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Part-2: For CEOs, what are the FOUR critical innovation barriers that must be addressed?(Part 2 of 4)

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In my last post, I mentioned that every CEO and business executives who intends to lead innovation as a strategic agenda will need to address four critical barriers to innovation. 

The second barrier is not recognizing and then not aligning the abundance of resources available to large organizations for investment in innovation. Even when overwhelming evidence shows that the companies who invest in innovation consistently outperform their peer groups, why haven’t most organizations taken innovation seriously? 

The challenge is not that an organization does not have resources to invest in innovation; rather it’s where to most effectively funnel those resources, and how to do it.

Innovation in most organizations should be a mandate that cuts across functional areas. Problem with that in most organizations is the current organizational structures makes effective resource allocation decisions very difficult - which no one has time to deal with. It requires tremendous top-down courage and political savvy. 

The few common themes that arise are: prioritizing effectively for the same competing resources across business units, designing solutions that may be ideal for a single business unit but not for the corporation as a whole, and balancing between the need to build markets while servicing existing customers. 

The bottom line: resources are available, but the allocation and ownership for innovation is fragmented responsibility across most companies. There are three options to quickly overcome this barrier:

1)    Develop a central innovation structure – including funding to help internal businesses quickly welcome innovation in their areas. Once initial ideas

2)    Develop a hybrid innovation structure – which centralize core capabilities, but shares accountability and risks between corporate and lines of business.

3)    Develop a Center of Excellence structure – centralizes core innovation capabilities and resources for business areas based on their respective needs.

For complete details, please download full 23 page whitepaper on “Mastering Innovation – Roadmap to Sustainable Value Creation by Mr. Jatin DeSai”  

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Part-1: For CEOs, what are the FOUR critical innovation barriers that must be addressed? (Part 1 of 4)

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In our experience working with other CEOs and senior executives, they have realized that the markets are very unforgiving and will always continue to be unfriendly, and that embracing innovation is not an option, the next logical question they generally pose may be obvious. 

What must CEOs do to embrace innovation while managing the associated risk and overcoming the barriers? 

Before I share with you the four barriers, let me say that the answer lies in developing a clear Innovation Mandate - a strategic statement that describes innovation in the context of your business, the value it promises to generate for growth and disciplined process by which to get there. 

Innovation Mandate must be vividly clear for everyone in your organization; it must be concise to help drive alignment to business unit initiatives, and it must help articulate specific employee behaviors necessary at all levels for innovation climate to take root.  When designed correctly, it is clearly linked and driven by the business strategy. 

Additionally, keys to become innovative are highly dependent on your ability to address four critical barriers that are incumbent in most organizations.  When not addressed together, the journey towards sustainability and value creation invites a higher risk of failure, potentially minimizing the results of innovation investments. 

The first barrier is that most organizations do not have the mindset to harvest ideas and manage those ideas as Venture Capitalists do. This requires demonstrated confidence to consciously fail, experiment often, and win occasionally. Goal is to do more of it, so you can out-compete the markets. 

The sole role of Silicon Valley was to quickly take the best ideas and apply entrepreneurship and agility to turn those ideas into commercial ventures.  Silicon Valley did this because they recognized that large corporations are unwilling to abandon the tightly-knit safety net of resource allocation. 

It is clear that the amount of “innovation opportunities” available to large companies dwarfs the potential available to small companies.  So the myth that only small, nimble businesses can be most agile and innovative is completely false.  In fact, here’s case in point (not to mention hundreds of other such examples): Medtronic, a Fortune 500 Minneapolis based global leader in medical technology, on average used to earn 70% of its sales from products introduced in the previous two years alone.  This resulted in long term sustainable growth of 20% and created a high barrier for its competition to enter into Medtronic’s markets. 

The bottom line: new ideas are easy to find in every corporation; it’s the distinctive capability of turning them into commercial ventures that most companies fall short on. This requires leaders to role-model what innovation means to them and the company.  First step to address this barrier would be to develop an appropriate funding strategy and structure that will quickly demonstrate your commitment to innovation.

For complete details, please download full 23 page whitepaper on “Mastering Innovation – Roadmap to Sustainable Value Creation by Mr. Jatin DeSai”.


