- While everyone wants innovation, this is a word that connotes so many different things to so many different people that it has become virtually meaningless. For instance most (like Commerce Secretary Locke) focus on 'breakthrough' innovations. However, having done a ton of research about innovation and innovators, I know that most innovations begin with tweakage: tinkering with something you already know about, to make it better suit your own personal needs. If you only look for big ideas, you're going to miss the boat — or, oops -- the spaceship.
- Most innovation does not take place in labs--it takes place in the most unglamorous of places (no, I don't necessarily mean the bathroom!).
- Innovative people usually don't quite 'fit in.''Typically, organizations 'kill off' this type of person, sending them to corporate Siberia and/or simply extruding them. Then, months later, a new "innovation pod," is formed by executive fiat--lavishly funded and populated by all of the usual suspects -- who do fit in. Eventually, after issuing a series of highly bounded, 'safe' recommendations, the pod is disbanded or fades into obscurity.
- The stereotype of the innovator as a 'lone wolf' is inaccurate. This is where connectivity and the Internet fit in. Those who don't quite fit in are a minority, and they are scattered hither and yon. Yet, communication between multiple parties with shared interests lies at the heart of innovation. Internet-based connectivity makes it possible for 'weirdos,' AKA innovative types, to find one another and engage in the kind of dialog and collaborative effort that does make for breakthroughs.
- Not all innovation occurs in the high-tech sector: au contraire. For instance, I recently went to my local hardware store, where I saw and bought -- for 59¢ -- a strangely shaped, highly innovative pan scraper made of molded plastic. It's better than any pot scraper I have ever experienced. *Myopia alert!* I am confident Paul Budde, a chief architect of Australia's ambitious broadband plan and proponent of silo-free thought, would back me up on this. Trans-sector thinking knows no size.
I REALLY wish the people who hold the power to facilitate innovation writ large (as referenced in the article) knew some of these things. It would definitely make for greater effectiveness in "erasing our innovation deficit."