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Coordinating Innovations

How firms realize greater business value from their innovation portfolio

In reaction to traditional approaches to innovation that proved to be too restricting, many organizations have gone to the other extreme, focusing on empowering teams to innovate autonomously, only to realize those teams were insufficiently coordinated. Without a framework in place to facilitate learning from and across innovation efforts, teams are struggling to be selective, in terms of which innovations to prioritize, which to stop, which to integrate for complementarities, and which to prepare for scaling. Organizations that have learned about the costs and benefits of too much and too little coordination are now pursuing a more balanced approach to innovation. We are seeking an understanding of minimal coordination efforts. Our research questions include:

  • How do firms coordinate teams empowered to innovate? How do firms help teams get better at identifying experiments, leveraging the successful ones, and stopping the least promising ones (while encouraging teams to pursue risky innovations)?
  • What is the minimal framework necessary to coordinate interdependencies across innovations and realize synergies from them? How do firms find the points of intersection between different innovations?

Seeking: Interviews with executives responsible for managing an organization’s portfolio of innovation efforts.

Research team: Nils Fonstad (lead), Joe Peppard

Contact: Nils Fonstad (nilsfonstad@mit.edu)