Scott Berkun gave a presentation which drew ideas from his book The Myths of Innovation. He discussed how we all know those classic moments of innovation: when the apple fell on newton, when Archimedes shouted "Eureka", etc. The funny thing is most of these moments aren't even accurate. In reality innovation doesn't just happen in one quick flash. We often picture innovation as an outside force, an the innovator "just happened" to be in the right place.

Real innovation takes a lot of effort. Real innovation is like exploration: risky and with a high chance of failure. Even when true innovation has occurred, it can be dismissed by society or others. Scott went into a lot of detail on these points, and I'll definitely be picking up a copy of his book for myself. It's good to look at how innovation actually occurs and how it can be nourished.

He shared a quote from William L. McKnight, chair of 3M, had a great quote about nourishing innovation:

As our business grows, it becomes increasingly necessary to delegate responsibility and to encourage men and women to exercise their initiative. This requires considerable tolerance. Those men and women, to whom we delegate authority and responsibility, if they are good people, are going to want to do their jobs in their own way. Mistakes will be made. But if a person is essentially right, the mistakes he or she makes are not as serious in the long run as the mistakes management will make if it undertakes to tell those in authority exactly how they must do their jobs. Management that is destructively critical when mistakes are made kills initiative. And it's essential that we have many people with initiative if we are to continue to grow.

Posted: Jul 29, 2007 | Tags: 42 OSCON OSCON07

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