Yesterday Andy Hargadon, a professor at UC Davis, presented at IDDS on innovation. He made 4 major points:

#1  Innovation is about connecting, not inventing

#2  Your creativity depends on your network

#3  The network is the innovation

#4 “The future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed”  — William Gibson

Let’s look at Henry Ford and the Model T as an example. Ford didn’t actually do anything new – the car technology already existed, he had already attempted to start 3 other car companies, the meat packing industry already used the assembly line (as revealed by Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle). What was innovative about the Model T was how Ford leveraged his network to combine existing things in new ways.

I’ve always said that while my background is in engineering, my strength is really in networking. It always sounded like a fluffy skill set compared to other engineers. It’s nice to hear that I may have some useful skills after all.