Innovations are limited!

Innovations are limited!

Innovation is a word that has seen heavy use for a long time.  In the many uses of the word innovation, the term has been ascribed an equally wide range of meanings.  At one end of the spectrum are definitions that suggest that anything that deviates from the norm can be construed as an innovation.  One adage holds, “if it’s new to me, it is new.”  However, definitions of this sort conflate the terms “change” and “innovation”.  At the other end of the spectrum, some definitions provide a clear separation between evolutionary and discontinuous change. In narrower definitions, innovation is a subset of change.  In software development, business or even–more broadly–life, change is inevitable and continuous while innovation is not inevitable and far more abrupt. In practical terms, change and innovation often differ in a number of critical attributes. (more…)

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The Software Process and Measurement Cast 395 features our essay on productivity.  While productivity might not be the coolest subject, understanding the concept is critical to every company’s and every worker’s financial well-being.

Gene Hughson brings another entry from his Form Follows Function blog to the Software Process and Measurement Cast. Gene discusses the idea of accidental innovation.  Gene suggests that innovation is not a happy accident, but is a result of a process, structure, and technology that can enhance innovation. However, it can just as easily get in the way.

In our third column this week, Kim Pries, the Software Sensei, brings us a discussion of how software developers leverage assimilation and accommodation in the acquisition of knowledge.


Rarely do I come to the Software Process and Measurement readers (blog) and listeners (podcast) with a call to action . . . now is one of those times.

Phil McKinney’s podcast on innovation is one the reasons I started the Software Process and Measurement Cast.  Phil has written a phenomenal book, Beyond The Obvious.  Phil is doing something extraordinary, Phil is donating all of his royalties for purchases made until the end of the year to charity.  Got to his site and buy the book  . . .

Use the SPaMCAST Associate link to buy the book

or go to Phil’s site:

His Announcement:

The Pay It Forward Project

I began my tech career in a factory in Evansville, IN as the sole “geek” living in a condemned (yes – it actually was condemned) apartment building with my wife who was finishing her nursing degree. How things have changed from that humble beginning.


When I look back on my career and where it has brought us, there is no way we can pay back the time and support I received from my mentors.  Therefore, we have committed ourselves to find ways to take what we’ve been blessed with and to pay it forward.

So my wife and I will donate 100% of the royalties from my book, Beyond The Obvious, that is purchased before the end of the year to charity.

100% of All Author Royalties To Charity

So what do you need to do? Purchase the book (hardcover, digital or audio version) before the end of the year.  That’s it!  Whatever author royalties I receive will go to charity. If you are interested in purchasing bulk copies of the book to give away (e.g. to your employees, customers, friends, etc) Amazon and Barnes & Noble are able to accommodate.

Stay updated on the project ….

4-5 2013 Society National Bank

Once upon a time I worked for Society National Bank. Following a merger in 1993, it became Key Bank. Other than a historical marker, Society is no more and while Key Bank might be a bigger, better bank another take over might not quite as good for both parities.  In this case, longevity did not provide immunization against a wave of bank mergers.  Many things might have provided that immunization:


Whether a company or programmer you can’t assume that longevity is your ticket to a career.  The same attributes that could have lead Society into the 21st century are the same attributes that will lead you to the future.



Stuff happens even in the safest, most controlled environments  When we design processes we can try to define out all potential problems or balance the degree of safety required and our ability to recognize and react when something happens.

Excluding all inputs that might cause a problem would also exclude impressions, interactions and potential serendipity that can foster innovation. This is a path towards mediocrity. Agile frameworks stress the need for transparency (transparency is part of empirical models) because transparency is needed for effective collaboration and feedback.  Transparency will mean external ideas could encroach on your projects. Trying to ban outside ideas will do more harm than good; just make sure you are communicating well enough to raise an alarm when needed.


All ideas start somewhere and usually you won’t find a historical marker commemorating the event.  What you might find are many people that will tell you how a concept was developed, what the intent of the concept was and even perhaps that they were there.

In many cases they may even have convinced themselves that the stories they have created are true. Not to be malicious but rather because we all want to be part of something bigger and more important than ourselves.  Claiming involvement and ownership can also be a mirror image of the “not invented here” syndrome.

All ideas were invented somewhere, probably not here but I think we can be a bit fuzzy on the where question if it helps an organization to consider a new idea.  Even Mary Poppins used a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down.

I woke up this morning pondering creativity and innovation and whether they could be learned or exercise therefore I wrote the following short blog entry to see whether I could sort it out or create a discussion!

Are creativity and innovation enhanced by volume? Do more chances at the innovation well lead to a greater likelihood that any single idea will hit the jackpot? There seems to be a belief that volume at the very least helps the process and may well increase the chance of finding a diamond. This of course can only true if you assure that all people or groups have at least one good idea in them and I would like to suggest that is probably not true. Another assumption that might make volume valuable is that creativity or the process of being creative and be strengthened by exercise. Bottom-line are creativity and innovation learned skills or just “tuned up”? I would suggest that developing a process helps, exposure to new inputs help and these things can be learned and tuned up but repetition and volume only count is there is a spark that can be fanned.