Innovation Quarter

Innovation Quarter

Wake Forest Innovation Quarter


«We envision Wake Forest Innovation Quarter becoming a leading hub for innovation in biomedical science and information technology. By attracting a diverse mix of academic groups and early and established companies, providing robust company incubator facilities and services, and supporting current and future tenants, Innovation Quarter can become a place where people are inspired to work, want to live, have an opportunity to learn and are able to play.

»Our purpose is to promote the creation of an ecosystem for innovation that supports the people, academic departments and companies in their discovery and development of products and services that can lead to treatments and cures and otherwise enhance the lives of mankind. .../...»


Digital Activism Research Project (DARP)

Digital Activism Research Project (DARP)

University of Washington
Department of Communication


«The Digital Activism Research Project (DARP) was founded in the fall of 2012 in the Department of Communication at the University of Washington (UW) in Seattle. Since its founding, DARP has been committed to taking a rigorously empirical, social science approach to the study of global digital activism, civic engagement, non-violent conflict and citizen journalism. Its approach is open and collaborative, and the project has engaged students both at UW and at other universities in its work, as well as making all its work accessible to the public through Creative Commons licensing. We believe that the study of global digital activism can and must be accomplished through open access and cooperation. (About > Project .../...)

»Global Digital Activism Data Set

»The Global Digital Activism Data Set (GDADS), our flagship project, is comprised of qualitative and quantitative variables describing hundreds of digital activism campaigns from around the world. Created as a resource for scholars and activists, it is an open data set and is free to download. Version 1.0 was released in February 2013 and in available here. Version 2.0, currently in production, will be available in the fall.

»GDADS-archive-project-page-image1Global Digital Activism Archive

»The archive is a companion product to version 1.0 of the Global Digital Activism Data Set. It is an interactive list of the 1,346 cases collected for that first iteration of the data set and allows users to easily browse the case list and click through to the original information source used to create the data, usually a blog post or news story about the digital activism instance.

»CR2.0-project-page-image1Civil Resistance 2.0

»Created in collaboration with Patrick Meier, Director of Social Innovation at the Qatar Computer Research Institute, Civil Resistance 2.0 is a crowdsourced effort to update nonviolent methods for the digital age by adding to the canonical list of 198 nonviolent methods created by Gene Sharp in 1973. Housed on a simple Google spreadsheet, CR2.0 allows anyone to view, add to, or edit the list of methods. (About > Projects .../...


Nesta (website and press)

(website and press)



«Nesta is an innovation charity with a mission to help people and organisations bring great ideas to life.

»We are dedicated to supporting ideas that can help improve all our lives, with activities ranging from early stage investment to in-depth research and practical programmes.

»We don’t work alone - we rely on the strength of the partnerships we form with you and with others to make change happen. (About us .../...)

»We believe that we’re living in a time when there’s more need than ever for creativity, experimentation, and risk-taking.

»We aim to boost innovative potential - to help individuals and organisations design and grow better ideas, which can improve the quality of many peoples’ lives.

»We judge our success in diverse ways – in investment through growing social impact, capital value and pioneering new types of finance; in research through the quality and influence of our analysis and ideas; in the Innovation Lab through the reach and depth of the ventures and projects we back, including both direct impact and the way that our work influences public policy. (What we want to achieve .../...)

»Every year we produce over 50 world-class publications on innovation and run programmes which produce hundreds of innovative, cutting-edge case studies from all over the UK and beyond. (Press .../...


The Wilson Quarterly

The Wilson Quarterly

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
Communications Department


«The Wilson Quarterly explores our world by examining ideas, culture, news, and the real lives they affect. With expert analysis, a diversity of viewpoints, and thought-provoking human stories, WQ aims to foster a more informed and engaged conversation on the ideas that matter.


»We like content that is ambitious, intelligent, and thought-provoking - whether a profile of an influential idea or leader, new ideas and data challenging the conventional beltway wisdom, a long read on an emerging trend in American life, a look back at a forgotten historical moment, a relevant or interesting new book excerpt, or a feature on the human implications of policy and politics. All submissions should be exclusive and grounded in fact. .../...»


