Book Reviews

 
Innovation

Global Innovation

Author: Ned Hamson, Robert Holden
Publisher Capstone Publishing
Publication Date: February, 2002

Reviewer:Joe Hempen
Joe has for 27 years used Participative principles in the companies that he has founded. Joe is presently an organizational and management consultant who works with CEOs to create self-managing enterprises. He also works as an investment banker. Joe is in the process of developing programs to assist CEOs of smaller firms and family businesses prepare for succession. He can be reached at 314 772-8154.

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What's surprising about this book (and immediately useful) is that the authors don't begin with a discussion of technologies or the Net but the Global Compact — UN Secretary General Koffi Annan’s set of principles for enterprises to do business in the global economy.

They see smart business people using these and related principles to create new product, service and experience offerings, innovation producing enterprises and addressing the social, economic and political concerns of developed and developing nation customers.

The authors have found there are countless global innovation opportunities ranging from the development of new product, service and experience offerings to workplace and process innovations to the development of new global social, political and economic institutions.

Gone are the days, the authors say, when a firm can launch an offering in stages. Today's successful global innovators recognize that the Net necessitates world wide offering launches. The networked global marketplace also means, the authors say, the time for copy cat technology offerings are on the global stage is more compressed than ever. And it has expanded the potential for innovations being developed through global alliances of firms.

Their innovation cycle process concretely shows how a firm needs to engage in four distinct forms of innovation that are supported by a variety of methods that include scouting, search conferences, Shared Learning and participative work design. The book includes case studies which illustrate how firms and communities used these methods to support development and market innovations.

Getting real, the authors show you why people and not technologies are key to global innovation. The authors discuss both the conditions and the methods for creating innovative and productive workplaces.

Why is this book of value to businesspeople? First, businesspeople can use the Global Compact's principles, innovation drivers and ideas and the cycle of innovation to assess their competitors' global innovation competency.

Second, businesspeople can use Scouting methodology to develop their innovations and customize them to local, regional and/or nation customers.

Third, businesspeople can learn about a strategic planning methodology, Search conferences, with which they can create a "whole system" data base of competitive intelligence about customers, social, political and economic trends. This whole system data base, in turn, can be transformed into strategies, action plans that teams can quickly implement. Search conferences can close the gap between the time it takes to research trends and turn new knowledge into action.

Fourth, they will gain an intelligence about methods that will empower real change leaders to quickly and effectively reduce cycle time, improve customer experience, create process innovations and develop a supportive innovation environment.

Finally, businesspeople get both a quick read and an innovative read on global innovation. You and the authors know that innovation is not just the Net and technologies, so they have researched and synthesized the social, political and economic trends increasingly important in a world includes networked and demanding customers, as well as innovative terrorists. Corporations can spend millions on security and technology. History shows they will likely be ineffective, or they can use this book and its “new ideas” such as the Global Compact to invest in creating prosperous and free global citizens and customers to purchase their innovative products and services.

What is this book's problems? I see two. First, it's not for "how-to" persons. While the books provides practical ideas and methodologies, it does require the reader to think and imagine rather presenting a step-by-step process. But this is a book about innovation and they aren't created through "how-to" processes.

Second, this books isn't for traditional managers as characterized by Katzenbach in Real Change Leaders. They believe in a "few good men" rather than expanding involment and accountability as suggested by the authors. They fear failure; therefore, innovation with its potentail for failure holds little interest. Finally, they focus on self promotion and earning per share rather than employee devlopment and improving customer value through innovation.