Tag Archives: Innovation

American power at stake in great innovation race

By Peter Engelke – Americans like to think of themselves as the most innovative people in the world. At least since 1945, they have had good reason to believe so. During the Cold War, the United States built the most formidable technology-producing innovation system the world has ever seen.

Coordinated action by the U.S. government, the private sector and academia, combined with America’s unique postwar culture, crafted this system.

But the American system has seen better days. America’s leaders, at federal and state levels, have failed to maintain this system much less upgrade it.

As a result, America’s long list of difficulties includes falling public investment in research and development (R&D, a critical and under-appreciated factor in national innovativeness), an under-skilled workforce, flagging support for public higher education, decaying infrastructure and much more.

The global tech-innovation economy therefore is more than a just crowded place. It is also crowded where it counts: at the very top, where it no longer can be said that the U.S. stands alone. Several of the countries listed here, plus others, routinely score higher than the United States in global innovation rankings.

The U.S. will not long remain the global leader in innovation unless it takes decisive action across several fronts. more>

Think Like a Gambler: Innovation Is About Making Bets


Thinking in Bets, Author: Annie Duke.

By Alan Pentz – As humans we are often overconfident in our decision-making and even if we are unsure, we become more confident after a decision has been made. Studies of confirmation bias show that we seek information confirming our views and filter out evidence to the contrary. That’s a great strategy to feel good in the short term but isn’t going to lead to the best outcomes for your organization in the long term.

Thinking in bets (or thinking probabilistically) forces us out of that framework. Duke points out that people who are asked probabilistic questions are less sure and tend to hedge. It’s easy to say, “I’m 100 percent sure about this,” when nothing is really on the line, but if I ask you how much would you bet that you are right, suddenly the calculus changes.

So how does this impact government innovation? more>

What Is Strategic Agility?

By Steve Denning – As I suggested here and here, the subject of Strategic Agility is important because it’s central to the key business issue: how to make money from Agile? If the Agile movement is only about creating great workplaces for software developers (also important!) but doesn’t generate better business outcomes, its life expectancy won’t be long. Since I continue to get questions about the meaning of the term, “Strategic Agility,” a few more words about it are in order.

To begin with, it’s useful to recognize that “strategy” in management is contested territory. The term is used in different senses by different practitioners and writers. I am not suggesting that one sense of “strategy” is right and all the others are necessarily wrong. So long as we make clear how we are using the term, we can go on having a useful discussion.

Much of what I see in the world of Agile software development is, by my definition, operational Agility. i.e. making the existing products better, faster, cheaper and so on for existing customers.

Operational Agility is a good thing, and even essential, but it has a drawback. It usually doesn’t make much money.

That’s because in the 21st Century marketplace where competitors are often quick to match improvements to existing products and services, and where power in the marketplace has decisively shifted to customers, it can be difficult for firms to monetize those improvements. more>

Forget The Insight Of A Lone Genius – Innovation Is An Evolving Process Of Trial And Error


A Tale of Seven Scientists and a New Philosophy of Science, Author: Eric Scerri.

By Edward Wasserman and Eric Scerri – Scientific discovery is popularly believed to result from the sheer genius of intellectual stars such as Darwin and Einstein. Their work is often thought to reflect their unique contributions with little or no regard to their own prior experience or to the efforts of their lesser-known predecessors.

Setting aside the Darwins and Einsteins – whose monumental contributions are duly celebrated – we suggest that innovation is more a process of trial and error, where two steps forward may sometimes come with one step back, as well as one or more steps to the right or left.

Instead of revolution, think evolution. This evolutionary view of human innovation undermines the notion of creative genius and recognizes the cumulative nature of scientific progress.

