Innovation Is More Important Than Invention

from the continuing-the-debate dept

We recently posted an MIT Tech Review story looking at the return of "inventors" instead of innovators. The article named the well known "great inventors" from a century ago. In the comments, someone properly took me to task for simply parroting the line about these inventors, when most of the stories about their "inventions" were mythical. Now, Michael Schrage (again at MIT's Tech Review) is arguing convincingly that for all the hype around inventors, innovation is much more important - and (more importantly) is entirely separate from invention. He names the same "inventors" named in the original article and points out that the truth of the matter is that they were all innovators rather than inventors (and its only the distance of history that has rewritten their stories as if they were inventors). He points out that invention has nothing to do with commercial success - whereas innovation has everything to do with it. Furthermore, this ties into the ongoing debate over patent reform: "If you want to learn about the importance of "invention" over the past 300 years, talk to the lawyers. If you want to hear about the importance of "innovation," however, talk to anyone else." So, the real question then, is whether or not our intellectual property system should be encouraging invention or innovation? I'd vote for innovation, as that's what drives the economy, and that would suggest we need fewer lawyers involved with the patent system, and perhaps more innovators. The following point is also important: "the technical excellence of an invention matters far less than the economic willingness of the customer or client to explore it." In other words, any system designed to encourage innovation needs to encourage actually making use of the innovation - and not, for example, sitting on a patent and doing nothing with it, while waiting for others to innovate and then hitting them with a patent infringement lawsuit.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    AC, Apr 29th, 2004 @ 2:27pm

    Ostriches

    Inventing is the easy part; the hard part is getting people to recognize innovation and a brand new way of doing things.
    Case in point, we've developed a brand new user interface technology that is going to take some development work to get it to the market. The problem is that it's such a radical departure from the status quo, it's difficult to get people to even understand the underlying concept. After that it's an issue of how fast it can be on the market and its profit potential.
    In our situation, once they understand the concept they think it's a great idea. But then we run into "We only do software here, not hardware" or "we're basic R&D, we don't do product design" yada, yada, yada.
    Or "we have a very narrow margin with our products" like we're talking about canned peaches or something instead of a superior user interface.
    These are large; high technology corporations that like to pretend they embrace innovation but instead are like ostriches with their heads in the sand.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    xman, Apr 29th, 2004 @ 11:37pm

    Re: Ostriches

    Read "The Innovator's Dilemma" to see why they react like this (assuming of course that your technology is as good as you say it is which I can't begin to judge since you say nothing about it). Established companies have very sound reasons for not taking up new technologies but this can lead to their downfall if they ignore the wrong new technology. Of course, a large proportion of the new technologies are over-hyped and useless so it's a hard call.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    michael a wandersee, Jan 4th, 2007 @ 6:02pm

    partnership

    I don't those that stood to help me although I now that buisness as it goes there are breaking peaont I also both you and gloogles are no angeles nor I, but I do foll ow the las as they stat and you would be a fool if you didn't. Win loss or draw if you try your best to stay in sided the law amd not skirt it boarders for that as well is as much as playing russ ruolt and why would anyone that worked hard and the year in to take chances . I see no point. I would rather gop the horse track ,your odds are not much defferent exept if you win there you legaly camit and there no repercutions . Bisides to where tect is headed the system is going to take some fance stuff and brains alot . but there will be a cat and dog game atlest tell money is no longer an issue or needed and I know your thinking that will neever happen . Yes in our life time no . happen yes. That beside what what I came to ask, are you intersested in a partner arrangmen and so it knowen UI was thinking Googles and lenx but I can to it though libarys also there some things that wount be a licenses but would help as my own working as privetly and thats the goverment if they need me and NASA and Privet companies. If googles is to much which would be a great benafit to all and they helped me to , Yes I now of some of there doings but I look at this waythey lowered there gaurd for the moment in help and that show more than many .Yes I know there where others and thou they did it was show and nothing but and had the hand in the pie. I would change that gov. Gov to It that way it covers the interst of my doing and it about righ a in leaveling. There is seveal things I need to talk on as a lawer what do I have left and outher things so I and all can work and I cand just slip out of there exsitance. So if in terested I do wich to speak top blogers for there going to be the desision makers or who ever it may be and sence my email is on a dive I come back to thes sigh in a whileand may be there will have some news here or call PH 209-474-1913 thank you Michael A Wandersee

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    michael a wandersee, Jan 4th, 2007 @ 6:02pm

    partnership

    I don't those that stood to help me although I now that buisness as it goes there are breaking peaont I also both you and gloogles are no angeles nor I, but I do foll ow the las as they stat and you would be a fool if you didn't. Win loss or draw if you try your best to stay in sided the law amd not skirt it boarders for that as well is as much as playing russ ruolt and why would anyone that worked hard and the year in to take chances . I see no point. I would rather gop the horse track ,your odds are not much defferent exept if you win there you legaly camit and there no repercutions . Bisides to where tect is headed the system is going to take some fance stuff and brains alot . but there will be a cat and dog game atlest tell money is no longer an issue or needed and I know your thinking that will neever happen . Yes in our life time no . happen yes. That beside what what I came to ask, are you intersested in a partner arrangmen and so it knowen UI was thinking Googles and lenx but I can to it though libarys also there some things that wount be a licenses but would help as my own working as privetly and thats the goverment if they need me and NASA and Privet companies. If googles is to much which would be a great benafit to all and they helped me to , Yes I now of some of there doings but I look at this waythey lowered there gaurd for the moment in help and that show more than many .Yes I know there where others and thou they did it was show and nothing but and had the hand in the pie. I would change that gov. Gov to It that way it covers the interst of my doing and it about righ a in leaveling. There is seveal things I need to talk on as a lawer what do I have left and outher things so I and all can work and I cand just slip out of there exsitance. So if in terested I do wich to speak top blogers for there going to be the desision makers or who ever it may be and sence my email is on a dive I come back to thes sigh in a whileand may be there will have some news here or call PH 209-474-1913 thank you Michael A Wandersee

