07 November 2010

What Do I Mean by Innovation?

In recent comments I was asked about what I mean when I use the term "innovation."  I use the term as Peter Drucker did:
Innovation is change that creates a new dimension of performance.
The degree to which innovation can be managed, directed and predicted are critically important ones if we are to understand the role that decision making (including public policy decision making) can have on innovation.  Other important questions involve the practicality and worth of various means that might be employed to manage, direct and predict innovation, including the very emotive question as to the role of the public sector in the process.


  1. Roger,

    I'm curious on what your thoughts are about John Mashey's observation that you can never schedule (plan) innovation/breakthroughs. It seems like a common sense POV to me, and as such suggests that R&D strategies wrt to climate change can only be seen as complements to deployment strategies...

  2. -1-Fat Bastard

    I don't know who John Masjey is, but he is wrong.

    Innovation can be planned, to some degree. Today my coffee maker was jammed, and I took a paper clip and made a tool to unjam it. Planned innovation.

    More broadly, just look around and you can see a zillion examples of planned/shaped/purposive innovation.

    Innovation does not equal "breakthrough." See the definition above. Discussion of innovation can be bogged down in semantics, so when I use the term it is as Drucker proposed.


  3. "I took a paper clip and made a tool to unjam it"

    You may have been a crow in a previous life. I read that in a management book, which strongly suggests I was an American in a previous life.

    The business of innovation: Steven Johnson

    7 November 2010

    Standing on the station platform, waiting for the Philadelphia train .....