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Every firm must maintain an entrepreneurial ecosystem and a coherent innovation strategy in order to stay ahead of the competition. For managers this means being able to build a vision of what innovation looks like in the context of their organization, fostering entrepreneurial behaviour, spotting opportunities and making the right decisions. Based on years of practical experience and unique insight, this handy guide identifies fundamental challenges and is rooted in concrete examples. Accompanied by a brand new app for iPhone and Android as well as a companion website (, this is an easy dip in, dip out guide with a focus on successful execution. Navigating Innovation is a one-stop-shop, giving you a deeper understanding of the core concepts and tools to capture the right opportunities for your business.



1. Introduction: Make Sense of Innovation

In the real world of innovation, opportunities must be hunted and matured, distinctive innovation management capabilities must be developed and tough strategic choices regarding innovations must be made. Being a very creative business is one thing; successfully managing innovations is another.
The key to innovation success is to do much more than generate ideas. The key to innovation success is to have an organization capable of effectively identifying, prioritizing and capturing innovation opportunities, in line with its strategy and ecosystem . The key to innovation success is therefore more “brain” and less “storming”.
Benoit Gailly

2. Build a Shared Strategic Vision of Innovation

Innovation is today seen by many organizations as a key strategic issue. These organizations, however, often embark on costly innovation initiatives, without having any clear idea of what they want to achieve (thus they are inefficient) or why (thus they are ineffective). Too often, they do not understand or do not agree on what innovation is or why and how they want to innovate.
The first challenge of innovation management is therefore to develop a shared strategic vision of innovation: why a firm must proactively manage innovation, what innovation actually means as a business, how it unfolds as a process, what are the different types of innovation, what are the resulting strategic options and what should drive the decision-making regarding those options.
Benoit Gailly

3. Manage Entrepreneurial Ecosystems

A perfect innovation strategy is worthless if the firm does not have the organizational and entrepreneurial abilities to execute it. Innovations can succeed only when people and teams across organizations, networks and whole ecosystems embrace change and make new things happen. This means being able and willing to experiment, learn and often fail. As managers this also means being able to let others experiment, learn and sometimes fail.
The second innovation management challenge is therefore to foster the right entrepreneurial behaviors at all levels: people, teams, organizations, networks and regional ecosystems.
Benoit Gailly

4. Identify Attractive Innovation Opportunities

Innovation opportunities do not magically “pop up” out of the blue, be it in R&D laboratories or brainstorming sessions. They emerge when organizations “learn to learn” from multiple internal and external sources, increasing their knowledge and intellectual capital by “thinking in new boxes”, mixing, maturing and combining multiple insights and inspirations.
The third innovation management challenge is therefore to effectively identify innovation opportunities, by developing the capabilities to systematically develop, screen, protect and combine both organizational and external sources of innovations.
Benoit Gailly

5. Develop a Balanced Portfolio of Business Models

Most innovation ideas do not lead to robust business opportunities, and most organizations try to pursue more business opportunities than they can actually successfully handle. In order to effectively manage innovation, firms must therefore select the opportunities for which a convincing business model can be designed and which collectively form a balanced and consistent portfolio.
The fourth innovation management challenge is therefore to focus on the right portfolio of innovative business models: asking the right questions, designing competitive business models and mobilizing the right resources, valuing those business models and combining them to build a consistent and balanced portfolio.
Benoit Gailly

6. Nimble Execution: Fail Fast and Win Big

An innovation opportunity is worthless if it remains only an idea, a concept or a business plan. Successfully managing innovation therefore means developing the capabilities to effectively capture the innovation opportunities that the organization identifies as attractive. But innovation opportunities cannot be managed like “normal” corporate projects, where uncertainties are minimized and failure is the exception. Nor can they be managed “on top of” existing activities and budgets, without the right processes and resources.
The fifth and last innovation management challenge is therefore to effectively capture innovation opportunities through dedicated project management and decision-making approaches, balancing effective execution with timely learning and flexibility, and mobilizing the right funding sources.
Benoit Gailly

7. Conclusion: More Brain, Less Storming

Managing innovations requires understanding what innovation means, why an organization needs and wants to innovate and the capabilities it should develop as a consequence. This might imply that your organization should implement the latest fad or emulate Apple and Uber. Or that it should not.
Managing innovations means thinking about how to build an organization that is continuously able to identify, assess and implement new opportunities in line with its strategic objectives. This means in particular being able to steer people and resources in a changing world, where knowledge and objectives are not a priori given but are framed and adjusted over time.
Benoit Gailly


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