The Uncertainty Mindset

Innovation Insights from the Frontiers of Food

Vaughn Tan

Columbia University Press

The Uncertainty Mindset

Pub Date: July 2020

ISBN: 9780231196895

272 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $25.00£22.00

Pub Date: July 2020

ISBN: 9780231196888

272 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $90.00£74.00

Pub Date: July 2020

ISBN: 9780231551878

272 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $29.99£25.00

The Uncertainty Mindset

Innovation Insights from the Frontiers of Food

Vaughn Tan

Columbia University Press

Innovation is how businesses stay ahead of the competition and adapt to market conditions that change in unpredictable and uncertain ways. In the first decade of the twenty-first century, high-end cuisine underwent a profound transformation. Once an industry that prioritized consistency and reliability, it turned into one where constant change was a competitive necessity. A top restaurant’s reputation and success have become so closely bound up with its ability to innovate that a new organizational form, the culinary research and development team, has emerged. The best of these R&D teams continually expand the frontiers of food—they invent a constant stream of new dishes, new cooking processes and methods, and even new ways of experiencing food. How do they achieve this nonstop novelty? And what can culinary research and development teach us about how organizations innovate?

Vaughn Tan opens up the black box of elite culinary R&D to provide essential insights. Drawing on years of unprecedented access to the best and most influential culinary R&D teams in the world, he reveals how they exemplify what he calls the uncertainty mindset. Such a mindset intentionally incorporates uncertainty into organization design rather than simply trying to reduce risk. It changes how organizations hire, set goals, and motivate team members and leads organizations to work in highly unconventional ways. A revelatory look at the R&D kitchen, The Uncertainty Mindset upends conventional wisdom about how to organize for innovation and offers practical insights for businesses trying to become innovative and adaptable.
Chefs are responsible for some of today’s most novel innovations. Vaughn Tan goes behind the scenes to show how R&D is organized inside the world’s most famous kitchens, uncovering surprising lessons that have wide application. This is a provocative contribution to studies of culture and R&D! Woody Powell, Stanford University

About the Author

Vaughn Tan is an assistant professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at University College London’s School of Management. He previously worked for Google in California.