May 27, 2004

News & Opinion: Switzerland and Innovation

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 1:35 PM – Filed under: Innovation & Creativity

Joel Kurtzman (former HBR editor and editor of MBA in a Box) writes a piece for European Business Forum. He says you need to be messy to innovate and that places like Switzerland and Japan are a little too organized. This goes well with a post from Evelyn at Crossroads Dispatches. The original article she quotes is Where To Get a Good Idea: Steal It Outside Your Group - by Michael Erard, Think Tank, NYT, May 22, 2004:
A cautionary real-life anecdote is in Hans Finzel's book, "Change Is Like a Slinky: 30 Strategies for Promoting and Surviving Change in Your Organization" (Northfield Publishing). He describes how 50,000 of the 62,000 Swiss watchmakers lost their jobs from 1979 to 1981 because the world began shifting to quartz watches -- mostly ones made in Asia. The Swiss didn't realize how the world was changing until it was too late. "It was the Swiss themselves who invented the electronic quartz movement at their research institute in Neuchatel, Switzerland," Finzel writes. "Yet when the Swiss researchers presented this revolutionary idea to the Swiss manufacturers in 1967, it was rejected.
Hope we didn't hurt anybody's feelings by picking on the Swiss today :)