Who Is Your Innovation Pig?

Harvard Business Review

Take a look at your innovation pipeline. Odds are it is overflowing with rich ideas brimming with growth potential... on paper at least. Look deeper. Identify the projects that are the most different and disruptive, the ones with the greatest potential to create new growth. How are they staffed? If you are like all too many companies, at least a few will be staffed with — or even led by — people who allegedly are spending five or 10% of their time on the project.

A sprinkle of this and a dash of that can make a nice soup, but it's no way to create vibrant growth businesses. If you really want to disrupt, if you really want to transform, you need to make sure your high-profile projects have their Innovation Pig.

That title (sorry vegetarians) comes from the aphorism about the different role the pig and the chicken play in a ham-and-eggs breakfast. The chicken participates, but the ham is committed. (My colleague Joe Sinfield first shared this metaphor with me; others have used it to describe everything from investing in startups to successfully managing product development to a 2008 appearance in Dilbert.)

Ask yourself how many startups are successfully launched by teams of part-timers. Some of the early work can be of the legendary-seeming nights-and-weekend variety, but creating a new business requires diligent, consistent, daily work by a committed team.

There are plenty of tasks that can be done effectively by partially allocated teams. But creating a new growth business isn't one of them. If you want to do something bold, make sure you have your Innovation Pig.

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