Innovating During Tough Times: Lessons from the Great Composers

  •  Terry Leap    
  •  David Williams    


Today’s economic environment appears rather inhospitable for innovation – high uncertainty, scarce financial resources, and intensifying competition – each serves to make entrepreneurs’ and managers’ efforts to innovate less likely to succeed. To assist entrepreneurs and managers today, we turn the clock back to the great classical composers – from whom we find timeless advice about how to succeed in difficult circumstances. As world-class musicians, it is obvious that the great classical composers were supreme innovators. But they often performed their work under trying conditions in tumultuous times. Early composers had to be musically creative as well as adept at finding resources to develop and market their work. They faced political suppression and religious discrimination, weak government protection of their intellectual property, and often faced physical dangers in addition to economic challenges that make today’s economic downturn look mild. Drawing from the collective wisdom of these great innovators, we offer to today’s managers and entrepreneurs a way forward for innovating in tough times.

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