Innovation — Leadership Strategies for the Competitive Edge
by Thomas D. Kuczmarski
210 pages, 1995, NTC Business Books

As you would expect in a book entitled Innovation, the author, Thomas Kuczmarski, compellingly presents the need for innovation to be alive and well in virtually every organization—including yours! What comes as a pleasant surprise is that he has provided a very practical, “how to” book. He blazes a clear trail for you to follow in establishing Innovation as a key element, and perhaps the key element, of your continued success.

The author writes with the authority of one who “has been around the block many times.” He has been a brand manager with Quaker Oats and a consultant for hundreds of small to Fortune 100 companies while with Booz, Allen & Hamilton and his own company. He has boiled down the learning from this in-depth experience into an integrated methodology for introducing and sustaining innovation in organizations.

His most fundamental concept is the definition of innovation: Innovation is a Mindset. Hence, much of the book conveys how to build a holistic innovation culture that supports the nuts-and-bolts of innovation. Successful innovation takes both.

Here’s the best overview of this book—the author’s own:

Recipe For Successful Innovation

“Start with a CEO who believes in, conveys optimism about, and consistently commits resources to innovation. Add a new product strategy and technology portfolio. Develop and activate a consumer-driven development process.

Next, mix in several dedicated and upbeat teams of multi-functional members. Motivate them with a reward structure based on performance. Add a set of values and norms for the organization to believe in and act on.

Simmer for approximately five years. Be sure to convey passion and stir regularly. Watch carefully that the innovation mix doesn’t burn and keep the heat regulated. Make sure you’ve already started a new batch before removing the first one from the stove. Assess success by using a previously developed measurement system.

Serves thousands of shareholders, employees, and customers. Enjoy!” The content is not only thorough but is presented in a format with lists, assessment questionnaires and diagrams that make it easy to read the first time and then put into practice. Here’s a sampling of these meaty lists:

  • Top 10 Innovation Insights (interestingly, the first of which is “failure is an intrinsic part of innovation”)
  • The CEO Innovation Mindset Test — 20 probing questions
  • The Innovation Creed
  • The Three Innovation Platforms — (1) planning for innovation, (2) defining a staged development process, (3) crafting a holistic innovation organization
  • The Eight Building Blocks of an Innovation Mindset
  • The Innovation Blueprint
  • The Innovation Strategy
  • Characteristics of an Innovation Team Member
  • The Top 10 Innovation Indices

Intriguing lists? Read Innovation and find out more. Give Thomas Kuczmarski a chance to fulfill his hope for readers; “It is my hope that when you turn the last pages of this book, you will be as strong a believer as I am that, by capturing and cultivating innovative ideas within your organization, you are ensuring its future growth.”

Score another 10 on the Ambler scale—this time for Innovation—Leadership Strategies for the Competitive Edge.

For information on how to take your strategic planning to the next level, please listen to our webinar: Why Isn’t My Strategic Planning Working?

© Copyright 2016 by Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI — Reprint permission granted with full attribution.

Tom Ambler is a Senior Consultant with Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc. He can be reached by email at

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