Taking A Detour Can Lead To Greater Innovation

Dear reader

Just this week I came across an article from Faisal Hoque*) who is, as he states, ” a devoted student of life, entrepreneurship, and humanity.”

In his article he concludes that the “father of microsurgery”, the american Julius Jacobson can teach us a few things about innovation. For one thing, the road to getting there is a journey full of detours, not a straight trajectory.

Julius Jacobson
Dr. Julius Jacobson

Briefly summarised: Through Jacobson’s insight from another field, he launched the field of microvascular surgery in 1960. The re-implantation of severed limbs, heart bypass surgery, and a myriad of other surgical procedures became possible.

From his story, which you can find here, we can learn a great deal about innovation:

  • It often results from the cross-fertilization of ideas in different fields.
  • To have value, it must find its way into the hands of those who can use it.
  • It is the solution to a problem or a need.
  • It is often serendipitous.

See you soon!
Peter Lorange

*) Faisal Hoque
Faisal HoqueFounder of SHADOKA and other companies. Newest book “Everything Connects” (McGraw Hill). Twitter: @faisal_hoque. Formerly of GE, and other global brands. He left his birth-land Bangladesh at the age of 17, and now calls America his home.



The cultural conservatism of contemporary business schools

Dear Reader

this time I share with you a paper, which might look a little bit old fashioned and abstract, as it consists of merely text.

Executive MBA in a modern Business SchoolClick and download the article

The purpose, however, ist quite interesting, as the piece is to examine and question aspects of the culture of the modern business school, and to investigate the possibilities for a more student oriented, more responsive, more flexible and performance-driven culture.

Business School “Old School”

In short, the paper is a critical discourse on the cultural conservatism of contemporary business schools, analysing the impediments to change, and examining the transformation
in the business education market and among students, that demand greater responsiveness.

Modern Business SchoolWhat are the needs of a modern, flexible business school?

Don’t you also think that the seismic changes occurring in technology and social practices beyond the business school are impelling business schools to adapt and become more agile?

This article provides insights into how a more flexible and responsive business school would operate and engage students. It delivers moreover a fresh assessment of where the business schools are, and where they will have to go to continue to engage the changing demands of business and managers.

Thank you for studying it and – share it!

Peter Lorange

A Visit at the US Embassy

Dear reader

On April 30 I had a breakfast meeting at the residence of the US Ambassador Barry White in Oslo. Present from the Lorange Institute, in addition to myself, were Philipp Boksberger and Per Frithjof Lorange. In addition to Ambassador White, Mr. Vidar Keyn, Head of the U.S. Commercial Service and Ms. Marianne Brodal Ruud, Commercial Assistant at U.S. Foreign Commercial Service at the American Embassy Oslo, were also present.

Peter Lorange, Per Lorange, Philipp Boksberger, Barry White (US Amabssador)

Meeting with the US Ambassador to Norway in Oslo. From left to right Philipp Boksberger, Ambassador Barry White, Peter Lorange and Per Lorange

The purpose of the meeting was to plan a presentation from me on “Innovations in Shipping”, to be held at the US Embassy Oslo on June 6 – in connection with the NOR-Shipping Conference.

NOR Shipping LogoNor-Shipping is the leading maritime event week. Its top-quality exhibition, high-level conferences and prime networking opportunities attract the cream of the international maritime industry to Oslo every other year.

I keep you posted.

Kind regards,
Peter Lorange

P.S. You might remember that we welcomed two US Ambassadors at our Business School in Horgen (read: Visit from the Embassy)

Who is Mahatma Gaga?

Dear reader

Jamie Anderson , our faculty member who once was apostrophized „management guru“ by the renowned Financial Times had an instant lecture at TEDX Flanders.

The one million dollar (or the social media) question is: who needs followers? Answer: the leader.


Peter Lorange

About TED

TED is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with the annual TED Conference in Long Beach, California, and the TEDGlobal conference in Oxford UK, TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Program, the new TEDx community program, this year’s TEDIndia Conference and the annual TED Prize.

Erfolgreiche Schweiz dank Innovation

“Wenn die Schweiz nicht so innovativ wäre, dann hätte sie heute grössere Probleme.” sagt Peter Lorange im Interview mit Raphael Corneo von Mediaplanet.

Ist Innovation auch lernbar? Und warum Innovationen nicht gleichbedeutend sind mit Neuerungen? Die Antworten auf diese und weitere Fragen finden Sie im Interview.

Laden Sie das Interview als PDF herunter (Click aufs Bild).


