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10 Rules of Managing Global Innovation (Part 1)

The book, Managing Global Innovation: Frameworks for Integrating Capabilities by Yves L. Doz and Keeley Wilson (a good summary of the book as in Harvard Business Review format can be found here:, highly recommended), provides a very good and detailed elaboration of the methods and ways to establish a global strategy having the innovation as their reference point. It is doubtless that as well as establishing a successful global organization, continuously innovating and disrupting itself is key for organizations to be able to have a sustainable success. At that point, the crucial point is how you manage innovation and how you handle it globally.

Doz and Wilson, after a decade long field researches at more than 40 companies around the globe, came up with a set of rules that can be the guide for managers all around the world for managing the global innovation. Although these rules can be a major guideline for the managers, no need to say that from case to case there are exceptions and each organization should be interpreting these rules according to its own parameters.

In this series of my writings, I will try to elaborate the points that I agree and disagree with the authors. As a part of the interpretation, real world examples will also be provided in order to support my point of view. However, it is important to note that these ten rules can only draw a baseline for your strategies and way of managing global innovation. What’s more important than having those rules in your hand is being able to think beyond these and finding out the best strategies of your own, corresponding to the ones listed here.

Rule#1: Start Small

Doz and Wilson agree that starting your organization small and expanding it step by step is a better idea. However, even though this might be a good practice for many ventures at beginning, it is not necessarily the way it’s supposed to be. This rule certainly depends on the type of the organization; whether the end user receives a service or a product and whether the firm operates its services on the internet or where a lot of face-to-face interaction is required.

Authors believe that, when a project is being built, if the team gathers up in one location, then the coworkers will be able to make use of collaborative environment and share some important tacit knowledge within the same context. In addition, since the team is at a single location, communication within the team members will be a lot easier which will trigger to have a better environment of support and building trust. On the other hand, I do not agree that every new venture has to start small first. For instance, even though it was the case for Facebook, where it started at a college dorm, aiming to reach only to the Harvard network and expanded to the other schools afterwards and to the globe eventually, there are many internet based ventures which can serve the globe right away – as long as they have the sufficient supportive infrastructure. Furthermore, for multinational collocated businesses that are based in another country and running its operations in other nations too, it is a good practice to have people from the country where the venture is founded and have those people helping the other branches around the globe in order to create the same environment where coworkers can share the tacit knowledge in their workplace. Additionally, for example if a Danish company wants to operate in United States, then it will definitely be a good idea to hire American employees in addition to the Danish staff, in order to be able to adjust to the new environment and get accustomed to the new culture and regulations.

Overall, I think Doz and Wilson take this subject only from the perspective of building teams, where they believe having a team working together in a single location is a better choice for many ventures. However, there are many ventures started in United States and has more staff in India than they do in the US and serving all around the globe successfully, even when they initially started their business. Therefore, a good manager should evaluate its own parameters to see whether always starting small is the optimum for the organization.

Image source:

Uğur İnanç

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