Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Definition of Technology Debate

There is a great debate raging on the MINT mailing list about the definition of technology. Here were my two cents:

I’m in the camp of people who think technology is an application of knowledge. The way I see it, our scientists investigate natural phenomena; they seek to understand causes and effects in nature. Then engineers come along and exploit this knowledge to solve problems. Whatever they build to exploit the knowledge is what I call technology. To apply the scientific knowledge, engineers look at what effects they’d like to produce in order to cause the problems to go away. Then they look for scientific knowledge for producing the desired effect. They see what causes they need to create artificially to produce the desired effect and they make it so, producing technology.

Open Innovation in Practice

This week, I had the great fortune to meet the father of Open Innovation, Henry Chesbrough. For such a successful guy, he is very personable, down-to-earth, and funny.

I reconfirmed with him that a full commitment to Open Innovation means a company exchanges intellectual property bidirectionally. In the past, a company could be viewed as a closed system with a few, carefully controlled entries and exits. In the true spirit of Open Innovation though a company's borders become semi-permeable with exchange happening at unplanned intervals when the need arises to foster innovation.

In practice, companies have a long way to go before the semi-permeable membrane can be realized. Most of the companies I've heard practicing Open Innovation are only practicing it uni-directionally. Either they are trying to out-license their technology or find opportunities to in-license. Running true Open Innovation requires a new mode of operation that very few companies have tried and fewer have mastered.

Open Innovation holds tremendous promise and companies seeking its benefits would be wise to tackle these challenges.

For a case study on a company that is well underway to execute an Open Innovation strategy, see the recent HBR case on Procter & Gamble's Connect + Develop capability.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Pointer to Gabriel Bitran's paper on service innovation

Some folks asked for a pointer to the paper I mentioned in a recent posting on service innovation:

Title: "A structured product development perspective for service operations"
Source: European Management Journal, Volume 16, Number 2, April 1998, pp. 169-189(21)
Authors: Bitran G.; Pedrosa L.

It can probably be accessed online here.

Eating your own dog food in product development

I came across a good blog that discusses innovation practices in software development organizations. The blogger's name is Cote and here is a link to a good entry on eating your own dog food.