By Robert B. Tucker,
Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2008
Books, seminars, and articles on innovation abound. No wonder: Innovation is the competitive edge. Authors approach the topic from various vantage points, including that of leadership (initiative and guidance toward innovation), strategy (organizing and focusing for innovation), and creativity (the spark that produces innovation). Tucker’s declared touchstone is growth. However, the book turns out to be a rather comprehensive summary of key concepts culled from a broad spectrum and clumped under the umbrella of “growth.”
If you fancy lists, you are in for an abundant experience: eleven paths to improve your company’s culture; six strategies for “filling the idea funnel”; six guidelines for producing powerful products; seven ways to sell new ideas; and so forth. The virtues of Tucker’s approach include the crisp style manifested in such lists and the overall applied, rather than theoretical, nature of the book. Congruent with this practical emphasis, and affording considerable credibility, is Tucker’s frequent reference to particular products, services, and processes as they relate to specific corporations. These range from the oft-celebrated, such as 3M and its legendary Post-Its, to the less familiar, including Appleton Papers’ “GO Process” (growth opportunities), which produced 700 new product ideas in one year within a company of only 2,500 employees.
An interesting and apt concept derived from a business-oriented “pencil-and-paper test” known as the Strength Deployment Inventory is presented as the difference between strength and weakness. Here, a weakness is defined as an overdone strength. Driving Innovation offers a handy guide to hundreds of keen practices that can aid in building organizational growth through the development of a multifaceted, pervasive corporate innovation program. However, the compendious and pragmatic nature of the book keeps it out of the league that might be termed “intellectual” or “profound.” Many a harried corporate leader who seeks guidance for implementing a tried-and-true program to foster innovation will find this work valuable; research scholars mining for golden nuggets had best dig elsewhere.