The Increasing Cost Of Bad Behavior On Innovation

The cost of innovation is increasing due to bad behavior. This ran through my mind as I learned that the great bicycle experiment in Paris has hit an expensive traffic bump (NYT 10/30/2009). The idea of being able to rent a bike for an hour or two and drop it off, not where you started but wherever you end up, seemed perfect for our new green and healthy mindset. But as with many ideas that make life better, affordable implementation depends on general ‘good behavior’. Expected behavior has a large impact on how you develop an idea. Dr. Leonard Kleinrock, who was a major force in the development of the internet (Happy Birthday Arpanet), explains in a recent Science Friday interview what he feels was a mistake we are still paying for: “Yes. In fact, in those early days, the culture of the Internet was one of trust, openness, shared … Continue reading

Death To Hard Drives

If you manufacture hard drives the end is in sight. I do not say this because I lost my third drive in six months yesterday. (Ok, I admit it. Maybe there is a connection. I might be a tad irritated. Death to hard drive manufacturers!) The traditional hard drive is under siege. Gadgets are transitioning away fast and cutting edge laptops are giving up on them entirely. A previous disruption in the hard drive industry came with the transition from ‘large’ drive technology to ‘small’ portable drive technology. Brands collapsed. Companies changed hands.  (Famously discussed in Clayton Christensen’s book The Innovator’s Dilemma) Enter the solid state drive (SSD). They’re pricey. They’re small. They’re fast. They consume less power. They’re solid state. (SO THEY DON’T BREAK. Again. Not that I’m mad. I am a fanatic backer-upper. I just dislike the mojo that times breakdowns with important deadlines. Used to have this … Continue reading

Scenario Planning As A Spur To Entreprenurial Thinking

War games, contingency planning, thought experiments all provide potential glimpses into the future that can help distribute knowledge, test reactions and improve flexible thinking. I’m a fan. So it was with some interest I noticed Business Horizons’ recent issue on entrepreneurship included a paper that strongly argues scenario planning not only prepares a corporation for external disruptive events, but it can improve an organization’s overall entrepreneurial capacity. Scenario planning has long been used to prepare for emergency events. Since the 9/11 terror attacks corporate use of scenario and contingency planning increased from 38% to over 70% of executives surveyed, again primarily as a means of preparing for external disruptive (exogenous) shocks. In the article, Beyond risk mitigation: Enhancing corporate innovation with scenario planning, William J. Worthington, Jamie D. Collins and Michael A. Hitt, show that “advanced use of scenario planning can help firms go beyond innovative responses to more complex … Continue reading

Non-Competes, Health Insurance and Other Ugly Limits To Innovation

Limits and creativity run in the same circles. Desire to dig under, work around, leap over and push through is strong motivation to think anew. However, there are limits, that — hmm, — limit. Did you know that a major difference between moribund Detroit and high flyin’ Silicon Valley is the difference in how non-compete agreements are enforced? (Michigan enforces them, California limits them.) In the recent Carnegie Mellon University publication: “Renewing Globalization and Economic Growth in a Post-Crises World – The Future of the G-20 Agenda” Serguey Braguinsky and Steven Klepper write about various ways worker mobility can limit innovation on a regional scale. In addition to visa restrictions, social pressure and lifetime employment guarantees, they use the non-compete as a primary example of the damaging effects of limiting mobility in the United States. I’ve been on both sides of non-compete covenants. I’ve never particularly liked them, but never … Continue reading

When Trails Of Science and Art Cross

What causes burn out? Is it the path to competency? It seems the world is full of paths to follow, many of which leave us isolated from different modes of thought. Different points of view. When your right brain and left brain argue interesting things develop. Was reading October’s copy of Smithsonian while baking in the Community Center sauna, one of the few places I’m still tethered to paper, when I read of a meeting between Margaret Geller, David DeVorkin, Atesh Sonneborn, and Mickey Hart. “So what?” you might ask. Better said, this was a meeting between an astrophysicist, a science historian, an ethnomusicologist, and, wait for it…. a drummer for the Grateful Dead. Ideas from strange places. Ya gotta love them. Ya gotta be open to them. All members of the meeting are at the top of their game, simply different games. Hart, of the Dead, called the meeting. He … Continue reading