From my home base at Dartmouth, I have been studying the best practices for making innovation happen in established organizations for over ten years now. It was, honestly, a happy accident that I began this work, but it is no accident that I have stuck with it for so long.
I enjoy my work. Part of what I find stimulating is the constant exposure to cutting edge science and technology. I’ve learned about next-generation biofuels, the latest methods for converting sea water into drinking water, even some of the secrets behind the Nintendo Wii.
That said, what’s even better than learning a bit about the science and technology is meeting the people behind it all. They have terrific stories to tell. They have experienced exhilarating highs and excruciating lows. It is from studying these stories that I’ve learned.
I’m also motivated because, in my view, innovation is business at its best. It is through innovation that we solve the unsolved, raise living standards, and push humanity forward. Furthermore, there is tremendous room for improvement in how we manage innovation. Even the best companies in the world struggle. Best case scenario, they have a few innovation success stories that they are very proud of, and they sure wish they understood exactly how they did it, so they could do it again and again.
I think of innovation as a two-part problem: ideas and execution. Most companies, pour most of their time and energy into the part one – ideas. They assume that if they can come up with a groundbreaking idea, the rest will be easy.
That’s a misguided assumption. All of the unexpected dangers and all of the hidden pitfalls are on the other side of innovation. The real challenge is execution.
My 2010 book, The Other Side of Innovation: Solving the Execution Challenge, lays out a detailed set of recommendations for converting breakthrough ideas into breakthrough impact. It’s companion parable, How Stella Saved the Farm: A Wild and Woolly Yarn About Making Innovation Happen, will be published in 2013, but advance copies are available on Stella’s website, www.howstellasavedthefarm.com.
My 2005 book, Ten Rules for Strategic Innovators, focuses specifically on the highest-degree-of-difficulty innovation challenge: launching a high-risk, high-growth-potential business inside an established organization. My 2012 book, Reverse Innovation: Create Far From Home, Win Everywhere, zeroes in on the specific challenges that multinationals face when launching innovation initiatives in the emerging economies.
I am currently on the faculties at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth and The Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science. For more about me, please visit my personal website, www.chris-trimble.com.