Pulp Innovation Chapter LIV: The Balancing Act

With Marlow's time heavily invested in one potentially big client, his colleagues have been picking up the slack on the other running innovation projects for months. Will Marlow's persistence and investment in the Accipiter project pay off for the firm?

Matt eyed me warily that Thursday morning.  He seemed uncertain about my presence in the office, as if I were an unexpected bill collector.

“You look a little surprised to see me.”

“I am.  I thought you had taken permanent office space at Accipiter.”

Close to it I thought.

“We got the go ahead from Dowdy, the CEO, yesterday.  I’m working with the project manager and their CFO to pull together a project plan on Monday.  Very promising.”

That seemed to bring me back into his good graces a bit.

“Meredith won a new research project at Cantide last week, and I’m continuing our work with Johnson Industries.  Things are just busting out all over.”

“Look, I know I got in a little deep with Accipiter, and I appreciate the fact you’ve stepped up to take over the work.  There was something about this client – I just had to win this work.”

“Something about Accipiter, or something about the project manager, that made you want to win the work?  And since when do we make such a large bet on just one firm?”

Matt was right, but I wasn’t going to lie down and let him walk all over me.

“Accipiter has the potential to be a very large client, and a successful client.  I made the decision to spend my time on that account, and I don’t have to justify it.  I know I’ve been less than attentive to the firm and to our other clients, and I’ll make it up.”

Matt wasn’t mollified by the answer but didn’t pursue it any further.  He and I both left the issues with Susan fall to the wayside for the moment.

“What’s the work going to look like at Accipiter?”

“They need a complete overhaul of their product development process.  They are too inwardly focused and haven’t created a compelling new product or service in years.  The culture is very comfortable and safe, so we’ll need to do some revamping of the culture and the compensation systems.  They have been a slow follower, and need to get out in front of their competition.  I’d like to see them conduct some scenario planning and ethnography to understand where the market is going.  There will be opportunities for your skills as well as Meredith’s at Accipiter.  I can see at least a year, perhaps more, of work for us there.”

His eyebrows almost merged with his hairline and I think I had his attention and perhaps a bit more.  One client of the size I described, in combination with our existing clients and prospects, could mean a good year, and perhaps another staff member or two.

“How certain are you of that forecast?”

“Not counting any chickens yet, especially after all the false starts.  But I think we have a real sponsor who is committed to doing something dramatic.  I’ll know a lot more next week after we put the plan together and define the costs.”

“So, in the mean time, do you think you can help me review some of the Cantide insights and meet with them tomorrow to lead some ideation?”

It was the least I could do, given how much of the load he’d carried the last few months.

By Jeffrey Phillips

About the author:


Jeffrey PhillipsJeffrey Phillips is VP Marketing and a lead consultant for OVO Innovation. Jeffrey has led innovation projects for Fortune 5000 firms, academic institutions and not-for=profits based on OVO Innovation’s Innovate on Purpose™ methodology. The Innovate on Purpose methodology encourages organizations to consider innovation as a sustainable, repeatable business process, rather than a discrete project.

Jeffrey is the author of “Make Us More Innovative,” a book that encompasses much of the OVO Innovation methodology, and blogs about innovation at Innovate On Purpose. He is a sought after speaker and has presented to corporations, innovation oriented conferences, and at a number of universities. In 2010 he chaired the Innovate North Carolina conference and was a keynote speaker at Queen’s University, University of the Pacific, UNC and several other colleges and conferences. Jeffrey has an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin and an undergraduate degree in engineering from the University of Virginia.

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