Friday, October 17, 2014

Fostering Innovation


For John, BLUFInnovation may mean cost savings or it may mean more business.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Over at War on the Rocks is a piece on innovation.  This look is by six middle ranking officers who are part of an annual event known as the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum (DEF).  The reason this forum is important is that the NIH syndrome, the "Not Invented Here" outlook, is strong.  But, it isn't just the Department of Defense, as the first two paragraphs point out:
In 1972, a young man dropped out of college after his first semester. He then lingered around campus as a “drop-in,” attending only classes that interested him.  For the next 18 months, he learned seemingly obscure skills like the art of calligraphy, a subject that had no practical relevance to his life.  The student, of course was Steve Jobs and a decade later his knowledge of calligraphy would help shape the groundbreaking user interface of the Macintosh computer’s operating system.

By studying calligraphy, Steve Jobs engaged in what Clayton Christensen and his coauthors call "discovery activities".  These lack immediately apparent value, yet broaden a person’s horizons, generate ideas, and develop relationships across multiple disciplines.  Discovery activities can include associating, questioning, observing, experimenting, and networking.  In a study of private sector Chief Executive Officers, Christensen and his partners found that business leaders with a reputation for innovation spent 50% more time on discovery activities than their less-innovative counterparts.  Discovery activities bear valuable fruit in ways that cannot be anticipated, forging mental connections and suggesting ideas that would never occur without exploring beyond one’s usual domain.

On the other hand, maybe you don't want innovation in your organization.

Regards  —  Cliff

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