AI: What are some striking examples of successful recombining at the corporate level?
David Kord Murray :My latest book,Plan B (recently published by Simon & Schuster) has to do with business models – strategy and tactics based on creative thinking tools and the process of recombination. The overarching story is Facebook and how Mark Zuckerburg took different pieces of things that were already out there – instant messaging, the social media and community building happening on Myspace – he was brilliant at coming up with combinations of things. Taking his company along for that journey and going through the evolutionary process, they got really good at it.
The businesses that succeed at this are constantly trying new things, always searching for next idea. They don’t sit on their laurels. If you do, you’re going to be copied by the next generation of innovators. If you stay constantly innovating then the competitors can’t catch up, because you’re always ahead of the curve.
I was working with a health care company that was having problems in their ICU. Employing the six steps to business innovation from Borrowing Brilliance, we defined the problem as one of coordinating the timing on an awful lot of moving parts that had to be working in close synchronization and precision, then we asked the important question: who has similar problems?
One of the answers that came up, believe it or not, was NASCAR. So we brought in a NASCAR pitboss. He explained his working process, and the health care company got a lot of ideas. They had to work with them and tweak and make adjustments, but it’s all part of the process. That’s how innovation works.
Part of my consulting is to teach teams how to do that. Kaiser Permanente, GE, Paypal. Sometimes it’s harder in the bigger companies, but it’s doable.
David Kord Murray graciously took time to speak with Arts Interstices about his work. The interview was published in a sequence of five blogposts in March-April 2012.