«Newsletter L&I» (n.º 38, 2015-01-26)

Publicações periódicas dedicadas à inovação (I) (Brasil)

Revista Brasileira de Inovação (RBI) [web] [intro]

Cadernos de Inovação em Pequenos Negócios 2014 [web] [intro]

Revista Inovação [web] [intro]

BISUS - Boletim de Inovação e Sustentabilidade [web] [intro]

Publicações periódicas dedicadas à inovação (I) (Portugal, África lusófona)

Revista HdF [web] [intro]

Portugal Inovador [web] [intro]

Boletim Águeda Empreende [web] [intro]

Revista Electrónica de Investigação e Desenvolvimento (REID) [web] [intro]

Publicaciones periódicas dedicadas a innovación (I)

Revista Innovación Social [web] [intro]

Compass. The 3DEXPERIENCE Magazine [web] [intro]

Innovamás [web] [intro]

[i2] Innovación e Investigación en Arquitectura y Territorio [web] [intro]

Publications périodiques dédiées a l'innovation (I)

Green Innovation [web] [intro]

FrenchWeb.fr. Le magazine de l'innovation [web] [intro]

Journal du Net [web] [intro]

Annuaire de la Recherche Développement Innovation [web] [intro]

Periodical publications dedicated to innovation (I)

INNOVATION. The Quarterly of the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) [web] [intro]

Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) [web] [intro]

International Journal of Innovation Management (IJIM) [web] [intro]

Bulletin of the Association for Information Science and Technology [web] [intro]

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4.0 Internacional


Bulletin of the Association for Information Science and Technology

Bulletin of the Association for Information Science and Technology

Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T)


«The Bulletin of the Association for Information Science and Technology is ASIS&T’s primary means of maintaining regular contact with its membership regarding ASIS&T activities.

»This e-magazine is also a vehicle for sharing news and information regarding developments in the field of information science and technology, including policy and political developments. It publishes opinion and quality, brief, timely articles. The Bulletin’s primary audience is information science practitioners. It is not a refereed publication and does not publish research papers.


»Generally, content breaks down as indicated below. However, not all categories will be represented in each issue

»Feature Articles

»Usually, each issue of the Bulletin focuses on a theme or topic. Past issues have dealt with such areas as information architecture, technology developments in libraries and museums and their impact, the Semantic Web, indexing and indexing languages, standards for information description, and information seeking behavior. These special theme sections of the Bulletin have a guest editor who solicits, selects, and edits the articles. Many issues also contain other feature-length articles that have been contributed by ASIS&T members or other authors or that have been solicited by the Bulletin Editor. .../...»


International Journal of Innovation
Management (IJIM)

International Journal of Innovation Management (IJIM)

World Scientific Publishing Company
International Society of Professional Innovation Management (ISPIM)


«IJIM is an open, peer-reviewed research-based journal, and the formal statement of intent since its inception in 1997 is:

»"The International Journal of Innovation Management (IJIM) is the official journal of the International Society of Professional Innovation Management (ISPIM). Both the IJIM and ISPIM adopt a multi-disciplinary approach to addressing the many challenges of managing innovation, rather than a narrow focus on a single aspect such as technology, R&D or new product development. Both are also international, inclusive & practical, and encourage active interaction between academics, managers and consultants. Case studies which provide new conceptual or theoretical insights are also invited. IJIM aims to provide a forum for the insights of academics, practising managers and consultants, and to integrate the theory and practice of innovation management." .../...»


Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR)

Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR)

Stanford University


«Stanford Social Innovation Review is an award-winning magazine and website that covers cross-sector solutions to global problems.

»SSIR is written for and by social change leaders in the nonprofit, business, and government sectors who view collaboration as key to solving environmental, social, and economic justice issues. Published at the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society at Stanford University, SSIR bridges academic theory and practice with ideas about achieving social change. SSIR covers a wide range of subjects, from microfinance and green businesses to social networks and human rights. Its aim is both to inform and to inspire.

