My colleague Don Dodge notes that innovation is breaking out all over again - and many agree with him. Innovation itself is a hot topic these days - what is it? How do we produce it? What I find exciting is that people are creating new interpretations of innovation that can help us understand how to make it happen.
I had the opportunity to spend time with Dr. Peter Denning over the last two days at a leadership conference in Mill Valley. He is the past president of the ACM and currently serves as Professor and Chairman at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, and is co-creator of CSNET - the network which bridged between ARPANET and the Internet.
He discussed his current work on Innovation as Language Action - a framework for identifying the linguistic distinctions and specific skills involved in taking new technology inventions into the broader market. He defines "invention" as the actual creation of a new technology, and "innovation" as the process of technology adoption - for example, the Wright Brothers invented flight at Kitty Hawk, but the innovation in flight was the DC9, 30 years later. PC/M was an invention in operating systems, but MS-DOS was the innovation - it spread broadly and became the standard for future developments in the industry.
He and his co-author, Robert Dunham, detail seven specific elements of an innovation framework:
- Seeing opportunities
- Envisioning new worlds
- Offering new games
- Executing plans and tools
- Producing adoption
- Sustaining infrastructure
- Leading with care, value, power, and focus
What I found exciting about their work was that even at this early draft, a real framework for assessing our own actions in leading and developing the future of technologies like SaaS or SOA can be found - one which allows us to identify where we've been successful and where we need to bring our focus to complete the innovation process.
Thanks for sharing your work and your time with us, Peter!