The innovation catalysts

It’s comforting to know that innovating can present challenges even for organisations in a sector recognised as an innovation leader, such as IT. In ‘The innovation catalysts’, in the June 2011 issue of Harvard Business Review, Roger Martin recounts software development company Intuit’s bid to reinvent itself as a customer-focused, design-driven company by creating a grassroots innovation mindset. Intuit’s co-founder, Scott Cook, gave the okay to appoint ten ‘innovation catalysts’ from different units, who would be available to help work groups on prototypes, run experiments and liaise with customers. Out of this emerged the ‘painstorm’, a process to identify ways to address customers’ true issues (often not what Intuit staff initially expected), and greater efficiency in generating and testing new ideas. Since then, Intuit has trained and deployed another 65 innovation catalysts to work as coaches and facilitators across the company. The result? Martin says Net Promoter Scores, a measure of customer advocacy, are up and revenue and income have increased over the past three years. “Innovation activity has increased dramatically”, he says, and “Intuit now seizes new opportunities more quickly.”

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