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Transformational innovation

R "Ray" Wang
R "Ray" Wang (pronounced WAHNG) is the Principal Analyst, Founder, and Chairman of Silicon Valley based Constellation Research, Inc. He's also the author of the popular business strategy and technology blog "A Software Insider’s Point of View". With viewership in the 10's of millions of page views a year, his blog provides insight into how disruptive technologies and new business models such as digital transformation impact brands, enterprises, and organizations. Wang has held executive roles in product, marketing, strategy, and consulting at companies such as Forrester Research, Oracle, PeopleSoft, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, and Johns Hopkins Hospital.

His best selling book Disrupting Digital Business (2015), published by Harvard Business Review Press provides insights on why 52% of the Fortune 500 have been merged, acquired, gone bankrupt, or fallen off the list since 2000. In fact, this impact of digital disruption is real. However, it’s not the technologies that drive this change. It’s a shift in how new business models are created.

Wang has held executive roles in product, marketing, strategy, and consulting at companies such as Forrester Research, Oracle, PeopleSoft, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, Personify, and Johns Hopkins Hospital. He is a prominent and dynamic keynote speaker and research analyst working with clients on digital, innovation, business model design, engagement strategies, customer experience, matrix commerce, and big data. His Silicon Valley research firm, Constellation Research, Inc., advises Global 2000 companies on the future, business strategy, and disruptive technology adoption. Ray is a regular contributor to Harvard Business Review and well quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Bloomberg, CNBC TV, Reuters, IDG News Service, and other global media outlets. Wang has thrice won the prestigious Institute of Industry Analyst Relations (IIAR) Analyst of the Year Award.

To put meaningful transformational innovation in place, you need governance and culture across three different types of teams



Every team has its strengths, and when different teams work together well, innovation magic happens, according to Ray Wang.


As he sees it, there are three types of team in every organisation. “First, you have what we call the sustaining operations teams,” he says, “who represent between 85% and 90% of your workforce. These teams are awesome, they ‘keep the trains running’ as it were, and they deliver. You don’t want to mess with these teams, and your job is to make their working lives as productive and as easy as possible.


“Next, you have teams who are great at incremental innovation. These team members often migrate from sustainable ops, they are Six Sigma Black Belt, and they can find and squeeze incremental improvements of between 105 and 15% out of most operations. They just know how to make things faster, better and cheaper.


“Finally, you have the transformational innovation teams. These guys are nuts! They don’t colour within the lines, the break all the rules and get away with it, and the sustainable ops teams and incremental innovation teams hate them because they are rowdy and disruptive. These are the teams who find improvements of as much as 200%. They are the teams who really make the difference.”


But Ray makes the point that organisations need all three types of team. The crazy guys in transformational innovation must be able to convince those in incremental innovation and sustainable operations that their breakthrough ideas will actually work, and make the case that these new concepts should go on to the company’s P&L. If they can’t, the project fails.


And that’s the real task of organisations seeking to transform: to use governance and culture to bring these three different and disparate teams together.

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