additional content improvement is needed, compared with 29 percent of market readers and 33 percent of tech drivers — while they put less emphasis on improving product development. because the brand is sacred to us. But we also recognize that if we have only the inspiration and creativity of people within our own organization, we miss a lot of what’s going on in the marketplace. We articulate this point by saying that we need to be consumer-obsessed and to create the best product for the consumer. If that is your endgame, then you have to be able to confront sacred cows, and open yourself up to ideas that you might not have been open to in the past.” Adidas’s innovation approach has been key to its return to the ranks of top innovators and financial performers — and its ranking as one of our high-leverage innovators for the 2012–17 period. Focus on project selection. When asked which stage of the innovation process — ideation, project selection, product development, or commercialization — was most important, 35 percent of our survey respondents chose project selection, followed by 31 percent for ideation. This “front end” of the innovation process is indeed critical to success. For one thing, most of the long-term costs of product development — as much as 70 percent, in our experience — are locked in at the ideation and project selection phases. And even great operational capabilities and business management cannot overcome poor decisions about which ideas to move into development and production. Companies reporting relatively faster growth said they were most competent at the ideation and project selection stages, but they were more likely than those reporting slower growth to see even more potential improvement in their project selection capabilities: 42 percent of the fast-growth companies saw project selection as the stage with the most opportunity for improvement in their company, compared with 30 percent of same-growth companies and 31 percent of slower-growth companies. Need seekers are also more eager to improve the project selection phase of the innovation process — 42 percent said this is the innovation stage where most 96 world monitor Stanley Black & Decker is among the group of companies hungry for more. “I would agree that project selection is the area where we have the biggest opportunity for improvement,” says Hatch, the CTO of Stanley Engineered Fastening. The core product development teams are challenged to find the next iteration or big step from a current product, and then are measured very tightly on delivering on the product time line, he says, “100 percent, on time, on cost, on delivery.” The breakthrough innovation teams, however, are challenged to go after projects that might not be a success. “If everything we do is a success,” Hatch says, “then we’re not trying hard enough and not going far enough from the core.” Amadeus IT has a similar focus. Innovation leaders track the portfolio precisely and have explicit criteria for project selection. “It’s not like we create something and then commercialize it,” says Mesnage, head of research. “It’s all about making sure that we have a problem–solution fit — that we’ve really found a problem worth solving, that we have a solution in mind that can solve it, and that there is a business appetite, so that we know there are enough people willing to pay for the solution we are proposing.” One recent product innovation that grew out of the company’s revamped innovation approach is Amadeus Video Solutions, an interactive video player that enables travel providers to show consumers videos about travel destinations and pause the video at any time to see the location on a map; check and price travel, lodging, and activity options nearby; and make purchases without leaving the platform.