Innovation That Fits: Moving Beyond the Fads to Choose the RIGHT Innovation Strategy for Your Business
by Michael Lord, Donald deBethizy and Jeffrey Wager

The trouble with innovation models is that people have been very innovative with them. Do you encourage innovation from within, or partner to get what you need? Do you spin an innovation out or keep it inside? Where does funding come from? What does the process look like? There is fine theory for all of these issues, but what would work best in your company?

According to the authors of Innovation That Fits, the call over the last decade to “innovate at all costs” has cost many companies dearly. It turns out that those costs do matter. Ask Enron. Ask the many “business incubators” that incubated nothing but failure.

In this very short (248-page, fairly large print) book, the authors study innovation trends from the years 1998 to 2003, deriving case studies to guide companies that know they must get better at innovation, but see no clear path to doing so. Major themes analyzed here include corporate ventures, IP licensing, in-house innovation versus partnering, and spinouts.

The book ends with a recipe for a new, post-bubble model, which focuses on sustainable innovations that have fit and focus with the organization.

As the authors state, “What all the innovation fads and fashions had in common was that, in both presentation and execution, they tended to ignore, neglect, or distract (and therefore ultimately detract) from core innovation.” Procter & Gamble did it right, the authors argue, with the Crest Whitestrips and Spinbrush lines. “Procter & Gamble chose to expand its portfolio of innovation sources and modes, even as it renewed the purpose and refocused the direction of its core innovation strategies.”