Brian Fuller | April 2012 | Drive for Innovation, On the Road
PLANO, Texas–Let's be honest, when you pull up to a company as part of the "Drive for Innovation," everybody tells you about how innovative they are, whether their latest product is innovative or not.
Nevertheless, even though our culture over-uses this word, it's an important topic because innovation leads to higher-value products and services, which helps the economy grow faster. So I read a lot about how to get more innovative, how to build an innovative company and so on. Amazon and iTunes are clogged with books on innovation.
Writer, vice president
But it wasn't until we pulled off the Dallas Tollway into Interphase headquarters here that we found someone who's written the book on innovation. Yoram Solomon is Interphase's s the vice president of corporate strategy and business development.
We came by to chat about a very interesting product the company is releasing in the spring, and we'll report on that startup's activity at that time. But in the course of that conversation, we found out he's written a PhD dissertation on a book on innovation, "Bowling with a Crystal Ball." (Amazon, $19.95)
For Solomon, who spent many years learning the ropes at Texas Instruments, the 'aha' moment was confirming what many people suspect: That startups are more creative and innovative than larger companies. It is partly because they're focused and partly because management gives employees wide latitude to do their work. And it's also partly because of fear: the company could go out of business at any moment.
An innovative battleship?
The challenge, Solomon says, becomes how do you create this environment in a large, established, entrenched company? It's hard, obviously, as Harvard's Clayton Christensen has made a killing on writing about how disruptive innovation hurts such companies. But for Solomon, it's crucial to figure out at a big company like Interphase, which has struggled along with other telecommunications companies in recent years in a hyper-competitive market.
We pulled out a couple of key points in Solomon's discourse on innovation when we sat with him in the Interphase board room.
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