Managing Global Innovation: A book review by Bob Morris

Managing Global Innovation: Frameworks for Integrating Capabilities Around the World
Yves Doz and Keeley Wilson
Harvard Business Review Press (2012)

How to conceive, build, and hone a global innovation capability “that is enduring, practical, and rooted in realities”

The title of this review is taken from a brilliant Foreword in which Cesare Mainardi suggests that this book explains “how to conceive, build, and hone a global innovation capability that is enduring, practical, and rooted in the realities of both global competition and a company’s particular approach to its market.” In my opinion, this is a “must read” for leaders of companies that have that strategic objective but also for leaders of other companies that are part of the value chain of those companies that are now struggling with the challenges of managing global innovation. Yves Doz and Keeley Wilson provide in this remarkable volume several frameworks for integrating capabilities around the world.

I commend Doz and Wilson on their brilliant use of several reader-friendly devices that include 17 “Sidebars,” mini-commentaries on real-world situations that illustrate the given business principle. For example, “Tata Communications: A Globally Integrated Model” (Pages 10-12), Nokia: Attracting Leading Edge Research” (50-51), and “Sapphire: Strong Project Management Delivering Success” (162-164). These and other resources throughout the book can help business leaders to respond effectively to a daunting challenge, “building a global innovation capability that relies on complex knowledge will be difficult, though not impossible.” What to do? Doz and Wilson propose a three-step process and explain how to complete each step.

These are among the passages of greatest interest and value to me. They suggest the range of subjects on which Doz and Wilson concentrate through their lively and eloquent narrative.

o Why Companies Can’t Innovate Globally (Pages 5-10)
o Key Capabilities Remains at Home (21-22)
o Sidebar 2-1, “HP Labs India: Experiencing via Immersion in a New Context” (38-40)
o Innovation Footprints: A Value-Based Approach (57-66)
o Accelerated Learning Experiments (74-76)
o Sidebar 3-3, “Fuji Xerox: From Market Access Joint Venture to Key Innovation Hub” (79-80)
o Barriers to Optimizing Communication (95-103)
o Sidebar 5-1, “Xerox: From a Culture of Secrecy to Open Knowledge Sharing ancd Reuse” (108-110)
o Transferring and Integrating Complex Knowledge: The Role of Cosmopolitan Managers (123-127)
o Global Innovation Projects: Success in Three Phases (147-152)
o Collaborative Identification (174-176)
o Sidebar 7-1, “IBM’s Collaboratories” (178-179)
o Sidebar 7-2, “Boeing: From Dreamliner to Nightmare Project” (183-185)
o Organizing the Innovation Footprint (203-210)
o Innovation Needs to Follow the Brains (222-223)

No brief commentary such as mine can possibly do full justice to the scope and depth of material that Yves Doz and Keeley Wilson provide in this volume but I hope that I have at least suggested why I think so highly of them and of their work. Also, I hope that those who read this commentary will be better prepared to determine whether or not they wish to read the book and, in that event, will have at least some idea of how the information, insights, and wisdom could perhaps be of substantial benefit to them and to their own organization.

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