Lesley Gore, innovation in context

Lesley Gore passed away this week. She’s probably best know for It’s my Party but my favorite is You Don’t Own Me. To teenage girls in the early 1960s, looking at a bleak future in a Mad Men world, this must have been a powerful message (the song later became a feminist anthem). It’s hard to appreciate innovations like that 2-minute song without having the context of the times. So to honor her memory, my daughter and I played the song and then, to appreciate the context, watched the Folgers coffee ads of the time. Continue reading

On the Folly of Adopting A while Hoping for Apple

FastCompany released its annual “50 Most Innovative Companies” list, one of the more enjoyable of the dozens published every year. Pick up any one of these and three things become immediately apparent. First, there is no shortage of role models for innovation. Second, outside the crowd favorites (Apple, Google, and Facebook) there is little overlap between lists. Third and perhaps most importantly, each company and what makes them innovative ranges wildly. Continue reading

Better batteries or better Electric Vehicles

Tesla recently announced its plans to be as big as Apple within 10 years (a bold statement given the electric car company sold 35,000 cars last year, just beating out the 30,000 iPhones Apple sold each hour last quarter). Regardless of Tesla’s promises, the future of electric cars hinges on advances in batteries which, in turn, hinge on how companies—and the country—choose to pursue those advances. Continue reading

Cleantech entrepreneurs fighting the last war

Two articles give different views of the battlefield that is cleantech entrepreneurship these days: one from 1000’ and the other from the trenches. They offer a good lesson on the importance of having an innovation strategy informed by history more than hyperbole. Continue reading

A long view of disruption

The more dire the climate change predictions, the louder the calls for new and disruptive technologies. While it’s a great aspiration, as a theory disruptive innovation provides dangerous guidance on how disruption really happens. Continue reading

Disruptive Policy and Innovation

Disruptive Policy

The business world has embraced the notion of disruptive technologies and, in large part, so has the public sector, and yet so many of the most significant innovations have been tipped by disruptive policies, not technologies. Continue reading

Career entrepreneurs

As I’ve mentioned before, people often think entrepreneurship is a one-idea, one-shot game: you have a great idea and you pursue it until it makes you rich or makes you run back home. That’s a shame because it keeps people from exploring entrepreneurship as a career. It’s like thinking only rock stars can have careers in music. In truth, most entrepreneurs take part in multiple startups before launching their own, and they play many different roles besides the rock star. Continue reading