Innovation Conversation

The editors of the Association for Computing Machinery’s online journal Ubiquity recently interviewed Andrew Hargadon, an associate professor at the University of California-Davis’ graduate school of management. In the lively conversation, Hargadon debunks the value of thinking “out of the box” and the Great Man theory of invention. He also addresses the difference between innovation and invention, the role of continuity in innovation, and why it’s better to recombine old ideas than try to develop new ones. Some of the key points made in his book How Breakthroughs Happen include:

  • The future is already here.
  • Analogy trumps invention.
  • Find your discomfort zone.
  • Divided, we innovate.
  • Rip, mix, and burn.

It’s an excellent interview, and I’m quite impressed by Hargadon’s thinking. But for the most part, I’m thrilled silly to know where the phrase “out of the box” comes from. No longer will I envision cardboard boxes when someone uses the phrase. Instead, I’ll picture nine simple dots.