Innovation and Collaboration

Interesting post on consultaglobal called Innovation And Boundariless Design. I was really sucked in by the opening quote

“Innovation often arises out of crossing disciplines and combining technologies”.*

This is a battle I seem to have on a continuous basis – trying to convince people that innovation must be an interdisciplinary effort, and must involve people from almost every part of an organization, and outside the orgainzation. This is especially true if you are working towards wide open innovation of business processes, internal technologies, as well as new products. Good ideas and design input can (and must) come from everywhere.

Another aspect of this interdiscinplinary approach, and the cross pollination of ideas and technologies it encourages, leads to compounding of ideas in much the same way as one compounds interest – two innovative ideas combined together in a novel way lead to improved value much greater than either innovation on its own.

This (as well as the question of whether design for manufacturability comes before human factors, or vice versa) always reminds me of the old (?) idea of integrated product teams (I cannot recall where I first ran into this – whether it was in the telecom world or military projects). The fact remains that it is almost impossible to separate engineering, human factors, or any other aspects of design into entirely sequential steps – they must be integrated, collaborative, iterative activities.

As the referenced post points out, however, none of this matters unless the whole process brings value to some customer – it is not innovation if it does not bring value.

(*) Pushing the Boundaries of Design by Jessie Scanlon  


I have been working in the world of technology for 25-odd years. I am an entrepreneur and consultant, focused on software solutions, social networking, and innovation processes. Currently, I am a Principal Consultant with T4G Limited, specializing in Portal Technologies (including SharePoint), software/systems development, service oriented architectures, and many other things which I will probably not remember until I need to use them. Prior to that, I was VP of Technology at Whitehill Technologies, Inc., where I spent almost 9 years helping to grow the company from a start-up to one of the most successful private software companies in Canada. Prior to that I worked on internet conferencing using early VoIP, and on large military communications projects. Before even that, I worked in satellite control, and remote sensing. Going way back to university, my focus was on theoretical physics and astrophysics. Currently my interests revolve around most aspects of software development, from technologies to management, and in the area of defining sustainable, repeatable processes for innovation within technology organizations. I also have a particular interest in Tablet PC technologies – I have been using one for several years, and I love it. On the personal side, I still have a strong interest in all aspects of science, especially physical sciences, as well as philosophy and comparative religion. In addition, I am into music, playing guitar (badly, I am sorry to say), and reading almost anything I can lay my hands on. I am also a member of the IEEE/IEEE Computer Society, and of the Association for Computing Machinery.

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Please keep in mind that any opinions, points-of-view, comments, or other content which I post to this site are mine and mine alone. They in no way reflect the views of my employer, my country, my dog, my cat, or anyone else you can think of. To paraphrase Monty Python, "That is the theory that I have and which is mine, and what it is, too."

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