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    on the side looking in, May 13th, 2007 @ 2:11pm

    copyrights and patents

    If every time you try to twix copyright offic on your computer it's blocked from sending then you aren't sitting on it~! Who is at fault, do you have any idea how many people get stolen from like this. With big companies, you just get swept under the rug by juries. Don't judge if you haven't been there.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2007 @ 2:27pm

    dumped along wayside

    Why do you post the same column twice? When he speaks it doesn't turn out this way he's seen 10 years of being taken, blocking, and crashing, ruining of many computers by a huge monster business, no one would take the case and so he uses everything they had to fight courts and they give no appointed attorney as our constitution reads they have to do. There is a lot to this story. It would curl your hair.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    michael a wandersee, May 23rd, 2007 @ 12:47pm

    innovations to inventions

    I would say that laying the ground floor to a system is of the most important fact of where it is that I wish to make a starting to the road work that is in my mind giving the oppertunity to work just about any new,old, future consept a working chances. Not only that but a fesable work test to the oppertunaty to suggesses is is the second fact that I'v made in to a plasable fact of reconizing it's fesabilaty, and as closes to 100% is the fact to attemting. The frist is still working into a exseptional fact of the efin at oppertunaties of being able to apply almost any idea, the second is still a fact to a working on more as to just bare omounts of work has been applied into,yet it is coming for it the first I wish to accomplish frist for its that important. Thou the second is just important and will matter as in importants as the first. If not consedered as such I wouldn't think that appling any and all consepts would work and would be more to disruptions as is is in sink as in one for the cot come is the combining of the third which realy is the second and the third is the testing. So the second is the pushing though the hole system as to study building making lean and many other facts that are to numrus to mention but then the test and then the truth in the all as in a complete bundel. The whole is the key to building to just about any idea that you may interpet as what is to end in a fact of favorable workings and to a better working idea then started or not a fesable fact of applying of the information that was applied at the start and can be worked in maybe another manner. This is also one of the fact I'm working to see to an a automatic ajusting in the building and ajusting to the concepted. All and all it is to be the prossing of any idea and with a giving of information to what is an idea and the giving of a chance to a working end, it also will,as I see it bring in a infanate amout of imaginations of ideas of which will be no to small or to large but a devlopment into infanate creativaty,with a personal understanding of no critasisem and that will m,ean as stated a rang never seen before. In my opinion,and my working to completion and aquirering this and more is the plan. Michael A. Wandersee Innovator to Cybrospaces. It is also a never ending project for better is always a fact that is a constand developing fact and pushing the futur and beyond,and that it is all way in the constant developing of the best and making it for to day.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    michael a wandersee, May 23rd, 2007 @ 12:47pm

    innovations to inventions

    I would say that laying the ground floor to a system is of the most important fact of where it is that I wish to make a starting to the road work that is in my mind giving the oppertunity to work just about any new,old, future consept a working chances. Not only that but a fesable work test to the oppertunaty to suggesses is is the second fact that I'v made in to a plasable fact of reconizing it's fesabilaty, and as closes to 100% is the fact to attemting. The frist is still working into a exseptional fact of the efin at oppertunaties of being able to apply almost any idea, the second is still a fact to a working on more as to just bare omounts of work has been applied into,yet it is coming for it the first I wish to accomplish frist for its that important. Thou the second is just important and will matter as in importants as the first. If not consedered as such I wouldn't think that appling any and all consepts would work and would be more to disruptions as is is in sink as in one for the cot come is the combining of the third which realy is the second and the third is the testing. So the second is the pushing though the hole system as to study building making lean and many other facts that are to numrus to mention but then the test and then the truth in the all as in a complete bundel. The whole is the key to building to just about any idea that you may interpet as what is to end in a fact of favorable workings and to a better working idea then started or not a fesable fact of applying of the information that was applied at the start and can be worked in maybe another manner. This is also one of the fact I'm working to see to an a automatic ajusting in the building and ajusting to the concepted. All and all it is to be the prossing of any idea and with a giving of information to what is an idea and the giving of a chance to a working end, it also will,as I see it bring in a infanate amout of imaginations of ideas of which will be no to small or to large but a devlopment into infanate creativaty,with a personal understanding of no critasisem and that will m,ean as stated a rang never seen before. In my opinion,and my working to completion and aquirering this and more is the plan. Michael A. Wandersee Innovator to Cybrospaces. It is also a never ending project for better is always a fact that is a constand developing fact and pushing the futur and beyond,and that it is all way in the constant developing of the best and making it for to day.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    bob dole, Sep 17th, 2007 @ 8:32am

    post

    i dont understand what you are talking about. im not that smart. so hi. leave the american nation alone

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This