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Innovation Leaders Should be Controlled Schizophrenics

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Innovating is a multi-faceted process. In this paper, four different, yet intertwined aspects of this process are distinguished. The first aspect concerns the content of the innovation; a new product, a new technology or a new market. The second aspect concerns the group dynamics of the innovation team. The third aspect concerns seeing the innovation process as a creative process. And the fourth aspect has to do with leadership. Since these four aspects are simultaneously working together during the innovation process, the leaders of this process are working in a very difficult situation, as all four aspects need to be dealt with in different ways. Nearly all of them are, in one way or another, in conflict with one another. They may conflict in real actions, in time horizons (past, present or future) or in effect (positive reactions during market introduction do not garantee ultimate market success). This means that innovation leaders need to show a special kind of leadership. This leadership must be balanced, people-focused and must include a high tolerance for ambiguity and paradoxes. They have to be nice and nasty at the same time. In short: innovation leaders should be some kind of controlled schizophrenics.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering at the Delft University of Technology

Publication date: June 1, 2007

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