»Mission Statement:

»To advance, educate, and inspire the field of social innovation by seeking out, cultivating, and disseminating the best in research- and practice-based knowledge. .../...»


INNOVATION. The Quarterly of the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA)

INNOVATION. The Quarterly of the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA)

Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA)


«INNOVATION, IDSA's flagship publication, is one of the best places to learn about the practice of industrial design. Every issue of INNOVATION reaches IDSA's membership, Fortune 500 companies, universities, associations, design consultancies and subscribers around the world. Published quarterly, subscribers and design offices maintain a catalog of back issues for reference and inspiration. IDSA also offers the publication digitally to members on an interactive platform.

»With its clean layout, quality editorials and top-notch content, IDSA members named INNOVATION their number one benefit in recent membership surveys. A practicing design professional Mark Dziersk, FIDSA, who brings many years of consultant design expertise to the job, serves as executive editor.

»INNOVATION is the voice of the industrial design profession, providing in-depth coverage of industrial design issues while communicating the value of design to business and society at large.This award-winning quarterly is generously illustrated with images of cutting-edge designs. For the past several years, issues have been made available digitally to all members for review on their computers or tablets. Older issues and selected articles of every issue are available to anyone interested in industrial design. Issues of INNOVATION dating back to its origination in 1982 are available in offices worldwide for staff use. INNOVATION reaches more industrial designers in North America than any other ID publication. It is the publication designers go to for content and substance on industrial design. .../...»


«Newsletter L&I» (n.º 37, 2015-01-19)

Internet das Coisas (Brasil)

Tim Dunn: «5 passos para marcas definirem uma estratégia de internet das coisas» [web] [intro]

Internet das coisas dominou esta edição da CES [web] [intro]

Indústria e academia unidas na internet das coisas [web] [intro]

Internet das Coisas tem infinitas possibilidades. BK Yoon, CEO da Samsung, comenta sobre o futuro promissor da IoT [web] [intro]

Diplomacia e inovação (Portugal, África lusófona)

Projetar Portugal – Ciência, tecnologia e inovação na diplomacia europeia [web] [intro]

Diplomacia na era digital. Entrevista com Norbert Riedel [web] [intro]

Miguel Costa, embaixador de Angola em França – A implementação de uma cooperação intensa e inovadora [web] [intro]

Diogo Agostinho: «Criar pontes no mundo» [web] [intro]

Nuevos materiales biodegradables

Monturas de gafas 100% biodegradables a partir de subproductos de la industria de zumos [web] [intro]

Proyecto europeo Succipack para el envasado sostenible de alimentos [web] [intro]

Adcellpack, nuevo envase biodegradable basado en celulosa para el sector de la alimentación, desarrollado por ITENE y un consorcio de empresas [web] [intro]

El mundo apuesta por nuevos materiales sustentables [web] [intro]


Jean Gattuso: «L'innovation, c'est de constamment se réinventer» [web] [intro]

La nouvelle Jaguar XE réinvente la stratégie marketing [web] [intro]

Bertrand Parmentier: «L’enjeu est aujourd’hui de réinventer l’entreprise dans la fidélité à ses valeurs et avec un nouveau mode de gouvernance collégial» [web] [intro]

NRF Retail Big Show 2015: considérer les clients comme des fans [web] [intro]

Innovation Failure

Henry Doss: «Why Big Business Fails At Innovation» [web] [intro]

Thomas D. Kuczmarski: «Memo to CEOs: Stop Blathering About Innovation and Do Something» [web] [intro]

Beatrice Ekwa Ekoko: «Failure is the new winning» [web] [intro]

Emmanuel Iruobe: «The Changing Role Of Failure» [web] [intro]

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4.0 Internacional


Emmanuel Iruobe: «The Changing Role Of Failure»

The Changing Role Of Failure

Ventures Africa
Emmanuel Iruobe


«“Jerry, shut down that TV and go do your homework! Do you want to end up ‘failing’ your exams this school term?” a mother yells at her teenage son in a way that many can relate with.

