Trading Off Speed and Novelty in Innovation Networks

I’ve written a couple of posts recently on the importance of network diversity for innovation and how dense networks can actually inhibit innovation. Since the 1970s, the dominant view in network analysis of innovation is that novelty comes from sparely connected network where ‘structural holes’ exist to preserve diversity. Weak links between knowledge clusters are […]

Hell is a fully-connected network.

Occasionally I run into a particular situation that is based on a very fundamental misunderstanding of the function of social networks. In an effort to make an organization or industry more innovative, someone gets the idea that we need to get everyone talking to everyone else. In other words, the most innovative network is a […]

Want Old Ideas? … Then Keep Talking to Your Friends


If you have been reading this blog for a while you will know that a lot of the research work that Tim and I do looks at the link between networks and innovation. When we talk about networks, we mean all sort of ways that people and businesses can connect to each other. For example, […]

Brands Need Innovating Too

Conventional strategy theory tends to equip firms badly for 21st century competition. One of the great myths in the MBA strategy toolkit is the concept of sustainable competitive advantage that is endowed to a firm through access to a relatively unique internal resource. Most strategy textbooks talk about particular resources such as knowledge, relationships and […]

The Power of Stop, Talk and Think

Business school academics spend a lot of time doing statistics with the objective of trying to find the most important factors for making innovative work teams and businesses. This is hard because innovation is very rarely caused by one thing and sometimes what is causing innovation in one group will inhibit innovation in another. For […]

Urgently Wanted… A New Way to Get Ideas out of Universities

Let’s start with a business trivia question. In 2011 the Imax Group achieved an excellent profit result that delivered an S&P industry leading return on shareholder’s equity of nearly 50% over the financial year. In number two position was business information service McGraw-Hill at 42% ROE. Can you guess what type of business came in […]

Psychology and Spreading Ideas

Tim wrote a great post last week on being responsible for getting your ideas to spread. This is important because a lot of us spend time working on a good idea and then take very little time working out the best way to get people to listen. I’m often guilty of this too and its […]

Do You Need a Team of Innovators or an Innovative Team?

I’ve been working on a research project looking at innovativeness in project teams and it’s given me the opportunity to go back through the evidence of what makes innovative teams. Without giving you the long literature review I can tell you that this is a really well worked area over more than two decades. However, […]

Montessori Lessons for Innovators

Since the revelations that many stars of silicon valley are alumni of Montessori schools there has been a lot of interest in what managers can learn from the Montessori approach to education. I hadn’t realized this until Tim told me but the founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergei Brin, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and […]

What doesn’t kill you makes you more innovative

Most of you would know the Nietzsche quote “that which doesn’t kill is makes us stronger” (or it could be a Kelly Clarkson quote, depending on your age). My main point for today is that quote also applies to innovation and this has far reaching implications for anyone trying to make a firm or industry […]

Little Innovations Matter!

Here’s a question for you. What’s better…. a lot of little innovations or one big innovation? If we had to choose, would it better to have an economy made up of a lot of firms trying to make small improvements to their business or do we want a game-changer like Apple or Google? The big […]

Some ‘Deep Thought’ on The Global Innovation Index

There’s been a fair bit of chatter on the release of the global innovation index. It’s an impressive composite of many indicators of innovation and it thows out many interesting lists. According to the report, Switzerland, Sweden and Singapore are the most innovative countries and the Ivory Coast, Nigeria and China are the most efficient […]