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GE, Viacom, DreamWorks and innovation.

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on December 12, 2005

It is difficult to create a culture of innovation in big corporations and the snatching of movie studio DreamWorks, founded by David Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenberg and director Steven Spielberg, from General Electric’s NBC-Universal studio by rival Viacom’s Paramount Pictures proves that. Dreamworks has worked closely with Universal for years, since it’s inception and this deal was expected to go to Universal. But weaker-than-anticipated performace by a couple of Dreamworks movies, led GE to crunch the numbers and come up with a slightly lower offer—and irritate the DreamWorks founders who were swept up by a slightly better offer (and perhaps more positive regard) from Paramount.

Crunching numbers, of course, is what GE is famous for. Process control, quality control, Six Sigma. And it may be that Jeff Immelt is correct in his calculations. Volatility is not something GE wants—Wall Street in particular punishes companies for volatility. And for low returns. The numbers crunching by GE showed that the returns were not high enough for its targets. But in partnering for innovation, crunching numbers is often not sufficient. Taking chances on creativity and creative people is most important and partnering with creative people is a crucial skill. Viacom’s Paramount Pictures appears to understand that. In this instance, it looks like GE’s Universial studios lost some of the great Hollywood innovators of our time. The numbers just didn’t add up for them.

Reader Comments

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December 3, 2010 6:41 AM

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Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.

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