Practice of Innovation

"The way we work is our most important innovation." Observations by Curtis R. Carlson

7th Grade Innovators

The Girls Middle School Program that Develops Graduates with Valuable Life Skills

A crowd had assembled at Google’s auditorium to see one of Silicon Valley’s yearly highlights.  It was Entrepreneurial Night.  Forty young women from the Girls Middle School (GMS) had assembled in teams of three to five to pitch their new companies to a panel of Silicon Valley venture capitalists.  As the girls presented their value propositions, some of the standing-room-only crowd was moved to tears by the girls’ earnest and surprisingly impressive presentations. (more…)

Quartet Playing, Value Creation, and Active Learning

Chamber music helps define effective value creation methodologies

“More people should play chamber music, even if they don’t play very well. They could learn a lot for their lives as human, social beings. It greatly helps to have a common goal. And the goal in our profession is so dominant, so interesting, and so varied that it’s worthwhile making the effort.”    Members of the Alban Berg string quartet


My History and Perspective on Value Creation

  • Inspiration

At fifteen years of age, I played the violin professionally in the R.I. Philharmonic Orchestra. During that period of my life, I discovered the joy of playing chamber music. That experience has always been my inspiration for what value creation and innovation in universities and businesses should be like: small teams, each person with unique roles, all aligned around a mission everyone is passionate about, and where the enormous amount of work required is worth it to all involved because the rewards are so great. (more…)

3 Rules for Interdisciplinary R&D

Practices to Profoundly Improve Performance

Note: this is from a YouTube I posted under Innovation for Impact (i4i), Curt Carlson

Hi, Curt Carlson here with my value creation tip for the week.  I want to talk about a very important issue that can profoundly impact the prosperity of the United States — and the world. That is, how we can become much better at conducting interdisciplinary research, which is the source of so many important innovations.

Today’s experience shows that most interdisciplinary research, whether at companies or universities, is disappointing.  This poor performance is because basic value creation methods are often missing.  Thus, I will first describe practices that are required and then, at the end, outline how we can address issues getting in the way. (more…)

Innovation for Impact (i4i)

Properties of an i4i Enterprise

My friend Steve Denning wrote a paper that describes some of the characteristics of an Agile enterprise.  Agile is a popular methodology that Steve writes about at Forbes almost every week.  He asked me how I would define an enterprise using our Innovation for Impact (i4i) methodology.  As I have written about here, an early version of i4i was used to create HDTV, Siri (now on the iPhone) and other innovations while I was CEO of SRI International.  A short introduction to our methodology can be found on Coursera. I am now teaching it at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Northeastern University.  (more…)

NABC Value Propositions

A Process for Systematic Innovative Success

Here is a podcast with Hunter Hastings from the Mises Institute where we discuss the fundamentals of value creation.  Below is an introduction to the webcast and a graphic for NABC value propositions.  As I describe, the four NABC elements are the starting point for all new innovations.  If you cannot address all four, you have still not figured out what to do next. 

Success at Value Creation

Three Fundamental Concepts

At a GE workshop: Michael Idelchik (VP of R&D), Curt Carlson, and Len Polizzotto

Experience shows that very few companies have a value creation methodology. There are three keys I look for, which are required for systematically successful innovation. Does the company or enterprise:

  1. Focus on important customer and market needs to make an impact?
  2. Share core value creation concepts, including NABC value propositions, for effective collaboration?
  3. Hold recurring team value-creation forums for rapid learning and improvement?


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…)

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…)

Different Value Creation Methodologies

A Family of Different Value-Creation Methods

If you are like me, you are likely confused by all the different forms of Agile, Lean, SCRUM, Lean Startup, I-Corps, Waterfall, Six Sigma, and Funnel.  Then, after you figure that out, the next questions are to understand what method to use in a given situation?  Here are some thoughts on those questions.

I gave an online speech this week, Innovation for Impact, at the World Agile Conference out of Lisbon, Portugal. It is a very valuable conference because the most prominent advocates are there, like my friend Steve Denning, and because it demonstrates the use of Agile and other models in many diverse contexts.  Numerous speakers mentioned different methodologies, including Agile, Lean, Waterfall, and SCRUM.  Because of all of its applications, the Agile movement is, as Denning points out, at its core, a mindset.  (more…)