Managing innovation - creating value from ideas

The goalkeeper's fear of the penalty

March 20, 2020 john
Managing innovation - creating value from ideas
The goalkeeper's fear of the penalty
Chapters
Managing innovation - creating value from ideas
The goalkeeper's fear of the penalty
Mar 20, 2020
john

This episode looks at how maintaining focus may not always be the right strategy for innovation

You can read the blog version at www.johnbessant.org

Show Notes Transcript

This episode looks at how maintaining focus may not always be the right strategy for innovation

You can read the blog version at www.johnbessant.org

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There's a famous 1972 film by the German director of In Vendor's called the goalkeeper's fear of the penalty, which, if nothing else, is a great title for a movie. It's a powerful metaphor for the anxieties that go with any role that we have to play, and it's something with which we can all identify. The buck literally stops. Hall doesn't in the hands of the man or woman standing in front of the goal posts. A few weeks before the World Cup kicked off, football fans were glueing their attention to the UFO Champions League final. Liverpool had been on a rising tide and looked to have a strong chance of winning its 13th title. Instead, the team failed, suffering a significant defeat to Real Madrid. The failure came because of some disastrous mistakes made by the young goalkeeper Loris Karius, leaving the field in tears carry us later wrote on Twitter that he was infinitely sorry for letting the side down. Yes, it's a setback for his career and a disappointment for Liverpool fans, but if we take a step back we can extract some interesting lessons that have broader implications for crisis situations. Many commentators complained that carriers lacked focus in his game. Yet an intriguing piece by Matthew Syed, writing in The Times newspaper, suggests the opposite may in fact, have been the case. He suggests that the young goalkeeper was concentrating so hard on his coaches instructions to distribute the ball wide and deep that he somehow missed seeing the six foot Madrid striker running in on him and about to score at this point was also made by ex professional goalkeeper turned ESPN commentator Shaka Hislop. His post match analysis suggested that carriers had become too preoccupied with this one objective. He was too focused, lacking the awareness of the widest situation aside, based his argument on psychological research, which suggests that when under pressure there is a tendency to zoom in on apparently critical tasks on Miss out on the other tasks going on in the background. In fact, there's a well known phenomenon called in attentional blindness, and there's a famous video of some students playing a game of basketball which aptly demonstrates it. Those watching the game focus on the white team and count how many times the ball changes hands, and participants in this experiment usually fail to notice the six foot gorilla wandering around in the middle of the game. It's one of many such demonstrations in which we miss something big and close because we're too busy focusing on something else. The psychological explanation is that we have limited attentional resources. We've evolved by developing crisis responses that allow us to concentrate these resources where we think we need the most. In other words, to focus whether missing six foot gorilla's or strikers from the opposite football team focusing on what we think is the task at hand can blind us to other important information science. Prior work focused heavily on safety in aviation, medicine and other domains. It made the point that one of the key skills needed by Air crew is the ability not to zoom in and focus. Rather, unnecessary skill is to take in the big picture and remain aware of what's going on. Across a broad front. Pilot training has learned a lot from past disasters. It now includes developing skills in situational awareness. That means remaining open to information from across a broad front and resisting the urge to concentrate only on a small subset side gives several examples including the 1972 crash of a DC nine into the Florida Everglades. The crew was so fixated on solving a problem with the landing gear that they failed to notice that the plane was losing altitude until it was too low to correct. Something similar happened in 1978 when a DC eight crashed in Portland, Oregon. After running out of fuel, the crew was again preoccupied with problems with the landing gear. By contrast, interviews with Chesley Sully Sullenberger highlight the way he resisted the temptation to focus in. Sully managed to land his Airbus A 3 20 plane on the Hudson River after a devastating bird strike blew out both engines, Assali explained. My immediate reaction to the engine failure was a normal human physiological response. I was aware as it happened, I could feel my pulse shoot up my blood pressure spike on. I sensed my purpose. Perceptual field narrow Because of the stress, Sully had 208 seconds between the time they hit the birds and the time they landed. He told Newsweek magazine that part of what helped them that day, besides forcing common ourselves, was forcing order on this situation. that could have become chaotic. In the first few seconds, I realised