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Innovation--The Missing Dimension Paperback – May 15, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0674019942 ISBN-10: 0674019946

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (May 15, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674019946
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674019942
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,068,652 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Lester and Piore tell us that a corporate focus on core competencies will not suffice to make a brand irreplaceable and thus earn a ticket to prolonged life. Indeed great brands don't just fall from the sky, they have to be built through the carefully assembled blocks of innovation. The authors lead us to the conclusion that you have to go beyond just listening to the customer, you have to observe them and anticipate what they themselves never imagined they would want. (Patrick le Quément, Chief Designer, Renault)

Innovation-The Missing Dimension does have a central focus, but it is such a broad-ranging coverage of the important subject of innovation that it actually adds many dimensions to the reader's thinking. A worthwhile experience. (Robert W. Galvin, Former CEO, Motorola)

Finally, a book that blows past the one-size-fits-all answers of politicians and business pundits. Innovation-The Missing Dimension sets the standard for understanding how to compete in a global economy. (Bob Buderi, Editor at Large, Technology Review, and author of Engines of Tomorrow)

It is pretty clear that the future of a leading-edge economy now rests on its capacity to innovate. It is not at all clear what institutions and practices particularly favor innovation. Building on a few closely observed case studies, Lester and Piore arrive at some interesting, plausible and, well, innovative ideas about the way new products and processes come into existence and sometimes flourish. Their ideas have novel and significant implications for teaching, management and governance. (Robert M. Solow, Nobel Laureate in Economics)

This book brings new insight into innovation--where it begins and how it can be introduced and managed. The authors' original and thought-provoking prescriptions reach far beyond the world of business. They explain how education must demonstrate and play a major role in innovation. (Governor Gaston Caperton, President, The College Board)

While innovation is typically seen as a single process, Lester and Piore break it into two parts: problem solving and interpretation. Companies focus constantly on the former, which tends to be a rational step-by-step process. If they talk about the latter at all, it is under the guise of 'listening to the customer,' a less well-defined discipline. Much of the book is devoted to case studies of product development in fields ranging from cellphones to medical equipment to bluejeans. (Robert Weisman Boston Globe 2004-11-05)

From 1994 to 2002, almost in parallel with the Internet-led boom in the U.S. economy, researchers at the Industrial Performance Center at MIT developed a series of case studies of technology-oriented companies. These studies allowed the authors of the current book to identify common patterns in the innovation process. What the authors found was startlingly simple: innovation was a function of two basic processes--analysis and interpretation. While there are numerous books on the topic of innovation, this volume's real value is its exposition of the two processes and the illustration of these processes through exhaustive case studies...Innovation is absolutely critical to the economic well-being of the U.S. and is the only bulwark against the migration of jobs overseas. The authors make these points tellingly, using persuasive arguments that illustrate the innovation processes in organizations. (R. Subramanian Choice 2005-03-01)

This is an interesting and stimulating book. It argues that innovation studies have so far neglected an important dimension of the innovative process, which the authors call the interpretive dimension. This refers to managers' capability of bringing together people of different backgrounds (e.g., engineers, product designers, advanced users), engage them in constructive discussions about new products, manage the confusion and ambiguity that may inevitably arise in the interactions between heterogenous agents, interpret such ambiguity, and eventually point to new technological trajectories that the innovative process should lead to...Richard Lester and Michael Piore develop this interesting argument by describing the results of three case studies on innovation and product design in rather different industries...The basic argument developed in this book is original, and it challenges the dominant perspective on innovation management and policy. (Fulvio Castellacci Journal of Economic Issues)

About the Author

Richard K. Lester is Director of the Industrial Performance Center and Professor of Nuclear Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Michael J. Piore is David W. Skinner Professor of Economics and Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the author of several books, including, with Charles F. Sabel, The Second Industrial Divide.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kim Slack on October 12, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I work in a business that struggles to be innovative. There's many very smart people who are superb problem solvers. This book explains why a problem solving mindset may actually interfere with listening to customers and stimulating new ideas.

By thinking "who else should I invite into this conversation who might have another perspective," and "how can I get these people together and stimulate a deep conversation," I've begun to see another way to work with my colleagues that may help our organization push the envelope more. The authors offered very specific examples of these kinds of interpretative conversations.

This book has good case studies about garment industry, cell phone industry and biotech. Their economic argument pushing for more public spaces where interpretative conversations can occur was of less interest and I thought weaker than their company examples.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michael Plasmeier on December 16, 2012
Format: Paperback
I'm a senior at MIT about to go into Product Management. I found this book changed how I approached Product Management.

A product manger's job is not about productivity, but instead it is about being a cocktail host; bringing people together to discuss and plan. These discussions might not lead to immediate ideas, but they ultimately lead to ideas in this long term way that is difficult to make happen on purpose. I see it all the time at MIT. You look around and find new ideas, but those ideas didn't come out of a concerted effort; rather, random 2AM conversations with the people living near you.

I am very task/productivity oriented at MIT; but I will need to break out of that model to be a good product manager.
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