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Ideas and Innovative Organizations

A Tribal Perspective

Albert H. Segars

A tribal approach to innovation is found within cutting-edge organizations that pursue ideas and initiatives that are extraordinary. This approach is driven by groups of people that have an ambitious mandate, positive values or codes of conduct, well-defined roles, robust flows of knowledge, the ability to endure hardship, an analytical focus, and a willingness to sacrifice. Together, these attributes signal a favorable predisposition to discover breakthrough ideas and navigate difficult projects. This approach is manifest in modern day super projects such as the Event Horizon Telescope as well as historical initiatives such as the invention of flight by the Wright Brothers. For leaders and team members, the tribal framework provides a perspective for measuring the capacity of a team to generate novel ideas and see those ideas through to a successful conclusion.

Albert H. Segars is the PNC Bank Distinguished Professor at The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler School of Business. He has held posts in research and development with The United States Department of Defense, IBM, and The Defense Research Projects Agency. Segars' research in innovation, technology management, and entrepreneurship has been featured in The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, MIT Sloan Management Review, California Management Review as well as numerous academic journals. His work has also been recognized as "best in class" by The Society for Information Management and The Society for Logistics Engineers. His earned his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina. He earned his undergraduate and masters degrees from the University of North Carolina.