Many of the sessions at Davos 2013 contain “innovation” in the title. Two of the top names in management and innovation are present as well: Clayton Christensen and Roger Martin. Unfortunately, the fact they speak with separate voices about the same underlying phenomena is not helping their cause, which holds more potential for true transformation of the world economy than many of the purely economic insights of the typical Davos crowd:
Peter Drucker and Russell Ackoff have 20-30 years ago explained the fundamentals behind the phenomena observed by both Christensen and Martin: in essence effectiveness trumps efficiency. Christensen and Martin thus have a great responsibility, that of acknowledging each other so as to not fragment the legacy of Drucker and Ackoff’s schools of thought; in today’s environment the urgency is such that we can’t afford recreating the Tower of Babel experiment. But even if they and others like them (Dave Snowden, David Hurst, Fredmund Malik, etc.) were to speak with one voice, the real decision makers at Davos will have little clue as to what these two guys are talking about. That is because one can only fully absorb something one can relate to personal experience. Decision makers cannot be taught, even if they had the humility to listen (relevant Ackoff quote: “We don’t recognize that teaching is a major obstruction to learning […] Who in the classroom learns the most…. the teacher. See the classroom is upside down.”).