In this post Christophe Haon and David Gotteland – professors from the Marketing Strategy and Innovation team of Grenoble Ecole de Management – discuss their major project to map the state of the art knowledge in innovation research – a key theme of research among faculty and doctoral students at Grenoble. A project that culminated in the book Making Innovation Last, co-authored with Hubert Gatignon (INSEAD). Their two-volume book deals with a hot topic and, like a doctorate, it was a long time in the planning and execution… but in this case more than 10 years of preparation and 4 years of intense writing!
A Cross Disciplinary Approach
David and Christophe relied on a comprehensive understanding of the existing literature in order to underline the key areas of knowledge for both managers and researchers. Since innovation involves all departments of a firm: Marketing, R&D, strategy, etc the book draws upon many disciplines. As Michael L. Tushman (Harvard Business School) says “unlike any book in our fields, this book is explicitly cross-disciplinary even as it focuses on innovation streams over time… it has the potential to be a landmark contribution”
Innovation is clearly the key to firm and economic growth but the challenge for firms is to remain innovative in the long term. While many books deal with the management of an innovation project, Making Innovation Last, as its title suggests, considers the long-term success of a firm. The aim was not only to reflect the major schools of thought but also to help managers to foster their firm’s ability to generate sustained growth.
Combining Academic Knowledge for Managerial Impact
The volumes aim to meet managerial and academic needs. Many different questions are addressed in the two volumes. For each question, a framework reflecting extant knowledge is provided in order to both guide researchers in further theory development and testing and to help managers to assess the strengths and weaknesses of their firm’s ability to generate sustained growth through innovation.
Four Keys for Durable Innovation
The authors identify four key areas of importance in the process of making an organization sustainably and successfully innovative – understanding innovations, organizational context, organizational processes and launching innovations.
The ”What” of Innovation
Understanding innovation can help identify the sources of variation in the consequences innovations generate: The book opens with an exploration of innovations and to their various characteristics, using a dual perspective that considers both the technological and the market point of view.
The authors identify organizational context for innovations as a basis for the long term innovation strategies that drive success. The firm’s innovativeness must be an integral part of the firm’s culture thus the book examines the culture of innovation and how to develop it throughout the organization – in terms of collective knowledge and abilities, which are reflected in a firm’s strategic orientations and capabilities. By recognizing that it is sometimes necessary or more effective to search for capabilities and knowledge outside the firm, the authors discuss the issue of when to forge alliances with partners, and with whom.
The “How” of Innovation
The organizational processes for innovations concern the implementation of strategies leading to a continuous stream of successful innovations. The authors consider how to compose and manage a new product development teams, how to get the customer involved in the innovation process, how to foster creativity in a firm and how to develop successful new product concepts.
Going to the Market
The launch of innovations to the market can help obtain customer acceptance of new products and service. The last part of the book deals with these strategies. There are four critical aspects in the launch process: Predicting new product acceptance, looking ahead to new product diffusion, branding a new product or service, and introducing a new product or service into the market.
On finishing the project David and Christophe can be proud of their achievement. For doctoral students the book is a vital resource in understanding innovation, in doing literature reviews and in identifying relevant research questions (available in the GEM Library). The positive reviews of others confirm the importance of their contribution, including that of Jean-Claude Larréché (INSEAD) who says that the book “is a must read for students, researchers and practitioners interested in fostering continuous innovation in organizations.” The next question for our two Grenoble professors is ‘what is the next big writing project?