Building a better mousetrap seems to have more in common with Britain’s finest hour than with the glamour of innovation. For example, developing the technology to blanket cities with free wi-fi is, to paraphrase Churchill, “…not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
Glenn Fleishman, writing in the NYT Advocates of Wi-Fi in Cities Learn Art of Politics, describes the necessary disillusionment of early “free wi-fi” pioneers and their subsequent embrace of politics in order to implement their plans: “All of us were very idealistic, and all quite strongly opinionated,” says one such pioneer.
“The problems that were hard in 2001 were technical ones,” Mr. Spiegel [president of NYCwireless, a volunteer wireless advocacy group in Manhattan] said. “Now, they’re personal and relationship and political ones. The technology, we almost don’t even think about it anymore.”
Sound familiar? Anyone who has tried to push innovation in organizations recognizes that getting the technology right is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. Politics comes next. Perhaps we need a Churchillian theory of innovation?