BREAKING AWAY: How Great Leaders Create Innovation That Drives Sustainable Growth–And Why Others Fail 

(McGraw-Hill; March, 2011; HC, $30.00)

The book BREAKING AWAY illustrates how Ford, Ferrari, MasterCard, GE, Burberry and Nintendo, and other brands and companies have created new products and ideas that have transformed their industry and our lives.

Jane Stevenson, Vice Chairman, Board & CEO Services at Korn/Ferry International, and Bilal Kaafarani, Chief Innovation Officer and Group President for Yildez Holdings in Istanbul, Turkey (who has served as a global innovation executive at major consumer products companies such as Coca-Cola, Proctor & Gamble, and PepsiCo International) interviewed 51 top executives in a wide range of industries to pinpoint the paths that successful companies take to create great innovations.

The “Magic Mix” for Successful Innovation

Stevenson and Kaafarani unearth the essential factors that lead to the creation of successful innovations and the leaders who champion them (“the CEO factor”). It is this “magic” mix that enables some leaders to create an innovation engine fueled by all who work there, while others equally set on harnessing innovation’s growth potential, ultimately fail. 

BREAKING AWAY discusses:

  • The risk profiles necessary to stretch potential without mortgaging the future
  • The quality parameters that are imperative to delight the consumer
  • The cultural factors that are essential to nurture the right environment
  • And the ability to empower and bring out the best in employees

Fascinating Stories about Successful Innovations Include:

• Western Union’s mobile payments system under development right now

• Ford’s Hybrid car and how they beat Toyota

• Development of Philadelphia Cream Cheese’s “whipped Philly” brand extension

• Nintendo’s launch of the Wii

• Amazon’s continuous customer feedback with over 70 metrics

• Eastman Chemical Company’s launch of the POM bottle

• How GE is changing the nature of cancer treatment

Learning from Mistakes

True innovators can also gain inspiration from their mistakes. The authors glean strong lessons from flops – including RJ Reynolds’ “smokeless” cigarette and Gerber Baby Foods’ “Singles,” adult food to be eaten right out of the jar.

BREAKING AWAY contends that ideas evolve from ever-widening circles of inclusion both inside and outside of the company, and stem from a clear focus that employees activate, and customers can push. Breaking away from the pack doesn’t happen around a conference table; it must be continuously encouraged and percolated in every corner of a business.