The Critical Obstacle to Innovation

Everyone agrees that innovation is the magical key to the future, a strategic activity that cannot be ignored.

A major topic of CEOs and MBA programs world-wide.

The biggest obstacle to innovation in any organization has absolutely nothing to do with innovation.

The biggest obstacle is that very few organizations create the strategic group culture needed to nurture innovation.

You may find a Senior VP for other “strategic” areas (think finance, marketing, operations, and even human resources), but you rarely have a SVP for innovation (or for that matter, leadership).
If the CEO does not take a personal hand in proactively promoting an environment for innovation, it just becomes an annoying buzz word that will be addressed “sometime in the future.”

(Thanks to Rajesh Singh, Vice President – L&H Products Strategy & Ops at Swiss Re5d, for posing an interesting question.)

Chris Hadfield’s Guitar

Guitar, Martin DX1 (0a)I, like everyone else, was vastly entertained and totally engaged by Chris Hadfield during his missions assigned to the International Space Station (ISS).

It was a great piece of public outreach that I think captured the world’s attention on science and space.

So, why does this topic show up here? 

Think of it as a thought experiment.

A way to exercise critical thinking skills and follow a line of research.

As I watched Chris’ videos I thought to myself “where the hell did he find a guitar?”
“Did NASA waste money just to get the instrument up there just for Hadfield?”

This is nothing more than an example of following a simple thread of thought that I found interesting.  An example of posing a question (or two) and trying to find reasonable answers. Continue reading

My Day of Grace

With the most recent anniversary of her passing last week, I’m reminded of a memory of Grace Hopper (d: 1 January 1992, age: 82), who I admired and once had the chance to meet.

As the Internet bubbles, a fragment of information sometimes percolates to the top and reveals itself in a way that generates a thread of memories that can make you feel both lucky and a little sad.

We were not close, she was not my mentor.  She was (and is) a part of my professional cultural history, a history I share with thousands of other military members in all of the services and millions of people in the technology fields.  I feel not only lucky, but honored to have spent some time with her.

The Nano-minute (US Navy photo courtesy of Chips magazine)
The Nano-minute
(US Navy photo courtesy of Chips magazine)
 How often do you get to spend the day with a (no hyperbole) legend?  I do not use the term legend lightly.  She was so renowned in certain fields that everyone in those fields study her career.  The best part of her legend was that the general public quite probably never heard of her or what she accomplished, yet her career and her work has affected almost every single person alive today.  Continue reading