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Book synthesis

Learning to nurture crazy ideas

Author Safi Bahcall argues that it is an
organization’s structure that determines its ability to nurture crazy, revolutionary ideas capable of transforming the world. This structure is regulated by
the same laws that govern physics,
and it can be modified to foster innovation. Learn how you can foster flexible, autonomous, and open entities (prerequisites for “loonshots”
to emerge) that coexist alongside more rigorous and structured processes (which will help you exploit the ideas effectively). If you’re successful, you will cultivate a virtuous circle of innovation for the long term.

Everyone has heard the stories about Polaroid, Nokia, and Disney. When Polaroid devised instant cameras in 1948, it revolutionized the photographic industry. A few decades later, however, Polaroid completely missed out on the transition to all things digital. Nokia, the world’s largest mobile phone manufacturer in 1998, was left behind by the smartphone boom in the 2000s. And the cartoon division at Disney, responsible for a series of global hits between 1989 and 1994, went into box-office free fall over the following two decades as Pixar took the world by storm with its computer-generated movies.

What’s less well known are the reasons that these companies, each of which had previously been lauded for its sense of innovation, failed to recognize market-disrupting ideas. The answer is simple: management considered the breakthroughs unrealizable or mad. But how do the same creative and dynamic teams, with a whole host of successful innovations to their name, suddenly lose their legendary flair? Because, explains Bahcall, the structure of their organizations became too rigid over time, preventing the workforce from spotting and developing revolutionary projects. Bahcall shows us the best way to trigger a virtuous circle of innovation that will stand the test of time.

“Mad” ideas that triumph against all the odds

Excerpt from Business Digest N°296, Mai 2019

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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.