Is Ethnography The New Black? |
| GE's Jeff Immelt Explains Innovation.
June 13, 2006
Readers' Feedback On IN--Inside Innovation
Thanks to all the readers who are sending in truly valuable feedback on issue #1 of Inside Innovation. It will inform and shape issue # 2 that comes out in early September (there will be a third for 2006 that comes out in mid-November). We're trying to reach a managerial audience that is just now learning how to make innovation work and knows it should be on the web but isn't yet. We're in the education business, the innovation education business, so we are feeling our way in terms of levels of detail and scope. Some of our readers think we're being too simplistic, others not.
Here are some of their thoughts. I've edited out the obligatory snarkey comments that people, usually men, often use in comments posted. Here's one on useful blogs for innovation.
Review: Jessie... There is, for instance: Makezine.com: Totally, unbelievably awesome, cool and community-driven content. Free of guru-drivel. Coolhunting.com: They track down cool stuff in 10 various categories, from art to travel. Great source of future story ideas. DesignObserver.com: Smart takes on the role of design in culture and commerce. Bonus: Plenty of thoughtful comments accompany most posts. Idfuel.com: Nice blog about industrial design but seems to have lost its main writer (and some gas) a few months ago.
Date reviewed: Jun 12, 2006 12:17 AM
Here's another comment: Nickname: Richard
Review: The article stresses that youth is one of the keys to innovation. However, that may be because in Corporate America only the young are given the chance. There are many examples of older people who are highly innovative, from Colonel Sanders who was over 60 when he started KFC, James Dyson, John Sperling, who created the University of Phoenix when he was well over 60, and a man who is held up as a serial innovator, to Sir Richard Branson. There are many more, and a company that only entrusts innovation to the young is missing a big opportunity. By the way, the concept of the polyman being needed to be an innovator is as old as the idea of the "renaissance man," such as Leonardo da Vinci, who managed to be highly innovative until his death at 67.
Date reviewed: Jun 11, 2006 7:46 AM
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I was amazed that you gave two pages to a 755 Hp gas-0-holic hot rod as "innovative". Right up there with Hummer/Escalade ads in the green issue of VF. It's comparatively easy to design/build a hot rod but incredibily difficult to design/build a "new rod" that has performance without draining the tank in 100 miles.
I'm also frankly disappointed that the list of IN25 "champions" failed to include anyone innovative enough to begin addressing the escalating twin deficit towers. We are borrowing and sending off shore about $6B/day and have been for years. How long do you think this can continue? Does anyone on your IN25 list know, care or plan to do anything innovative about this?
Posted by: Gary Ferguson at June 14, 2006 03:29 PM
Overall, I thought the content and design of INside were pretty solid. No big surprises as you've spoken about much of the content on this blog and your numerous articles. However, as I was reading I put my "newbie" hat on. For someone hearing this stuff for the first time, it was an excellent format. I liked the blog conversation piece especially. And the light blue color is a nice touch.
One let down—and you've probably heard this before: the INside cover paper stock. I expected something more. Something with a little weight. Symbolically this would match the effective hype you've drummed up (take that as a compliment).
Lastly I would offer up this. I recently read a ripping from Peter Merholz on INside that was quite entertaining but also a little narrow-minded. Though there were some good points in his critique—I think Peter is missing the fact that INside is for the masses of people who don't have innovation as a part of their vernacular (in addition to those that do). In that context—it's an effective communications tool and a nice little change agent.
Keep it up and see about that front cover paper stock!
Posted by: David Armano at June 14, 2006 09:17 PM
Regarding Inside Innovation, the look and feel is very different from BW and it really stands out. It grabbed my attention in a good way.
Regarding future stories, I'd like to read more about how managers overcame internal obstacles to creating new products or services, especially where new processes or new business models were introduced. Most corporations have a huge problem with internal inertia, so how are successful executives getting new initiatives airborne?
I'd also be interested in reading more about new methodologies and how to structure new initiatives, along with more stories about how research is actually turned into a sellable product or service.
Finally, links to research or other sources of information on methodologies or design thinking would be great to see.
Posted by: Roy Luebke at June 14, 2006 09:18 PM
I found the change in content quality transitioning from the regular BusinessWeek articles to the innovation articles to be jarring. Just because readers are new to innovation concepts doesn't mean that the content has to be simplified.
Posted by: Brent at June 16, 2006 06:07 AM
The promotion of the Koenigsegg CCR automobile is a testimony to the concept that design quality is synonymous with visual styling and prestige. There is an alternative point of view which holds that good design achieves a thoughtful balance between cost, function, aesthetics, and technology.
The discussion of ethnography as the new core competence is also interesting. Your publication might want to consider spelling as another core competence. The word "ethnography" was misspelled twice, once on page 10, and again on page 14.
These 2 facts, taken together, reveal the dark side of the character of your design intelligensia: a devotion to the ideology of elitism, and an inability to master the important details.
If you were a design student, what conclusions would you draw?
If you were a business person purchasing design services, what conclusions would you draw?
Posted by: Travis Veigas at June 16, 2006 05:39 PM
Excellent first issue of IN. I look forward to more stories on business innovation. Glaringly absent, however, is coverage of intellectual assets, such as strategic patents. Sure, they are difficult to report on, but what's the point of covering innovation if you don't go after the really tough stories?
Some of the the most innovative perspectives on invention are coming from the managers and financial engineers who turn IP rights into assets. Creative coverage of innovation is welcomed, especially data, trends, and the latest in strategy. Intellectual Asset Management is innovation.
Posted by: Bruce Beman at June 20, 2006 11:02 PM