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Aim of the report

Scott, Duncan and Siren introduce the model of building an innovation engine in the article mentioned above. Critically evaluate the four steps mentioned. Analyse the pros and the cons of the model.

 The article titled as ‘Build an Innovation Engine in 90 Days’  aims at providing a step by step process following which any enterprise would be able to install a methodology that can be used to develop innovative ideas or technologies: the set up being popularly known as an  Innovative Engine. The article was published in the December 2014 issue of the Harvard Business Review. The authors have expressed their concerns about the fact that while most  organization are being partial to the  process of innovation these days, a  very few of them are actually being  able to conduct their innovation processes in an orderly way; in most of the cases the  innovations that are being made are  either not  done using any systematic approach or  the innovations  that are being designed are not being able to function in a reliable  way in practice. However, kit has also been noticed that some of the organization that have been able to innovate methods or technologies had actually not been able to provide a suitable environment for the   process: yet somehow they   were able to design methodologies that can be   considered as breathtakingly beautiful.

However, those organizations that have a history of making innovative ideas and technologies happen, in practiced,  follow developmental methodologies that remain invisible to  the outsiders;  such developmental paths  often require the acts of individual excellence or heroism, or a huge dosage of serendipity does the trick. However, when organizations start  applying tremendous efforts to suddenly jump start a process of innovation by  the application of various hacks, announcing prizes for the most innovative ideas generated by the employees, or by employing specialized task forces for this purpose  often results in a total failure of the entire process being undertaken as most of the innovative ideas that are generated by the employees are often not implemented  by the organizations:  thus it can be said that the provision of an environment for the implementation of innovative ideas is essential, as until and unless an innovative idea is practically implemented, its utility and efficiency cannot be measured  .

While the higher management of most of the organizations are of the opinion that the innovative engines incorporated within their operational activities are not functioning in a way in which they should, yet a very few of them are willing to take the effort of turning these sundry efforts into systems or methods that would actually be functional, a the task of redesigning the entire innovation engine seems to be a monumental task to perform.  Most of time, such activities would require the redesigning of the entire organizational structure, along with the employment of teams that are specialized for such purposes, besides making substantial investments.

Literature Review and Analysis

The authors have developed a system that can be used in the process of developing an innovation engine: the minimum viable innovation system or MVIS, which is nothing but the specification of the basic building blocks that are essential for any organization that aims at creating such a innovation functionality that would be able to produce reliable and efficient innovative methodologies, ideas or techniques.  The adherence to the MVI ensures that the   potential ideas are encouraged by the organizational structure, are shared across  the various groups that are responsible for development, are reviewed properly, prioritized according to their efficiency and  are celebrated, besides  providing rewards to those employees who  had been instrumental in the production of the innovative idea. The MVI also ensures that the entire process that has been discussed does not require a very long period of time to be implemented; neither does it require a huge amount of investment or a sudden change in the structure of the organization.

In this report, the MVI technique described by the authors has been critically analyzed so as to shed some light on the utility and efficiency of the system in the practical field.  A wide range of literature have been surveyed in order to find out that to what extent such methodologies have been useful in providing various organizations the right backdrop that helps in the  formation of their innovative engine.

In the very first section of the article, the authors have described certain steps that are generally implemented by employees so as to design their innovation engines, which are nothing but processes that facilitate the development of innovative ideas and the participation of the employees in such activities: the steps being described in the following section.

The authors are of the opinions that in most cases, when higher management of the organization decide to employ innovation engines in their organizational activities, the very first step that they need to employ aims at changing the existing structure of the organization.  In the next phase, resources, both tools, machineries and man power need to be allocated in  the organization, such that they   would act as a team that specializes in the process of innovation. Last but not the least, a substantial amount if tee venue generated by the organization is often reinvested to support the costs associated with the above mentioned processes.

However, the authors have also provided a step by step mechanism that can be utilized so as to develop an innovation engine without all the costs that have been mentioned above, the steps being:

Steps proposed in the model

Step 1: Defining the innovation bucket: the authors are of the  opinion that  all of the attempts that are being made towards the development of  innovative ideas are essentially of two types:  either  new dimensions are being added to already existing  ides or methods, or  brand new ideas are being developed. In either of the cases the teams working on the ideas should be able to recognize the correct bucket which their project belongs.

Step 2: Zeroing on a handful of strategic ideas: As the number of potential ideas which could lead to a successful innovation might seem to be endless, the teams that are working on such projects should be able to concentrate on only a few of them.

Step 3: Forming a small and dedicated team that would be operating on the innovative ideas: A small team dedicated to  the innovative projects would not only help the organization to conduct researches on such projects in an organized way, but would also be useful in using the human resources of the company in an effective way.

Step 4: Create a mechanism that can be used to bring about a sense of discipline in the operational activities of the innovation projects: While innovative projects often tend to lead to chaotic situations, it is essential to main the discipline in any project team such that that the employees can operate in an effective way.