I couldn't save both the people on the aeroplane on the aeroplane. Deciding to land the plane in water meant losing the $60 million plane but saving the lives of 155 people on board. Had he focused on trying to save the plane first, he may not have been telling his storey today. Something similar happened in April this year when Southwest Airlines pilot Tommy Joe Schultz managed to land her badly damaged Boeing 737 at a Philadelphia airport after an engine exploded. Listening to the com exchanges with air traffic control highlights once again the way in which she and her co pilot kept broad situational awareness watching and managing a variety of complex challenges, including flying on only one engine, calculating the approach to the alternate airfield and preparing the ground emergency response. What happened here on what was missing at the Champions League final is the ability to override the instinct to zoom in. Instead, they took the zoom out approach, which keeps the biggest situation in view. Zooming out is relevant beyond the field of aviation or football there's a valuable lesson for innovation management as well. One of the persistent problems of established players Incumbent is that they're too often blindsided. They're caught off guard by developments in technology markets or business models. We look at some of the most dramatic examples and wonder. How did they miss that in much the same way? As Spectators shouted at, curious as the ball rattled into the net behind him? How could Kodak have been so stupid? Why didn't blockbuster see it coming? Wasn't it obvious to the music industry giants that MP three and streaming music we're going to change the game forever? The reality is, of course, that these were far from stupid organisations. They built a strong position over decades. They turned early entrepreneurial success into a global business. They became adept at innovation off a sustaining type, doing what they did better and better, the trouble wass that they lacked peripheral vision, the bigger picture or perhaps more worryingly, When their sophisticated intelligence gathering networks picked up signals about changing context, they were filtered out. The famous management writer CK Prahlad called the's the blinders of dominant logic. He argued that the trajectory on which successful businesses find themselves can act as blinkers, which stopped them from seeing or appreciating the relevance of new and different information. Dorothy Leonard of Harvard Business School makes a similar point. She argues that the very things that make an organisation great its core competence can end up dragging it down as they become core rigidities. So innovating organisations just like pilots or goalkeepers need to develop approaches which allow them to both focus in on DH maintain a broader perspective. Scanning for the wider situation, they need capabilities to exploit the advantages of focus, deep technical knowledge, close customer relationships and insights on key partnerships with suppliers. But they must also think like an entrepreneur, viewing their industry from outside and wondering how it might be disrupted. Now that's a tall order. How does an organisation manage this? The diagnosis is fine, but the prescription seems to call for having eyes in the back of your head and on the sides as well. How can organisations develop on antenna array able to pick up weak signals and get those signals at least a CE faras, the main processing centre for evaluation? And as if that wasn't hard enough How can they also make sure that information could bypass the philtres of other elements of the corporate immune system? One way is to mobilise multiple minds on the job sourcing ideas as widely as possible from a CZ. Many people as possible adds to the range of options. Broadcast searches powerful especially for identifying new trajectories and unexpected directions and research, increasingly shows that crowd sourcing of ideas, whether by mobilising employees in sites through high involvement, innovation programmes or widening toe work with suppliers, customers or the world, offers a powerful resource for the front end of innovation. Crowdsourcing ideas can also help with the immune system challenge. It can help act as a counter to the organisation's tendencies to focus and zoom in on what it already understands. The wisdom of crowds is a powerful way to evaluate and explore radical alternative ideas, idea markets and judgement. Collectives are becoming an increasingly important addition to their portfolio management to box for innovation, and much of the agile approach to innovation emphasises the importance of prototyping using, probe and learn methods to help build a working and viable picture of emerging fields. It's about holding the focus open for longer, allowing a degree of exploration and pivoting around new directions. Once again, doing this across communities allows for divers interaction. It brings in important pieces of information and insight, which easily lost in a more focused approach. Now none of this discussion takes away the need for a mainstream innovation model, one which does maintain focus on sustaining and enhancing innovation. But it might provide the additional capability next time that opposing team's striker is hovering on the edge of Thie innovation penalty box.