Net Results, Net Reward

Net Results...  Net Reward The last imperative in Robert’s Rules of Innovation is NET RESULT, NET REWARD. Innovation is ultimately about achieving ROI derived from the alchemy of ideas-to-money. Reward and recognize the people who assisted in the profitable growth of the new product or idea produced is essential for a sustainable effort. Robert’s Rules of Innovation will guide the reader in creating and sustaining innovation that will strive in producing maximum ROI.

Creating a Structured, Repeatable Process For Innovation

Established companies do not easily reinvent themselves.  History shows us that Innovation is often the strategy of startups – but not only is it important in getting to the top, innovation is necessary in order to stay on top. New talent, new techniques, and new products are all needed to stay abreast of the competition. In addition, having a champion within the organization is imperative. Innovation executives are often the facilitator of change, and the leaders responsible for the development of corporate innovation culture.

Recently McKinsey Quarterly published an article entitled, “The eight essentials of innovation,” by Marc de Jong, Nathan Marston, and Erik Roth. The article highlights a set of eight essential attributes from a survey of 300 companies that are present (either in part or in full) at every large company considered a high performer in product, process, or business-model innovation. The first four essentials help build the foundation for innovation. They are: Aspire, Choose, Discover, and Evolve. The next four ensure that innovation is not only successful, but repeatable as well. They are: Accelerate, Extend, Scale, and Mobilize.

The following is a quick summary of the first four attributes, with insight from the 10 imperatives laid out in “Robert’s Rules of Innovation”. You can read the full article published by McKinsey Here.

Whether it’s 8 essentials or 10 imperatives; having a structured and repeatable process from start to finish helps to ensure innovation is not only successful, it is repeatable and sustainable.


Aspire: According to De Jong, Marston, and Roth, “A far-reaching vision can be a compelling catalyst, provided it’s realistic enough to stimulate action today.”

Innovation and ideation is pointless without buy-in and support from top management, usually the CEO, who should acts as the chief innovation officer (CINO). As Robert Safian, editor of Fast Company says, “Inspiration Needs Execution”.  Define innovation so the entire organization is moving in the same direction. Quantify your goal, whether it’s a sales figure or number of new products you hope to achieve, and this will help justify the resources to be allocated.


Choose: “Since no one knows exactly where valuable innovations will emerge, and searching everywhere is impractical, executives must create some boundary conditions for the opportunity spaces they want to explore.”

While creativity and ideas can be found in numerous places and in numerous ways, how you manage them determines the viability of a product or process. Ideation should be harnessed by a process with dedicated resources, and with NPD and LTD teams working together.


Discover: “The insight-discovery process, which extends beyond a company’s boundaries to include insight-generating partnerships, is the lifeblood of innovation.”

Keep an eye on new technologies as they come along, but at the same time, you must be aware of your customer’s wants and needs. It isn’t enough to tell your customer what they want, sometimes you have to listen too.


Evolve: “Business-model innovations—which change the economics of the value chain, diversify profit streams, and/or modify delivery models—have always been a vital part of a strong innovation portfolio.”

According to Doblin’s “Ten Types of Innovation”, creating new products is only one way to innovate – and on its own, it provides the lowest return on investment and the least competitive advantage.


Accelerate: “There’s a balance to be maintained: bureaucracy must be held in check, yet the rush to market should not undermine the cross-functional collaboration, continuous learning cycles, and clear decision pathways that help enable innovation.” As the authors relay, Innovation must have the ability to move through an organization in a way that creates and maintains competitive advantage, without exposing a company to unnecessary risk.

Suffice to say that companies are not naturally inclined to try new approaches without clear evidence that those approaches are likely to work. However, without risk, there can be no innovation. An effective innovation leader should encourage well-reasoned creativity and risk taking, while also practicing tolerance for failure. Fail fast and fail cheap, the saying goes. In 2014 Amazon’s innovation efforts fell short; and sure, Fast Company might have put them in the penalty box, leaving them off the list of “the 50 most innovative companies in 2015″ – but Amazon’s place in the market is all but guarunteed. In fact, even with the kerfuffle, Amazon and CEO Jeff Bezos are still a force to be reckoned with.


How would you answer the following questions in McKinsey’s Survey?



For more in-depth guidelines on how to promote innovation in your business, refer to Robert’s Rules of Innovation. Be sure to keep an eye out for the forthcoming Robert’s Rules of Innovation II, “The Art of Implementation.” 

The Sharp Edge of Innovation

It is no hidden secret that innovation is a necessity to compete in today’s marketplace. Often hailed as the Holy Grail for which every organization should strive for, sustainable innovation requires a strategy from start to finish. From the “I” of Inspiration to the “N” of Net Result, you must commit yourself to the process in order to succeed.

