Practice of Innovation

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

NAE & NSF Value Creation Best Practices

Value Creation Best Practices

nsf_logo_f_fd498206-e543-4e7f-a92b-7f4885c2ad97The premier R&D and value creation programs at the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) are Engineering Research Centers.  These are initiatives where multidisciplinary teams address grand challenge opportunities with $50M of funding over ten years.  The centers are formed from leading U.S. universities and commercial partners.  The goals of the initiatives are: 1) paradigm-shifting research, 2) training of students in team science and value creation, and 2) societal impact, including through commercialization.  A 2017 study by the U.S. National Academy of Engineering (NAE) I was part of made major recommendations for how the centers could be formed and managed to make the biggest societal impact. As shown below, the NSF is now implementing these new practices.   I am extremely excited about this because I believe the changes made will have a major impact on the output of the centers and the ability of students to become successful value creators.  The management of the NAE and NSF are to be congratulated.   (more…)

Best Education for Our Era

The WPI Plan

Laurie Leshin and Curt Carlson.
Laurie Leshin, WPI President, and Curt Carlson.

Executive summary: Technical graduates must be accomplished value creators to thrive over their careers. Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has pioneered the experiential education needed for success in the global innovation economy.  In 2016 the WSJ selected WPI as the top U.S. school for combining teaching and research  (more…)

Finding High-Impact Opportunities

Colliding Exponentials

Jack Ma with Curt Carlson and John Zhang. The book is "Innovation" by Carlson and Wilmot.
Jack Ma with Curt Carlson and John Zhang. The book is “Innovation” by Carlson and Wilmot.

Executive summary:  Solutions to many unmet customer and market needs are enabled by the convergence of exponentially improving technologies.  Convergence science requires intensely collaborative and sustained value creation methodologies. 

 

At the Internet of Things (IoT) conference in China last fall, with a thousand participants and many from manufacturing, I listen to Alibaba’s Jack Ma.  He talked about his early career and some of the mistakes he made.  He then, surprisingly, told the audience that they were all losing money, whether they knew it or not, because most of them were going away. (more…)

Disrupting Others

Geoffrey Moore
Geoffrey Moore: Zone to Win

Your Value-Creation Playbook Is Core to Your Strategy

Executive summary:  Creating sustainable customer and enterprise value is the purpose of a company, and all company functions must support those objectives. Each functional area in a company has a unique “playbook” that defines its goals and operating processes. Perhaps it is surprising, but remarkably few companies include a value-creation playbook as part of their strategy to assure success.  Even fewer have a value-creation playbook at the strategic level to establish shared value-creation concepts and processes across all functions.  The benefits from having a comprehensive, company-wide value-creation playbook can be transformative, as illustrated by SRI International.

Disruption:  Established companies, when confronted with a disruptive change to their business model, almost all go away.  The odds of adapting are likely less than 5%. Today we are seeing this play out in retail, transportation, and finance. (more…)

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…)

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