Jeff Honious is the VP of Innovation at RELX Group, which you may know as Reed Elsevier, a multi-billion dollar international publishing and information company. To provide some context for this, the company bio shares that it helps scientists make new discoveries, lawyers win cases, doctors save lives and executives forge relationships with their clients.
Jeff’s background is in technology and web-based product development. Previous to his innovation role he also contributed to his company adopting agile development practices.
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers, Developers, and Innovators
Highlights from the discussion include…
- Jeff has been with the RELX Group for 18 years and in a technology startup before that.
- He innovated the product development process by bringing agile practices into the company.
- Before RELX had an innovation group, a team was created to benchmark the best innovation practices at other companies.
- It was determined that a one-size-fits-all innovation approach would not work across the organization given its decentralized structure. Instead, a small team was created to share best practices and tools across the organization. Jeff became the leader of this group.
- The innovation team has two primary responsibilities:
- (1) build innovation capability across the business by helping groups set up their innovation process, provide training, and use tools.
- (2) provide resources for strategic projects with specific expertise and added capacity for developing products.
- Jeff’s team is very small – it acts as a catalyst to leverage innovation occurring throughout the organization.
- A key activity for Jeff is making connections across the organization – connections between people that can lead to improved products and new products.
- Jeff’s success often begins with the synergy of existing capabilities, additional smart resources, and business champions who have a problem that needs to be solved. He then uses the combination to investigate the possibilities, reduce risk, understand priorities, and create proof of concepts that reduce uncertainties.
- What has not yet been successful is the application of systems that allow employees to submit ideas for new products – internal crowdsourcing. Getting ideas from employees was easy, but determining how to synthesize and act on the ideas was overwhelming. Key lessons learned from the process include:
- communicating with those who submitted ideas,
- asking for ideas around very specific business challenges as opposed to general innovation possibilities, and
- creating a clear process for acting on submitted ideas.
- Jeff’s advice to new product managers is to engage customers throughout the product development process, not just in the beginning.
- Jeff is the VP of Innovation for the RELX Group
“It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new.” -Niccolo Machiavelli
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