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The secret to the success of top innovators: Radical Innovation

Innovate like Apple

Why are some companies more successful than others? How are some companies managing to launch one innovation after another, while others remain one innovation wonders?

Magnus Penker concluded that it’s not a matter of luck, not just talent, a well-connected board or even funding choices. He concluded that each organization has its own individual seeds of success or failure and repeatable success depends on nurturing the right combination of elements with precision. These he has codified into a unique framework that is well described in his book How to Assess and Measure Business Innovation.

Innovation360 was founded to assist organizations with building their innovation capabilities. The organization has also built the world's largest innovation database using InnoSurvey ® that has a 360-degree view on innovation capabilities of over 5000 organizations in 100 plus countries.

This blog explores the differences in the practices of top innovators and the average organization by analyzing the data in this database.

1. Top Innovators believe in Radical Innovation

The top innovators responded that they believe in radical innovation, while also focusing on incremental innovation. On the other hand, the average companies are seen to prioritize innovation in small steps.

Top Innovators are more likely to be radical innovators

2. Top innovators use multiple leadership styles in driving innovation

Unlike the average companies that are focussed on the leadership style of goal orientation (spiral staircase style) and finding new ways and areas to apply capabilities (fertile field), top innovators use multiple styles. In addition to the spiral staircase and fertile field leadership styles, these include, challenging status quo and the existing business model (cauldron), investing in risky innovation projects (Explorer) and investing in start-ups (Pac Man).

The average companies are distinctly weak in investing in start-ups and entrepreneurial firms that provide them leverage in the early stages of innovation. Similarly, they are also seen to be risk-averse and unwilling to invest in projects that carry uncertainty and may not guarantee returns.

Innovative companies have multiple leadership styles

3. Top innovators are more process-oriented

Traditionally, innovators are thought of as mavericks, creative and as a result, less process focussed. However, research shows the opposite to be true. Data from InnoSurvey® clearly indicates that top innovation companies are succeeding because they are more process-oriented when it comes to innovation.

Innovators are also seen to have much better processes for ideation, project selection, development, and commercialization.

4. Top innovators have competencies for radical innovation that are well developed

An examination of key capabilities that are essential for radical innovation shows that top innovators have well-developed capabilities for innovation prioritization, idea generation, service innovation, idea diffusion, measuring innovation, prototyping, launching products regularly and with high speed and measuring customers usage experience. On the other hand average organization is lacking many of these capabilities.

Clearly, there are many things an organization can learn from the top innovators by benchmarking innovation aspirations and capabilities with them. We invite you to take the InnoSurvey ® here: Once you have completed the survey do reach out to me so that I can help with the interpretation of your report.

If you would like to discuss how we can help you with your innovation journey reach out to Subscribe to this blog and connect on LinkedIn for more discussion on the subject of innovation.

Krishnan Naganathan

Krishnan is a consultant with more than 25 years of experience. His purpose is to help India and it's entrepreneurs be global leaders in innovation


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