Monday, May 28, 2007

IFIP 8.6: Organisational Dynamics of Technology-based Innovation: Diversifying the Research Agenda

I will heading to England for a few weeks starting on June 9 and returning on June 25.

I will serve as a faculty mentor for the IFIP 8.6 Doctoral Consortium ( to be held in Manchester, UK. Bob Galliers (Bentley College) is the Doctoral Consortium Chair. Bob has done an excellent job in selecting an eclectic group of students who have diverse research interests and aspirations.

In addition, I look forward to meeting up with several of my European Colleagues during the month of June. I plan to spend a few days in Manchester, then head to Oxford, and finally spend a week in London before coming back to Seattle…

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Securing Innovation - New Book - Managing Knowledge Security

How well do you protect your innovations? Most organizations lack good measures to develop protective measures to secure their innovations. As a result, these organizations fail to reap adequate rents from their investments. Before costs, and even normal profits, can be earned an organization may see its innovation being imitated by competitors through reverse engineering. Some organizations even face leaks of information when working on sensitive projects thereby alerting competitors of their strategic motives. How secure is your knowledge (and innovations)?

My new book, Managing Knowledge Security (Kogan Page, 2007), tackles this question from a pragmatic perspective. I have devised, participated in, and even managed, intelligence assignments for several private and public organizations. These assignments involved testing protective measures for securing knowledge, identifying leaks of information, gathering data on competitors, among other activities.

Orders are being taken on Amazon and other retail websites…Early orders receive a nice discount as well…

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Past 48 Hrs...

What have I been doing these days…Well, nothing major…Let me give you a run down of my last two days…

I was in Houston for APQC’s 12th Annual Knowledge Management Conference and Training: Knowledge Management and Innovation ( On the evening of the 9th, I had dinner with Robert (Bob) H. Buckman [Retired Chairman of the Board, Bulab Holdings] and his daughter Katherine Buckman Gibson [Chairman of the Board, Bulab Holdings]. I have known Bob for about 2 years now. The two of us get excited about two topics– knowledge management and organizational innovation. This was my first meeting with Kathy. Kathy is a delightful person. She is guiding Buckman Labs into an exciting future. During dinner, we discussed a number of issues ranging from organizational innovation issues, to information disconnects and organizational fragmentation, cross-cultural issues, and the School of Information of the University of Washington.

[P.S. the Olivette restaurant at the Houstonian is wonderful…if you get a chance, go by and have a meal…delightful!]

After dinner ended, I met up with Roberto Evaristo, a long-time colleague, collaborator, and friend. Roberto is playing an active role in the KM Program Office of 3M. We indulged in a few choice liquids, and spent the time getting caught up on various happenings in our lives.

May 10: I got on a conference call at 6 AM, and barely had chance to check my emails. Then, it was breakfast with Roberto. During breakfast we had a chance to discuss business, and get ready for our talk. After breakfast, we headed to the conference. I got a chance to catch up with several colleagues (there are too many to name but here are a few…Gerry Swift, Darcy Lemons, Carla O’Dell, Marisa Brown, Louis Archuleta, Ann Majchrzak…).

I then attended a talk given by Jimmy Wales, founder,, and chairman, Jimmy talk was engaging, thoughtful, and creative. The talk focused on the development of Wikipedia, its current state, the future plans. I learnt a lot from the talk. One of the things that I will use in my classes is the concept of designing technology by thinking about how one would design a restaurant. Jimmy went on to talk about how students are using Wikipedia for their term papers. To all my student readers: do not use Wikipedia as a reference, just like you would not use Encyclopedia Britannica. Wikipedia should be used to help you gain deeper knowledge about a topic and also to identify primary and secondary sources for further consultation.

The next item on the agenda - Organizational Innovation Processes: The case of 3M, a presentation by Kevin C. Desouza and J Roberto Evaristo. I opened the presentation by setting the stage for the innovation process framework. Roberto then examined each stage of the process and cited practices in place at 3M for conducting activities in each stage. An engaging Q&A session followed (we ran over our allotted time!).

