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Innovation Leaders Invest 3X the Effort in Early Stages

Innovation is both the creative generation of ideas, but it is also the process of implementing those ideas in a market-appealing and cost effective way. Refined innovation techniques help companies innovate faster and more profitably.

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Innovation Leaders Invest 3X the Effort in Early Stages of the Innovation Process

According to recent research, companies that are the most successful innovators have a clear focus on a robust innovation strategy in addition to opening the innovation process to parties outside the company. This allows these leading companies to
  • Improve the success rate of new products and services
  • Reduce spending on R&D
  • Increase profitability

These were the key findings from the A.T. Kearney Innovation Management Survey, a global survey of 250 companies that identifies best practices in the overall management of the innovation process.

Innovation Leaders Invest Heavily in Strategic Aspects of Innovation and Partner More Effectively With Organizations Outside the Company

The study found that companies with a solid understanding of the science behind innovation are better able to produce artful innovations.

Companies that take a scientific approach to innovation focus their employees and external partners on the right innovation strategy for the company, the right mix of ideas with the right balance of risk and reward, resulting in more commercially viable products and services.

"We found that leading companies invest more than three times as much effort at the front end of the innovation process (Innovation Strategy, Idea Generation and Concept Development) as other companies," said Joachim Ebert, a partner with A.T. Kearney. "We also noted that companies that are successful innovators consider a much larger percentage of submitted ideas while bringing fewer of them to the concept testing stage. These leading companies focus their resources on the most promising ideas and take well-considered risks rather than leaving things to chance."

The study identified several other important characteristics of companies that are innovation leaders.

Not only do leading companies invest significant time and resources in the development of their innovation strategy, but they explicitly define innovation within the overall corporate business strategy.

Leaders also develop more sophisticated open innovation networks with suppliers, customers, academia and other partners.

Leading companies are excellent in terms of speed -- the time it takes from generating an idea to profiting from it -- and are capable of igniting and sustaining a company-wide passion for innovation.

Idea generation was also identified as an important strategic innovation process step.

The study found that innovation leaders involve a broad array of partners to drive the idea generation process. Open innovation to pulls ideas from myriad sources and innovative companies employ the Internet to capture combined intelligence on a global scale.

A report summarizing the results of the A.T. Kearney Innovation Management Study is available at, and an interview with Joachim Ebert, speaking with the Wall Street Journal's John Leger, is available at

About the study

A.T. Kearney's Innovation Management Study used several criteria to identify leaders in innovation management, including an assessment of company practices compared with best practices in innovation identified by A.T. Kearney's experience with leading innovation management companies throughout Europe and North America. The best-practice evaluation was augmented with a quantitative assessment of companies' speed to market of innovation and the percentage of revenue driven by products released in the last 12 months.

A.T. Kearney is a global strategic management consulting firm known for helping clients gain lasting results through a unique combination of strategic insight and collaborative working style.

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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