Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Reading :: The Innovator's Way

The Innovator's Way: Essential Practices for Successful Innovation
By Peter J. Denning and Robert Dunham

"Innovation means the adoption of an idea or technology into new practices that produce new outcomes," say Denning and Dunham in this book on innovation, meant for entrepreneurs (p.xxiv). They identify an innovation pattern: "The innovator becomes bothered by a disharmony, puzzles over it for a long time, discovers limitations of the current common sense that produce it, proposes a new common sense that generates a solution, and commits to making it happen. We call this the 'prime innovation pattern'" (p.xxv).

But how do you execute this prime innovation pattern? The authors draw from a deep well of experience to describe eight practices: Sensing, Envisioning, Offering, Adopting, Sustaining, Executing, Leading, and Embodying (Ch.5-12). But they also emphasize how to build these practices into the DNA of one's organization by building a culture of innovation and networking (Ch.13-16). Along the way, they draw from sources as diverse as Latour and Weick as well as examples from entrepreneurial organizations.

I'm not planning to start an enterprise. But as someone who's interested in how entrepreneurs work, I found this book useful and illuminating. Denning and Dunham clearly know what they're talking about, and they convey it in a book that is readable without being reductive, detailed without being inaccessible. If you're interested in entrepreneurship, either as a practitioner or as an interested party, I recommend this book.

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