AMBA Innovation Award for the Executive MBA

Dear readers,
I am very proud that we were awarded the AMBA Innovation Award for our Executive MBA program. Self-praise is no recommendation and we are fully aware that we need to continue to work hard in order to make our programs even better.
The Association of MBAs has launched the MBA Innovation Award to promote the value and significance of innovation within MBA programs. A judging panel made up of Sir Paul Judge, President of the Association of MBAs, Peter Lacy, Managing Director Accenture Sustainability and Emeritus Professor Andrew Lock from the University of Leeds assessed the entries from a range of business schools presenting innovative practices and new approaches in management education.


Our Executive MBA was commended for having “developed a new sharpened and expert-oriented Executive MBA programme with an adaptive and modular structure. The leadership concept is highly unbureaucratic and executive-oriented.”
We thank the jury and I pass this thanks on to my team and everyone who is working with me to realize our concept of a business school of the future.

Peter Lorange

Steve Jobs – The Innovator!

Dear reader,

The death of Steve Jobs means an enormous loss. Nobody was better than Steve Jobs in coming up with concrete innovations which the consumers at large truly appreciated.
Mr. Jobs’ ability to come up with new approaches that met practical needs was fantastic. His track record was impeccable!

Steve Jobs, Lorange Insitute of Business
For us who are active in the field of strategic management it is important to learn from Steve Jobs’ example: Creativity and innovation are key – no effective strategy can work without this. Here at the Lorange Institute of Business Zurich these challenges are on the top of our agenda!

Our faculty member, Bill Holstein, states in his article, that, most of all, Steve Jobs was a collaborator .

Kind rergards,
Peter Lorange


Steve Jobs

by William K. Holstein *)

What are we to think about the death of Steve Jobs? We are being inundated by interpretations of his life and impact on technology in newspapers and on TV and in business and technology magazines, blogs, websites, portals, etc., etc. – and the deluge will certainly continue for a while. So what are we to make of all of it?

Quite a bit actually; we can learn a lot not from what he said, but from what he did.

Steve was a very private person. He didn’t give a lot of speeches or interviews, and didn’t write much, although millions of trees have been sacrificed to create books and articles about him and his ideas. Excerpts from a graduation speech that he gave at Stanford several years ago have been played ad-nauseam since his death, implying that it is one of few tapes available with him doing anything but presenting new, insanely great products.

Steve Jobs presentingSteve Jobs presenting in 2007

According to a survey on the website AYTM.com [http://aytm.com/blog], when asked about Jobs’ strengths, 47.8% of respondents said he was a great businessman, 64% said he was a great creative mind, and 91% of respondents said that Steve Jobs changed the world with his work and his ideas. I can certainly agree with all three of those characterizations. 39.5% said he was an all-around genius – I probably even agree with that.

But what did he do? There are a lot of geniuses who don’t really DO much. In the same survey, 49.8% said he was a great inventor. Did he really ‘invent’ the Apple computer, the Mac, and the whole string of ‘i’ devices; iMac, iPod, iPhone, iCloud? If by ‘invent’ we mean devises some new process, appliance, machine, or article, then certainly Steve Jobs did not sit at a bench and create those products himself.

Even if he didn’t invent anything, Steve Jobs had a keen eye for design and for the customer [see my previous blog on the importance of the customer]. He understood technology well enough to know what was possible if he pressed his staff hard enough, and he understood customers well enough to get his designers to create products that would get Apple customers to say “WOW!” on a regular schedule. One blogger said they weren’t customers, they were iFans. Customers don’t leave cards like the one shown below at a place of business – fans do.

At a Munich Apple Store, a card was left reading 'Many Thanks, Steve.'At a Munich Apple Store, a card was left reading ‘Many Thanks, Steve.’

Jobs’s influence was exerted primarily through two channels: first, strong guidance and leadership on the choice of product development projects that Apple would pursue and, by default, those that they would not pursue; and second, a rigorously executed, ‘up close and personal’ review of the progress of products under development. More often than not, his standards (read his understanding of what technology could do and his interpretation of what the customer would want) caused him to reject many prototypes presented in the development process as inadequate. He was all about perfection. Nothing left the factory until it met his standards — not just good, not just excellent. Perfect. Products that went through that process didn’t always succeed, but far more often than not they did. And the process was continuous; updated and improved products appeared regularly, as we see recently with the iPad 2 and the iPhone 4S. The latter exceeded all previous iPhones in first day pre-orders the day before his death.

Despite the fact that his ‘keep things simple’ mantra led him to interact with fewer than a dozen people at Apple on a regular basis, he managed to drive his vision and his expectations throughout the Apple organization. One former employee said he constantly considered Mr. Jobs’s preferences despite having never met the man.

His influence went beyond the development of the products that he was so adept at introducing. A recent quote suggests that “Apple has taught the world that you need an ecosystem in order to compete” – it was Steve Jobs who did the teaching. The ecosystem was the development of iTunes that provided the music, video and application content; the fuel for the steady stream of hardware achievements from Apple. Jobs ability to lock content providers into the iTunes model, while not an invention per se, was certainly an industry-changing innovation.

