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Innovationwatch.com"Intriguing, practical, and counterintuitive..."
WE'VE ALL READ about the "lone geniuses" of invention: Thomas Edison, Eli Whitney, Henry Ford. But while this heroic notion of innovation is alluring, is it true? Not according to Andrew Hargadon. He argues that breakthroughs are the result of occupying a unique position in a networked landscape across which ideas, people, and artifacts travel and recombine in new ways. Inventors "borrow" existing ideas from an arena, and then bring together the physical artifacts and the people necessary to apply those ideas elsewhere. This process, which Hargadon calls "technology brokering, " has been the force behind numerous celebrated inventions. He takes readers behind the scenes—from Edison's Menlo Park lab to IDEO—to illustrate strategies for sourcing, nurturing, and exploiting ideas in new ways for new markets.
Hargadon says these and most other great innovators use or used a process he calls "technology brokering" to invent. This process is based on recombining existing ideas, like Elvis Presley mixing country and western music with rhythm and blues to revolutionize rock and roll, or Henry Ford and his colleagues sparking the revolution of mass production by combining the machines, ideas and people developed in other industries.
Hargadon conducted an eight-year study of how innovation really happens, and identified three innovation strategies that work. These are:
How Breakthroughs Happen also focuses on the advantages that a strategy of technology brokering provides to experienced companies and entrepreneurs who are pursuing innovation. It also drives home the point that technologies are formed by tightly arranged combinations of people, ideas and objects, and describes how innovation is a process of taking apart and reassembling these elements in new combinations.
Ford Brings It All Together
To demonstrate the breakthroughs and the advancements that can be made when technologies that already exist are duplicated in another field, or reapplied to other industries, Hargadon provides a detailed look at how the Ford Motor Co. innovated the assembly production line by using the "disassembly" lines of the Chicago meatpackers as a model, and borrowed a system for casting iron parts from the Westinghouse Airbrake Co. Ford's engineers also adopted ideas and conveyor equipment that granaries and breweries had been using for more than a century to move materials around.
How Breakthroughs Happen also points out how many revolutionary innovations or discoveries come from not just a single "inventor," but are the result of two people working closely together, such as Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, or Bill Gates and Paul Allen. This concept even stretches back to Thomas Edison, whose vision and salesmanship was complemented by Charles Batchelor's mechanical skills.
To illustrate the importance of technology brokering in a modern organization, Hargadon uses numerous examples from the past and present to describe how brokers bridge otherwise disconnected worlds and the ways firms can exploit the lessons learned by others who have built networks that connect the people, objects and ideas from different worlds in the pursuit of innovation.
Why We Like This Book
How Breakthroughs Happen opens up the universe of possibilities that are available when the resources of different industries, firms and divisions are brought together and old ideas are applied in new ways. Hargadon's expert insights offer exciting tips about building new networks and recombinations. While examining successful breakthroughs and processes, Hargadon offers useful strategies that can help managers turn their firms into invention factories. Copyright © 2003 Soundview Executive Book Summaries
|1||The Business of Innovation||3|
|2||Recombinant Innovation and the Sources of Invention||31|
|3||The Social Side of Innovation||55|
|4||Bridging Small Worlds||65|
|5||Building New Worlds||91|
|6||Technology Brokering in Practice||123|
|7||Technology Brokering as a Firm||133|
|8||Technology Brokering Within the Firm||159|
|9||Exploiting Emergent Opportunities for Technology Brokering||183|
|10||Looking Back, Moving Forward||205|
|About the Author||255|