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Innovation is overvalued. Maintenance often matters more

Innovation is overvalued. Maintenance often matters more
Innovation is a dominant ideology of our era, embraced in America by Silicon Valley, Wall Street, and the Washington DC political elite. As the pursuit of innovation has inspired technologists and capitalists, it has also provoked critics who suspect that the peddlers of innovation radically overvalue innovation. What happens after innovation, they argue, is more important. Maintenance and repair, the building of infrastructures, the mundane labour that goes into sustaining functioning and efficient infrastructures, simply has more impact on people’s daily lives than the vast majority of technological innovations. The fates of nations on opposing sides of the Iron Curtain illustrate good reasons that led to the rise of innovation as a buzzword and organising concept. Over the course of the 20th century, open societies that celebrated diversity, novelty, and progress performed better than closed societies that defended uniformity and order. Get Aeon straight to your inbox

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Hares, Tortoises, and the Trouble with Genius “Geniuses are dangerous.”— James March How many organizations would deny that they want more creativity, more genius, and more divergent thinking among their constituents? The great genius leaders of the world are fawned over breathlessly and a great amount of lip service is given to innovation; given the choice between “mediocrity” and “innovation,” we all choose innovation hands-down. So why do we act the opposite way? re:Work - The Roofshot Manifesto Google’s “moonshot factory” is inspiring and ambitious, but there’s a less talked-about route to many of Google’s great achievements -- the consistent, short-term, incremental “roofshots” that make our products better year after year. Don’t get me wrong. I want flying drones that can bring me fresh produce. I’m excited about contact lenses that measure blood sugar. And I look forward to the day that self-driving cars are on the road everywhere. These initiatives are examples of some visionary programs being pursued by Google and Alphabet teams, collectively referred to as moonshots -- disruptive, 10X leaps in technology.

What Is Disruptive Innovation? The theory of disruptive innovation, introduced in these pages in 1995, has proved to be a powerful way of thinking about innovation-driven growth. Many leaders of small, entrepreneurial companies praise it as their guiding star; so do many executives at large, well-established organizations, including Intel, Southern New Hampshire University, and Salesforce.com. Unfortunately, disruption theory is in danger of becoming a victim of its own success.

The Top Idea in Your Mind July 2010 I realized recently that what one thinks about in the shower in the morning is more important than I'd thought. I knew it was a good time to have ideas. Now I'd go further: now I'd say it's hard to do a really good job on anything you don't think about in the shower. Everyone who's worked on difficult problems is probably familiar with the phenomenon of working hard to figure something out, failing, and then suddenly seeing the answer a bit later while doing something else. There's a kind of thinking you do without trying to.

These are Google’s 4 best practices for fostering creativity and innovation “How many golf balls could you fit in a school bus?” This is the kind of question Google and its big tech brethren were once known for asking would-be employees. The reasoning behind the technique seemed intuitive. Most of the time, innovators don’t move fast and break things Innovation has become a defining ideology of our time. Be disruptive, move fast, break things! And everyone knows – right? – what innovation looks like. Just Google the word. You’ll see lots of lightbulbs.

Simple Rules for Business Strategy The book Simple Rules by Donald Sull and Kathleen Eisenhardt has a very interesting chapter on strategy, which tries to answer the following question: How do you translate your broad objectives into a strategy that can provide guidelines for your employees from day to day? It’s the last bit there which is particularly important — getting everyone on the same page. Companies don’t seem to have a problem creating broad objectives (which isn’t really a strategy). Your company might not call them that, they might call them “mission statements” or simply “corporate goals.” They sound all well and good, but very little thought is given to how we will actually implement these lofty goals. As Sull and Eisenhardt put it:

4 Keys to Understanding Clayton Christensen's Theory of Disruptive Innovation Disruptive innovation has been a buzzword since Clayton Christensen coined it back in the mid 1990s. But with everyone discussing disruption when it comes to each new business or product that emerges, how can we distinguish between new entrants that pose a threat and those that are best ignored? Here are four key things to remember when assessing whether the next new company is likely to disrupt your business: 1.

Principles for an Age of Acceleration MIT Media Lab is a creative nerve center where great ideas like One Laptop per Child, LEGO Mindstorms, and Scratch programming language have emerged. Its director, Joi Ito, has done a lot of thinking about how prevailing systems of thought will not be the ones to see us through the coming decades. In his book Whiplash: How to Survive our Faster Future, he notes that sometime late in the last century, technology began to outpace our ability to understand it. We are blessed (or cursed) to live in interesting times, where high school students regularly use gene editing techniques to invent new life forms, and where advancements in artificial intelligence force policymakers to contemplate widespread, permanent unemployment.

Mathematical Model Reveals the Patterns of How Innovations Arise Innovation is one of the driving forces in our world. The constant creation of new ideas and their transformation into technologies and products forms a powerful cornerstone for 21st century society. Indeed, many universities and institutes, along with regions such as Silicon Valley, cultivate this process. And yet the process of innovation is something of a mystery. A wide range of researchers have studied it, ranging from economists and anthropologists to evolutionary biologists and engineers. Their goal is to understand how innovation happens and the factors that drive it so that they can optimize conditions for future innovation.

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