From Publishers Weekly
A light bulb flashing over the head of a lone scientist is the universal symbol of invention, but Edison's electric light bulb, which was the product of a whole team of engineers working with ideas cribbed from other inventors, is the rule rather than the exception, argues this fascinating primer on business innovations. Every breakthrough-be it the steamship, the transistor or the rise of rock 'n' roll-is a collective effort that combines and tweaks already existing ideas and technology in novel ways. Drawing on systems theory, cognitive psychology and "microsociology," management professor Hargadon examines innovation as a phenomenon of networks connected by "technology brokers"-people or organizations that link isolated groups and industries to integrate previously unrelated viewpoints and technologies to resolve new problems. He applies this framework to business case studies ranging from Henry Ford's mass-production methods to the work of present-day industrial design firms. Companies can stimulate innovation, he suggests, by cultivating a diverse network of projects, clients and suppliers to "capture" new ideas and exploit the resulting innovations, as well as by constantly testing models and prototypes, encouraging informal collaboration among employees and fostering a culture that embraces open-mindedness, iconoclasm and the freedom to "fail your way to success." Hargadon's argument is a well-written and well-supported corrective to the "lone genius" myth of technological innovation. While not quite a blueprint for breakthroughs, his provocative viewpoint and intriguing case studies will give managers new techniques to ponder.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"Intriguing, practical, and counterintuitive..." -- Innovationwatch.com, September 2003