"Why the CEO Chooses Not to Listen"
Innovation and the Paradox of Adaptation in
Wednesday 21 February 96
@Cybersmith in Harvard Square
42 Church Street, Cambridge MA
4 - 5 pm
Information about Cybersmith:
Employees are often urged by bosses, who are in turn urged
by their bosses, and by consultants, to be more flexible and
innovative. The rationale usually given for these exhortations
is that we live in a world of increasing change and uncertainty,
and that increased flexibility and innovativeness are needed
to cope with a more volatile, unpredictable environment. If we
assume that this rationale is correct, we can only be puzzled
at our inability to practice what is preached: after all, it
is in our interest to be flexible and innovative, isn't it?
Or is it? This talk will explore the conditions under which behavioral
rigidity is a rational, indeed, the only rational response to
uncertainty. Under these conditions (which turn out to be common
throughout our experience), it is in fact rational to eschew
"better" alternatives and to ignore pertinent information,
even when such information is available at no cost. It will be
demonstrated that we cannot really be more flexible and creative
until we understand the logic of these conditions and the constraints
which they impose. The talk will conclude by outlining some strategies
to alleviate the constraints imposed by these conditions.
Walter Lee has over fifteen years experience in the areas of
corporate and business strategy, planning, and operations. He
has been a venture capitalist and a startup entrepreneur. For
clients such as Du Pont, he specializes in decision theory, cognitive
modeling, and systems dynamics modeling of organizational processes.
His reflections on the subject of choice under uncertainty are
the product of academic research and "hard knocks"