The discontinuous nature of innovation

Making sense of the field of innovation is not simple. This is partly because of the range of aspects of innovation that are frequently discussed.

In this interview with Brightidea, the leading provider of innovation management systems, Keith McConnell, of Sara Lee, makes a distinction between innovation and “continuous improvement” in the first 25 seconds, when he says:

“My role is in continuous improvement. And my job is to actually improve the innovation process. So it is both continuous improvement as well as innovation.”

Keith McConnell [Sara Lee] from Brightidea on Vimeo.

#innochat today

Today (13 March 2014), during #innochat, this interesting aspect of innovation is proposed as the starting point for a discussion of the relationship between innovation and kaizen, which is often described as the pursuit of “continuous improvement“. The discussion will be led by our guest Elli St.George Godfrey (@3keyscoach). Continue reading “The discontinuous nature of innovation”

Tesla in Texas: two innovations interacting?

Selling innovative products

If you are selling something, then you want people to buy it, but how? The challenge is greater if your product is more innovative. But maybe other innovations can come to the rescue.

Resistance from existing distributors

Tesla_logo

For Tesla, the electric car manufacturer which is shaking up the motor industry, Texas is different. Tesla believe that existing car dealers have little incentive to sell electric cars, so they decided to sell them direct through their own sites, rather like a kind of Apple Store chain for cars.

But in Texas the car dealers don’t like that and they have laws to stop it.
Continue reading “Tesla in Texas: two innovations interacting?”

Innovation and marketing – an important pair

Understanding “innovation” relationships

With so much current interest in innovation, and with there being so many differences of view on what innovation is, one way to organise one’s thinking on the topic is to describe its relationship to other topics.

… with “marketing”!

The relationship between innovation and marketing is a particularly important, and this led to an article on several aspects of that pairing.

Read the full article …

Innovation happens like fire

Innovation happens automatically, under the right conditions, like fire.

For fire, those conditions are generally: fuel, air supply and heat. Removing any one, prevents it.

For innovation:

  • fuel is something valuable to be done,
  • air supply is the communication of information and ideas,
  • heat is energy, and sparks of enthusiasm and inspiration.

Innovation is prevented by:

  • misunderstanding value,
  • stifling communication,
  • pouring water on sparks.

When none of those are happening, innovation happens … automatically!

We like differently

It is a very simple idea: we like differently. And a wide range of consequences flow from it.

You and I like different things. Also you and I like or dislike the same things for different reasons and to a different extent.

A significant hurdle to understanding this is the difficulty we frequently have in accepting that other people have different perspectives from which they view the same things as we view.

Yet, we know that we all have different experiences and capabilities, and different hopes and fears; so is it a surprise that we have different criteria by which we observe, assess and evaluate anything? This is the basis for variety and diversity. It is also fundamental to trade and commerce; if everyone’s valuation of an item is the same, then there is no basis for trading it.

So if we have any blind spots which hide differences between our valuations, these can have wide ranging consequences for our ability to cooperate and interoperate. They limit our capacity to assist each other and to enable each other to contribute as effectively as we might.

Our existence would be extremely limited if we all liked the same.

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””

Innovation? What innovation?

We’ve always known “why?”

We can carry on doing the same old things!

Along the way, we can improve, sell more, and cut costs.

But in end, sooner or later, we need to do something different.

That is why we innovate.

Now we know “how?”

Nowadays, everyone is talking about innovation!

Many things seem mysterious for a long time, and then we get them under control.

It happened in “sales”, then in “quality”, now it is the turn of “innovation”.

In the past, a few people knew that they could manage innovation; now everyone knows.

There are processes for managing innovation using “ideation”, “co-creation” and, even, “open innovation”.

That is how we innovate.

But do we know “what?”

Do we understand what to innovate?

Now there is a question!

A better Java programming course?

Questions, questions!

What would a better training course be like?

In what ways would it differ?

For whom would it be better?

How would we know that it is better?

What would we measure?

Better for learners and providers

In general, whatever you are learning, all of these questions might be important to you. To a large extent, the answers depend on your needs and on the structure of the subject area. So, more specifically, my interest is in the answers in the case of learning to use a programming language.

In talking to potential partners who would like to be able to deliver a course on Java programming, I am struck by the absence of any discussion of what might make a course better than other courses. Naturally, there is discussion about the course being “better” for the training provider.

But in the end, the needs of the learner will surely dominate. So, of course, “better” must mean better in the eye of the beholder, who is ultimately the learner, although there may be two or more layers in between.

What is needed?

Having spent hundreds of hours training people in Java programming, it is clear to me that there is more than one way to approach the subject. Having spent hundreds more hours training people in object-oriented design for implementation in Java, it is also clear to me that the most generally used approach does not work at all well.

People who have completed a Java course, apparently without undue difficulty, can frequently manage to avoid understanding some important concepts.

So, a few years ago, I set out to do better. The resulting course has been the subject of my thoughts, from time to time, ever since.  It seems to stand the test of time.

Improving the sequence!

For the Java programming course in question, I have modified the sequence in ways that are mostly subtle, but not always! As you may know, this is consistent with my belief that the sequence is the foundation of learning anything.

When the course is available, we can discuss the specific differences from a more normal sequence. But, in the meantime, I am thinking about what might be expected  by learners and others, and about whether further changes are also possible.

“Innovation” is manageable!

This is news to many people and organisations. Many take the view that “innovation” happens somehow, and that it is fairly random, risky and unmanageable. But others are showing that this is not so.

The article, The manageability of innovation, describes that this is not unlike the situation in other areas in the past.

As the article concludes: there is a lot to learn and to do!

However, the main point is that the news is out …

“Innovation” IS manageable!

What are you going to do about it?!

Innovation: but which way?

The topic of innovation is generating considerable interest and an increasing quantity of communication traffic. So do we need yet more communication on this? Do we need more ideas? Do we need to learn more about managing innovation?

“Oh yes!” is the answer to both questions and, also, those two issues go hand-in-hand.

What is innovation?

Answering this question is important to understanding what we are trying to achieve and can also help us to organise the flow of information. Continue reading “Innovation: but which way?”