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

Careful what you wish for: Entrepreneurial policies and startups

WSJ had a nice section recently on understanding entrepreneurs, Why Washington Has It Wrong on Small Business. In it, Professor Aaron Chatterji from Duke talks about how job growth comes from high-growth, not low-growth startups (companies younger than 5 years old). This insight mistakes hindsight for foresight but, more importantly, it puts the entrepreneurial cart before the horse.

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GE’s New Durathon Battery and the Challenge of Faster, Better, Cheaper

General Electric has just introduced its new Durathon molten salt battery. The battery illustrates the unique challenges of developing sustaining innovations – and particularly the Faster, Better, Cheaper challenge I've described earlier. In doing so, it offers insights for both innovators and policy makers pursuing similar efforts. (to read more on The Hargadon Files, follow the link


The Responsible Company

Just finished reading The Responsible Company, the second business book by Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia. His first, Let My People Surfing, laid out Chouinard’s personal path and the company’s history before spending the bulk of the book on the business philosophy of the small (roughly $400M) outdoor gear and apparel company. This second book establishes Chouinard’s voice and leadership in the new sustainable business movement—though he and co-author Vincent Stanley are quick to point out there’s no such thing as a truly ‘sustainable’ business.

If you’re thinking about starting something—or re-orienting your existing something—towards what matters to you, this book belongs on the stack on your desk. It’s a perfectly-timed counterbalance to the Jobs biography.

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The Business of Low-Carbon Innovation

Working with the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, I’ve just completed an study of companies that have already successfully developed and launched new low-carbon strategic initiatives. The resulting report, “The Business of Innovating: Bringing Low-Carbon Solutions to Market,” was released today.  The study documents the challenges and best practices to inform other businesses developing their own low-carbon innovation strategies.  Innovation is challenging regardless of company or industry but, as the study found, low-carbon innovation has distinct challenges—and requires particular capabilities—that reflect the distinct nature of the technologies, opportunities, and environments involved.

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