»No one wants to fail; from our childhood, we are constantly reminded to not fail, shown all the perils that come with failure, booed by others when we miss our targets and maybe even get beaten for failing school work. We grow up with a phobia for failure, doing everything in our power to not fail, and this usually translates into some form of rigidity and one-sidedness. Failure is a blow to human self-esteem and, truth be told, it can be a terrible thing, but so can cheap success. While we strive to not fail, we would do well to realize that there could be some gains from failing every now and then.

»As we already know, the world we live in undergoes fundamental changes every now and then, and disruption is becoming the new normal while long term stability is merely the exception. The playing field gets leveled, unleveled and re-leveled faster than the earth revolves around the sun every year, and the end result is a super-fast changing world where innovation becomes commodity within months. In this fast-paced world of ours, the role of failure is changing.

»If innovation is the objective, failure is an important stepping stone. Failure is an essential part of the creative process; as a matter of fact, the frequency and intensity of failures could serve as a measure of how well one is doing. We need to start seeing failure differently, because it is becoming an inevitable experience in today’s world.

»Understand that failure is actually feedback, an indication that certain processes were faulty or inefficiently executed, meaning desired outcomes can be harvested if those processes are remedied. So, the thing to do when, not if, failure comes is to understand why, isolate the root causes and prepare to take the next step in a more intelligent fashion. This philosophy is called “Intelligent Fast Failure” and is crafted from Albert Einstein’s quote; “Genius is making all possible mistakes in the shortest amount of time.”

»According to Professor Jeanne Liedtka of the University of Virginia, the most fundamental law of innovation is that the only certainty is uncertainty, and this is really the cornerstone of what has become the physics of innovation. The pursuit of innovation is different from the pursuit of predictability which births stable environments where outcomes are long known before they materialize. The pursuit of innovation is inherently messy and inefficient, and everyone who engages in this pursuit must learn to tolerate ambiguity and uncertainty.

»“Venture Capitalists understand this physics of innovation – only 1 or 2 of every 10 investments end up a winner, yet they don’t see themselves as failures because they understand that the force at play is uncertainty. So, they see themselves as managers of a portfolio of innovation, most of which won’t do well. They also know that their ability to predict, at the early stages, which will do well is also poor,” says Professor Jeanne Liedtka.

»“They understand that the inability to predict is a result of the uncertainty surrounding any new business, so they develop a set of practices that acknowledges this reality – they bet heavily on individual leaders of new businesses, looking for people with experience and expecting both failures and successes. They try and keep their bets small and affordable until they have better data. Finally, they develop approaches that helps them get in and out of new businesses intelligently and swiftly. Their goal is to succeed or fail fast and cheap,” she adds.

»Her words are a succinct representation of the new understanding we all must have about failure in order to make sense of the 21st century. While one shouldn’t deliberately set-up to fail, the risks can be minimized and made bearable by ensuring that failure is made cheap, both personally and financially. A way of achieving this is to engage an iterative approach and ensure all hypotheses and assumptions are tested at every junction, and this is quite resonant with the lean startup concept.

»For instance, if, as an entrepreneur, you have a great idea of a new product that “everyone will love” because of the value it creates, understand, first and foremost, that the only person who thinks your idea is a great idea is you. So, you must find a way to test whatever assumptions you have made in the areas of value creation, execution, scalability and defensibility before committing significant resources to mass production.

»Lean startup experts advocate that a prototype be developed first and given to prospective customers, then feedback is immediately acquired from them after they use it. Within this feedback will usually lie tremendous and invaluable insight that can make your product or service better if incorporated into the overall design. At this point, if the product would be rejected by the market, you would know upfront before committing more resources to mass production, this means you failed in a cheap way.

»This feedback is really the gold of product development, and this is why software makers release a beta version that is tested by users before the final version is made commercially available. Feedback is the precursor to success and this philosophy holds true in politics, business development, startup economics and everything that has to do with innovation in today’s world.

»The role of failure has changed, it no longer means you’ve been condemned but is, rather, an indication that a thing or more should be fine-tuned somewhere. It is helpful to embrace such feedback whenever they come our way and tweak our approach accordingly, keeping in mind that we can minimize the attendant risks by making sure failure is cheap.

