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Innovation Leader invited 15 former leaders of corporate innovation labs in various industries to spill the beans: What was it really like to head a lab under a public company, and what advice would they give other innovation leaders? Business journalist Scott Kirsner, Innovation Leader’s CEO and editor-in-chief, presents the responses in the experts’ own words. Lab heads will value the resulting collection of viewpoints, insights and advice. The veterans don’t always agree, but their combined comments provide an incisive portrait of innovation in today’s corporate labs.

About the Author

Scott Kirsner is CEO and co-founder of Innovation Leader and a columnist for The Boston Globe.



Former innovation leaders tend to agree on the most important success factors and concerns. The innovation lab’s relationship with its parent company should rank as a top priority. As a lab head, you should discuss the program’s mission with senior management and arrive at a shared definition of success. Clarify your own responsibilities and key performance indicators, as well as the resources and support you’ll need. Success metrics should reflect the innovation program’s mission. It could be number of prototypes built or problems solved. The relationship with the parent company requires trust, which will take time ...

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