Innovation and Change: Obtaining Receptivityand Overcoming Resistance
By Langdon Morris, Guest Editor
Google, as you know, has branched into many different types of businesses while building on itsoverwhelming success as the world’s #1 internet search engine. In aggregate these ventures exemplifymany important characteristics about innovation. For example, many Google initiatives have beensuccessful, bringing new functionality that users have welcomed. But other ideas have failed, as isinevitable with innovative endeavors. And while some have been simple, others are highly controversial.Among the controversial ones must be counted Google Books. Google’s mission, in the words of co-founder Sergey Brin, is to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible anduseful,” and Google’s Book project addresses one element of that mission, the company’s efforts tomake all the world’s books, past and present, available on line. The controversy here is that the Bookproject has provoked a good deal of opposition from authors and publishers, who have been critical of the company’s efforts as actual or potential infringement on their copyrights.In this regard, one of Google’s attorneys commented at the company’s 2004 Shareholders Meeting,“We do run into a lot of areas where our innovation bumps up against laws that were not designed for the world we now live in. Sometimes others don’t share our commitment to change.”
Indeed, innovation and custom often conflict, as technology and cultural change move ahead far faster than our understanding of what it all means, or how it should be addressed in rules andregulations. Hence, making innovation means making change, and making change often provokesresistance. Sometimes the resistance is quite intense, as while the innovator may be driven by the visionof how life will be better as a result of the innovation, for others “better” can just mean entirelyunwelcome change.The five papers in this issue of The International Journal of Innovation Science all address thisdynamic, the balance between welcome innovation and unwelcome change, and the challenges thatinnovators face when they confront the many barriers that inevitably lie along their path, among themresistance (legitimate and otherwise), ignorance, and indifference.In Sara Beckman and Michael Barry’s paper on the importance of storytelling in creating innovation,we learn about a rigorous method through which thoughtful researchers can decode the “existing story”in a given situation, and craft a new and improved version as the foundation for successful new ideas.We also learn about the innovation process behind a new product that now achieves sales of $1 billionper year, and how the development process for that product also transformed the innovation practice inthe very company that produced it. (It is also perhaps worth noting that although the rivalry betweenStanford and Berkeley is as strong as ever, Beckman (at Berkeley) and Barry (at Stanford) show usclearly the value that collaboration offers!)CK Prahalad, interviewed by IJIS Senior Editor Praveen Gupta, discusses his views on innovationin America, suggesting that serious changes are needed if America is going to sustain its economicadvantages for the future. He also discusses a topic for which he is well known, the notion that bringingbillions of the world’s underdeveloped people into the global economic system offers tremendousopportunities for us all.Professor Terry Boult and his colleagues at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs thenshare with us the fascinating story of the creation of their Bachelor of Innovation program at theuniversity, and show us many of the obstacles that they had to overcome as they designed and instituteda program which has proven to be both tremendously innovative and tremendously successful. Thoseof you in academia know how resistant to change a university can be, and the success of BI program iswelcome news to us all.Kathie Thomas and Mary Beth Luna Wolf then take us on a fascinating journey to Europe, Africa,and the US to explore partnerships between public and private firms focused on bringing innovation tohealth care. They explain some of the critical innovation techniques that enabled three breakthrough
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Google lawyer David Drummond, Google 2004 Shareholders Meeting, as quoted in Brandt, Richard L.,
Inside Larry & Sergey's Brain.