»Start small, fail fast and hit the road again – this is how the game is now played!»


Beatrice Ekwa Ekoko: «Failure is the new winning»

Failure is the new winning

Hamilton Spectator
Beatrice Ekwa Ekoko


«A running joke in our family goes that growing up, we were supposed to be born knowing how to do things well. At the family's “haute couture” tailoring establishment, mom would throw something random at us, like embroidering an elaborate design on an African boubou and expect it to come out perfectly, beautiful stitches evenly distributed.

» “I can't” was not option. You learned, and quick about it. Sounds tough, but I believe mom's 'can-do' attitude, helped foster resiliency to cope with life's challenges and failures, keeping us trying and not giving up easily.

»Failure. Everybody is talking about how failure is not a bad thing, it's the new winning: discovery emerges from failing, innovation comes from failing, growth develops from making errors. In business, failure can be a stepping-stone toward fortune. In education, we're hearing how kids ought to be encouraged to explore and make mistakes.

»In fact it's got to the point that admitting to mistakes, especially as a public figure has been twisted into one cheeky way of letting yourself off the hook: “I'm sorry. I'm human.” (I like to make a distinction between making mistakes and wrongdoing. Mistakes are made unintentionally; they are errors of judgment. Wrongdoing is intentional — like cheating on your taxes or having an affair).

»At a Toronto conference last month, the keynote of a very successful British Columbia nonprofit shared his failure story, complete with the yearly “failure report.”

» “Canadians don't like to admit failure,” he commented in passing, he himself a born- and-raised American.

»Whether or not we take offence, it's worth looking at: what is the cost of focusing solely on good points? At all levels, be it personal, at work, in the community or in the country, by not examining when or where we fail, we give up opportunities to figure out how we can improve and be better. Hiding or ignoring our shortcomings, hoping they'll go unnoticed is self-deception. We end up stunting ourselves.

»In our high-speed world of constant change, that price is too high.

»We are still acting and thinking in a way that doesn't correspond to the reality of today — whether than means social justice, economy and work, environment, education. The two aren't jiving.

»School is still largely about getting the right answer, business carries on mostly seeking to make maximum profit (screw future generations) and being right is better than doing right.

»But now more than ever, with the global-size problems we face, remaining uncomfortable with failure is not an option; we need to practice “smart failure,” trying over and over again, striving for the changes that need to happen.

»For change to occur, we have to risk failure — which of course is at the heart of the matter. The feeling of shame that failure can bring and the desire to avoid shame at any cost keeps people from risking failure.

»However, we can't face failure without talking about shame, and we can't talk about shame without talking about vulnerability.

» “Adaptability to change is all about vulnerability,” writes Brené Brown, research professor at the University of Houston. “It's the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”

»Furthermore, “Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage, not weakness,” Brown says.

»Brown's message is that if we accept vulnerability into our lives, failure (which is inevitable at some point if you are breathing) won't look so bad when it occurs.

»Young children can teach us a lot about overcoming failure. Fear of embarrassment is not on their radar. A young child will keep at it, until they get to where they want to be, or learn the skill they are after. Creative people and innovators share this unbending focus.

»We need more people daring and risking failure in order to grow stronger, healthier people and communities.

»There are many signs of hope. For example, what's exciting is a growing openness about sharing work in progress as opposed to presenting the final, “perfect” product or concept at completion.

»At a recent McMaster University W Booth School of Engineering Practice 'Open Innovation Studio' session (at the Hamilton Public Library), I was in a room full of student engineers who are working on solutions to real world problems. This session was for the public and community partners to hear reports on the students' innovation challenges.

»I was impressed by how receptive the presenters were to the audience’s probing questions, their willingness to engage beyond university walls and their honesty in exposing their challenges publicly.

»Experiences like this are heartening — proving that it’s happening, we are becoming comfortable with exposing uncertainty and valuing the learning in failing.»


