Summary of Mapping Innovation

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  • Analytical
  • Applicable
  • Concrete Examples


Innovation can be a long, tough slog. Consider the Macintosh. In 1968, US government engineer Douglas Engelbart demonstrated – in what is now called the “Mother of All Demos” – how people could interact with computers. He used a keyboard and an innovation he called a “mouse” to create, edit and move text on a screen and other seemingly magical things. Later, Xerox researchers enhanced his concept with the development of the Alto personal computer. But it wasn’t until 1984, 16 years after Engelbart’s demonstration, that Apple’s Steve Jobs transformed those developments into the Macintosh. That was fast action for its day, but innovation must move even more quickly now. Innovation expert Greg Satell explains how innovation works, what it requires, how to manage it and how to do it well. getAbstract recommends his comprehensive innovation manual to start-ups, investors, large firms and small businesses.

About the Author

Greg Satell, an expert on innovation, built and managed media businesses in Eastern Europe.



Idiosyncratic Innovation

Every company handles innovation its own way. IBM conducts extensive fundamental research and is skilled at adapting its business model to changing market circumstances. Procter & Gamble teams up with external engineers and researchers to create must-have products consumers buy by the billions. Apple focuses on its customers and on delivering “insanely great” products and services. Google develops a steady stream of innovations through extensive experimentation.

Before figuring out how your firm should handle innovation, define what innovation is in your context. Scott Anthony, an expert on innovation, defines it as “something different that has a measurable impact.” Or, consider innovation as “a novel solution to an important problem.” Each company must determine what’s important to its mission and what’s not.

Your company wants to develop a singular “innovation path.” Determine whom you will work with on various innovations, how to coordinate those efforts and how to commercialize the results. No matter how your organization handles innovation activities, your CEO and senior executives must accept an unforgiving reality: Successful...

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