I’ve just read Scott Berkun’s ‘Myths of Innovation‘ and Tom Kelley‘s ‘Ten Faces of Innovation’ (both excellent books) – and a recent article by psychologist Art Markman also now helps to support their view – that our obsession with individual heroic endeavor and discovery can often hinder true progress. The cultural myth of lone genius, tortured artist and brilliant technician who solves the worlds problems is still alive and well.
Hewlett Packard grew its business using powerful partnerships with Intel (chips) , Oracle (databases) and Cisco (networking) – but as Judith Hurwitz points out in a recent article published in Harvard Business Review (HBR) – it now needs to revisit and reinvigorate these key relationships to regain its innovative edge.
Kevin Kelly has written a great piece summarising his theory of how technology progresses and changes through an almost Darwinesque like process of evolution – as one piece of innovation leads to another, and another. Unlike biology, in technology this adaptation and change process is measured in months and quarters – rather than millions of years. He points out that great ideas and steps forward build on others – not in isolation. Mozart needed the piano, Van Gough needed the invention of oil based paints. Kelly calls this network of technology and ideas – The Technium.
Don’t take my word for it. After a comprehensive global study partnerships and collaborations have just been identified as the most important ingredient to successful marketing and innovation by one of the most powerful marketers on earth – Beth Comstock, CMO of General Electric.