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Book Review: The Savvy Corporate Innovator
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Book Review: The Savvy Corporate Innovator by Dorian Simpson

The Savvy Corporate Innovator: Key Strategies to Get Your Big Idea Funded in 30 Days

Written by: Dorian Simpson. Portland, OR: Kingsley Publishing Group, 2015. 339+xix pages. US$29.95 (hardback).
Reviewed by: Teresa Jurgens-Kowal, PhD, NPDP, Global NP Solutions, LLC

The Savvy Corporate Innovator

Dorian Simpson’s new book, The Savvy Corporate Innovator, is targeted to the well-known challenge of gaining funding for a new idea.  While start-ups and entrepreneurs follow their passions with inventions, the corporate environment is far more structured and focused on operational stability.  The Savvy Corporate Innovator offers tips and tools for a technical expert to move his/her idea from conception through initial funding.

The book is divided into four parts directing an erstwhile internal innovator through the labyrinth of bureaucratic systems designed to minimize corporate risk.  In Part I, for example, the author categorizes innovators themselves based on political and project execution skills.  Chapter 2 characterizes the degree of innovativeness sought in products and markets.  This concept is valuable to ensure that ideas offering technical solutions are matched with customer needs.

Part II provides good tips for the technical professional trying to gain initial approval and funding for his/her idea.  Chapters 5 and 6 encourage the innovator to meet with senior executives to understand their risk tolerance and appetite for innovation outside the current markets, technologies, and product lines at the company. 

Chapter 9, “A 30-Minute Corporate Innovator’s MBA,” is especially relevant for new product development (NPD) practitioners.  This chapter provides a brief overview of financial terms that senior management takes for granted but may be new to a technologist.  As the author explains, new ideas cannot have solid revenue figures associated with them, but a corporate innovator must conduct due diligence to demonstrate financial viability of the concept.

 In Part III, the author presents a 30-day action plan with specific steps and time frames for an innovator to complete to request funding for his/her idea.  While a 30-day time frame is fairly aggressive to gather customer or market research data, the idea is to only gain initial funding approval for future investigation of the concept.  Chapter 11, for instance, offers a template of interview questions and Chapter 12 illustrates simple tools to develop a financial model.

Part IV concludes The Savvy Corporate Innovator with only a single chapter addressing expectations after the initial request for funding.  Several outcomes may occur.  The idea may be resourced at the requested levels.  Funding may be approved for a scaled-back investigation.  In other cases, the idea may be completely transformed by senior management or it may be firmly rejected.

The Savvy Corporate Innovator is a useful book with practical tools for technologists navigating funding approvals for new ideas.  In particular, the book is valuable when the company has no structured NPD process or portfolio management decision-making tools in place.  Guidance for novice innovators is provided through the end of chapter “success strategy” summaries and narratives of fictional case studies.  The Savvy Corporate Innovator is recommended for technical experts that need to identify corporate direction to gain initial funding for their new ideas.

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