I ventured up to “cottage country” north of Toronto this past weekend for Overlap 07, now in its second year of exploring the overlap of design and business in a small event format out in a beautiful, woodsy setting. Again, it was inspiring and useful, perhaps more so as the mix of design, business, media, and scientific perspectives was more even. Thanks go to the folks from Torch for making it a success.
There’s a lot to say about it. But one of the big topics of conversation was our growing discomfort with field’s myopia with innovation: discomfort with the word as well as the focus on the high-risk/high-return sort of innovation. We talked and heard research about organic growth and risk profiles that allowed companies to thrive in the long term with less risk and pretty good returns. The highlight IMHO was Jeanne Liedtke‘s overview of their research in this area and the profile of individuals who tend to succeed, which I summarized:
- Personality of ambidextrous entrepreneurs is shaped by their work experience, usually changing roles often to build their repertoire.
- They exert great influence in their environment.
- Some are assholes, but some simply practice pragmatic leadership — setting goals, expecting performance, being tough but still loved as leaders (not just touch-feely counselors).
- They have a true interest in customers instead of the usual market research.
- They have a senior boss run cover for them as they ignore organizational constraints to pursue revenue.
Along the way she mentioned the work of Carol Dweck who I need to read up on.
There’s some Overlap07 photos on Flickr.