Friday, April 20, 2007

Reflections from the I3M Meeting

I have now had three days to reflect on the I3M symposium. The symposium was exciting and stimulating. I gained a lot from the informal discussions with an eclectic group of executives. There were executives who asked me pointed questions which helped me refine my thinking. Some others asked me to share more detailed accounts of case findings. Yet, others asked if they could help out in future research. What was most interesting is the fact that no two executives asked me the same question. This is probably the first time this has ever happened. Each executive shared questions from their vantage point, and the audience was truly diverse. Here are a few key themes that kept emerging from various discussions:

1. Balancing risks and rewards in innovation – how should organizations manage a portfolio of ideas so as to gain maximum returns. Moreover, how should an organization fund innovative ideas? The possibility of using real-options as a framework was brought up several times.

2. Measuring the innovation process – how do we measure the performance of the innovation process, do we measure the process or the output, do we use qualitative or quantitative methods, do we measure using the unit of analysis of a firm, unit, or group…the answer, we use a combination of metrics and personalize metrics for different problems

3. The difference between large (public) and small (private) firms in terms of their innovation capabilities…are there differences, are there differences in the diversity of ideas they pursue, etc

4. The role of culture in innovation…my thoughts on this was that culture is determined by innovation capacities and not the other way. Too often, we use (organizational) culture too loosely and inappropriately. Yes, having the right culture is important, but creating the culture for innovation is also important.

5. How does legal oversight and regulations impact innovation…A lively discussion on this topic took place…my answer, laws are meant to be broken and they are always a step behind…being innovative helps you be ahead of the laws and find creative, and legal, ways to get your work done…Not the most politically correct response, but my opinion…

Overall, exciting day and I thank all those who attended…it was good fun…Cheers!

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