Innovation at the fringes

The Starfish and the Spider – by Ori Brafman and Rod A.Beckstrom – has got me thinking… The creativity of the masses is certainly altering the way many established industries function, and it’s old news. Open- source platforms in the software domain such as Apache and Linux are making behemoths like IBM and Sun systems, sit up and take note. Royal Phillips Electronics – a world leader in healthcare, lifestyle and lighting – has adopted an open innovation strategy that capitalizes on the innovative power of various partnering companies as well as researchers. MiPlaza, part of Philips Research is open to any individual in the world to walk in and access its world-class expertise, service and infrastructure.

What I’d really like to know is how far has research kept up with these advancements.

Why are such industry giants looking at open innovation? How succesfully are organizations doing this? How is top management handling such transitions in conventional organizations? And are the still “centralized organizations” able to retain competitive advantage? And of course, that one topic that sells like ipods – Leadership. What would leadership mean in such apparently leaderless organizations?
The book is an interesting quick read, with plenty of anecdotes. Food for thought from the book is that innovation happens at the fringes. Again, well-written about in academic circles. But how ubiquitous is it?
More importantly, from my point of view, the authors describe what seems to be happening in such organizations- without giving any space to a plausible trigger. To me, the pulse seems to be the internet and emergent social networking technologies. It is the internet which permits such a large scale of communication and real-time access to global resources. The phenomena came first- the decentralized organization is a response to the environment. Arguably, the context has been largely overlooked by the authors. The treatment of all accompanying phenomena could be undertaken from this perspective


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