Innovation in turbulent times

Too few businesses have creative, right-brain types in leadership positions. That leaves innovation especially vulnerable to unwise cost cutting during hard times. Article co-author Darrell Rigby explains how savvy companies use "both-brain" teams to succeed. 




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The full version of this article is available on Harvard Business Online (subscription required).

The Idea in Brief

Too few businesses have creative, rightbrain types in leadership positions. That leaves innovation especially vulnerable to unwise cost cutting during hard times. Decisions about slashing versus retaining projects are made by analytic, left-brain leaders unsuited to evaluating innovation portfolios.

The fashion industry is worth emulating:

  • Its businesses are "both-brain," run by pairs of powerful executives with complementary-creative and analytic-styles.
  • They are structured to support leftbrain-right-brain partnerships; hiring at all levels seeks a mix of cognitive styles.
  • Innovation becomes a way of business life, not a marginal activity.

Both-brain pairs have been found elsewhere: Apple CEO Steve Jobs and COO Tim Cook; Procter & Gamble's chief of global design, Claudia Kotchka, and CEO A.G. Lafley; high-tech engineer Bill Hewlett and business leader David Packard. Such partnerships could help innovation thrive in your business.

Read the full article on Harvard Business Online.