Learning diary

Learning diary


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Resume of all the notions approached in classe during the module "Strategic Foresight & Innovation" and discussion of several research articles:
- Amabile et al. (2002) Creativity under Gun, Harvard Business Review, August 2002, 52-61.
- Barthelemy, J. The Experiential Roots of Revolutionary Vision, MIT Sloan Management Review, 48(1), 81-84
- Birkinshaw, J. - Mol. M. 2006, How Management Innovation Happens, MIT Sloan Management Review, 47(4) 81-88.
- Drucker, P. (1985) The Discipline of Innovation, Harvard Business Review, May/June, 67-72.
- Florida, R. (2005) The World is Spiky, The Atlantic Monthly, October, 48-51.
- Hamel, G. - Prahalad, C.K. (1994) Competing for Industry Foresight, Competing for the Future, Harvard Business Press. Chapter 4, 73-105.
- Kim, C. W. - Mauborgne, R. (2004) Blue Ocean Strategy, Harvard Business Review, October 2004, 76-84.
- Masini, E.B. (1993) Why Futures Studies? Grey Seal, London, 1-53,
- May, G. H. (1996) Foreseeing the future, book chapter (4) in The Future is Ours, Foreseeing, Managing and Creating the Future, Westport, CT: Praeger, 113-155.
- May, G. H. (1996) Managing planning and creating the future, book chapter (5) in The Future is Ours, Foreseeing, Managing and Creating the Future, Westport, CT: Praeger, 157-204.
- Sandberg, B. (2007) Enthusiasm in the development of Radical Innovations, Creativity and Innovation Management, 16(3), 265-273.
- Senge, P. (2009) Sustainability: Not What You Think It Is, Interview with Peter Senge, MIT Sloan Management Review, June 2009, 1-8.
- Sutton, R.I. (2002) Weird Ideas that Spark Innovation, MIT Sloan Management Review, Winter 2002, 83-87.
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Strategic Foresight &
Learning Diary
10 October 2011
Table of contents
1.Lecture 1: Introduction to the notion of entrepreneurship:...........................................4
1.1.Article: “The Discipline of Innovation”...................................................................5
1.2.Article: “The Experiential Roots of Revolutionary Vision”......................................9
2.Lecture 2: Futures research and global trends..........................................................11
2.1.Article: “Why Futures Studies?”..........................................................................12
2.2.Article: “Sustainability: Not What You Think It Is”................................................14
3.Lecture 3: Foresight & innovation:.............................................................................15
3.Article: “The Future is Ours, Foreseeing, Managing and Creating the Future”.......15
4.Lecture 4: Creativity:.................................................................................................19
4.1.Article: “Enthusiasm in the development of Radical Innovations”........................19
4.2.Article: “Weird Ideas that Spark Innovation”........................................................22
4.3.Article: “Creativity under Gun”.............................................................................24
5.Lecture 5: Types of innovation:.................................................................................26
5.1.Article: “How Management Innovation Happens”................................................26
5.2.Article: “Blue Ocean Strategy”............................................................................30
6.Lecture 6: The innovation process and the environment of innovation:.....................32
6.Article: “The World is Spiky”...................................................................................33
210 October 2011
Passionate about extreme sports, I would like to develop my own company
specializing in sports travel at the end of my studies. For several years, so I study
entrepreneurship in a business school in France to complete my project. However, in a
world increasingly global, it is now important that students gain international
experiences. I think it is actually necessary to have a look at the different cultures and
especially to adapt to different environments. In addition, in a project like mine, namely
the travels, I will have to do business with suppliers and customers all over the world.
I therefore chose to study in Sweden to acquire the international dimension and
receive a successful education system recognized worldwide. It also made sense that I
integrate the master's Business development and Internationalization to acquire all the
skills needed to pursue my project.
In the first module of the course business development and Internationalization,
several concepts related to entrepreneurship have been taught to me. Thus, various
elements such as imagination, creativity, foresights methods, or again innovation have
been discussed throughout this module.
Through my learning diary, so I gathered all the knowledge and concepts taught
to me as well through lectures given by professors that thanks to the various research
articles that I had the opportunity read. I therefore tried to relate the knowledge I gained
while expressing my views and the items that surprised me about the various theories
discussed in class and through the articles I have fully read.
310 October 2011
1. Lecture 1: Introduction to the notion of entrepreneurship:
During the first lecture, after introducing the various rules and established the
goals of the module "Strategic Foresight and Innovation", we discussed the concept of
The first lecture was an opportunity for me to understand precisely what
entrepreneurship is.
