Practice of Innovation

"Our most important innovation is the way we work." Observations by Curt Carlson

Confronting Decline

The Most Important InnovationUntitled 7.001

We must innovate the process of innovation. In an exponentially changing world, if our value creation processes are not exponential, we will fall behind exponentially. 

Our economy is turbulent and demanding.  Over the past three decades job growth and prosperity have dramatically slowed in America and many other developed countries, including Japan and the European Union.  In America GDP growth has declined from 4% in the nineteen nineties to under 2% per year.  This growth rate will not produce the jobs and prosperity needed. (more…)

A Transparent World

Challenges and Opportunitiesinternet_world_fullwidth

Last year I was in Singapore and met Israel’s former economic minister.  When I asked why he was there he said, “Like Singapore, Israel is a small country.  Most of the world’s important opportunities, talent, and resources are somewhere else.  I am here to discuss how to make the world transparent for us.”  That is an important idea.  This objective is also being pursued by companies and universities around the world.  (more…)

The Transparent Company

A New Model Is Required

In a previous post, A Transparent World, properties of our increasingly transparent world were discussed.  Here we discuss what these ideas mean for companies.  I will focus on three themes:

  1. Employ a Value-Creation Playbook focused on the customer.
  2. Use web-based collaboration platforms to create a transparent value-creating enterprise.
  3. Work globally with the best talent inside and outside the company.


The Transparent University

Education Will Be Transformed

In a previous post, A Transparent World and The Transparent Company, the properties of our increasingly transparent world were discussed.  Here we discuss what these ideas mean for universities.  There are four main themes emerging that will profoundly change education and research:

  1. On-line education that emulates the most effective learning-science principles.
  2. Development of value-creation skills through project-based learning.
  3. R&D and innovation initiatives using value-creation best practices.
  4. Global experiences and perspectives through both real and virtual collaborations. 


How to Change an Organization’s Culture

Find a Partner, Stick to the Fundamentals, and Start _DSC5673v3 copy

I gave a webinar to The Learning Consortium in May about how SRI International went from failing to being one of the world’s most productive R&D and innovation enterprises, having created Siri, HDTV, and many other world-changing innovations.  The presentation is here.  Throughout the presentation the hundreds of participants were asked questions. The answers are in the slides.  After the presentation the audience asked me additional questions about SRI’s transformation, which are given below with my answers.  For background, here is Steve Denning’s Forbes article about culture change at SRI while I was CEO.  The first rule was to never mention “culture change.” 

Never Stop Learning

James Madison University Commencement unspecified-12

On May 7th I had the honor of giving the graduation commencement address at James Madison University in Harrisonburg Virginia.  It was raining but we kept going and everyone had a wonderful time. The students were terrific.  Below is the speech I gave to the students. (more…)

Will Innovation Eliminate Work?

i4j Summit on Innovation for Jobs

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Steve Denning and Curt Carlson at the Summit

One of the major questions today is whether America will produce enough meaningful jobs in the future.  The Innovation for Jobs Summit invites speakers and thinkers each year to discuss this topic and propose possible solutions.  Here are two interviews at the conference on these topics by Martin Wasserman.  The first is an interview with me alone and the second together with Steve Denning, who writes regularly on innovation, management, and economic development for Forbes.  Curt interviewed alone here.  Curt with Steve here.

Value-Creation Communities (VCCs)

Redefining Work and the Process of Value Creation 

David Nordfors, Vint Cerf, Curt Carlson, and Robin Farmanfarmaian

One of today’s most important issues is whether in the future society will offer enough meaningful work for its citizens. Some argue that automation will eliminate essentially all human work. Since work is a primary source of human dignity, that is a dark vision of our future. That is not the perspective of the recent Silicon Valley Innovation for Jobs (i4j) conference organized and run by David Nordfors, Vint Cerf, and Robin Farmanfarmaian (see picture).  One reason is the emergence of Internet platforms that connect workers with work, allows the efficient learning of new worker skills, and facilitates global collaboration using innovation best practices.    (more…)

Will You Succeed?

Measure Your Innovative Potentialstevejobs

Can your enterprise or team succeed?  I have created two spread sheets that allow you to measure the innovative potential of your enterprise and your project team.  I call them the Enterprise Innovative Index and the Project Innovative index.  A discussion about their design and utility can be found by clicking on either Innovative Indices at the top of the home page or here.  

The Enterprise Index spread sheet is here.

The Project Index spread sheet is here.  

These are subjective metrics, but the attributes listed are fundamental to success.  My hope is that the indices will stimulate a discussion among your teammates to promote improvement.  I have added a few reference enterprises on the spread sheets, including Apple and SRI International.  As you will find out, getting a high score is very hard.  If Steve Jobs is one of your benchmarks for innovative excellence, then you will understand why.  There is a reason Apple has 92% of smart phone profits

Customer Value Analysis

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Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Prize winner in economics.

Products, Services, and Prospect Theory

Behavioral science is now an influential part of economics. It needs to become a more important part of the discipline of innovation. Although the discussion below is somewhat speculative, it highlights important perceptual attributes of “customer value.” Prospect Theory inspired this discussion, but the focus is quite different. Therefore I call it “Customer Value Analysis,” a model to help better evaluate the relative merits of different forms and amounts of customer value. (more…)

Creativity and Innovation

The Arts and Entertainment

Les Objects Volants: Boomwhackers

In a recent post stimulated by a conversation with David Nordfors and Pramod Khargonekar and his team at NSF, I suggested a more general definition for innovation:

Innovation is the creation and delivery of surprising new knowledge that has sustainable value for society.

All innovations are surprising and all are, to some degree, sustainable.   Otherwise, as we have discussed at this blog, they are not innovations.

Siri: A Disruptive Innovation

Adam Cheyer Discusses the Origins of Siri

Tom Gruber, Dag Kittlaus, and Adam Cheyer

What does it take to create a world-changing, disruptive technical innovation?   The history and technology behind Siri, the world’s first intelligent computer assistant, is described here by Adam Cheyer, one of the founders of Siri, the SRI company bought by Steve Jobs for use on the iPhone-4.  Siri added tens of billions of dollars of market value to Apple and profoundly changed the way the world thinks about interacting with computers.   (more…)

Innovation is Learning

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By Lonni Sue Johnson

“Learn fast to succeed early.”  Yes.
 “Fail fast to succeed early.”      No!

The right concepts move us forward.  The wrong concepts hold us back.

In Silicon Valley it is often said, “You must fail fast to succeed early.”  That is tragically wrong.  The goal is never to fail fast.  It is also demoralizing.