Sharpening Your Skills: Managing Innovation

Sharpening Your Skills curates a wide range of Harvard Business School's research and ideas around vital topics in business management.

Should managers lead innovation or get out of the way? It's not an either/or decision. Executives of some great innovative companies—Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg—are active participants in creation, getting their hands dusty in the digital dirt, writing code or copy, or inspring employees to raise their creative game.

But Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, has a different approach, creating an organization that values and rewards innovation rather than attempting to create it with his bare hands. AG Lafley, P&G's chief executive, revivied the company by instilling an ethos of "innovation is everyone's job."

Dozens of faculty at Harvard Business School are focused on the subject of managing innovation. Some look at it by examining processes while others view through the lens of history. For example, Clay Christensen has pieced together the "innovator's DNA" while Lynda Applegate teaches "innovation is not an option."

We've identified articles and working papers covering a wide range of thinking about innovation management to answer some specific questions you may have about tapping the creativity buried in your company:

Is Workplace Transparency Good For Innovation?

Hiding From Managers Can Increase Your Productivity

Would you be suspicious of employees who drew a curtain around themselves? What if you knew the curtain was specifically to block your prying managerial eyes? Harvard Business School Assistant Professor Ethan S. Bernstein explains why decreasing workplace transparency can increase productivity.

Do Creative Types Need To Be Managed Differently?

Culture Changers: Managing High-Impact Entrepreneurs

In her new Harvard Business School course, Creative High-Impact Ventures: Entrepreneurs Who Changed the World, professor Mukti Khaire looks at ways managers can team with creative talent in six "culture industries": publishing, fashion, art-design, film, music, and food.

Can Creativity Be Taught?

Getting to Eureka!: How Companies Can Promote Creativity

As global competition intensifies, it's more important than ever that companies figure out how to innovate if they are going to maintain their edge, or maintain their existence at all. Six Harvard Business School faculty share insights on the best ways to develop creative workers.

Can An Alarm Clock Be Innovative?

HBS Cases: Clocky, the Runaway Alarm Clock

There had not been an innovative breakthrough in alarm clock design since the snooze button until entrepreneur Gauri Nanda created Clocky. Her runaway hit has been the inspiration for several cases written by Professor Elie Ofek.

Should I Crowdsource My Solutions?

Markets or Communities? The Best Ways to Manage Outside Innovation

No one organization can monopolize knowledge in any given field. That's why modern companies must develop a new expertise: the ability to attract novel solutions to difficult or unanticipated problems from outside sources around the world. A conversation with Harvard Business School professor Karim R. Lakhani on the keys to managing distributed innovation.

What Does Nasa's "faster, Better, Cheaper" Teach About Innovation?

Mission to Mars: It Really Is Rocket Science

Do the successful Mars missions mean NASA again has the right stuff? Alan MacCormack dissects the space agency's "Faster, Better, Cheaper" program.

To Read More:



Stephan Thomke on managing creativity for 80 years.

Lean Strategy Not Just for Start-Ups

The power of 'lean' start-ups, according to Scott Cook.

How Small Wins Unleash Creativity

Teresa M. Amabile's big wins from small steps.

Five Discovery Skills that Distinguish Great Innovators

Clay Christensen on "The Innovator's DNA."


Leading Innovation in Good Times and Bad

Innovation is not a side business, says Lynda Applegate.

Mechanisms of Technology Re-Emergence and Identity Change in a Mature Field: Swiss Watchmaking

Ryan Raffaelli discovers new markets for old technologies.

Organization Design for Distributed Innovation

Designing organizations ready for distributed innovation, by Carliss Y. Baldwin.