Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Invention vs. Innovation (and thinking differently)

One of the topics we've discussed recently in our Global Strategic Mgmt (GSM) course is Innovation and how that differs from Invention (or Discovery). Having worked in the technology industry for years, and having been lucky enough to work on innovation-centric teams most of the time, I've seen my fair share of both sides of the discussion.

Several years back, I worked with a group of people looking to radically change the way that companies collaborate (internally & externally). So we kicked off a project called "Emergent Collaboration", focused on how we take all the sources of knowledge that are floating around a company and morph that into something that is useful to huge numbers of people. There are some remnants of the project in these videos:

Ultimately, the project got cancelled because we couldn't sell the concept to our internal business units. Looking back on the project, it's very clear that not only did we not target the "pain points" of the customers clearly enough, but we also got too caught up in thinking about the problem through old lenses. Too often, we used concepts that existed in the previous problem instead of coming up with new paradigms

Recently, Google announced the planned launch of a new product called Google Wave. Not only does it appear to solve many of the same problems that we focused on with Emergent Collaboration, but more importantly, they constantly bypassed previous concepts and came up with new innovate ways to solve customers problems.

Who knows how well Google will do with Wave, they've struggled to monetize some previous non-search projects. But no matter what happens, it is an excellent example of how to think innovatively.

blog comments powered by Disqus