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“Using the strengths of problems, failures, and tensions” – Dr. Renate Kratochvil on Innovation, Digitalization & Entrepreneurship

Dr. Renate Kratochvil, faculty member of the MBA Innovation, Digitalization & Entrepreneurship shares her insights and expertise.

Foto Renate Kratochvil

Renate Kratochvil

You have been focusing on the topics of strategy and innovation for many years. How did you get drawn to these areas? What particularly excites you about these topics?

Strategy and the inherent activity of strategizing relate to setting goals, planning, resource allocation, and achieving targets. Innovating and being creative, on the other hand, relates to thinking outside the box, acting boldly, spinning ideas multiple times, and NOT acting according to schedule. Achieving both presents a challenge to most companies.

In my research I explore how companies can use these tensions for their advantage and how everyday activities of employees and managers help in achieving both (developing new technologies and sticking to company strategy). I am very fascinated by new digital technologies and how companies spin ideas about how to use them.

I have, for example, investigated how front-line managers in Ukraine developed new ideas to modify products and processes in the aftermath of the war (in 2014) while relating to the corporate strategy of the international corporation.

In another project, I studied how, over the course of two years, an established Norwegian firm developed their digital strategy as they engaged in a creativity project with technical scientists. 

Most fascinating about these studies is the impact that individuals can have on the strategic and innovative actions of a whole company; thus, severely contributing to their success.

What mindset do you think executives should have in order to successfully start and effectively run a business?

Using the strengths of problems, failures, and tensions.

One characteristic that coins successful managers is to make use of the above described challenges and tensions and build on their strengths (rather than seeing it as a weakness). Wendy Smith has been advocating this idea for many years (TED Talk, opens an external URL in a new window).

Important is also the ability to talk about problems rather than “jumping” to solutions. 80% of organizational problems stay unsolved and pop up again. The main reason is that developed solutions do not fit the actual problem. Successful managers explore root causes to a problem and create a culture of talking about problems, errors, and failures in their team. The failconomy and Adam Grant, opens an external URL in a new window have been promoting this view for years.

What do you focus on in your course "Innovation Strategy and Business Development"? What can the participants take with them into their professional and personal practice?

I will emphasize new ideas of how companies can engage in innovation and strategy. For example, new concepts explain collaboration between competitors to work on innovative solutions (“collaborative innovation”), including employees and workers, as compared to strategy consultants, in strategy making (“open strategy”), and promoting error- and failures cultures (“fuck ups”).

In this course each participant gets the chance to

  • engage in exploring their day-to-day business dilemmas and how to tackle these challenges – in a dynamic world where the pace of change is getting faster,
  • reflect on their practical knowledge with the theoretical lens that we learn about in the course, and, finally,
  • find a concept of innovating and/or strategizing that fits them individually.

What would you like to see in your students?

Curiosity, open mindsets, and motivation to go outside their comfort zone when exploring ideas about how to innovate and strategize. And constructive feedback and discussions.

Can you recommend a book that has had a major impact on your career, either personally or professionally?

How to measure your life, opens an external URL in a new window”, Clayton M. Christensen, opens an external URL in a new window, James Allworth, opens an external URL in a new window, and Karen Dillon, opens an external URL in a new window (Book summary, opens an external URL in a new window)

In this book Clayton Christensen reflects on the successes and failures of his former peers from Harvard Business School. He explains why and how theories about strategy can improve taking strategic decisions for the organization and also in personal life.  The main take away for me were:

  • What are your goals? What are your resources? And do you allocate the resources in the right way to achieve your goals? This can be applied to individuals and companies.
  • Define your principles and stick to them in every decision you make for yourself and for a company (to – in the worst case – avoid landing in jail).


Dr. Renate Kratochvil

Renate Kratochvil is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Strategy and Entrepreneurship at BI Norwegian Business School, in Oslo. She conducts research on strategy formulation, strategic change and received her PhD in Economics and Social Sciences from WU Vienna in 2018. Renate Kratochvil taught at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and previously at WU Vienna from 2014-2017. She is the winner of numerous awards, such as the Best PhD Proposal 2016 award from the European International Business Academy.

Feel free to contact Dr. Renate Kratochvil via Twitter, opens an external URL in a new window | LinkedIn, opens an external URL in a new window| renate.kratochvil(at)

MBA Innovation, Digitalization & Entrepreneurship

With the MBA Innovation, Digitalization, and Entrepreneurship you learn how to “read” the digital roadmap and how to incorporate creative solutions. You develop the appropriate skills, techniques and the drive to initiate and implement dynamic innovation as well as start-up projects.

Get ready to turn great ideas into reality and apply for the next program start!

All details about the MBA program >> here.