BIF Research Advisor Larry Huston (former VP of Innovation at P&G, architect of Connect + Develop, and now founder of consulting firm 4Inno) in on the Wharton Channel talking about how innovation networks function, the ways they can be nurtured, their potential downsides and the impact they will have on how firms bring products to market.
Good post by Satish Nambisan about the challenges companies face moving from firm-centric innovation to network-centric innovation. It nicely extends my earlier post about open innovation.
From Satish's post:
The Economist has a good article on open innovation and how the concept continues to wreck havoc on conventional R&D practices. But how open is open? Depends on who you ask.
Forbes magazine asks the question: How do you innovate in a field that already exists? Longtime innovator extraordinaire Andy Grove is teaching a group of kids at Stanford how to do that through "cross-boundary disruption." Grove is a disciple of BIF research advisor Clay Christensen so it makes sense that this smells a whole lot like disruptive innovation.
I pulled this quote from a recent Economist article about open innovation:
"Even in developed markets, the acceleration of
innovation is making patents less relevant. What is more, say brand
experts at P&G (which claims not even to count patents any longer),
the dizzying pace of change today confuses consumers with a baffling
array of choices. Such firms are increasingly turning to trusted brands
to simplify things for their customers. Andrew Herbert, head of
Microsoft's research centre in Cambridge, England, puts it this way:
“Our brand hides a tremendous amount of innovation.”
I chuckled when I read the Microsoft quote since we spent so much time at our recent summit talking about the perils of feature creep. And no one perpetuates feature creep better than Microsoft (except maybe mobile phone providers.) But I think Herbert's quote is quite provocative. Is a key factor of innovation success simplicity? Offering the customer less? Cherry-picking? Do in fact the most successful companies hide a tremendous amount of innovation?
"Every truly great accomplishment is at first impossible," said U.S. Homeland Security Under Secretary for research and development Jay Cohen to an audience of innovators at BIF-3 on October 11th. Prior to his post with Homeland Security, Cohen was head of naval research. His directive was very clear: make the navy more innovative. "When I took over naval research, it was an organization with 232 years of tradition unhampered by progress," he said.
BIF-3 storyteller Irving Wladawsky-Berger has written a follow-up piece to the story he shared at our summit a few weeks ago. To quickly recap, Irving was questioned whether any company can truly reinvent itself without having a near-death experience. Irving said no.
Having time for reflection, here's a bit of what Irving has to say:
We certainly caught a glimpse of author William Gibson’s famous line "The future is already here, it's just unevenly distributed" at BIF-3 this year. For two days, the future seemed more apparent. It wasn’t just the stories or the emotive storytellers—it was the purposeful random collisions among BIF-3 participants that produced the magic.
BIF Research Advisor Bill Taylor wrote a provocative piece on Xconomy asking a very simple question: How hard (bordering on impossible) it is for companies to keep new products simple and to focus their innovations on simplifying existing products?
His question stems from Jason Fried's story at the BIF-3 summit a couple of weeks ago. Jason's business advice: do less than your competition, spend less money, hire fewer people, work fewer hours and, offer fewer features.
IBM Vice President of Innovation Irving Wladawsky-Berger really hit a nerve at BIF-3 when he questioned whether any company can reinvent itself without having a near death experience. Our co-host Bill Taylor was certainly affected and wrote a good blog entry about it at Harvard Business Online.