The ideas that have been expressed by the authors is thoroughly supported by the  strategies and policies that the search engine giant Google had utilized in order to take the ideas of innovation  that the Google employees are  constantly working on to the next level: Google is one of the most envied organizations that operate in the domain of information technology , their declared business statement being providing innovative ideas to their users.

Google Inc was founded by two of the most brilliant engineers and successful leaders that the world has ever seen: Sergey Brin and Larry Page (Bohannon, 2015).  The company was officially founded in 1998, and within the next three years the founders were eager to take the organization to the next level: thus they employed Eric Schmidt in 2001 as their Executive Chairman (Bry, 2011). The idea to recruit him was in response to the very strong pressure that the organization had faced from their shareholders so as to take the growth of the organization to the next level. As Schmidt joined the business, it was discovered that almost 60 percent of the users of products launched by Google are used people who are physically located outside the United States Of America (Cassin, 2009).  Thus the organization decided to recruit sales teams that would manage the operations of the company in Europe. The style which is followed by the   management of the organization can be considered as the care dedicated to recruitment: Larry Page had always been very careful at considering the application of potential employees, besides  providing ample scope to open minded people, such  any potential idea generated by the  employees can be developed into a successful and efficient innovation (Google heads skyward, 2007).

Case Study: Google Inc.

Thus it can be clearly seen that in the early days of the company, Google had actually adhered to the basic steps that have been pointed out the by the authors of the article: the owner of the organization, under the terrible pressure of the shareholders of the company had to recruit Eric Schmidt in, who was a well known name n the international market, due to his previous success in similar managerial positions. On his appointment, Schmidt had decided to   bring about a sudden change in the organizational structure of the company, by employing sales teams to look after the operational activities of the organization. Thus, changes were brought in to the organizational structure of Google, besides the employment of specialized people who would facilitate in the process of developing innovations: needless to say the entire process took significant time and the reinvestment of substantial amount of funds (Jarvis, 2009).

However, in the very recent past Google’s requirement for innovation has sky rocketed due to high competition that the organization faces from the various other competitor organization that exist in the market: thus Google allows all its users to readily  make changes to the search engine in ways they feel like (Trott, 2008). Google had long been started implementing the  policy of integrating the users in  process of bringing about further changes to the already existing products of the company and  the organization has always emphasized on the task of  including the views of their users in  the primary stages of  all their   product development or designing activities. 

The huge numbers of alterations that the users make on various products of Google, including the search engine, are available on the site known as the GoogleLabs.com. This is the first step that Google uses to classify the potential innovative ideas: the logic of developing these beta version of the search engine also provides a tool that can be used to decide on which of the innovative ideas to start working with. This very same process also makes it possible to add those features to their products that a majority of their users demand them to (Martin, 2014).

The operating system that has been developed by Google is popularly known as ‘Android’: Google allows various other players of the industry to redesign and/ or further develop the operating system. Android being a free ware is widely used by users, many of them adding additional features to the operating system. Google has been able to release so many upgraded versions of this operating system only due to the immensely huge number of innovative ideas that the users provide them with (Miller, 2012).

Once the classification of the innovative ideas and the process of zeroing on a specific strategy have been completed, the final phase of implementing the innovative ideas arrives. In this stage, Google has utilized a unique strategy: all the information technology developers of the company are allowed to use up to 20 percent of their hours, which is roughly one day of the week, to work on projects which are close to their heart. This rule not only encourages the employees to participate in the process of innovative development, but also saves a huge amount of revenue that would have been spent if each of the innovative projects were lead by dedicated teams. The system also helps to promote a bottom-up process of innovation: employees can take part in innovative projects irrespective of their designations and what the management of the company thinks about the projects that are being worked upon (Trauffler and Tschirky, 2007) .

While Google allows their employees to exchange view and ideas openly, the incorporation of an intranet allows the communication between work groups in a much systematic fashion, and the recent developments of each and every other innovative project is available to all those who are interested in these projects: a system that can also be used to instil a sense of development among the members of the project teams. While the organization allows all employees to share the progress of their projects on the intranet, the same system is used to set up meetings in which all   the participation of the employees that participate in such innovative projects is mandatory (Noble, 2014).

 In the final stages, only a few of these innovative projects are able to bag the finance that is necessary to implement the ideas in reality: these are the projects that are taken up by the Google Inc   as enterprise projects (Purdy, 2011).

It can thus be safely said that the process that Google uses so as to develop their innovation engine is essentially identical to the process that the authors recommend other organizations to follow (Richard, Foley and Lardner, 2012).

 In the last part of the article the authors three pieces of advices: the authors advice the organizations to either follow the system thoroughly or not to follow it at all.  The authors warn the users that confirming to some of steps mentioned would take them nowhere. They are also of the opinion that the mentality of the employees who are associated with the activities of innovation should be considered as yet another factor that might influence the process of innovation. Last but not the least, the way an organization treats its failures towards innovation also plays an important role in the growth process of the organization (Mellor, 2003).

