Best Defense

Rules for innovation (15): Innovators desire money and autonomy, so give them

That is one of the lessons of history, again and again.



That is one of the lessons of history, again and again. They like to be paid for their services. They also want to do practical work that usually requires money. And they want to be left alone to do that work. Think of it as a longterm investment.

An interesting historical example is the Ottomans, who in the 1400s got out in front in the European artillery race by recruiting cannonmakers by offering “large salaries and creative autonomy,” as Tonio Andrade puts it in The Gunpowder Age. One Hungarian working for him amassed forty tons of tin and copper and began casting a monster gun, more than 20 feet long, that threw a cannonball that weighed more than 1,200 pounds and was 39 inches in diameter. That gun and others like it enabled the Ottomans to batter down the fabled walls of Constantinople and take the city in 1453, one of the most significant events in modern history.

Rule 15: If you want innovation, give time, money, and mental space to those who can give it to you. 

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at @tomricks1
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