Saturday, March 31, 2007

Research Featured in Sloan Management Review

The core paper of our first research project, Leveraging Ideas for Organizational Innovation, is featured in the current issue of Sloan Management Review.

Mariello, A. “The Five Stages of Successful Innovation,” Sloan Management Review, 48 (3), 2007, 8-9.


Friday, March 30, 2007

APQC Knowledge Transfer Session: Successfully Embedding Innovation

I just returned back to Seattle from Houston!!! While in Houston, I spent two days with an eclectic group of senior executives discussing the ins and outs of building innovation programs. A diverse group of organizations was present at the meetings – Accenture, BD, Boeing, Deloitte & Touche USA LLP, Fisher-Price Inc., Northrop Grumman Corporation, Occidental Petroleum Corporation, Praxair Inc., Aramco Services Company, Siemens AG, U.S. Army, Army Research Laboratory, U.S. Army, ARDEC, U.S. Army, TARDEC, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Government Accountability Office, U.S. Navy, Carrier Team One, IBM, Air Products and Chemicals Inc., Boston Scientific, Computer Sciences Corporation, Ethicon Endo-Surgery, and Hewlett-Packard.

I had the distinct pleasure of giving the opening and closing talks during the two days. My opening talk focused on strategic actions and issues that organizations need to consider while building sustainable innovation programs. To close the meeting, I addressed how managers should turn ideas into action for business value.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Modifications and Innovations to Technology Artifacts

Along with Yukika Awazu and Arkalgud Ramaprasad, I have a new paper that was just published:

Desouza, K.C., Awazu, Y., and Ramaprasad, A. “Modifications and Innovations to Technology Artifacts,” Technovation, 27 (4), 2007, 204-220.

What happens to a technology artifact after it is adopted? It has to evolve within its particular context to be effective; otherwise, it will become part of the detritus of change, like the many genes without a discernible function in a living organism. In this paper, we report on a study of post-adoptive behavior that examined how users modified and innovated with technology artifacts. We uncovered three types of modifications made to technology artifacts: personalization, customization, and inventions. Personalization attempts are modifications involving changes to technology parameters to meet the specificities of the user; customization attempts adapt the technology parameters to meet the specificities of the user’s environment; and inventions are exaptations conducted to the technology artifact. This paper presents a grounded theoretic analysis of the post-adoptive behavior based on in-depth interviews with 20 software engineers in one multi-national organization. We identify a life-cycle model that connects the various types of modifications conducted to technology artifacts. The life-cycle model elaborates on how individual and organizational dynamics are linked to the diffusion of innovations. While our research is exploratory, it contributes to a deeper understanding of post-adoptive behavior and the dynamic relationship between user innovations and organizational innovations.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Measuring Innovation: From Process to Stages to Capabilities to Measures to Business Value

Measuring innovation requires an organization to have a well-articulated innovation process. Without a process, measurement is impossible. During our research, we arrived at the following stages of innovation: (1) generation and mobilization, (2) advocacy and screening, (3) experimentation, (4) commercialization, and (5) diffusion and implementation. For each of these phases, we identified underlying capabilities that an organization must execute: (1) sources management, (2) analytics management, (3) interpretation management, and (4) action management. These capabilities are comprised of a series of activities. For instance, in sources management, (a) Identifying Sources, (b) Evaluating Source Characteristics, (c) Organizing Sources, (d) Retrieving Ideas from Sources, (e) Updating the Collection of Sources, and (f) Protecting Sources.

Once we are able to make the process of innovation explicit, we can develop measures for the process. We start by measuring the activities, then build composites for measuring capabilities, which in turn will help us measure each stage, and then the overall innovation process.

Using these measures, we can link innovation to business value measures, from process to output, and value measures.

More details will be forthcoming as we begin to release our working papers.

Measure and Measure: Making Innovation Explicit and Valued

In the 18th century, the renowned physicist Lord Kelvin remarked, “To measure is to know” and “When you can measure what you are speaking about, and can express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, then your knowledge is of a meager and unsatisfactory kind”. Although he was not speaking about the field of knowledge and innovation management when he made these statements, there may be no better field for which these statements hold true, and his words may easily be applied to that which is missing from the extant literature on knowledge management.

There is a conspicuous absence of models to evaluate such efforts. A major concern for scholars and practitioners is how to measure the status of knowledge and innovation management in an organization –– i.e., its strengths and weaknesses Managers today have to rely on anecdotal descriptions to justify investments. Without a meaningful framework for describing its trajectory, knowledge, and innovation, management is viewed by many as a mere fad.

During the I3M meeting in April, I will be presenting our model for measuring the innovation process and linking it to business value...