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Innovation 2010 Report by BCG.

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BCG Innovation ReportIt is here again... "Innovation 2010 report by Boston Consulting Group" in partnership with BusinessWeek. As usual, this annual report is always very interesting; and at the same time, nothing new. To download the full report, please click here to our resources page.

Let me try to summarize highlights, to wet your appetite:

  • Once again, "Innovation" is a top priority for most companies in the world (now we have to figure what they mean by Innovation!)
  • Due to the tremendous economic pressure everywhere, most companies have much higher expectations form their innovation efforts then previously cited.
  • Most executives are much more cautious as they are trying to accelerate out of the recession with new strategies and tactics.
  • Survey shows that leaders of these companies consider a risk-averse corporate culture, lengthy product-development time, and inadequate measurement practices are key impediments to the future growth.

As you would expect, the emerging markets is where they are investing more so then ever before, China, India and Brazil, and feel most optimistic for the future ROI. At the same time, about 50% of the survey respondents believe that U.S. companies will remain the most innovative over the next five years.

One interesting insight I observed was the lack of attention to "Open Innovation" by these executives. It seems that they are still mostly focused on incremental innovation, and very little on breakthrough or discontinuous types of opportunities. This may be due to the market conditions, or the lack of education on the part of the leaders.  What do you think? Do your executives understand the value of innovation and the different "faces of innovation"? Do they understand how to use innovation to create a competitive edge?


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Innovation Tatva(Truth) #2: Put a ceiling on time.

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  By setting time limits, things get done. Time is one of five most critical resource. Protect it with passion - no matter the size of the challenge.

Put a large clock in every meeting room and make it your team's best friend for every meeting. Some of our client's estimate that they spend almost 75% of their time in meetings - and half of them are unproductive and not needed.

In our work, we have found innovators who love to experiment all day, just for the sake of learning and broadening their insights. This is a critical activity, but when compounded with other innovators who also love to learn, the team may collect lots of insights and new knowledge, but no results.

Make sure all innovation is tied to strategic results - hard or soft. Hard being financials such as revenue, profit, EBITDA, etc. Soft goals can be customer satisfaction, knowledge of new technology, lessons learned from a pilot project, market variables that worked or did not work, etc.

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What is Innovation?

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In our findings for the last 25 years in business, we have discovered that innovation, at a personal level, is as different as the definition of spirituality. It can be very personal for people. Within organizations, our play arena, most of our customers have no idea about what innovation is, and most cannot agree on a definition.

For me, Creativity is generating original, novel ideas. Innovation is putting those ideas to work and getting results.

There is significant difference between creativity, invention, and innovation. Creativity arises from deep personal beliefs. Beliefs are shaped by one's character and values. We use creativity, rooted in our beliefs, assumptions, and passions, to find meaning in our work. When an organized group, with the same passion and beliefs work together for something much larger than themselves, they are capable of generating ideas that can be ventured for commercialization and help grow the top-line or impact the bottom-line of the group/business - that is Innovation. The actual product or service brought to a market, that makes a difference in the marketplace or in people's life, is Invention.


What's Innovation

Therefore, Innovation is all about "Harvesting the deep insights of an organization's human spirit and knowledge, generating a pipeline of ideas that can be evaluated, selected, and ventured using disciplined tools, methods and processes that advances growth objectives for an organization."

Finally, for a business to succeed and thrive, a business cannot accidentally or occasionally be innovative. It must innovate at a rate faster than current (or future) competitors - with a high degree of predictability. So, in that sense, innovation must be positioned as a strategic tool to improve organizational agility to stay alive and grow. There are only 3 companies still in business on the DOW list from 70's - and soon maybe even less.

For organizations, Innovation is no longer a choice - it should be the primary goal.

Here are some latest articles on Innovation:

- Click here to read the article 'Innovation in America- A gathering storm' from

- Click here to read what Google's CEO Eric Schmidt has to say about Innovation.


- Jatin

P.S. If you want to download our latest paper on innovation, feel free to go to and download the whitepaper on "Strategy-Driven Innovation". Enjoy.

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3 Core Principles on Innovation

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The DeSai Group's 3 Core Principles on Innovation are:

    1. All is One

  • Everything is connected. Innovation requires one to see what is not seen or being ignored. Innovators must find deep interconnections and interdependencies - at the level of macro and micro - within an organization. Real innovators understand that their work has ramifications beyond what is currently being visible. 

    2. Thoughts --> Words --> Action --> Outcomes

  • Future Thinking brings awareness of what is possible. This causes development of ideas, both incremental and radical. When ideas get mobilized in form of passionate energy, it leads to new business conditions. Therefore, new thoughts creates new outcomes. To succeed with innovation, people must practice Future Thinking.  

    3. Everyone is Creative and Innovative

  • All human beings have the ability to create - from birth. When we create, we find meaning and purpose in our work. 

For more, feel free to check out:

The DeSai Group:

Blog & Downloads: 

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Innovation requires "Corporate Freaks"

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In today's crisis we need out of the box thinking to move ahead. Looking at the past on how we got this horrific financial melt down is critical. Everyone is asking how are we going to get out of this mess? Who is going lead us out? Who will rise as the leader? Will it me the world bank? National Treasury Leaders? McCain? Obama? Or will it be the (God forbid) "W"?
To get out of this mess, every business is going to have to become more innovative and drive new ideas to the market. Harvesting on old ideas and incremental thinking is going to kill you sooner then you think. So, what will you need to do first?
Hire some 'freaks'. Yes, you heard me! Hire 'freaks' to shake up your organizational culture.
Here is what Tom Peters ( says about freaks:
Why Do I love Freaks? - By Tom Peters:

(1) Because when Anything Interesting happens … it was a freak who did it. (Period.)

(2) Freaks are fun. (Freaks are also a pain.) (Freaks are never boring.)

(3) We need freaks. Especially in freaky times. (Hint: These are freaky times, for you & me & the [fill in whoever you want here]....)

(4) A critical mass of freaks-in-our-midst automatically make us-who-are-not-so-freaky at least somewhat more freaky. (Which is a Good Thing in freaky times—see immediately above.)

(5) Freaks are the only (ONLY) ones who succeed—as in, make it into the history books.

(6) Freaks keep us from falling into ruts. (If we listen to them.) (We seldom listen to them.) (Which is why most of us—and our organizations—are in ruts. Make that chasms.)
Tom is one heck of a communicator, isn't he? Most people in corporations are 'most people' and not 'freaks'. If we had 'freaks' as per Tom, our corporations would not have been normalized to the level of greed, manipulation, selfishness, and chaos that has resulted into a global financial meltdown.

Feel free to view a short clip of Tom Peters speaking on Innovation by clicking here

CEO Bottom-line: Go hire some 'freaks' and fire all the 'ruts' that got you in this mess.

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Google offers $10M to anyone....

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Google has unveiled a $10 million effort to implement ideas that can "change the world by helping as many people as possible." As part of the Project 10^100 (pronounced Project 10 to the 100th), Google plans to ask its users to submit ideas until Oct. 20 for ways to improve people's lives. Google will choose what it feels are the 100 best here

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Role of Personal Vision in Innovation

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Many world-class companies cannot survive without a great vision. Especially in the current climate, how can an organization survive without a well-defined vision? I don’t mean vision-statement alone, I mean a real vision – a vivid enough picture of the future that has no boundaries, it is larger then the organization itself, it is far enough in distance to want to work hard for. A great company vision, everyone can see a clear direction, not the exact path, but a focused path to the future.

Good organizations have a vision; Great organizations are living their vision. Any strategy guru will tell you, without a company vision, the company will fail.

Therefore, if company must have a good vision to be successful, why don’t every individuals have a vision? Do you? Do you have it written for your self?

I don’t think it is possible to be ‘tuned-in’ to our work without having our personal vision connected to our work. Is it? Without this connection, doesn’t it just feel like ‘work’?

Who loves to go to ‘work’ everyday? Not too many. Work can become our own worship only if is fun and exciting. How can we be creative in our work if we don’t have a vivid picture of our own future?

For innovation to work, I have already argued that employees must be fully engaged – more often, everyday, in every project they contributing to. ‘Engaged’ being - more creative in their work, more passionate, more meaningful, less stressful, collaborative etc.

