Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Exploiting Chaos and Celebrating Failure

Laura’s post about failure got me thinking about today’s economic climate and its impact on innovation.  It seems that today, many companies are merely trying to get by until they have enough cash on hand to support more research and development.  They also may be afraid to do anything rash because of the possibility of going under in this economic environment.  However, this article reminds its readers that the most important innovations come out of times of stress, chaos, and rapid change- times like now.


The article discusses Jeremy Gutsche’s book, Expoiting Chaos.  In the book, he gives examples of times that crisis situations led to remarkable progress.  Although he was not necessarily referring to difficult economic times, some of his points are very applicable in today’s market:


·      Innovation is not about market timing; it’s about filling an unmet need

·      The failure of others should not hinder your own innovation efforts

·      You will only answer the problems you are trying to solve

·      To navigate chaos, organizations require the speed and capability that can only exist when employees are empowered.


These statements led me to the conclusion that innovation is important no matter what else is going on.  Every innovation that we have discussed in class, from diapers to fabric-thin running shoes, has helped improve the lives of its consumers.  Secondly, today, as businesses spend less money on innovation, they have less successful developments, which can lead others to assume that they too will fail.  The third statement shows that research and development are necessary all of the time.  Problems must be meticulously outlined and studied in order to be solved with an innovation.  And lastly, organizations must continue to provide support and money to their research and development groups because if they feel undervalued, they will not navigate through the recession with a constant stream of profitable innovations.


Overall, I was happy to see that innovation is important in times of chaos- economically or within an organization or industry.  New products may increase customer base, new organizations can capitalize on changing markets, and new processes can make existing organizations more profitable.

1 comment:

  1. Coming from a developing country, I have been constantly exposed to economical, political and social crisis. I can remember a sequence that repeats each time we have had an economical crisis: people is shocked, they think that only a miracle will overcome the situation and, then, some new self-employed jobs are created and new product/devices are developed and immediately sold. Both things - jobs and devices - are not created by any private business nor the government, but by low-income people that needs to figure out new ways to keep the pace of daily life.