Monday, November 23, 2009

Bill Belichick is the model for management success

This is a great point - not about football but about the typical mid-level manager. Their incentives are not always about maximizing return or minimizing risk to the company. Often, their incentives are to minimize the probability that something they do will get noticed in a bad way by upper management. Just keeping their heads down is the best path forward. Unfortunately, this aggregates across the company into performance that is much lower than it could be. Companies need to encourage more Bill Belichicks.
Interesting post by Daniel Isenberg at Harvard Business Review. But I have to disagree in part.

There is a lot of evidence that incremental innovations yield more over the long term than breakthrough innovations, in part because there are so many more of them and that they are cheaper to develop and commercialize. BUT there are two big BUTs.

1. In the longer term, it is the breakthrough innovations that lead t...o real improvements in quality of life. So if we want to make a difference in the world, we need to have breakthrough innovations.

2. It is the pursuit of breakthrough innovations that create talented innovators. These people may be necessary to keep the stream of incremental innovators going. So if we all shift to "minnovation" as this HBS blogger suggests, we may reduce our innovation capability in the long run.