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2007-12-09 Innovation at Work

Via Scott Berkun, I discovered the paper of Allan L. Scherr about Managing for Breakthroughs in Productivity (PDF). I'm always very sceptical when it's about "managing innovation" as I tend to consider this is very difficult to control something often unpredictable. Allan L. Scherr in his paper rejects that idea of "difficulty to control innovation" (first described in Breakthroughs! written by John M. Ketteringham and P. Ranganath Nayak) and explain in 20 pages how to manage productivity (and innovation ?). The paper is really well written and concise to describe the concept. I really loved this part of the conclusion :

  The culture of breakthrough projects can be spread and productivity
  improvements have been seen in adjacent business-as-usual groups. The key to
  spreading this culture is upper management support for taking the risks that are
  inherent in such endeavors. If management cannot tolerate risk and the
  occasional failures that occur, it does not take long for the culture to return to
  conventional, business-as-usual ways.

When talking about innovation in companies, this is a critical part : the ability to take risks inside the company. In my eyes, this is valid on both approaches : managed and unmanaged innovation. If your boss (or you) are able to take risks, that's maybe the beginning for some innovation…

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