In a previous post I described EMC’s historical innovation strategy. I then introduced an additional approach proposed by EMC’s Chief Technology Officer (John Roese). This strategy is called Know Where You Are.
What exactly does this mean?
It means that a company should be able to immediately answer any of the following questions:
- How many people are dedicated to innovation activities that extend beyond the corporate roadmap?
- How much money is spent on these activities?
- How are both of these resources distributed across the corporate portfolio?
According to Roese, if these questions can’t be answered, then having an innovation strategy is a waste of time.
In this post I’d like to introduce the four key tenets that are required to implement this strategy:
Here is a brief summary of how each tenet supports the ultimate goal of knowing “who, how much, and where”:
- Gather Data: EMC’s innovation approach has data gathering at its core. The data falls into two categories: (a) how each part of the business is specifically performing, and (b) how each part of the business is specifically innovating. The data gathered in the first step is the bedrock for the rest of the tenets.
- Build Technology Communities: The CTO Office sponsors a number of communities that can be leveraged to gather data. These include innovation communities, research communities, and mentoring communities, for example. The Fellow and Distinguished Engineer community is run out of the CTO Office. Weekly technology talks are sponsored by the CTO Office. Each community can participate in the generation and/or gathering of innovation data.
- Visualize Activity: As communities gather innovation data, much of it is centralized into common innovation repositories. This allows internal data scientists to create overlapping visualizations between gathered business data (e.g. per-product revenue growth) and gathered innovation data (e.g. what new technologies are emerging). These visualizations can be fed to corporate executives as part of an educational process for “knowing where we are”.
- Invest Accordingly: Once the visualizations start painting an accurate picture of innovation investment, the executive management team can start asking “is this where we want to be”? The resulting answer to that questios can result in a rebalancing and/or shifting of resources (financial and people) onto those areas where innovation is deemed to be most needed.
Each one of these tenets can be further illustrated by real-world examples. I will focus on these examples in future posts.