- COO and a Founding Partner for Final Surge LLC developers of the FinalSurge.com coaching and training platform and apps that empower some of the world's best coaches and athletes to reach fitness and performance excellence like never before.
- CEO and Founder of Best Thinking, Inc., independent digital publishing. Mashable.com rated it as one of the top five best websites for publishers.
- COO and GM for practice management at the LexisNexis Group of Reed Elsevier, one of the world’s largest online publishers of scientific, medical, legal and business journals and websites.
- CEO and Founder of Time Matters Software, one of the most widely used information and document management systems in the U.S. legal market.
- 20-plus years in virtually every leadership position in high-tech innovation from startups to global companies, including building and successfully exiting his own startup, nurturing startups in his accelerator, venture investing, and driving strategy and numerous acquisitions for a major innovation initiative at a large global company.
- Testified before Congress on alternative energy, participated in White House meetings with the VP on economic development, and quoted in the Wall Street Journal on Internet taxation.
- All 9 Best Practices
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Commercializing Innovation to Drive Growth
The process of innovating to drive growth begins with the realization that there is a distinction between:
- Core business innovation, and,
- Innovation to drive new, companywide double-digit growth.
It is routine for companies to use internal capabilities or undertake acquisitions to fill product or service gaps, to expand existing markets, technology or talent, or to otherwise fortify the core business.
The operative distinction is the word "new." The innovations that drive companywide double-digit growth create new products or services, open new markets, add new technology, add talent, or otherwise expand the core business into new areas. Once a company has started facing recurring declines in growth not caused by a specific, identifiable exogenous factor, improvements in the core business rarely are sufficient to drive significant growth.
Most companies already have tried everything they could think of to sustain growth by improving their core business.
- Many already have tried a few internal innovation projects or acquisitions that failed to have a significant positive impact on growth.
- These efforts can make things worse as the disappointing results may undermine the company's confidence in its ability to innovate at a level sufficient to drive growth.
Often the technology and the talent from those efforts are abandoned as a result of the mistaken belief they were the cause of the disappointment. These initial innovation efforts have frequently left companies worse off than if they had done nothing to reverse their declining growth.
The starting point for a successful outcome is the commitment to the principle that for an innovation initiative of sufficient scale and scope to drive companywide double-digit growth, the innovation project must be undertaken in the context of companywide change. Innovation cannot be looked at as an isolated independent project or acquisition that is strictly additive to the core business.
The following scenario is all too common:
- A company has $500 million in sales when it acquires a $100-million-in-sales company – resulting in $600 million in sales, with increased profits because of synergies from the acquisition. While the math may be spot on, the reality is that within a few years, core business sales drop to $420 million because the innovation project didn't address what was causing core sales to decline in the first place.
- Meantime, the acquired company's sales drop to $80 million because the drive for synergies drove off much of the talent that really knew the new business. Also, resource rivalries with the core business left the new business with fewer resources than they needed to continue sales growth. Soon the company is back to $500 million in sales – just where it started – except those synergies are now additional overhead relative to current sales, causing profits to plunge.
The nine Best Practices detailed here are critical to successfully executing the organizational planning, preparation and change to ensure that innovation initiatives – whether originated internally, through acquisition, or both – meet the objective of restoring the company to sustained companywide double-digit growth.