The author of this article spent 16 years as head of SRI and, during that time, developed a number of principles and processes for creating value from technological inventions. Although these principles are widely known and discussed extensively by numerous practitioners and authors, this article is a nice summary and refresher for those who wish to innovate.
The thesis of the article is:
Innovation occurs in a complex, dynamic environment; those who succeed do so because they manage to find the right signals in a sea of noise. People who try to learn purely through observation and theory miss a great deal and forget even more. Value creation is an exercise in active learning and active learning depends on engagement. There are five basic elements of active learning:
Iteration with real-time feedback.
Concise mental models.
Multiple learning styles.
The author goes on to describe some practical methods for implementing these elements. He presents a framework a Need, Approach, Benefits and Competition (NABC) value proposition methodology and discusses the need for champions and teams and the role of value creation forums. All interesting and useful ideas.
The author concludes with the observation that innovation in the United States is highly inefficient despite the efforts of some 220 university entrepreneurial programs, 6,000 professors and instructors teaching entrepreneurship, 1,400 venture incubators, and billions of dollars a year in government investments. His admonition that ‘we must do better’ is spot-on.