I have a little vignette in The Innovator’s Dilemma about how people were trying to fly in the Middle Ages by fabricating wings, strapping them onto their arms, jumping and flapping real hard. For centuries subsequent innovators framed the problem as: The guys who died just didn’t flap hard enough. Yet it still never worked.
Once they understood that there were some basic laws of nature that they needed to account for, once Bernoulli understood fluid mechanics well enough to articulate his principle, then there was a law of nature we could actually harness.
I think that to some degree prior to my research, a lot of good managers were flapping their wings. They were working very hard to fight some fundamental laws of organization nature. (CC)
In my last meeting with the Board of NPR back in 2006 I ended my review of what I thought might be the lessons of the New Realities Process with a reminder of the truth of Clayton Christenson's research.
If the change that you have to pull off is disruptive - you will fail if you locate it inside the organization that it has to disrupt.
This is not an unproved theory but a Law Of Nature!
I have just had the pleasure of re-interviewing Torey Malatia. And I am beating myself up for overlooking my own advice.
I don't think that John Proffitt is alone when on returning from IMA08, he felt let down. Not with the valiant efforts of Mark - but with himself and his colleagues in public radio and TV. Why was there so little to show for years of effort?
I think that the answer is found in the reality of the Innovator's Dilemma. That most are trying to build the new inside the old.
Think of this for a minute. You are Martin Luther. You now know that you can speak to God direct and do not need the institution of the church to intermediate. How can you try and convince the church of this?
You are Galileo - you can prove that the Earth is not the centre of the universe. How can you get all those who believe the opposite and who by the way can kill you that you are right?
You are Charles Darwin and now think that the Earth is very old and that life evolves. Do you think that you can convince the fundamentalists?
So my friends - why should we expect to make a lot of progress towards a web based, person centred and participative world for public media when all the power owned by a system that operates under the opposite rules?
I am not saying that all in the system are bad - I am saying that you cannot innovate inside the system All you can hope for is incremental change and that is not what will win.
So what to do?
In that vein - I woke up at 4am today with this thought. Why not at NPR put Bryant Park and NPR Music and other new stuff in a new organization. Run it out of a different city - New York? Put an innovator in charge.
Think of what you all could do to relocate the new into a new container.
What do you think? Am I onto something?