• Mona Shah

Loonshots by Safi Bahcall


Bahcall, who trained as a physicist and management consultant before becoming a biotech entrepreneur, urges us to consider organizational structure as a catalyst for innovation, rather than focus on corporate culture. In particular, he emphasizes the need to separate creative “artists” and execution-oriented “soldiers,” allowing the members of each tribe to do what they do best. He believes that the principal obstacle to innovation isn’t that there are too few creative ideas. The problem is that original proposals are both discomfiting and imperfect, hence reflexively rejected before they can develop enough to prove themselves in the field. Success depends, eventually, on a kind of balancing act, one that ensures a dynamic relation between the groups: guiding the artists toward something that will have a tangible application and prodding the soldiers to pilot approaches that will inevitably need further refinement.

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