Thoughts: A Flurry of WSJ Articles on Innovation

Several articles appeared in the WSJ recently on the topic of “Innovation.” To start, the May 23, 2012 WSJ has an article titled “You Call That Innovation?” written by Leslie Kwoh that describes how “innovation” is an overused term (practically “ubiquitous”) often indicating an intended direction rather than an achievement. Even in the event of accomplished change, the result is usually at best “invention” rather than true innovation (e.g., electricity, flight and my personal favorite, the pencil). The distortion of the term is perhaps understandable with b-schools believing that they can teach innovation (see B-Schools’ Innovation Rush” by Melissa Korn) and stretching the realm to encompass incremental change in order to attract students and provide modern examples for academic learning. Look too at the WSJ May 17, 2012 (Bay Area) issue which has an article titled “Stanford Dean on Teaching the Skill Set of Innovation” by Pui-Wing Tam which reports an interview with Stanford GSB Dean Garth Saloner. The interview discusses the components of the innovation curriculum which is similar on the surface to the components covered by our YCISL program. However, the basic premises and approach are fairly dissimilar. The Stanford GSB approach is based on a belief that innovation is a skill that can be “nurtured.” YCISL treats innovation as a process that can be manifested if chosen; similar to experimental technique. Our YCISL framework also takes a view that creativity, the predominant energy for innovation (our process), is present in everyone and can be made into a journey by anyone who has their barriers lowered. Not focusing on financial outcome is also a key YCISL premise (utilizing intrinsic motivation) and advantage.

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