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HBR/McKinsey M-Prize: Innovating Innovation Challenge

How do we make innovation an everyday, everywhere capability in our organizations?
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M-Prize Challenge

Today, we’re delighted to announce the ten winners of the Innovating Innovation Challenge, the first leg of this year’s HBR/McKinsey M-Prize for Management Innovation. A huge thank you to all of the challengers with the imagination and daring to take on the status quo—and the generosity to share what they’ve learned in the process.

The Winners of the Innovating Innovation Challenge (in alphabetical order)

Managing for 21st Century Crime Prevention in Memphis
Story by Toney Armstrong, Memphis Police Department

An inspiring story of transformation from a traditional bureaucracy to a vibrant innovation culture in which the insights and observations of every individual from edge to edge not only matter, but produce immediate impact and make the organization continuously smarter.

Democratizing Entrepreneurship: Village Capital's Peer Selection Model
Story by Ross Baird, Village Capital

An exciting and powerful model for cultivating, evaluating, funding, and growing new ideas—and a detailed recipe for unleashing the power of peer review in any organization.

Case Coelce - Inspiring Innovation for Traditional Work Environments
Story by Luiz De Gonzaga Coelho Junior, co-authored by Odailton Arruda, Coelce

An honest and human account (dead ends and all) of developing a continuous innovation capability in an electricity distributor in the poorest region in Brazil.

Fail Forward
Story by Ashley Good, Engineers Without Borders Canada

The “Failure Report” is a refreshing and bold practice that takes the tired mantra of “embracing failure” and turns it into a way of life for an organization—and a provocative invitation to all of its partners.

Sustainability as Innovation Strategy: How Sustainability and Innovation Drive Each Other and Company Competitiveness at Danone
Story by Monica Kruglianskas, Danone, co-authored by Marc Vilanova, ESADE Business School

This story unpacks Danone’s singular approach to embedding sustainability in its innovation agenda and innovation in its approach to sustainability. A case study in how to bring values to life, unleash the spirit of experimentation, and scale new ideas and practices.

Democratize Innovation - for sustained innovation culture
Story by Lalgudi Ramanathan Natarajan, Titan Industries

A multiplex approach to layering in innovation capabilities from the shop floor up in India’s largest jewelry and watch retailer. The Titan story is a down-to-earth account of true social innovation—both in terms of the process and the result.

Whirlpool’s Innovation Journey: An on-going quest for a rock-solid and inescapable innovation capability
Story by Moises Norena, Whirlpool, co-authored by JD Rapp

The state of the art when it comes to developing innovation as a core competence. Whirlpool changed its organizational DNA to embrace innovation at the deepest level and unpacks the journey in generous detail here.

Unleashing Inclusive Innovation at Cisco
Story by Kate O’Keeffe, co-authored by John Marsland, Carlos Pignataro and Lisa Voss, Cisco

A thorough and instructive account of working every lever and animating an entire organization—from the bottom up and the top down—to embrace innovation.

Project Bushfire - Focusing the might of an entire organization on the Consumer & Customer
Story by Stephen Remedios, The Stephen Remedios Company, co-authored by Aswath Venkataraman, Sandeep Ramesh, Shruti Kashyap and Shashwat Sharma, Hindustan Unilever

A compelling, homegrown practice for jolting a vast organization into tight communion with the marketplace—and a recipe for seeing around corners, energizing every last person in the company, and closing the gaps between “sense” and “respond.”

Is managed innovation an oxymoron?
Story by Kumar Sachidanandam, Cognizant

A comprehensive and illuminating story of how one organization tackled the über challenge of building innovation into its management model—with powerful insights on wrestling with the right big questions.


Congratulations to all of the winners and the organizations behind them! We’ll be unpacking many of these stories and others from the Innovating Innovation Challenge here in the weeks to come. In the meantime, stay tuned for the launch of the second leg of the HBR/McKinsey M-Prize here in early March.

