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Contrasting paths to the same goal

10 stories of innovation with only difference in common

Innovate, but how? Theory leaves us wanting. Practice goes beyond imagination. All we have are the stories and experiences of companies who were able to innovate and grow in the complex, tough and ever-changing modern business environment, but via different paths.

To better understand innovation, one should read “Il gioco degli opposti. Storie di innovazione italiana” (The game of opposites. Stories of Italian innovation) by Alberto Di Minin, Cristina Marullo and Andrea Piccaluga of the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa.

The book’s premise is simple: innovation depends on a series of conditions and circumstances that cannot be considered merely within existing models. Innovation is often born out of a “game of opposites” or rather the presence and effect of peculiarities that are the opposite of one another and bring to life something totally new. It was from this premise that the book came to life: a series of ten stories of companies that were innovative because of various determining factors which were “opposite” in this way. The reader will learn the stories of Loccioni, Zambon, New Gluten World, Enel, Barilla, FIAM, Venture Factory, Comau, Aboca and Yogitech. Each story of innovation is unique and none are based on the theory. At the core of all of them, however, is precisely this “game of opposites”, a path of innovation, “built and maintained over time between various often opposing elements: tradition and discontinuity, exploration and efficiency, discipline and experimentation, prudence and risk”.

Di Minin, Marullo and Piccaluga collect episodes of innovation taken as unique cases that, although they are difficult to replicate, can be useful in understanding more about paths to positive change that can represent companies of various sizes, operating in different sectors.

The authors explain: “Our constant contact with entrepreneurs and managers over the years has taught us that there are no absolute truths when it comes to innovation management.”

 

Il gioco degli opposti. Storie di innovazione italiana
Alberto Di Minin, Cristina Marullo, Andrea Piccaluga
Egea, 2019