Innovation Update

Three recent columns in Business Week look at innovation from different perspectives:

Clarifying Innovation for Success

According to Innosight’s Mark W. Johnson, innovation:

…must be managed like any other key process of the company. Before you can manage it, you must understand what it is—and isn’t.

Innovation That’s ‘Born to Run’

This column takes an out-of-the-box approach by citing three lessons that business leaders and innovators can learn from Bruce Springsteen’s music.  One of these lessons is about the upside of failure:

Failure can cause embarrassment, even job separation, or serve as an important part of the drive to innovation success. That’s point No. 1: Leaders celebrate failure. Knowing what doesn’t work leads us closer to discovering what does. We call this looking for the “bounce.” Bruce would say, “Come on up for the rising” (from The Rising).

All the indicators suggest that the CG must reinvent itself as an innovation engine that will have real impact on its core constituency of small holder farmers in developing countries.  CG managers may want to look outside the research “umbrella” and develop a better understanding of how the private sector views innovation – there may be valuable lessons to be learned.

MBA ‘Energy Detectives’ Help Companies Cut Costs

One organization that has responded to the groundswell of interest among students is the Environmental Defense Fund, a Washington (D.C.) nonprofit that runs the Climate Corps summer internship program in conjunction with Net Impact. Every summer, the EDF selects a group of MBA interns to uncover potential energy efficiency improvements at companies, asking the students to become energy detectives, examining their summer employer’s lighting, computer equipment, and heating and cooling systems.

Given the high level of unemployment in the USA, especially among recent graduates, there might be an opportunity here:  some of these Climate Corps fellows might be interested in internships with CG centers where they could contribute to addressing local climate related challenges.   Such a program would benefit these communities and serve to introduce interns to the realities of agricultural development.

 Post written by Peter Bloch, consultant to CAS-IP

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