Davanti Nella Gara, an Italian bicycle company, makes the best racing bikes in the world. But after decades of market dominance, competitors have brought the industry leader back to the Peloton. The company’s second-generation owner longs for retirement, but a tired product lineup is pushing down profits and the firm’s market value will never support his ride into the sunset. The flawed but beloved owner seeks out the counsel of an old friend and successful businessman, who steers him toward a fast and remarkable transformation, one fueled by a relentless focus on innovation excellence.
An engaging business novel, Winning Innovation dives into the art and science of innovation; the thrills of the European bike-racing circuit; the vibrant landscape and cuisine of Italy; and a cast of intriguing characters who work to put Davanti on the road to sustained prosperity. The company’s leader isn’t afraid to learn and apply new ideas to reenergize his company, and finds he cares more about his employees than he could ever imagine. A young innovator struggles to see a product idea to fruition as well as rise into management — and he falls in love along the way. A newly promoted R&D director brings teamwork and transparency to product development and aligns the entire company around innovation.
With the help of a seasoned and persistent change agent, in just a year, Davanti deploys a well-defined and -sequenced transformation — a complete and seamless process that can be replicated and scaled by most companies. The leader engages associates in pursuit of the right vision and strategy, candidly supporting them all as they unleash their creative sparks, work through personality conflicts, and take on real-world challenges faced by companies every day. They learn and apply traditional R&D principles in new ways (e.g., cost of delay, sprints, fail fast, late start) and successfully leverage emerging innovation and change-management principles (e.g., idea-creation events, knowledge management, workplace humility, visual management, lean project management). And an aligned, three-phase innovation process — from idea creation to technology development and product design — provides the innovation infrastructure the company needs for revenue creation and success beyond racing bikes.
From a top-heavy organization dominated by power struggles and finger-pointing emerges a new Davanti Nella Gara — a flattened, innovative company with:
- Clear vision and endorsed goals and strategy
- Speed, responsiveness, and agility
- Widespread, successful creativity
- Collaboration and teamwork
- Superior risk management
- Respect for people
- Unquestionable ethics
- Changed leadership and associate behaviors
- Project management excellence
- Rapid problem-solving and experimentation
Not just the story of an R&D transformation, Winning Innovation illustrates a companywide transformation of a magnitude that only superior R&D can make possible. It may well be the first book to chronologically introduce the principles for a complete innovation excellence transformation along with the parallel people transformation that is necessary for real change to occur. The end result for Davanti Nella Gara is a dominant new culture based on respect and humility, highly efficient processes that will deliver a wealth of innovations, sales, and profits for many years to come, and an owner who leaves a bright future for the people and company he’s known and loved his entire life.
1. Chain Reaction
2. Junior’s Sicilian Dream
3. From Mind to Lab
4. Riding an Idea
5. Innovation Excellence Begins
6. 100 Ideas
7. Challenging Changes and Chains
8. Lost in the Shadows
9. Seeing Is Believing
10. New Way of Working
11. A New Organization
12. New R&D Culture Emerges
13. New Organization, New Goals, New Direction
14. A New Approach to R&D
15. New Davanti and R&D Strategies
16. Transformation Metrics
17. New R&D Function Takes Shape
18. Bikes without Wheels
19. Davanti at the Tour
20. The Product Creation Process
21. Davanti Ramps Back Up
22. Transparency Comes to Davanti
23. New Ideas and New Revenues
24. New Ways of Leading and Managing
25. Davanti Starts to Look Lean
26. Davanti Innovations Pick Up Speed
27. R&D Strategy, Metrics, and Huddles
28. Results to Celebrate
29. New Year for a New Davanti
30. Calling 118
31. Do the Right Thing
32. Features of Failure
33. Mo, Marie, and Leonardo
34. Davanti for Sale
35. Davanti Ever After
"What a book. It is interesting, fun to read, and full of knowledge! Norbert has summarized his deep knowledge, combined it with great storytelling, and even succeeded to involve his great interest of bicycling. This book should make any innovation library, at least if you want to win!"
— Peter Palmér, Senior Manager, Transformation Office, Scania, Sweden
"Winning Innovation is a fascinating novel that describes the adventure of implementing lean innovation in an Italian bike company. While textbooks on lean are often dreary to read, this book makes lean easy to understand and pleasant to read. A page turner that will help you implement lean innovation in the most gratifying way."
— Jean-Claude Kihn, former Chief Technology Officer of The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company
"Every element of Winning Innovation applies to any industry, especially healthcare. What resonated for me was the need to establish clear goals, a culture and system that empowers people to bring ideas forward, and the visibility to know if you are winning or losing. The novel illustrates that with a leadership vision, respect for individuals, and a process to innovate rapidly, organizations can excel at what they already do while looking to the future and staying ahead of the curve."
