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Years ago in exploring emerging technology in consumer products, I was impressed with the development of the foaming pump from Airspray N.V. This pump has become widespread, allowing liquid soap and other solutions to emerge from a pump dispenser as a rich foam without the need for propellants. Cool product. I’ve also looked over some of the associated patent estate and have been impressed again. Robert Brands was the CEO of Airspray and took that pump to the world. Through his experiences at Airspray, then at Rexam after they acquired Airspray, and now as an innovation coach, Robert knows a lot about real-world innovation. He has shared this knowledge in a new book, Robert’s Rules of Innovation: A 10-Step Program for Corporate Survival.

Robert’s Rules of Innovation offers a fresh perspective on innovation processes and approaches from an experienced leader who knows what it takes to bring products to the market. This book draws upon not only his experience, but the experience and wisdom of many others that he has turned to for various sections of the book.

Ten rules of innovation are presented in this highly readable and accessible book. These rules include the need to inspire, the need to have a new product development process such as the Stage-Gate® process, the importance of sound idea management processes, the need to observe and measure progress, etc. Each of these principles is reviewed in Chapter 2, and an innovation audit approach is presented in Chapter 3 to help leaders evaluate where their company is for each of the 10 rules. Several chapters follow which help guide leaders in implementing the rules such as:

  • crafting a culture of innovation (a theme of Chapter 4),
  • innovating with multinational teams (Chapter 5), with tips for working with people from nations such as Brazil and China;
  • developing intellectual property in “Patently Obvious,” the title of Chapter 6, which offers basic information on patents, trademarks, and copyrights.

An innovation checklist is presented in Chapter 8 to summarize some of the teachings.

Appendices provide detailed flow charts on new product development processes that may be helpful to those implementing such systems.

The book products a broad and useful overview from an experienced entrepreneur and consultant in innovation and new product development. The focus may be heavy on the consumer products side of innovation. The beginning-to-end scope of the book also means that information tends to be at a broad, general level. Some of the bullet points may leave readers wondering exactly what is meant or how to follow the instructions.

While some of the information, naturally, is already out there in the literature, I liked the selection of 10 principles to focus on and especially appreciated the contributions in the chapters on the innovation audit and multinational teams. Robert’s experience with multinational teams can provide a helpful foundation for others in this increasingly global business environment.

The book may be most helpful to corporate leaders and entrepreneurs launching companies focused on innovative new products, but there are gems for innovators and champions of innovation at all levels.

Congratulations to Robert Brands for this addition to the literature on innovation!

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