Gary Hamel on innovation and change

A lot of good discussion in this Gary Hamel and Lowell Bryan interview (here) on The McKinsey Quarterly site (registration required).  A couple of good passages…from Hamel first in this post:

Think back to the end of the 17th century, when muskets started to be introduced into European warfare….  It took almost 100 years for [changes in tactics] to happen. Why? Because a couple of generations of generals had to die off before military planners were able to use this new weapon in a productive way.

It is amazing to realize that such an obviously different weapon didn’t prompt an immediate change in formations, tactics, etc.  We’re talking about life and death here. 

Oh, and in case you think that this example fails because it was the 17th century or the military, then why can’t doctors figure out that they should wash their hands (here).  And surgeons are among the worst offenders?  Why can’t hospitals figure out how to enforce that better?

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