How to get around the difficulty of estimating returns from innovation

Bombardier Recreational Products, based in Quebec, has spent C$225m ($195m) over 11 years developing the Can-Am Spyder Roadster, a three-wheeled motor vehicle. When it goes on sale later this year the $15,000 Spyder will be aimed at baby-boomers who like the idea of riding al fresco but do not feel comfortable on a two-wheeler, says Jose Boisjoli, BRP’s boss. Mr Boisjoli admits that his firm has no idea how much demand there will be for the Spyder. One way to think about how much you should spend on innovation is to ask: how much money can I lose with a failed innovation without jeopardizing the existence of the firm.

Conglomerate Watch: Immelt find it tough to follow Jack Welsh’s act

GE’s CEO Jeffrey Immelt finds it difficult to convince markets that his new strategy will deliver value as his predecessor did.
Two articles in the Financial Times highlight how important it is for CEO to communicate effectively to financial analysts whose recommendation drive the stock price of a firm. Here are excerpts from the informative articles.

GE redoubles efforts to woo investors.

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Understanding the Strategies of Airbus and Boeing

Boeing and Airbus are pursuing different strategies with their next generations planes (the superlarge A380 and the supereffecient Boeing 787 Dreamliner). A recent article in the New York Times nicely demonstrates that the differences on the two companies’ strategic bet are driven by two different views how passenger travel will develop in the future. In essence, the firms tried to create strategies that fit with the perceived future environments of airplane travel.

The World’s Most Innovative Companies

Rachael Powell (Cohort A2) brought to my attention an interesting article from Business Week. From a methodological point, it would have been nice if the BW staff had looked at companies that were not innovative and confirmed that these firms did not do any of the practices that characterize the most innovative companies.  Read Article.

Wesfarmers: Interview with Former CEO Michael Chaney

In the spirit of “Where are the Now”, here is an interview with the outgoing CEO of Wesfarmers, Michael Chaney, before he became chairman of the National Australian Bank (NAB).

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