Monday, November 5, 2007

Some Observations on Innovation

I'm curious about invention and innovation. We enjoy the fruits of not only today's innovations but also the world that was created by past innovations. Here is a list of a few of my thoughts about innovation. I invite you to add to the list or correct me if I am off base.

1. People have always been innovative.
2. People were just as intelligent 5000 years ago as they are today.
3. Innovation arises from both need and the desire to create.
4. Innovations can be lost as well as gained.
5. Innovations must be received by the community to succeed.
6. Applied innovations are mostly based on serial improvements.
(Who really invented the ------?)
7. Innovations do not depend on scientific understanding (but can be greatly aided by it).
8. Innoations often come from the diffusion of ideas.
9. Successful innovation seems to couple an inventor with an entrepreneur.
10. Innovation is more likely when there are multiple sources of sponsorship.
11. Patents are not a good measure of innovation.
12. Innovations are constrained by the tools of their day.
13. Money is not the root cause of innovation.
14. Innovation runs in cycles which can be reinforced or dampened.

Understanding these factors can help would-be innovators and inventors achieve their goals: having their work make a difference.

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