The Uncertainty Mindset
Innovation is how businesses stay ahead of the competition and adapt to market conditions that change in unpredictable and uncertain ways. In the first decade of the twenty-first century, high-end cuisine underwent a profound transformation. Once an industry that prioritized consistency and reliability, it turned into one where constant change was a competitive necessity. A top restaurant’s reputation and success have become so closely bound up with its ability to innovate that a new organizational form, the culinary research and development team, has emerged. The best of these R&D teams continually expand the frontiers of food-they invent a constant stream of new dishes, new cooking processes and methods, and even new ways of experiencing food. How do they achieve this nonstop novelty? And what can culinary research and development teach us about how organizations innovate?
Vaughn Tan opens up the black box of elite culinary R&D to provide essential insights. Drawing on years of unprecedented access to the best and most influential culinary R&D teams in the world, he reveals how they exemplify what he calls the uncertainty mindset. Such a mindset intentionally incorporates uncertainty into organization design rather than simply trying to reduce risk. It changes how organizations hire, set goals, and motivate team members and leads organizations to work in highly unconventional ways. A revelatory look at the R&D kitchen, The Uncertainty Mindset upends conventional wisdom about how to organize for innovation and offers practical insights for businesses trying to become innovative and adaptable.
Chefs are responsible for some of today's most novel innovations. Vaughn Tan goes behind the scenes to show how R&D is organized inside the world's most famous kitchens, uncovering surprising lessons that have wide application. This is a provocative contribution to studies of culture and R&D. -- Woody Powell, Stanford University This is one of the best books to appear in the last several decades about how to design organizations for continual innovation in high-pressure environments. It offers explanations for why some companies work and others don't, and made me embrace a new, more subtle way of thinking about hiring, managing, and trusting innovators in leading-edge technology companies. -- Jerry Neumann, founder of Neu Venture Capital The Uncertainty Mindset takes a close look at the secret inner workings of some of the most innovative food R&D teams worldwide. It shows organizations in other industries how to redesign themselves to become more resilient, innovative, and adaptable-by simply changing how they think about the future. -- Amy C. Edmondson, author of The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth Vaughn Tan spent long periods observing some of the world's most famous chefs at work in their prize-winning restaurants and tells his readers what they do and how they do it. A real contribution to our understanding of how experts combine artistic creation and business success. -- Howard S. Becker, author of Art Worlds Whether you're new to the culinary world or have dined in some of the world's top restaurants, you'd be hard pressed not to find The Uncertainty Mindset fascinating. Vaughn Tan has written an intriguing, well-researched account of how some of the world's top chefs and their teams approach culinary innovation-this book is full of valuable insights for forward-thinking, innovation-minded organizations and teams in any sector. -- Nathan Myhrvold, coauthor of Modernist Bread, Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking and Modernist Cuisine at Home, author of The Photography of Modernist Cuisine
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