— Anne Musitano, Operational Excellence Administrative Director, Akron Children’s Hospital
"I like that Winning Innovation was written as a novel, weaving the practices required for a successful innovation system into a unique and easy-to-read story. Key innovation principles are presented and applied by a cast of real-life characters as they encounter new situations and challenges, many of which we are likely to encounter on our own journeys working in all areas of innovation. The book is comprehensive from start to finish, covering a full spectrum of characteristics necessary to deliver winning innovations and showing how an innovation transformation and culture change can lead to a lot more value for an owner, company, and everyone connected to it."
— Todd Kooken, Vice President, Technology and Solution Strategies, Lincoln Electric
"In his book, Winning Innovation, Norbert Majerus brings his vast knowledge of product creation to life. He weaves together his experiences in transforming companies and intimate knowledge of bike racing to create an accessible read. The stories and characters make it clear that, while tools and processes are important, people need to be the center of any attempt at transformation. Not only that, but the compelling storyline lays out steps that any organization can replicate to produce dramatic improvement in innovation. I highly recommend this read for any leader involved in bringing new products or services to market."
— Durward K. Sobek II, Vice Provost of Academic Affairs and Professor of Industrial & Management Systems Engineering, Montana State University-Bozeman
"In today’s fast-paced business environment, leaders need to develop innovative ways to drive organizational success. This requires a shift in mindset — away from traditional management practices toward more agile and collaborative approaches. In Winning Innovation, Norbert Majerus takes you on an exciting and interesting R&D transformation journey, as the business novel explores a lot of the ups and downs everyone experiences when working in research and development (R&D). It shows that for successful business transformation, organizations must focus on people, communication, and processes."
— Sannah Vinding, Executive Director Product Development and Marketing VCC, Mind the Innovation Podcast Producer, and former LPPDE Chair
"Winning Innovation gets to the heart of what drives any successful transformation — people. If you make people visible, they’ll make you valuable. More than innovation principles, the book illustrates how the most effective companies embrace both the source of an idea (the people, regardless of their stature or position in the company) and their solutions to create value. Winning Innovation is a lesson in how to change a culture, starting with leadership, and the importance of diversity and inclusion to make this happen."
— Billy Taylor, CEO, LinkedXL
"Business novels are risky propositions: they need an engaging plot as well as a worthwhile educational message. Winning Innovation hits the mark on both counts, providing a fun story with an insightful education in the way that lean thinking propels innovation. If you enjoyed The Gold Mine, this book is for you."
— Dan Markovitz, Author, The Conclusion Trap
"Winning Innovation is a delightful, inspiring, and fun novel of an innovation transformation, from its complicated beginning to a happy ending. This captivating lean love story illustrates real challenges and rewards along the journey. It describes not only principles needed but how to change a culture: developing leaders to care for a "business family" and empowering, educating, and enabling employees. Winning Innovation shows that the future of lean is more than profits and efficiency; it’s about creating an innovative, sustainable company that delivers value to shareholders, employees, and society."
— Myrna Flores, President and Co-founder of the Lean Analytics Association and Executive Director at Imperial College of Business School
"Reading Norbert’s book, I was able to learn how LPPD (lean product and process development) can drive innovation both in the product itself and in the operation of R&D organizations. In particular, I think that Winning Innovation will give you an insight into how various LPPD principles can successfully lead to innovative solutions on new product development. Norbert is a real LPPD expert, and he is a great LPPD teacher."
— Sungyul Kim, LPPD Lead, and Ken Joongkil Kwon, Program Manager and LPPD Lead, HP Printing Korea
"This is a really compelling business novel about innovations and building the culture and processes behind them: a story about company transformation, which is enabled by people transformation. Winning Innovation is easy to read, but filled with Norbert Majerus’ vast knowledge and experience with well functioning practices and tools in the field of Innovation."
— Juha Tammi, General Manager, Lean Association of Finland
"For nearly one decade I have had the privilege of learning from Norbert. He loves to tell stories, and Winning Innovation does that while teaching. In this work Norbert combines his passion for cycling with his compassion for innovators. As he asserts from the beginning, it is all about the right environment for the people — an innovation ecosystem. Transforming an organization to innovation excellence takes years of determination and to start. This novel inspires one to start the journey by telling the story of transformation. It is a light to guide your journey."
— Larry Navarre, Lecturer, School of Management, Kettering University
"In Winning Innovation, Norbert Majerus invites readers to follow a company’s transformation to implement an innovation system and an innovation culture. The leaders’ challenges and how they navigate their learning process and succeed gave me many déjà vu moments. In the book, the bike company’s journey really shows the importance and interrelations of all principles to build a winning innovation system. Teams create innovations with agile processes, effectively closing knowledge gaps and then working according to takt time, on one project at a time, to significantly reduce cycle time and free up resources."
— Christer Lundh, Chairman, LPPDE