The Innovation Series

Disruptive technology graph


I’ve been carrying on an extended conversation with Greger Wikstrand on the topic of innovation. Previously I was adding the list to each new post, but it’s grown to the point where it made more sense to create a separate page to track it.

I hope you’ll find it as interesting as I have.

  1. “We Deliver Decisions (Who Needs Architects?)” – I discussed how the practice of software architecture involved decision-making. It combines analysis with the need for situational awareness to deal with the emergent factors and avoiding cognitive biases.
  2. “Serendipity with Woody Zuill” – Greger pointed me to a short video of him and Woody Zuill discussing serendipity in software development.
  3. “Fixing IT – Too Big to Succeed?” – Woody’s comments in the video re: the stifling effects of bureaucracy in IT inspired me to discuss the need for embedded IT to address those effects and to promote better customer-centricity than what’s normal for project-oriented IT shops.
  4. “Serendipity and successful innovation” – Greger’s post pointed out that structure is insufficient to promote innovation, organizations must be prepared to recognize and respond to opportunities and that innovation must be able to scale.
  5. “Inflection Points and the Ingredients of Innovation” – I expanded on Greger’s post, using WWI as an example of a time where innovation yielded uneven results because effective innovation requires technology, understanding of how to employ it, and an organizational structure that allows it to be used well.
  6. “Social innovation and tech go hand-in-hand” – Greger continued with the same theme, the social and technological aspects of innovation.
  7. “Organizations and Innovation – Swim or Die!” – I discussed the ongoing need of organizations to adapt to their changing contexts or risk “death”.
  8. “Innovation – Resistance is Futile” – Continuing on in the same vein, Greger points out that resistance to change is futile (though probably inevitable). He quotes a professor of his that asserted that you can’t change people or groups, thus you have to change the organization.
  9. “Changing Organizations Without Changing People” – I followed up on Greger’s post, agreeing that enterprise architectures must work “with the grain” of human nature and that culture is “walking the walk”, not just “talking the talk”.
  10. “Developing the ‘innovation habit’” – Greger talks about creating an intentional, collaborative innovation program.
  11. “Innovation on Tap” – I responded to Greger’s post by discussing the need for collaboration across an organization as a structural enabler of innovation. Without open lines of communication, decisions can be made without a feel for customer wants and needs.
  12. “Worthless ideas and valuable innovation” – Greger makes the point that ideas, by themselves, have little or no worth. It’s one thing to have an idea, quite another to be able to turn it into a valuable innovation.
  13. “Accidental Innovation?” – I point out that people are key to innovation. “Without the people who provide the intuition, experience and judgement, we are lacking a critical component in the system.”
  14. “Technology permeats innovation” – Greger talks about how tightly coupled innovation and technology are and the need for IT to actively add value to the process.
  15. “Want Fries with That?” – I talk about the definition of innovation; that it’s significant, positive change, not just filling an order like the cashier at a fast food restaurant.
  16. “The fail fast fallacy” – Greger takes on the concept of “fail fast”, pointing out that it’s the learning that’s important, not the failure.
  17. “Innovation – What’s Old can be New Again” – In this post I talk about how old things can be innovative when times change; the key to innovation is value, not novelty.
  18. “Switcher’s curse and legacy decisions” – Greger discusses the fallacy that causes people to change without establishing the benefit of the change – a potentially expensive proposition.
  19. “What’s Innovation Worth?” – Continuing in the same vein as Greger’s last post, I discuss situations where disruptive innovation can counter-productive.
  20. “Credit card fraud and stalled innovation” – Greger uses the topic of credit card fraud to illustrate how moral hazard can be a barrier to innovation.
  21. “Barriers to Innovation” – Building on Greger’s post, I discuss additional barriers to innovation such as culture, inertia, and perception problems.
  22. “Inevitable change” – Greger discusses small changes that can add up to a punctuated equilibrium.