The Innovating Innovation Challenge Finalists



Everyday, Everywhere Innovation—24 Bold Ideas and Experiments

As human beings, we are born with a creative impulse—with an innate desire to use our imagination to better the world around us. Yet, all too often, our organizations end up being less innovative than the people within them. The dozens of in-the-trenches innovators who responded to our Innovating Innovation Challenge embody the first assertion—and are working relentlessly and fearlessly to overturn the second.

Read More

In the creative economy, innovation is more important than ever. Innovation is the only insurance against irrelevance.  It’s the only antidote to margin-crushing competition, the only hope for out-performing a dismal economy, and the only way to truly amaze your customers.  Innovation—in operations, products, business models and ecosystems—isn’t merely a competitive advantage, it’s the competitive advantage.

We all get it: innovation is the lifeblood of every organization. Yet more often than not, when innovation occurs, it’s a “happy accident” rather than the product of a deep-rooted innovation competence.  Fact is, most companies aren’t very good at game-changing innovation.  That’s why it’s usually the newcomers, rather than the incumbents, who upend industry rules (think of Apple in music, Amazon in web services, or Salesforce in enterprise software).  Too many companies are still approaching the innovation challenge in a piecemeal fashion—a web-based suggestions box here, an awards program there, and a corporate incubator over there, somewhere.

As human beings, we are born with a creative impulse—with an innate desire to use our imagination to better the world around us.  Yet too often, our organizations end up being less innovative than the people within them.  Working together, we can change this.

With the Innovating Innovation Challenge, we’re looking for examples and ideas that will help us how build innovation into the woof and warp of our organizations.  While there aren’t many businesses that have yet made innovation a true core competence, we can, with your help, build a composite picture of how every element of a company’s management model can be retooled to make it innovation-friendly.   While no one organization has put all the pieces of the innovation puzzle together, we should be able to assemble all of the pieces in one place—via this M-Prize challenge.  In doing so, we’ll give managers around the world the chance to identify the missing pieces in their own innovation programs, and to learn from companies that may have found a piece they’re still looking for.

So . . . over to you!  What are you doing to make innovation an everyday, everywhere capability in your organization?


create stretch” goals that encourage break-out thinking? leverage new social technologies to bring the best ideas to the fore? accelerate the innovation process through rapid prototyping, simulation, and other means?
upgrade the innovation skillsof every individual? make experimental capitalrapidly and easily available to anyone with a bright idea? de-risk innovation through low-cost experimentation, partnering, and other strategies?
deploy innovation toolsthroughout the organization? carve out space for innovationin the midst of all the “busyness” that chokes out the time for innovation? organically grow “communities of passion” around new and promising ideas?
develop clear definitions andmetrics for innovation? create widespread accountability for innovation? knock down bureaucratic hurdles that frustrate innovation?
make innovation an important component in compensation and reward decisions? involve customers deeply in the innovation process? better manage the tension between short-term operational goals and medium-term innovation goals?
build a foundation of distinctwidely shared innovation insights that is accessible by all? dramatically improve the quality and quantity of innovative ideas? ensure innovation efforts take full advantage the organization'sdiversity of experiences, skills, and values?

And if there’s something else your company is doing to strengthen its innovation DNA, we’d like to hear about that, too!

