Adaptive Approach to Managing Innovation – A Practical Guide for Managers

Innovation doesn’t have to be a mystery. It can be organized and managed by people who are not, themselves, innovators. But management’s usual command and control tools are not sufficient for this task. Innovation emerges from a system whose behavior is non-linear. For this reason, management tools must be flexible and adaptive.

This in-dpeth article applies ideas from Complex Adaptive Systems theory to develop a model for innovation which, in turn, leads to appropriate methods for its management. The article applies the general construct of Axelrod and Cohen to innovation, leading to a clear set of actions managers can take to advance the process.

About the Author

Harvey Dershin holds an MS in Engineering from the University of California at Los Angeles and is a Master Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma. He has been a Senior Executive in companies large and small and has more than 50 years of experience in engineering, research, and management in commercial, industrial, non-profit and consulting organizations. His publications and presentations span the gamut from basic engineering research to innovation management.


  • Mestre


  • Mestre

    The link to the pdf download is not working

  • Mestre

    The link to the pdf document is broken
    does anyone who have the article can send it to me, please?

  • Mestre

    The author kindly sent it to me. Already got it

  • Pingback: Adaptive Approach to Managing Innovation – A Practical Guide for Managers |

  • David Langan

    Fantastic article Harvey.  Great job of showing that innovation is a non-linear system where an increase to inputs doesn’t always mean an increase in outputs.  I liked your example illustrating that increasing funding on a change management project doesn’t always translate into increased outputs. 

    I would suggest that one’s ability to exercise influence within this non-linear system has a direct impact on the output.  This article Lesson’s from a Dragon (, provides a quick 6 step guide for how to have a greater influence.