Learning to disrupt the status quo

Steve Jobs once said that “innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower”. To that we would add that there is no successful innovation without leadership, in particular a leadership based on inspirational communications.

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Let us think about sources of innovation. There still may be the occasional genius who disrupts the dominant logic of an industry with one brilliant idea. But in a digitalised economy, their habitat is shrinking rapidly. Curating ideas becomes more important than creating ideas, because ideas are rapidly and globally spread. A lot of successful companies like Amazon have learned that it’s more valuable to share knowledge and ideas with others in order to improve your own business model.

More than that, the digitalisation of manufacturing and engineering also allows you to integrate a community into your value network. Consequently, product, service and even business model innovation changes from being an engineering to a communication process, because hierarchies are replaced by loose couplings.

The act of coordinating the stakeholders inside and outside your company needs leadership in the form of clear and inspiring narratives. This is the current challenge facing innovation communication and, in order to master it, one needs to understand the logic of community-driven companies.

Lars Rinsdorf

Lars Rinsdorf is professor for cross-media journalism at Stuttgart Media University. His current research focuses on innovation management in the media industry.

Swaran Sanhu

Swaran Sandhu is professor for corporate communications and public relations at Stuttgart Media University. His current research focuses on new forms of organisational legitimacy.