies had an innovation strategy and, secondly, articulating what that strategy might be would focus innovation initiatives.

Other hot topics included positioning the innovation with stakeholders, evaluating ideas, and scaling local innovations.  Every course brings a new piece of the puzzle.

Definition: Stealthstorming (STELTH-ˈsto:rming) 1. verb: to surreptitiously attack or assault  2. noun: covert decisions and actions in an organization aimed at ensuring the implementation of an innovation.

by Paddy Miller, Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg and Azra Brankovic

Once the challenge for management was to get employees “innovating,” “thinking creatively” and “brainstorming.” Now reality has bitten and the innovation space is less idealistic and more Machiavellian. For those who know where to look, there is no shortage of ideas coming out of organizations. The problem lies in making these ideas gain traction in a company where innovation – despite what the mission statement may proclaim – is in reality a very low priority. Signs include:

  • Bottom-up initiatives somehow never make it very far – key decisionmakers don’t ‘get it’ or aren’t willing to put money on the table
  • Byzantine corporate politics suck the life out of innovators, eventually making them quit the firm
  • ‘Creative’ is not a word you’d want people to call you – as one manager put it, “in my company, being called creative is the kiss of death for your career.”

How do managers make innovation happen in such an environment?

The answer is Stealthstorming.

Stealthstorming is the way to make it happen when the odds are against you.

It is guerilla warfare, waged with ideas.

It is a radical thinker dressed in a suit and a tie.

It is when you abandon all the usual trappings of creativity – multi-colored hats, flamboyant workshops, cheesy change management techniques – and sneak under the corporate defenses to make it happen.

Stealthstorming is what Jordan Cohen did when he, as a regular manager, built the highly innovative service called pfizerWorks and created his dream job.

Want to know more? Come join our intensive course at IESE Business School in New York on May 5-6, where we have sessions on StealthStorming, Innovation Strategy, pfizerWorks, Reframing, and much more.

The Innovation Architect: Creating breakthrough companies

You need to be there.

A 2 minute video introduction to our intensive 2-day Innovation Architect course, taking place at IESE’s new campus in New York on May 5-6 2010.

More information on the course is available on IESE Business School’s Executive Education website.

Our video interviews with George Lucas, Gary Hamel and others from the World Business Forum in New York are now available online at IESE’s website:

You can also see Paul Krugman and Pedro Videla discuss the economy, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi Kevin Roberts talk to Johanna Mair, and more. Notice that on your first visit, you have to fill out a form to get access to the videos.

Paddy Miller interviews George Lucas
Paddy Miller interviews George Lucas at World Business Forum 2009

At the recent World Business Forum in New York, we had the opportunity to talk to George Lucas about his role as a leader and the interplay between trust, salaries and company culture.

Lucas, as most people are aware, has been a defining force within the mainstream movie business, if not on our cultural heritage as a whole; rare is the person who does not instantly recognise the theme music of Star Wars and Indiana Jones. His understanding of the business side of movie-making is equally renowned; his company Industrial Light and Magic fathered the digital effects revolution, and his early decision to keep and exploit the merchandising rights to Star Wars was not just personally profitable, but also defined a new business model for the industry.

We decided to talk to Lucas about a lesser known aspect of his work, namely his role as the leader of LucasFilm, the now 2,000 person big organization he founded in 1971 on the outskirts of San Francisco. What is the relevance of Lucas’ experience for managers outside of Hollywood, in regular companies all over the world? Read the rest of this entry »

On October 5-8, 2009, we are running the Tough Times, Tough Strategies: Leading Your Company to Global Growth program in New York, focused on beyond-the-horizon thinking to successfully navigate the current economic downturn.

The 4 day program is being run in conjunction with the World Business Forum which the course participants will take part in. View program details here.

Video from our recent Creative Cultures course in New York:

Creative Cultures, Vivaldi Partners and IESE, May 4-8, 2009.

We will be running the course again in Barcelona after the summer, and again in New York.

IESE alumni and guests are invited to attend the upcoming alumni events:
New York, April 22nd, Prof. Paddy Miller. Topic: How did Innovation become a priority in a recession?
Miami, May 26th, Prof. Paddy Miller. Topic: How did Innovation become a priority in a recession?
Mexico City, May 28th, Prof. Paddy Miller. Topic: How did Innovation become a priority in a recession?

May 5-6, 2009 | Nokia Theatre, New York

On May 5, 2009, Paddy Miller will be moderating a discussion at the World Innovation Forum in New York with speaker Vijay Govindarajan.

Other speakers at the event include Clayton Christensen, Fred Krupp, C.K. Prahalad, Paul Saffo and Dan Ariely.


On May 1, 2009, Paddy Miller will be a speaker at a Financial Times Breakfast Briefing in New York focusing on innovation:  Barcelona: Making the Move to Europe’s Leading Innovation Hub.

Other speakers include Ron Brachman, VP, Worldwide Research Operations, Yahoo! Inc.; Albert Garrofé, Managing Partner, New York, Cuatrecasas, Gonçalves Pereira; and Jordi William Carners, Deputy Mayor for Treasury and Economic Promotion of Barcelona.