audrey-depeige's picture
Few companies organize to walk multiple paths to re-invent themselves.Note : if you have a strange feeling of "Deja Vu", or "Synchronicity" it is absolutely normal, and you are fine.
By Audrey Depeige on December 8, 2012
gian-sunder-singh's picture
Innovation has to start at group level, ideal size could be 10 for the group per experienced guide. We have experienced very encouraging outcomes where in most of the members were fresh joinees.
By Gian Sunder Singh on November 3, 2012
chris-shayan's picture
I believe architecture is resemblance of culture and discipline of either organization or architect.If culture has some issues, then created architecture will be very brittle,and if the architect has
By Chris Shayan on December 12, 2012
frode-hetland's picture
Inspired by the task board in scrum we have started to use a Strategic Innovation Canvas with post-it notes to engage our brilliant people and clients to pirate thinking.
By Frode Hetland on January 2, 2013
luis-gallardo's picture
My suggestion is to re-think the focus and responsibilities of the C-Suite to more transversal roles.
By Luis Gallardo on January 2, 2013
peter-koenig's picture
Noone is creative and innovative all of the time.  In fact if the innovative season is equivalent to Spring, then we're not innovative for 75% of the time.
By Peter Koenig on October 23, 2012
sridhar-ramanathan's picture
License to failYears ago I read a book called “Teaching the Elephant to Dance.” The key concept in the book is captured in this metaphor the author describes.Apparently when elephants are trained in a
By Sridhar Ramanathan on November 20, 2012
audrey-depeige's picture
Few companies organize to walk multiple paths to re-invent themselves.Note : if you have a strange feeling of "Deja Vu", or "Synchronicity" it is absolutely normal, and you are fine. Innovati
By Audrey Depeige on December 9, 2012
phil-bedford's picture
A successful organisation should have the base ingredients for innovation – intelligent, energetic and motivated people.  The organisation then has a choice, empower or constrain.  The type
By Phil Bedford on December 18, 2012
francis-jeyaraj's picture
There are 30 years of robust evidence to support the following conclusion:service businesses where employees have a positive service climate have customers who are more satisfied.
By Francis Jeyaraj on November 11, 2012
david-lawton's picture
Innovation is the life-blood of the agricultural sector, yet many farmers suffer from an innovation gap due to their on-farm commitments and daily chores that limit their opportunity to network.
By David Lawton on December 19, 2012
stephane-berghmans's picture
Challenge people by organizing an innovation competition to come up with breakthrough ideas or processes. Encourage everyone to participate accross businesses and locations.
By Stephane Berghmans on December 19, 2012
rahul-kumar's picture
Traditional learning need analysis has focused on target audience needs as articulated by the target audience itself, senior managers in the organization, the employee satisfaction survey etc.
By rahul kumar on January 2, 2013
subramanian-shanmugam's picture
Fostering innovation and sustaining it as a culture requires a conducive environment, money and respect for the innovators to motivate them.


Submit a Hack (a disruptive idea, radical fix, or experimental design) or a Story (a real-world case study of a single practice, an initiative, or a broad-based transformation) on the subject of making innovation a systemic and enduring capability--in short, embedding innovation deep into the company's management DNA.

Participation is open to any registered member of the MIX. Join here

MIXers may (and are encouraged to) team up to co-author submissions.

Submissions may draw on secondary source materials but should be based primarily on first-hand experience or an original idea. In every case, be sure to credit all those who contributed to your story or hack and provide citations to external reference material.

The Innovating Innovation Challenge will unfold in two stages: a preliminary submission phase ending December 31, 2012, and a final round for the finalist teams ending January 27, 2013.

All entries will be judged by our panel of leading management thinkers and progressive practitioners, including:

  • Scott Anthony - Managing Director, Innosight Asia-Pacific; author, The Little Black Book of Innovation
  • Tim Brown - CEO and President, IDEO
  • Henry Chesbrough  - Professor, UC Berkely; author, Open Innovation
  • Jeff DeGraff - Professor, University of Michigan; author, Innovation You
  • Gilberto Garcia - Chief Innovation Officer, CEMEX
  • Gary Hamel - Co-founder of the MIX
  • John Kao - Chairman of the Institute for Large Scale Innovation; author, Innovation Nation
  • Jim Stikeleather - Chief Innovation Officer, Dell Services

Winners will receive significant recognition as management innovators on the MIX, Harvard Business Review and, the McKinsey Quarterly and Winners will also earn the chance to appear at future live events hosted by the MIX and its partners.