CHAPTER 3 Building the Innovative Organization

Photograph of a puffer fish.

Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have … it’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.

Steve Jobs, interview with Fortune Magazine, 1981 [1]

People are our greatest asset.” This phrase – or variations on it – has become one of the clichés of management presentations, mission statements, and annual reports throughout the world. Along with concepts such as “empowerment” and “team working,” it expresses a view of people being at the creative heart of the enterprise. But very often the reader of such words – and particularly those “people” about whom they are written – may have a more cynical view, seeing organizations still operating as if people were part of the problem rather than the key to its solution.

In the field of innovation, this theme is of central importance. It is clear from a wealth of psychological research that every human being comes with the capability to find and solve complex problems, and where such creative behavior can be harnessed among a group of people with differing skills and perspectives extraordinary things can be achieved. We can easily think of examples. At the individual level, innovation has always been about exceptional characters who combine energy, enthusiasm, and creative insight to invent and carry forward ...

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