Systematic Innovation

The thing that set’s Peter F. Drucker’s legacy apart from all the pop management books is one thing: Empiricism. Peter concentrated on observable, reproducible, systematic methodology. And he took the same attitude in Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

The secret to successful innovation and entrepreneurship for a private enterprise, a public enterprise or a fledgling enterprise involved pre-planning before any attempt to realize the idea took place. The success stories in Peter’s book took an idea that was not even necessarily their own and took the time to foresee the requirements for possibility, compatibility, reliability, affordability, distributability and ubiquity before they entered the life cycle of the product or service. They built a management team to achieve each of these milestones before they entered the life cycle as well. Only then did they execute, because there was no turning back.

It is just like a volley in tennis. The ball (opportunity) approaches and the tennis player observes that ball, positions herself, assesses her capabilities, decides where the return will land and only then makes her power curve lead into the ball, singularity contact, and power curve follow through, all the time never letting her eye off the ball until that volley’s life cycle ends.

Like I said to Seth Godin’s book, The Dip, you don’t make your decisions mid-stroke. It is not empirical and it is bad physics. Peter would say the same thing. He would say it is bad management as well.

Danger or Pluralarity?

Thinking about pluralities I was motivated to dig out and dust off my copy of Nicholas G. Carr’s book, Does IT Matter?: Information Technology and the Corrosion of Competitive Advantage. In this piece of pulp Nicholas droned on about the commoditization of hardware and software and the end of the IT industry.

What Nicholas was witnessing in 2003 was the plurality of one generation of hardware and software. Everybody had an office suite and enterprise software suite.  And rightly, they were no longer providing a competitive advantage. What Nicholas was experiencing was a complete lack of imagination with regard to the opportunities the pluralarity presented: the next generation of innovation leading to the next singularity.

In hind sight it was funny how Nicholas shook everybody up, but I didn’t find myself looking for a new career, I found myself looking for innovation and in many respects we found it in Open Source and Web 2.0 Social Software.

I have also found that Relational Database technology is reaching plurality and its limitations are becoming more pronounced as application developers test its limits. It simply does not have the flexibility we need. I’ve seen the future in the Associative Model of Data and have found it fits the Zachman Framework better than current technologies. The need is growing and this architecture fits it.

What Nicholas and all of us should have still been reading was this book:

Peter is still the authority when it comes to experience based instruction.