But what happens when your innovation journey hits a dead end?

It’s worth noting that failure is an inherent component of this epic journey, and one which innovation champions need to be ready to celebrate as much as their successes. However, it is important to know which road you are traveling on. Are you on the way to the next evolutionary step or an innovation dead end?


In 1901 King C. Gillette fundamentally transformed shaving with the invention of the first safety razor. “The idea of clamping a smaller version of a straight edge onto a handle was genius – the blade was easier to control, which resulted in fewer nicks and cuts, and was replaceable when it became dull,” says Gillette’s website.

Since then we have seen the safety razor go through numerous innovations. From reusable to disposable, from one blade to five, and most recently back to one.

In a forum post from Badger and Blade, they asked their readers what innovations they want to see in 2013. One contributor left this amusing (although a bit facetious) recommendation, “I want to see the newest Gillette multi-cartridge thing. I’ve heard it has 12 blades, a lubricating strip that is 3 inches wide, 18 lifting fins and battery power to make it vibrate. I’ve also heard they put an MP3 player in the newest one…”

To be fair, the most recent razor released by Gillette is indeed battery operated. The Fusion Pro-Glide has five new and improved blades, a micro comb, an updated lubricating strip which lasts “25% longer,” and now has mineral oil to deliver the perfect shave.

The comment begs the question… where can Gillette go from here?

Most recently, in an effort to push into emerging markets, Gillette’s newest shaving system has just one blade, a light plastic handle, and a sharply (no pun intended) lower price. It seems Gillette is stepping away from product innovations and instead focusing on the low road, seeking to increase its market share by pursuing innovations in product delivery instead.

According to Tim Barrett, who follows the men’s grooming industry for Euromonitor, “U.S. razor volumes have fallen for the better part of a decade as customers cut back”. Jamie Hopkins for the Baltimore Sun points to the rising popularity of facial hair as one of the many reasons, but Barrett believes a negative feedback loop is the main driver. “Gillette raised prices to deal with lower sales, customers reacted by using fewer razors, and so Gillette raised prices”, he said. Now Gillette is focusing on new markets.

According to Doblin’s “Ten Types of Innovation”, creating new products is only one way to innovate, and on its own, it provides the lowest return on investment and the least competitive advantage.

What do you think this means for Gillette in the long run? Have they given up on creating the next big thing in shaving? Are they at a dead end? Or are they simply evolving as a company?

Leave your comments below…

Net Results Plus Net Rewards, Equal Net Profits.

Net Result, Net Reward:  These two succinct yet powerful phrases define the last imperative of Robert’s Rules of Innovation.  The principle is essential; dynamic innovation will yield a profitable return on investment (ROI) measured as a favorable direct correlation of innovative ideas and net profits earned.  Below is the fundamental framework of Robert’s Rules of I.N.N.O.V.A.T.I.O.N, designed as a structured and repeatable process to attain consistent results.

  • Inspire
  • No Risk, No Innovation
  • New Product Development Process
  • Ownership
  • Value Creation
  • Accountability
  • Training and Coaching
  • Idea Management
  • Observe and Measure
  • Net Result, Net Reward

Long lasting success is possible when these Rules of Innovation are utilized continually without regard to sales performance.  Apply these rules every day for every member of your organization and you will create a sustainable growth strategy.

New Product Development

The primary objective of New Product Development (NPD) turns new or improved ideas into money.  Effective NPD coupled with Net Rewards creates a win-win situation for everyone:  consumers purchase new products and features, company stocks increase in value and employees are motivated and individually engaged in the success of a company as a whole.  Each and every member of your organization needs to be properly motivated to stimulate profitable growth and forward momentum.

Global business solutions powerhouse, IBM awards new product development with new product development.  The IBM Solution Accelerator Incentive Rewards Program offers eligible IBM business partners new IBM software products when they sell new IBM servers and online storage solutions.  Clients want more value from their IT investments.  Why the two separate rewards?  Selling hardware and a software solution from the same company, “…will accelerate the design, development and deployment of key business solutions, addressing the needs of clients faster as well as enabling IBM with its Business Partners to reach new markets and exploit new business models”, as reported by IBM Partner World.

Discover the Right Rewards for Your Company

In Robert’s Rules of Innovation, the core of “Net Result, Net Reward” is about inspiring your people with meaningful incentives. Motivation does not necessarily mean rewarding with money; praise and recognition for a job well done is paramount to overall job satisfaction for many employees.  Offer incentives to promote innovative ideas.  Here are some ideas for non-financial incentives:

  • Award superior performance with unique employment opportunities such as project management, team leadership or conference attendance.
  • The presentation of an award bestows recognition upon an employee for outstanding performance.
  • Reward an innovation champion with a client introduction, invite them to lunch with an executive of the organization or schedule face time for them with the boss.
  • A little praise goes a long way in boosting the morale of an employee, team or entire company! People like to know that their success was noticed by the head of the company.

Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company has been studying incentives as motivation for almost twenty years.  In one of its most critical yet simple tests, one retail district was divided into two groups of equal historical performance. Group 1 was offered a cash incentive for the sales of a new tire line while Group 2 was offered a tangible reward of equal cash value for the sales of the same new tire line.  Group 2 reported 46% more sales than Group 1 gave management the information needed to determine what rewards to offer organization members.  The positive reinforcement of rewards can benefit an organization for everyone involved and equates to Innovation ROI.   Cash or non-cash rewards can:

  • Fortify employees’ commitment to the organization
  • Boost morale
  • Motivate future efforts
  • Reinforce positive outcomes
  • Encourage repeat performances
  • Help to keep employees’ “eye on the ball”
  • It also strengthens the connection between strategy and results

When trying to determine if your organization’s practices are optimized for Net Results, Net Rewards; use the following 5 questions as a baseline to determine how your company creates and maintains sustainability:

  1. Do you track new product sales objectives?
  2. Is your NPD pipeline as robust as you’d like it to be?
  3. Do you reward people who contribute good ideas to your organization?
  4. Do you have a reward system in place for creativity?
  5. Do you recognize staff for creativity and accomplishments in your NPD?

Net Results can yield profitable Net Rewards.  Effective NPD, innovative ideas and incentives are the tools you need to create consistent profitability and continued growth.  Robert’s Rules of Innovation will empower the reader with a pathway to create sustainable innovation that maximizes a company’s ROI.

Net Result, Net Reward: Engineering Sustainability

“Engineering Innovation” from The Henry Samueli School of Engineering


How does your company engineer sustainability?

  1. Do you track new product sales objectives?
  2. Is your NPD pipeline as robust as you’d like it to be?
  3. Do you reward people who contribute good ideas to your organization?
  4. Do you have a reward system in place for creativity?
  5. Do you recognize staff for creativity and accomplishments in your NPD?

When all is said and done, innovation is about ROI derived from the transformation of ideas into money. Net Result and Reward is about motivating your people with the right incentives and generating workplace engagement. Once you have sorted your campaign logistics and established a solid marketing plan, you should focus on incentives for employees.  Incentives play an important role in motivating employees to create short term excitement as well as engineering a long-term, sustained innovation culture.

 Why do innovation efforts fail? Many of the key reasons for derailed innovation programs tie back to culture, and to people related issues.

According to James Pasmantier in an article named incentives for innovation, generating workplace engagement can be a challenge. He cites top business thinker Gary Hamel in a Towers Perrin study that discovered only one-fifth of employees are truly engaged in their work—meaning they’re fully invested and would “go the extra mile” for their employer. The rest ranged from disengaged (38%) to indifferent (41%). This feeling of detachment, and especially the sense of not having a voice in the company, is also a large factor in why employees leave their jobs.

When interviewed for Robert’s Rules of Innovation, Harlan F. Weisman MD, chief science and tech officer (Medical Devices & Diagnostics) for Johnson & Johnson said, “Today it’s innovate or die. Dr. Weisman is an expert at creating an environment for innovation, within which people can flourish. I fully agree when he says, “A single inventor, alone, can’t do it. Sometimes you stop and say, ‘maybe it’s just easier to come up with the big idea myself.’ I’m here to tell you, it’s not.”  Give your NPD team incentive to produce innovative ideas, and champion a culture of innovation where it’s not just ok to take risks, but rather, where it’s critical.

Rewards and recognition systems for a successful New Product Development Process  can take many forms, but all members of the staff need to be rewarded, and motivation isn’t always about money, and it isn’t always a cause/reaction equation.

Rewards can be monetary such as a bonus percentage based on new product sales – often the key stakeholders get a product launch reward or a percentage of sales from new products. They can also be non-monetary such as peer acknowledgments, awards, and even office perks. Web retailer Zappos, known for their “WOW” culture of service and innovation, offers employee perks like free lunch, free coffee drinks made by baristas, and 100%-paid medical, dental, and vision plans. Zappos even has a nap room at its headquarters in Henderson, Nevada.

People have more than one motivating force, which is important to understand in order to achieve optimal performance. Financial rewards are always nice, but for some creative folks, recognition may be an even more powerful driver. When considering financial rewards, keep in they could prevent building a culture of innovation by promoting participation driven by personal gain.

As Mr. Pasmantier has said, “By thinking outside the box and creatively tapping the spirit of co-creation and collaboration, non-financial rewards can have a positive impact on sustaining participation from employees in a variety of different internal innovation campaigns.”

