8. October 2022

Break the Innovative Paradox

I enjoyed Jeff Dyer, Nathan Furr, and Michael Hendron’s article in MIT Sloan Magazine ‘Overcoming The Innovator’s Paradox.’ They interviewed 100+ innovative business leaders who transformed companies and industries with radical ideas while securing enough resources. The authors highlight idea amplifiers to help secure the resources for more daring, risky ideas:

  • Comparing: finding the right analogy to convince supporters. E.g. “We’re the Airbnb of the X industry”

  • Materializing: Making an abstract concept tangible. To convince the sceptical NASA for SpaceX, Musk parked a Falcon 1 in front of the NASA museum in WA, forcing them to engage.

  • Storytelling: Crafting a narrative. Jack Ma used the emotionally compelling story about Alibaba’s quest to create a better future for small business owners in China by opening the internet frontier.

  • Signalling: Connecting to credible groups that confer legitimacy on your idea, e.g. alliances, relationships, awards.

  • Applying social pressure: Creating a sense of scarcity and having discussions with potential sponsors, employees, and partners in parallel.

  • Committing: Convincing others through a visible, personal, irreversible action. E.g. investing substantial amounts or giving up a lucrative job.


What amplifiers have you seen work?

The Power of Co-Elevation

In a transformation, it is key to create high-performing teams that cut across reporting line structures. In this context, I very much like Keith Ferrazzi’s

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