The Innovation Mindset

One is fruitful only at the cost of being rich in contradictions.

—Friedrich Nietzsche1

Several years ago, we helped an executive who faced one of the most dreaded tasks in management: Announcing the shutdown of several plants and telling everyone they would lose their jobs. Worse, he had to ask the outgoing employees to help him—not just to close the plants but also to turn them into bigger moneymakers until the scheduled shutdown. And he was in Europe, where he couldn't shutter the plants any sooner than three years after the announcement.

Jack, as we'll refer to this head of sourcing for a U.S.-based maker of consumer products, came into this position after his company bought a much smaller business in Europe. He ...

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