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Title: The emotional side of breakthrough innovation
Author: Collins, Matt
ISNI:       0000 0004 5920 3953
Awarding Body: Cranfield University
Current Institution: Cranfield University
Date of Award: 2015
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Breakthrough innovations are vital for the global economy and even our survival as a species. They appear as creative leaps and insights without obvious connection to existing knowledge and are extremely valuable to organisations, giving them significant competitive advantage. Historiometric and psychopathological evidence shows that breakthrough innovations are often associated with individuals and affective dysfunction; yet innovation today is widely held to be an organisational phenomenon operationalised though a model of creativity based on positive affective experiences and group activities which may be particularly unsuited to innovative thinkers. Research upon which the current paradigm for creativity and innovation are based is detached from real world outcomes and has been challenged as to its validity. Little data exists outside of experiments or indirect observation of naturally occurring affective experiences and the mood-creativity-innovation link has yet to be proven; we still know very little about how breakthrough innovations occur. This unique study addresses this significant gap in innovation research with a two-year longitudinal case study of a breakthrough innovation being developed for a multi-national Fast-Moving Consumer Goods company. It followed the journey of a lone innovator and attempts to answer the research question: “Can a fear of failure lead to breakthrough innovation?” The innovation space was investigated from three perspectives: technology, organisation and innovator, to build a picture of the highly immersive and emotionally charged experience of innovating. Many new insights were gained, and with extensive support from literature, new tools for the management of technology and the interface between innovators and organisations were developed, along with ground-breaking research into the mood-creativity innovation link. These are delivered through a series of four journal papers. The key finding from this research has been the discovery of the innovation-wave, a phenomenon which for the first time provides evidence for the mood-creativity-innovation link; intimately connecting real-world creative efficacy with emotion and specifically a ‘fear of failure’. From this finding a new theory and psycho-cognitive model for a distinct form of creativity called innovative thinking, driven by negative affect (mood) and specifically suited to achieving a breakthrough innovation through overcoming apparently insoluble problems, was posited and a hypothesis proposed and tested using a sophisticated innovation simulation developed especially for this purpose. Evidence from the case study and later experiment provide support for the research question and the lone innovator. This study makes a unique contribution to our understanding of creativity and innovation which could have a significant impact on how both are researched, taught and managed in the future. Being able to understand and possibly manipulate the innovation-wave, if proven correct, could be vitally important for maximising the potential for creating breakthrough innovations to the benefit of us all.
Supervisor: Williams, Leon ; Jones, Paul Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Breakthrough innovation ; Emotional journey ; Fear of failure ; Interface alignment tool ; Innovation interface ; Innovation time-lag ; Lone innovators ; Innovative thinking ; Innovative-wave ; Innovation simulation ; New product development ; Risk management ; Technology down-selection ; Three-stage filter