Since the late 1990s, technology markets have declined dramatically. Responding to the changing business climate, companies use strategies of open innovation: acquiring technologies from outside, marketing their technologies to other companies, and outsourcing manufacturing. But open innovation is not enough; it is mainly a way to run a business to its endgame. By itself, open innovation results in razor-thin profits from products that compete as commodities. Businesses also need a path to renewal. No one ever achieved a breakthrough with open innovation.
Our capacity for creating breakthroughs depends on a combination of science, imagination, and business; the next great waves of innovation will come from organizations that get this combination right. During periods of rapid economic growth, companies and investors focus on the short term and forget where breakthroughs come from. Without appropriate engagement and reinvestment, the innovation ecology breaks down. Today, universities, technology companies, government funding agencies, venture capitalists, and corporate research laboratories need to foster the conditions in which breakthroughs arise.
In Breakthrough, Mark and Barbara Stefik show us how innovation works. Drawing on stories from repeat inventors and managers of technology, they uncover the best practices for inventing the future. This book is for readers who want to know how inventors do their work, how people become inventors, and how businesses can create powerful cultures of innovation.
About the Authors
Mark Stefik in an inventor and Research Fellow at the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), where he directs the Information Sciences and Technologies Laboratory.
Barbara Stefik has a doctorate in transpersonal psychology. She is in private practice and helps people to overcome creative blocks.
"A rare balance between theoretical insights and an insider's view of the complex world of invention and discovery." —Australian Financial Review
"Breakthrough innovations are bridges to the future, and this book helps point the way. Drawing on deep and varied experience from PARC, the Stefiks highlight the secrets—and the challenges—of creating new product breakthroughs."
—Tom Kelley, General Manager, IDEO, author of The Art of Innovation
"A surprisingly comprehensive survey and synthesis of innovation dynamics, and a book both useful and usable."
—Michael Schrage, MIT Media Lab, author of Serious Play
"The Stefiks focus on one of the most important sectors of innovations, those originating with breakthrough ideas. They deftly examine the kinds of observers that inventors must be—how they think and understand—to find a breakthrough idea and follow it through to a widely used technology. Inventor interviews, which liberally lace this librum, richly reward the reader."
—Peter J. Denning, past president of Association for Computing Machinery and editor of The Invisible Future