Prof. Eric von Hippel talk about “how to develop breakthrough products and services” in this lecture series from MIT. I don’t think it’s necessary to introduce him. He is a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management and an important figure in the innovation literature. Here are the four lectures from MIT Open Courseware and you might want to read his book if you haven’t done so yet.
A short TEDx video. His ten words: invent, do, improve, share, shape, build, Why?, Yes!, Oops!, Wow!
A 30 minutes lecture on engineering innovation by Tim Minshall (Cambridge University). An easy introduction from an engineer’s perspective.
An old (2011) video from the Sante Fe institute on the research agenda on understanding the dynamics of cities. I had been interested in the biological organism and complex network metaphor in respect to cities and organizational fields, so I am a big fan of the research! The main page of the project is here.
“SFI’s Cities, Scaling, and Sustainability research effort is creating an interdisciplinary approach and quantitative synthesis of organizational and dynamical aspects of human social organizations, with an emphasis on cities. Different disciplinary perspectives are being integrated in terms of the search for similar dependences of urban indicators on population size – scaling analysis – and other variables that characterize the system as a whole. A particularly important focus of this research area is to develop theoretical insights about cities that can inform quantitative analyses of their long-term sustainability in terms of the interplay between innovation, resource appropriation, and consumption and the make up of their social and economic activity. This focus area brings together urban planners, economists, sociologists, social psychologists, anthropologists, and complex system theorists with the aim of generating an integrated and quantitative understanding of cities. Outstanding areas of research include the identification of general scaling patterns in urban infrastructure and dynamics around the world, the quantification of resource distribution networks in cities and their interplay with the city’s socioeconomic fabric, issues of temporal acceleration and spatial density, and the long-term dynamics of urban systems.”
– Santa Fe Institute
Also watch a TED talk by Geoffrey West about some of the insights on the mathematics of cities.
The debate about the future of the university has traditionally been formulated as a dichotomous battle between “idealists”, or self-protecting groups of “research freedom”-loving academics, who fight under the flag of Humboldtian values, and the “market”-oriented policy makers and reform minded people, who fight with entrepreneurial spirit and Schumpeterian wit. And of course there are the disruptive innovators, say a Khan Academy, or MOOCs, who provide new ideas, new prospects, but also raise the overall entropy of the already chaotic educational system. In all, never has been the educational scene more turbulent and more diverse. It is both an exciting and a daunting time for those who are at the helm of universities.
I have always loved the middle ground though. I am an ally of innovation and market-oriented participation, yet I think it worth some time to slow down from time to time and explore some of the underlying values and cultural underpinnings.
I have been reading this interesting book on the concept of self-cultivation or ‘bildung’ which can be said to be one of the foundational concepts of the German University, and thus the modern research university (though there are some contending voices whether the ‘role model’ assumption holds).
Clusters are often approached by economists and political scientists from a policy perspective. Here is a social science perspective using networks.
Research from Jason Owen-Smith (eg.2004, 2005, 2009 papers) has always been very exciting. Here he talks about clusters and their inner mechanics in respect to demographics of talent and technology.
(Additional Info: TRE Networks Roundtable and Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., Dec., 5-7, 2012)
Karl Ulrich talks about the myth of long-term investments in innovation.
He offers two possible strategies: a follower strategy (being second after a dominant design is decided and technological trajectories are set) or an acquisition strategy (acquiring small entrepreneurial firms that has achieved some success with the field).
Karl Ulrich is the author of the landmark paper, “The role of product architecture in the manufacturing firm”, which has also influenced Japanese management greatly.
(Mack Center Video)
I watched a documentary on the famous Westinghouse Company. It has always been famous for the format war for electricity fought between General Electric and Westinghouse. This film details how the founder built the company up from humble beginnings, how he attained widespread recognition and legitimacy with the air brake, and then how he won the format war with its A/C electricity.
A great account of one of the most important innovations in the 20th century.
The simple story outlined by Jim Collins in the previous post is just the very first step in understanding why good companies fail.
The very old and well-known idea from Christensen & Bower (1996) and the Innovator’s Dilemma suggests that the very strategies that helped firms to reach success cause them to fail as the environment change and new entrants succeed in introducing and developing disruptive innovations. His examples of the hard disk industry and the steel mills are also very well known.
Now, here is another speech centered on this idea by Don Sull from the London Business School. He explains that there are 5 types of commitments that can bind companies:
1. Frames (assessments)
2. Processes (formal, informal)
3. Resources (tangible and intangible)
5. Set of Values (identities)
In this short interview, Morten Hansen talks about his 2011 book co-authored with Jim Collins, Great by Choice.
The book is an account of their research that attempts to explain how companies that outperform their industry peers achieved this superior level (companies such as Amgen, Microsoft, Southwest Airlines, Biomet, Intel, etc.)
Their findings suggest that these companies are not necessarily more innovative, but they navigate uncertain environments with persistence and great ability to prepare for utilizing luck when it comes along. Hence, the key is “serendipity”.
Michael Tushman another Harvard faculty and part of the MIT innovation discourse talks to MBAs about the motives of the Swiss watch industry at the time of disruptive innovation. I thought it just ties in well with the last post. He gives a short explanation of why the swiss watchmaker industry resisted change when new disruptive technology arrived with lower prices and better performance.