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Puppetry of Innovation - Distinguishing features of innovators who drive growth through innovation

Source: Puchu, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Puppetry remains a fascinating art, a thoroughly enjoyed event that has few masters. You marvel at the skill of the artist in manipulating strings and wonder what sort of genius it takes to do it all. A master puppeteer will tell you that it’s all a science and not sorcery. It takes years of practice, understanding how the strings work when it’s pulled and mastering the angles and science behind the strings. But then you also require the ability to build a great story that the audience will love and combine seamlessly with the science of the strings.

Innovation is so much like puppetry! What strings do you need to pull and how do they work? This has been an area of research for many and a lot of time has been spent on understanding how the great innovators have pulled it off. In an earlier blog, I introduced the work of Magnus Penker in creating a 360 degree model of innovation.

In this blog, I want to focus on one of the most important insights that I drew from the innoSurvey: What are the key distinguishing features of innovators who drive growth through innovation?

To do this I looked at the InnoSurvey® database to check capabilities that were strongly correlated to top-quartile innovators responses.

We found that top innovators have a significantly higher focus on innovation to drive growth rather than drive profits. We are quite convinced that the biggest benefits of innovation are by combining innovations that deliver profits with innovations that drive growth.

Here are some of the things that distinguish top innovators who are successful at driving innovation-led growth

They have a clear vision and prioritize actions aligned with the vision

We found that top innovators set a clear vision of innovation-led growth. They ensure that every employee understands this vision. They prioritize innovation efforts and allocate resources. This includes scenario planning and futuristic outlook, identifying threats and planning how these threats can be converted to new growth opportunities.

They have a very robust and systematic idea generation process

Top innovators realize the importance of generating plenty of ideas. They are also very good at engaging communities, suppliers and partners in generating new ideas for products and services. They have built structures to seize ideas and get them tested.

They are very focused on the needs of customers

Top innovators are very focused on identifying latent and unarticulated needs of customers and the jobs they get done with them, even before customers talk about them. They do this through an anthropological approach to understanding the real needs of customers, continuously studying and analysing consumption patterns and the way they make decisions about the products.

They are technology-driven

Top innovators are constantly experimenting and exploring emerging technologies. They get familiar with technology, even when they aren’t certain about how they can use the technology. They collaborate with external institutions, suppliers and partners to explore emerging technologies and how they can create breakthrough ideas.

They experiment and are fast to market

Top innovators are good at evaluating new ideas and concepts with a very robust process of proof of concept tests, prototyping, AB testing etc. They can learn rapidly from experiments and pilot testing and make rapid adaptations before launching products. They live by the credo of divergence before convergence.

They are good at talent management

Top innovators have clear structures and resources to drive innovation. They are constantly seeking talent who can contribute to the development of innovation capabilities, product and services development

With InnoSurvey® we can assess your organization's innovation capabilities and if it is fit for purpose; will you be able to deliver the ambition. Output from the assessment helps the organization to design its innovation management system to become effective, as well as develop an innovation playbook.

To learn more do reach out to me

You can read the blog introducing Magnus Penker's innovation model here:

Krishnan Naganathan

Krishnan is a leading innovation consultant and focuses on helping people and organizations innovate and build capabilities for innovation. He brings over 25 years of experience in the industry and consulting. You can reach him by phone / WhatsApp: +919791033967 or email:


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