Did the father sit in candlelight and silence? Or did Jean rant and sob? Did he blame himself or his son …after all he had done for him?

Executive Summary

The same processes that produce major wins can also result in huge production flops—an uncomfortable truth known to France's comic dramatist, his parents and insurance industry professionals. Taking some pages from Molière's life script, Innovation Consultant Karen Morris offers strategies for breakthrough innovation.

We shall never know how Monsieur Poquelin greeted abject failure. What we do know—catchy management book aphorisms notwithstanding—is that either as parents or business leaders we rarely welcome failure, do it forward, fast and creatively; we honestly never embrace it. As human beings we are either too sad or too mad.

Jean Poquelin had every reason to be both. It was shortly after his elder son’s stunning achievement of being the first family member to be called to The Paris Bar. His pride in Jean-Baptiste (my son the lawyer) was palpable and unbridled. The return on investment—the schooling, the grooming, the social exposure at the highest possible levels, in symbolic double-digits. The boy’s diction, tailoring and intellect were diamond sharp as was his future.

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