This relationship between the core business strategy and its innovation portfolio is tricky. But maybe not as tricky as companies make it. Continue reading
Microsoft acquiring GitHub, the largest open-source code repository, brings them full circle to the infamous 1976 open letter by Gates to computer hobbyists who were sharing, not buying, their BASIC software for the Altair. The irony should be savored.
In ’75, Microsoft got its start when Gates and Allen adapted BASIC for the Altair 8800. BASIC was originally written by two Dartmouth professors, who put it in the public domain. As Paul Ceruzzi wrote in A History of Modern Computing:
“with its skillful combination of features taken from Dartmouth and from the Digital Equipment Corporation, [BASIC] was the key to Gates’ and Allen’s success in establishing a personal computer software industry.”In 1981, MS-DOS, Microsoft’s operating system for the IBM PC, was acquired for $75,000 from the tiny Seattle Computer Products (who themselves borrowed it from Digital Research’s CP/M).
That wasn’t the last of Microsoft’s creative pursuits.
Microsoft Word was originally written by Xerox PARC engineers as Bravo (but never marketed); it became a Microsoft product when Microsoft hired one of its original authors, Charles Simonyi, away from PARC.
Excel was derived from Visicalc by Software Arts, and from Lotus.
And the graphical user environment that is Windows first appeared at PARC in the Alto personal computer, and then in the Apple Macintosh, before becoming Microsoft’s flagship product.
The world is powered by building on and recombining what has come before. Too often, where we stand on this fundamental creative process depends on whether we profits from creating or defending our innovations.
Straight from the horse’s mouth, the father of the theory of Disruptive Innovation Clay Christenson pronounces Tesla’s Electric Vehicle not technically (theoretically) a disruptive technology. It can still have dramatic impacts on the auto industry and beyond, but it’s just old school innovation. Continue reading
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
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
Entrepreneur and venture capitalist Mark Suster provides a great example of the educational value inherent in making mistakes. And, since the only thing that comes close to learning from failure is learning from other people’s failures, this is a great interview where he shares the main mistakes he made in his first company. Continue reading
Innovation is hard, but sometimes we make it harder than it needs to be. It’s a lesson we could all use, but especially big companies betting millions on sustaining innovations. Continue reading
What’s your innovation strategy?
The question often stumps executives, who tend to think innovation is something outside the normal work routines, not something that can and should be directed. Yet how much of your company’s strategic plan depends on innovation — on the development of new products, new processes, or (often) both — that will provide tomorrow’s competitive advantage? Continue reading
Ideas are overrated. I’ve said this before, but I just ran across this quote from Isaiah Berlin, describing Leo Tolstoy’s approach to understanding war and history. If we take his meaning to heart, we could all be better students of innovation.