Cover of Serial Innovators by Abbie Griffin, Raymond L. Price, and Bruce A. Vojak
Serial Innovators
How Individuals Create and Deliver Breakthrough Innovations in Mature Firms
Abbie Griffin, Raymond L. Price, and Bruce A. Vojak


240 pages.

Hardcover ISBN: 9780804775977
Ebook ISBN: 9780804783323

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Excerpts and More

Serial Innovators: How Individuals Create and Deliver Breakthrough Innovations in Mature Firms zeros in on the cutting-edge thinkers who repeatedly create and deliver breakthrough innovations and new products in large, mature organizations. These employees are organizational powerhouses who solve consumer problems and substantially contribute to the financial value to their firms.

In this pioneering study, authors Abbie Griffin, Raymond L. Price, and Bruce A. Vojak detail who these serial innovators are and how they develop novel products, ranging from salt-free seasonings to improved electronics in companies such as Alberto Culver, Hewlett-Packard, and Procter & Gamble. Based on interviews with over 50 serial innovators and an even larger pool of their co-workers, managers and human resources teams, the authors reveal key insights about how to better understand, emulate, enable, support, and manage these unique and important individuals for long-term corporate success. Interestingly, the book finds that serial innovators are instrumental both in cases where firms are aware of clear market demands, and in scenarios when companies take risks on new investments, creating a consumer need.

For over 25 years, research on innovation has taken the perspective that new product development can be managed like any other (complex) process of the firm. While a highly structured and closely supervised approach is helpful in creating incremental innovations, this book finds that it is not conducive to creating breakthrough innovations. The text argues that the drive to routinize innovation has gone too far; in fact, so far as to limit many mature firms' ability to create breakthrough innovations. In today's economy, with the future of so many large firms on the line, this book is a clarion call to businesses to rethink how to nurture and thrive on their innovative workforce.

About the authors

Dr. Abbie Griffin holds the Royal L. Garff Presidential Chair in Marketing at the University of Utah's David Eccles School of Business. A former editor of the Journal of Product Innovation Management, Griffin's research investigates how to measure and improve the process of new product development.

Raymond L. Price holds the William H. Severns Chair of Human Behavior in the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is the Co-Director of the Illinois Foundry for Innovation in Engineering Education. He has held management positions at Allergan, Boeing, and Hewlett-Packard. Price is co-author of The HP Phenomenon: Innovation and Business Transformation.

Bruce A. Vojak is Associate Dean for Administration in the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Adjunct Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and of Industrial and Enterprise Systems Engineering. He has held positions at the M.I.T. Lincoln Laboratory, Amoco Corporation, and Motorola. Vojak serves on the Board of Directors of Midtronics, Inc.

"Written by three undisputed experts in product innovation and management, this book is extremely well researched and executed. It presents a model that perfectly complements our traditional understanding of product innovation. In Serial Innovators managers will find a refreshing perspective and clear guidance on how to locate, reward, and retain serial innovators within their organization."

—Anthony Di Benedetto, Temple University

"This book is fascinating. The concept of the serial innovator, distinct from the serial inventor or serial entrepreneur, is important. Serial innovators are a rare breed and we need to learn more about them. This book provides a first look into their nature and how to manage them. It will be extremely useful for readers who think about and work on breakthrough innovation in established companies—and who struggle with how to do it better."

—Ginna C. O'Connor, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and author of Grabbing Lightning: Building a Capability for Breakthrough Innovation