I learned during this first reading that entrepreneurship was the action of
transforming an idea into an innovative product or service to make a profit. Indeed, after
identifying a business opportunity, one or several individuals, considered here as
entrepreneurs, will create a company in order to sell these new products or services and
create value by emerging a source of profit from this activity.
Thanks to this lecture I also realized that entrepreneurship is closely linked to
notions of forecasting and creativity. In fact, in order to identify a business opportunity,
a person must have a vision of the future and understand the changes or the new
tendency of a coming market. Once these developments have been identified, he must
be creative in order to provide an innovative solution to the needs identified.
During the lecture, Ms. Zsuzsanna Vincze also insisted on the fact that we are
not an entrepreneur by nature. I totally agree with this notion, namely that a person is
not born entrepreneur but becomes one. Indeed, through training or past experiences, we
can learn to become an entrepreneur. This highlight therefore that someone can become
an entrepreneur at any age and no matter the social background or the level of
If I fully share this vision, I think it is however important to note that to become
an entrepreneur a person must have certain qualities and characteristic feature. In my
opinion, it is primarily important that an entrepreneur has an ease and an ability to take
risks. He must actually be willing to invest his own money and without knowing with
certainty the return on his investment.
Imagination and creativity are also the qualities necessary for an entrepreneur.
Indeed, he must be able to anticipate or make predictions to provide new solutions
fitting to his vision of the future. Those foresights will be very important for an
entrepreneur. In fact, as Hamel G. states through the article competing for industry
foresight, it will help to: “imagining the future and discovering new competitive space”
(Hamel G., 1994). Thus, combine with creativity, this will help to lead to an accurate
innovation that gives an answer to a new market space and a new demand.
410 October 2011
Charisma and authority will be very important as well. As a business owner, an
entrepreneur will be required to lead a team and will have to accept his vision and his
idea to his team. Thus, I believe these qualities can make the difference between failure
and entrepreneurial success.
It was also interesting to understand what might drive a person to become an
entrepreneur. Contrary to the majority of received ideas, the fact of becoming an
entrepreneur does not result in the mere fact of making money. Some people see
through this concept the opportunity to exercise a passion, to be fully independent by
becoming their own boss or the chance to implement his own ideas and not those
imposed by others.
1.1. Article: “The Discipline of Innovation”
This article, written by Peter Drucker, is the opportunity to return to a very
special concept needed in entrepreneurship: the Innovation.
Thus, after a brief definition of innovation, this article helped me to understand
the sources and processes to manage and set up an innovation.
This article was also very informative about the key principles of an innovation
which could make, at short or longer term, the difference between a success and a
Through this article, Drucker discusses innovation as: « The effort to create
purposeful, focused change in an enterprise’s economic or social potential » (Drucker
P., 1985). If this vision seems partly correct, I find, however, it a little lighter and
therefore i would like to add some details, which I think are essential. Indeed in my
opinion, innovation is the practice, the techniques, the processes, the products or again
the services resulting from an idea, a theory or an invention (as we have discussed it
with Ms. Zsuzsanna during the lecture 2), to reach business purposes. In fact, the
implementation of this innovation will have an economic aim and will be profitable.
If these details seemed necessary, as I mentioned, I also share the point of view
of Drucker. Innovation can actually be created voluntarily, and is generally based on the
detection of different changes or the acquisition of competence, as I will explain later in
my analysis.
As Drucker says, I think there may be innovations that result from an eureka
moment or a stroke of luck. However, I understood, through this article, that innovation
can emerge from certain sources and could be relatively controlled. In fact, I learned
that innovation could take its source from the analysis of some changes that could raise
the detection of an opportunity. Thus, the use of this opportunity in a practical aspect
can lead to the establishment of an innovation. So it was interesting to discover here that
510 October 2011
some sources, which help to detect an opportunity, could be directly related to the
detection of changes inside or outside a company or an industry.
All sources of opportunities raised by Drucker have all been, for me, learning
and knowledge acquisition. Thus, thanks to sources identified by Drucker, internal or
external to a company or an industry, I will explain in the following part the teachings
that I learned from this article by using title extract from the text.
Sources of opportunity within a company or an industry:
- The unexpected occurrences:
I was very surprised by the fact that an unexplained success or an unexpected
failure could lead to the development of an innovation opportunity.
Through the example of IBM and Ford Motor Company, I have realized that
unexpected success could allow an innovation to broadcast itself, or that the
solution to an unexpected failure could lead to the discovery of an opportunity.
However, I think it is, in this situation, necessary to look at this result from a
specific perspective. Therefore I think that using a strong sense of observation
and with an analytical approach, a failure may be translated in an opportunity.
However, it is imperative that this result is not rejected on the grounds because it
was not expected.
