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Innovation Requires Ant-Colony Management

The problem of managing innovation (and innovators) is one of the most challenging aspects of running an organization well. Organizational leadership has been well-trained in maximizing efficiency, eliminating waste, cutting costs, streamlining, etc., but innovation does not work like that. Innovation requires a different kind of management for the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world in which it resides.

An excellent Harvard Business Review article, "Your Innovation Team Shouldn’t Run Like a Well-Oiled Machine," brings an excellent analogy of an ant colony to the management of innovation. The four facets of "ant colony management" -- mission, communication, experimentation, and exploration -- are a great place to start. Warning: for those who want their organizations to be managed with military precision, this is going to be an uncomfortable read.

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