As evident from the innovation management process of Google that has been described in this report, Google adheres to all the steps that have been mentioned by the authors. Google also allows their employees to participate in those projects that are close to their hearts: thus ensuring they do not feel burdened by activity of participating in such projects. Last but not the least, the employees are allowed to participate in these projects irrespective of what the management thinks about the probability of  success of the project:  a process which helps in treating failures in  positive ways (Savoia and Copeland, 2011).

The steps that have been proposed by the authors, in accordance to their claim, help in the process of developing the background or environment which is essential for the incorporation of the innovation engine in any organization.

The first step that has been proposed essentially help an organization to realize the true nature of the innovative ideas that are being proposed by their employees (Scott, 2008). The ideas that are generated by the employees of any company can be classified into two types: often employees intend to extend the functionalities of certain already existing tools or technologies, while come others might come up with ideas that are ‘innovative’ in the truest sense of  the word. In the next phase of the innovation process, the management of the organization should be able to   handpick a few of the strategic ideas to work on (Christiansen, 2000). A small team of dedicated employees should be allowed to work on the innovation project: however the organization should also implement strategies and policies that would be helpful in the process of maintaining a discipline among the members of the project team (Staff and Staff, 2003).

The process that has been discussed is essentially the same as what has been followed by organizations that are well known for the innovative ideas that they have been brought to the industry or the innovative technologies that have been developed by them. Thus the efficiency of the process is undoubted (Sutherland, 2011). Some of the organizations that included similar steps to design their innovation engines include Apple and Samsung, along with the giant in this domain, the Google Inc (O'Grady, 2009).

 The entire model is advantages in the sense that confirming to the model provides an ideal environment for the development of innovative technologies and procedures: however, the very same model   minimizes the scope of individual innovations. This is the sole disadvantage of the model being reviewed (Gallo, 2011).

The model that has been described by the authors in this report is also utilized by some other organizations, the details of which are being provided in the following section.

Manila Water is a Philippines based organization that has used the MVI model in 1997 so as to   categorize the various innovative ideas that were being provided by the employees of the organization.

Procter and Gamble, popularly known as P&G is one of the well known organizations that invests a huge part of the revenue generated into developing innovative products and technologies: the top higher management if the organization implements various steps that are similar to that of the steps described in the report: the organization focuses on conducting researches on a handful of potential innovative ideas at  a time, focusing on the fact that the ideas being researched go with the business strategies of the organization (What do Apple, IBM and P&G know?, 2011).

The innovation strategy that is followed by yet another organization, the Apple Inc, mimics the process that is utilized by the founders of Google (Elliot, 2012). Most of the successful innovations that Apple had brought into the market had been the results of relentless research works made by teams who are dedicated to this sector.  Apple also categorizes the innovative ideas that are provided by their employees into proper groups:  a strategy which allows the organization to release new versions of their successful products in the market, besides releasing new technologies (Four-Closure: How Amazon, Apple, Facebook & Google Are Driving Business Model Innovation, 2012).

In this report, the innovation process management of the Google Inc has been described. The following methodologies have been implemented by the organization, which conform to all the steps described by the authors in the article being referenced:

The Google Inc confirms to all the steps that have been mentioned by the authors (Timberlake, 2013).

The organization does not create specialized team to work on the initial stages of an innovative project:all the employees of the organization have the freedom to work on any such innovative project. It ensures that the employees working on such projects are able to maintain a positive attitude towards the innovative ideas (Vandeviver, 2014).

The employees need not think about the approvals of the management while working on any innovative project: a tool that is immensely helpful in handling failures with a positive attitude (Vise and Malseed, 2005).

 The stands that have been taken by the organization confirm to all the advices that have been provided by the authors in the article. The adherence to all the steps that have been mentioned by the minimum viable innovation system or MVIS makes sure that the environment or background on which the innovative projects are being conducted are suitable for the functionality of the projects. Adherence to a selected few would not have been able to provide this particular setup (Visakhi et al., 2010).

The organization provides the employees with a chance to work on their own innovative ideas: each employee is allowed to spend as much as 20 percent of their working hours to any innovative project that he or she feels comfortable with. Such a strategy is helpful in reducing the stress the employees go through during their working hours, besides providing the organization with a large pool of efficient employees who are willing to work on the innovative projects.

Last but not the least, the organization allows all the current employees of the organization to participate in such innovative projects, irrespective of their designations: the employees need to think about what the management thinks about the projects they are working on. This strategy ensures that the employees are able to handle the failure of such projects much efficiently (Hervás-Oliver and Peris-Ortiz, n.d.).

Conclusion

In this report, the MVIS technique that has been developed by the authors has been described in details. The authors claim that the adherence to the steps mentioned in the process would be helpful in the process of developing innovation engines within a span of 90 days. The strategies that have been described by the authors are similar to those  adopted by various other organizations that are well known for their  innovative products, like that of Google Inc, Apple Inc, Procter and  Gamble  and so on and so forth. Thus, the efficiency of the strategies being described in the MVIs process is beyond any doubt. However, although such strategies have been successfully implemented in organizations having large amounts of funds, the efficiency of such strategies in smaller organizations is questionable.

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