Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Exceptional Execution: Iliya Rybchin

With BEI Back End of Innovation 2014 approaching, we wanted to get an expert’s point of view on innovation execution in today’s increasingly competitive business landscape. We were in luck. Iliya Rybchin, Director of Media & Entertainment, Highnote Foundry sat down with us to discuss innovation strategy and execution.  

Here is what he had to say:

IIR: What is a fundamental characteristic or skill to lead innovation?

Rybchin: Without a doubt it’s entrepreneurial operating experience.  Many innovation initiatives fail because the people who are driving it do not have the experience to get things done.  Ideas are important, good strategy is critical, access to capital is vital.  However, NONE of that matters if it’s placed in the hands of people who can’t execute.  You need people who have shipped products, who have run P&Ls, who have managed people, who have developed technology.  DOERS are more important than THINKERS.  

Many companies place their innovation activities in the hands of smart, vocal “up and comers” as a way to reward them.  Innovation is not a reward!  Innovation is a necessity.  Something this critical should not be used as a reward, it should be placed in the hands of a company’s most capable business leaders.

IIR: Why is the back end of innovation just as important if not more important the front end?

Rybchin: The back end is what delivers results.  The front end is often just smoke and mirrors.  Companies don’t get measured by ideas… they get measured by EPS, revenue growth, market share, etc.  Ideas without back end innovation do not deliver those metrics.  Innovation happens when customers touch products not when executives get a PowerPoint from a brainstorming workshop.

IIR: What best practices support successful innovation execution? What typically stands in its way?

Rybchin: Alignment and continuous close coordination with senior management.  Many innovation activities get off to a good start.  The executives are on board, they appoint a leader, a press release goes out, lots of great quotes, etc.  However, six months down the road, senior executives move on to other priorities and the luster of the innovation program has worn off.  This is precisely when innovation activities start to go downhill.  To be successful, senior management needs to be engaged and be ACTIVE PARTICIPANTS throughout the entire process.  Without the ongoing support, air cover, access to budgets, introductions, etc., innovation can whither on a vine.  Even the well-funded and well-staffed innovation team will struggle when the CEO is not on board.

IIR: What is a piece of advice you would give companies who are creating a corporate innovation strategy?

Rybchin: Don’t create an innovation strategy.  Any company that creates a SEPARATE innovation strategy is doomed to fail.  A company should have a single corporate strategy… of which innovation should be a key component.  Innovation strategy should be intertwined with the corporate goals, mission, and tactics.  The second innovation becomes its own strategy – it becomes a lower priority.  Innovation should become part of the air all employees breath it should be introduced into a company’s DNA… it should not be a prosthetic that gets added after some catastrophe takes away a limb.

Rybchin will be speaking at the upcoming BEI 2014 conference in Las Vegas, NV. The Back End of Innovation is responsible for taking an idea and transforming it into an ultimate product success. Generating the idea is only half the battle. The real challenge lies in taking that innovation, executing it effectively and commercializing it, resulting in driving the bottom line profitability. BEI is an event for those in charge of bringing innovations to life, from using metrics to identify the highest yielding ideas, to creating cultures that drive innovation, to carrying it through to market.

To learn more about the event or to register, click here:  http://bit.ly/1qaSBO8

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