Breakthrough: Stories and Strategies of Radical Innovation

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This book was in my wishlist for almost a year before I had the opportunity to acquire and read it. As I couldn’t find it here in Brazil I had to wait for an opportunity to acquire it abroad or buy it from a foreign website. I did the first, and bought this book while travelling to USA for the Google Summer of Code Mentor Summit 2007. Unfortunately, even with the book in my hands, I wasn’t able to read it by that time and had to wait a little bit to delight myself reading it.

As a scientist, I’m a big fan and enthusiastic of breakhroughs, and the processes, environments and stimulus that leads to innovation and disruptive technologies. Today, it is very hard to imagine a world without cars, computers or telephones. Each one of these inventions are pretty young compared to the time we’ve being dwelling in this Earth since we’ve been created.

Also, it is not hard to conclude that in some years, we’re going to have more disruptive innovations that will make part of our lives, and that we neigther our ancestors have never thought about, and it will certainly be very hard to imagine a world without those innovations at that time in the future. We are doing the future now, and seeding the stimulus, environments and processes that are willing to trigger disruptive innovations that will certainly change our lives in such a way that we will not imagine ourselves in the future without them.

As the ones in charge of creating the steps to inspire future innovations, and provide our shoulders to stand other giants we have to share knowledge and experiences without the biased behaviors that we’re used to witness. The overall welfare is provided by the efforts of each human being towards the progress of humanity, “being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous and in doing good to all men”[0].

The book itself doesn’t preach any of those thoughts I have shared, but if you read it and read my thoughts you’re going to see how one complement the other. The book does tackle subjects like how breakthrough happen, how can we feed ourselfs with the right stimulus to increase the chances of having ground breaking ideas, how to see differently and keep innovating after the years. That mainly depends on process, environment and stimulus. Continually seeking for the behaviors cited[0], and not being biased, is the main step towards overall welfare and continuous improvement of human beings. That welfare and improvements, leads to better process, environments and stimulus. Then, here it comes the bits I found in Stefik’s book. After achieving that behavior, we are ready to start innovating.

The book is mainly based of interviews made with the brightests minds that are innovating today. All of that is about sharing knowledge, and not being biased. When you hide and protect the knowledge from being spread, you’re probably doing that with one thing in mind: creating a monopoly. That is a biased behavior, and that doesn’t lead to innovation, but to the stalling of it.

The book is a good reading, and shows us the backstages of disruptive breakthroughs and how to provide the meanings to better the processes, environments and increase stimulus in your place to have innovations likely to happen. Also, keep in mind that sharing knowledge is good and that the knowledge you share might come back to you improved. Good reading ;-)

[0] – SMITH, Joseph. The Articles of Faith. History of the Church, Vol. 4, pp. 535-541.

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