January 13, 2011 at 10:06 am , by Philippe Silberzahn
So how did the book come about? It all started with a mission.
Upon joining Vlerick, I was tasked with a mission: get the Vlerick faculty to work together on innovation. Only youth and a certain degree of optimism could make that this mission was welcomed with excitment. Think about it: most people would tell you that getting faculty to work together is almost a contradiction in terms, and it’s even worse if they are from different departments – or “competence centers” as it is called there.
So there was option 1: get people together, discuss about everybody’s view on innovation, agree on a common framework, and take it from there. Might as well try to cool down hell… Option 2 was rather un-academic: inventory what the faculty had already done on innovation and publish it. As it happened, there was actually quite a lot that had already been done, in particular with case studies.
Over the years, interesting companies or practices, original approaches, in all sectors and functional areas, had been studied in depth. Some of these companies were relatively unknown outside their own industries, which meant that more could probably be learned from them.
Even more interestingly, there were a number of lessons that could emerge once one started to bring all this material together. Approaching innovation as a learning experience, the importance of devising each company’s own approach, and the challenge of balancing between innovation and creativity were the three most striking. It was felt important to tell each company’s story, and follow the story with an academic analysis, a sort of “what can we learn from it?”. In some cases were fortunate to be able to have one of the case’s hero give us an interview to share his or her view of the story.
As the book project was gathering speed, Walter Van Dyck joined the School. I, very generously, gave him maybe one or two days to get settled before enrolling him and join the tornado. By then the first chapters were trickling in and the pair switched to full reading/feedback/rewriting mode. While some book projects can be nightmarish, it must be said here that although there was much sweat, there wasn’t any blood, and probably not much tears either.
Indeed, the deadline was met and that, apparently, our published hasn’t comprehended yet.