Bookshelf: Mastering the Hyper Cycle: How to Choose the Right Innovation at the Right Time

Bookshelf: Mastering the Hyper Cycle: How to Choose the Right Innovation at the Right Time

By Jackie Fenn and Mark Raskino, Harvard Business Press, 2008, 225 pages, $29.95

It happens over and over again. Some innovation comes along that captures the public's imagination. Everybody joins the parade with great fanfare and high expectations. This "next big thing" promises to transform the companies that adopt it -- and inflict great peril on those that don't.

Then when the innovation fails to deliver as promised immediately, everyone starts bailing out. Investments are wasted; stock prices plunge; disillusionment sets in.

It doesn't have to be that way, say the authors, both vice presidents and Gartner Fellows at Gartner Research. Together they set out to explain what drives this pattern and how companies can avoid its potential dangers. In addition, drawing on their Gartner experience, they offer an understanding of the hype cycle that can help orchestrate strategies on technologies and timing.

Key to the Gartner approach is its STREET process (Scope, Track, Rank, Evaluate, Evangelize, Transfer). Gartner says STREET is designed to address the key challenges in selecting the right innovation at the right time.

"STREET ends at the point where an innovation becomes a part of the mainstream project development or management processes. Very deliberately, STREET does not cover the later stage of full deployment and rollout of innovation," the authors write. "These stages draw on standard business techniques of project, program and change management. However, the challenge of reaching the threshold of deployment stage of adoption is neglected in many organizations and [in] much of the business literature. That explains why STREET focuses on the path to the transfer step -- where the innovation adoption decision has been made, socialized and embraced."

STREET deployment can vary, the authors add. It "can be used by a central group responsible for the top-down mapping of corporate needs and goals, by managers responsible for specific processes or functions and by any individual employee seeking to encourage bottom-up organic innovation adoption."

Like most management methods, the process is said to work best when adapted to the specific culture and context of each organization that adopts it.

"What's critical," the authors conclude, "is that each organization needs a process, a series of thoughtful systematic steps taken with discipline, if it wants to master the hype cycle."

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