October 2004

Interesting References

We are on the lookout for articles that provide quotable support for points of view that Innovators are introducing into their enterprises. These articles are credible sources, which independently and objectively support views on breakthrough innovation.

When best practice isn't enough

The McKinsey Quarterly Chart Focus Newsletter, August 2004
http://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/newsletters/chartfocus/2
004_08.htm

Competitors watch and copy one another's moves closely. But copying them too closely can start a race to the bottom. An index measuring strategic differentiation among the companies fell by 83 percent from 1992 to 1998. Over the same period, margins were cut in half..

Best-practice benchmarking is rightly viewed as one of the most important tools for improving operational efficiency. But when strategic planners depend on benchmarking, it can become a double-edged sword.

The take-away: Executives must guard against letting purely process-related techniques control strategic decision making. When competitors in an industry herd around a single strategy, declining margins are bound to follow.


The Man Who Fixed KELLOG

by Matthew Boyle
Fortune Magazine, September 6, 2004, pp 217-226

The article describes several of the strategic moves that CEO, Carlos Gutierrez, has made over the past 4 years. With an eye towards Changing the Game, the article highlights ways Mr. Gutierrez created a new future for Kellog, shifting the focus from volume to value, moving the company into "wholesome snacks" and driving product innovation.

Full text of article is available online with a subscription to Fortune:
http://www.fortune.com/fortune/ideas/articles/0,15114,685433,00.html


 

Unilever and Colgate Issue Profit Warnings

By Alan Cowell
About: MARKET PLACE (TIMES COLUMN)
The New York Times, Tuesday, September 21, 2004 p. F5

The end of this year also marks the conclusion of a five-year, $5 billion strategy call "path to growth" in which Unilever cut its brands from about 1,600 including Knorr soup and Sunsilk shampoo. The major brands now account for some 95 percent of its sales.

At its inception, the program had aimed to meet high growth targets, but those ambitions have not been fulfilled. Indeed, in a statement Monday, Mr. FitzGerald and Mr. Burgmans (Co-Chairmen) said, "Topline growth is key to long-term sustainable value creation and here the recent performance is unacceptable."

Clayton Christensen's writings on Disruptive Innovation are becoming more mainstream. The following articles in BusinessWeek provide examples. Full text is available on line by registering for free at www.businessweek.com


 

Tablets: Waiting for More Smart Software

by Stephen H. Wildstrom
BusinessWeek, September 27, 2004

"Today, the Tablet PC is stuck mostly in such vertical markets as insurance and health care. Yet it remains on of Microsoft's most interesting experiments.”

Microsoft is hobbling the Tablet's future by marketing it primarily as a way to take notes on screen. Pen and paper is perfectly good for that. The tablets greatest potential lies in its ability to perform feats that cannot be done by typing on conventional laptops.

  • Mathematical expressions
  • Musical score
  • Architectural sketches

The complete article is available online (no charge) by registering for free at www.businessweek.com


 

Ford's Escape Route

by: Chuck Salter, csalter@fastcompany
Fast Company October 2004
http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/87/ford.html

The team that built Ford's new hybrid was itself a hybrid, mixing scientists and engineers in unprecedented ways. To steer the Escape SUV hybrid from the research lab to the showroom, the company had to collaborate and create in some very un-Ford like ways.


 

Progressive Auto Insurance

by: Fiona Haley, fhaley@fastcompany
Fast Company October 2004
http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/87/customer-progressive.html

The article highlights ways that Progressive Auto Insurance continues commitment to transform the customer experience.

Innovate : Using the TRIZ concept of 'Lines of Evolution' (see article in this edition) we can appreciate Progressive for its leadership while simultaneously appreciating that its innovations are a predictable evolution for some insurance company to make.

 

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