Leading Innovation

The Toughest Kind of Change

“Creating an agile organisation”

(Adapted from research by Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble)

Innovation and change are the drivers for enhanced efficiency, improved competitiveness
and increased profitability. The “Best Run” organisations are fine-tuned to weed out activities that interfere with
productivity or efficiency. This makes them great. Great organisations also recognize they need new ideas to create their future. The problem most great organisations face, however, is that the same great ideas that are needed to create the future also require new activities which can interfere with productivity and efficiency. This is the toughest kind of change but if you get this right you create an agile organisation that is better equipped to succeed in the future.

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The term innovation derives from the Latin word innovatus, which is the noun form of innovare to renew or change. Although the term is broadly used, innovation generally refers to the creation of better or more effective products, processes, technologies, or ideas that affect organisations, markets, governments and society.

For our definition we refer to an innovative initiative as “any project that is new or has an uncertain outcome”.

In reality Innovation does not require extensive change, it requires targeted change.

It has been quoted by many business leaders and authors in the academic world that 70% of change efforts fail. One of the reasons for this failure that is seldom mentioned or discussed is that, organisations do not address uncertain outcomes that change initiatives are often faced with.

The issue for business leaders today is how to sustain today’s competitive advantage when it is often in direct conflict with what we need to do to create tomorrow’s competitive advantage. It is not enough to simply execute today’s practices tomorrow; we must begin to execute tomorrow’s practices today.

In general, we are good at executing today’s business tomorrow;

We are not good at executing tomorrow’s business today.

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Implementing a change effort means doing work in new ways. Even when the expected results of such a change are well understood and senior leadership has high levels of confidence in the outcomes of the change in business
operations, there will be significant push-back by the forces of day-to-day operations.

Bottom-line: known routines tend to take formal and informal priority over new routines. This alone makes it difficult to implement changes even when they have the support of executive leadership.

Bottom line: when the work is new AND the outcome is uncertain, one thing is certain; these projects get the least of our attention and effort when they compete with our need to accomplish our day-to-day operations.

The fact is that most management time and attention is focused on managing the present. We must maintain our competitive position today if we are to have the resources to invest in the future. That said, far too many leadership teams put all their eggs in today’s basket at the expense of tomorrow.

In looking at future practices, uncertainty poses an even bigger challenge. How do we invest anything in something we have not done before, or something that we do not know the outcome if we do?

Because this is where the biggest pay-offs occur, companies often commit (somewhat) to innovation (something that is new and has an uncertain outcome). The problem most organisations face when doing this is they apply the same execution process to both the way work is handled (repeatability) and the way they manage outcomes (planning) to new practices that do not conform to either the drive for repeatability or predictability.

Not only does the organisation attempt to do something that may or may not pay-off – it jeopardizes the very engine (ongoing operations) that provides the resources needed to stay in business. The issue we typically face in organisations is the ongoing operations and innovation teams are “always and inevitably” in conflict.

For “change-in-operations” (change) initiatives to be successful, new work practices must be integrated and refined until they are equally repeatable as existing work routines. In other words, “until this becomes the way we do things around here”. This leads us to “The Change Challenge.” The issue that most change programmes fail to address is all to do with implementation. The pertinent questions that we have been asked time and again by organisations around the world……

“How do we modify the existing operations model to accommodate new work practices, processes and routines?”

“How do we intentionally create tomorrow while we simultaneously execute today’s business model?”

Leading Innovation: The Toughest Kind Of Change is an interactive, informative and enlightening workshop based on Vijay Govindarajan* and Chris Trimble’s* $10million, 10 year, unbiased, tried and tested research.

Innovation is a two part challenge. First, you need the breakthrough idea. Then, you have to execute it. Unfortunately, the second step is usually underappreciated or overlooked. This workshop will address this critical aspect of how to implement innovation and change within your organisation.

During the workshop we will refer to numerous practical/actual examples of how companies succeeded and failed in executing their innovative ideas. We will use the parable “How Stella Saved the Farm” to demonstrate VG and Chris’s model of Innovation. (This is a pre-requisite reading the workshop).

Leading Innovation: The Toughest Kind Of Change Workshop is really about exciting and innovative change and how to bring ideas to market whilst maintaining the performance engine (ongoing operations) with minimum conflict. It will show you how to become a more agile organisation and learn from a
disciplined and proven approach.

Benefits of attending Leading Innovation: The Toughest Kind Of Change Workshop.

This unique workshop will provide you with the skills to:

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  • Lead innovation and change initiatives
  • Determine when to go with an idea or when to pull out of it
  • Become more disciplined in your approach to implementing new ideas
  • Manage conflict between the ongoing operations and the new innovation team
  • Deliver successful innovation and change initiatives
  • Lead initiatives
  • Bring new ideas to market
  • Align activities and objectives


How will your organisation benefit?

  • Improve leadership skills
  • Implement innovative ideas
  • Learn the disciplined 6 step model for implementing innovative ideas
  • Embed innovation and change into the culture of the organisation
  • Stimulate creativity with a disciplined approach
  • Create a common language and methodology
  • Reduce conflict between the ongoing operations and the innovation engine
  • Foster great team work
  • Become a more agile organisation
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This workshop provides the formula for successfully executing innovation.

At the conclusion of this workshop participants will be able to…

Step One: Divide the Labor

How to determine what part of an innovation initiative is new and different

Step Two: Build the Dedicated Team

How to build a team to perform activities which are new and different

Step Three: Manage the Partnership

How to resolve the predictable conflicts in any innovation initiative

Step Four: Formalize the Experiment

How to focus the Innovation as an experiment focused on Learning

Step Five: Break Down the Hypothesis

How to find and test all the experiments within the experiment

Step Six: Seek the Truth

How to evaluate the learning, the leader and the innovation without bias

Who should attend?

Leaders at all levels within the organisation. Every employee can contribute to innovation, but it is very important to communicate how he or she can contribute. By attending this workshop you will understand exactly how to contribute to innovation and change. Typically, when one sees something strange or unfamiliar coming towards one, the natural reaction is to get out of the way. Neither of these actions is suitable for innovation or change. We need to embrace innovation and change and lead by example. We need to ensure that new ideas are implemented for the benefit of the organisations’ future using a disciplined approach and to ensure the organisation becomes more and more agile.


This is real innovation and change. This is what innovation and change is all about. General Electric has done it, Deer & Company has done it, McDonalds has done it, Timberland has done it and you can do it too.

Are you managing today or creating for tomorrow?

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About the authors:

*Vijay Govindarajan (VG) is the Earl C. Daum 1924 Professor of International Business and the Founding Director of Tuck’s Center for Global Leadership. VG is an expert on strategy and innovation. He was the first Professor in Residence and Chief Innovation Consultant at General Electric. He has been cited by BusinessWeek, The Economist, Forbes, and The London Times as the top thought leader in strategy.

*Chris Trimble is an expert on making innovation happen in large organisations. Chris Trimble has dedicated the past ten years to studying a single challenge that vexes even the best-managed
corporations: how to execute an innovation initiative. His work came to fruition with the 2010 publication of The Other Side of Innovation—Solving the Execution Challenge. He has also published three lead articles in the Harvard Business Review, including “How GE is Disrupting Itself,” in October 2009, with GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt and Vijay Govindarajan. Chris is on the faculty at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

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Want to know more?

  • If you would like further information on this workshop please complete your details below