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    Seven Keys to Unlock and Lead Innovation Strategy

    Whether innovation is incremental or moon shot in

    significance, it flourishes in organizations that embrace

    seven elements in the context of a strategic purpose.

  • Our Credera research team spent significant time evaluating

    organizations with proven track records of innovation. We

    set out on an adventure to understand and synthesize those

    critical elements that show up repeatedly as foundational

    enablers. We carefully examined organizations that rely

    on innovation as a cornerstone for competitive advantage,

    including NASAs Apollo space program, Procter & Gamble,

    IDEO, Stanford Design School, Apple, Google Ventures, and

    early inventors like Edison and the Wright Brothers.

    We looked back at history to synthesize patterns in major

    innovations in science, mathematics, physics, genetics,

    aviation, and business. Specifically, we explored the history of

    innovation in the world: the printing press, the steam engine,

    the light bulb, penicillin, nuclear power, exploration of space,

    ARPAnet, personal computers, mapping the human gene,

    Google, Facebook, SpaceX, and artificial intelligence.

    We interviewed innovative leaders to understand their

    journeys, successes, and failures. Lastly, we examined

    scholarly articles, journals, books, and our own client

    experiences to further understand the philosophical and,

    more importantly, the digestible building blocks to answer

    the primary questions:

    How can the C-level leader enable systemic innovation

    that leads to financial success and happy customers?

    We live in a second Renaissance of sortsa fourth Industrial

    Revolution as some have proclaimed. Business, government,

    and nonprofit leaders all face pressure to innovate in order

    to find some kind of advantage in a competitive landscape.

    Standing still is not an option. The organizations that choose

    a scatter-shot approach to innovation fail. The organizations

    that refuse to innovate fail. Pressure builds to connect

    people, devices, ideas, and experiences in meaningful and

    new ways. The researchers in the study came across many

    executives who shared their concern that innovation would

    be yet another fad discussion, taking up resources and then

    not yielding any benefit. Certainly, many fads create a flash in

    Executive Summary


    Coordinate enterprise-wide leadership and governance of innovation

    Foster a culture of innovation

    Manage the innovation portfolio like a venture capitalist

    Create radical connection with customers

    Build internal and external partnership networks

    Develop a shared definition of innovation

    Commit to design thinking

    Establish Leadership & Culture

    Define Innovation & Approach

    Manage, Test & Measure

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    the pan without substantial benefit, but research challenges

    this skepticism. Even in ultra-mature industries such as oil

    & gas, travel & hospitality, energy, law, and medicine, the

    opportunities to innovate and expectations of customers

    both continue to radically increase over time.

    We choose to go to the moon and do the

    other things, not because they are easy

    President John F. Kennedy

    We dont all need to all be astronautsinnovation

    is essentially human. This paper examines different

    magnitudes of innovation: core, adjacent, and

    transformational. We all desire to improve, to restore, to

    build, to rethink, to imagine. The vision and will to press

    forward in the face of monumental challenge is a significant

    part of leadership. Leaning into future vision, leaders take

    riskspartly because they know that greater risks exist in

    sitting still than in creating a new path for the future.

    Credera helps C-level leaders see how innovation can lead

    their organizations forward.

    These enhanced strategies to lead innovation provide

    significant opportunities for all organizationsbig

    and small:

    Coordinate enterprise-wide leadership and

    governance of innovation.

    Create a shared definition of innovation.

    Foster a culture of innovation.

    Manage the innovation portfolio like a

    venture capitalist.

    Commit to design thinking.

    Create a radical connection with customers.

    Build strong internal and external networks.

    Credera helps C-level leaders see how innovation can lead

    their organizations forward.








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    Coordinate Enterprise-Wide Leadership and Governance of Innovation 10

    Modern Frameworks Describing Innovation 7

    What is Innovation? 6

    Introduction 5

    Create a Shared Definition of Innovation 12

    Foster a Culture of Innovation 14

    Manage the Innovation Portfolio Like a Venture Capitalist 16

    Commit to Design Thinking 18

    Create a Radical Connection With Customers 20

    Build Strong Internal and External Networks 22

    Closing 24

    Appendix 26

    Sources 28

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    We live in the epicenter of the most innovative moment in

    history. In many ways, we live in a modern Renaissancea

    science- and technology-driven Renaissance. For-profit,

    nonprofit, and government organizations all carry a

    significant mandate to continue to lead innovation.

    Opportunities abound to unlock the human potentialto

    imagine and create a new future.

    Industrial revolutions represent meta-

    innovation moments in history.

    Industrial revolutions represent meta-innovation moments

    in history. There is a discussion unfolding proposing that we

    are in the early stages of the fourth industrial revolution.

    The first revolution began in 1784 with steam power and

    mechanical production equipment. The second began in

    1870 with electricity, human flight, internal combustion

    engines, widespread use of fossil fuels, mass production,

    and division of labor. The third began in the 1960s with

    the computer, putting a man on the moon, integrated

    semiconductors, and the internet.

    In this current momentperhaps a fourth industrial

    revolutionmachine learning (artificial intelligence) and the

    removal of barriers between humans and machines propel

    the world in new and innovative ways. In fact, computers

    like IBMs Watson exceed the capacity, speed, and accuracy

    of certain human brain functions. Genetic code is translated

    and now being specifically understood, synthetic life is

    possible as Dr. J. Craig Venter proved a few years ago,

    autonomous cars are right around the corner, drones

    deliver packages, and personal assistants like Siri and Alexa

    talk with usin many ways like R2D2 of Star Wars. And,

    at the time of writing, nearly 1.7 billion humans live in the

    digital world called Facebook, sharing all of the emotions

    and stories once confined to in-person interactions. The

    average lifespan of Standard & Poors 500 companies has

    decreased from 67 years in the 1920s to 15 years today,

    attributed mostly to the increased pace of innovation.

    It is no wonder that leaders of organizations big and small

    clamor to inspire and cultivate innovation throughout their

    empires, teams, and companies as fast as humanly possible.


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    What is Innovation?

    In short, innovation is a novel improvement that is

    meaningful to people. It is the process of introducing new

    ideas, products, or methods.

    Innovations vary in their degree of significance. Some

    innovations are incremental; others are radical or moon

    shot in their epic impact. Consider the Post-It-Note and

    Apollo Space program.

    Moon shot innovations represent a category defined by

    the 1969 walk on the moon. In retrospect, the time from

    1903 to 1969 illustrates the radical innovation in flight. In

    Kittyhawk, N.C., the Wright Brothers, two bicycle designers,

    made the first successful manned flight. Sixty-three years

    later, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the

    surface of the moon. NASA led the innovationmasterfully

    coordinating 20,000 businesses and 400,000 engineers

    without instant messenger, email, or any similar technology

    (Apollo: The Race to The Moon by Charles Murray and

    Catherine Bly Cox, 1989).

    The Post-It-Note emerged at 3M, when an employee named

    Dr. Spencer Silver, accidentally created a low-tack, reusable


    Whether incremental or moon shot, innovation

    approaches evolved markedly in recent years with the

    advent of design thinking. This is a proven technique that

    many companies have successfully used to accomplish

    innovationthrough teamwork, empathy for the customers

    through direct observation and interaction, rapid

    prototyping, and data-driven testing.

    With this in mind, lets examine several different categories

    and types of innovations.

  • Developing breakthroughs and inventing things for markets that dont yet exist

    Expanding from existing business into new to the company business


    Optimizing existing products for existing customers



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