How to Boost the Insight Generation Power of Your Workforce in Innovation

In a knowledge society, a company’s competitive advantage derives from the capability to generate and apply insights to innovation. Below, Alessandro Di Fiore considers the principles of the Toyota Production System, and argues that harnessing the power of individual insights as a driver of innovation and growth could represent the ultimate competitive advantage.

In a recent article published in the fall issue of the London Business School BSR magazine we explained why companies are overlooking the compelling power of qualitative judgment and insights in innovation. This article builds on our previous contribution and explains how to develop insight generation skills in our organisations.

In today’s knowledge society, a company’s competitive advantage should derive from a long under-developed asset: the capability to generate and apply insights to innovation. Consider Apple, which has been built thanks to insights rather than analytics. Steve Jobs’s resistance to quantitative research is well known.

The trouble is that most companies invest heavily in developing analytical skills and big data while making limited investments in the insight skills of their personnel. Business leaders believe that creativeness is genetic, its practice cannot be standardised. This is what we call Schumpeter’s bias. We all pay lip service to Schumpeter’s vision of the lone and creative entrepreneur. This image is so entrenched that people unconsciously tend to believe that the magic of an insight is not replicable.

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