Stages of Innovation

Innovation is not “out there,” it’s a process. Looking at it historically, technologically, geographically, and developmentally can make innovation familiar and straightforward.
Innovation in the United States in the 1700’s, was often British mechanics emigrating to make their fortune, building other people’s inventions they had learned in Britain. The work was often pirated tools for production, built by immigrant craftsmen.
Recent waves of innovation include agricultural innovation, mechanical innovation, electric innovation, distribution innovation, retail innovation, electronic innovation, software innovation, and digital innovation.
Clayton Christensen has defined disruptive innovation, where fewer features and lower price create a much larger user base. Disruptive innovation is currently seen in enough industries to be observable, measurable, and predictable. As a disruptive innovation matures, it adds features and costs, becoming vulnerable to subsequent disruptive innovators.
Fred Wilson wrote Darwinian Evolution of Startup Hubs charting innovation cycles through time and space to predict when and where innovation will show up.
Jay Deragon shows unsuspected entry points and several unique strategies for innovation with New Business Models In The Middle.
Cory Doctorow demonstrates organizational models for current innovation in Makers.
Wondering where to start your innovation? Some observations:
  • My innovations are the result of focusing on something I know. Innovation is making.
  • Innovation is starting up where the last person stopped, and
  • James Patterson made more money from moveable type than Gutenberg did. (Innovation is not just about new technology. Historically, greater gains come from better application of an existing technology.)
Looking at it that way, there is an unlimited amount of meaningful innovation just waiting to be hacked.
What’s next for you?

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