Is It Real? Can We Win? Is It Worth Doing?

Managing Risk and Reward in an Innovation Portfolio. by George S. Day

MINOR INNOVATIONS MAKE up 85% to 90% of companies’ development portfolios, on average, but they rarely generate the growth companies seek. At a time when companies should be taking bigger—but smart—innovation risks, their bias is in the other direction. From 1990 to 2004 the percentage of major innovations in development portfolios dropped from 20.4 to 11.5—even as the number of growth initiatives rose.1 The result is internal traffic jams of safe, incremental innovations that delay all projects, stress organizations, and fail to achieve revenue goals.

These small projects, which I call “little i” innovations, are necessary for continuous ...

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