Thomas D. Kuczmarski: «Memo to CEOs: Stop Blathering About Innovation and Do Something»

Memo to CEOs: Stop Blathering About Innovation and Do Something

Thomas D. Kuczmarski


«I have come to realize how much time is wasted teaching managers about the practical skills of innovation. It is the chief executive officer that needs the lesson. Everything else that is central to reaping the fruits of innovation emerges from this simple observation.

»It is a truth that is masked in rhetoric. It is impossible to find a CEO who does not speak the words of innovation. I often hear: “Innovation is the lifeblood of our business” or “We need to innovate to grow.” The simple truth is that far too many leaders don’t act on those words—and that is where the rubber misses the road.

»My colleagues and I did a survey of 87 U.S. product and service companies. We wanted to get behind the catchword “innovation” and learn more about the best practices of companies that are successful innovators and find out why others consistently come up short. In doing our survey, we defined a company as a “successful” innovator if more than half its new product or service launches met the firm’s criteria for success relative to projected revenue and profit. Those at 49 percent or less, we labeled “unsuccessful.”

»Here are a few of the things we found.

»An innovation strategy counts. Fully 66 percent of the successful companies have an explicit innovation strategy that is aligned with the overall corporate strategy. Only 22 percent of the unsuccessful firms have such a strategy.

»Focusing on high-risk—but higher-return—innovations matters. In successful firms, 26 percent of new product and service revenues come from new-to-the-world innovations. Among the unsuccessful, the figure is just 7 percent.

»Innovation leadership is central to success. There is a clearly defined innovation leader in 64 percent of the successful companies; 50 percent of unsuccessful firms have such a leader. The two numbers seem oddly close until you understand that in the successful firms, the innovation leader reports to the CEO in 47 percent of the cases—compared to 15 percent among unsuccessful firms.

»The CEO must be the innovation leader. In 62 percent of the successful firms, the CEO is active in the process of planning new products and services, compared with 30 percent of the unsuccessful firms.

»The reasons we heard for the failure of new products or services include poor planning and execution, lack of understanding of market needs, and lack of internal support. Overall, fully 68 percent of the reasons given for innovation failure were things that can be controlled by an organization.

»Finally, words matter. The words we heard from successful companies in describing their innovation culture include invigorated, collaborative, aggressive, and growing. At the unsuccessful firms, we heard: lacking, constrained, isolated, weak, and aspirational.

»Innovation is a word that is easy and convenient to say. Making it happen is an important leadership role. Any CEO who wants to bring the revenue of innovation to the bottom line has to recognize that it requires a culture that involves every corner of the organization. Making that happen starts at the top.»


Henry Doss: «Why Big Business Fails At Innovation»

Why Big Business Fails At Innovation

Henry Doss


«“The general tendency of things throughout the world is to render mediocrity the ascendant power among mankind.” – John Stuart Mill.

»Big businesses don’t seem to be very innovative. An informal glance around the big business landscape won’t reveal much in the way of innovation beyond perhaps the routine adoption of a new technology, a bit of chasing the most current business model paradigm or acronym, or maybe rejiggering organizational charts here and there. But, innovation? Not so much.

»A little speculation about why big business doesn’t seem to be innovative might lead to any number of hypotheses. Perhaps it is the case that large-scale business is based on risk mediation, so don’t look for much strategic risk-taking. Or it might be that because big businesses are so technology dependent — and more often than not, legacy technology-shackled — that you simply won’t find much innovation requiring significant (read, “expensive”) system changes. Or maybe regulatory constraints put a damper on imagination and creativity or anything that smacks of drawing outside the lines. Or, a little cynicism just might suggest that for the most part most big businesses are at their core a commodity enterprise, with a relatively sticky customer base that rarely leaves; consequently, there is little motivation to pursue game-changing product or service innovation.

»There are plenty of other speculations to go around, all of them in some measure based on market realities. But these speculations and constraints don’t speak directly to the challenge of innovation in big organizations, in spite of the measure of truth they all contain. They miss the mark because none of these characteristics of large-scale enterprise have anything to do with the presence — or absence — of innovation, necessarily. They are all simply prevailing conditions — indisputably real, a part of the landscape. These conditions and constraints, in and of themselves, are not the problem. Innovation, if it is to operate as a constant in any business has to be in the real context, of real conditions, in the real world. So, yes, big businesses are constrained in very specific ways — technology, regulatory environment, capital, risk. But it’s not these real-world constraints that inhibit innovation.

