Innovate the Innovation Process

Source: Creativity Post, Jan 2016

In 2014, 44 drugs were approved by the FDA. Of those, McKinsey estimates that only one third will be successful in the marketplace. With some luck, a few may eventually become blockbuster drugs, the improbable runaway successes that finance the greater enterprise of drug development.

Take, for example, the nearly mythical story about Steve Jobs visiting Xerox PARC in 1979. According to legend, the wily young entrepreneur had finagled an exclusive look at groundbreaking technologies, like the mouse and the graphical user interface, that led to the development of the Macintosh.

The truth is that he could have seen many of the same things in 1968, eleven years earlier, at a public presentation financed by the federal government. Now known as the The Mother of All Demos, it featured Douglas Engelbart’s vision of interactive computing, which led to the technologies that Apple later commercialized and made famous.

In just about every field, there are cloistered communities of researchers making potentially game changing discoveries that end up sitting on the shelf for years—or even decades. Clearly, we need to innovate the innovation process. We need to shift from a disjointed effort that puts researchers on one side of a great divide and industry on another, to a combined, interdisciplinary effort. 

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