The Innovation Factory: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Innovation Factory

1st Edition

By Gilles Garel, Elmar Mock

Auerbach Publications

166 pages | 13 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781498740210
pub: 2016-03-18
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pub: 2016-03-23
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The Innovation Factory takes a fresh look at the fine art of breakthrough innovation. What makes it unique is that it brings together an experienced scholar and a serial entrepreneur who share the same passion for understanding the processes and theories needed to innovate over and over again. The book marries theory with practical examples focusing on the Concept-Knowledge (C-K) Theory developed by the prestigious school Mines ParisTech.

For the first time, you will discover the unknown story of the Swatch watch told by Elmar Mock, the creative engineering force behind the Swatch. In this book, he passionately tells how he helped to create this breakthrough innovation that saved the Swiss watch industry in the 1980s. Gilles Garel, a professor of management, relates this tale of epic innovation to C-K theory and both convincingly argue that organizations can channel creativity to develop breakthrough innovations that disrupt markets.

Innovation is not just a case of acquiring aptitude. It is also a question of attitude: Innovators strive to remain creative and active. The book provides an overview of the characteristics and essential strengths of the successful Innovation Factory, Creaholic, based in Switzerland. The example of Creaholic helps readers grasp what breakthrough innovation is truly all about.

The book’s use of vibrant metaphors helps readers easily digest the ideas and concepts presented. The book concludes with thoughts about future directions for the watch industry.


"When Elmar Mock invented the Swatch, and when he launched Creaholic, he was unaware that he was applying a C-K method of reasoning. When Gilles adopted and spread the C-K Theory, he was unaware that the invention of the Swatch would be one of the most perfect examples of this theory. It was thanks to their meeting one another that they were able to share their thoughts in a harmonious, inventive, and accomplished fashion that will most certainly arouse the curiosity of the reader.

Throughout all of the chapters we can only be in admiration of the talent of these two partners. The former has a penchant for vibrant metaphors, which help him share his approach, his vision, and his accomplishments with the reader. … The latter is a fervent admirer of the rigor of well-built theoretical constructions, which he passes on to the reader with precision, passion, and a neat sense of examples."

—From the Foreword by Yves Pigneur, Professor, Lausanne University, and co-author of Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challenges

Table of Contents

Nobody Goes Truffle Hunting on the Highway

The Innovator Stops You from Going around in Circles

What Is at Stake for Companies with Contemporary Innovation?

From the Notion of Innovation to Actually Making It Happen

The Entrepreneur and the Scholar

Innovation Was, Is, and Will Be

The Hidden Side of the Concept of the Swatch

The Great Watch Crisis of the Late 1970s, or When Managers Are No Longer Entrepreneurs

Innovation versus the Crisis: The Empire Strikes Back with the Swatch

The Swatch Project Did Not Simply Appear Out of the Blue

The Innovative Design of the Swatch


C-K: A Truly Practical Theory of Breakthrough Innovation

Reconciling Concept with Knowledge

A First Approach of the Notion of Design

The Theoretical Roots of the Design: Design versus Decision

The Basic Notions of C-K Theory

The Reasoning Behind the C-K Theory

C-K in Action: Some Examples of C-K Cases

Conclusion: The Origins of the Concept

The Molecular Metaphor of Innovation: Gas, Liquid, Crystal

The Innovator Blues

The Origins and the Status of the Molecular Metaphor

The Molecular Metaphor of the Mental States of Innovation

The Mental State of Gas

The Mental State of Liquid

The Mental State of Crystal

From a Dialogue of the Deaf to a Dialogue of the Mental States

The Metaphor of the Matriarch

How to Organize Breakthrough Innovation: Creaholic, an Innovation Smith

Professional Inventors

Unique Organizational Principles

The Internal Organization of Creaholic

The Matriarch as a Metaphor of the Management of Ambidexterity

Multidisciplinary and Multifertilization

Epilogue: Watches to be Watched: Connected Watches, or the Innovation War Raging on Your Wrist

From a Coordinated World to a Connected World

The Economic War on Your Wrist

The Wrist: An Innovative Spot

Watchmaking Seized by a Revolution

Conclusion: Innovation at Work



About the Authors

Gilles Garel is a professor at the National Academy of Arts and Trades (Cnam), Paris, France, and at the Polytechnic School of France At Cnam. He is the chair of Innovation Management and has been collaborating with companies on innovation and project management since the 1990s. He is also director of Cnam’s Interdisciplinary Laboratory of Scientific Action research (LISRA).

Elmar Mock is an engineer of chronometers and plastic material. At the age of 26, he, along with Jacques Müller, invented the Swatch. He subsequently conceived the Rockwatch for Tissot before leaving the watch industry. In 1986 he founded his own company, Creaholic, in Biennes, Switzerland. He is cited as an inventor in more than 150 patents. In 2010 he won the Gaïa Prize.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Management Science
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Quality Control
COMPUTERS / Information Technology