Building a Community of Innovation

HySpeed Computing explores the concepts and motivations behind fostering a sense of innovation throughout the greater community.

There is significant discussion these days regarding the need for innovation. What is it and how is it achieved? More specifically, how do we effectively and efficiently move beyond the “aha” moments of inspiration to generate new products, new services, new knowledge and new wealth? Solutions to these questions generally revolve around the need to encourage and cultivate entrepreneurial skills in current and future leaders, incentivize the creation of new ideas, and facilitate effective technology transfer from research into reality. In other words, building a community of innovation.

The recent issue of Entrepreneur (June 2012) quotes innovator Richard Branson, the notorius figure behind the Virgin Group brand, as saying that “there is no point in going into a business unless you can make a radical difference in other people’s lives” and “all startups should be thinking, what frustrates me and how can I make it better?” The point, according to Entrepreneur Editor-in-Chief Amy Cosper is that “the status quo is simply not acceptable to Richard Branson… he innovates out of frustration and ends up taking on ridiculously impossible challenges.” More directly, Branson is strongly motivated, as are all of today’s innovators.

The question is how to harness this motivation and facilitate actual innovation. The challenge is usually not the invention or idea itself, but rather the opportunity, tools, and expertise needed to translate ideas into viable outcomes. Yes, there is also the need for funding to support any new undertaking, whether it be dipping into personal savings accounts or soliciting venture capital. However, even with funding, success is still dependent on having a clear vision backed by the requisite knowhow.

Increasingly, innovators are looking toward the community to fill knowledge gaps and build teams of collaborators. This extends from a traditional approach of assembling a team of partners and/or advisors with the necessary experience to assist with the process to the more abstract approach of subdividing a project into individual tasks and using crowdsourcing to fulfill the different needs. Each has its place and its relative advantages and disadvantages, but harnessing the power of community to help drive innovation has found a home and is sure to play an increasingly important role.

In future posts HySpeed Computing will continue to explore different aspects of innovation, including the tools needed to facilitate innovation, the growing prevalence of community driven innovation and examples of success stories.

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