Innovations’ dirty secret

Like at Office 2.0, when the crowd wanted to know how to sell Web 2.0 into the enterprise and I said, “Um, the chaotic and grassroots nature of Web 2.0 is antithetical to enterprise. However, I do see the next generation of potential employees disrupting all that is enterprise anyway. I believe the nature of business itself is changing. It’s only time before the grassroots disrupts it.

If you read some folks in the blogsphere innovation is a magic dust sprinkles down only on folks that embrace chaos, cluetrains, grassroots, and openness.   Lots of these folks believe governments and big enterprise are evil bureaucracies that trample on the innovation flowerbed.  They predict revolutions and wholesale corporate carnage.

Indeed, many inventions and innovations percolate, and are serendipitous.  Post-it is the poster child, and every organisation can point to their own fabulous innovation that came from the deep cover boundary (cricketing equivalent of left field)

But I’ve a problem with an anti-enterprise dogma. I don’t buy that the workers will revolt with web 2.0. (workers of the world unite you have nothing to loose but your second life)  and I’ve reached my tipping point with the long tailed wisdom of the crowd. Not because of my deep rooted enterprisey conservatism, but because I’ve checked out some history.

”The likely prime reason for U.S. software supremacy is a paradoxical one –government support for the industry. The paradox arises from the fact that, although the United States is non-interventionist in principle, in practice it promoted the early industry massively by creating a market for computers and software through programs such as the SAGE project, the Department of Defense’s ADP program, and the NASA program, to mention only the largest..”  check out his book Martin Campbell-Kelly, From Airline Reservations to Sonic the Hedgehog: A History of the Software Industry, MIT Press, Cambridge Mass., 2003.   

So, next time someone says check out this cool 2.0 thingy, remember that the biggest bureaucracy of them all made it happen.  No DARPA, No Internet.  If there is an innovation that is going to revolutionise anything anytime soon, odds are, a government or a big corporate somewhere is funding it. 

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