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Grabbing Lightning: Building a Capability for Breakthrough Innovation

ISBN: 978-0-470-23316-0
368 pages
February 2008, Jossey-Bass
Grabbing Lightning: Building a Capability for Breakthrough Innovation (0470233168) cover image


Established companies are clamoring for breakthrough innovation, but are often hamstrung by the highly reliable, repeatable processes of their management systems. Based on years of research, Grabbing Lightning shows how twelve companies have tried to develop a capability for sustainable breakthrough innovation and outlines best practices for your organization.

The authors show how the management system for innovation is different from the traditional one in that it allows?and even encourages?mistakes and failures in order to promote learning. Grabbing Lightning outlines the three building blocks of breakthrough innovation (BI) and shows what it takes to become an organization that values the BI management system.

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Table of Contents



1. Management Systems for Innovation.

2. Assessing Your Organization's Capacity for Breakthrough Innovation.

3. The Discovery Competency.

4. Incubation: The Long and Winding Road.

5. Acceleration: Gathering Steam and Building Critical Mass.

6. The DNA Innovation System.

7. Incorporating the DNA: The Role of the Orchestrator.

8. Getting Started: Initiating and Maturing an Innovation Management System.

9. The Innovation Function.

Appendix A: Companies Participating in the Breakthrough Innovation Research Study.

Appendix B: Assessing Your Firm's Breakthrough Innovation Competency.



About the Authors.


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Author Information

Gina C. O'Connor is associate professor of marketing at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's (RPI) Lally School of Management and Technology. She currently serves as the director of the executive M.B.A. program and is also the academic director of the Radical Innovation Research Program.

Richard Leifer is an emeritus professor at the Lally School of Management and Technology at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Albert S. Paulson is Gilbreth Chaired Professor in the Technologies of Management at RPI and?chief investment officer at Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments.

Lois S. Peters is associate professor, past-director of the Ph.D. program, and current director of the Center for Science and Technology Policy at Lally School of Management and Technology at RPI.

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Voted "Best Book of 2008" in Innovation, Strategy + Business
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