Minimal and Adaptive Coordination: How to Accelerate Innovation Without Killing It

In "Minimal and Adaptive Coordination: How to Accelerate innovation without Killing It," Professor Hila Lifshitz-Assaf shares how ad-hoc teams can successfully accelerate their innovation process. She shares findings from an in-depth field study of assistive technology hackathons, conducted in collaboration with Sarah Lebovitz (UVA) and Lior Zalmanson (TAU). Their study has two key insights that carry both theoretical and managerial implications. The first is that an accelerated innovation process does NOT mean do the same process simply faster, this leads to failure and frustration. Teams that compressed best innovation practices to the shorter time frame, failed. Second, even though it is counter-intuitive, they recommend that ad-hoc teams formed to innovate fast, avoid full coordination. There is a natural tendency for individuals and teams to start the innovative process by bringing order and structure, but when accelerating innovation, this can backfire. Instead, they found that minimal and adaptive coordination was the key to accelerating innovation.

Successful teams embraced the ambiguity caused by the extreme temporal conditions and the chaos of messy ad-hoc teamwork. They only coordinated on a minimal level and leapfrogged to hyper experimentation. These teams were amazingly able to build a new assistive technology and hand it over to needed users in 72 hours.

Read the Harvard Business Review paper here.