The example of IBM also shows that the chance may have a role when an
unexpected success emerges from a situation.
- The incongruities :
This source results from the appearance of results or information that go against
all logic. Thus, several data, which seems related to each other, move in the
opposite direction.
In seeing this phenomenon and the emergence of new data and information in
conflict, it was interesting to note that this could lead to the emergence of an
innovation opportunity. Thus, exploiting this unexpected result, that nobody had
never paid attention, a manager can give rise to an innovation.
Drucker identifies here the notion of incongruity or unexpected occurrence as
two different sources of opportunity. But I think they are linked. As he states:
« An incongruity between expectations and results can also open up possibilities
for innovation » (Drucker, P., 1985). This shows therefore that incongruity may
also be the result of an event or an unexpected circumstance. It is therefore
important to remember that the notion of chance, as explained above, is still
linked to this source.
610 October 2011
- The process needs:
Looking for new process can also be a source of innovation. The example of the
concept of sustainable development is here for me one of the best examples of
this source. Indeed, when companies sought to reduce their energy consumption,
many products and processes, resulting in innovation, have been established. I
think for example to solar panels. So, I understand that in seeking to improve a
process (in my example the energy needed to produce goods or services) can
lead to the creation of an innovation (ie solar panels).
- The industry & market changes :
I also share the view of Drucker on this point, namely that innovation can appear
in response to a change in a market or an industry.
If Drucker illustrates this source through several examples, I will express my
acceptance of this source with another example: the company Porvair. In seeking
to develop a flexible material, elastic but very strong at the same time, the
company Porvair has created what we know today as the synthetic leather. At
that time the leather clothes were popular and trendy, but the product created by
the company Porvair was not intended to make clothes. The leather market has
known thereafter a severe recession because of rising prices of these products.
However, the enthusiasm of consumers for such products was still present. The
director has managed to analyze this trend and subsequently decided to use his
material to make clothes made of synthetic leather. Result: the company is
building an innovation that awarded a huge success with consumers. This
example illustrates that the analysis of a change in a market or within an industry
may lead to the creation of an innovation. Thus, I share again the view of
Drucker on this source of innovation.
Sources of opportunity outside of a business or industry:
- The demographic changes:
Demographic changes taking place over generations may show many changes.
Thus, when we know how to analyse and undertstand them, some information
may appear and lead to the establishment of an innovation.
In France, for several years, all the experts observe a strong aging population.
Thus, in the future the elderly will represent a large proportion of the French
population and will have special needs. They are therefore a huge potential
market with great future prospects.
Some companies, by identifying the trend, have set up a large number of
innovations for products or services to elderly people and suited to their future
needs. Thus, anticipation of these demographic changes has helped to set up
numerous innovations which, in the coming years, will have an outsized
commercial potential.
710 October 2011
Thus, when we know operate and observe these changes, I think we can actually
seize opportunities that will result eventually in the creation of innovation.
- The changes in perceptions:
Here it is important to understand that a point of view that changes can emerge
in the creation of an opportunity. Indeed, by looking at a problem from another
perspective may appear some change or new information. Thus, the operation of
the latter may well result in innovation.
If Drucker explains that source with the exemple of the U.S. health care system,
I will use again my earlier example involving the concept of sustainable
development. Thus, when companies realized that the resources necessary for
their production were to run out, they immediately changed their minds and
decided to produce in a sustainable way in order to continue to grow in the
future. So an enthusiasm has arisen for the concept of sustainable development
and many innovations have followed the emergence of this market opportunity.
- The new knowledge :
Drucker states: “Among history-making innovations, those based on new
knowledge […] rank high.” (Drucker, P., 1985). I fully share this point of view.
While learning or discovering new knowledge is not the easiest to source to
detect. I think it will have, however, the greatest potential to result in innovation.
Control and adaptation of the latter with an identified need can actually attract a
broad customer base and find a market.
The example of Apple is instructive here. With the control of nanotechnology
Apple has managed to develop one of the smallest laptops in the world. This was
an innovation in this way.
As we have discussed above, innovation can be detected thanks to the
observation and the analysis of various changes. So I found interesting to understand
which source can lead to the detection an opportunity, which could then result in an
innovation. So, I realized that the emergence and detection of an innovation could be the
result of some studies and not simply be linked to a luck factor.
If, as we have just explained, the emergence of an innovation can be controlled,
it was also interesting to understand that innovation could also be directed. Indeed, with
the inclusion of certain principles, an ition can lead to success or failure as
Drucker specify in the second part of his article.
