Vigilant Leadership and Disruptive Innovations

George Day, Geoffrey T. Boisi Professor Emeritus, The Wharton School

Abstract: In 2004 the Mack Institute sponsored a conference on “Peripheral Vision: Detecting the Weak Signals that can Make or Break Your Company,” that led to a book of the same title with Paul Schoemaker, and seven further articles. During the past decade our approach has been applied to dozens of companies and spawned two major research initiatives. The first addresses the role of vigilant leadership in explaining why some forms are more vigilant (see opportunities and threats sooner) and most other firms are more vulnerable.

The second initiative extends the model beyond external threats and opportunities. Of particular interest to the Mack Institute are the ideas, intellectual property, and growth opportunities that are not being exploited. We will be reaching out to Mack Institute partners to learn how they systematically crowdsource ideas: we have also developed a comprehensive survey that has been administered to 65 companies. The research budget will be used to continue data collection and data analysis.

Michelle Eckert is Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the Mack Institute, where she works to engage students, researchers, and corporate partners in opportunities for collaboration. Michelle received her B.A. in Art from Valparaiso University in 2007. Her background includes two AmeriCorps terms of service working to teach mathematics, computer literacy, and job readiness skills to out-of-school youth in Philadelphia, focusing particularly on promoting access to post-secondary education.