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Contradictions in Innovation: The Critical Role of Librarians

I will be giving a talk to the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the Special Libraries Association. The talk is titled, “Contradictions in Innovation: The Critical Role of Librarians”.

In order to innovate, organizations must find ways to manage their knowledge. Knowledge need to be created, utilized, shared, duplicated, and commercialized. However, the very same knowledge must also be protected and secured. Herein lies the contradiction: to share or not to share. How do we build organizational mechanisms where knowledge can be shared, while being secured! More importantly, how do we retain the high-energy and enthusiastic culture required for innovation, while still being respectful of the needs for security and compartmentalization? I will draw on examples from government intelligence operations, innovation programs in large organizations, and even my own entrepreneurial experiences to draw some tentative conclusions.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Knowledge Transfer Session at the APQC

I will be presenting some of our findings at the APQC(American Productivity Quality Center) Knowledge Transfer Session meeting next week in Houston, Texas. APQC is a strategic partner on our research efforts. All sponsors of the APQC research project will receive copies of our research papers. I have enjoyed engaging with APQC as a Subject Matter Expert on their study – Successfully Embedding Innovation: Strategies and Tactics.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Sunday, March 18, 2007

I3M Spring 2007 Symposium: Demystifying the Link between Business Value and Innovation

Mark your calendars...

I3M Spring 2007 Symposium: Demystifying the Link between Business Value and Innovation

Waterfront Activities Center
Monday, April 16, 2007


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Sustaining Innovation: The Challenge for Incumbents

We have another paper ready for submission to a journal – “Sustaining Innovation: The Challenge for Incumbents”. The authors of the paper are Ashley Braganza (Cranfield University, UK), Yukika Awazu (Bentley College), and Kevin Desouza (University of Washington)


In today’s competitive environment, the ability of an organization to innovate is considered paramount. While most organizations have flashes or spurts of innovation, only a handful of organizations have been able to innovate on a continuous and sustained basis. In this paper, we report on the challenges faced by firms when trying to build sustainable innovation programs. These findings have been deduced from an examination of innovation programs in over 30 organizations based in the North America, Europe, and Asia.

In the paper we analyze issues such as the inhibitors of innovation (e.g. pursuit of stability, risk avoidance, bounded by experience, lack of requisite variety, etc). In addition, we outline several interventions, including the portfolio approach to allocating resources for innovation, training managers to be innovators, communicating the value of innovation, among others.

Monday, March 12, 2007

CSC Corporation

On February 28, 2007, I visited the Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) ( at Falls Church branch. Founded in 1958, CSC has been a pioneer of IT service organization. CSC is a large global organization that has approximately 77,000 employees in 80 countries worldwide. CSC is a large company that has a decentralized structure. Although almost 50 years has passed since CSC was founded, CSC is still one of the innovative companies. The purpose of my visit is to find out their secrets about how they preserve innovative culture such a long time. The following three points are those I thought interesting.
Point 1: CSC has a unique virtual central unit called The Office of Innovation. The role of Office of Innovation is to identify and finance ideas generated by business units (or individuals in those units) and help those ideas to be implemented. They host several awards such as Technical Excellence Awards, etc.

Point 2: CSC preserves its innovative culture. CSC employees know that CSC was founded as a pioneer of IT services. As the name "Computer Science" Corporation indicates (in 1950's, the term "Computer Science" was not much popular) that CSC is always seeking innovative solutions.

Point 3: CSC utilizes various types of ICTs for various purposes. For example, they still utilize Lotus Notes, since Notes are accessible by all employees in CSC. At the same time, they conduct trial and error of new ICTs such as Wikis.

For large organizations, it is difficult to embed innovation. Lessons learned from CSC's practice are 1) keep flexible organizational forms that combine both traditional forms and network forms, 2) establish or keep innovative culture, and 3) utilize ICTs as possible as you can.

[Posted by: Yukika Awazu]

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Building Partnerships for Innovation

We have a new paper ready for submission - Building Partnerships for Innovation

Executive Summary:

In a business environment characterized by the development of deep, niche expertise in a particular domain, business partnerships can provide a source of innovative rejuvenation. This paper aims to uncover how organizations engage in innovation with business partners through exploratory multiple case study of over 30 innovative European and US companies. Data collection involved 50 semi-structured interviews with senior representatives from R&D, product management, information technology, and marketing. The interview data were complemented by desk research: analysis of corporate reports and validated in follow-up sessions. Three complementary models of business partner innovation emerged: acquisition, strategic alliances, and open source. These can be used in a portfolio manner by organizations with sustainable innovation programs. Organizations make strategic, project-based choices. Based on the three models, we propose a three-dimensional “Co-Innovation Space”, in order to analyze existing innovation project portfolios and/or to plan what kind of innovation approach a company may take within the near future.

Table 1 from the Paper: