Fashioning Innovation via Conversation

Rick Wartzman

In his latest column for Bloomberg Businessweek online, Drucker Institute Executive Director Rick Wartzman springs off a notion articulated by Jordi Constans, who was just picked to be the next CEO of the French fashion company Louis Vuitton.

“Innovation,” Constans said, “comes from conversations.”

Wartzman writes that “fostering discourse among colleagues is, in fact, an often-overlooked aspect” of sparking innovation—or what Peter Drucker defined as “the task of giving human and material resources new and greater wealth-producing capacity.”

What Drucker called for, in particular, “is a . .  . purposeful dialogue, driven by management toward uncovering opportunities,” Wartzman says. For instance, he notes that Drucker suggested “holding management meetings twice a year to highlight innovations that the company has seen flower during the preceding period. The purpose isn’t to celebrate the past. It’s to look to the future by asking some pointed questions: How did we find these opportunities? What have we learned that might be replicated? What did these innovators within the company do that the rest of us aren’t doing? And what aren’t they doing that the rest of us are?”

In the end, such conversations may not yield specific ideas, Wartzman explains. Instead, as Drucker wrote, “the most valuable achievement may well be entrepreneurial vision, receptivity to innovation, and ‘greed for new things’ throughout the entire organization.”