Disciplined Innovation – not a paradox

by Maria Paula Oliveira

Disciplined Innovation - not a paradoxI almost freaked out! Yes, almost lost it, went nuts. Cover of last Exame magazine (Brazil most renowned business publication): Jim Collins, one of my favorite authors, saying “Innovation can kill.” OMG! How so? How could I defend tooth and nail this issue after a statement like that?

Deep breath. I took a glass of water … and I read the full story.

And once again found that:

  • Jim Collins is an author who deserves to be read
  • We are on track when it comes to innovation

What Collins says in his new book Great by Choice, again based on extensive research, is that the key to competitiveness is directly linked to the disciplined creativity. Just being inventive or groundbreaking is no guarantee of success. Being creative is not difficult, he says. This is our natural state as human beings. But we are not necessarily disciplined. Combining the two is more difficult, and usually less exciting.

It is the discipline aligned to creativity that allows companies to react consistently in times of chaos and uncertainty. Rather than reacting immediately in an unstructured manner, disciplined companies distance themselves from the problem, analyze it and plan their actions.

Collins also says that planning is not about predicting the future, but, instead, a measure to keep contingency strategies that will enable the company to cope with the unexpected. He even calls the winning companies “paranoid”, since they are always prepared for the worst. Thus, they act as if success were to be won every day. And, as the day-to-day is played by people, these companies give special attention and recognition for their talents. Finally, those are companies that have their eyes on the future. They have a higher purpose, a mission that goes beyond the next quarter’s results.

Many companies that I see on the market today understand that building the innovation capability is not “painting the walls purple”. They have to apply discipline to its people natural capacity for being creative, providing them with the culture, the processes and the tools to greatly transform inspiration into value.

image credit: littlethingsmatter.com


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Maria PaulaMaria Paula Oliveira is the Manager of Corporate Innovation at Serasa Experian and Experian Latin America, a major credit and marketing information corporation. Her core expertise includes innovation management, market analysis, trends identification, business development, negotiation, strategic planning, competitive intelligence and marketing. Maria Paula is both an American and Brazilian citizen.

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