Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Reversing the Innovation Process

I stumbled across a gem of a quote in the "Talk of the Town" section of an old New Yorker magazine yesterday. The subject matter was focused on art and design, as members of a Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) panel were judging products for the best fit in the MoMA gift shop.

Applied to the world of community software development, this quote rings home a problem, and a solution, to a situation we are all familiar with:

The New Yorker - Feb 11 & 18, "At The Museums" by Emma Allen, pg. 35
"'Reversing the process is always so interesting,' Tsao said, ignoring Chorpash's comment. 'I mean, the best chefs go to the greenmarket to see what's fresh, but we are so egocentric about design - it's always, I want to make something. When industries are dying because they don't have the imagination to revitalize themselves, we, as designers, can be catalysts to reanimate these companies.'"

If designers can be the catalysts to reanimate dying industries, imagine the power behind the architects and developers that can actually rebuild them.

Or, as Marc Andreessen stated in his classic piece, Why Software Development Is Eating The World: "Six decades into the computer revolution, four decades since the invention of the microprocessor, and two decades into the rise of the modern Internet, all of the technology required to transform industries through software finally works and can be widely delivered at global scale." One of the most obvious examples of this effect on an industry is the respective rise and fall of Netflix and Blockbuster.

Coming back to the Emma Allen's quote in the New Yorker - the key to keeping it all fresh is reversing the innovation process. If the normal process is to start internally, generate ideas, then turn to expertise for help, try the opposite. Remove ego. Extend your reach beyond your four walls, and tap into a global network of fresh thinkers to kickstart the innovation process.

The world is going to continue to drive innovation at it's own pace. Organizations and business leaders that want to drive internal innovation are simply faced with a choice to ignore or harness that creative energy.

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