Thursday, December 09, 2010

How Learning Leads to Results
Matthew E. May, author of The Shibumi Strategy: A Powerful Way to Create Meaningful Change, introduces a passage on the critical role of a learning focus in innovation from The Other Side of Innovation: Solving the Execution Challenge, by Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble.

This article is fabulous and underscores our work that the innovation process is one of constant learning and adapting.

"Learning and innovation cannot be separated. That’s why low-resolution prototyping is a critical part of the innovation process, because every savvy designer knows that before anyone can improve or innovate anything, learning must take place. In fact, there isn’t a successful design firm in the world that doesn’t elevate to gospel the “fail fast and learn” principle.
Although learning and innovation are closely linked, learning comes first. The great innovators understand that it is learnership that results in leadership....

...Learnership is all about the beta. It is an acquired capability, a teachable discipline. It requires developing a strong skill and a sound process. In this passage, Govindarajan and Trimble provide a precise and valuable definition of learning — and a reason that innovators should pay attention to it.
— Matthew E. May....

..When we speak with executives about the overriding importance of learning from experiments, we sometimes sense a degree of impatience. The overwhelming goal, in the minds of some, is not learning; it is results. Learning is a soft and squishy objective; results, on the other hand, are what business is all about.

We sympathize with that point of view. Learning, as an outcome, can sound like a consolation prize. “Sorry that the project failed, boss, but let me tell you, we learned a ton.” We get it. With innovation, however, placing primary focus on learning rather than results actually leads to better results.

We are not talking about learning in a general, feel-good sense. We are talking about a very specific type of learning. For our purposes, learning is the process of turning speculative predictions into reliable predictions"

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