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Little Find

The masochism of innovation

Beth Comstock argues that there’s a way forward if you feel your innovation strategy does not always bear fruit. Tolerance for risk, patience, and frugal investment can result in breakthrough innovations. But be careful: It can hurt!

Innovation can sometimes be a painful experience, requiring a healthy dose of masochism: 

  • Learn to assess difficulty, uncertainty, failure, disappointment, and risk. 
  • Don’t wait to kill off any dubious ideas or projects. And no, injecting even more money won’t save your project! 
  • Define the pain points: Before vaunting any positive prospects for profitability, ask yourself what could sink your plans and why you feel so confident.  
  • Refuse any additional budget! Instead, look to innovate frugally, which will allow you to avoid the pressure to make a return on your investment.  
  • Search out bad news and negative feedback as a way to counteract your biases, which may be causing you to underestimate the downsides.  
  • Be prepared to hear that projects aren’t moving quickly enough and haven’t created any value yet.  

In the end, you may suffer, but you’ll like the result.  

To go further

The committed innovator : a discussion with Beth Cosmtock

 by Erik Roth et Beth Comstock (McKinsey & Company, february 2020)

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Florence Meyer
Published by Florence Meyer
Executive coach, change management expert, and author. Constantly on the lookout for the latest management and leadership trends.