HBR Talks the Four PIllars of Innovation

When the Harvard Business Review talks, it’s wise to listen, and we’re listening. Plus, when 7CTOs CEO Etienne De Bruin points out that a recent piece in HBR makes a great follow up to yesterday’s blog entry highlighting technology and innovation at the Fortune 500 consultancy Accenture, well, we listen then, too. Not so much because he writes our check, but because, as Larry Kesslin, the CEO of Success Redefined told me at the San Diego Venture Group’s Coolest Companies event at Farmer & the Seahorse in early June: “Etienne is the smartest f#cking guy in San Diego.” Ahem. 

So now you’ve got two good reasons to read “The Four Main Ways to Innovate in a Digital Economy,” from HBR earlier this month. Loaded with well-sourced links to validate their points and a smart, succinct history of how we’ve gotten to where we are, authors Tucker J. Marion and Sebastian K. Fixson identify four distinct innovation modes to make sense of the opportunities and challenges ahead for CTOs and other business-forward executive leaders.

As the pair explain, “each mode is characterized by its own set of stakeholders and interaction dynamics, along with specific ways that companies can achieve a competitive advantage.” The four are:

  • The specialist mode
  • The venture mode
  • The community mode
  • The network mode

Each approach is broken down and explained in detail, but we’re not going to rip off the HBR article any more than we already have; you should read it yourself. But it’s worth noting that not only do Marion and Fixson explain what these modes are, they spend the second half of the piece explaining how best to implement each one of them in your organization.

It’s an excellent article, worthy of HBR, and we’d expect nothing less. It’s not lofty, ivory tower business theory, but realistic recognition of the varying types of innovation with a nuts’n’bolts, hands-on explanation of how to get it done. We suggest you read it and share it with your team. And your boss.