Thursday, June 24, 2010

Business book mashup

Weird idea when you combine two recent business books’ ideas:

1. Design Thinking (Roger Martin). Basic idea: innovation requires balance of exploration and exploitation to move ideas from mystery to heuristic to algorithm. Organizations need exploration (creativity, few rules, etc.) to move stuff from one knowledge stage to the next, but need exploitation (classic business administration, streamlining, etc.) within the heuristic and algorithm stages to really make money at it and leverage an organization’s scale.

2. Drive (Dan Pink). Basic idea: traditional incentives (money, carrot, stick, etc.) only work as motivators for simple, straight forward, algorithmic tasks; but those motivators don’t work for more complicated, conceptual tasks that require creative thinking. Not only do they not work, they actually have a negative effect, proven again and again through countless psychology, sociology, and economic research.

This suggests that goals and metrics should depend very much on the context of a situation – more traditional metrics and rewards where exploitation is the goal (most easily applied when knowledge is at the algorithm stage), more intrinsic motivators when exploration is the desired outcome (that is, moving knowledge from one stage to the next).

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