Human Capital M-Prize: Leadership Challenge

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Challenge Begins
Final Round Deadline

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!

arnab-sinha's picture
Innovation is the process of brining the new into the world. And the new cannot come from the mind, i.e through thinking. If you carefully understand the mind, it consists of only knowledge.
By Arnab Sinha on November 25, 2012
raymond-sheen's picture
There are at least three very different types of innovation.   A monolithic “one size fits all” approach to innovation will miss the mark and ignore key innovation approaches.   In
By Raymond Sheen on January 7, 2013
mark-clare's picture
Innovation cards are a new way to develop the habits of successful innovators. They can be used by individuals or by leaders that seek to improve team innovation or establish a culture of creativity.
By Mark Clare on January 6, 2013
fahri-karakas's picture
When we are dreaming, we should let ourselves and our employees free to dream big dreams. Our dreams are powerful because of their boundlessness - they embody our creative spirits and best talents.
By Fahri Karakas on January 8, 2013
martin-kvapilik's picture
The usual practice is to create a suggestion box for new innovations and leave it open to everyone interested in the new ideas. Let us make it in a different way.
By Martin Kvapilik on January 5, 2013
geovanny-romero's picture
As bringing innovation to your personal and professional challenge?I believe that with little of innovation knowledge that we can have the important thing is to transcend in the personal and prof
By Geovanny Romero on December 28, 2012
kishore-seshagiri's picture
Is Ideation a realm of only select few (or) can everyone in an organization ideate?. Is Creativity Innate (or) can it be taught?.
By Kishore Seshagiri on January 2, 2013
jacques-warichet's picture
The Innovatron is a platform that brings all employees (and possibly other stakeholders as well) together to propose, assess, finance and implement new ideas in a venture capi
By Jacques Warichet on January 4, 2013
mukesh-gupta's picture
Its not the lack of ideas that stops organizations from being innovative, but the way resources are allocated & employees rewarded that is the key. We need to change the way we set and manage
By Mukesh Gupta on January 7, 2013
richard-ferrers's picture
 Engaging with customers begins as soon a a new product is discussed and sometimes years before a customer will use it.
By Richard Ferrers on December 11, 2012
an-employee's picture
An unusual leadership development program that promises to “make a difference”, transforming young people into powerful grass-roots leaders urgently needed to transform our organizations – and change
By An Employee on January 7, 2013
martin-kvapilik's picture
The number of people engaged in innovation is limited. They usually present a minority.
By Martin Kvapilik on December 5, 2012
jim-smith_1's picture
Have the CEO Suspend the company cultue and politics (there's a process for this) for ten weeks, give the employees a risk free environment in which to communicate then have the CEO ask this question,
By Jim Smith on November 29, 2012
frederic-jleconte's picture
This file unveils the details about the 12th out of 18 laps described into the "18 Laps....." story.Note : if you have an elusive feeling of "Deja Vu", or "Synchronicity" it is absolutely normal, and
By Frederic J.Leconte on December 29, 2012


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.