Plenty of other examples show that, in many realms of human endeavor, fresh advances can arise from error, misadventure and serendipity. Examples such as the Fosbury Flop, Post-It Notes and the Heimlich Maneuver all give lie to the claim that ingenious, designing minds are responsible for human creativity and invention. Far more mundane and mechanical forces may be at work; forces that are fundamentally connected to the laws of physics, chemistry and biology. more> https://goo.gl/aKnP2r

ARPA-Ed: What would it take?

By Saro Mohammed – In short, DARPA is a very well-funded, highly flexible, research and development agency that was created to minimize the red tape that usually slowed defense R&D, while simultaneously maximizing innovation and results. Beyond its funding, which is approximately 377 times greater than the national educational research budget in 2016, DARPA operates under the following unique design principles, outlined in detail at a 2012 national education R&D meeting:

  • Risk: DARPA can take bigger risks than more traditional federally funded R&D projects.
  • Flexible projects: DARPA can choose to fund partial proposals, or projects solely focused on brainstorming or “mindstorming” a problem. In addition, it can fund possible solutions to problems across proposals.
  • Flexible partnerships: DARPA can work with or fund whichever entities it chooses, including private, for-profit, entities, and it can put partners together for projects (including across multiple sectors) that may or may not have applied for funding as partners to begin with.
  • Flexible solutions: DARPA can also fund purchase orders for solutions or products that do not yet exist, and can fund “performance-based” contracts that allow their grantees to retain intellectual property and other proprietary rights to profit after their contractual obligations with DARPA are complete.
  • Flexible timelines: Finally, DARPA can defund, increase funding, or extend project funding at almost any time, and for almost any reason. This allows funding to be quickly ramped up when successes are discovered, and ramped down when projects don’t pan out, taking some of the risk out of very risky bets.

One of the ideas is the possibility of an Advanced Research Projects Agency for Education (ARPA-Ed).

One of the ideas that was discussed was the possibility of an Advanced Research Projects Agency for Education (ARPA-Ed). more> https://goo.gl/H4igik

Innovation Is Not Enough

By Dani Rodrik – We seem to be living in an accelerated age of revolutionary technological breakthroughs. Barely a day passes without the announcement of some major new development in artificial intelligence, biotechnology, digitization, or automation.

The debate is about whether these innovations will remain bottled up in a few tech-intensive sectors that employ the highest-skilled professionals and account for a relatively small share of GDP, or spread to the bulk of the economy.

The consequences of any innovation for productivity, employment, and equity ultimately depend on how quickly it diffuses through labor and product markets.

The economic historian Robert Gordon argues that today’s innovations pale in contrast to past technological revolutions in terms of their likely economy-wide impact.

Electricity, the automobile, airplane, air conditioning, and household appliances altered the way that ordinary people live in fundamental ways. They made inroads in every sector of the economy.

Perhaps the digital revolution, impressive as it has been, will not reach as far.

On the supply side, the key question is whether the innovating sector has access to the capital and skills it needs to expand rapidly and continuously.

In a world of premature deindustrialization, achieving economy-wide productivity growth becomes that much harder for low-income countries. It is not clear whether there are effective substitutes for industrialization. more> https://goo.gl/XAB6Ti

The Secret to Innovation Is Our Collective Brain


The secret of our success: How culture is driving human evolution, domesticating our species, and making us smarter, Author: Joseph Henrich.
My Life: A Record of Events and Opinions, Author: Alfred Russel Wallace.

By Connair Russell and Michael Muthukrishna – Innovations occur when previously isolated ideas meet. From the innovator’s perspective, it’s an independent discovery, but from the perspective of the collective brain, it is an inevitable consequence of spreading ideas that converge across an entire social system—a veritable “marketplace of ideas.”

Three key factors driving the rate of innovation:

  • sociality:
    Sociality refers to the degree to which society facilitates connections between people. Larger, more interconnected societies will have higher sociality, resulting in everyone being exposed to more people and more ideas.
  • transmission fidelity:
    Higher transmission fidelity means more information is transmitted when people learn from each other.
  • cultural variance:
    Cultural variance refers to the variety of ideas that are created and tested.