 Non-financial rewards can:

  • Raise the commitment level of your employees
  • Enhance morale and motivate future performance
  • Generate organization-wide “good-vibes”
  • Reinforce ideal outcomes
  • Create a powerful link between strategy and innovation outcomes

The fruit of your team’s labor benefits all. Net reward, Net Profit.

Innovation culture, once started, creates passion that begets success. However, like any culture, this requires innovation management to actively drive these elements. When considering incentives for sustainable effort; focus on consistency, communication, and personalization. Remember, it’s important to reward effort, not only success.

For consistency, establish a guideline for desired performance to help keep recognition consistent. Create regular activities to help build a sense of purpose within your team. This includes updates, monthly meetings, and weekly themed brainstorming sessions. Create structure for organizational contributors by creating a method for evaluating ideas, and a process for allowing individual ideators access to designer time.

It is important to be clear for what, and why your employees are being recognized. Communication is key, not only to make it clear that you are paying attention, but also to open a dialogue between you and your team.  Share success stories that provide examples of great teamwork and superior outcomes. Be sure your communication is in a format that can be circulated, digested, and appreciated organization-wide. Develop imagery and symbols to help bring your incentive program to life. Include internal innovation awards, patent recognition badges and innovator lunches.

The innovation culture you create will be unique to your business. Identify and establish where key positions need to be created or structured to enable organic growth of innovation, and understand your employees when creating incentive programs. Realize that different employees may want different recognition rewards. Ideas for non-financial rewards can range from lunch with the CEO, to employee assignment to develop and implement the idea, days off or workplace perks (e.g. premium parking spots, etc.).

To get results in Innovation, a structured, repeatable process is essential. Look to all imperatives of Robert’s Rules of Innovation: I.N.N.O.V.A.T.I.O.N

  • Inspire
  • No Risk, No Innovation
  • New Product Development Process
  • Ownership
  • Value Creation
  • Accountability
  • Training and Coaching
  • Idea Management
  • Observe and Measure
  • New Result Net Reward

These rules of order are meant to be applied regularly as part of a sustainable growth strategy. All these parameters should be continually utilized – and not just when sales or ideas are low – to achieve successful, lasting innovation.







The Right Rewards: Business Beyond Bonuses

What is the ultimate purpose of Innovation in a business? The end goal is Return On Investment (ROI) for all Stakeholders. After all, the objective of the New Product Development process is to turn ideas into money. ROI comes in the form of increased shareholder value, new products and new features – everyone wins, including your employees, your customers and your stakeholders. So to move your company forward and stimulate profitable growth, it’s important to give every member of your organization the proper motivation.

In “Robert’s Rules of Innovation”, Net Result and Reward is about motivating your people with the right incentives. Motivation does not necessarily mean rewarding with money, and quite frankly it is about recognition for a job well done. Give your NPD team incentive to produce innovative ideas. What type of rewards can you give your team, beyond bonuses? Here are some ideas for non-financial motivation.

  • You want your employees to feel a sense of loyalty to the company. Reward high performance with opportunity – to sit on a panel, a team or attend a business conference.
  • Recognize a job well done with an award program. Give an award to a NPD team member who has achieved a great accomplishment.
  • One of the best ways to highlight an innovation champion’s achievement is to give them exposure. Introduce them to a client, or invite them to lunch with an executive of the organization or face time with the boss.
  • Simple praise will boost morale (so long as it is deserved)! People like to know that their success was noticed by the head of the company.

These non-financial rewards can benefit an organization by increasing an employee’s loyalty and commitment to the company, boosting company morale and reinforcing ideal outcomes in the future. Motivating employees to reach their top performance is a win-win situation for everyone involved and equates to Innovation ROI. Actually a November 2009 study by McKinsey concluded that recognition and these types of rewards were appreciated more than just financial rewards.

For additional tips on how to drive a successful New Product Development team, look for “Robert’s Rules of Innovation”. Robert Brands is the founder of and the author of “Robert’s Rules of Innovation: A 10-Step Program for Corporate Survival,” with Martin Kleinman published by Wiley.

The Reward of Innovation

Innovation is ultimately about return on investment at the end of the New Product Development process. With the success of a new product launch, everyone benefits – from shareholders and company employees to the consumers. Innovation done well reaps market share gain, new products and new features. Essentially, everyone wins.

The last imperative of Robert’s Rules of Innovation is Net Results, Net Reward, meaning recognizing the people who contributed to the development of a new product. It’s important to reward actions with incentives for sustainable effort.
Continue reading “The Reward of Innovation” »

Why Results Require Rewards: Encouraging Action With Incentive

Imagine a company that has taken the time to consider the role of Innovation in the corporate mission. Employees were encouraged to be part of the innovation process but their reward was compensation linked strictly to output.

Does that encourage value-added thought process? In my mind, it encourages work, which should need no encouragement at all.

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