MasterCard and Harvard unit unveil innovation tool

MasterCard Worldwide President and CEO Ajay Banga. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Innovation is a prized concept across the business world. It’s a word many people use to draw eyeballs and support recruitment activities. But, has anyone ever really stopped to think about what innovation is and how it can drive a business?

MasterCard and Harvard Business Review Analytic Services have unveiled Become 2020, the inaugural edition of an innovation-focused research initiative. It includes the Business Innovators Index and an associated report, Innovators Become Leaders, which explores the key differentiators that separate the leading innovators from their peers.

“It’s more important than ever for companies of any size to be innovative and creative. It’s our lifeblood,” said Ajay Banga, president and CEO of MasterCard. “This study offers insights and experience from several of the world’s leading thinkers to help others spark the creativity and culture to drive their business.”

Over the past six months, Harvard Business Review Analytic Services (HBRAS) asked more than 1,000 executives how their organisations approach innovation across five key areas—process, human capital, funding, customer experience, and data and technology.

Additionally, more than 1,000 global consumers were surveyed to see whether businesses are properly prioritising what matters most to their customers.


After analysing the responses, HBRAS developed the Business Innovators Index, with 100 representing the peak of innovative strategy, frameworks and behaviours. The study revealed that while most organisations understand the importance of innovation for growth and success, the majority do not effectively execute on their ideas.

Using the organisations’ self-reported responses to 40 behavioural and attitudinal questions, three groups were identified – leaders, followers and laggards. Leaders were defined as those innovators possessing the broadest range of innovation capabilities, with a mean innovation score of 88. Followers have capabilities in some innovation pillars. They had a mean innovation score of 66 and represented 42 percent of all respondents while laggards lacked a wide range of innovation capabilities and had a mean innovation score of 37.

“Throughout life, we are all on a journey to figure out what we can do more and what we can become. One of the reasons we are drawn to innovation is because we want the world tomorrow to be better than the world today,” said David S. Ricketts, innovation fellow at the Technology and Entrepreneurship Centre at Harvard University. “Corporations have driven most of the innovations we’ve seen and Become 2020 draws the roadmap for how organizations should continue to do so in the year ahead –with diversity, accountability and a clear creative vision.”

As a special companion piece to the report, MasterCard and HBRAS also developed The CEO’s Innovation Playbook, a look at 50 actions that can spark change, according to 12 of world’s most prestigious chief executives. These executives represent some of today’s leading organizations, including Accion, Bass Pro Shops, Citi, The Coca-Cola Company, IBM, Lyft, PayPal, Ronald McDonald House, Salesforce, ServiceNow, University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Verizon.

“Innovation is at the core of everything that Accion does. In order to meet the financial needs of the three billion people who are left out of, or poorly served by, the global financial system, we must disrupt the status quo,” said Michael Schlein, president and CEO of global nonprofit Accion.