Open Source and Innovation

Via 7 Days and More:

Maybe [Keith Sawyer’s] perspective is too product centric. One true innovation is open source itself, the methodology used to build and release a product. Another radical innovation is the business model behind open source. Innovation should not be reduced to a product but must seen in a process and business context.

This is spot on, and puts this post by Sawyer into perspective: While the open source movement must not be viewed as the posterchild of business model innovation, it covers much more than mere product innovation (well, are there any radical innovations in the product space – one might argue given the history of the Apache webserver, Linux in itself etc.).

And this is funny since Eric Raymond’s seminal “The Cathedral and the Bazaar” had its 10th anniversary recently (hmm, I missed to congratulate then), which is not really about product innovation, but focuses more on the structural (and cultural) implications and shows how open source works better than established approaches. Sawyer needs a re-read, probably.

So there’s much to learn from the OS paradigm, not only in terms of methods and tools, but also in relation to structural and strategic innovations. And businesses that are searching for “new ways to generate breakthrough innovations” are very well advised to check if open source paradigms (and principles) might help their (business model) innovation efforts.

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