Most people I know haven't thought to do a personal vision statement for themselves. The great athletes, as we watched Olympics in Beijing recently, all spoke about how they got there, how they envisioned their accomplishments, how they visualized their success, how they even ‘watched’ the medal ceremony and their dreams coming true years ago.

Aristotle observed that "the soul never thinks without a picture."

Creating a compelling vision for our lives -- one that includes not just a vision of our professional accomplishments but also a vision for family life, education, health, community engagements, travel, and adventures -- can point us in new directions and provide the drive we need to get there. A personal vision statement asks: what do I want to be, do, and contribute in life -- and who do I want to share it with?

Many people struggle with the concept of defining a vision of the good life because it sounds too abstract and distant. Fortunately, authors Richard Leider and David Shapiro have come to the rescue with an elegantly simple definition of the good life: "living in the place you belong, with the people you love, doing the right work -- on purpose."

It is important to realize that a vision is very different from purpose ("mission") and goals. Our purpose is our reason for being, and we should think of it as timeless. Our goals are the targets we want to accomplish, and they are best conceived in near term; usually within 1-3 years. By contrast, our life vision is a vivid description of what we will do with our lives. It’s best thought of over a decade, or even a lifetime. Our life vision should give goose-bumps, make us cry, and take our breath away with its boldness. It should roar with passion and set markers for what we plan to do with our days on the planet.

A personal vision for yourself, may take long time to arise in your consciousness. But, once you have it, it will become your ‘being’, the creative and catalyzing force in your life.

Carl Jung says that "Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens." In essence, our vision statement is an authentic expression of how our purpose and values play out in the world.

C-Suite Bottom Line: To drive enterprise innovation, and create a remarkable living organization, one of the easiest action you take, is to help every employee craft their personal vision statement. This will allow every employee to put their dreams on the line of their own vision of the good life. Once they can see the line of sight between their purpose, values, and work, then let them go – see what happens to your culture for innovation. Creativity will overflow, ideas will come from everywhere, continuous innovation will become the food for sustainable growth, and therefore business strategies will become reality – faster.


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What is definition of Integrity and its relationship to Innovation?

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Recently a friend asked me what is my definition of integrity. It was an exciting interchange because it helps me deepen my views and obstacles that I am working on within my inner world.

Here is what I said:

1) At the level of highest Universal Truth, it means tight alignment of my thoughts, words, and actions. What I think, must be what I say, and what I do. So, by definition it is Spiritual Integrity - within my self. Many people define integrity from the point of others and not first within themselves. That is fine, but lacks depth and meaning - for me. Integrity therefore is firm adherence to code of personal values - especially moral values. So depending on one's value, virtue and belief system (their level of consciousness), what they think, what they say and what they do, might be quiet different then for others. This does not mean they are not acting with integrity. As long as one is fully aligned from their own internal and higher self, they are acting with integrity. I have to be very careful that I do not judge others in their own integrity. They very well might be acting with full integrity. Does this makes sense?

So how do I know I and others around me are acting with full integrity? That is, how does it show up in my life?

Integrity is a result of three components - Honesty, Respect and Courage.

Acting with integrity means being honest, respectful, and courageous. If I do that correctly, it leads to Trust within myself and with others. Without Trust, we cannot maintain or build relationships with each other. Without relationships, life may have very little meaning - for us mortals that is. Without good relationships, we generally cannot bring our highest self in our work (no matter what we do or what part of our life) and serve others with meaning.

So, I know integrity exists, if my relationships with others have strong bond of Trust and that all three dimensions are active in that relationship. If I lack courage to say the truth to someone, or I have lost respect with someone or them in me, Trust dwindles in our relationship. If trust dwindles, I should feel lack of integrity and I should do something about it.

Integrity is cornerstone for personal creativity. When one is creative with integrity, they are filled with passion in their work and work-teams. There is enough evidence that shows that individuals and teams who act with full Trust (honesty, respect, and courage) with each other, consistently achieve breakthrough results.

Bottom Line for C-Suite and HR: To drive innovation in your organization, simply create an environment of Highest Integrity. Don’t just declare it and talk about it, teach people how to integrate the three components of Honesty, Respect, and Courage in to their work, in to their teams, and with customers. Offer a class on "Integrity 101" and maybe another class on "How to bring Courage in your work 101"

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