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Little Find

Innovating in a mess

The pandemic has led many to ask their teams to innovate faster and harder. But, paradoxically, clinging to familiar processes when uncertainty abounds stymies agility. A little mess wouldn’t do any harm…

Research from Hila Lifshitz-Assaf and Sarah Lebovitz proves a counterintuitive strategy for innovating fast, without compromising on quality. They tracked the development of 13 health-tech projects across two hackathons and identified two pitfalls and, in following, two strategies for innovating better during turbulent times: 

Pitfall 1: Compressing established processes into a tighter time frame. 

The best standard innovation practices cannot be compressed to adapt to a shorter time frame.   

Pitfall 2: Attempting to fully coordinate upfront. 

In general, coordinating and building shared understanding of work processes makes teams more efficient. However, it also tends to impede the ability to be flexible and adapt to the unexpected. 

Although it can seem counterintuitive, because it’s completely natural to seek order and stick with what we know when things become chaotic, teams in charge of innovation need to quickly drop lengthy initial processes and adopt minimal and adaptive coordination techniques – because, sometimes, the only way to succeed is to embrace chaos. 

Explore further

Embrace a Little Chaos When Innovating Under Pressure

Hila Lifshitz Assaf and Sarah Lebovitz
(Harvard Business Review, september 2020)

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Tagged with: crisis, covid19, mess, chaos, innovation
Françoise Tollet
Published by Françoise Tollet
She spent 12 years in industry, working for Bolloré Technologies, among others. She co-founded Business Digest in 1992 and has been running the company since 1998. And she took the Internet plunge in 1996, even before coming on board as part of the BD team.