From blue collar to white collar jobs, from the media we consume to expectations for self-presentation, the processes of cultural evolution are making society more complex. The modern educational institution emerged as a response to the Industrial Revolution; we are currently going through the Information Revolution—a revolution of at least equal importance.

All the while, the collective brain is making each of us smarter. more> http://goo.gl/JVcNfd

What Was the Greatest Era for Innovation?


The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Author: Robert J. Gordon.

By Neil Irwin – Which was a more important innovation: indoor plumbing, jet air travel or mobile phones?

You could argue for any of them, and data can tell plenty of different stories depending on how you look at it. Productivity statistics or information on inflation-adjusted incomes is helpful, but can’t really tell you whether the advent of air-conditioning or the Internet did more to improve humanity’s quality of life.

It’s hard to overstate how revolutionary the advent of electric light was. In the 1870s, a kerosene lamp could produce 5,050 candle hours worth of light a year at a cost of $20. That same $20 in 1920 bought 4.4 million candle hours a year from bulbs.

Transportation was undergoing its own transformation, and people were becoming far more connected to one another physically.

In 1900, just 8,000 motorcars were registered in the United States, but there were 9 million in 1920 and 23 million in 1929. Streetcars and subways, unheard-of in 1870, were in all the major cities by 1920. Intercity trains were becoming steadily faster and more reliable — a train trip from New York to Chicago that took 38 hours in 1870 was 24 hours in 1900 and 16 hours in 1940.

Add it all up, and Americans who in 1870 would rarely travel farther than they could go on foot or horseback could suddenly range much more widely. more> http://goo.gl/AfjcZr

Capitalism excels at innovation but is failing at maintenance


The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Author: Robert Gordon.
The Rise of the Creative Class, Author: Richard Florida.
The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book that Will Change the Way You Do Business, Author: Clayton M Christensen.
Shock of the Old, Author: David Edgerton.
More Work for Mother, Author: Ruth Schwartz Cowan.
Taming the American Idol: Cars, Risks, and Regulations, Author: Lee Vinsel.
Open Standards and the Digital Age, Author: Andrew Russell.
Ada’s Legacy: Cultures of Computing from the Victorian to the Digital Age, Authors: Robin Hammerman, Andrew L. Russell.

By Lee Vinsel & Andrew Russell – Innovation is a dominant ideology of our era, embraced in America by Silicon Valley, Wall Street, and the Washington DC political elite.

As the pursuit of innovation has inspired technologists and capitalists, it has also provoked critics who suspect that the peddlers of innovation radically overvalue innovation.

What happens after innovation, they argue, is more important. Maintenance and repair, the building of infrastructures, the mundane labor that goes into sustaining functioning and efficient infrastructures, simply has more impact on people’s daily lives than the vast majority of technological innovations.

Innovation provided a way to celebrate the accomplishments of a high-tech age without expecting too much from them in the way of moral and social improvement.

The ambition to disrupt in pursuit of innovation transcended politics, enlisting liberals and conservatives alike. Conservative politicians could gut government and cut taxes in the name of spurring entrepreneurship, while liberals could create new programs aimed at fostering research.

The idea was vague enough to do nearly anything in its name without feeling the slightest conflict, just as long as you repeated the mantra: INNOVATION!! ENTREPRENEURSHIP!! more> https://goo.gl/xsvszr

Three Ways To Reframe A Problem To Find An Innovative Solution


Insight Out: Get Ideas Out of Your Head And Into the World, Author: Tina Seelig.

By Stephanie Vozza – Everything really comes down to solving problems.

“Imagination is envisioning things that don’t exist,” says Seelig. “Creativity is applying imagination to address a challenge. Innovation is applying creativity to generate unique solutions. And entrepreneurship is applying innovations, scaling the ideas, by inspiring others’ imagination.”

Once you understand this framework, you can put it into action. more> http://tinyurl.com/okkknpd