Posts Tagged Innovation
A decade is an awfully short time to waste -Part of the Business Innovation Factory genome (Transform)
Saul Kaplan, Chief Catalyst of BIF-7 puts out a call to action at the beginning of the conference: we need transformations, not tweaks. This week, 350 people from diverse backgrounds came together to share stories, passion and ideas about innovation. The big challenges are understood – healthcare is broken, education needs an overhaul, the economy needs more entrepreneurs creating jobs. On the first day of the event, the speakers not only inspired, but challenged the audience. The conversations in the hallways in breaks and in the evening receptions were frenetic – everyone who attends is actively seeking information, new ideas and comparing perspectives. Here are a few of the thought provoking ideas from Day 1:
One of the best ways to solve a problem is to explain it to someone in a different line of work who can bring different viewpoints and experiences to help find a solution. Every technology vendor is trying to create innovation. Whether it is a new feature that greatly enhances an existing solution, a radical new technology that promises to disrupt existing models, new business models or the collisions of waves of change – innovation is hot topic regardless of the economic environment. While there appears to be no shortage of new ideas in IT recently, the field of innovation itself is a broad and diverse: ranging from how ideas are crystallized, what drives entrepreneurs to how companies and marketplaces can adopt (or resist) embracing the changes of the new ideas or products. I have had the good fortune to be able to attend some amazing innovation events over the last few years where I have heard from some amazing thought leaders, authors and innovators (see some articles on my personal blog). While I have seen speakers and sessions discussing innovation at various technology user conferences and trade shows, I have learned more out of the more academic and executive focused events where the speakers do not feel the need to make references to technology (like cloud computing).
At VMworld, Wikibon spent a lot of time talking looking for customer proof points and discussing innovation. This week, I have the opportunity to attend BIF-6, a conference of inspiring storytellers who live in the innovation realm. BIF’s chief catalyst Saul Kaplan started out the conference with a warning that “innovation” must not become a buzzword, or no one will be innovative. Just like cloud computing, it’s not so much about the definitions, but the actions, processes and results that matter. There were no silver bullets in the stories, but rather compelling unique perspectives on innovation, passion and ideas to help change the world.
If there is a single constant in the world today, it is change. The velocity of information is continuing to increase as mobile devices and cloud computing provide real-time access to more information. There are more opportunities for greater engagement and individual creation in the internet-era than there were before. In his new book, Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age, Clay Shirky discusses the means, motive and opportunity for creation of great value such as Wikipedia (created with the free time of .01% of 1 years worth of TV watching) and Ushahidi (see this TED video which explains how a website to track violence in Kenya expanded to many countries around the world). This post is not a book review (I enjoyed the book greatly, it is the first one by Shirky that I read, Adam Thierer who recommended the book to me wrote a thorough write-up on his site), instead, I’m proposing taking one of his points into action. Just because there are opportunities with new technology, there are few who will take advantage. As Shirky says: “Any community has members who deviate from social norms in negative ways…Positive deviants are those who behave better than the norm, even when faced with similar limitations or challenges.” I want to celebrate those who create a positive impact on the IT community through a collaborative process of sharing information and providing critical thinking on the business and technical challenges of the day.
A common thread that runs between IT and innovation in general is that new ideas require change. As Chip Heath said at the World Innovation Forum in June ’10 (that’s him above): change is hard, it can be futile and most people resist and hate change. Chip and his brother Dan have written two books, the second one is Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard (disclosure: I received a free copy at the conference). Cloud computing is a big and potentially scary change, how is the industry doing at creating the correct environment for customers to undertake the new products and services? At VMworld, “The Cube” will be broadcasting LIVE and digging deep into this topic – see all the details on SiliconANGLE and be sure to tune in Aug 30-Sept 2 for executives, customers, bloggers and analysts.
Innovation is stuff that’s impossible, because otherwise someone else would have done it
Tribes is about leading the groups that already exist. Communities in the past were formed around politics, religion or sports, now they can be for anything that can get people passionate. As people get emotionally engaged, they can overcome fear of change by charging to the new way with a group of like-minded people.
Michael Porter kicked off the World Innovation Forum at the Nokia Theatre in NYC today. He spoke on healthcare – a topic which affects everyone – you can see a portion of this content in a video that was posted from Davos 2010. There are also plenty of lessons around strategy that can be applied broadly.
Innovation is an interesting process. However care should be taken to not confuse true product innovation with vendor strategies designed to harvest more return out of already sunken investment dollars by increasing the productive life of an aging technology. Don’t get me wrong, product mid life kickers are legitimate but they tend to be band-aid that attempt to cover the unwelcome baggage associated with the shortcomings of the older, underlying technology.
Having been involved in product development for many years I have witnessed the myopic thought processes that guide solution development to meet today’s near term problems without giving appropriate consideration to enabling the flexibility necessary to meet the yet unrecognized challenges of tomorrow.