Thursday, September 14, 2006

"The way we work has enormous power"

"The way we work has enormous power," stressed Curtis Carlson during a presentation last week at PARC about a new book he has co-authored entitled, "Innovation: The Five Disciplines for Creating What Customers Want."

According to Curtis, innovation is now the primary means of growth, prosperity, and quality of life. Yet, he claims, remarkably few individuals, teams, and enterprises possess all of the disciplined skills needed to identify and develop opportunities for innovation.

Claiming a need for a new generation of innovation best practices, Curtis identified Doug Engelbart as an exemplar of someone whose very different way of working enabled his achievement of profound innovations.

I had the privilege of interviewing Doug on stage at PARC back in 1996. During that interview, and again just a few months ago when the photo to the left was taken, we talked about the obstacles Doug has experienced getting people to consider new ways of thinking about technology and ways of working. According to Doug, prevailing paradigms prevent serious consideration of alternatives.

One "paradigm" likely to impede consideration of Curtis Carlson's message is the view that "good management kills innovation" -- a commonly-held perspective described on the PARC auditorium stage a couple of years ago. Curtis argues that the opposite is true.

And there are many "paradigms" that impede consideration of some of the ways of working that are particularly conducive to identifying and developing opportunities for innovation.

A new book by Luke Hohmann entitled, "Innovation Games: Creating Breakthrough Products Through Collaborative Play" describes some of those ways of working. "Collaborative play"? (See my blog entry on Effective Collaboration and Fun.) Might there be existing ways of doing things where you work that would impede consideration of engaging in collaborative play?

Are your ways of working particularly conducive to identifying and developing opportunities for innovation?

photo courtesy of Eugene Eric Kim and taken at the 3rd anniversary party of Blue Oxen Associates; that is Trace Cohen on the left, Doug in the middle, and me on the right