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Creative Construction

The DNA of Sustained Innovation

Gary P. Pisano


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This myth-busting book shows large companies can construct a strategy, system, and culture of innovation that creates sustained growth.

Every company wants to grow, and the most proven way is through innovation. The conventional wisdom is that only disruptive, nimble startups can innovate; once a business gets bigger and more complex corporate arteriosclerosis sets in. Gary Pisano's remarkable research conducted over three decades, and his extraordinary on-the ground experience with big companies and fast-growing ones that have moved beyond the start-up stage, provides new thinking about how the scale of bigger companies can be leveraged for advantage in innovation.

He begins with the simply reality that bigger companies are, well, different. Demanding that they "be like Uber" is no more realistic than commanding your dog to speak French. Bigger companies are complex. They need to sustain revenue streams from existing businesses, and deal with Wall Street's demands. These organizations require a different set of management practices and approaches -- a discipline focused on the strategies, systems and culture for taking their companies to the next level. Big can be beautiful, but it requires creative construction by leaders to avoid the creative destruction that is all-too-often the fate of too many.

Praise For Creative Construction: The DNA of Sustained Innovation

"Above all, Pisano is wise and well travelled enough to recognise that while successful innovation is not the exclusive province of small companies, it is never easy. To become a creative constructive enterprise means getting strategy, systems and culture right, which in turn requires leadership throughout the organisation."—Financial Times, A Best Business Book of the Month, January 2019

"In this deeply
informed book, [Pisano] describes how large enterprises can succeed at
transformative innovation... Especially valuable is the author's discussion of
problems faced by multidivisional companies whose expertise is dispersed in
independent silos that prevent them from bringing ideas together to exploit
opportunities. Sony, for example, was a consumer electronics leader but lacked
capacity for integrating its existing knowledge; Apple beat it in developing
portable electronic devices. Pisano also examines DuPont's invention of Kevlar,
intended as a solution to a tire problem but most effective in stopping a
bullet... A useful manual for fostering a sustainable culture of change."—Kirkus Reviews

"Incisive and
relevant, Pisano's primer will give executives much to consider."—Publishers Weekly

"I really loved this book. Larger companies have so many opportunities to innovate both in technology and business models. The problem isn't scale, but with management practice and mindset; how do we think about, manage, or be smart about it? While it is hard to strike the balance between short-term needs and committing resources to bigger, but unknown changes, it is critical. Gary P. Pisano addresses many issues that can help improve support and strategy for change."—Ed Catmull, president of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, author of Creativity, Inc.

"Innovation is the heart of economic progress. Creative Construction provides the intellectual framework to understand it, and describes the leadership, strategy, culture, and skills for it to occur in well-resourced large organizations. Along the way, these ideas are beautifully brought to life by examples from the earliest days of the Industrial Revolution to the current era of the FAANGS-Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google."
Conor Kehoe, McKinsey & Company

"Finally, a book that speaks to me and, actually, any leader in a business that has been around for more than a few years on how we can creatively use our scale for innovation. The next time you hear people opining that innovation is the province of the nimble startup, have them sit down and start reading Creative Construction."
Joseph Hinrichs, president of global operations, Ford Motor

"In this highly engaging book, Pisano's starting point is the uncomfortable truth that innovation is difficult-sometimes very difficult-to achieve and sustain. Pisano is equally compelling and clear in explaining how companies can evolve their understanding of and approach to innovation, and come to see it not as something ethereal, random, or near-magical, but as the natural outcome of a set of efforts focused on culture, organization, and the bringing together of mindsets and ideas in creative ways. Any entrepreneur or company executive who wants to build a vibrant, innovation-driven business will profit from Pisano's lucid exposition and enjoy his accessible and humorous prose."
Noubar Afeyan, PhD and chief executive officer, Flagship Pioneering

"This is not just another book focusing on technical innovation. While Pisano shows concrete examples of innovation in business models, he systematically approaches the fundamental concept of business innovation in the real world. If you are an executive, or a rising leader seeking innovation in your business, Pisano's book offers significant and practical insight for your future strategy and its implementation."
Michimasa Fujino, president and CEO of Honda Aircraft Company

"Refreshingly practical in its emphasis on the very difficult 'how-to' of creating value through innovation, while staying grounded in the larger theoretical considerations of strategy, organization and leadership."
Vicki L Sato, advisor to life science companies and retired president, Vertex Pharmaceuticals

PublicAffairs, 9781610398770, 288pp.

Publication Date: January 15, 2019

About the Author

Gary Pisano is one of the world's leading researchers in the fields of innovation, strategy, manufacturing, and competitiveness. He is the Harry E. Figgie Professor at Harvard Business School. His many awards include the prestigious McKinsey award for "Restoring American Competitiveness" for the best article published in the Harvard Business Review. Dr. Pisano is also an entrepreneur; the cofounder, along with chemistry Nobel Laureate Richard Schrock, of XiMo AG, a developer of specialty catalysts for the pharmaceutical and fine chemicals industries, and View of Cortina, an importer of fine textiles for the home decoration market.

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