  23. “Skating to Where the Puck Will Be” – Responding to Greger’s post, I talk about iterative sense-making and decision-making and continual learning as an antidote to inertia.
  24. “Black hat innovation” – Greger talks about the dark side of innovation, where the innovator’s success is very much at the expense of others. As he observes: “We need to design innovation not around the potential for misuse but for the certainty of misuse.”
  25. “When Will We Learn” – In this post I talk about how failing to take risks into account is only one example of how failing to learn can handicap an organization.
  26. “Successful digitization requires focus on the entire customer experience – not just a neat app” – Greger discusses the critical relationship of customer experience to innovation and digital (Swedish).
  27. “Strategic Tunnel Vision” – In this post I talk about the danger of tunnel vision. Paying too much attention to the latest thing without taking the time to think about the cost to current needs can wind up hurting both the new initiative and the existing capabilities.
  28. “Big bet innovation and other types of innovation” – Greger discusses the differences (including risk profiles) between big bet innovation, fail fast innovation, and continuous innovation.
  29. “Amazon’s ‘Old is New Again’ Innovation” – I talk about Amazon’s brick and mortar strategy, Amazon Go in particular, as an example of the continuous, incremental innovation that Greger discussed in his last post.
  30. “Heraclitus was wrong about innovation” – Greger responds with a post stating that change is no longer a constant, because the rate of change has changed.
  31. “Learning Organizations: When Wrens Take Down Wolfpacks” – Learning and innovation go hand in hand. Simulation is a technique to reduce the cost of learning (sometimes mistakes can kill).
  32. “Cargo cult innovation, play buzzword bingo to spot it” – Greger discusses cargo cult innovation. The problem with “fake it until you make it” is that, lacking understanding of why something worked before, you’re unlikely to ever make it yourself, no matter how hard you fake it.
  33. “Managing Fast and Slow” – Following up on Greger’s post, I talk about an overly simplistic response to the pace of change, abandoning all thought of strategy and just working tactically.
  34. “Innovation arenas and outsourcing” – In this post, Greger talks about innovation arenas, “…where innovators, entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs collaborate across boundaries to create magic…”, and how to use outsourcing partners to foster innovation.
  35. “Organizations as Systems and Innovation” – In this post, I discuss how coordinating the components of an enterprise yields more cohesive results.
  36. “Jobs to be done innovation” – Greger discusses how to tip the scales by listening rather than just relying on “fail fast” to get lucky.
  37. “Fear of Failure, Fear and Failure” – In this post, I talk about the corrosive effect of fear on an organization’s ability to continue, much less innovate.
  38. “Spring clean your mind” – Continuing on with the theme of fear, Greger discusses thinking fast and slow and the need to manage attention.
  39. “Innovation in Inner Space” – Continuing with the theme, I talk about the psychological nature of disruptive innovation: if you think you’re beaten, you are.
  40. Good at innovation – Greger and I both appear in this episode of Architecture Corner, dramatizing the sin of pride (one of the Seven Deadly Sins of IT). Watch what happens when the CEO considers the company to be more innovative than they really are.
  41. “Innovation, Intention, Planning and Execution” – This post follows up on several concepts brought out in the Architecture Corner episode on the first of the Seven Deadly Sins of IT (pride). Knowing your purpose and being intentional is critical to being effective.

In addition to Greger’s posts, Casimir Artmann‘s series on innovation is worth a read as well:

  1. “IS THIS INNOVATION?” – Casimir asks the question “What do you mean with innovation?”
  2. “IS THIS INNOVATION IN MUSIC?” – Casimir uses digital music as an example of innovation.
  3. “IS THIS INNOVATION IN PHOTOGRAPHY?” – Casimir uses the combination of smart phones and digital photography as an example of innovation.
  4. “IS THIS INNOVATION IN TELEPHONY?” – Casimir discusses the transition from land lines to mobile phones to smart phones as an example of innovation.
  5. “WHAT IS INNOVATION FOR YOU?” – Casimir’s summary post for the series