The Uncertainty Mindset: Innovation Insights from the Frontiers of Food

AUTHOR: Vaughn Tan

PUBLISHER: Columbia University Press

YEAR: 2020

CATEGORY: Ethnography

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Vaughn Tan‘s „The Uncertainty Mindest“ sits at the tasty intersection of the hows and whys of innovation and Chef‘s Table foodie aspirations. Not only is it a fascinating look into the ways culinary R&D teams work, but it also takes it time to zoom out and disect the broader context of the high-end restaurant scene these teams have to operate in.

I think the thing I enjoyed most about this book is it lack of business jargon. It‘s in many ways more a ethnographic and sociology study, than a „how to“ manual. It‘s a great reflection on what makes R&D teams successful and what not.

What I took away from it

Mainly two things:

  1. It helped me understand where our work failed in the last years and together with Dan Hills „Dark Matter and Trojan horses“ it made me understand how important the context and infrastructure of innovation is.
  2. The way teams rapidly improve on their work and how a „house style“ is created within these groups of individuals. The key is critique, critique and critique. Showing a work in progress and having people comment and exchange ideas similar to how design crit-sessions work.

Honestly, it‘s a great read and far away enough from my day-to-day that it made me actually like a book about innovation.