Closing up some of my open tabs …

Business Week lists its top 10 of innovation and design books for 2008, books that “had an original thesis, tapped into a trend that seemed clearly part of the zeitgeist, or simply provoked us, making us think differently about the world or how better to monetize, mix, or manage fresh ideas”. And Blown to Bits is now available for download under a Creative Commons license – get the book as a single PDF file (22MB) here.

Yahoo! is planning to shut down Brickhouse, the business unit I loved then and home to cool innovations like Yahoo! Pipes and FireEagle. Sad news, I always thought this to be an interesting innovation environment (think Allen curve , i.e. avoiding “the exponential drop of frequency of communication between engineers as the distance between them increases.”). Well, enhancing collaboration and spreading of ideas will benefit from IT collaboration infrastructure, yet having functional areas designed into innovative work environments remains a good idea in my book.

Meanwhile Procter & Gamble and Google are doing a job-exchange program, where employees from the two companies spend weeks in each other’s staff training programs and meetings at the other company. Nice idea, this friendly (and cost-effective) consulting by people working in similar fields without being direct competitors (learning in best practices programs might achieve the same but is probably less flexible and somehow so old-school). And Clay Christensen argues in an interview with MIT Sloan Management Review’s Martha Mangelsdorf (How Hard Times Can Drive Innovation) that the economic downturn will have a positive effect on the environment for innovation:

One of the banes of successful innovation is that companies may be so committed to innovation that they will give the innovators a lot of money to spend. And, statistically, 93% of all innovations that ultimately become successful started off in the wrong direction; the probability that you’ll get it right the first time out of the gate is very low.

So, if you give people a lot of money, it gives them the privilege of pursuing the wrong strategy for a very long time. In an environment where you’ve got to push innovations out the door fast and keep the cost of innovation low, the probability that you’ll be successful is actually much higher.

Time to Rethink Strategy? Here’s an Urgent Memo to the CEO by Paul Branstad, Bill Jackson, and Shumeet Banerji on how corporate leaders can move aggressively to seize new opportunities:

we are […] entering a period during which the value of being able to act strategically and decisively for the long term will increase enormously. Preparing for this moment of opportunity is of paramount importance for your businesses’ position for years to come

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