Practice of Innovation

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

Meaningful Work

Innovation for Jobs: I4J

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Vint Cerf, David Nordfors, and Curt Carlson at the I4J conference.

According to Jim Clifton, CEO of Gallup, “The American workforce has more than 100 million full-time employees. One-third of those employees are … engaged at work. They love their jobs and make their organization and America better every day.

At the other end, 16% of employees are actively disengaged — they are miserable in the workplace and destroy what the most engaged employees build. The remaining 51% of employees are not engaged — they’re just there.”  (more…)

The Innovation Challenge

Test Your Innovation Quotient – IQ

IQ: Innovation Quotient
IQ: Innovation Quotient

The attached spreadsheet allows you to test your knowledge about fundamental innovation concepts and practices.  For example, do you know the definitions for innovation, customer value, and a value proposition plus the primary barriers to innovative success?   You can find out if you are a:

  • Professional practitioner
  • Superior performer
  • Competent
  • Apprentice
  • New recruit

Have a good time and let me know how you do. (more…)

A Competitive World

Taiwan Silicon Valley Innovation Center

President Tsai, the Taiwanese delegation, and speakers at Plug-and-Play on January 14, 2017
President Tsai, the Taiwanese delegation, and speakers at Plug-and-Play on January 14, 2017.  I am second from the left.

President Tsai of Taiwan came to Silicon Valley to open a new center devoted to innovation and entrepreneurship between the two countries.  It is an example of how regions are working to improve their competitiveness by seeking out and leveraging the best global partners and resources, including venture capital. Below is a summary of the comments I made at the ceremony. (more…)

A Solution to Poor U.S. Economic Growth?

Law of Accelerating Cost

Gallup: see reference #1.
Gallup: see reference #1.

Executive Summary:  America’s economic growth has been in decline for decades and some feel nothing can be done.  The “Law of Accelerating Cost” (LAC) postulates that to maintain economic growth as a constant percent of GDP, exponentially more R&D resources over time are required.  We have not been making these investments since the 1970s.  These resources can be effectively obtained in three ways:

  • Increased federal and corporate investments.
  • Better use of existing funds by using value-creation best practices.
  • Movement away from areas of low economic return to focus on areas of major impact to the economy.

An important part of the solution that addresses our economic decline lies in satisfying these factors.  The largest and most efficient solution is achieved when these factors are combined.  (more…)

Drucker Forum on Entrepreneurship

“Do you have a value-creation playbook?”  “No.”

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The Drucker Forum, led by Richard Straub, is one of the world’s most important conferences on innovation and entrepreneurship. It honours Peter Drucker, the genius who laid the foundations for modern management.  Each November it is held in Vienna, Austria where Peter Drucker was born in 1909.  Many of the world’s thought leaders and practitioners are there to share progress on these increasingly important topics. 

During my talk, “Creating an Innovative Enterprise,” I asked the 500 participants if their staff were given a value-creation playbook along with innovation training so they could be effective value creators.  Only 5 people raised their hands.  (My presentation is here:  drucker-forum.) (more…)

Innovation and Education

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This video is of the President’s Distinguished Lecture I gave at Stevens University on October 5th 2016.

It is often said that the key to innovative success is to fail fast.  That is wrong.  It is also misleading and dispiriting.  The key to innovative success is to learn, search, discover, and create fast.  Value creation is a branch of the learning sciences.

Graduates are entering a turbulent and demanding world.  Job growth and prosperity have dramatically slowed and automation may eliminate half of today’s jobs.  We are not currently creating the jobs and prosperity America needs. (more…)

Innovation Definitions

Can We Agree on the Basics?Edit 2 apple-steve-jobs

I was recently asked to define a number of basic innovation terms.  Below are some of the most important.  I would greatly appreciate your feedback.  I will address the issues and thoughts you provide in future posts. (more…)

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…)

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.” 
(more…)

Customer Value Analysis

DK Untitled
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

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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.
(more…)

Siri: A Disruptive Innovation

Adam Cheyer Discusses the Origins of Siri

Siri-Founders
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.  

(more…)