Speakers & AuthoritiesInnovation and Design

Think Inside the Box: Strategist Larry Keeley on a Disciplined Approach to Innovation

By June 17, 2013February 23rd, 2016No Comments

Many people believe innovation centers on creativity; that it’s about rare strokes of inspired genius and the ability to think “outside the box.” Strategist Larry Keeley challenges that assumption. Innovation, he says, is very much “inside the box,” and that new ideas and ways of working require discipline and process to succeed.

In fact, Keeley – a global authority on innovation effectiveness, named one of seven “Innovation Gurus Changing the World” by Businessweek – asserts that almost everything about the way innovation is taught and practiced is wrong. Considering 96 percent of all innovation fails, his argument doesn’t just have merit; it builds on deep evidence that the typical approaches to innovation are dangerously out of date. As the pace of change across markets and throughout the globe intensifies, effective innovation is more urgently needed now than ever before.

Keeley provides the framework for it in his seminal book, Ten Types of Innovation: The Discipline of Building Breakthroughs (Wiley, April 2013), which details a proven, systematic approach for helping executives and managers develop and implement innovation more successfully in any context, industry or market to bring about meaningful and sustainable growth within their organizations. Emerging from a systemic assessment of more than 1,200 innovation exemplars – including Amazon.com, Cirque du Soleil, early IBM mainframes, the Ford Model-T and others – the “Ten Types” framework provides a lens for leaders to identify new innovation opportunities, and deepen, accelerate and amplify existing programs.

Interestingly, one of the 10 categories – product innovation – has the lowest return on innovation investment when employed in isolation, despite being, overwhelmingly, the default type used by firms everywhere. Keeley and his co-authors, strategists Ryan Pikkel, Brian Quinn and Helen Walters, widen the frame to include innovation in customer experience, business models, core and enabling processes, channels, brand, and more. The systemic processes they’ve created are eminently teachable, an important breakthrough that ushers in a 21st century approach to innovation that is both bolder and less risky than conventional practices.

As an advisor, Keeley has dedicated more than three decades to helping grow the innovation field as a science rather than an exercise in applied creativity. Throughout that period he focused efforts on consulting with companies and teaching at top design and business schools. Now, with 30 years of accumulated wisdom, methods and experiences, he’s sharing his provocative insights and research-based theories with the rest of the world. Co-founder and president of Doblin, Inc., an innovation strategy firm known for pioneering comprehensive innovation systems that materially improve success rates, Keeley has helped numerous global brands envision and implement transformational innovation opportunities and plans, including American Express, Apple, Coca-Cola, Ford, GE, Mayo Clinic, McDonalds, Novartis, P&G and Target. As a speaker, Keeley offers a lively counter to the normal hype about innovation and a refreshing set of insights about how to really build innovation breakthroughs.