Innovation and Serendipity


This post was first published at Integrative Innovation.   In a previous post, I have pointed out the importance of diversity for innovation and organizational adaptability. Diversity is a crucial precursor to serendipity. In the Power of Pull, John Hagel, John Seely Brown and Lang Davison emphasize the rising need for serendipity: We need to […]

Why the Future of Innovation is Open

As outlined in my previous post, sustainable innovation requires evolution and revolution. Over the long term, organizations need to be capable of both moving along existing growth trajectories and creating new ones when the old business matures or stalls. This can be depicted as recurring movement along innovation s-curves. In the case of a new […]

Why You Should Care About Network Structure


When carbon atoms connect, they most commonly form molecules built on rings of six atoms. The things that are built out of these six atom rings of carbon are amazingly diverse. Here are the structures of two of these things: graphite (A) and diamond (B): You can see the rings in both. Same material, same […]

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 […]

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, […]

Don’t Be First to Market, Be First to Scale

Often when people have an idea for a great new product or service, they rush to be first to market with it. We keep hearing about first-mover advantage and how you need it. The only problem with first-move advantage is that it doesn’t seem to exist. The academic research on the topic shows that there […]

So Where Do Good Ideas Come From?

I ran across an outstanding post today by John Battelle reviewing Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Steven Johnson. It’s one of my favourite books from the last couple of years, and Battelle does a great job of highlighting the key points in it. He also reminded me of a table […]

Are You Creating or Replacing?

Are you creating something new or replacing something that’s already there? If you’re replacing, you need to do much different things than if you’re creating something new. Every time you try to get your ideas to spread, you have to break connections. This is a lot harder if you’re trying to replace a deeply embedded […]

What is Influence, Really?

One of my colleagues is doing research on social network use, and she asked me to help get people to take her survey. It takes about 8 minutes to fill it in. I was glad to help, and to do it, I set up a test. First I posted the link on my Facebook page […]