Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Book Review: 'The Game-Changer' by A.G. Lafley


"For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth;
And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind." -- Isaiah 65:17 (NKJV)

How you react to The Game-Changer will be largely determined by what your experience with innovation has been. Most larger organizations employ one of two methods:

1. Technologists come up with new "cool" characteristics and then the rest of the organization tries to figure out how to make some money from the breakthroughs.

2. Marketers develop new offering concepts and ask the rest of the organization to help find ways to deliver the benefits at the heart of the concepts.

By contrast, in start-ups and smaller companies, there is more likely to be a balance between finding opportunities, using technology in new ways, and creating new business models (improved ways to deliver value to customers, users, and other stakeholders).

If you have experience with the first method, you'll love this book. If you use instead the second method, you'll be less excited. If you in the start-up and smaller company group, you may be wondering what all the fuss is about.

This book works best as a combination of case histories looking at how to make large companies accomplish more through innovation (especially business-model innovation) and change management.

The key elements are described by former P&G CEO, A.G. Lafley, and Ram Charan (ubiquitous chronicler of large company practices with celebrity CEOs) are:

Putting in customer-centric innovation as a core process for driving forward the organization's top- and bottom-line performance by employing

1. Motivating purposes and values
2. Stretch goals
3. More engaged decision making about innovation strategies and projects
4. Taking advantage of what you do best
5. Establishing missing organizational capabilities and structures
6. Adding support systems
7. Creating a better communicating and risk-taking culture
8. Inspiring and encouraging leadership

Most people will find the P&G example to be the most useful and best developed one in the book. There are also much less developed examples from Nokia, GE, Honeywell, DuPont, LEGO, that are mostly used to highlight one aspect of company innovation.

The stories mostly repeat common problems of those who don't succeed in innovation: creating products that managers, rather than customers and end users, like; getting people from different functions to work together; focusing on a short list of good opportunities rather than a laundry list from which few results emerge; and sharing information that's already known by someone else.

As I compare this book to studies done in the early 1970s of how innovation could be more productive I think the biggest differences come in seeking more ideas from outside the organization (something P&G has done well in the last decade) and making breakthrough innovations related to existing businesses a major corporate focus. If those subjects are of particular interest, this book will be very valuable to you.






Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Donald Mitchell. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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