Following on from my previous blog post is another article (click here) on web 2.0, this time on ReadWriteWeb, which examines the effects of the economic downturn. But my interest in this article is the following passage on innovation:

“During boom times, companies direct development and occupy great talent with at best evolutionary improvements over the state of the art. Companies are great chasers of new things, but aren’t great at making new things. A recession means technologists cease to be paid vast amounts to duplicate the work of others.”

The above feels right to me. Over the years I’ve noticed that nothing focuses my mind than bad times, I suppose it brings out the survival instinct.

When I was studying for my PhD on innovation I was always intrigued by the distinction between evolutionary changes/innovation and radical changes/innovation. The sociologists tended to highlight that evolutionary changes came from those integrated into a particular system. The argument being that those people tended to have been trained in a particular system and think in a similar way, making radical change difficult.

For truly radical changes what is needed are people not integrated into a particular system, in other words outsiders. They haven’t been indoctrinated by ‘the system’ and are better able to think for themselves and think ‘outside the box’.

If the above analysis is correct we’re in for some interesting times ahead. Time for everyone to get their thinking caps on.