“Jumping the S-Curve” is a great, easy-to-read book that almost feels like another sequel to Clayton Christensen’s “The Innovator’s Dilemma”.
Paul Nunes and Tim Breene of Accenture compile learnings from more than 800 companies, of which less than 10% were considered “high performers” via a range of financial, growth, profitability, and longevity metrics. High performers were selected relative to peer groups since industry metrics might have skewed the data. Chapter 1, High Performers, lays out how the authors selected characteristics of top quality firms as well as a roadmap to the rest of the book.
If you like learning case studies, then you will love this book! “The Power of Co-Creation” offers real-life stories across a breadth of industries where firms have demonstrated success by opening up product and service delivery to new players.
Defined as “the practice of development systems, products, or services through collaboration with customers, managers, employees, and other company stakeholders” (pg. 4), the authors present a theme of ideas to encourage customer-centric value creation. As product development practitioners are generally aware, engaging customers leads to many innovation benefits, such as learning and the ability to generate new ideas rapidly. Co-creation can be applied to nearly any innovation or business growth effort.
Outside the realm of most technical literature that chemical engineers might typically encounter, “Jumping the S-Curve” offers insights into how high-performing companies function. Individuals working in technology fields will find this book important to help identify top performing companies for employment.
Part One of “Jumping the S-Curve” describes the characteristics of successful businesses – those that have big market insights, build technical competencies, and retain “serious talent”. Chemical engineers will find Chapter 4, Worthy of Serious Talent, the most relevant since we are passionate about our chosen work. Nunes and Breene identify subject matter experts as top companies “for whom work is not a job but rather a source of personal pride (p. 78).” Such serious talent possesses not just the right skills but also the right attitude.
Clayton Christensen is perhaps most famous for identifying the concept of a disruptive innovation – a new technology that introduces new markets and new ways that people interact with products. For example, cell phones with cameras have entirely changed how people interact with one another. As a result of the technology, we share more information, more frequently with others through social media like Facebook, Twitter, and of course, ChEnected.
Christensen’s latest offering, “The Innovator’s DNA,” co-authored by Jeff Dyer and Hal Gregersen, takes a look at what skills lead a person to innovation and creativity. Since chemical engineers are charged with finding creative and inventive solutions in materials, energy, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and many other industries, “The Innovator’s DNA,” is engaging and important to read. This book has also won the best title in the innovation category by the Chartered Management Institute (UK).
March 2012 (Vol 29, Issue 2) – This issue of the Journal of Product Innovation Management (JPIM) includes a book review of “Take Charge Product Management: Time-Tested Tips, Tactics, and Tools for the New or Improved Product Manager” by Greg Geracie.
“Take Charge Product Management” is a short, easy to read narrative following a newly-minted Product Manager named Sean through his first 12 months on the job. Sean works for a small to mid-sized firm which had no formal product manager role prior to his appointment.
Sean learns (quickly) that a product manager needs to focus on both strategic and tactical levels, managing short-term and long-term plans and visions, all the while building interpersonal and cross-functional relationships across department boundaries. Along his 12-month journey, Sean implements standard new product development (NPD) and portfolio management business practices, as well as learning about the market for his product line.
January 2012 (Vol 29, Issue 1) – This issue of the Journal of Product Innovation Management (JPIM) includes a book review of “Taming Change with Portfolio Management: Unify Your Organization, Sharpen Your Strategy, and Create Measurable Value” by Pat Durbin and Terry Doerscher.
“Taming Change” is packed with information for executives, project managers, product development professionals and business process improvement specialists. Organized into six sections, each of the 20 short chapters concludes with an outline summary of the concepts presented in that chapter. As this text is best used as a reference, the outline summaries can help the reader target chapters for more in-depth study.
Section 1 presents the case for action with the premise that change is inevitable and continuous in organizations today. Portfolio management is a superior tool set to manage that cycle of change. Further, in Chapter 2, the authors show evidence that today’s project environment is more about managing knowledge and knowledge workers than simply accomplishing multi-tasking skills.
Principles of portfolio management are described in Section 2. In particular, “portfolio management allows you to group a set of common subjects, like products, projects, or resources, so they can be managed collectively” (pg. 33). This is a recurring theme throughout the book: common tools and business processes define shared information and collaboration for increased work productivity.