Home > For the Captain: Create an innovation culture > Innovation is more likely to thrive in trial-and-error cultures

Innovation is more likely to thrive in trial-and-error cultures

INSEAD and Logica surveyed two hundred CxO level business leaders across Europe, about their views on innovation and what factors may foster it or hinder it.  One of the critical factors the survey highlights is the attitude towards mistakes:

“UK workers are most likely to learn from their mistakes with 50% of business leaders saying they encourage their organisation to do so. France achieved the lowest rate at 20%.” See http://www.logica.com/insead/400017425

Having lived 10+ years in each country I believe that the difference runs deeper than just the attitude towards mistake; it sits right at the heart of the learning model.

While learning in the UK is very pragmatic and does not shy away from trial-and-error, learning in France is dominated by the theory-practice model: first you learn/articulate/establish the theory, then and only then you apply it to a practical case. If the theory is correct and applied diligently, there is no reason why anything should fail. When you value this model, you certainly do not perceive any value in mistakes.

The biggest challenge that France is facing in an increasignly innovation-oriented world is to balance its strong taste for theory (which indeed is an important scientific asset) with a healthy dose of trial-an-error, which  is a pre-requisite for  some essential innovation processes such as rapid prototyping.

Quite a cultural reform, I say.

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