Practice of Innovation

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

Innovation is Learning, Searching, and Creating

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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.  

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“Mother of All Demos”

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Doug Engelbart (right) with Curt Carlson at SRI honoring Doug

Douglas Engelbart

Douglas Engelbart (1925 to 2013) was one of the world’s greatest innovators and scientific pioneers, having created at SRI International (at the time Stanford Research Institute) the computer mouse, hypertext, networked computers, and the graphical user interface.  That is, he created the fundamental ideas behind the modern PC interface, including multiple windows, real-time text editing, and video teleconferencing.

Engelbart’s overriding mission was to augment human intelligence so that society could more rapidly solve its important, urgent problems.  He did that in his computer science work but he also made seminal contributions to our understanding of the fundamental principles that allow it to happen. (more…)

Our Value Proposition for Your Important Need

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Important Need

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Curt Carlson, Founder and CEO of the Practice of Innovation and former CEO of SRI International in Silicon Valley, California

Is your enterprise thriving or struggling to keep up?  Are your R&D and marketing departments systematically creating one major breakthrough after another?  Is your business being commoditized?  If your answers are negative, you are not alone.  Innovative performance is generally poor.  In America more companies are dying than being born, and the lifetime of the S&P 500 is under 20 years. These trends are world-wide and accelerating.

In all the companies we have worked with, generally less than 30% of their new initiatives turned out to have any value for the enterprise.  Most were interesting projects for those involved, but not important to the enterprise.  Remarkably, less than 10% of these companies had a thoughtful innovation process. Senior management claimed they did, but when middle-level managers were asked to describe it, they gave back blank looks. That is the test. If a manager can’t describe their company’s innovation process, there is none.  It should not be surprising that the company’s innovative results are poor.  (more…)