Innovation, school of resilience.


In the series dedicated to what makes “innovators happier” (*), I propose now the attitude of resilience. Defined in psychology as “a trauma to be overcome”, it is also a philosophy of life that Confucius praises: “No stone can be polished without friction, no man can perfect his experience without trial”. Innovation is a testing ground for risk, and therefore failure, which strengthens the ability to absorb and bounce back. And conversely, resilience makes you confident in your ability to rebound, and therefore to innovate and live your life with more confidence. Innovate, you will become stronger.


Disruptive innovation, the essence of resilience

Innovation contains within itself the ingredients to create trauma. The innovator must manage his idea to make it succeed by overcoming inevitable obstacles – resources, jealousy, malevolence…-. The emotional dimension is very strong with the fear linked to the risk that his project will not succeed like 80% of ideas since barely 20% will be transformed.

The innovator also has to manage the ability of others to accept his idea and overcome the inevitable destruction that the new solution will cause. Innovation is therefore a tough school of change and, when it comes to disruptive innovation, risk and failure.


Steve Jobs model of resilience

The four major entrepreneurial periods in the life of Steve Jobs can be analyzed in terms of resilience.

Each one is like a rebound of survival after a traumatic event, whether it be the creation of Apple, the dismissal of Apple with the creation of NeXT, the acquisition of Pixar, the repeated innovations upon returning to Apple and the fourth stage which followed the announcement of his pancreatic cancer. But all these stages and this strength of resilience would come from the first trauma, that of the abandonment by his mother at birth.

What might have remained as a trauma became a rebounding force. His dismissal from Apple, when he had taken him to the top in 4 years, reopened his abandonment wound: “I felt like I had received a punch in the stomach, I was stunned I couldn’t breathe anymore”. (**). And Job manages to overcome this ordeal. While he was fired at the end of May from June he goes to Paris to give a conference at an Apple expo. And September he presents his new project to the board of directors: “I have thought a lot and I think it is time for me to turn the page”.


Innovation makes “anti-fragile”

The practice of innovation makes it possible to put failures into perspective by freeing oneself from the view of others on what success is. An innovator may find satisfaction in having just tried his luck, or seeing his idea taken up by another or even taking up that of another, thus exceeding the well-known NIH (***) in innovation.

The distancing of the ego shapes the personality and makes it different. “The strength of innovation is that it gives the impression of feeling special” and like Steve Jobs, I invite you to follow his example “Think different” to become resilient.

(*) RH&M Review APRIL 22 N°85 “Why are Innovators happier?” JULY 22 N°86 “Startups, Eldorado of innovation for young people”

(**) “Steve Jobs, the life of a genius” Walter Isaacson

(**) NIH “Not Invented Here” syndrome of researchers who prefer to invent than take up the ideas of others. Open innovation, which consists of soliciting ideas from outside the company, has helped to overcome it