Edited by Ben L. Kedia and Subhash C. Jain
This chapter develops a framework for organizing for complex innovation. We focus on complex innovation because it comprises a new frontier in innovation management. Complex innovation is when innovators working on the creation of new products are faced with extreme uncertainty or unknown unknowns (Pisano, 2006). For complex innovators, the relationships between cause and effect that are so integral to putting a new product together are unknown, and must be discovered for each new product. Complex innovators do not know what particular elements might be part of the new product, how to design those elements or how to integrate them into a commercially viable product system. These innovators must discover a plausible pattern for their product as they innovate. Many pressing societal needs such as developing new energy systems and materials, overcoming poverty, assuring financial liquidity without crashing economies, creating environmentally sustainable operations and discovering drug therapies for unmet medical conditions are complex innovations that involve enormous risks, but also offer enormous societal benefits if these needs can be fulfilled. Organizing for complex innovation enables innovators to encompass more possibilities, explore more alternatives, and keep more options open as they search for workable patterns among virtually infinite possibilities.
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