Business Case Studies, Executive Interviews, Sam Kogan on Innovation

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Executive Interviews: Interview with Sam Kogan on Innovation
November 2006 - By Dr. Nagendra V Chowdary

Dr. Sam Kogan
President & Chief Operating Officer of GEN3 Partners

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    We work with a lot of companies that follow this approach. I donot like the word training, so at GEN3 Partners we call it creating an innovation leadership program in a company. It is a process of building internal competence. It starts from introducing people into an innovation discipline. Then we help create a center of innovation excellence. This is important because it creates a nucleus from which you will start building your innovation function in the company. It is very important to give people a chance to work side by side with the best in the business, with professional innovators. So, it is important that you have both. I think it is wrong to think you can go one way or another.

    One example is P&G. Fifteen years ago, P&G didnot have anyone in the company that was in charge of innovation. They used professional innovators, and GEN3 Partners was part of that, to build their innovation capabilities. Now, they have people in the organization who do it for a living. The answer is you have to have both.

  • For innovation culture to be effective and yielding desired results what measures need to be taken?
    At the end of the day, there is only one measure: company performance. When you see a company that is growing and stays competitive in the marketplace, I guarantee you that is a company where innovation works. Interestingly enough these are the companies that are among the first to embrace new innovation processes and tools.

    Siemens, P&G, Intel, Unilever, Google—these are the companies that are really successful. If you look at their website and talk with executives they will all say innovation is critical. If you listen to what their CEOs say when they talk with analysts, youd think they worked for GEN3 Partners or some kind of innovation group. They all say that innovation is what they need to do to succeed and to have a strong future.

    But, how do you make innovation successful? For that, I donot know that there is a silver bullet. My rules for making innovation successful have been simple and to make sure the company involved has enough discipline to follow them.

    First, define and focus innovation. Donot invent technological wonder, donot chase mythical markets. Define the main parameters of customer value and focus on your goal. Its a discipline you have to follow in order to succeed. Invest in innovation. As long as its the first line item that is erased out of the budget when things donot go right, things will continue to go badly. Make innovation a senior management priority. We talked about natural resistance that people have to any change. Bringing innovation to the company is a significant change. So it requires leadership and persistence. And finally, donot put innovation in a box or in a corner. Innovation must be cross functional and you should use innovation as a means to align the company to act differently.

1. ICMR Innovation Case Studies
2. ICMR Case Collection
3. Case Study Volumes

The Interview was conducted by Dr. Nagendra V Chowdary, Consulting Editor, Effective Executive and Dean, IBSCDC, Hyderabad.

This Interview was originally published in Effective Executive, IUP, November 2006.

Copyright © November 2006, IBSCDC No part of this publication may be copied, reproduced or distributed, stored in a retrieval system, used in a spreadsheet, or transmitted in any form or medium electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the permission of IBSCDC.

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