Any riots in the clouds?

Earlier this week, I overheard an interesting and unusual support call being handled at a company which provides business systems. On the face of it, you might enjoy this topical little story, but it might also get you thinking, as it did me, about some rather more substantial issues.

This customer was calling because he wanted to take his business system home! Continue reading “Any riots in the clouds?”

Organising for innovation

Aspects and characteristics

It is unlikely that anyone doubts that the ability of an organisation to innovate is strongly dependent on the nature of that organisation. Its nature can be described by various characteristics (including cultural, behavioural and structural characteristics) and by several aspects (including the static and dynamic aspects) of those characteristics.  Continue reading “Organising for innovation”

Standards: who’d have them?

Whether to standardise?

“If only there were a standard!” How often have we heard this lament about the need for consistency and the benefits of uniformity? Standards free us from decisions and incompatibilities, and are extremely useful in many situations.

On the other hand, there is the sceptical approach: “The great thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from.” So goes the “standard” joky banter about standards; and it continues: “and if you do not like any of those available, then another one will be along next year.” Continue reading “Standards: who’d have them?”

LikeMinds turn to “innovation and opportunity”

Yesterday, LikeMinds 2011 was announced. Yet again, the fields of enquiry chosen for the conference are topical, substantial and accelerating: “innovation and opportunity”. What a choice!

This will be the fourth LikeMinds conference in the UK in Exeter; other conferences have taken and will take place around the world: in Helsinki and in Dubai, for example. Amazingly, the Exeter conference has also doubled in size for the third time; yes, this conference will be eight times the size of the first one. Surely this doubling cannot continue, … or can it?!

Innovation

Innovation is on everyone’s agenda these days, and there are good reasons why. We feel the need for innovation in so many fields, that one has to question whether this is leading us to a better future or whether, like the increasing size of the LikeMinds conference, this pace is sustainable as the power law of human development is raised to the next index as it diverges towards oblivion. However, this perceived need for innovation is not, in my humble opinion, the reason why innovation is on everyone’s agenda; I have describedposted on and spoken about this previously and expect to do so, from time to time, again.

Opportunity

Opportunity is, on the other hand, not on everyone’s agenda, it seems to me. Continue reading “LikeMinds turn to “innovation and opportunity””

It’s not about the technology! Or is it?

New experiences, behaviours and techniques come along from time to time. As children, at school, there was always the latest “craze” whether it was for conkers or marbles or assegais (remember those?). As adults, at work and at play, we call them innovations, whether they are new materials, techniques, goods, services, fashions or whole new experiences.

“Social”

At the time of writing (early 2011), one significant “craze” is for “social media”, “social networking”, “social” anything, or, even, simply “social”, … as if we were not social or, at least, sociable before! It’s all the rage. Now we (yup, that includes me) are calling it “social communication” and just round the corner, allegedly, is “social commerce”. It’s fun, it’s different, and it’s a substantial change in something or other, … but in what? Continue reading “It’s not about the technology! Or is it?”

Pull away

How often does the response reveal more than the stimulus?

There was an interesting observation in one of the comments on Robert Scoble’s recent post about Google and its difficulties with innovation. But there was an even more interesting remark in his response to the comment.

In my earlier post, I described some general observations, raised by that post about Google, about the management of innovation. But this post is specific to a technique.

In his reply, Robert refers to the observation in the comment (by webwright) as a “good trick”. What was it that was a “trick”? It was that at Amazon, according to the commenter, the development of a product begins with the writing of a press release.

Surely, this is far more important than a “good trick”!

By writing a press release, are they not capturing their vision of the product by implementing what they see as the last stage of the product development: the announcement of the product to the public?

In writing that press release, they are capturing their desired outcome for this, as yet non-existent, product. This requires knowledge to be gathered and decisions to be made about:

  • the audience for the product
  • the perspective from which that audience views the product
  • the aspects that are relevant from that perspective
  • the characteristics of those aspects that are valued
  • the attributes which contribute to those characteristics
  • and the target levels for those attributes.

Without the press release as a specification of the outcome, the product vision might take different forms in the minds of different people, it might slip and slide around over time as some ideas become favoured over others, or as difficulties arise during development.

With this specification, written from the perspective of the customer, the vision is set. This shifts the questions of product management and product from “what we can do for them?” to “how can we do that?”! This is a very important shift.

“Pull”

There is a name for this, it is called “pull”.

Software innovation management: reboot required?

Why is innovation so difficult in the software industry?

In an interesting take on Google and its innovation, or lack of it, Robert Scoble provides an insight into Google’s manifestation of a very important issue for all organisations: their management of innovation.

Much of his explanation and diagnosis rings true. However, many of the proposed remedies, in his article and in the comments on it, do not.

This is, of course, not an issue which is specific to the software industry. There are many similar issues and examples of both less and more innovative organisations in other industries. Continue reading “Software innovation management: reboot required?”