He not only kept an eye on the customer and on technology, but also on the future. For years before he died, he worked closely with the board and senior management to shape a long-range road map for Apple. The company knows where it is going, how the trip will be executed and, further, who will execute it. That, more than iAnything, is Steve Jobs biggest legacy.

Perhaps his other big legacy is the development and nurturing of an industrial design team second to none in the technology world. Apple’s industrial design chief, an Englishman named Jonathan Ives, has headed the team for 15 years – an amazing run in a world where designers are often fickle and highly transient. Many of the innovations from the Mac and the series of i products sprung from Ives and his group. Steve Jobs was famously difficult to get along with, but he built design and management teams that are the envy of Silicon Valley. Just imagine what H-P could have done with a team like that!

So what can we learn from Steve Jobs? Of course that focusing on the customer is important – not just to give them what they expect, but to “think differently,” to surprise them with things that work differently in most pleasant and appealing ways. Of course representing your company, being the ‘face’ of the company, is important as well. Jobs limited his public exposure almost exclusively to new product introductions at which the presentations, as well as the products, were ‘insanely great.’

But most of all, Steve Jobs was a collaborator. He created, cultivated and managed a collaborative environment that encouraged the best in every employee. He managed a huge organization that could maintain secrets and spring surprises on a regular schedule. He imposed a strong sense of quality design and superior functionality on the whole organization. The string of products that he introduced are testimony to the effectiveness of that effort.

In the Strategy Block I am teaching in the Executive MBA programm, I have argued for more than a decade that the next frontier in productivity will be in white collar productivity. Looking around the classroom at the Lorange Institute of Business, I have often said that we, those of us in the room, white collar workers all, will have to be responsible for the next wave of productivity improvement. Blue collar workers have done their share; we have automated just about all of them out of existence that can possible be automated. Our responsibility now calls for new levels of cooperation and collaboration throughout the organization.

Jack Welch called it the ‘Boundaryless Organization’ in which managers from different silos communicate and collaborate. Steve Jobs understood this. He knew that collaboration among white-collar workers is a principal driver of creativity, innovation and, therefore, competitive advantage – and he managed it extremely well.

What will you do to enhance collaboration in your part of the organization?

*) Dr. William K. Holstein

The former assistant at Harvard who earned his PhD in mathematical economics was (among many other teaching activities ) visiting professor at IMD.

Today, he has been an associate Partner at Crystal Partners AG, Zürich since 2008 and Senior Advisor at Lat Link-Partnership in Change Consultancy, Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is the author of three books on Information Technology, BASIC programming, Operations Management. One of his recent publications include ‘Efficient and Effective Strategy Implementation’.

Why Apple should not call the lawyers

Dear reader

you have certainly heard or read about the battle Apple is fighting with Samsung. Have you shaken your head? How round may edges of a tablet computer be? If the only distinct characteristic of a high-tech product is its design, how innovative can the product be? Or the company behind?

For me, innovation has to do with how established organizations – in manufacturing and / or service – can come up with significant improvements regarding their product and / or service offerings which are understood / appreciated by its customers – it can thereby sell more and / or take a higher price! So, innovations for me have to do with how existing well–established firms innovate, to stay competitive!

But I don’t think it’s a question that lawyers should answer. In an article of the serie ‘Peter Loranges Letter’ which I am doing for

a leading international consulting firm specialized in route-to-market and commercialization issues, I reflect on innovation and how to implement it.

Peter Lorange

>> Click HERE or the thumbnail image to download the full article as PDF <<


The freedom to teach

Prof. Dr. Jan-Anders E. Månson
Professor of Material Science at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)
Member of the Lorange Institute of Business part-time faculty

“The freedom to always teach on the topic that is most relevant for its time!”

A member of our faculty: Jan-Anders Månson, lecturing at the 3rd Zurich Business Forum

Dear reader

we are approaching the 3rd Zurich Business Forum with lightspeed: only three days to go. After presenting you Jörg Reckhenrich, artist and consultant at the boarderline between the arts and management, I introduce you to another member of our part-time faculty and a speaker at the Zurich Business Forum: Jan-Anders Månson.

Jan-Anders E. Månson is Professor of Material Science at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). He is also director of the Polymer and Composite Laboratory (LTC) at the Institute of Materials. His research is focused on novel cost-effective materials and manufacturing principles. His research partners are primarily from the automotive, aerospace, medical and sport industries. Prof. Månson has published abundantly and is active in teaching. From 2004 to 2008, he was the vice-president of the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, responsible for innovation and technology.

Profit from this unique opportunity and meet Prof. Jan-Anders Månson at the 3rd Zurich Business Forum.