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Sexta-feira, 25 de Junho de 2010
Innovation: Who Else Is Doing It?


Costumo estar atento ao blog da Harvard Business Review e encontrei este artigo brilhante da Professora Rosabeth Moss Kanter (na foto), da Harvard Business School, autora dos livros "Confidence" and "SuperCorp".

Este artigo faz-nos reflectir sobre a inovação e sobre a fonte de onde a mesma brota, tanto nas grandes empresas como nas pequenas e médias. A inovação, afinal, pode vir de onde menos se espera, sendo necessário termos coragem para arriscar- To get more successes, you have to tolerate more failures (Para que tenha mais sucessos, terá de tolerar mais falhanços).


Everyone applauds innovation. At least, they love it in retrospect, after it has worked. Before that, it's just somebody's wild idea that competes with every other wild idea for resources and support. What sounds great in the abstract seems risky when translated to a specific unproven idea. For that reason, executives who tell me that they want more innovation sometimes ask, as their first question, "Who else is doing it?" Or they say, "We want more innovation; we just don't want to be the first."

I hate to point out the irony to them. Guys, innovation means maybe no one else is doing it. You might have to be the first. And that might be a good thing.

I'm often amazed at the lack of courage exhibited by so-called leaders who profess to value innovation. A favorite saying in one pharmaceutical company is "Stick your neck out far enough to get a haircut but not far enough to get your head cut off." No wonder the company was running out of ideas just at the time many drugs were going off-patent, and there seemed to be dearth of new approaches to products and processes.
Because there's no guarantee that each time at bat will result in a home-run, it's important to have many things going. To get more successes, you have to tolerate more failures. In short, it's important to try more things. That doesn't mean betting the company on each and every idea. It does mean engaging in a wider search for ideas and getting more things started at a small scale, with modest investment.
The CEO of a mid-sized company sought my advice about a post-recession strategy to accelerate growth. He wanted to get several pilot projects underway to explore new services in addition to getting started in an international market. The conservative innovation-stiflers in this case were managers just below the top. The COO argued vociferously for putting more resources into just the international test. The CEO suspected that the rigidity came from the fact that the export market was already in motion. It now seemed familiar and thus, safer. But that was the proverbial all eggs in one basket. Ultimately, the group embarked on development of a few new products simultaneously but deploying staff and money in small bites at a time.

With a small-wins strategy of rapid tests and trial-and-error improvisation, the big mistakes are generally not errors of commission — that is, big losses from taking action; they are errors of omission — the failure to do anything. It's easy to measure sins of commission, but impossible to know about sins of omission. As a result, would-be innovators keep traveling the path of least resistance, which means relying on the familiar, which means less valuable innovation.

The courage to innovate involves a high tolerance for difference. Ideas that are presented by people who look and act differently, who are not the usual suspects, are sometimes rejected because of unconscious biases. Harvard psychologist Mahzarin Banaji has found that encountering differences is mentally jarring and slows reaction time. That must be overcome, if the goal is innovation.

The search for innovation benefits from listening to people who are not the usual idea generators, who might look and seem different. "Open innovation" has become a popular catchphrase, signifying that it is acceptable to look outside the organization for new ideas because all creativity does not lie within. But then I see another conservative bias toward external innovators, even when more of the creativity might lie within, in the minds of junior employees or occupants of routine jobs that are treated disdainfully. Better a maverick from halfway around the world or crowd-sources on the Internet than a nerd in one's own organization. People already in the organization are often the most under-utilized asset.
The courage I'm recommending is not all that courageous. No bungee-jumping here. Just be open to ideas from unusual sources and try more things. A fuller pipeline of ideas will ensure that more and better innovation will flow.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter is a professor at Harvard Business School and the author of Confidence and SuperCorp.


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publicado por Francisco Banha às 11:28
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