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The Innovation Paradox : The Success of Failure, the Failure of Success Paperback – 20 Mar 1970
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Harlan Cleveland President Emeritus, World Academy of Art and Science Truth always seems to come in small paradoxical packages. This [one]...reveals the fusion of opposites as the essence of truth.
Jane Alexander Actress, author, and former Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts The authors make a clear case for understanding that failing precedes almost all great wins in our society....A valuable book for just about anyone in our competitive world.
Tom Peters I'm furious with Richard Farson and Ralph Keyes! They've written the book I always wanted to write.
This is the best management book I've read since Farson's last one, and doubtless the best I'll read until his next one. He is the master. Move over Drucker.
Richard Pollak The Nation A welcome antidote to the numbing conventional wisdom about what constitutes corporate success and failure. It shows how to make the business environment both vital and humane.
Michael Murphy Author of Golf in the Kingdom Promises to become a classic in the genre of modern wisdom literature.
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The Innovation Paradox is a 130 page B4 size series of statements supported by examples. It wears thin by page 30. "The Agony of victory, the thrill of defeat" "Nothing succeeds like failure" "Management by calamity" "Nothing fails like success" "Treat success and failure alike" etc etc.
It boils down to this: 1. Circumstances will change. 2. What made things a success or a failure with change. 3. Keep trying.
Farson and Keyes are two consultants who know how to game the system. They got me.
A lot of explanation is given as to why things work or fail and what influences people, and the paradoxes of why things don't happen as you'd expect - for instance, why those voted "most likely to" in US school yearbooks, seldom do. It's part an investigation of human nature and psychology and part business sense and best-practice, with a sprinkling of insightful remarks.
It is fairly short and therefore doesn't go into great depth on any one subject, but does provide a great overview of why successful organisations can be successful and how they must adapt to stay successful, and should be a great spring board to other books. I found it inspirational in many ways and the kind of book you keep in a handy place to be able to pick it up and reread sections.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I found this book to be a quick and easy read that caused me to question our societal norms and values in the subjects of success and failure.
On another note, I think that this book can be particularly useful to people who are perfectionists or who are stressed out about their need to succeed in whatever they are doing. This book helps to demonstrate that succeeding in everything is not always the route to being "successful" in the long run, and that playing it safe can end up costing you later on.
Thus, if you have any interest in the subjects of success/failure, economics, business, psycology or really any other topic...I would recommend this book. Definately glad I read it. Helped me to "succeed" in my paper about success.
Let's have the meat! Littered throughout the book were small tokens of management insight. It makes me want to read their management book actually. Nevertheless, Farson and Keyes don't have a full grasp of innovation. According to them, all that's needed is a risk friendly, mistake absorbing management philosophy. They don't address the issues of upward and downward mobility. Without that understanding, taking the risk and enter a new market could seem foolish, and most likely be done in a way that would lead to disaster. A dry, but much more insightful read on the subject is The Innovator's Dilemma.
So what tokens of management insight could be had? Let me quote from page 88. The following text deals with allowing mistakes in hope of fostering innovation. Not the best way to learn, I know. They are criteria for determining if mistakes are excusable, or not.
* Did the employee design this project contentiously or was it carelessly organized?
* Could the failure have been prevented if necessary research or consultation had been accomplishes properly?
* Was the project conducted in a spirit of collaboration, or did the employee ignore the input from the others who could have helped , or fail to check with colleagues who should have been informed?
* Did the project fail because it was burdened by requirements that weren't germane to the actual goal, but served only to meet personal needs of the employee?
* We there clear instances of deception with respect to projections of risk, cost, time, and son, or were variations from projections the results of honest mistakes?
* Was the mistake in question committed repeatedly?
Another section of seldom expressed reading describes how early success ( high school ) doesn't dictate success later in life. In fact the opposite is sometimes true. Having difficulty at this age either defeats you, or sows a seed of determination. It's the early success stories, the Heisman trophy winners and such, that feel a sense of entitlement, and therefore simply try less. They pointed to a study of young people performing a task: The group that was complimented more didn't perform as well as the group that wasn't. The simple managerial deduction was to be genuinely interested in an employees laudable actions rather than throwing out complements.
It was neat to hear their take on public education. It's purpose is to reward the non-risk takers, and weed out the risky. That helps explain why C's were hard to come by for me, but running a business is a hoot.
This 100 page read was worth my time, easily.