Book Review: Making Innovations Happen: Fostering Innovations by Inducing Foresight

    By: Teresa Jurgens-Kowal, PhD, NPDP on May 16, 2016

    Making Innovations Happen: Fostering Innovations by Inducing Foresight by Ravi Arora. CreateSpace Publishing (2015). 238 + xiv pages.  US$15.85.

    Book Review by Teresa Jurgens-Kowal, PhD, NPDP

    making innovRavi Arora’s new book, “Making Innovations Happen” offers a unique perspective to holistic innovation. Arora proposes a new methodology to guide product portfolio selection and manage innovation incentives (awards).

    The book is written from the context of two recent Harvard Business School graduates engaged in a series of conversations. Both have landed peachy jobs at large corporations and are immersed in innovation: the front-end of innovation (Jiao) and the back-end retrospectives of innovation (Paul).

    Over the course of their first year at work, Jiao and Paul exchange texts, emails, and phone calls that detail the problems of innovation in large companies today based on their own transitions from students to employees. For example, engaging all of the workforce in innovation and rewarding commercialized products are challenges many of us immediately recognize. 

    Jiao and Paul take their vacation to India where they spend time discussing their favorite topic (and ours) – innovation!  In Chapter 2, the two characters detail a history of innovation. This chapter, titled “The Innovation Conundrum,” offers an extremely useful and detailed history of the recent innovation literature. Both new and experienced product development professionals should read Chapter 2 of “Making Innovations Happen” as an excellent review and summary of current innovation theory and practice.

    The remaining chapters require a leap of faith on the part of the reader. Jiao and Paul are magically whisked away to a secret society in India that is more technologically advanced than any other culture known on Planet Earth. Leading to this unexpected achievement is the heart of Arora’s new proposal:  innovation foresight. The first scene in the book to describe innovation foresight involves awards.

    In Chapter 3 of “Making Innovations Happen,” the author starts detailing his new innovation methodology by describing awards for innovation based on an organization’s ability to predict future commercialization. Awards should recognize long-term achievement as well as any shorter term innovations, called “fast catch-ups” that help an organization maintain its competitiveness.

    As later chapters explain, innovation foresight is built on a series of telescoping lists and documents. All levels of employees within the organization participate in developing the eight lists and documents described in Chapter 5. Individuals and teams submit ideas predicting future innovations several years into the future. Then, in each subsequent year, they describe both internal and external developments leading to this future state. Senior management is expected to participate in this innovation foresight process by offering their opinions on execution of the right ideas. Awards are then based on which teams guessed right in their long-term predictions as well as teams who executed properly to achieve those goals.

    Additional chapters in “Making Innovations Happen” describe the challenge of changing behaviors to be successful in innovation (Chapter 8) and areas for future research (Epilogue).

    Overall, “Making Innovations Happen” offers a new perspective to innovation, especially addressing the challenge of engaging all levels within an organization in the process. As the author readily admits, the methodology of innovation foresight is untested.  In its full form, as described in the book, innovation foresight seems to be heavy on documentation. It is not clear that the process removes organizational politics from the awards system, though the author does make that specific argument.

    New product development practitioners will enjoy reading this fresh book by Ravi Arora. It is relatively quick to read and Chapter 2 is especially substantial in the summary review of the innovation literature. If a firm is planning to implement any aspect of Arora’s proposed innovation foresight program, additional information and training would be desirable.

    Making Innovations Happen:  Fostering Innovations by Inducing Foresight by Ravi Arora.  CreateSpace Publishing (2015).  238 + xiv pages.  US$15.85.

    Book Review by Teresa Jurgens-Kowal, PhD, NPDP

    Ravi Arora’s new book, “Making Innovations Happen” offers a unique perspective to holistic innovation.  Arora proposes a new methodology to guide product portfolio selection and manage innovation incentives (awards).

    The book is written from the context of two recent Harvard Business School graduates engaged in a series of conversations.  Both have landed peachy jobs at large corporations and are immersed in innovation:  the front-end of innovation (Jiao) and the back-end retrospectives of innovation (Paul).

    Over the course of their first year at work, Jiao and Paul exchange texts, emails, and phone calls that detail the problems of innovation in large companies today based on their own transitions from students to employees.  For example, engaging all of the workforce in innovation and rewarding commercialized products are challenges many of us immediately recognize. 

    Jiao and Paul take their vacation to India where they spend time discussing their favorite topic (and ours) – innovation!  In Chapter 2, the two characters detail a history of innovation.  This chapter, titled “The Innovation Conundrum,” offers an extremely useful and detailed history of the recent innovation literature.  Both new and experienced product development professionals should read Chapter 2 of “Making Innovations Happen” as an excellent review and summary of current innovation theory and practice.

    The remaining chapters require a leap of faith on the part of the reader.  Jiao and Paul are magically whisked away to a secret society in India that is more technologically advanced than any other culture known on Planet Earth.  Leading to this unexpected achievement is the heart of Arora’s new proposal:  innovation foresight.  The first scene in the book to describe innovation foresight involves awards.

    In Chapter 3 of “Making Innovations Happen,” the author starts detailing his new innovation methodology by describing awards for innovation based on an organization’s ability to predict future commercialization.  Awards should recognize long-term achievement as well as any shorter term innovations, called “fast catch-ups” that help an organization maintain its competitiveness.

    As later chapters explain, innovation foresight is built on a series of telescoping lists and documents.  All levels of employees within the organization participate in developing the eight lists and documents described in Chapter 5.  Individuals and teams submit ideas predicting future innovations several years into the future.  Then, in each subsequent year, they describe both internal and external developments leading to this future state.  Senior management is expected to participate in this innovation foresight process by offering their opinions on execution of the right ideas.  Awards are then based on which teams guessed right in their long-term predictions as well as teams who executed properly to achieve those goals.

    Additional chapters in “Making Innovations Happen” describe the challenge of changing behaviors to be successful in innovation (Chapter 8) and areas for future research (Epilogue).

    Overall, “Making Innovations Happen” offers a new perspective to innovation, especially addressing the challenge of engaging all levels within an organization in the process.  As the author readily admits, the methodology of innovation foresight is untested.  In its full form, as described in the book, innovation foresight seems to be heavy on documentation.  It is not clear that the process removes organizational politics from the awards system, though the author does make that specific argument.

    New product development practitioners will enjoy reading this fresh book by Ravi Arora.  It is relatively quick to read and Chapter 2 is especially substantial in the summary review of the innovation literature.  If a firm is planning to implement any aspect of Arora’s proposed innovation foresight program, additional information and training would be desirable.

    Released: May 16, 2016, 1:53 pm | Updated: May 16, 2016, 1:54 pm
    Keywords: PDMA Blog


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