Investor Relations

Press Release

BREAKING AWAY: How Great Leaders Create Innovation That Drives Sustainable Growth - And Why Others Fail

March 28, 2011

Co-authored by Jane Stevenson and Bilal Kaafarani
"Breaking Away not only defines the innovation principles that drive sustainable growth, it couples them with the leadership and cultural elements that make or break success." - Jeff Immelt, Chairman and CEO, GE

LOS ANGELES, March 28, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ --

More than 70 percent of new offerings in the marketplace fail within the first year. How can companies predict which innovations and inventions will be worth the business risk? More importantly, how can businesses even maintain the courage to take such risks?


Innovation goes well beyond finding the next big breakthrough. It's a distinct business model that can travel through your entire company, from operations to positioning- and it starts with the characteristics of your company leaders and cascades down from there. "Together Bilal and I have formulated a new blueprint for innovation that offers sustainable growth outcomes for today's business leaders," said Jane Stevenson.

BREAKING AWAY: How Great Leaders Create Innovation That Drives Sustainable Growth - And Why Others Fail (McGraw-Hill; March, 2011; HC, $30.00) illustrates how Ford, Ferrari, MasterCard, GE, Burberry and Nintendo, and other brands and companies have created new products and ideas that have transformed their industry and our lives. Jane Stevenson, Vice Chairman, Board & CEO Services at Korn/Ferry International, and Bilal Kaafarani, who has served as a global innovation executive at major consumer products companies such as Coca-Cola, Proctor & Gamble, and PepsiCo International, interviewed more than 50 top executives in a wide range of industries to pinpoint the paths that successful companies take to create great innovations.

Stevenson and Kaafarani unearth the essential factors that lead to the creation of successful innovations and the leaders who champion them ("the CEO factor"). It is this "magic" mix that enables some leaders to create an innovation engine fueled by all who work there, while others equally set on harnessing innovation's growth potential, ultimately fail. Here are the risk profiles necessary to stretch potential without mortgaging the future; the quality parameters that are imperative to delight the consumer; the cultural factors that are essential to nurture the right environment; and the ability to empower and bring out the best in employees.

Some of the fascinating stories about successful innovations include:

  • Western Union' s mobile payments system under development right now,
  • Ford's Hybrid car and how they beat Toyota,
  • Development of Philadelphia Cream Cheese's "whipped Philly" brand extension,
  • Nintendo's launch of the Wii,
  • Amazon's continuous customer feedback with over 70 metrics,
  • Eastman Chemical Company's launch of the POM bottle,
  • How GE is changing the nature of cancer treatment

True innovators can also gain inspiration from their mistakes. The authors glean strong lessons from flops -- including RJ Reynolds' "smokeless" cigarette and Gerber Baby Foods' "Singles," adult food to be eaten right out of the jar.

BREAKING AWAY ( contends that ideas evolve from ever-widening circles of inclusion both inside and outside of the company, and stem from a clear focus that employees activate, and customers can push. Breaking away from the pack doesn't happen around a conference table; it must be continuously encouraged and percolated in every corner of a business.


Jane Edison Stevenson

Jane Stevenson is Vice Chairman, Board & CEO Services at Korn/Ferry International, based in the Atlanta office. She is an industry expert on recruiting leaders of growth and innovation. A pioneer in the field, Jane was responsible for bringing in many of the first Chief Innovation Officers and CEOs who focused on growth through innovation. Evangelical in her belief that sustainable growth is this generation's business imperative, Jane is a marquee brand in her industry and was acknowledged by Business Week's"100 Most Influential Search Consultants in the World" for the past two years.

Jane is known for her strong global relationships in Fortune 500 C-suites and among boards of directors. She is an accomplished public speaker and is frequently consulted by Business Week, Fortune, Forbes, and The Wall Street Journal to discuss trends and issues relating to innovation and general management.

As an innovative leader in her own right, Jane is the architect of a number of ground breaking product offerings for boards and top executives, including Korn/Ferry's C-Suite Succession offering. She joined Korn/Ferry from Heidrick & Struggles, where she served on the management committee for many years and founded and led the firm's venture capital and global marketing, sales and strategy practices. She was a founding member and is currently on the board of the Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation.

Bilal Kaafarani

As a global innovation executive at P&G, Kraft, FritoLay, and The Coca-Cola Company, Bilal has experienced first-hand what is written about in Breaking Away. In addition, he was honored by BusinessWeek as one of the world's "Top 25 Masters of Innovation." He has had the unique opportunity to work with some of the best brands in the world, and to experience the benefits and liabilities of many leadership styles and environments.

Innovation platforms developed under Bilal's leadership include: Coca-Cola's groundbreaking Freestyle fountain drink equipment, Glaceau's international expansion of Vitamin Water, Minute Maid Supermilky Pulpy, Simply Orange's new range of juice product offerings, Frito Lay's transition from highly saturated fats (palmoline) to high oleic oils (sunflower) for Lays, Cheetos, Doritos, and Ruffles; the development of Sensations, Artesana and Sun Chips, as well as Marketplace Innovations on brands such as Kraft Natural Cheese, Jell-O, TANG, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Toblerone, Milka and Altoids, and the acclaimed Category Innovation platform that resulted in a wide range of highly successful, fat free products under the label of "Kraft Free."

Bilal was inducted into the "Hall of Fame" for Wayne State University's College of Engineering in 2008. In addition to his academic achievements, he holds patents for a number of breakthrough food sector technologies.

SOURCE McGraw-Hill; Korn/Ferry International

Take a Closer Look