I think the first principle to consider is the depth analysis of the sources of
opportunity. Indeed, as I explained earlier, innovation is often the result of the
exploitation of an opportunity. But, we must still be able to detect and recognize this
opportunity. So an observational skill will be crucial to detect it.I think the analytical
810 October 2011
capacity of an innovator will then be essential to understand how to exploit innovation.
The author also explains that to be successful, innovation must be able to satisfy
demand while interesting the most actors as possible. I do share that view and I do think
that it must find a balance between the expectations of those whom it is intended and the
needs it addresses.
The second principle mentioned by Drucker, essential to the success of an
innovation is its simplicity and the understanding of its application. Indeed, in the sense
that an innovation has commercial purposes, it is important that potential users
understand the application of this innovation. If it does not meet this principle, as
ingenious as it is, an innovation will have no future. This highlights another principle
that is not mentioned by the author of this article: the preparation of the environment of
the innovation.
Indeed, when the rupture created between past and present situation is too high,
due to the emergence of an innovation, it can lead to failure. Take for example the case
of Edison and the electricity. When he was preparing to distribute electricity in all
American households, he required that the public understands and accepts the
application of his invention. So in order to disseminate his invention he created Menlo
Park and surrounded himself with many very influential people in the American society.
He surrounded himself not only of scientific expert in many areas, but also of politicians
in order to prepare the environment and the arrival of his invention. This shows
therefore that in some cases, the environment of an innovation must be made in
conjunction with it. Innovation has to create an environment conducive to its spread and
its acceptance.
Finally, I found this text very complete and exciting. It helped me understand
what might be the factors of success or failure of an innovation. Thus, it was very
rewarding for me to revisit the key elements of an innovation and how it could be
managed to attract the interest of a growing number of users.
Also, if I have always believed that innovation was rarely the result of a stroke
of genius, it is now interesting to put a name on the sources that can lead to the creation
of an innovation. Thus, I will be now able to pay more attention on changes that could
lead to the detection of an opportunity and analyze them to try to set up an innovation.
1.2. Article: “The Experiential Roots of Revolutionary Vision”
Ikea has often been cited as an example and its strategy has been studied by
many experts. This company is a model of success in its development and its adaptation
to changing market of home furniture. This company is today the world leader in the
sale of furniture and has a turnover of €14.8 billion with nearly 220 stores in 33
Thus, through this article, I understand what are the key points to this strategy,
which have led Ikea to success, and especially the origin of this strategy and how it has
been implemented.
910 October 2011
Ingvar Kamprad, founder of the Ikea store chain, said the company's strategy
consists in: « offering a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing
products at prices that are so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford
them » (Kamprad I., 1976). Based on this vision, which remained the mainstay of the
strategy of Ikea throughout its development, Kamprad has implemented various actions
that have all led to the success of this strategy. Thus, in order to be able to offer products
at the lowest price possible and to meet the expectations of its customers, Ingvar
Kamprad has taken several strategic decisions:
- Sell the furnitures and the various items as a kit and in packs easily
- Working with manufacturers and suppliers from different countries.
- Creating their own products with their own design.
- Create unique store environment as a showroom, where it is possible to enjoy a
restaurant or use services such as a child-minding facility.
If this article helped me to learn what elements were key of the success of the
strategy developed by Kamprad, I found it fascinating to understand what led this
entrepreneur to make these decisions.
I actually notice, through this text, that these decisions were not the result of a
future vision that Kamprad could have, but more a reaction and an adaptation related to
the circumstances of the furniture market. Indeed, throughout its development, Ikea has
had to face many problems and so develop solutions. Kamprad does not choose
voluntarily worked with manufacturers in countries other than Sweden or create the
design of its own product. These choices have actually resulted in a boycott of
manufacturers and retailers from Swedish furniture. As for the decision to sell the
furniture in kit or to arrange atypically Ikea outlets, these actions have been
implemented to provide a solution to an identified problem.
It is interesting to note, through the implementation of this strategy, that
Kamprad has adopted an incremental approach to develop its business and faces those
issues. It means that this businessman has consistently looked for solutions to correct
problems and improve the effectiveness of its strategy without a total change or by fully
recovering it. So I understood that by analyzing a particular problem it was possible to
find appropriate solutions and thus turn them into competitive advantage. Indeed, with a
sharp sense of observation and the experimentation of various processes, it is often
better to make improvements to an original vision rather than fully review it.
I think it is however important to note that Kamrad has been very lucky in the
development of his business. All decisions he took to develope his business was actually
not the result of a personal desire but rather the forced reaction to events and
circumstances from the environment of the furniture market. So we are not in a pattern
of anticipation but more in a submission or an adaptation one. If this pattern has resulted