Then, my taxi was waiting, and I headed back to the Airport to fly back to Seattle…

All in all, a fairly calm and uneventful two days…

P.S. I am writing this Blog entry while on my flight back to Seattle…A good way to spend time…currently we are at 30,000 feet and beginning our descent into SEATAC…

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Understanding the Complexities of Innovative Technology Project Failure

Nina Yuttapongsontorn (a graduate student at the Information School, UW) and I have completed a case study paper - Understanding the Complexities of Innovative Technology Project Failure: The Case of the Seattle Popular Monorail Authority.


The proposed Seattle Popular Monorail was one of the largest public works projects ever proposed in the city of Seattle. Three years after this proposal, the Seattle Monorail Project was shut down by voters. This paper studies the history of the plan, the challenges the plan’s proponents were confronted with, criticisms and reactions, and reasons for the plan’s failure. It is interesting to note that the City of Seattle has had experience in monorail projects. Seattle’s original monorail was one of the world’s first modern monorails, and it was the first full-scale monorail system in the US. It was built in 1962 for the Seattle Century 21 World’s Fair and cost $3.5 million. The 1.2-mile-long monorail was built in only 10 months. During the six months of the fair, the trains carried more than eight million guests and easily earned back its initial capital construction costs in just five months. Today, the trains carry more than 2.5 million riders each year, and it still operates at a profit after forty years of operation. Yet the City of Seattle could not repeat this success with the Seattle Popular Monorail.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

ICTs and Innovation - Paper Accepted for Research-Technology Management

Our paper, "Opening up Innovation through Information-Communication Technologies," has been accepted for publication in Research-Technology Management. The authors of the paper are: Yukika Awazu, Bentley College, USA; Peter Baloh, University of Ljubljana, SLOVENIA; Kevin C. Desouza, University of Washington, USA; Christoph H. Wecht, BGW Management Advisory Group, SWITZERLAND; Jeffrey Kim, University of Washington, USA; Sanjeev Jha, University of Illinois at Chicago, USA.

Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) are no longer just for internal use. Rather, in the era of open and distributed innovation ICTs must be leveraged by businesses and organizations to reach, record and review ideas from internal and external sources ranging from vendors, suppliers, customers and employees. Interacting with all stakeholders improves the quality and consistency of ideas. ICTs enable this process at all levels through inclusion and interaction. This paper explores specific ways that ICTs can be used to enable the entire innovation process: from idea generation and development, to experimenting and testing, and finally, to commercialization of ideas.

In particular, ICTs enable management of sources of ideas, documentation of idea histories, distribution and sharing of ideas, market targeting and organic idea development. Successful practitioner examples and specific technologies are discussed in context to outline opportunities and trends in the new era of open, distributed, ICT-enabled innovation. The emerging trend of distributed and open innovation illustrates that customers and users are no longer passively waiting for products. Widely connected, interactive and collaborative practice of innovation will provide a competitive edge to the corporations that carefully select and deploy ICT strategies.

About Research-Technology Management (R-TM)

R-TM is published by the Industrial Research Institute. The Industrial Research Institute (IRI) is the foremost business association of leaders in research and development (R&D) working together to enhance the effectiveness of technological innovation in industry. Founded in 1938 through the National Research Council, IRI comprises senior executives from a diverse range of industries whose Member Companies are investing over $100 billion annually in R&D worldwide. IRI is the leading cross-industry organization providing the R&D community with insights, solutions and best practices in innovation management developed through collaborative knowledge creation.

Research-Technology Management is the award-winning, bi-monthly journal of the Industrial Research Institute, published since 1958. It contains peer-reviewed articles covering the entire spectrum of technological innovation, from research and development through product development to marketing. RTM is a leading source of knowledge and best practices on innovation management for leaders of research, development, and engineering worldwide.