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The Final Puzzle: Seeing the Deal and Dealing With the Unforeseeable

companies, whereas the second model is very specific to product innovation companies. I feel that both models, in addition to the five pieces of The Inventor’s Puzzle offered here, provide a very comprehensive and complete view of the potential predictable failures that you might experience.

In 1990, Ichak Adizes introduced the concept of the Corporate

Lifecycle,50

as a model to describe how businesses grow, develop, and in

some circumstances, fail.

Although not written specifically for the

product

innovation

business sector,

the

Adizes Corporate Lifecycle model

overlays nicely

on

a

product

innovation

startup,

in

that

the

company

must evolve substantially from the moment invention through all stages of product introduction, and recurring sales and support.

of conception development,

of the market

In his book, Adizes explains how and why corporations grow and die through the stages of the corporate lifecycle. His analysis of each stage allows one to determine: 1) where the organization is now within its lifecycle, 2) what will be required to maintain the organization health within the current stage, and 3) what kinds of obstacles, perils, etc. can be expected as the organization moves into the next stage of its lifecycle.

One common failure scenario that Adizes describes occurs when the organization out grows the management team by moving into a stage of development beyond which the management team has the experience to effectively lead. In such a scenario the management team often reacts by nudging the organization backward in its evolution path and towards a state that is more familiar and comfortable with which to deal. Of course, such a move generally stifles the growing organization and halts its progress, which can lead to failure if left unchecked.

I will leave you to read Adizes book as a means to explore other specific failure scenarios that he describes; and here I will simply reiterate a few of the general points that he makes. First, Adizes identifies four critical

50 Corporate Lifecycles: How and Why Corporations Grow and Die and What to Do About It, by Ichak Adizes, The Adizes Institute, (1990)

182

The Inventor’s Puzzle, Copyright © 2009 by Mark Lake

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