Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire – a must read

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Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire

I get a lot of book review requests from the myriad of authors and writers within my network. Most of these books are good but not noteworthy enough to comment on. Braden Kelley’s new book Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire – a roadmap to a sustainable culture of ingenuity and purpose is different. In fact, the book is excellent.

The book divides the innovation process into three distinct (and easy to understand) categories:

  1. Setting the Stage really does “set the stage” by identifying the different blockages (vision, strategy and goals) that need to be overcome before an organization can begin to successfully innovate. The author is able to make his point by using concise examples and case studies – easy for the reader to understand without being overwhelmed by extraneous data or long-winded content.
  2. The Innovation Engine gets to the heart of innovation – identifying customer problems; evaluating ideas within the organization; and how to commercialize ideas. Again this section is full of pertinent examples and case studies.
  3. The Organization which can sometimes be the biggest barrier to innovation, is complete with excellent and practical ideas to move innovation forward with the organization. Here, the author also does a good job of differentiating incremental innovation from disruptive innovation and identifying the barriers to success for both.

Perhaps the most valuable part of the book is the Epilogue and Appendix where valuable examples, methodologies and frameworks reside. In fact, my only criticism of the book is that I think the author should have integrated more of this information into the heart of the book, rather than subjugating it to a section where some readers may not take to time to read or appreciate.

Perhaps the best example (case study) that Kelley highlights in the book is that of Alfred Sloan’s lesser-known (but equally powerful) innovation while leading General Motors in the 1920s. While Sloan is known more for how GM divided the U.S. car market into segments by price range (which helped end Ford’s domination of the market), his innovation in car financing is equally as impressive. Here’s what Kelley has to say about the creation of GMAC:

Besides…market segmentation, the other innovation that GM unleashed on the automobile market was the General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC). In 1919, the first branch of GMAC was opened in New York City, along with branches in San Francisco, Toronto, Detroit and Chicago. In 1920, GMAC expanded outside of North America with the opening of a branch in Great Britain. GMAC was formed to provide GM dealers with the financing they needed to maintain their vehicle inventories, as well as to give dealers the ability to finance retail customers’ new vehicle purchases easily and conveniently. By 1928 GMAC had already financed four million new vehicle purchases. Meanwhile Henry Ford was opposed to making loans to customers, insisting debt would ultimately hurt the customer and the broader economy. In December 1927 Ford relented and started offering the same terms on the redesigned Model A.

Of course by the time that Ford followed GM’s lead in offering vehicle financing, Chevrolet alone was outselling Ford by a 3-1 margin – a far cry from just a few years earlier where Ford outsold Chevrolet by a 10-1 margin. It was an advantage for GM that nearly bankrupted Ford in the years ahead.

Braden Kelley’s new book Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire is a must-read for anyone with an interest in innovation–especially those who view it from an organizational standpoint.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Patrick Lefler
Patrick Lefler is the founder of The Spruance Group -- a management consultancy that helps growing companies grow faster by providing unique value at the product level: specifically product marketing, pricing, and innovation. He is a former Marine Corps officer; a graduate of both Annapolis and The Wharton School, and has over twenty years of industry expertise.

1 COMMENT

  1. In a move that has Ford Motors employees in Claycomo, Mo., quite hopeful that their jobs will be safe, the automaker has stated that it plans to spend $400 million on upgrades to its Claycomo facility near Kansas City. Here is the proof: Ford to invest $400 million in Claycomo plant A key segment of Ford’s plans involve manufacturing of a brand new vehicle. The vehicle in question has not been revealed.

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