Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Three Perspectives on Innovation

I have been given a great opportunity to lead an innovation task force for Ohio State University Libraries. The TF is one of several the resulted from a day long planning session held back in April. The goal of each of the TF is to help the library create a five year plan. I am planing to create a series of posts based on the TF activities.

The following are several perspectives on innovation the TF has uncovered:

Michael Schrage:
  • Innovation is more social than personal. It is a byproduct of how well or poorly one plays with others. Behavior - not knowledge, not insight - drives innovation.
  • You can't be a serious innovator unless you are willing and able to play

Clayton Christensen:

  • You have to be careful which customers you listen to, and then you need to watch what they do, not listen to what they say."
  • The problem is when you say "listen to your customers," your customers are only going to lead you in a direction that they want to go in. Generally, that will never lead you to disruptive growth. You've got to find that new set of customers, and listen to them and follow them. That's the trick.

Andrew H. Van De Ven:

  • People and organizations are largely designed to focus on, harvest, and protect existing practices than pay attention to developing new ideas. The more successful an organization the more difficult this is. (Christensen echoes this theory)
  • While the innovation of conception process many be an individual activity, innovation is a collective achievement of pushing and riding those ideas.
  • The process of transforming innovation into practice involves so many individuals that those involved may lose sight of the big picture.
  • Innovations transform the structure and practices of an organization. The problem is creating an infrastructure conducive to innovation.
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1 comment:

Matt said...

All very, very insight full points, especially Christensen's points about "listen[ing]" to customers.

If only I could convince folks at MPOW ....