by Elana Varon

Book Review: A Methodology for Corporate Evolution Through Innovation

Feb 15, 20062 mins

Consultant and author Geoffrey Moore has spent his career advising companies how to change and grow. His new book, Dealing with Darwin: How Great Companies Innovate at Every Phase of Their Evolution, posits that innovation is the path to growth, and that a company won’t be around long unless it innovates successfully.

Large organizations are held back from innovating, Moore argues, by virtue of their success. It’s not that they’re resting on their laurels; rather, they’re unable to overcome the inertia of business processes and a workforce that have served them well.

A company must first choose the right kind of innovation to pursue. Moore identifies more than a dozen types of innovation, only one of which is the disruptive sort that creates new markets or business models. Which flavor you choose (and you should only choose one at a time) depends on your company, its strengths and its competitive environment.

The challenge for executives is to redirect the company’s resources to develop and market the innovation. Moore devotes the final section of his book to a template for doing this by centralizing, standardizing and optimizing business processes, and by outsourcing those that are no longer strategic.

While that isn’t a new formula, Moore makes a convincing case that companies fail to evolve because they apply the formula incorrectly; for instance, by automatically laying off employees whose jobs are outsourced. Instead, Moore says, organizations should take advantage of those employees and their experience by reassigning (or, as Moore puts it, “recycling”) them to work maintaining established parts of the business that are still important to the company. Employees with experience bringing previous innovations to market can be dedicated to the next “invention.”

Whatever you do, get busy. The competition is gaining on you.