»It’s business culture.

»If you look around inside any large-scale operation nowadays, you’ll probably find any number of innovation-labeled initiatives — accelerators, incubators, labs and so on. You might even find an innovation officer or an office of innovation. Most of these efforts or initiatives will be managed and structured in ways that are similar to other external supplier relationships, even if the office or initiative dedicated to innovation happens to be internal. That is, what you’ll find is that in all of these cases, innovation is being delegated, or outsourced, or in some manner separated from day-to-day operations, as if innovation is something that happens there, but not here. The challenge of course, is that here — inside the organization’s culture — is exactly and precisely where innovation will occur.

»There is a strategic distinction that helps to better understand the strong, direct correlation between innovation and culture, and this distinction is critical to understanding and engineering broad cultural change: That is the distinction between innovation and output, or between innovation and invention. Output — the inventions, ideas, and new things that can be seen and touched and measured — is something organizations may very well be able to buy. Businesses buy output every single day: newly invented technologies, or new management paradigms from consulting firms, or things – like merchandising or signage. In fact, big businesses can be very, very good at establishing powerful relationships with multiple suppliers who are providing inventive, new output. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

»But two deep, strategic challenges present themselves in this outsource/purchase approach to innovation:

»Herding: When businesses outsource innovation and limit themselves to the purchase of innovative output from suppliers, they inevitably position themselves in the “me too” category. If there is a truly innovative product, strategy, market positioning or management paradigm out there to be bought and sold, then of course everyone is in the market for it. And inevitably this competition to buy the newest innovation leads to purchase herding behavior, with everyone leaping into the market place to “buy innovation.” As an example, one need only think of the early days of data mining technologies, and the rush to buy data innovation (read: “data technology”) followed by a long, long period when deployment of these purchased technologies languished in an operational no-man’s land. It was a case of “great output,” followed by “low innovation” — at least insofar as execution is concerned.

»Optimization: Even if it were the case that somehow an organization managed to buy into an innovative “thing” and somehow managed to be first to market with a particular innovation, the deployment of that innovation is directly dependent on its culture. It is one thing to have a new technology, or a new product, and quite another to take that technology or product and deploy it with efficiency, focus, drive and commitment. A moment of honest, deep reflection will reveal the truth of this problem. How many strategies (service differentiation), or technologies (call center interactive technologies) or products (mobile payments) come onto the market as potentially innovative solutions, and then stall or limp along in the deployment? Most? All? The difficulty sits inside the conflation of output and innovation — “the thing” and culture. Owning the most innovative product in the world has little real value without the cultural ability to absorb, institutionalize and deploy that product.

»As a rule, though, mention the word “culture” — especially “innovation culture” — and eyes begin to glaze over. Where is culture? What is it? How do you change it? How do you even know what to change and how to change? With these questions in mind, little wonder that the default strategy of business is generally to focus on outputs, rather than culture. It seems to be a choice between doing what you can understand, even if what you understand is incomplete, or doing what you don’t understand, even knowing that what you don’t understand is the critical piece of the puzzle.

»Still, the issue, the challenge, the opportunity remains: How to build a big business culture (or any culture, for that matter) that can execute, innovate, deploy and differentiate itself, using the same products and strategies as its competitors? The answer to that question is one of language, of complexity, of measurement and of leadership. But more than anything, it’s a matter of first and foremost simply recognizing the need to get to work on the entire culture of the organization, and making a long-term commitment to understanding, building and nurturing those aspects of organizational culture that lead to innovative practices. The doing of this — the engineering of an innovation culture — requires a framework, an empirical paradigm or guide that provides a common language, a common set of beliefs, and a common set of meaningful, leading cultural indicators.

»This framework, this approach, this roadmap for innovative cultures will be the subject of my next installment.»