Something in our nature enables us to ignore problems until it looks like we can solve them. Continue reading
I've talked earlier about something called the "Think/Do" cycle — the process of moving between thinking about what you should do and doing it. Most of the innovation literature has, to date, been focused on coming up with new ideas (thinking a lot; thinking better; thinking out of the box, etc…). Recently, thanks to design thinking, lean startups, lean launchpad, and other emerging conversations around innovation, popular advice is starting to emphasize words like doing, testing, experimentation, prototyping, and iterating. The challenge is finding the balance.
When new technologies compete, what tips the scale toward one or the other? Maggie Koerth-Baker wrote a terrific article in the New York Times, Why Your Car Isn't Electric, which captures some of the social dimensions of technological innovation by looking at the dominance and demise of the electric vehicle in the first decade of the 20th century. If only inventors, entrepreneurs, and policy makers could spare the time to consider these dimensions before rushing off to change the world.
When the last tech blogger in the land has weighed in on the Apple iOS6 Maps debacle — which at this rate should be within the week — perhaps we can have a more interesting conversation about the tectonic shifts shaping the mobile market (and our driving experience). Here’s my take on those shifts and how they explain the sorry state of Apple Maps.
Political. Self-interested. Calculating. Aggressive. Machiavellian. Few people use these words to describe innovation. Fewer still take pride in these traits.Yet developing more sustainable products or processes depends on the willingness and ability to engage in the politics of innovation.
Out of the lab and into the world:
Upcoming Opportunities for Science and Engineering Researchers
Green Technology Entrepreneurship Academy
The 5th annual GTEA is open to science and engineering senior undergrads, graduate students, postdocs and faculty working on research in green and sustainable technologies. The three-day intensive program integrates lecture, exercises and individual projects. You’ll learn to identify, design and validate new opportunities for your research. Sessions are taught by investors, entrepreneurs and industry executives in the green tech arena.
Apply by May 25 >>
Biomedical Engineering Entrepreneurship Academy
The 2nd annual BMEA is open to science and engineering senior undergrads, graduate students, postodcs and faculty working on biomedical engineering technologies and research. The three-day intensive program integrates lecture, exercises, and individual projects. Sessions are taught by investors, entrepreneurs and industry executives in the biomed arena.
Apply by June 8 >>
Business Development Fellows Program
The year-long Business Development Certificate program provides UC Davis science and engineering graduate and postdoctoral students hands-on experience in developing business skills for a career in industry and the opportunity to develop new business ventures.
Apply by June 30 >>
Want to learn more about our entrepreneurship academies and the Business Development Fellows certificate program? Join Program Manager Niki Davisson for an Information Session, held in the Innovation Lab/Room 3301, Gallagher Hall, on the UC Davis campus. RSVP today >>
May 24: noon–1 p.m
EV battery maker A123 hit a new rough patch this week—another example of the “Faster, Better, Cheaper—pick any two” trade-off that affects all companies, but few like clean tech companies. And another warning to those who think innovation is the same regardless of what company or which industry you’re in.
I've often quoted Pablo Picasso, who once said "Good artists borrow, great artists steal." What he meant was that good artists know enough to build on the works of others, but fail to add anything to their replication of the original. Certainly they don't add enough to hide their source material. Great artists, on the other hand, often bring enough of the creative process to their borrowing that evidence of the original source (or often sources) is quickly lost. An interesting and polarizing event is unfolding around a novel blogging application, Svbtle, by Dustin Curtis and an open-source copy, Obtvse, by Nate Wienert, that illustrates this challenge. You be the judge.
Does the world need another book on sustainability? Honestly, I'm not really sure. Having waded into this literature roughly five years ago, and have since ventured into some of its stronger currents, I have seen that much of what needs to be said has already been said — it's just that not everyone has said it and not everyone has heard it. It helped me to recognize there are different approaches to the topic, and a roadmap would be useful — here's the one I've come up with to help me make sense of the large and growing conversation.
I study the innovation process, both in modern companies and industries and through historic events, and bring that perspective to the challenge of achieving sustainability. I was recently asked to discuss my perspective on the interdisciplinary nature of UC Davis’s sustainability efforts, and here were my comments.