Catalyzing Innovation book Question & Answer

There has been so much written about innovation, how is the book Catalyzing Innovation different and useful?
Most books start with either the front end of innovation, strategy, or the middle portion, ideation. This books starts with the end of the process, when products are already on the market. It looks at what makes the most innovative and successful products on the market so unique, and identifies the focused lines of thinking that led to those breakthrough ideas. By categorizing and illustrating the most fruitful lines of thinking, firms can apply this checklist to their own innovation processes to make them more thorough and complete.
Over 700 visuals. Most books about innovation are completely lacking in visual illustrations. Visuals are one of the cornerstones of this book. They serve to memorably illustrate the points being made, and provide inspiration for those tasked with coming up with new product and service ideas for their companies.
The innovations sited were selected because they successfully grew the brands. Catalyzing Innovation explains howthe innovations strategically benefitted the businesses by leading to increased sales, entry into new markets, greater loyalty, brand awareness, and consumer engagement. The book’s easy to apply checklist, was designed for new product & services idea developers to increase the likelihood that all bases/options/variants are considered. The checklist can be immediately applied. Firms don’t need to reorganize the whole company or dramatically change corporate cultures to use it. Instructions on how to use the framework are explained in the preface. Exercises are provided in several chapters that help users identify meaningful customer touchpoints that are innovative because most competitors overlook them, and ways to evaluate the most viable/actionable brand equity growth opportunities.

  • The book is extremely thorough and specific.
  • There are lots of stimuli, intended to provoke thinking and inspire ideas.
  • The concepts apply across industries and geographic markets, for a global perspective.
  • The book promotes cross-pollination of thinking & illustrates how to benchmark other industries and companies, to help firms and entrepreneurs learn to do it more systematically themselves.
  • Unlike some books about innovation that are pedantic, vague, theoretical, and pretentious, Catalyzing Innovation is digestible, relatable, accessible, easy to understand and apply, and a fun read.
  • The book is extremely current, including many very recent examples, in addition to some old classics.
  • Catalyzing Innovation is broadly appealing; from Senior level execs to graduate students, across industries, job functions, and countries.

What lead you to write this book?
The book was inspired by the way Ferran Adriá, the great Catalan chef, innovates. He combines great stimuli gathered from other industries around the world, with a methodical checklist of ways to vary how ingredients are prepared, processed, and combined, how and what equipment is used, and what ingredients the equipment and processes are applied to. Having worked in New Product Development for large multinationals for many years, where the process can involve random ideas surfacing in a hit or miss fashion, I thought it would be useful to provide firms with a more comprehensive way to develop or improve their products and services to better meet customer needs and capture their imaginations.
How did your background and research prepare you to write the book?
My background in new product development, working for a range of consumer product and entertainment companies, gave me an appreciation for deficiencies in many new product development processes, and also what types of thought processes and exercises could really help companies and be easy to apply. To research the book, I travelled all over the world and observed unique aspects that made products innovative and successful, from the smallest, simplest innovations, to tremendously complex new ideas. Since I have developed the 60 Lines of Thinking, I find that nearly everything I see fits into these categories.
What is the complementary Inventours™ program all about?
Inventours was also inspired by Ferran Adriá’s process of scanning the world for innovative ideas that could be incorporated into all the customer touchpoints in his restaurant: not just the food, but the visual presentation, utensils and tableware, the sequence, eating instructions, ambiance, etc.
Many of the greatest innovations have resulted from taking ideas from one category and applying them to totally different categories, like the waffle iron that inspired Nike’s Waffle Trainer sneaker, or the colored, glossy jelly bean coatings that inspired the Apple iMac computers, or hummingbird beaks that inspired Japan’s high speed trains. My goal with Inventours™ is to take global execs tasked with new product and services development outside their industries and countries, to energize their thinking, gain insights from successful practitioners in other fields, and to share their observations with fellow attendees whose perspectives differ by country, function, and industry. The goal is to catalyze insights that will improve their new product and service development processes, and help create physical and mental work environments, more conducive to breakthrough innovation.

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